Author Archives: Chris

Too Greedily And Too Deep

Welcome back to Chris’s Gameplay Iteration Corner! As usual when I show up here, we’re talking about improvements to gameplay systems.

One of our major goals at the moment is fleshing out some of the less-interesting buildings in the game. Improvements to the pub are in-progress as of the latest build, the chapel and naturalist office have improvements planned, and a major overhaul has gone into the building we’ll be talking about today – the humble Mine!

Exceedingly humble.

Exceedingly humble.

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Popping the Real Estate Bubble

Having talked about one major system change last week in the form of upkeep, let’s talk about another one this week: immigration.

Ironically, it was almost exactly a year ago the last time we had a blog on immigration – my first blog post, in fact. Things have changed a lot since then – personally speaking, it’s amazing to think about how much the game has improved in a year’s time – and it’s about time for another look at how you gain characters over the course of the game.

Hi. I'm the friendly alt text. You can hang here with me. It's cool.

Remember this? No? Good.

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Let Slip the Trunks of Repair

On the resource end of things, Clockwork Empires is largely a game about production – What resources can you get? How many? How quickly? Progression through the game is largely governed by a flat rate of what modules you can afford to build. Our module design, however, centers around an increasing economy of scale – this calls for the player to be using commodities constantly, not merely when they want to build something new.

A long while back, as a sort of nod to this philosophy we implemented a repair system where modules break after a certain amount of uses and must be repaired. This wasn’t ever made a focus, however – it had no real dedicated UI and what items were necessary to repair modules was not explained. However, as economy balance begins to come more into focus we decided it was time to revisit the repair/breakage system. So, coming in the next experimental: Upkeep!

UK1

Buildings will require weekly upkeep in order to keep functioning. Each module has an upkeep type and cost associated with it, and these add together to create a Building Upkeep that must be paid weekly. (Note that all figures here are subject to change as we get feedback on this feature). How do you pay this upkeep? Must you keep tons of spare building materials laying around? No! Instead you will use… Repair Trunks:

Chests

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Lord Palmerstoke’s Cranial Parachute (Or: Enter The Steam Knight)

It’s been a while since we talked about animations, so with the Steam Knight released, why not?

As a bit of a Big Deal, we didn’t want Steam Knights to just ‘manifest’ in your colony. They should have an entrance! And ideally one that makes a bit of sense in the context of your colony. Walking in from the borders is a bit troublesome – the chance of running into hostiles is pretty high, and Steam Knights aren’t exactly fast. Perhaps they could come… from above?

Lord Palmerstoke's Cranial Parachute was a bold idea, but ultimately failed to catch on due to an unfortunate spate of Coronal Ruptures.

Lord Palmerstoke’s Cranial Parachute was a bold idea, but ultimately failed to catch on due to an unfortunate spate of Coronal Ruptures.

We’ve had stuff drop from airships in the game before – supplies and such, using a parachute. But what parachute would be worthy of such a noble monolith of steel? None, I say! It was decided that the Steam Knight has no need of parachutes – The Steam Knight will fall to the ground unaided!

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A Miner Problem

Edit: If you came here looking to read about biomes because we accidentally linked the email sendout to this page rather than the proper post, well, just go to the correct post here!

It’s me again! And you know what that means: we’re overhauling one of Clockwork Empires’ gameplay systems and I’m here to talk about it.

It’s got to do with these things.

This time it’s ore and metalworking. Like many of our systems that end up getting overhauled, ore’s legacy mostly relates to the game’s context at the start of Early Access. We needed a way for people to acquire and smelt ore before mines were added to the game, so we created Ore Surface Nodes that you can mine without a building! We eventually implemented proper underground mines, but the system was opaque and confusing, so most players – understandably – stuck with what they know, and that’s surface ore. Thus they were popular and we didn’t remove them.

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Praise the Cog, or Whatever You Feel Like

As we carve out new systems, it’s good to take some time to go back and refine earlier ones. At this point, our UI has been built out enough that even artists like myself can make additions and improvements; with Nicholas and Dan busy working on Fun New Stuff, I’m taking time to start poking at the offices that allow you to control your colony’s operation!

Sleeping in the chapel is forbidden!

Stop sleeping in the chapel, you vagrants!

When Chapels were originally implemented, they were a one and done happiness-increaser for your colony (and sometimes a cultist-quasher). However, the pub, added later, more or less fills the same role – and more interestingly, as far as I’m concerned. (Though it needs some love, too.) Breaking out the chapel into its own unique role seemed like an appropriate first task, and an opportunity to bring some new choices into the game.

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A New Gastronomy

Food! It is delicious. It is vital to your colony! It… requires a lot of work to balance!

Food has been a large part of our gameplay for awhile now, but most of our balance efforts have centered around farming; essentially you solve the “How many farmers do I need, growing what” problem for the duration of the game. However, part of maturing Clockwork Empires into a deeper game is tying our systems together in various ways – with the ideal results providing interesting choices for the player. We’re starting to do just that, in a place that hasn’t received┬ábalance loving for quite a while: The Kitchen.

Look at these lovely new recipes! And they even fit onto just two lines!!

Behold the new condensed Kitchen Recipes! They’re roughly grouped by use.

Previously, the kitchen had about a zillion recipes and not much interesting to do with them – they were simply ways to convert one raw food into one cooked food. We attempted to simplify this by creating the Basic Food recipe, but that still left us with a lot of stuff you could make and no particular reason to pick any one over the other. That changes now!

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Unboxing Clockwork Empires

Modules! You know them. You love them. You use them to make lots of planks. (Just so we’re all clear, modules are the category of objects that are used by your colonists to do things in buildings: workbenches, beds, ovens, chairs, and even doors.)

Modules have been in a weird place for awhile.

This kitchen is adorable. (From a savegame a player sent in.)

This kitchen is adorable. (From a savegame a player sent in.)

Specifically, modules don’t fit very well into the workshop economy. You can improve your workshops, but it doesn’t have much of an effect on the speed at which you can make new modules – this is governed by an obscure ‘construction’ skill that almost never sees enough use to get leveled.

At the same time, we were facing an issue with certain workshops such as the carpentry workshop; there just isn’t a lot for them to do. Set them to auto-produce planks and forget them, basically.

Lastly, there just weren’t a lot of ways for us, as game designers, to interact with modules. They’re either buildable or not. We want the ability to do things like give players modules that they couldn’t otherwise acquire.

So, what to do?

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