Category Archives: Game Design

An Industrial Logistics Simulation For Everyone

The Clockwork Empire needs factories. It is an age of Industry, after all: Great Engines of Production grind through the bounty of the Earth: coal, ore, lumber, lower class workers! All are thrown into the gears of the great machines and boiled, mixed, stamped, lathed, baked, churned, then finally delicately extruded into sprawling stockpiles: the Wealth of The Empire!

Clockwork Empires is a city-building game which takes place in a fantastical industrial revolution. Factories are central to the character of the game because they are a physical embodiment of technological change and social & economic restructuring – progress! – from a medieval artisanal mode of production (something like Dwarf Fortress) in which individual craft skill is celebrated to a properly industrial machine-of-machines mode of production, alienated workers and all, in which the size and sophistication of factories is most important.

Besides, attaching together lots of moving machines is intrinsically neat.

Very early factory & logistics concepts: the splendor of Brick and Brass.

Construction Design Goals

So let’s break this design problem down a bit. What are we here at Gaslamp trying to do with factories in CE?

  1. The structures themselves are going to be procedurally generated. So there is not just one model for all steel mills that you plonk down in rows – you get to make decisions about shape, layout, and decor up to a point and as much as you desire.
  2. Individual factories will make specific products (vs. generic factories making abstracted production points, as in a game like Civilization). CE is about an Industrial Revolution, after all, so let’s dive in on the deep end and relish the details!
  3. The choices made by players need to matter, from internal composition of the factories to their placement in the settlement as parts of a larger civil & logistical system.
  4. Factories need to be identifiable by type at a glance even with structural customization and, better yet, they must be interesting to watch.
  5. Even where buildings are concerned, people are important. Characters make a game more engaging because they build stories. And anyway, the effect of industrialization on people (rich and poor) is extremely important to what’s going on in CE.

We’ll get to how these points will be addressed more specifically. But first let us take a relevant aside into a few games that are, in part, inspiring Clockwork Empires and which have themselves made gameplay involving production and logistics compelling.

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Clockwork Empires: Alright, Now What?

We’re back from Penny Arcade Expo! This was our first year as an exhibitor; while previous years have been reasonably epic (most notably for me, at least, was 2010, which was the year I crashed a panel with Steve Jackson), this year blew them all away. We got to meet a bunch of you, we got to hand out 100 Stuffed Diggle Menaces,  and we got to see the Hat of Bergstrom. We also had a few good times with some members of the remote team who don’t normally work at the Vancouver office, most notably Chris Triolo and Ryan C. Gordon, who just happened to be in town that day. I got a Valve tour! Daniel was on a panel! We went to Notch’s party! The list goes on and on…

Now we’re back, the question becomes: now what do we do?

The main thing that PAX impressed upon me was just how much work we have to do between now and next year on Clockwork Empires. Next year, we want to be showing this game, and we want it to be in a presentable state. That’s fine. We have a long, rather hard road ahead of us, and we’ll get there, but the question is… what do we do until then?

So here’s the plan. We’re an independent studio that is really not beholden to anybody but ourselves. We want you to know what’s going on and how we’re progressing; we want you to get excited for Clockwork Empires, and we want you to let us know how you think we’re doing. We’re going to open things up as much as we can, and we’re going to write while we do so. We hope you’ll like it. We’ll try to be honest, and we’ll try to let you know the good news as well as the bad news. You’ll be getting posts from me on the programming stuff, David on the art side of things, Daniel on AI (and maybe ranting about “business stuff”), and all of us on game design.

Let the great Developing begin, er continue! To that end, here is random art. What do you folks want to hear about?

Clockwork Empires serves the needs of all, from the clothing needs of growing alternative religions to the logistical infrastructure required to maintain a respectable zeppelin fleet in these challenging times.

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Conquest of the Wizardlands: Pocket Dimensions & Banksters

What with all this talk of pocket dimensions and wizards and somesuch, we thought it would be helpful to give a little tour of the sorts of things you’ll see in the upcoming Dungeons of Dredmor expansion pack Conquest of the Wizardlands.

Daniel and I talked about how to approach writing this post and we’ve agreed to do something a little different that we haven’t done in quite some time. Instead of just listing the features, we’re going to dig a bit into the game design process and discuss the thoughts behind the decisions we made in coming up with these features and their functionality.

Let’s start with the big feature that may do the most to change how Dredmor is played.

