2015: The Year In Review Clockwork Empires Style

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? We’ve released a major update each month – and periodic experimental patches to boot. Clockwork Empire has progressed steadily through development!

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So let us take a moment this holiday season to reflect upon the changes of the last twelve months.

How, you ask? Why, through the power of vaguely consolidated changelogs! To soften the blow of an immense wall of text which is perhaps rewarding mostly to the development team, let’s first revue the promo art from January to December of 2015!

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Clockwork Empires December Update: THE BUREAUCRACY MUST GO ON!

We hope you’ve filled out all of your forms correctly, because we’ve just requisitioned –

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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 Changes

  • Foreign Office : added a means to perform bureaucracy to influence faction relations & trigger events
  • Boxed Modules : most building modules are now constructed in workshops rather than in-place
  • Fire : fire!!

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

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Fire!

Fire! FIRE! FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEE!

FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE

FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE!

Fire! Oh no, fire! Quick! FIRE! FIRE

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To the Foreign Office!

Our event framework has been in need of enhancement for a while. It is a fantastic framework, but as we add more content we realized that there are a few things we are using it for that are better implemented using some additional systems. Specifically, how players are allowed to interact with different factions and giving the player tools to change their standing with those factions. We wanted to give players a physical control point for all of this (rather than having to use randomly timed events as a control point) so we’ve implemented the Foreign Office.

From a 3x Foreign Office diplo rush attempt: installing cots for more efficient bureaucracy crunch-time.

From a 3x Foreign Office diplo rush attempt: installing cots for more efficient bureaucracy crunch-time.

The Foreign Office is where the player can actually change how other (human) factions feel about them by employing work crews who toil away filling out forms for various requisitions, award applications, and bureaucratic minutiae in order to generate large enough volumes of paperwork to complete diplomatic missions. Just like in real life. With the Bandits, this might be requesting/forging official papers, intercepting trade convoy information and giving it to them in exchange for improved standing, or setting up an uneasy truce. For dealing with the Empire, we already have the prestige system which was intended to be used like this in the first place, so we’re pushing the prestige/favour content into one filing cabinet of the Foreign Office.

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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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Space Aliens Made Us Forget That It’s Wednesday

We almost forgot about the blog post today. There are a few possible explanations here. Either David went off to Thanksgiving-land and took with him a sizable portion of our scheduling acumen, or since we keep finding things that have slightly changed around the office that don’t make sense, we must have lost twenty-four hours of time like in that Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode, “Clues” (where the crew of the USS Enterprise keeps finding things that have slightly changed around the office that don’t make sense, leading them to believe that they have lost twenty-four hours of time).

MYSTERIOUS.

Anyhow, patch 45 went well. People seem generally pleased with the decision tree code and how it’s working; the military does their job perhaps too efficiently, to the point of starving to death if you leave them rallying for too long. (We’ll fix that.) Building decor has been a hit, and the main source of confusion that we are currently trying to track down involves food production, which seems to be fine for some people and occupying 50% of colonists in a colony for others. (We’re working on figuring out exactly what this second set of individuals is doing. Mr. Triolo is busy consulting a complicated series of charts and muttering “oh dearie dearie me” while nervously fiddling with an astrolabe.)

Today’s blog post, however, also falls in the inconvenient space between “we released a patch with all our new stuff” and “we have new stuff to blog about.” So while we are *just* getting started on new stuff for this month (military features on my plate, Daniel doing some UI stuff that he doesn’t want to talk about yet, Chris taking advantage of the fact that workshop jobs can now accept multiple, disjoint inputs to produce a single output), we don’t actually have any of that

This week’s blog post, therefore, will be “al fresco.”

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Clockwork Empires November Update: HOW TO MAKE ENEMIES AND EXORCISE PEOPLE

We figured out what those Cultists have been building in the woods all this time! Yes it’s-

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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

  • Building quality mechanics! Add decor to make your workshops & houses more pleasant (or don’t!)
  • Revamped military AI! Soldiers will consistantly rally and follow orders with our newer, stronger AI infrastructure
  • Haunting Spectres! They’re spooky.
  • Additional opportunities for madness and the occult!
  • Point lights! Bring some cheer to those dark, creepy nights.
  • Enhanced murder.
  • Character memories have been cleaned up, extended, and given a longer-term record in the character UI.
  • (Continuing work on Secret Things, deep and dark.)

Alpha 45 Full Changelog (non-annotated, for annotated version go here)

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Installing The Airbags

We made a decision early on to release iterative progress on systems instead of waiting until systems are done for a number of reasons. It gives you reassurance that development hasn’t stalled when, every month, you can load up the game and see new iterative changes that generally improve upon the previous build. It also has the effect of allowing us to get feedback on the direction we’re going because most of our systems are at least somewhat unique, so we need to do some amount of field testing on them as we go.

AI programming.

AI programming.

One of the downsides to this process is that an unfinished system can often seem worse than the lack of the system entirely. I always picture this somewhat like giving people early access to drive a car as it’s being built: Some things feel very much like a car right away, but then you’re driving around without safety features and it can feel like you were better off before the engine was put in. At this point the analogy breaks down a little because we’re not actually putting your health at risk by testing how a car would work without airbags, but you get the idea!

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