Political Change Through Faction Crises

“Begin with a function of arbitrary complexity. Feed it values, “sense data”. Then, take your result, square it, and feed it back into your original function, adding a new set of sense data. Continue to feed your results back into the original function ad infinitum. What do you have?”

– The Clockwork Empires game simulation! (Thank you, Academician Prokhor Zakharov.) Specific acts in the simulation itself may provoke crisis events. Crisis events allow a player to change their settlement’s policy toward certain factions. I’ve talked about this subject before a little in “Event Design Using Twine”. Let’s pull a newly implemented example: A Fishperson finds a source of meat and butchers that meat, then consumes it. Perfectly natural, but in conflict with the pseudo-Victorian values of the player’s faction. What do you do?



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You have to refactor all the jobs!

Practice makes perfect; once you have a system, you can improve it and you can refine it, but the hardest part is getting the system up in the first place. As a wise man once said:


Case in point: I’ve spent the period since the release of Revision 39 and today rewriting a good part of the jobs system.

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Fishy Foreign Faction Missions

Players order their colonists around in the grand bureaucratic tradition by creating assignments which are claimed by workcrews with the appropriate filters toggled. This is all very appropriate, hierarchical, and Victorian. What about the other factions in the game, won’t somebody think of the Fishpeople, the Bandits, and the Foreigners?

The first goblin-level implementation of Fishpeople involved spawning a whole mess of ’em and giving them the desire to rush the player’s colony and murder everything in sight, human or cabbage. The second level implementation of this sort of thing saw Bandits spawn with a notion of a group that has a home camp. The improvement pass on this gave bandit gangs names, leaders, and connected the morale state of bandits to one another.

Worthy allies or anti-monarchist revolutionaries?

Worthy allies or anti-monarchist revolutionaries?

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Clockwork Empires May Update: We Built This Colony With Hugs

Once more, a stack of Clockwork Empires updates appears in a neat pile. We present for you:


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.

Patch Notes:

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The Downward Tantrum Spiral

At its (*) heart, Clockwork Empires is a game where you organize people and build stuff. Those are the two main systems of player interaction with the game. You reward yourself for building things however you like, we reward you for building things effectively. Similarly, we reward you for organizing people effectively, and you can reward yourself by trying to get two characters to fall in love, start a riot (or a cult), and otherwise doing whatever it is you think would be most interesting.

(* squamous, eldritch, abominable; stamped, filed, indexed, and numbered)

Build stuff!

Build stuff!

The core features of the “build stuff” system are almost at their minimum viable state of “complete” (which we will continue to add frosting to): You can construct and destroy modules, buildings, and zones, but there are a few cases where doing so causes the game to get really unstable, so we’re working on that. We’ll expand this to include “rearranging” and probably also “upgrading” once the constructing and destroying have all their kinks worked out. The reward mechanisms are in too, but they’re more-or-less in a continuous state of refinement & iteration as we move away from “congrats, you get double production of widgets!” to more interesting rewards.

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Event Design Using Twine

And by twine I don’t mean building a game from bits of string and duct tape, but rather using Twine, the “open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories”. It’s basically a supremely easy way to build a “Choose Your Own Adventure”.

So that’s cool, but even cooler (to us) is how useful it is to designing events for Clockwork Empires. “This is madness!”, you say, but no – this is Gaslamp!

A simple event in Clockwork Empires.

A simple event from the current version of Clockwork Empires.

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The Magic Of Friendship In Clockwork Empires

One of the many things we’re working on this month is improving the fidelity of character personalities. Clockwork Empires runs a pretty cool algorithm for the characters wherein they attempt to better their lives when they find free time. If they’re angry, afraid, sad, or just bored they have a number of ways to resolve these cases, but until the present the majority of the options for making themselves feel better were solitary actions. For example they would look at paintings, stomp on the ground, drink an entire bottle of whiskey, and so on, with preferences for these actions based on the traits the character possesses (“Brutish” characters, for instance, are more inclined to solve their problems with violence).

Stomping is pretty great, isn't it?

Stomping is pretty great, isn’t it?

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