Pocket Dimensions & You: A Room Without a View

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We have Top Men working on it!

Two quick things, because… well, we’ve been working hard lately, and we want you to know that!

First: the Indie Megabooth at PAX East was, by all accounts, an epically awesome thing.  So obviously the only reasonable thing for me to do was talk to the great guys over at Fire Hose Games about getting in on the party for PAX Prime!  It’s still super early to tell what exactly is going down, but chances are very good that we’ll be there, showing off one or two of a few of our super secret projects.  I’ll fill you in when I know a bit more about what’s going on.  Also, they probably won’t be super secret for that much longer, we just have an over-abundance of scheming to catch up on.

Secondly, it’s official, we now have Top Men working on secret Dredmor toys.  The first prototypes of the plush diggle are currently being developed by our people on the inside at, but as soon as we have some pictures for you guys we’ll let you know.

Here's a picture of the cause of most of David's spelling errors.

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Dungeons of Dredmor II 3D

In 2012 … Evil Has A Whole New Dimension

The stars are right, and you know what that means: It is the privilege and pleasure of Gaslamp Games to announce Dungeons of Dredmor II 3D, a sequel to the rather strange 2011 Indie Roguelike hit Dungeons of Dredmor (called Indie Game of the Year by the madmen of PC Gamer Magazine).

Suddenly, a pre-alpha screenshot appears! Click to view full size.

A first look at the dungeon. Using lots of placeholder assets for now, so please pardon the mess.

Like any respectable developer, Gaslamp Games acknowledges that once you’ve got something good, the only rational course of action is to beat yearly sequels out of the IP. Given that we could afford to hire some more artists and rustle up some Maya licenses, the obvious move was to take Dungeons of Dredmor in an entire new direction where we can explore additional, ahem, depths of gameplay yet unseen.

Dungeons of Dredmor II 3D Features

As an independent studio, Gaslamp Games is uniquely poised to create revolutionary new gameplay features that would be stifled in the publisher-dominated game industry. New features include:

  • Entirely 3D dungeons built with procedural generation to create unique levels, traps, and puzzles sadistic enough to confound every John Urist!
  • 600 bazillion damage types! Damage enemies with x-rays, phlegmatic damage, poking, subtraction, melancholia, insinuation, gluten magic, freemasonry, and liver!
  • New, avant-garde soundtrack by experimental Japanese noise group Violent Onsen Geisha!
  • Powered by the shocking return of a 2012 version of Ken Silverman’s Build Engine, used in such hit games as Redneck Rampage, Duke Nukem 3D, and Shadow Warrior!
  • Eleventy quintillion cheeses, each with their own damage type! Includes your favourites (Churpi, Khoa, Paneer, Brimsen, Remoudoi, Sirene, Anari, Molbo, Danbo, Tybo, Handkäse, Weisslacker, Kaseri, Höfðingi, Skyr) and more!
  • Use our in-app store to purchase Digglebucks to upgrade equipment, buy new inventory slots, and reverse negative Krongings!
  • Play our awesome tie-in social and mobile games to increase “quest resources” to get the best ending!

    Get 12 "likes" on this post and we'll give you a lutefisk for free.

  • Dredmor 2 will use that one really annoying, unreadable font from Dredmor for everything, and not just the title text!
  • Even smaller, more numerous and indecipherable stat icons!
  • 3D-accelerated coloured lighting effects the likes of which haven’t been seen since the far side of 1998!
  • You still can’t see what your character is wearing – because, well… the hell with it!
  • Explore new challenging gameplay mechanics set in the Red Light District of Amsterdam!
  • Collect a series of tiny, magical hats by mastering The Third Dimension!
  • New, revolutionary, Artificial Stupidity technology makes previously smart monsters into gibbering morons!
  • 98% More Indie than Other Competing Indie Roguelikes!
  • Scads of Day-1 DLC include the ability to load and save games, and to have the ability to secretly save extra copies of your games in case you die suddenly with permadeath on!
  • New Crafting Systems include Yogurt Making, Elven Drycleaning, Bavarian Crafts, and the Human Centipede!
  • Cameo appearance by Famous British Person Peter Molyneux as Brax the Salesdemon!
  • Get ****ed up on Mushrooms!
  • Space Wizards!

Dredmor 2 will be launching on all fine Social Gaming Platforms near you. Have your credit cards ready.

