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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Our Friend The Bandit

The current “meta” for Clockwork Empires experimental branch players is to ding up their relations with the Bandits by one point so they can be stay neutral and avoid Bandit attacks forever. This is a little too convenient, and entirely due to the Bandits not being fully integrated with the new faction code created since the implementation of diplomacy via  the Foreign Office.

So let’s make this fun.

Bandits make everything awkward.

Bandits make everything awkward.

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The Great Building Creator Rewriting

First off, an announcement: we have decided to suspend development of simultaneous networked multiplayer for Clockwork Empires indefinitely. There are, simply put, technology issues and design issues that we don’t feel we can satisfactorily solve in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, we don’t want to devote time to addressing those issues if that time will detract from the single player experience, which people are currently enjoying and which is the major thrust of the game. Support will exist in engine for round robin “let’s play” games, and we will continue to build that out as we work our way out of Early Access and into a new stage of development, which we are tentatively calling, uh, “Access.” As always, we thank you for your patience and understanding of the harsh realities of game development.

That said, let’s talk about “Access.”

Somebody recently posted on Twitter that polishing a video game was a straight forward process: if it doesn’t move, make it move; if it moves, put a sound effect on it; if it moves and has a sound effect on it, add a particle system. That’s a pretty accurate guide, honestly. In our case, we went into Early Access with a few things that were not in the best of states, and one of the ongoing things that needs to be done in order to transition them from “Early Access” into “Access” is to address the problems that people have with them. In some cases, this is a question of making some changes, watching the feedback, and then continuing to improve the system or re-designing it. Sometimes, such as in the case of cults, or emotions, or what-have-you, we have to take a few swings at this particular issue.

Interior furniture concepts.

Interior furniture concepts, once interiors become A Thing.

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A Name To Take Pride In

What’s in a name? Names have power. To know the True Name of a thing is to have power over it! … wait, wrong world. In any event, names are rather important to the narrative flavour of a game so we’ve made some effort to ensure that when you see a good Clockwork Empires name, you know where it came from.

I love this man's name.

I love this man’s name.

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Clockwork Empires January Update: WHAT THESE SHODDY FOREIGN GOODS?

A party of traders from a Foreign Land showed up and they insist that we really need –

ce_2016_jan_promo_illustration_small

This update will go live to every Clockwork Empires player via Steam!

We have also updated our Clockwork Empires: Development Progress Report! It contains the annotated changelog and possibly extra secret saucy details maybe or at least a new picture of a cat so check it out!

(Don’t own the game? Clockwork Empires can be purchased on ClockworkEmpires.com via Humble or from Steam.)

Want to hear about all sorts of updates via email plus receive silly images from development? Sign up for the newsletter here.

(Note that this is a slightly shorter changelog than usual due to the holidays.)


Major Changes

  • added Trade Depot & trader events
  • food has been reworked to be way more interesting!
  • new features and events added to the Foreign Office to allow interactions with the Grossherzogintum von Stahlmark, the Republique Mechanique, and the Novorus Imperiya

Trade Depot

  • added first iteration of Trade Depot.
  • all items in the game have been given trade values and “tradeable/not tradeable” flags (The primary use of this at the moment is to disallow the trading of perishable foods. Relative values of trade goods are subject to adjustment.)
  • added vodka (a foreign trade good)
  • added trade events & foreign office trader ‘missions’ for all foreign nations
  • added display of trade value to item tooltips
  • a few events that relied on Prestige to function have been re-enabled to work without it. (Due to Prestige system being rolled into Empire relations via Foreign Office)
  • FIXED: various other commodity list/trade good/forbidding-and-claiming-item interactions
  • FIXED: foreigners would punch fish steaks they happened upon
  • FIXED (46A): the Trade Depot icon should now be visible even when you don’t have any bricks. (It doesn’t require bricks to build, anyway.)
  • (updated all item in entity database to the new format w/ trade information, including trade good boolean and trade value)
  • (internal: added messages registering for a given object when it is added to, or removed from, a group collection)

Foreign Office / Foreign Relations

  • balance: made foreign office wipe diplomacy points when player changes factions (for obvious reasons)
  • Foreign faction relations and hostile/neutral/friendly states are now controlled via Foreign Office
  • NPC groups carrying out neutral/friendly missions will abort those missions if relations turn hostile
  • implemented 3-state relations widgets
  • (work on code supporting foreign office missions for non-empire non-bandit factions)
  • FIXED: paperwork scripterror (when workcrew is unassigned from office)
  • (performed major refactoring of code for foreign_office on both c++ and lua sides)
  • balance: now, in general, events that lost you prestige before will now lose you relations with all nations.

