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.
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?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Factories need to be identifiable by type at a glance even with structural customization and, better yet, they must be interesting to watch.
- 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.