Clockwork Empires: Development Progress

Last update: 2016 August 26

Welcome to the development progress report!
The purpose of this document is to inform you about the current status and ongoing progress of the Clockwork Empires project as a whole. This involves a consideration all the work that goes into completing the game, not just the player-facing game experience. This necessarily results in a high-level perspective on development. If you would like to follow the weekly development blog updates which discusses specific features each week, check out the Gaslamp Games weblog or sign up for the mailing list.

This document evolves as work on Clockwork Empires proceeds and we find better ways to communicate with players. We are committed to updating the project's status on this page for each major public release, once per month, without exception.


Table of Contents

  1. Monthly Blog Roundup
  2. Monthly Annotated Changelog
  3. Project Milestone Timeline
  4. Overview of Additional Project Work
  5. Cute Animals
  6. Old Project Category Descriptions
  7. Old Monthly Update Notes

Beta 54 (August 2016) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Beta 54 (July 2016) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


Major player-facing additions this month

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; just keep reading.


Begin the full Beta 54 changelog!

Mining

Let's start by digging into mining, ha-ha.

We've wanted to make mining more interesting for a long time - 'til now, it's essentially been "build the mine and let it run". Now, with the mechanics overhauled, there are some interesting choices to be made with the system. Do you: dig deep or dig shallow to target a certain stratum? Do you defer output to increase the shaft depth to find a better ore vein? Do you invest in expensive modules to access the lower mine layers? I won't belabour the subject as we have a nice blog post on mines (as noted right above): Too Greedily And Too Deep.

Offices

Speaking of overhauling various buildings under the "office" category (which is no longer the sole UI category due to some re-organization, so this statement mostly just makes sense to those of us who deal with the internal code structure ... ) - the Naturalist and Public House also received some pretty thorough upgrades! A blog post on the pub can be found here: A Simple Pint At The Pub. We also added a new building type, the Academy, to allow colonists to train skills.

Back to the Naturalist: it's been a buildings that you 'build and forget', so we made it provide a choice to players about what sort of advantage to give their colony: vastly increased sight radius via Scouting, a supply of meat via Hunting (the ability has been removed from general workcrews so it's just the Naturalist who hunts now), or the Naturalist can perform mineral surveys (which ties in nicely with the new Mining features).

The Public House can be read about in the aforementioned blog post, but a couple new bits went in since then: Booze Vats now control the amount of booze you can store so there's a point to building more vats. Pubs also control distribution of Laudanum as a separate operation from normal drinks distribution so that Laudanum can be a very-special cure-all (kinda) item.

Along similar lines, the Foreign Office's Standing Desks can now be upgraded to Bureacrat's Desks which improve the rate of work. The Laboratory has also received the ability to increase research speed by placing additional modules. (Yes, this is all part of a concerted effort to make all buildings do interesting things!)

Characters

Most of the fun stuff with characters will actually be covered in the UI/UX category - it's largely to do with revealing what the character mechanics are already doing that players are not particularly aware of, and letting players know what they can do to improve the state of characters who have states that could use some improvement.

Apart from that, the effects of Quality of Life were greatly increased so that - along with better UI - we can implement some interesting consequences for extreme moods alongside letting players know how to ameliorate said extreme moods.

Economy/Workshops

There are a few development threads at work here (though it's mostly upkeep). Let's start there.

The ongoing upkeep saga! Implementing a system ex nihilo which imposes costs and punishments onto players is always a hard sell. The details are too long for a full breakdown, but it's been quite a design challenge. Iteration of balance and mechanics is very much ongoing and we feel like we're on the path to alleviating issues with the system. The Advanced Workbench and a number of the balance notes concern upkeep - and a few more changes are in the pipe for post-54.

Related, albeit tangentially, is the addition of a timber crop to cold biomes to allow for a labour-intensive but effectively infinite source of wood. Also cheap jokes. The butchery change (output to stack) helps tremendously with logistics in a continuation of the stack-output conversions from last month and came alongside the upgrades to Naturalism. And then lots of fixes, as usual!

Trade

This category can all be summarized as "work out all the hitches with traders and trade good designation". It turns out it's important to make sure there isn't more than one party of traders on the map, but with the now smaller map size, this isn't a problem. Traders are much happier now.

Events

Speaking personally, I'm really excited about the game over screen. It gives some fun statistics! Needs a couple more bells and whistles to be a proper game-over, but it's getting there.

Otherwise, we've done fixes and balance to various events, especially arc events, to get everything working more smoothly. The rest is the details.

UI/UX

As mentioned, this is mostly character-focused. There have been many changes to their UI - notably, the tooltip is now set to a fixed spot on the screen so that more information can be stored in it. (If a tooltip is given a fixed spot on the screen that is guaranteed to be out of the way of the visual focus / center, it stands to reason that it can take up more space.) The goal here is to allow a player to use the tooltip information to get the information they need to resolve any problems the characters are experiencing (which are also displayed). This can range from "not working" to "upset due to lack of soldiers to protect the colony". By doing this, we itend to de-obfuscate gameplay goals the player should be trying to accomplish. The game itself suggests a concrete course of action to take to resolve problems.

The various buildings that received mechanics overhauls have been given much improved UI as a matter of course and we've continued the process of cleaning up rough edges and minor bugs.

Engine & Others

(Okay, okay; this is totally a miscellaneous category. I apologize but I'm not sorry!)

With that out of the way: Lights! You can build lamps and they - as well as various modules like kilns & ovens - light up the dark nights with a cheerful glow.

The biome notes are just minor tweaks to how the terrain generator handles roughness and terrain transitions. These are just easy adjustments that happen as you're testing something and think "hey, this feels a little off".

The 'acceleration code' point is an interesting optimization, have a look at the blog post for the technical details: Acceleration Structures. And then we get the usual slew of stability and save/load fixes which are always important.



Changelog Conclusion

And that concludes this month's annotated changelog!


Project Milestone Timeline

In the broadest strokes, these are the major public-facing milestones of the Clockwork Empires project:


Overview Of Additional Project Work

There is a great deal of work to launching a sucessful commercial project which is not directly related to the development of the game software and art assets. Most of it is invisible to gamers, which is fine, but it is important in this circumstance to acknowledge the hard work and effort involved which is absolutely essential to the game even though it doesn't appear in the game itself. This overview will be necessarily brief and should serve only to give an idea of what has been done and remains to be done.

Completed Tasks

Current & Ongoing Tasks

Upcoming Tasks


Cute Animals

As a reward for anyone who read this far, we present to you a picture of Daniel's kitten:

CEO kitten

For those of you who stuck with us 'til now, here is David's cat in a basket:

Godiva in a basket

You lucky people! September gives you Nicholas' TWO cats just hanging out:

Vining Cats

This month? You get Mr.Hamilton's 'pig:

Hamilton Pig

Hello Margaret Catwood!

Margaret Catwood

Here's David's other cat. No, really, this is a different cat. I can tell which is which. Usually.

Leeloo is tall

We're running out of cats, so here's Daniel's other cat! Note that this is NOT Leeloo from the previous picture, Arya is a totally different cat. You'll pick up on the subtle differences with time. (Arya's paw is shaved because she had to go to the vet.)

Arya the kitten-cat

This month it's Micah's turn, so we present Misha the Cat:

Misha

Say "hello" to Scout who Nicholas saved from a life of drugs!

Scout

This is Derek's dog who will be assigned a completely random code-name so all identities are protected. Thus: "Mr. Pink".
Or you may use "The Musher". Whichever you prefer.

Secret Dog

Micah again - it turns out he fosters kitties looking for a home (and therefore probably has an endless supply of cat pictures). Meet Moxie aka Eddie. Isn't he nice?

Moxie

There's a lot going on in this picture from Daniel. I can't explain it. You're on your own.

Wat

This is Myspace. Myspace is a cat. Andrew will answer any additional questions.

Myspace the Cat

Here's Leeloo again!

Leeloo

Mr. G, is it you? It is!

Mister G

So I'm all like

Whaaat

And then you're like

Godiva!

So, you know.

Cat Condo

Why, good morning.

Morning Cat

Old Project Category Descriptions

As of October 2015 we shall no longer split development descriptions into the old subcategories.
We will however retain record of the old subcategories in this addendum to the development report. The idea behind this change is to make the development updates more readable and relevant to the current state of development. So rather than split the update into a huge list of sub-categories that may or may not have changes, monthly changes will be described more organically as a sort of annotated changelog.

Plus, the relative work involved in each category is not equal so assigning numbers can give a misleading impression.


The Engine

This is the key component that brings every part of the game together. The engine makes sure that mouse and keyboard input is processed, that visuals display, that the game can pull information from the correct space on-disk, that the UI renders and responds correctly to input, that a character is drawn in the right place and is told what to do from the right script. Every part of this infrastructure must be in place in some form before player-visible game content can even be implement. As Nwabudike Morgan put it, "Each interdependent piece must be materialized simultaneously and in perfect working order; otherwise the system will crash out before it ever gets off the ground."

Nowadays most games are built on engines purchased from an outside company so the developer does not have to build their game from the ground-up. Popular examples of such engines are Unity, Unreal, CryEngine, and idTech. This category is easy to underestimate compared to other projects because we've built an engine from scratch. The game engine is hugely complex and, if everything works correctly, the player will not even notice it. The intangibility of the engine needs to be emphasized because it's such a huge portion of the work done on Clockwork Empires during development but it's one of the absolute least visible components to players. In short, it's a huge deal, but you won't be able to tell unless something goes wrong. Much of the work remaining involves making sure things don't go wrong with the wide variety of hardware and operating systems out there.

MacOS Clockwork Empires is out in the wild and Linux shall follow.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Human Characters

Simulating human characters is perhaps the cornerstone of Clockwork Empires, and as such it's one of the systems we've spent the most time on. As far as what's visible to the player, it probably appears about half as sophisticated as we intend the final product, but there's a lot of solid back-end code to support much more than what's been done. Now that we have a comprehensive design for characters as well as a completed framework to build that design on, most of the work that remains involves adding new 'jobs' (a job being what our engine calls any unit of a character's physical action eg. chopping down a tree or rubbing their stomach and making hungry, unhappy sounds), new memories, a more sophisticated relationship model, and physiological responses.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Scripting System

Like the game engine, the scripting system is somewhat intangible to a player but exceedingly important to development of Clockwork Empires. The scripting system allows us to use a scripting language - Lua is this case - to control game logic without messing with the underlying functionality of the game engine, such as graphical rendering, or keeping assets loaded in memory.

The scripting system is also essentially complete. Almost all of the game object definition, and the interaction of these game objects is handled through Lua. These objects interact with each other by passing messages that are scheduled by the C++ engine code. We need to do a cleanup pass to make sure that all the strings for localization are out of C++ land, and we need to clean up leftover code used for various tests, but we're very pleased with the state of things.

As far as the player is concerned, this system is effectively done. A lot more content remains to be scripted, but the infrastructure to allow this to happen is all in place and works very well. Any error that occurs here would almost certainly an issue with an individual game object's script rather than the scripting system itself.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Combat & Military

The combat system currently works pretty solidly as a base upon which to build deeper features: soldiers will defend the colonists who call for help, colonists tasked with hunting will shoot animals with slightly alarming zeal (even peppering the already dead bodies with an extra bullet or two, depending on their traits), and everyone from bandits to fishpeople to your colonists can be wounded, take afflictions, and be killed.

Now the lovely system of military control that we painstakingly designed while the project was still quagmired in engine code is beginning to be implemented! We needed to allow for the characters themselves to be sufficiently complex that they would be affected by military service (this is done), for the job system to allow interrupts (also done), and for additional sophistication and UI support for work crews in general (getting there). We also needed enemies to be sufficiently complex that military controls are necessary (working on it). So the characters are able to do everything needed, and the scripting of complex, interesting enemies is starting to show off what it can do (though pretty much all of the art assets are done, as mentioned in the "Non-Human Characters" section).