Food & Cooking

  • added the following new recipes: Farmers’ Stew, Berry Medley, Sausages, Tinned Meat
  • Preserved/Tinned goods are now more expensive to create, but function as superior trade goods. Their recipes have been updated accordingly.
  • all Pickled Funguses have been collected into a single recipe
  • all Berry Preserves have been collected into a single recipe
  • all Pies have been collected into a single recipe (& Pies are now more expensive to create, as owing to their high quality tier.)
  • all food recipes have been given qualities and module requirements as appropriate for their quality.
  • higher class characters will now prefer higher quality food.
  • added glass bottles to the ceramics workshop (They are used to make preserves.)
  • balance: exhaustion chance for foragables has been significantly lowered to allow players to experiment with the new recipes.
  • be warned: crop fields will now be entirely cleared if you change the crop type you’re growing!
  • (fixed scripterror on spawning old, now nonexistent food items)
  • (crops can be given a sparse_planting=true, bool to plant every other spot in a row rather than every spot)
  • (added guarapo and caninha commodities + icons; not yet implemented)
  • (added coconut palm saplings to the growth cycle of farmable coconut palms; crop is not public yet)
  • FIXED: colonists should no longer starve in the search for cooked food when they have raw food

UI/UX

  • performed consistency pass over UI element styling
  • cultists now have purple names
  • fixed misaligned text in credits dialog
  • improved checkbox art
  • FIXED: naturalist_study_fishperson_corpse text error
  • (did a ton of cleanup to the plumbing of office UI with applications in building UI generally so it can now be done almost entirely outside of compiled code)
  • (executed a giant purging of old/duplicated UI data & assets)
  • (added art for assignment beacon bg variations, implementation todo)
  • (added feature support for modal dialogs)

Combat

  • military skill of a squad’s commander now adds bonus damage to squad attacks
  • redcoat vs. militia status of soldiers now adds bonus damage to attacks (that is, redcoats do more damage)
  • FIXED: crates are no longer a valid weapon that would override fault attack damage
  • FIXED: “mind_blast” will no longer appear as a cause of death
  • FIXED: error when crops were exploded

Workshops / Commodity Production

  • Clay pot decor are now boxed modules.
  • FIXED: cloth production was instant
  • FIXED: instant drink brewing
  • FIXED: displayed cost for “Decent Cabinet” was wrong and has been corrected.
  • FIXED: mineshafts will not keep adding output products when moved

Cults

  • FIXED: occult feelings test didn’t properly test feelings in context of cults, leading to reduced cult activity
  • (working on a bunch of back-end code for cult updates)
  • (enabled cult membership tracking on render side)

Other

  • added UC window module
  • balance: mining at default position now outputs sand + clay
  • FIXED: an item is only added to the commodity list if it is owned by a player.
  • FIXED: buildings flickering from exterior to interior views when you move over a static prop when they are highlighted
  • (internal: started work on building placer/module placer rewrite but this hasn’t been pushed yet)

Want the full annotated changelog? Read it in the Development Report!

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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 balance 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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Hatpack It! aka Subtractive Design

We have these little turns of phrase to represent design concepts. One such phrase going back to Dredmor is “put it in the Hat Pack”. I consider this a form of subtractive design.

So: The Hat Pack is an expansion pack for the game you’re working on which is shrouded in the mists of the future yet-to-be. (And as the name suggests, the content is a bunch of useless hats.) You put a feature or idea into the Hat Pack when you need to kill it, cut it, remove it from the game; but you don’t have the heart to kill it. So you quietly put it in the Hat Pack and shove it at the back of a closet to be slowly forgot.

(Or not. I want to say that features have legitimately been revived from the Hat Pack, but the notable example that comes to mind is the facial hair equipment slot for Dredmor that involved a bunch of false beards and mustaches to enhance your powers. Never happened.)

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Trade! Also, how UI Evolves.

We are still out of the office until January 4th, 2016, at which point the terrifying cogs of progress begin turning once again. Today’s blogpost, therefore, is put together out of whatever images I can find on my computer. Which is okay, because we’re really interested in Trade Depots today, and I took a lot of screenshots of Trade Depots. But first, a little history.

Here is the first version of the Character Info screen for Clockwork Empires, circa January 2013 (right at the point where, maybe, we had little characters running about and doing something.) For those of you who are wondering how much optimization has already gone into the game, we seem to be running at 28 FPS here despite… not rendering much of anything.

CWYhj9pUkAAb7_jOne year later, we had moved to this:

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