All posts tagged with "Important – yes. Critical – absolutely! I would go so far as to say that repair trunks alone makes our present economy possible."

How We Made Them Pay

A game of Clockwork Empires can be looked at as a game of increasing resource accumulation. This is extremely reductive but provides a useful perspective on certain design issues. So give every commodity a value, watch the sum of value in the player’s control increase as resources are extracted from labour and processed into higher-value goods. Population increases over time, increasing available labour. Food requirements impose a cost against population growth, though rate of added productivity is higher than food-labour cost.  Capital infrastructure (modules, buildings) imposes costs, but vastly increases productivity. Character skill gain over time increases speed of production. Altogether an idealized chart of total resources accumulated over time could look something like this:

resources_over_timeWhen a player advances to a point where their pile of accumulated resources are effectively limitless, then they’ve basically won the economic game, which makes it easy to explore the rest of the game without serious challenges (aka “fun”). This blog post is not about dealing with that end-game state however, it’s about delaying that end-game post-scarcity utopia in a way that is interesting. Building a colony in Clockwork Empires is very much about the challenges faced – and overcome – in the journey from a handful of colonists alone in the wilderness to bustling industrial powerhouse. If we let that journey finish too quickly, then the game experience is poorer for it. If we mess with the player’s journey by throwing random tornadoes at them to blow up all their stuff, that feels unfair and frustrating.

The question is, how do we slow accumulation rate or subtract from a player’s resources outside of food requirements and construction costs? … And have players enjoy it.

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Let Slip the Trunks of Repair

On the resource end of things, Clockwork Empires is largely a game about production – What resources can you get? How many? How quickly? Progression through the game is largely governed by a flat rate of what modules you can afford to build. Our module design, however, centers around an increasing economy of scale – this calls for the player to be using commodities constantly, not merely when they want to build something new.

A long while back, as a sort of nod to this philosophy we implemented a repair system where modules break after a certain amount of uses and must be repaired. This wasn’t ever made a focus, however – it had no real dedicated UI and what items were necessary to repair modules was not explained. However, as economy balance begins to come more into focus we decided it was time to revisit the repair/breakage system. So, coming in the next experimental: Upkeep!


Buildings will require weekly upkeep in order to keep functioning. Each module has an upkeep type and cost associated with it, and these add together to create a Building Upkeep that must be paid weekly. (Note that all figures here are subject to change as we get feedback on this feature). How do you pay this upkeep? Must you keep tons of spare building materials laying around? No! Instead you will use… Repair Trunks:


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