There's a lot still to come. We want to allow the player to build barracks to base troops out of and act as a control panel for more interesting control over soldier behaviour and loadout. Additional tactical options are being considered as well; patrol points, at the very least, seem essential, and more options for constructed fortifications.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Non-Human Characters (Animals, Monsters, Vehicles)

All of the character (human and otherwise) in Clockwork Empires are based on very similar code with different amounts of complexity added on. Various categories of NHCs (non-human characters) have been created and integrated nto gameplay but this code, aside from the animals, hasn't been generalized sufficiently that adding new monsters and non-colonist humans is quite as trivial as it should be. This isn't difficult per se but it hasn't been the most important task yet versus our priority on getting human colonist character behaviour feeling really good, plus all the supporting UI/UX features involved in allowing the player know WHY characters are doing what they do. It is only natural that the player focus on their own colonists, so that had to be our starting place. We're getting to the point where that structure is very solidly in place so we're starting to flesh out the other beings of the world/other worlds.

The benefit of having the human characters essentially done is that every other active entity (animal, horror, vehicle) in the world is a version of human characters with simpler behaviour, so they're relatively easy to create in comparison. This process is being done gradually, in thematic groupings, as development proceeds.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Buildings & Building Creation

This section includes everything the player can build: workshops, machine modules, dynamics (pipes), and zones (farms, stockpiles, graveyards) as well as any game mechanics that employ these structures.

... Not anymore! We've added a new "Economy & Logistics" section for anything to do with the economy: workshop functionality (not visuals), machine modules, dynamics (pipes), and zones (farms, stockpiles, graveyards), etc. This section will now be just about actual building of buildings and their visual display.

Let's talk about buildings. Procedural building geometry is pretty solid unless you cram a lot of modules together in a particular way or manage to find certain edge cases in blueprint placing rules. With this more or less working, we're focusing on improving the UI for placing buildings and modules as well as the gameplay mechanics that use constructions generally. (The last major features required for building geometry proper is support for more varied building styles including gabled roofs and more exciting decorations, but this is all visual polish, so gameplay comes first.)

Again, everything else to do with buildings has been moved into the next section. Bear with me.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Economy & Logistics

We've gone too long without this category. 'Til now matters of economy and logistics have been awkwardly stuffed into the "Buildings & Building" creation category. No longer!

So what's this about? Harvesting resources, exactly how work crews accomplish said harvesting of resource, how commodities are moved from one place to another, how commodities are stored, how commodities are transformed via labour and machine modules into different commodities, how the rate of commodity production is balanced versus commodity consumption and what this means to the colony. Karl Marx will have something to say about coats if you stick around.

In terms of specific game objects, this'll all be to do with resources, workshops, stockpiles, jobs, work crews, and commodities.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Biomes & Terrain

We currently have two biomes: "Temperate Colorado" and "Tropical Jungle". Each has unique flora and fauna, and the tropical biome is much more difficult to play due to dangerous... things.

The terrain generator is capable of much more than is currently shown to the player, both on a small and large scale, and taking advantage of these abilities would tie into overworld development.

We've also got a lot of completed assets that aren't being shown yet. As perceptive readers may recall, we have generated desert and swamp biomes, and the art exists to support these and many more. So we have most of the technical capacity to expand the biome numbers, but we want to ensure that they really play differently from one another instead of just doing quick, superficial implementation of art. And besides, this requires a more fully developed economic system for biome-unique products well as more monster & animal content for unique challenges in each area. With all that in mind, new biomes will be rolled out over time in thematically appropriate chunks with accompanying economic and animal assets as development on the game proceeds.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features

Seemingly Random Aside


Events, Metagame, and The Overworld

We've decided to roll game events into this section. Well, they sorta were before but we're going to make it explicit by writing "EVENTS" in the title.
Reasoning: 1. Events form a bridge between the simulation level of the game to abstracted game concepts like Empire Prestige, what biome you're on (stored as an abstract variable which can affect things quite apart from the actual content of the game map), and what day bandits last attacked. The metagame is all about abstracted game concepts, so events are the obvious method to making them matter to the simulation. 2. We worked on a lot of event stuff this last month and there really wasn't any other obvious category to put them in. Onward!

This category includes events now, plus from before the world map itself, the ability for a player to found a new colony in different conditions based on where they choose to settle on the world map, tracking player progress through different settlements, interaction with different factions, and having in-game events tie in to what the player sees in their colony.

This is one of the less developed systems, but also one of the simplest with the fewest unknown variables because it interacts with the core character/colony simulation only sporadically and largely at the beginning and end of a game to provide context and consequences for actions taken in the body of the game. So far in development there's little point in having a meta-game without a strong core of the colony simulation game itself, so while we had a great time designing all the systems involved for the metagame and are eager to implement them, it's not going to get done until it's the best way to improve the game experience.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Multiplayer

Networked simultaneous multiplayer has been planned for Clockwork Empires from the start - and such a feature must be planned from the very start for any modern game because it requires that the game engine and gameplay mechanics operate based on architecture which enables multiple instances of the game to coordinate events. It should suffice to say that this is a significant investment of time, but as any fan of multiplayer games knows, the reward is great. The underlying system architecture of Clockwork Empires has been built from the ground-up to support networking, using a deterministic lockstep architecture. Most of the required code investment is already done, and we have successfully run networking code on our internal LAN. We simply need to take the last few steps for completion, give the system a nice frosting of user-interface and usability features, then undergo testing, optimization, and "hardening" against poor connectivity and Interfering Firewalls. We also wish to have a better concept of what a multiplayer "game" of what Clockwork Empires looks like, and will write additional gameplay code to support this.

We also plan to offer support for non-simultaneous "multiplayer" games of Clockwork Empires; in these "succession" games, you play a game for a period of time then hand the save file off to a friend to play. They may hand the save file back to you, or possibly to some random person on the internet. This is fairly straightforward compared to networked multiplayer, mostly requiring game saving & loading plus ease-of-use features. It will also require some design iteration as we discover the most interesting ways to convey the concept of "succession"; this will in turn require some unique interface features.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Music & Sound

This category encompasses all of the audio assets, sound and music, heard in the game. The dynamic music system mixes up to six tracks of different moods together based on events in the game; for example, during combat more martial-feeliing music will play, and if weird monsters from another dimension show up, the music will get very strange indeed.

The dynamic music system was finished shockingly early, is implemented, and works. Not all of the events that should alter the mood of the music are set up to do so, however. This will require a series of housekeeping passes to go through all relevant events in the game and paste the one line of controlling script plus appropriate variables wherever needed. It's not difficult, it just needs to be done in a lot of places as development proceeds. In terms of sound effects, we need to tweak a few sounds, flesh out some more variety in assets, implement support for ambient and cleanly looping sound effects, and replace the placeholder character vocalizations. (Right now the character's are all voiced by Matthew Steele, whose voice you may recall as the announcer from Dungeons of Dredmor, though rest assured that he sounds nothing like that in Clockwork Empires).

All in all we're very happy with the way music and sound has come together so quickly.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


UI/UX

UI/UX is really important and deserves its own category! In terms of project assets this category includes the art for icons, art for UI elements (every window, every button), the illustrations for events and backgrounds, and any other visual effects used to signal the player about what is going on in the game that isn't a part of the game-world itself. Behind the art, there is an xml layer which controls UI layouts -- what goes where and controls what -- as well as how the art is applied to these layouts. Behind the xml is the engine's UI rendering system to draw the art to screen according to xml as well as the code to send player commands through UI layouts into the game itself.

It should be emphasized that the current state of the UI is not set in stone and we fully intend to continually iterate UI/UX based on player feedback throughout the course of development. Again, it's really important because the UI is what stands between the player and the game; it should have a facilitating, not frustrating, effect.

Completed Features

Upcoming Features


Old Monthly Update Notes


Beta 53 (July 2016) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Beta 53 (July 2016) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


Major player-facing additions this month

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; just keep reading. (This is, I believe, the longest changelog we've ever had.)


Begin the full Beta 53 changelog!

UI/UX

We have to start somewhere, so let's start with the assignment stamp system.
Now, to chop down trees, mine surface ore, or clear terrain, we provide a fixed size stamp that highlights the map squares that will be affected. (This replaces the screen-space rectangular drag-and-release command paradigm.) Why is this good? Several reasons: First, the affected area is expressed in terms of game-space so you know what objects and what area is to be affected. The shape is also a game-space square, (which looks more like an isometric diamond in screenspace) - this unifies the visual parameters of the command with the game systems to be affected. In other words: draw a square on the map, an isometric diamond square and map, and get an isometric diamond square area given the command, one to one. This is much more straightforward.

Second, this simplifies a pitfall in game systems that would unduly affect less experienced players: it was very possible to create enormous assignment zones and have no idea that this would occupy a workcrews time for upwards of 10 or 15 game-days. An advanced player would know how to re-assign a workcrew or pause or cancel an assignment to better allocate work, but these operations only tend to be used by very advanced players. By limited the size of assignment zones, assignments which affect large areas are broken into smaller pieces which can be resolved to allow a workcrew to take on different tasks before coming back to a similar assigment. It also gives a much more clear idea of just how much job scope clear-cutting a forest entails as a player has to create 8 assignments to do it rather than one. This does create slightly more UI work for the player for specific large-scale operations, but these are uncommon enough that the burden is not undue -- especially compared to the former burden of having to manage assignment pausing/cancelling/workcrew shuffling which was necessary for effective management in the former system.

Phew. Anyway, this system worked out very promisingly. Oh - and these orders were made first-class UI elements so they're immediately accessible on the UI without digging down into sub-menus.

There's been a lot of work to better express important information in general, as well. A great deal of UI related to upkeep was added (more on this system later) to help ease players into understanding why they need to pay upkeep, when, and what's needed to do so. Smaller in scope there was done, as an example of polish, an improvement of the tooltip showing the effects of memories and quality of life on emotional states - the previous implementation was essentially placeholdered, the updated one is cleaned up and much more pleasing to read. It's the same information but presented more nicely which has the effect of causing players to care much more about the contents. This process of polish was done in many, many places: consistent UI styles on buildings, confirmation dialogs for exiting w/o save, button highlights to show when a UI state is active, and so on.

A strategy game is, after all, played through its UI.

Events & NPCs

More arc content has been added, including REDACTED. Enjoy!

Immigration was redone and now ties directly to your house situation which I'll talk about here even though we're in the "events & NPCs" section.
So: building more houses now increases your colony population cap, respective of class. Lower class houses allow more lower class workers, middle class houses allow more middle class overseers. Speaking of, we've made an attempt to make terminology more consistent so that instead of saying "lower class" we try to say "labourer" and "middle class" is "overseer". It's important to keep the game-mechanics terminology straightforward for those who are not otherwise interested in a class analysis of Victorian society. Back to houses: And when you upgrade houses by adding various decor and modules, this allows a particular houses to increase its effect on the population cap. This is lovely because instead of building sprawling shantytowns, players have motivation to upgrade and decorate!

Otherwise, mostly fixes and balance here. Of particular note is sorting out a large number of edge cases in Trader behaviour - there are a great number of ways a trader can get lost, or abort their mission, or otherwise get stuck on a rock and thus screw up some requirements, and these are now cleaned up mostly. Mostly.

Buildings & Economy

We added upkeep! This means that working buildings now require 'upkeep trunks' be spent to keep them working.
It's always hard to sell the idea of a tax mechanic to a playerbase that hasn't used one previously, but it's really important to add some kind of resource sink otherwise the game is a clear and inevitable progression to having infinite resources (interrupted, occasionally, by shocking violence and destruction of course - but this is necessarily sparse enough that it isn't a resource sink we can count on). So we need upkeep! And so long as it's necessary, the important part is showing players the it is something they must plan for and then - before it becomes punishing - exactly how they can plan for it. So that took a good bit of UI to do, and will require some more for sure. Oh, and there's a blog post on this subject in case you missed it above: Let Slip The Trunks Of Repair.

