Category Archives: Clockwork Empires

Clockwork Empires August Update: YES, INSPECTOR

The Occult Inspector asked if there was an update and we said-

ce_2016_august_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:

  • added a new Mine system
  • improved Naturalist’s Office
  • improved Public House
  • added a Training Academy
  • lights!
  • many UI improvements
  • vast & sweeping Upkeep rebalancing
  • Game Over stats
  • The Larch

Begin the full Beta 54 changelog!

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Acceleration Structures

Clockwork Empires relies internally on a series of tags, as I think we’ve discussed on this blog far too many times. When you go to look for something like food, we check the game for every object with the “raw_food” tag, and then you go to eat it. Here is where the bad news happens: once you have a sufficiently long game, you can stockpile large quantities of food. Let us say that a player has 500 pieces of raw food. Let us also say you have 150 characters – so, to put it into perspective, the player has accumulated 3 days worth of food. (This isn’t even that large a number.) Every day, the 150 characters must go and eat 150 pieces of food out of the 500. The problem is – they want to eat the *closest* food. So now we have to check 500 pieces of food vs 150 players to see which piece is the closest, for a total of 150 * 500 = 75,000 distance queries. Well, that can be a bit slow, especially when our AI budget is very tight and we have a lot to do. However, we’re now seeing games where characters have huge amounts of food – 5,000 pieces of food, say – and the game slows to a crawl. Clearly, smarter programming is required.

A lovely sea-side desert colony sent in by a player as part of a bug report.

A lovely sea-side desert colony sent in by a player as part of a bug report.

Clockwork Empires stores all information about object positions in a spatial dictionary. The handling of tags is done by a “tag index” class, which is essentially a giant array of information consisting of the following attributes: “position, object, previous item with this tag, next item with this tag”. When a tag is set, we grab a tag index from a giant statically allocated pool of tag indices, so that we don’t have a memory allocation, and attach it to the linked list of tags. The problem is… there’s no way to easily find the “closest” tag to your point. What is needed is a spatial acceleration structure of some kind – a way of dividing the world into regions so that we can start in our region, check it for the closest whatever, and then move on.

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Too Greedily And Too Deep

Welcome back to Chris’s Gameplay Iteration Corner! As usual when I show up here, we’re talking about improvements to gameplay systems.

One of our major goals at the moment is fleshing out some of the less-interesting buildings in the game. Improvements to the pub are in-progress as of the latest build, the chapel and naturalist office have improvements planned, and a major overhaul has gone into the building we’ll be talking about today – the humble Mine!

Exceedingly humble.

Exceedingly humble.

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A Simple Pint At The Pub

This post was originally going to be about Occult Inspectors but if we gave anything away that’d ruin the fun, wouldn’t it. So why not come down to the pub for a pint? By which I mean, we’ve been doing some iteration of the Public House (and related buildings, and games systems) and, while the trajectory we’ve set upon ourselves here is not yet finished, some interesting bits of design have come up on the path thus far traveled. By which I mean I’ll ramble about random stuff vaguely related to implementing Pub features which may or may not change.

Let’s start with the UI for the Pub, because this has implications through the entire game:

the_pub

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Of Hidden Things

My quest for the last several months to improve the visibility of information that players care about through our UI has been a really interesting process. There’s a lot going on under the hood of Clockwork Empires, and we simply didn’t have the tools to show it to you before. But our UI has been getting steadily better at presenting data (and I’ve become less and less terrible at UI design) so I keep getting cool opportunities to show you what you actually want to see when you’re looking at various parts of the game.

At this point I think there’s only one system that we haven’t shown at all but is pretty central to the way the game functions, and we actually had to avoid taking advantage of it because if we couldn’t show it to you, it got confusing. But now we can! And this system is tags.

Tags!

Every object in the game has a set of tags (attributes, if you will) that are generated when we first create an item, and can change over time as an object interacts with the world. Tags such as “timber” or “food” are straightforward examples.

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The common log. Flammable, timber, what more could anyone ask for in a log? Perhaps for a message, but only if you’re ready to listen.

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Clockwork Empires July Update: A Juncture Most Unnatural

ce_2016_july_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:

  • added many event arcs, including REDACTED
  • civilians will now fight to protect themselves (just not as well, or as long, as soldiers)
  • added upkeep to buildings (& multitude of systems and balance changes to support this)
  • changed UI for creating on-map assignments to “stamp” system
  • many other UI improvements done to improve information available to player and improve control over game systems
  • significant optimization of game speed, save size, save/load speed
  • … which let us add a 2X game speed button
  • housing and immigration systems much improved

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 Full Beta 53 Changelog

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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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