All posts tagged with "Fishpeople have it tough"

Providing The Challenge

As we build up to release, we must consider and balance gameplay difficulty as a whole given the set of game mechanics features we are working with. There are not only multiple axes upon which difficulty might be defined – and upon which gameplay mechanics operate – but also a diverse spectrum of expectations and player-types to consider.

Fish Massacre At New Sogwood 3: The Enbloodening

Fish Massacre At New Sogwood 3: The Enbloodening

On the one hand we have combat-hardened veterans of the Frontier who have sunk hundreds of hours into Clockwork Empires. These players derive grim pleasure from deconstructing our systems then optimizing them for maximum in-game effect while rampaging cannibalistic cultists tear each other apart amidst volleys of gunfire. On the other hand, we have players who just bought the game (or will soon buy the game) who are mostly fascinated by watching their colonists live little lives and decorating houses. Both players have legitimate needs! If a swarm of fishpeople busts into this latter fantasy and eats everyone, that player gets really upset. If a swarm of fishpeople doesn’t bust into the fantasy of the previous player type, they get really upset. And everyone is upset with us if we do any of this without giving proper warning.

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What lies in the heart of a Fishperson?

In the planning meeting last month I was tasked with “adding some creepy stuff”. Lovely, easy! Right?

As is ever the case in a game such as Clockwork Empires, with as many complex systems interacting with as many other complex systems as we have here, it turns out that much of simply “adding some creepy stuff” consists of tracking down the creepy things we’ve previously made then testing and updating them so they play nicely with all the other new things (creepy or otherwise) we’ve made. Plus there are the back-end refactoring passes that have made certain things obsolete, left other threads hanging, and the usual additions of better systems to replace old bits that were a little rougher and/or hacky. So there’s cleaning up to do which not only makes things work better, but makes things work better with other things. This explains how a subtask of my primary directive, “make sure all the eldritch transformations work”, turned into “review all cult-related actions and events” which turned into “overhaul every instance of madness in the game to work with both aforementioned items and with new madness visualization”. Then I found myself fulfilling the contingent requirement of “check every single job in the game and make sure it’s doing what it ought to be doing with what it should be doing it with, and split the 8000 line jobs definition file into smaller files”.

Adding some creepy stuff is not necessarily straightforward. Happily, that last paragraph describes what I did for the last major patch.


“Blood, mostly.”

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Ripe for Harvest! (And the CE rev30 Update)

Upcoming “Early Access” Launch of Clockwork Empires

On Friday, August 15th Gaslamp Games is going to be launching Clockwork Empires on Steam Early Access. We’ve been hard at work stoking the boilers and polishing the cogs for the big day. If I may be so bold: the game receives noticeable jumps in quality as each patch is released and we’re pleased with how things are coming along.

We will, by the way, be updating the Clockwork Empires: Development Progress page alongside the Steam launch so you can follow along with the overview of project progress as we transition from “Earliest” to “Early” Access. (Speaking of, the latest Clockwork Empires update patch notes can be found at the bottom of this post.)

Around here, it’s not just knife-fights and musical numbers – sometimes we even do some game design! Let’s talk about what people really play Clockwork Empires for: cabbage.

Farming Overhaul

That's no pumpkin!

(For our sharp-eyed readers: Can you find the pumpkin that isn’t a pumpkin?)

No, this is about farming actually. Farming got an overhaul and I’m going to talk about it.

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Modules, Interrupts, Memory Leaks

The Road to Early Access basically looks like the Road to El Dorado, except the musical numbers are worse. Right now I am still in a land where I have to actually sit down and do all the stuff I’ve been putting off for the course of the product. Two things that fall into this category are “putting modules in the corner of a building” and “interrupts.” Oh, and “fixing the memory leaks.”

In The Colonies there are unfortunate occasions wherein real estate looks bigger on the outside than it is on the inside. (See also: "Mad Architects Of The Frontier And Their Terrible Creations".)

In The Colonies there are unfortunate occasions wherein real estate looks bigger on the outside than it is on the inside. (See also: “Mad Architects Of The Frontier And Their Terrible Creations”.)

Putting modules in the corner of a building has been something that, since the start of the project, would blow up the game. There were a number of things causing problems here: first off, the code to actually handle the case of inserting the small “module footer” that forms the foundation of a module was blowing up if you put it in the corner of a map. This has been fixed. Second, when we finished a module’s foundation, we would delete the edges on the floor plan, and merge the leftmost and rightmost edges together. Obviously, this is not the right thing to do if a foundation piece is at the leftmost, or rightmost, edge of a blueprint – you end up collapsing two edges together that are at 90 degrees. So this has been fixed for the outside of modules. The inside of modules still breaks, because there is some funny business going on with how we construct interiors that I have yet to track down – but we’re making progress on long standing issues.

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The Fishman


[set, roughly, to the meter of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”]

bedOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
having just returned from GDC a couple days before,
lying in my bed with con flu, none too happily sorting through
the impressions of the journalists who visited before.
“They struggled with the game,” I muttered, “having never played before.
These struggles I do so deplore.”

clickingAh, distinctly, I remember, it was in my warmest sweater,
as each JIRA ticket crashed like waves upon the ocean shore.
Eagerly I watched the replays, studying hard and searching for ways
to improve the user’s gateway into CE’s dreadful lore.
The mouse clicks were not working, as they once had worked before,
for putting things onto the floor.

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December Technical Status Update: Santa Quag’garoth is Coming To Town

At a certain point, game development just comes down to iteration. You build a big pile of things, and then you iterate on them.  Then, you iterate on them some more… and then some more. Eventually, after enough iterations, you get a game, or the Standard Template Library (whichever comes first.)

One of the major driving forces behind said iteration is the fact that the game is now in the hands of Real People, in limited quantities. We have done five internal test releases so far – a bit slower than I am happy with; the first four test builds mainly focused on performance and getting things working somewhat better on people’s terrible hardware (see blog post from a couple of weeks ago); the fifth test build put combat, barbers, and phrenologists back in the game, as well as turning on More Useful Features (like mining.) So what we have right now is a game buried under a shameful selection of UI failures, which we are now trying to extricate ourselves from for Revision 6. This has mainly led to David learning how to use the Doctor Nicholas Vining Patent XML UI Syntax Guaranteed to Vivify The Spirit and Improve Marriage, which has led to this:

Secretly, I think we’re all just wishing for the good old days when he would send me large Excel spreadsheets of coordinates for Dredmor…

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