I want to bring specific attention to a particular point: commodities used in the production of module goods are now stashed in the module using them, and will be released if the job is aborted. Previously, when a workshop job was interrupted for any reason the ingredients for the production job would simply be lost. This was more or less intended but not explained to the player. It was therefore assumed to be a bug, and we'd get lots and lots of reports and general disatisfaction because commodities disappear for no discernable reason. This could have been a punishment mechanic, a commoditiy cost for allowing work to be interrupted, but it clearly wasn't connecting cause to effect in the players' minds. So it had to go. Upkeep is much better at providing a resource sink.

We already discussed the new housing system and it's quite lovely. Moving along.

The other major but subtle fix was to output resource harvesting job products to stacks and, if available, directly into the harvesters hands. They then return this stack to a stockpile if available. This small rules change massively affected the logistics simulation of colonies, particularly late-game colonies. How? Let's do a hypothetical: a worker chops down a tree. In the old system, this could spawn 8 individual logs on the ground. This requires 8 characters to walk to the logs (which are out in the woods, remember), pick each one up, and bring it back to the stockpile. So that's the time it takes to walk to the stockpile times 8 times 2 for going there and back times pickup and drop per item. And it requires a free hauling-assigned workcrew. Now imagine if the harvester gets the stack of 8 logs in their hands and returns it to the stockpile themselves: that's a walk to the stockpile and back, plus one pickup and drop for an, uh, eight-fold? reduction in work. Imagine this rate of reduction of logistics work applied to every case involving harvesting resources in the game: the result is an enormous savings in work-time. It's also a fairly opaque result - a player knows that their colony is running better than previous versions, but it's difficult to put their finger on just why because there's no actual object to point at. But it's so, so much better.

Otherwise: the usual multitude of fixes and improvements!

Map & Biomes

One day I loaded up a player's saved game in search of an unrelated problem and saw that there was a phenomenal amount of random meat lying at the edges of the map. What's up with that? Well - carnivores have a behaviour to kill and butcher other animals. The hitch was, their hunger rating never increased so they never actually ate the meat. This left some hundreds of extra game objects all over the map. A player could collect this forest meat, but it ran into the logistics problem described in the previous section - plus, the edge of the map was so far away that a colonist would spend half the day walking to the meat, pick up the meat, walk home for the rest of the day, then go and eat some food and sleep. Hardly worth it. So, first: carnivores now get hunger so they will eat random meat. Second: we reduced the size of the map so collecting this meat would be less trouble anyway. (Well, we didn't reduce map size just to fix the meat problem; it's more a happy consequence.)

Oh, map size reduction? Indeed!
Your average player will always dislike the idea of reducing scope, but let me explain why this is a good move: The scope of the map was not useful due to certain fixed game mechanics, notably walk speed and day length. We could change walk speed, but this would require redoing 50 or 60 animations and re-balancing every other game system. We could change day length, but this would require re-balancing every other game system, including accounting for the increased map size - a task of terrifying scale and therefore unreasonable. So if it's unreasonable to use most of the map's area, what is it for? And what do we gain if we remove it? Well, we get a huge amount of optimization out of it: the game runs faster, saves faster, loads faster, and provides a throroughly superior play experience. It also let us add the 2x button - more on that in the Engine section.

Otherwise: balance, mostly, and some alterations that make starting terrain easier to work with. Following the rule that if a choice always has one correct answer that it's better to start the game after that choice is made: Because it isn't super interesting to start on the side of a cliff then find or make a clearing, we're making the game start with the assumption that your colonists were dropped off in a small clearing suitable at least to start building a colony.

Characters

Immigration was overhauled! But we talked about that already. There's a blogpost on the subject too, in case you missed it: Popping The Real Estate Bubble.

A whole swath of new traits was added. Back when we first added traits we came up with a list of stuff that sounded funny without much consideration for how they played in then-non existing game systems. Now that we have a nearly complete game, we have a rather better idea of traits that would be interesting to actually play. So that's what happened.

Otherwise, fixes and balance! The memory balance in particular is being done to decrease the overly generous positive moods given by baseline quality of life modifiers to make game systems a bit more punishing now that various systems are maturing, ie. events, combat, houses.

Combat & Military

Yes, civilians will finally be useful in fights! This also means we can remove some messy mechanics that were intended to protect civilians before a player built a Barracks, ie. the starting barracksless NCO and the concept of 'field promotions'. Civilians are however perhaps a little too useful right now, but we've got an idea of how to paint their little red wagons.

Making civilians fight also revealed a number of minor issues in combat logic, most of which were particular to civilians using makeshift weapons in melee combat (melee combat being less common with soldiers as they generally have real weapons, and usually firearms at that). The best bug found in this process was that using a quill to attack someone with would freeze a character in place forever. Suffice to say it's fixed now.

Engine, Scripting, Saving & Loading

Yes, the fabled 2x button! When you press it, the game runs at 2x speed. This is quite entirely possible due to the performance gains from reducing map size - and adjusting the animation system a bit to correctly handle this faster animation speed.

Otherwise, lots of crash fixes and strange errors taken care of. (The beetles eating longpork issue was that meat was not checking the type of damage done to it. So if any type of damage would destroy the meat, it would consider itself burned into charred meat. Yup, we're looking out for you here at Gaslamp Games.)


Beta 52 (June 2016) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Beta 52 (June 2016) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


Major player-facing additions this month

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; just keep reading.


Begin the full Beta 52 changelog!

Combat, Military

First: Steam Knights!
Funny story: These were implemented before the first Early Access, but existed with very little in the way of event-related or economic context. And they were tied in to a lot of systems which have since been entirely redone, particularly combat/damage calculations, item use, explosions, and uh, everything basically. So they were commented out while we figured out just about everything else in the game. This month, the old code was dusted off, shifted about, slotted in to the gameplay systems we've been building for the past while, and now Steam Knights are back! They're not accessible in very many ways just yet, but they fundamentally work and can now be expanded upon as befits their role.

The handling of weapons generally and particularly through the Barracks has been redone to give the player control over squad weapon loadouts. There's a blog post which goes into greater detail on this subject here. In short: handling of weapons was centralized to the Barracks to give the player one on-map place to control squads from rather than going down the complexity/UX rabbit-hole of dealing with individual item tracking. This system seems to be working well and is in line with our general goal of letting the player set policy rather than making each and every decision personally.

Alongside these changes came some improvements to handling of combat overall. There's still a bit to do, and some important player-controls to reveal, but it's nearly there.

Jobs, Workshops, Offices, and The Economy

The commodity filter categories (seen in the Commodities window and in Stockpiles) have been redone so that commodities can be better organized in a way that is relevant to how the game economy operates. The original commodity filter categories were made somewhat off-the-cuff, as it were, and become increasingly less relevant as time went on from the first Earliest Access release. These changes should prove helpful for organized-minded bureaucrats.

A number of Advanced Machine are implemented! These allow workshops to vastly increase their productive output per unit of labour invested, though they will of course require vast amounts of resources to operate (and construct). There will be more economic balancing around this, and it begins to beg questions about improving mining and so on...

And of course a ton of fixes have been put in to get everything operating more smoothly. With the economic game data redone to fit with the major new features rolled out and feedback about what's going on in workshops working better, many smaller issues are revealed and must then be fixed. So we did that! (There's always a grand hierarchy of bugs and feedback which goes a bit like this: At first, it's something huge and fundamental that's gone wrong and everyone flips out. When that gets fixed, the next layer down is revealed either behind the content unlocked by the fix or in the ability of players to pay greater attention to other things - which now seem a lot more important. The volume of feedback never really decreases as the magnitude of errors goes down, but the magnitude of errors does go down. It is rewarding to go through the process of turning complaints about big things into complaints about small things.)

Characters

The big change here is the removal of customized workshifts. When we sat down and hashed out what was really going on with the system, it basically worked out that it was a problem that almost always had one optimal solution and a player either knew to choose that option or they did not know to choose that option - and paid for it without knowing why no one was ever at the Pub to serve beer. Going with the principle that any problem that has one solution (and is not therefore an interesting choice) should not be a choice at all, we removed the ability to choose workshift start times and made it so they are set by the building a workcrew is assigned to. There's a blog post about all of this here.

There is however one place that workshifts choice IS important: Barracks. So workshift controls were added to the building itself, as noted above in the appropriate section.

In other news, certain aspects of the Quality of Life system did not update quite so readily when conditions were changed as they ought to have - so now they do. And various fixes and balance changes were made so that everything operates smoothly.

Events

We made a concerted push to add new event arc content and further honed a system for firing these at interesting times during gameplay. That's all I'll say on that - enjoy!

Now for event arcs proper: Special events can now lock certain buildings to perform special actions. Hey, there's a blog post on this too! Check it out here. The short version is that an event can, for example, set your Chapel to the special project of researching an exorcism to perform, and this will succeed or fail and alter the course of the event based on that result. This allows events to use your colony's offices for special Fun.

Annnd the usual list of fixes and re-balancing goes on.

Engine, Scripting, Saving & Loading

Lots of fixes! In particular, the increased importance and fidelity of workshop production revealed certain fundamental issues with commodity tracking that caused some very awkward situations, so this system required a certain clarification. This has been done.

Adding the ability to save and load and go to and from the main menu was several orders of magnitude more work than you might imagine due to the glories of 'technical debt'. Let's not talk about it.

When You Have Too Many Kokanees And Leave The Meat On The Barbecue For Too Long

I believe the contents herein speaks for itself.



You saw our cool trailer video made last month, right? Why not see it again ?



Changelog Conclusion

And that concludes this month's annotated changelog!

So what is upcoming, you ask? Tons of player-facing improvements and content! And as for particular high-level goals, see the next section.


Beta 51 (May 2016) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Beta 51 (May 2016) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


First: Beta!

What does this mean for you?
It starts with us: this is a shift in development. We have essentially finished all of the backend code required to complete the game. We can now switch entirely to mechanics integration, content implementation, UI/UX improvement, optimization, and stability. This also means that the countdown to release can be counted in months. This is an exciting threshold for us!

There is a downside: these changelogs are going to get even longer, ugh. Stay strong, team! We can do this.


Major player-facing additions this month

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; just keep reading.


Begin the full Beta 51 changelog!

Workshops & Offices

The big one: Workshops now queue jobs per-module! This gives the player explicit control over what is made, in what order, in what priority, and provides (a method for) greater feedback about why things go wrong when they do. And on the other hand, it provides extremely clear feedback about what you get when you expand the productive capacity of a workshop, and which module produces exactly what. Clarity is much improved. We're quite happy with how this new system is working out. One of the month's blog posts covered this topic in some detail as well: Quick Put More Logistics In It.

This was also a good opportunity to implement batch-type jobs so that, for example, a Power Saw (an example of an advanced machine module) can take in 5 logs in a stack to produce a stack of 10 planks. This allows for extremely efficient use of workshop labour. Plus the advanced machine modules are really cool-looking.

Aside from that, mostly minor things. The fix so colonists no longer attempt to employ the services of offices that have no assigned overseer on-duty curbs a lot of frustration both for players and for colonists who would really like a pint at the pub, please.

Events

The big new feature here is Event Arcs, which are series of related events which are handled by an Event Director (this is only really important to know if you're us, but it's fun to talk about). Speaking of, there's a blog post from the last month about this very subject: And In The Darkness Bind Them: The Event Director.

A small sample set of event arc content as been added for your enjoyment and/or suffering. Many more will be implemented and they shall employ the eldritch content you've been waiting for in Interesting Ways.

The redone tutorial uses the new Event Arc system! It's really quite nice. Though we don't expect advanced players to care much about this, it's going to really help new players get an idea for playing the game.

Modules & Decor

Of great interest here is the bricabrac system. Bracabrac is a Victorian term for what is essentially decorative junk. So we made all decor require the bricabrac commodity to build - and what's interesting here is that generic bricabrac can be made from any of the base material types: wood, clay, metal, etc. with output returns comparible to their relative values. This way, you can invest in decor with whatever materials you have on-hand rather than having to track down extremely specific ingredient lists per unique decor object type (because it's seriously not something we want to make important to the player vs. stuff like teching up to advanced machine modules or paying attention to the life-quality requirements of essential overseers). In all: more clarity.

