The Overworld

I don’t know how many times in the course of development we have used the Sheng-Ji Yang quote from Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri about how “One does not simply take sand from the beach and produce a Dataprobe.” But, we’ve used it a few times and today is no exception. Game development is an inherently iterative process, especially early access game development: you build systems, you attach other systems, and eventually – at some point – you run out of systems to build and cross over into a territory that consists purely of refining existing systems.

One of the major systems outstanding that I have to finish is the overworld. We have previously added randomly generated overworld maps, which are generated using a standard approach: “take a lot of Perlin noise, generate some Voronoi cells on top of that, fill in various land masses, and off you go.” What has been missing is the code which lets you pick an arbitrary point on that land mass and go exploring.

We have now reached the point in our Dataprobe creation process where we have started adding that.

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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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Catching The Chicken

There’s a tired joke one might hear in a restaurant when your meal is taking too long which goes something like “I guess they had to go catch the chicken before they could cook it.” This doesn’t actually happen in restaurants (probably), but it does happen in software development all the time.

Tiered organization of commands, you say?

Tiered organization of commands, you say?

When you want to do something new, you rely on having a significant chunk of code to build upon. But occasionally you have to go back and fill in things that you never realized you needed. Thankfully, unlike the restaurant joke, it’s not always such a great time sink. Having to go back and rework previous code can be done with the benefit of hindsight, and often lets you maybe make some low-effort changes that impart significant improvement to the software.

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The Clockwork Razor: Purging Agriculture

Workin' the farm.

Workin’ the farm.

Food and farming have been a bit of what one might call a “sticky issue” in Clockwork Empires. New players have a heck of a time figuring out how to grow enough food to feed their colony. They have an intuition that one is meant to feed people, that food is grown in farms and cooked in a kitchen, but  how much do you need, and when? And what factors control these qualities? Hardcore players have created detailed charts out of data collected obsessively over hours of experimental play. They’ve cracked the system and learned how to optimize production.

There are two problems here. One, farm mechanics are effectively in a state of incomprehensible over-simulation. Two, the logistics of moving the food objects into the kitchen to be cooked is really the biggest time sink in food production.

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Clockwork Empires February Update: All According To Glorious Design

We gathered some Vicars together to discuss the latest patch & they decided that everything was going –


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 wondrous annotated changelog.

(Don’t own the game? Clockwork Empires can be purchased on 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

  • Building creator, module placer, zone creator rewritten! Building stuff is more accurate, more efficient, and all-around improved! 200% of the rich flavour you demand!
  • Added happiness-to-workshift system: Now emotions matter. The happier your colonists are – well, your overseers anyway – the longer your work crews will work.
  • Science!
  • Chapel doctrines!
  • Optimization!

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The Importance of Being Happy

Happiness now matters. We’ve simplified the interaction loop that we were intending to place between character mood and work to give the player more direct control and feedback of how their work crews are doing. Whereas before Alpha 47C players could designate any given “hour” of the day as a work hour or an hour off, players now designate a single “start hour”, and the length of the shift the character will work is dependent on their level of happiness. Moving a work crew’s shift time causes the overseer to be less happy and more angry, and at a certain threshold of anger they will simply refuse to work, so overdoing micromanagement is discouraged.


Why does Jesse Snuffbox have such a negative attitude when Elsa Goldenrivet is all smiles and hard work? Now you know!

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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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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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