Technical Director Vining versus the Haxx of Planet Playsteevee

Most of what I’ve been doing these days is support code for various other people: adding missing functions, fixing bugs, adding new UI code when it’s needed, and just keeping the airship sailing. I’ve also been dealing with mysterious issues on user machines, which is always fun for a game developer. The process is simple: a user complains that the game mysteriously doesn’t work, and it becomes a game of trying to deduce what the problem is because, after all, you have no way of getting the user’s computer into the office. To give you an idea of the fun involved, here’s a recent example, as well as a few notes for other developers who might run into this particular fun problem.

nicholas_work

The story starts with a user noting that “when I start a new game, it crashes.” Well, that’s interesting. Does it crash when starting a new game, or when creating the world? “Starting a new game. No, creating a world. No, both.” We get a crash dump, and it’s crashing in a completely random place in the renderer which it shouldn’t be able to reach during world creation. Neat. So I ask for a copy of the user’s console, and I get that too.

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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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Mo Commodities Mo Problems

In Clockwork Empires you have a few fundamental game-pieces: agents that do stuff for you (colonists), places on the map they do stuff at (buildings/modules), and things produced by and consumed to build or upkeep the former categories: commodities. In other words, commodities are the food, planks, bricks, and so-on your colony needs to survive and grow. As such, commodities are very important to everything. So it is, by extension, very important indeed that a player knows how many of each commodity they have, what the commodities are good for, and how to make any commodity they don’t have but would quite like to have, thank you very much.

Glorious commodities everywhere just awaiting glorious logistical organization!

Glorious commodities everywhere just awaiting glorious logistical organization!

We’ve been working on tightening up these systems, both in the backend code and in the frontend code for expressing what’s happening in-game to the player. Let’s visit some of the work done toward these ends.

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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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Clockwork Empires June Update: Knights of Steam

ce_2016_june_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!

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.


Major player-facing additions this month

  • Steam Knights!
  • Barracks control over military squad loadout
  • Exciting Event Arcs!
  • A Better Economy
  • All sorts of UI bits and bobs!

If you’re in a hurry, that should cover it. But if you find yourself with the inexplicable urge for more, you’re in luck, we’ve got the full changelog posted below — or the extra special annotated changelog in the Clockwork Empires Development Report.

Begin the full Beta 52 changelog!

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Don’t Take Orders From Haunted Furniture

We put aside a couple days last week to come up with some ideas for Fun event sequences then implement them using the event arc structure managed by the Event Director feature (as discussed in the blog post on just that subject). So let’s have a look at an example of one such event – and how event arcs can lock buildings for Special Purposes.

furniture_orders

So the colony’s carpenter has a problem. These things happen! There are various ways to solve it (and others problems like it). Determined Inaction is always an option, as is Making A Highly Inadvisable Decision. Sometimes you can call upon the services of one of the specialist offices to resolve the issue by doing a little work. Just so here with the Vicar.

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2 Rax Blunderbuss Rush

Those of you enjoying Science on the experimental branch of the Clockwork Empires beta may have noticed certain radical changes in the operation of the Barracks. Let’s talk about it!

Shift Controls

To followup gently on last week’s post about the workshift system – and the theme of removing an unnecessary choice for which there was always a right answer – the Barracks has received a shift control button. Wait, you say, didn’t you want to remove shift controls because it was an unnecessary choice for which there was always a right answer? Yes! But the Barracks is the one case where shift controls are absolutely needed.

Emery Haberdashe always dreamed of hat-making but answered the call of Queen & Country instead.

UI is meant to be functional at this point and will receive polish, so I don’t want to hear about it!

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