The rest of this list is basically the guts of the new workshop features mentioned above. So I'll leave it at that. It's good stuff.

Economy

With the major change to workshops, naturally there are some serious consequences in the economy. The stack-hauling for workshop jobs that take stack input is essential, of course. And all building recipes were given a once-over, fixing a few small but longstanding bugs and otherwise bringing everything up to speed.

Assignment control has been improved with the addition of the ability to pause and unpause assignments. Don't need those trees chopped just yet because you really, really need some bodies buried? Just pause the assignment for a bit.

UI / UX

Tons of progress on the UI front this month! The Workshops job ordering interface needed new UI of course, and while we were there, the workcrew assignment interface was improved. And while we were in that neighbourhood, the character UI received a whack of improvements to support the Quality of Life system (more on that in a moment) as well as a more rational organization of the emotional effects of memories (though this screen is still very much due for a few polishing passes; the primary goal this month was the get it functioning in displaying the information it needed to display). Tooltips got prettier, the workcrews panel got fixes, everything got fixes, the minimap now moves to the position you click, and ... so on.

Part of the UI push involved adding UI support for the Event Arc system by redoing the alerts framework. It just so happens that there's a blog post on this subject here: Alerts And When To Mystery.

To make a long story short, enormous leaps were made in terms of usability and tying gameplay mechanics to a feedback loop involving the player so that ie. you can see a problem and have an idea of how to fix it, or take an action and see consequences thereof. We're going to keep pushing hard with this imperative in upcoming patches. We're really happy with how this is coming and expect that rate of improvement to only increase in light of the general shift of development involved in moving the "beta".

Characters

First: We combined Madness with Sadness to form a new stat called Despair. We did this because madness wasn't really connected to a specific emotion and the results of sadness were mostly boring or depressing, so we improved both by making them one! Really wanted to make a Starcraft archon reference here but couldn't work it in smoothly. This also makes it a much more clear game mechanic - though more interesting content to demonstrate the consequences of high despair levels needs implementation, we've got the foundation upon which to build that maddened castle.

Next: we implemented a Quality of Life system! There were a handful of important systems (food, sleep, hunger, quality - the components of character happiness, basically) very loosely connected to characters through the memory system. Because they all had to compete with one another - and with random extreme events - all your careful work of building proper beds and cooking high quality food could be blown away by a quick fishperson raid. Rather than the sum of experiences adding up, it felt random and ephemeral. Therefore we decided to pull general Maslov-style needs out into the Quality of Life system and have those always affect character mood in addition to the memories. This should make it clear to a player what they can do to improve the lot in life of any particular character and then have those solutions clearly improve the mood of the character. The system will need some additional sophistication and balance, but we think we've got what we need here. Oh, and naturally there's a blog post about all this: That Frontier Quality Of Life.

Combat

You won't believe what guns were doing before we fixed their reloading. I don't want to talk about it. It's fine now. How are you?

(This is all fixes for this month, basically. Wait 'til you see the roll-out of comprehensive combat AI.)

Engine/Scripting

Fixes are always good. The glow shader was the really important item - for Selenians, ya'know. Looks great now.

Miscellaneous

Yes, the desert lacked sand. This oversight has been corrected and the perpetrators given Frontier Beatings. Otherwise, yes, generally fixing things! And I concede defeat in using a Miscellaneous category, but yolo swag datboi etc. and whatever else the kids are saying.

You saw our cool trailer video made this month, right? Why not see it again ?



Changelog Conclusion

And that concludes this month's annotated changelog!

So what is upcoming, you ask? Tons of player-facing improvements and content! And as for particular high-level goals, see the next section.


Alpha 50 (April 2016) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Alpha 50 (April 2016) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


Major player-facing additions this month

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; just keep reading.


Begin the full Alpha 50 changelog!

Biomes

Here's the month's big feature, biomes!
Tons of work done here this month of course. Players of the experimental releases know very well how dramatic the changes have been: there's a whole new world of diverse eco-regions with new challenges available across four climate zones with unique agricultural products, opportunities, and pitfalls.

Long-time readers of the development report will recall how a huge pile of finished but unimplemented assets was mentioned many times. Well, here they are. (Almost all. The others? Oh, those are the REDACTED.) Most of this art was finished before Early Access, even, and has just been waiting for the right infrastructure to be implemented. That infrastructure was built, so the new biomes are here.

Along with biomes, we had to implement all of the new crop assets that have been sitting around as well because it wouldn't make sense to be able to grow coconut plams in boreal forest or cabbages in the desert. Along with new crops came new agricultural products, including (I really enjoy this) agave and mezcal. As long as we were adding the new crops, it seemed obvious to re-balance the entire agriculture/food system against itself, again, now that we have what is essentially the full breadth of content available. So we did.

Additions to the embarkation process were of course necessary to support all of this - to select a colony location in these new biomes you had to, well, be able to select a colony location in new biomes (rather than using the previous baked-in options). So now you can! And it's on a procedural map! Oh, about that - yeah, we had to support a fully procedural map rather than the mostly baked-in maps from before. This is actually rather dramatic and required a good bit of clean-up around how starting colonists are placed and how events spawn non-player characters onto the map. And optimization of lots of junk, and cleaner pathing, and so on. Overall, the implementation of biomes required work all over the codebase; it's hard to express just how much we had to jump around to make this happen.

Anyway, we're pleased to be able to share all of this content we've been hiding for so long and really glad people are enjoying the new frontiers to explore.

Colonists

After the enormity of the new biomes, the characters themselves didn't get much that was in fact new. This is mostly fixes and balancing, devils and details. (The Vicar thing is just a spot of fun - and indeed has consequences.)

The sleeping one was fun: the problem was when a character's model was changed, they'd revert to the idle animation. Usually this is fine, but if they're sleeping, it makes them look like they're standing next to the bed or spot on the floor they were sleeping. Player were like, why are my people sleeping standing up next to their beds? The solution: after a model swap, query all the appropriate variables and if it is discovered that a colonists is asleep, set them to the proper sleep animation loop for their bed type.

Events / Trade / Factions

New event system, what? Oh yes - players of the experimentals will have noticed that the alert notifications have been in a bit of flux. Alerts are getting a systematic overhaul and (all) events need slight modifications to work correctly with the new and improved alerts. In the end these will integrate better with gameplay and generally act in a more useful and pleasing manner - more on that in the UI section.

As mentioned in the biomes category, everywhere that an event spawned agents - or sent groups of agents to fulfill a mission - needed some work to properly account for any possibility now that maps are fully procedurally generated. We also felt it appropriate to give rewards for making friends, so the maxed relations events perform that function. The Strange Meteor of course relates to REDACTED.

Science

These additions to science result from barriers placed on the upper end of the crop progression - you know, from the huge biome content update. Basically, each biome gets a set of crops unlocked at the start of the game of varying values - the coldest biomes for instance get lower yields - as well as a set of really efficient crops that must be unlocked by performing research. The cap on science points has been raised so that we can make certain discoveries really, really expensive (you're welcome) - and they are pretty dang good, so happy sciencing!

Engine

Crashes were fixed, huzzah! Saves were slow, they got optimized! There's a nice blog post on much of this - and more - here: Technical Debt Payment Plans.

(I will note that a lot of under-the-hood biome infrastructure could probably technically be categorized into the "engine" category, too, along with the minimap. So let's call those half-engine stuff, but you'll have to read about them in their primary themed categories.)

UI / UX

The minimap is finally implemented! You can't click it to move the camera position - not yet anyway. (During testing, our RTS training kicked in and we all kept trying to click on the minimap to zoom around. It was weird.)

Then we come to Daniel's Secret Project. It's secret, it's his project, it's going to be a huge overhaul to alerts to support certain types of ongoing events (and generally make the game experience much smoother as well as enabling certain features that are necessary for certain very interesting gameplay elements). It's not all ready for the public yet, but we'll be seeing results very soon.

NPCs

Building destruction has a blog post that gets into more detail here: Thatched Roof Cottages. The short story is: enemies can now wreck your buildings.

And then fixes. The traders stealing guns one was super weird - traders would show up, drop their trade goods, then ... pick up the player's guns and take them away forever? Well, only if an enemy was nearby. This was super vexing, and we thought the problem was way more complex than it turned out to be. And now it's fixed.

Modules/Buildings

Right, building destruction! Already talked about that.

Combat

Okay, just one item here that's purely about combat. (But, really, there's a bunch of tangential stuff done too, particularly regarding REDACTED and reactions of agents to REDACTED. But we can't talk about that.)

REDACTED

The REDACTED may now appear. REDACTED will produce REDACTED that REDACTED until they find a proper food source or host, as it were, at which point REDACTED resulting in REDACTED. It's very important that you remember REDACTED or the situation may spiral out of control irretrievably.

Art Assets

As long as we're rootin' around in the old art pile, let's have a section for this. And, yup, we've been up to things. I won't go into any more detail so as to avoid spoilering the upcoming fun.



IMPORTANT NOTE: I managed to avoid having a 'miscellaneous' section this month, yay!




Alpha 49 (March 2016) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Alpha 49 (March 2016) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


Major player-facing additions this month

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; just keep reading.


Begin the full Alpha 49 changelog!

UI

A lot of UI progress has been made this month, especially to do with workcrew management. In fact, the blog post helpfully titled Catching The Chicken is all about some of the work that's gone on this month. I'll summarize for you here, (though really you should just read the blog post).

So: We've had a lot of experience and feedback about the UI now that the game has been out for a while. Further, we know what mechanics we want the game to focus on and what is important to players. In other words, it's much more clear now what Clockwork Empires is all about. So we acted upon that knowledge to revise how the primary gameplay UI was laid out, what information was being presented, and how it was emphasized. Workcrew management in particular became very important in the past month with the link made between Overseer mood and workshift length, so a lot has gone into cleaning up that particular window and making it more intuitive to use.

In the course of doing these improvements, various small technical flaws were discovered and corrected (scrollbars, man), and various small UI annoyances were similarly identified and tightened up. The sum of a multitude of small changes is a game that presents essentially the same information as before but feels altogether better to play. It's an oddly non-linear progression, I think.

Workcrews

Somehow I thought we'd have more bulletpoints here, but I think that's because while a lot about Workcrews changed, it was largely to do with their UI getting so much attention. This is great! Doesn't make for a long list here though.

Anyway, in non-UI terms there's been some optimization of the calculation of willingness to work (basically it'll update at the beginning of the day and stay that way 'til the shift is over), various logic fixes, and balancing to make sure the choices you do make (through the lovely new UI) all matter and are properly effective. (And I've got a point there about the floating alert for a workcrew inactive due to anger, but that could probably technically be rolled into the UI section as well. Let's keep it here to pad things out.)

Farming

This month's farming changes are conveniently described in a blog post! Go see The Clockwork Razor: Purging Agriculture. But I can try to explain the key points here as well, 'cause that's my job.

Basically, the old farming system was simulationist to the point that a player could not make informed gameplay decisions. Farm productivity, for instance, was an emergent property of complex interactions between agents and objects based on various stats these agents and objects possessed. This sounds cool in the abstract, but in practice was tremendously opaque because the only data we could provide would be either secondary entity data, live statistics (which is Madness in a game that isn't literally spreadsheets), or the boiled-down version of our own statistics work. We actually were doing the last option and tried to summarize labour, time, and yield per-crop, but players didn't really pick up on what these meant and their ratings were perhaps too broad and abstracted to influence decision-making. Well, we felt it is important that a player be able to look at the agriculture system, examinine their options, and be able to make a decision - with costs, benefits, and trade-offs - in clear terms and have the results occur as expected with allowances for explosions and beetles.

So it was done! Farming is now much more responsive to player decisions (and far easier for us to balance, at that).

... Then we added some more crops, because why not.

Overworld

Like that bullet point? Me too. There's a blog post for this too, check it out: The Overworld.