Posted in Dungeons of Dredmor, Game Design, Games | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Patch 1.0.5 Is Now Up

The Windows version of Dungeons of Dredmor has now been updated to patch 1.0.5. (OS X users: we’re having one last Lion Issue, so we are working hard to resolve this; you guys should have your patch either later today or tomorrow. Probably tomorrow.)

Let us know what you think in the comments. Also please remember that this is not intended to be the end-all and be-all of fixes; this simply addresses everything we got done. (I have another one hundred and thirty seven issues, of varying levels, in the bugtracker, so we’ll be addressing your favourite issues as soon as we can.)

Changelog below. We’re pretty sure we did some other stuff that we’re forgetting.

EDIT: There will also be a leaderboard wipe in a bit.

EDIT EDIT: The leaderboards have been reset. Have fun, folks.

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Patch Status Update; Penny Arcade Expo

A user on Twitter has pointed out that it’s been three weeks since we put up a patch status update. What’s going on, Gaslamp? So here’s the approximate status and time line.

The patch, as it stands, is done. I’m waiting for one piece of art from David, and he assures me that he can paint it tomorrow, but I’m ready to drop it in when he says he’s done it. We’ve spent the weekend testing it internally, and are going to pack it up and send it out for external beta testing on Tuesday. As soon as the external beta testers give it the all-clear, we will fire it your way. There may be a second call for external beta testers next week; I need to get everything sorted out. I would like the beta to take about a week, so that I can put it up next Monday. There will be a content patch thereafter.

Thanks for sticking with us while we get this sorted out. The entire mess has been complicated by my moving, badly, and thus not having a real office until last Wednesday. Nonetheless, David and I are in the same building again, and we have plans to entertain you. I still don’t have internet at the new apartment yet, mainly due to working on this patch, so no doubt I will be in the office a lot until I manage to get that sorted out. 🙂 I need my fix.

In other news, various Gaslampers will be trickling down to Seattle this weekend for the grand and glorious Nerdstravaganza called Penny Arcade Expo. I will be there Saturday and some of Sunday, as I expect to be sorting out patch stuff all next week. Daniel will be wandering around, having a good time, and terrorizing Seattle in his [and Nicholas’s -Ed.] RV, “The Diggle Express.” If anybody would be interested in a Dredmor meet-up, or if anybody would be interested in having a beer with us, feel free to comment on this post and we’ll try to sort out something for Saturday. (As part of our deconstructionist approach to Achievements on Steam, there will be a special Dredmor achievement exposed to those of you who have been drinking with Gaslamp.)

There’s been a lot of other stuff happening in our three weeks of radio silence. There should be new distribution deals announced, including the long-awaited Linux port, in the next few weeks, and we will also be unleashing some sort of Merchandising Effort from the Dwarven Mountainhomes. Watch this space…

Posted in Dungeons of Dredmor, Game Design, Games, Gaslamp | Tagged , ,

Patch Status

Hi, folks!

We’re still grinding away on the next patch; this is slightly complicated by the fact that I am moving on Sunday, so my apartment furniture consists of nothing but my desk, chair, and a never-ending sea of boxes. There are two practical sides to this, however. The first is that I will be in the same city as David, which can only increase The Madness. Gaslamp will have shared offices again! David may yet drink decent coffee, if I have anything to do with it! And so forth. The second consequence is that I was originally slated to begin a Ph.D in Computer Science as of September; this has now been pushed back to January 2012 so we can wrestle the madness a little bit more, and ensure that Gaslamp is well set up to work on the next thing. (Who knows if I make it there in January, either. At the rate things are going, all bets are off. Dredmor may have spelled the end of my academic career… or not. Who knows. It worked for Jeff Vogel…)

That said: our planned next revision hums along at a good pace. My working notes on the things that have actually been fixed are below: subtract these from the most recent list we put up to get an approximate idea of the amount of work is remaining. I’m considering splitting this into smaller patches, so we can get this out sooner rather than later; at the same time, I want to make sure that we … well, for a lack of a better term, that we get everybody’s pet issues. 🙂 If you want to participate in our Exciting Dredmor Blooper Beta Bonus Round, send us an e-mail to (really) and tell us why you want to be one of our Exciting Patch Testers. Preference will be given to those who participated in the beta, to those who have been active in the community with assembling bug reports and tracking things, and to those with existing QA experience.

Okay. List of things we’ve done so far… is below.

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