What's going on here is the nitty-gritty of taking a player section of a spot on the world map and turning it into a playable game space. This involves setting up data for a lot of new biomes (using assets we've had prepared for quite a while) then making sure the terrain generators know how to piece them together in an interesting, playable, and meaningful manner.

All this new stuff is not available for the Alpha 49 release but will appear in experimental form very soon.

Economy

Aside from the usual fixes, the economic push this month was made toward setting up elements of the economy to support the endgame where valuable, processed commodities deep in the production chains become more important. This involves integrating some new materials into production chains - notably Lacquer and Lacquered Planks (Cement is yet to come!) - and rebalancing the ore & metal system in particular to make metals and mining more important and valuable.

Events

We filled in some more complex events in the Foreign Office and added a standing time-triggered event that will slowly, very erratically, push Foreign relations toward their initial values. This means that maintaining a friendly relationship with a hostile nation should require investment - or at least attention - over time to ensure that relations don't drop inconveniently. Apart from that we got the usual run of typo fixes and logic-tightening. Then, along the lines of general UI/UX improvements, an alert was added so that you can know when traders actually arrive at the depot to trade. (Which one must concede is kinda the most fundamental thing to know about traders, isn't it? That they're there? Yup.)

Characters

Colonists will now flee from fire! This is important for reasons we should not have to explain.

Otherwise, there have been various fixes to logic, generated text, and re-balancing of systems to make a little more sense.

Let's explain the food thing as an example: everyone gets hunger pushed to them at the same time. A quirk of how bluntly hunger was tracked meant that colonists would sometimes not make wise decisions about eating the most appropriate food and/or would make food choices that conflicted with other colonists. The result could be (for example) a lower class Labourer eating food you wanted to go to a middle class Overseer. It's much more important that the Overseer get their appropriate food because their mood controls workcrew shift length (to tie back to those systems). The first thing a player generally requests upon seeing this is the ability to lock one food or another - but we don't want to impose extra micromanagement cost when the system could be altered to handle itself. So we did that instead: We made various alterations to how hunger is handled to better ensure that people get the food most appropriate to them if its available so all you've got the worry about is providing a supply of the highest quality food you can so Overseers are happy and lots of work gets done.

Science

There are now some military techs! They're pretty straightforward (but there needs to be somewhere to put the special gun technologies, so now we're set up for it).

The Laboratory UI slowdown fix is mostly interesting from a programming perspective. From the player's perspective, the game would slow down when the Lab UI was used. No good at all, of course! So it got some fascinating optimization work and is better. (If you're learning to code, pay close attention to the string manipulation portion of your class 'cause that stuff will come in super handy all the time. Just sayin'.)

Engine/Scripting

Various crash fixes were done! Always important.

We also got fixed zone sizes to enable the new farming system which, okay, I'll talk about for a moment: The problem with unbounded farm zone sizes is that it adds (literally) new dimensions to the decision space that a player can badly mess themselves up on - if a farm is too small to fit enough crops to provide the workcrew with jobs, there will be idle workers. If it's too big, they'll never satisfyingly fill the space with crops. One path would be to do a bunch of work to identify when problem cases were hit then inform the player what happened and how they can fix it (and hope they notice, amid all the other alerts, cannibalism, and events going on). OR we can restrict the decision space to remove the potential for hitting problematic and unbalanced cases that would require significant UI work to (maybe!) solve - then use the development time that gives us to make other things better. Which we did!

Buildings

Well, that's a lot of fixes. And a bit of material balancing. Oh yes, and mine building quality now matters (and what with the metal economy changes!), so keep in mind that it's important to decorate ALL your workshops nicely.

Misc.

Ah yes, the ol' heap of random stuff at the bottom of the list. Let's see what's neat in here ...

Invisible fire could be a serious problem! It turns out that non-agent objects would turn off their fire, but didn't shut down every temperate stage of their fire. They could then leave an invisible hotspot on the map that could re-ignite people or things that wandered by. Although this is a serviceable fire safety lesson that we'd all do well to learn, it appears buggy when it happens in Clockwork Empires, so it had to go.

Moving on: Obeliskians would slap around dead people. This makes a lot of sense considering their character, now that I think about it, 'cause they're not particularly cognizant of others needs or life/death status. Can always add it back in later if we like!

Oh yeah, you can declare war (such as it is) on bandits now by simply ordering it so on an individual Bandit. This should help in cases where you get really annoyed at them stealing your stuff.


Alpha 48 (February 2016) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Alpha 48 (February 2016) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


Major player-facing additions this month

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; just keep reading.


Begin the full Alpha 48 changelog!

Building Designation / Module Placement

There comes a time when you have to just have to rip a system out and redo it the right way (which, by the way, becomes a task with much more straightforward requirements and understoof limits after a couple years of development and player feedback!). So the building designation system has finally received its glorious overhaul, huzzah!

Blueprints and modules should now go very much more where you'd think they'd end up, placement fidelity is indeed faithful, and more control is given to the player so they don't have to fight auto-alignment. In short, player experience with building construction - and the related systems of zone designation and module placement - should be much improved. For the fuller story, check out the blog post on the subject this month.

(This also lays the groundwork for conduits. Which is a story is for a later monthly update.)

Colonists & AI

Various fixes are of course lovely, but the sheer depth of change that comes with that first bullet point cannot be emphasized enough.

Character happiness now directly controls the number of work shifts they are willing to work. Unhappy = less work. Happy = more work. We were experimenting with other ways of approaching this concept, but there's something elegantly direct about this because it ties your doing good by your colonists right to your colonists doing good by you. Now that this is in place, of course, there is a tremendous amount of balancing that needs to be done, plus cleanup of edge-cases, hooks into related systems, and making all the emotions meaningful; like tying the 'fear' emotion directly to combat, 'anger' to causing disruption spirals, and so on.

All in all, it's super cool to finally make character emotions really, really matter.

Science

We added a new Laboratory and science system based on the Foreign Office code! Before, you'd study things in the macroscope and get random prestige gains. It did some neat stuff, but didn't actually have much effect on the overall game, and (most important) was not a robust and systematic feature (and, rather, a glorified switch statement; ew!).

The new system lets us define researchable technologies categorized into one of several fields, and have their discoveries trigger scripted events upon completion which allows us to do pretty much anything with the science system. And it puts it into a UI that is straightforward about telling you what you get and how much everything costs. All in all, it's super cool. The content is not as terrifically in-depth so far as it can be, as this first wave of content is meant to act as an example of what is possible -- largely improving the speed of certain jobs, though there are examples of some neat abilities such as research being unlocked by Naturalist discoveries. But now that it's in, we've got a whole new means to effect late-game mechanics changes.

Foreign Office / Factions

This work is basically followup iteration and cleanup for Foreign Office code and content. And Bandits! - As discussed in the blog post "Our Friend The Bandit", the Bandits faction and all related events and interactions were giving an overhaul to work correctly with the unified faction system & interactions thereof via the Foreign Office using the same framework as Foreign Nations. Generic code is good code!

With this done, the foreign faction system is essentially operating fully as intended, though it will certainly receive additional balancing, content, UI hooks as appropriate, and of course tie-ins to the larger world when that feature set is implemented.

Modules

A review of all module content was done including a check of animations (both in terms of modules themselves and character interactions with modules), particles, and an update pass done on all module data files to support the work done for the building/module designation overhaul. From the game economy side, a few more lingering issues with boxed modules have been found and fixed.

Well, the other reason this was done was to line up all the assets we've had kicking around for the conduit system. But like mentioned earlier, more on that another month!

UI / tutorials

To be fair, a bunch of UI work went into stuff not mentioned in this section. For example, the Foreign Office, Laboratory, and Chapel got some UI work, and the work shifts display in the Work Crews menu is certainly a new and integral element that went through a number of fascinating iterations (depending on how interested you are in UI development, of course).

But apart from that, we've got fixes and tutorial improvements. Ideally we'll get question mark buttons into as many UI elements as possible so that people can get gameplay information right where they need it.

Military>

Simple stuff here in military land, mostly just making military skill matter more. Bugfixes, too, are ever important. At some point civilians stopped dropping their weapons correctly after being unassigned from the military, but that be working correctly now.

Next month is sure to bring exciting changes.

Jobs / Economy

This category is not filled with focused feature development, but more miscellaneous hooks from other systems that ended up needing doing, plus followup on the loose ends from workshop production content in particular. Well ... not entirely. The planting of grass, shrubs, and flowers was just indulgent, I'll admit. But there are people out there who completely love decorating their towns, so who are we not to enable their joy?

I'll mention the thing with jobs that used to let a worker set a machine going and leave it to do other work: while somewhat realistic and in service of the theme of mechanization, allowing production to take place without human involvement reduces the impact of characters and character skill. This game is very much about character simulation, so pushing characters from important roles is in fact the opposite of what we want to be doing! So that concept has to go, and all production now involves keeping a character at the point of production with a progress bar up and moving - if it helps, think of it as a visualization of the abstract idea of work being performed rather than a simulation of each exact step in the process (which would be absurdly expensive to script and animate completely anyway).

In other news, we're doing some science by removing cabbage from the starting crops list. Players would often choose to grow cabbage even though it was labour inefficient and thus cripple their ability to efficiently feed their colony - which raises questions about how well we've been signalling the differences between crops (that we're going to have to deal with sooner or later). Along similar lines, we adopted the Sid Meier Balancing Method and doubled food output from Kitchens to make them thoroughly worthwhile.

Oh, and the office jobs fixes are really important: Chapels, Pubs, and Barbers should no longer be entrances to a Phantom Zone-like state of paralysis.

(And steel, yes. That'll become important in the late game. Lots of hinting at future developments so far, but I'm not trying to be cheeky - it's kinda par for the course for an Early Access game, isn't it?)

Events

Yes, yes, it's the rubbish pile at the end. Of course now if you leave rubbish around, it may attract vermin. Terribly inconvenient, vermin. Especially if they spawn in buildings and cause a pathing error - but that's fixed now, so don't worry about a thing.

The airdrop crate explosions were the other fun problem -- the drop zone on crates made for a pretty fair chance that your starting supplies would explode, set fire to things, set fire to more things, and basically wreak havoc at the very start of the game. As amusing as this is the first time, people find it a little frustrating, so we applied the simple fix of spreading airdrop crates out a little further from the start spot.

Religion

This list is misleadingly short - Chapel doctrines are quite a neat little feature enabled by work done on UI infrastructure which lets us generate UI content fromk the script and data side, with no need for changing compiled code.

As for the chapel doctrine feature itself, there's a handy blog post about it: "Praise The Cog, Or Whatever You Feel Like". In short, you can choose to emphasize a certain sect to focus your chapel on giving bonuses to certain segments of your population.

Misc.

Slight fixes, and then ... yes! No more crop spoilage!

It made more sense for crop spoilage to be a factor back when that was the only challenge in the game, but now that character happiness is supremely important, we believe that we can pull back a bit on that part of the challenge.


January 2015 update notes:

Alpha 47 (January 2016) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Alpha 47 (January 2016) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


Major player-facing additions this month

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; just keep reading.


Begin full Alpha 47 changelog!

A note to our dear readers: This was a short month due to the holidays, so we have a correspondingly shorter changelog.

The Trade System

Remember how we talked about the Trade Depot last month? Well, here it is!

So given that we now have the core trade feature, we had to make content for it, add hooks so it can interact with all the other game systems, and start giving it more content, gameplay balancing, and UI/UX polish. The process of iterating all of these aspects of trade will continue, but the core system is now in place. Cool!

Foreign Office & Related Events

And here work proceeds on the Foreign Office and the systems it interacts with! Content-wise this saw the implementation of Foreign Office interactions for the three foreign nations - Stahlmark, the Republique, and Novorus. A pass was done through all faction scripts to make sure interactions were behaving as intended - and that deprecated systems/events weren't messing up the new parts. Oh, and there are some new funny hats in the game for foreign civilians.

In terms of feature development, the UI for the Foreign Office received a lot of work. This has had side-benefits for building UI in general, so we can now push a lot of information to building information panels without any compiled code changes. Which is so cool. And I think I just spoiled the UI/UX section of this report. Oops!

Food & Cooking

Food received a major reworking and balance pass! This is all discussed at fair length in the blog post A New Gastronomy. So that basically covers it.

If you want the quick version, these changes turn food from a system with one purpose - feeding people - into a means to feed people of different social classes for different costs (ie. upper class colonists will demand rather difficult to produce food) as well as giving preserved/tinned food a role as trade good. This all follows from our general imperative to make game systems interact with lots of other game systems to produce interesting complexity.

(There are also a few new foods and minor features being implemented but not yet made public. Just laying the groundwork for more content variety in future updates.)

UI/UX

There was a great purging of deprecated, duplicated, and unused UI assets and definitions. Imagine a unique UI style defined for every UI layout - now imagine that all consolidated into one style in one file so that things like buttons can have a consistent look through the game. It's much better to work with now.

Though spoiled in the office section, we got a bunch of general improvements to building UI infrastructure that makes implementation really easy - so we implemented some new stuff, particularly in the Foreign Office. This opens up many fascinating possibilities for filling out new building types, but that's a story for next month.

Apart from that, the usual miscellaneous fixes.

Combat

Just a little cleanup/balance was done due to changes to skills/traits/etc. in recent months. All players need to know is that skilled NCOs leading trained troops will fight very effectively. And, um, crops will explode correctly.

Workshops / Commodity Production

Just some small fixes of small oversights. This is the usual drill after a huge amount of content is implemented (boxed modules, in this case).

Cults

Purple names are cool! The rest of this is secret work invested toward future updates which we won't spoil quite yet.

Other

This is NOT the miscellaneous section. This is the "other" section. It's totally different.

So, various small details. The mine change was to make acquiring sand a lot easier to fulfill the glass requirement to make preserved food. This will doubtless have further effects as glass requirements for everything from windows to laborators is eased.

Long-time players are sure to be pleased to hear about the building designation / module placer rewrite which is beginning. We should see the fruits of this effort fairly soon!

December 2015 update notes:

Alpha 46 (December 2015) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Alpha 46 (December 2015) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


Major player-facing additions this month

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; just keep reading.


Begin full Alpha 46 changelog!

Engine

TLDR: Stuff is more efficient and therefore faster. So much so, in fact, that it may provide us with the possibility of raising the maximum character limit. We'll weigh the balancing of this vs. the needs of newly implemented features during upcoming development. It's always nice to have room for such possibilities!

Fire

Unleash the element of pure destruction! Possibly of transformation?

Fire makes certain unfortunate situations a LOT more dangerous. This may make survival more difficult - but at the same time far more interesting. Further, it's actually a good thing that it makes failure states more extreme because this helps avoid certain lingering (and therefore boring) death-spiral cases.

There's certainly additional to come with regards to fire such as, to start, the ability for colonists to respond to these disasters by working together to put fires out. This won't be essential until buildings and modules are themselves flammable, so consider yourself lucky - for now!

Boxed Module System

The implications of having modules built as separate objects in workshops rather than in-place go rather deeper than one may realize at first. This puts less hauling overhead on construction teams (whose work is rather intermittent anyway, and the skill unfortunatley boringly specific but at the same time generalized somehow into a path of least interest). So: construction skill modifers and construction crew-time is de-emphasized in favour of workshop skill modifiers and workshop crew time. This makes workshops all the more important, and gives somewhat underutilized workshops like the Carpentry Shop and Ceramics Shop a lot of important work to do. More on skills in the skills section.

As an aside, this forced us to clean up a lot of UI having to do with informing the player about what is needed for what. It is a noble cause!

Foreign Office & Related Events

From a player-facing standpoint the Foreign Office provides an in-world interface to interaction with factions and to trigger faction-related events. So rather than having to fudge these through sort-of dynamic situational events that pop up randomly (and can be missed), the player can now build up "diplomacy points" to be spend toward doing good or ill (or something else) to a selected faction. From a game design standpoint, the idea of requiring colonial labour investment into relations is too good to pass up: it forces a mutually exclusive choice to invest limited labour & materials into systems with very different rewards and risks.

The work done here opens up possibilities for us as developers as well! So now we've got an office-type structure that populates its control panel with customized information and control-points. This provides the means to put dynamic information display and controls into any building. This'll come in handy for finishing, for example, the Science! systems for the Naturalist's Office & Laboratory. A very simple version of such improvement can be seen in the Mine, which now displays depth and mining output.

... now that I see the next section, I may have jumped the gun in talking about this Office UI stuff in greater detail. Well, proceed apace!

"Office" UI & Scripts

So perhaps I wrote about the good stuff in the previous section; this is just miscellenous tweaks relating to buildings in the "office" category. Clarifying the role of the mineshaft, decreasing alert spam. Right, so.

... Yup, it's all good.

Religion

Yes, another office-type building!

But there were indeed some Chapel-specific corrections that needed doing. Congregants may now fill in for all the Vicar's roles, thus reducing the need to have a Vicar on-call for confession 24/7; various actions that could be construed as slightly exploitable have been plugged up, and the uncivilized behaviour of carrying ones farming implements to church has been largely halted.

Banditry

New events were made for the Bandits to fit them in to the new Foreign Office interaction system! That, and to add New Fun - the bombing run is particularly enjoyable (and, upon consideration, ties in nicely with the fire feature).

The Trade System

I know, I know - you're all like, "What Trade System?". And indeed, this is NOT player-facing yet (if it were, it'd be in the "Major Features" section). Nonetheless, significant work this month went into developing trade and fixing up all the other systems it touches, so you're hearing about it now. It'll go into the game quite soon now. We fully expect it'll mix up the linearity of the economic game and make foreign relations (via the Foreign Office of course) quite a matter of player concern.

Skills

We've had skills in for a while, but we weren't properly displaying them. This led players to believe that skills did not have a significant effect and therefore to believe that the output of 0-skill workcrews was all they could get out of (say) a farm. And then players would say "ugh, farming is so terrible! This game is so terrible!". This signalled rather clearly that there was a problem which needed solving. But was it a mechanical problem or a display problem? (Spoiler: mostly the latter.)

This is a problem because workcrews do in fact become greatly more effective at their jobs as they gain skill -- but, again, we were not displaying this fact. So we made a concerted effort to make sure the correct level skill-bar is displayed when a colonist does work at a higher than default skill-level, and to display clearly when an overseer increases their skill level due to experience.

Looking at feedback after this change, suddenly players believed that workers have become more efficient versus before when they were doing work at the same (increased) speed but not displaying that fact. Turns out it's really important to display these things!

Other UI

Many of these improvements were done in response the the UI load that the boxed module system placed upon the game. The first and most obvious was allowing the workshop products pane to scroll so it can fit more items. Then: improved feedback for why a module wasn't being built when the required material was in fact missing. Boxed module also required a change in the logic of the module repair system which previously chose repair materials from a list of objects used to construct a module. With modules constructed by a "boxed module" now, you could find yourself in a situation of having to repair a module with an entire new module. So that had to go, and with it the longstanding issue of not displaying the correct commodity name has been fixed.

Aside from those, lots of UI fixes, new icons, typo corrections were done. Business as usual in UI land.

Character Brain Surgery

There were a lot of tangles in the guts of character logic that needed refactoring. Systems are made, expanded, and additional systems jury-rigged on top of them. Once you have that teetering pile of contingent logic, sometimes you can see a pattern in the problems being solved that allows a shorter, simpler piece of code to do the work of a lot of tangled mess. Then you clean it up!

This changes little from a player-facing standpoint (aside from some minor bugfixes), but definitely makes the code more easily maintainable.

#JustEldritchThings

Fixes and tweaks mostly, here. Not much in the way of new developments except that the lives of Doomed characters have been made a little harder. As well they should be.

Economy & What's Cooking?

This is of course a bit of a catch-all section for miscellaneous economics-related items.

Diving right in, the "unique" tag is important for all the new products we're implemented (eg. a workshop product could fulfill its requirements with the same commodity twice; because: computer logic). Similarly, we used to adjust utility of jobs by distance to resources, but decided this was irrelevant so long as we could be sure to always select the closest material.

Cooking got fixed up, both on the player-facing side (particularly to do with sausage-making) and in the backend (three different scripts were combined into one). And would you believe that the steam oven icon was never properly defined? (I can, because we never actually put the Steam Oven in the game properly, yet players found out how to build them. Because of course they did!)

As mentioned, module repairs were redone and are now explicitly defined, though can fall back onto two levels of default values depending upon conditions filled.

Other Junk

I consider this a shameful categorization failure even more so than the previous section. But heck, let's power through it!

Military rally no longer starves soldiers if left active. This was indeed a problem because it's easy to forget you placed a rally point due to how forgettable that beacon looks. We'll clean this up properly one of these days alongside enhanced military.

Oh, what else - cleaned up some loadout errors, some script errors, some crashes; made melee combat more efficient (it was still halfway in the paradign of every "tool" being a unique game object), and implemented a coconut-based feature for the future of curry.

November 2015 update notes:

Alpha 45 (November 2015) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Alpha 45 (November 2015) Annotated Changelog

(You can read the previous months' update notes and blog post listing at the bottom of this page, here.)


Major player-facing additions this month

If you're in a hurry, that should cover your update needs. If you find yourself with the inexplicable urge for more, then you're in luck; just keep reading.


Begin full Alpha 45 changelog!

Building Quality / Workshops

Yes, building quality is exciting! This blog post really lays out the details, but the short version is that buildings now keep track of the modules they contain, and the ratio of purely "productive" modules (workbenches, ovens, cots) to decoration modules (windows, paintings, spice racks) determines a quality level which will affect the mood of characters working/sleeping in said building. So now there are consequences, both positive and negative, to your interior decoration!

This also presented us with a good opportunity to add in a whole pile of interior decor assets that we've been sitting on for quite some time. There's lots of new little things to decorate with!

Engine & Save/Load

We've ordered a mop-up of that memory leak and whizzled all the cogs in the framboozler. So we're all fine here now, how are you?

(That's about as well as I can do translating the above. Basically, some arcane broken stuff was fixed and this is a very good thing to have done.)

Oh, and there are those small save/load fixes. It's always good to have those.

Lighting & Renderer

Essentially, the engine has been set up to handle dynamic point lights, then dynamic point lights were added. This is really cool, and ticks off that longstanding item off the engine feature TODO list!

We've not yet put lights on everything that will use them, but several decorative lamps have been given light sources so this ties in nicely with the new building decoration system.

Combat AI / Decision Trees

The short changelog list there hides the fact that this is a large and complicated system that even got a visual editor to navigate it.

Oh, right, but what's it do?

The decision tree feature gives character AI the ability to really rigorously interpret a condition tree and choose an appropriate job. The give a very brief example, it might go something like: If I'm on fire, flee in terror, otherwise shoot the closest enemy if there is an enemy to shoot and I have a gun. If I don't have a gun, and there is an enemy, and there's a gun nearby then run and pick up that gun. If there is no enemy and my unit has a rally point, run to that rally point. If there is no rally point, then maybe patrol a bit.

And so on like that, but far more complex. The result of this is that the military really does exactly what it needs to do in the appropriate conditions, and this makes everyone happy. Except for those dastardly Stahlmarkians, amirite?

Spectres

These are more of a Victorian gothic horror thing than a Lovecraftian horror thing, but they seemed appropriate to the setting. Plus we had these skeleton models (literally) just lying around, so why not do something fun with them?

That's all I'll say on the subject. It's up to you to find out what (terrible) consequences will return from beyond the grave.

Madness

We heard our fans say they wanted more madness. So we gave it to them!

There are many new ways to gain madness, madness-causing memories have received some attention and balancing, and madness-sustaining memories have been added so that madness does not fade overly quickly. So there'll be some cool new stuff goingon. This is, as ever, an ongoing process of balance - feel quite free to let us know if you think we're laying it on too thick or too thin and we'll see what we can cook up. Perhaps some madness stew?

Speaking of madness...

Cults

So we added a bunch more cult stuff to go along with the madness. (It was important, however, to maintain the idea that cults and madness are not exactly the same thing. Madness is required for cults, but highly maddened non-cultist colonists can get into trouble all their own.)

Much of this was improving how cults interfaced with other systems and adding more consequences and reactions to whatever the environment or player decisions might throw into the mix. In particular, cult shrines (and the destruction thereof) are rather important, as well as the death of cult leaders. You can indeed just smash shrines and Frontier Justice the cult leaders, but that will seriously anger the cultists - which will have consequences. Or you can be a little more gentle about it, creating happy non-maddened conditions (plus a pint or three) to lower the madness of cultists, then have a Vicar bring cultists back to the fold.

Or not, it's really up to you!

The Pub, The Barber, and The Chapel (plus minishrines)

Pubs, Barbers, and Chapels are all similar in that they are services. Colonists will come to the office and be tended in some manner. Problems may arise, however: what if there's no tender to do the tending? Well, colonists will now recognize and not waste their time waiting around for a service that will never arrive.

Plus there were some other fiddly details, for example whenever someone went to load more booze into the Pub's booze vat, no one else was allowed to touch the booze vat. So for the entire time the worker went to the stockpile, picked up the beer, and returned it to the booze vat, no one could serve drinks. This has definitely been fixed, and now Pubs are far more efficient at serving beer (though I'm sure we've all been to pubs that felt like the operated on the previous principle).

Oh yes, and as part of the decor additions there are now little minishrines that people can pray at, if so inclined. It's the little thing!

Murder

Oh hey, there's a blog post about this feature set! Go there for more detail.

In short, we went over all the cases where people might murder one another as well as the code for creating memories about who murdered who and when to report murder and cleaned everything all up. And what with all the madness going around, also added a couple occult murder methods.

Plus, what better way to increase the chance of Vengeful Spectres than murder?

Death

Well, with all that combat AI revision and random murder going on, it was also important to clean up the act of dying.

The biggest issue with dying at the start of this was some confusion about when and how an agent dropped whatever they were carrying when they died. This has been consolidated and refactored to be much neater and consistant.

With the cleanup, there's also less spamming of burial jobs that can't be fulfilled, and vermin creation is just a touch subtler.

Memories & Character Stuff

Partly due to balancing madness, partly because it had to be done, and partly because we kinda stumbled into it, the creation and content of memories received a huge clean-up pass.

This is one of those situations where implementation of features was ad-hoc until such a mass was built up that it became obvious and necessary to consolidate and standardize the system. And while we were at it, added a bunch of new content!

Oh yes, and there's the start of a "journal" system where colonists record their strongest memories from the previous day and the previous week in the colonist information panel. This is a rough implementation and will be improved, but it's the start on the idea of displaying longer-term histories.

UI Miscellany

A lot of general UI fixing got done, and a lot of UI in support of the building quality feature got done. Oh, and tons of new icons were added to go with all those new decor objects.

The friendship notification was interesting -- we had removed it, but had left in the notification for making enemies. This caused players to believe that their colonists only ever hated one another. Those are some pretty negative vibes, man! So with this back on, you can see people making enemies AND friends.

The removal of workcrew filter buttons for the military will upset people who have been making their soldiers haul, but, honestly, it led to a lot of trouble. When soldiers were not combat-ready due to performing other jobs, we get complaints about the lack of military response to threats. (To say nothing of, in previous verisons, a bunch of confusion having to do with dropping guns to haul commodities.) Well! Now soldiers will attend to their duty, and with the AI improvements they received, they'll do a fine job of it!

Typos

I'm just including this section because I was amused by how many entries for fixing typos we had in the changelog. If you report it, we'll fix it.

I hate typos.

Events Miscellany

Yes, we're in the miscellanous section! The mere existance of this and related categories is probably a failure of me to painstakingly organize everything beautifully, but I'm just going to own it. You dealing with it? Deal with it. Good. Let's proceed!

So these are just event-themed fixes for bugs and badly out-of-whack balance issues that we stumbled into and/or were asked to fix.

Miscellaneous

Again, various fixes and balance corrections that needed to be done but did not fit into some greater scheme of this month.

????

Future stuff. I'll say no more!


October 2015 update notes:

Alpha 44 (October 2015) blog roundup:

Yes! We blog each week about development of Clockwork Empires! You can go directly to the blog here.


Alpha 44 (October 2015) Annotated Changelog


Major player-facing additions this month

If you're in a hurry, that should cover your update needs. If you find yourself with the inexplicable urge for more, then you're in luck; just keep reading.


Begin full Alpha 44 changelog!

Offices

Our use of "offices" refers to workshops that don't take in commodities to produce other commodities. Rather, they're building that a work crew is assigned to so that it may carry out a specialized task. Offices include the Barracks, Pub, Barber, Naturalist, Chapel, Mine, and Laboratory.

This month, we implemented a ton of backend code in support of more complex behaviour from workcrews assigned to these types of buildings as well as support for more complex interfaces to control their behaviour and get information about their state. A simple example is how the Pub will display how many pints it has stored; more complex (and forthcoming) is the ability to control soldier weapon loadouts through the Barracks UI. Major game-facing additions include the Pub which serves booze to workers to make them happy and the Barber who can heal colonists of afflictions.

Buildings/Economy/Stockpiles

We made a big push here on giving the player the information required to make important decisions. Of note, buildings will display what is required for construction and we have the ability to make workshop recipes grayed out until their requirements can be fulfilled. This bakes in to the UI answers to questions about "what do I need to do this".

(And finally killed the corner-module making buildings disappear bug. It was a pain, and a pain to fix, but it seems like one of those problems that every new player runs directly in to.)

Finally, stockpiles. I'm just going to paste in a block of text that appeared on our changelog but is not appropriate for a bullet point:

In the old version, we searched by stockpile, and it might end up happening that a far away good would end up in the closest stockpile to the colonist, causing colonists to put things in odd stockpiles. In the new system, we consider the closest good in each filter category to the colonist, and perform a breadth-first search versus all stockpiles looking for the hauling routine that minimizes total walking distance for the colonist (i.e. "distance from colonist to good" and then "distance from good to stockpile.") This means that, for instance, if you put a stockpile next to a pile of far away resources, and a stockpile in your home base, colonists will attempt to fill the far away stockpile with the far away resources before trying to lug them all home.

Farms & Food

The idea with these changes is to make the food economy simpler to manage, more efficient overall, and just a touch less punishing. The real big change is the fact that you must assign workcrews to farm fields directly rather than being left to the mercy of whichever random work crew happens to pick up the assignment -- now players can really control the skill of the overseer and number of workers assigned to a particular field.

Colonist Memories & Related UI

This month follows up nicely on last month's start on overhauling the character info window. The idea here is to display memories, their effect on overall mood, how long they'll last, and perhaps hint at what the player can do to resolve the problems of colonists who are having a really bad time on the Frontier. (Or not, depending on what you're going for.)

Night-time, Socialization, & Work Scheduling

With the effects of colonists' memories on their mood clarified both in game effects and UI, we're now giving them more time to carry out actions caused by their moods in off-work hours. (Plus if all you did was watch people sleep at night it'd be kinda boring.)

Corpses

Corpse handling was a bit messy. Now it's been cleaned up - bodies will be disposed of in exactly the manner the player orders, every time. And various policies can be set, and they will be respected unless manually overridden. The unending tide of vermin from corpses has also been halted - it's still a problem, but not a Plague of Egypt level problem. (Tangent: Just got an idea for an eldritch event, just going to write this down real quick ... )

Characters, misc

This is a catch-all category; changes of note are a cleanup of scripts to handle colonist renaming more consistently, some tangential bugfixes from character memory balance/development, and making sure strange event cases create the correct consequences.

Fishpeople

This all adds up to essentially a more sophisticated re-introduction of good ol' Exotic Caviar ("Tip top!") using the agent group mission mechanics. Before, caviar was a rather contextless placeholder. Now it fits into dynamic systems.

Factions Miscellany

Another catch-all, aside from fixes and balance, the goal of these changes is to allow for a bit more interaction between factions that would previously ignore one another.

UI, misc

A collection of miscellaneous UI fixes. Foremost, perhaps, is the push to make the lower-left command buttons include tooltips describing what all the buildings actually do.

Animals

They know.

Events, misc

Most interesting here is the revamp of the immigration event. It's been given a lot more narrative flavour and occurs more often because in testing we found that people would tend to have a ton of overseers with rather few underlings. No longer!

Engine/Scripting/Infrastructure Fun

In this section we've cleverly hidden a bunch of behind-the-scenes infrastructure stuff. Things to do with error reporting and compiling optimization just makes development itself smoother. Much of the rest is setting up the pipes that will hook into future features, so even if they don't sound interesting in a player-facing sense, they will certainly pay off in future updates.

Almost forget: Of particular importance is the decision tree feature being developed to mature implementation of certain complex behaviour sets, notably to do with finishing military features & attendant barracks controls. None of this is player-facing yet but will do huge things in the near future.

Biomes/Environment

Supremely minor, but had to put these somewhere!



September 2015 update notes:

If I were to sum up this month's work, it would be that we worked on addressing the question of how a player queries the state of a character then how the player makes decisions which affect that state. (You like that sentence? Chris said it needs another comma, but I told him No!) ... Naturally the full story is ridiculously complex.

This month is a story of rabbit holes, of the noble intention of working on a seemingly superficial feature, prying back the cover, and ending up elbow-deep in wires and pipes. Possibly we found Lemarchand's box holding up a leaking conduit and now We have such pointers to show you. I'll give a shot at working this into a comprehensible narrative provided we all acknowledge that broad strokes are being painted with here.

First, to follow up on the revised Work Crew UI panel from last month, we set our sights on a revised Character Information panel. Sounds great, natural progression! What goes into this character panel; what is a colonist but a miserable pile of memories? Digging in to memories, ah, looks like this system needs some core operations re-jiggered to work according to our present assumptions. We'll also roll the madness system back into being attached to memories and put a better display on the character panel. And while we're at it, we should better visualize the emotional effect of memories. While we're at that, being able to better visualize memory lets us rebalance the effects of memories - let's do that. We really ought to check every instance of memory creation in the game while we're at that; and every social job that is executed based on mood state to change mood state - heck, let's check every job in the game while we're there. Oh dear, this'll need fixing; and this. We'll also need to provide players better means to address negative moods and madness, so let's get the "office" type building infrastructure working properly so that we can make, for example, effective chapels that give real feedback about their state (and this follows up nicely on the barracks from last month).

Got all that? Let's review:

  1. redo character info panel
    1. overhaul memory system
      1. review all memories in database
      2. review all memory creation points in script
      3. add madness to appropriate memories
        1. review all madness-related systems
          1. review cults & fix them to use revised madness
          2. rebalance all madness jobs
      4. implement the Lament Configuration with linked lists
    2. review & balance all social jobs
      1. review & balance all jobs in the game, period.
      2. oh hey, it turns out some jobs worked based on outdated assumptions. Re-do or can them!
    3. properly implement office system
      1. redo Chapel in particular to use new system
      2. meddle with theology, generally
      3. cults again, probably
    4. where we're going, we won't need eyes. Or roads. I always get those ones mixed up.
  2. attempt to re-activate the black hole for some reason
  3. release album

And that's not including the stuff I couldn't cram into a tangled web of related systems, which would be some optimization & finishing on stockpiles, some /other/ UI, and the whole workshift and time of day system. Plus the review of all jobs fixed a number of outstanding AI errors. And we did more balancing. And ... it's in the changelog and in the sub-categories listed below.

It's not clean and easy to explain, but we think players will be very pleased with progress from Alpha 42 to Alpha 43. We've particularly made an effort to address the divide between player knowledge about characters and what those characters choose to do. Next month should be interesting as well - we hope to focus more on finishing the backend for core system (like offices) and - well, we'll talk about that next month.

And here are our development blog posts from late August to the middle of September:

August 2015 update notes:

This was a short month! Last month when we were planning for August we decided to do a shorter work period to get us back on to the mid-month patch release schedule. (We had slipped to releasing in the 3rd week of the month or so since getting thrown off by the 2015 holidays.) As such, we decided not to try to rush a giant feature but to really attack small but numerous, well-distributed bugs, UX handups, and some balancing. In other words, we decided to focus on tightening up what we've got rather than adding a sexy new future. We figure it's something current players will appreciate even if there isn't a big shiny thing to point at.

A bit more on this point: not focusing on a big new feature is a somewhat tough proposition because that's what fuels blog posts and monthly update promotion. It is few people who want to read about how we painstakingly reproduced and nailed down an obscure crash or refactored a section of code -- but this stuff is the execution of a game, the most important part. Anyone can come up with cool ideas, the real question is how they are implemented.

With all that said we did in fact slip in a few features to point at and say "oooh, shiny and new!". Of note:

Apart from that, there are lots of little things done which will be discussed in the categories below plus an especially large number of fixes, crash fixes, and some optimizations done to improve player experience.

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

And here are our development blog posts from late July to the middle of August:

July 2015 update notes:

The major development themes this month were:

First, the UI refactoring was finally pushed to public branches. The underlying system is now much more reliable from a standpoint of the final result looking like the XML put into it, and it does so faster than before. Perceptive players will notice that things may look a little different in places - that means it's working. There's still much to be done in terms of implementation of course, and a few processing-hog spots remain which need to be cleaned up, but we're getting there!

We now let the player select their starting characters and goods. This was an obvious move once we realized how terrifically easy it'd be to do, plus it lets players opt in to their desired level of difficulty. This also ties in to a beginning of implementation of the Overworld. A map generation system has been built, we can show off the results, now it just needs to connect meaningfully with all of the systems at play in the game proper. This will take some time to fully implement but we've now got the foundation laid.

Speaking of foundational features, colonists received a few of their own which now enable us implement a ton of interesting character content. Colonists now have a concept of claiming property (just beds right now), a concept of desires (now mostly just "Claim a Bed", "Join a Cult", and "Murder"), and they can drink booze to forget painful memories. Which can be pretty important considering how rough life on the Frontier can be.

Lastly, a lot of work was done on figuring out how to measure a player's economic progress then how to control (say) immigration based on those numbers. This is that bit of game design that involves analytics and spreadsheets - and it's really pretty fascinating once you get into it, trust us. Iteration upon the results of these first tests will lead to a better balance of challenge versus reward and rate of interesting-things-over-time.

In broad strokes this was more of a feature development month than a content implementation month. The fruits of this progress will become all the more sweet over the next few updates, if you'll allow this painfully indulgent metaphor.

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

And here are our development blog posts from late June to the middle of July:

June 2015 update notes:

There were three- no, four!- major initiatives this month:

  1. Ensure game stability when saving & loading.
  2. Overhaul jobs/assignments/workshops for stability & optimization.
  3. Overhaul UI for consistency & optimization (and stability again)
  4. Implement new game content enabled by recently completed system.

Game stability is obviously of utmost importance. This has been a problem, particularly as we develop a meaningful mid-game which can't be accessed unless the game itself is stable, so we made a dedicated effort to improve the situation. This involved tracking down lots of crashes and finding what fiddly thing exploded to cause the game to crash. Some game systems were known to be problem areas and required particular attention to ensure stability, which brings us to #2...

Jobs, assignments, and workshop handling of jobs & assignments were totally re-written. It's all much better now! The primary aim of this effort was, as stated, stability but we got a number of workshop UI improvements slipped in because it was a convenient place in the code.

As mentioned last month, we've also taken apart and put together the entire UI rendering system to find all the long-standing errors, enable a few new features, and ultimately allow ourselves to use the UI system to do more with more confidence. This also has the benefit of optimizing computation pitfalls which existed in certain fringe cases, notably the "Work Crews" window. This task is essentially complete, but in the interest of maintaining a stable public release we're delaying widespread roll-out of the new UI until the first experimental patch after the public revision 40 is released - be sure to check out 40A when it hits experimental release.

Finally, we're continuing to implement new game content that's been unblocked by the past few months work. It's particularly rewarding to be able to see art in game that was completed over a year ago finally becoming a part of player's game experiences! More on the details in the appropriate categories below.

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

And here are our development blog posts from late May to the middle of June:

May 2015 update notes:

The big development themes this month are stackable commodities (plus some of the economic implications thereof), colonist social job overhaul (hugs!), new fishpeople faction/interaction system, lots of UI work, and (as ever) lots of fixes and additional bits of content sprinkled tastefully throughout.

Let's get a bit more into how this update furthers said key aspects of Clockwork Empires. First, commodity stacking advances economic gameplay by offering a solution to the logistical crunch of stockpile sprawl and ever-increasing hauling cost (in terms of worker-time) by allowing stacked commodities and allowing stacks to be moved. On the colonist AI front, a swath of social jobs have been created & artfully rebalanced to allow colonists which are in a particular negative state to attempt to relieve themselves of that negative state by means appropriate to their situation and unique traits - for example, both hugging and hitting other people are valid options and Brutish colonists will of course tend toward the latter. The new Fishpeople faction/group system lays down both the design groundwork and script framework for player interaction with other factions, mundane and eldritch, and serves as a model for the player establishing faction policy based on events that arise out of the simulation (rather than triggering from a pre-determined path or tree). There are also very important UI upgrades, an autosave feature, combat behaviour fixes, and a whole pile of other good stuff going in which will be described in more detail below.

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

And here are our development blog posts from late April to the middle of May:

April 2015 update notes:

Upon starting Clockwork Empires the first thing you may notice is that you now start with just seven rather than fourteen colonists. This is a tuning of both player experience and economic progression. You will soon notice a number of new UI elements: progress bars for jobs and a "Factions" window. As you continue, you'll find lots of new little pieces put together in the game, many new events, new character behaviours, and more feedback about what's going on.

The focus of the more directed developments this month center around giving players better control over and feedback from characters doing work in game. This is essentially "making the economy interesting" and "making it be a thing the player is interested in meaningfully playing with". Thus: progress bars, work crew panel iteration, tweaks to feedback given to player, a radical re-balancing of the gamestart, more UI stuff, and polishing some details of how characters carry out jobs.

There are also a number of parallel development streams based on different themes such as fleshing out the concept of factions generally, adding more events to bring out character traits (and player choices), tightening up combat behaviour, and more. Then there's a bunch of random stuff that seemed fun or convenient to do such as adding the 'making out' animation which led to some very interesting discussions about how character relationships ought to work.

Greater detail about making out and everything else shall be revealed in the report below! We've also decided to add a new category to the dev report: "Economy & Logistics". It's a rather important subject that 'til now we've been trying to cram into the "Buildings" section.

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

And here are our development blog posts from late March to the middle of April:

March 2015 update notes:
Our focus this month was on UI, performance optimization, characters, cults & bandits, and events.

Let's start with UI: We've been honing in for a while on better unifying how the player queries & orders workcrews to do their jobs. We've come up with a system for unifying jobs which were previously scattered over the map into a single control handle, an "assignment beacon" so that, for example, if you order a bunch of trees chopped you'll be able to click on one icon in the center of that area. This will open a window with workshop-like controls, allowing you to see sub-tasks, cancel the assignment, and un- or re-assign workcrews. This will also show the map area covered by the assignment, which will tie into a revamped area selection tool - but that'll be for another month. To sum up, we want to give players clear, consistent, and powerful tools to control what workcrews are doing. But do note that this implementation is in-progress, of course, and shall coalesce (before your eyes!) in upcoming weeks/months.

In character-land, we've added character skills! A workcrew leader with higher skills will allow their workcrew to finish jobs more quickly, the higher skillm the faster they work. This suddenly makes individual characters matter a lot more and serves to distinguish your lumberjack overseer quite distinctly from your metalworking artisan. Additionally, both the overseers and their labourers will now get special uniforms based on their highest skill. So lumberjacks get lovely flannel shirts, farmers have overalls, and metalworkers get heavy leather gloves and aprons. It's all quite adorable.

Meanwhile, random events have received lots of attention. Weird stuff happens based on the people and happenings in your colony, and in many cases you can decide to react to these events in different ways! Lord Palmerstoke's Science Crate is particularly devious.

Just so you don't think we're going to let you off easy, cults and bandits have gotten a lot more sophisticated. Cults will form, ask you to allow shrines (which you may accept or reject), hold creepy rituals that make them happy and other people creeped out, and if their shrine is destroyed (by, say, a stray airdrop crate) they will be greatly angered. Bandits now form gangs with unique names, and when they're in a gang, they're in all the way / from their first cigarette / to their last dyin' day. (There's a lot of framework behind bandits to enable more complex behaviour in upcoming patches, including overworld tie-ins, so that'll be fun).

Oh, and a ton of stuff has been optimized, from rendering to AI. Performance should be noticably improved.

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

And here are our development blog posts from late February to the middle of March:

February 2015 update notes:
This month our development goals were to get in fog of war, overhaul character jobs, finish some loose ends for economic progression, and roll in some cool events. And that's what we did.

Details? Sure: the job overhaul involved Daniel making a giant spreadsheet of every job and looking at exactly what affected everything. This revealed lots of balance issues, a number of bugs and typos; basically the sort of stuff you expect to find when doing what amounts to an audit. So that got some cleaning. We got a system for proportional utility so that a job can be added to a set where it is chosen randomly from a set based on it's value rather than simply always choosing the highest value - this lets social behaviours have more interesting variety. Combat jobs also got their logic tightened way up so that soldiers carry out their duties more according to player expectations.

Work on events including tying them to traits possessed by particular characters (who got a nametag option so you can see who people are on the map) as well as tying them to groups of character, in particular cult groups. Cults got an overhaul from the start so they form according to specific causes, have given names (which the player is actually told about), and follow strict night-time recruitment practices (as is only appropriate). Tutorials also use the event system so we hooked up a handful of new contextual tutorials and reduced the length of the infodump upon gamestart.

On the economic side, buildings cost a lot more and it generally takes longer to get together the materials required to advance. And there are a few more important reasons to advance, such as upgrading weapons (we got gun reloading, so six-shooters are much more effective than pistols now) and medicinal products that can keep madness and therefore cults at bay. Plus bricks are cool. (At least I think so.)

Fog of war is just creepy. Enjoy!

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

And here are our development blog posts from late of January to the middle of February (which is an absurdly short month, isn't it).


January 2015 update notes:
This month our development goals were more about stability, usability, and cleaning up a lot of smaller features that will build toward a sense of gameplay progression for the player who runs a successful colony from early to mid-game. The December holiday season is necessarily a somewhat short work-month punctuated by all varieties of festivity and plague, so it lends itself better to completing smaller tasks than doing one big feature.

Lots of little things got done: tech fixes and optimization, new UI pieces, more control over small systems, lots of small gameplay bugs squashed, problems with jobs hashed out, re-balancing here and there, graphical polish on things we've been putting off for a while, and even some more work building up to the multiplayer back-end. So rather than continuing to list small things we improved, let's shuffle you along to the sub-sections to learn more about the details of what we got done - the UI/UX section is particularly beefy.

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

And here are our development blog posts from the middle of December to the middle of January (the holidays forced us to do the obligatory holiday post, and there's a vegan-themed homage to that awful TNG season 1 clip show episode with Riker; you know the one).


December 2014 update notes:
This month saw a few parallel streams of development. Perhaps most important was the continuation of developing economic gameplay with the ability to order dismantling of modules, buildings, and zones. These don't feel at first glance feel like "positive" feature developments, but what they do is introduce the essential element of iteration. Now a player can build a colony, tear it down, then re-build as a better, faster, more effective colony. Alongside this we wanted to introduce some fun themed gameplay elements, so we've fleshed out the behaviour of Naturalist characters, added the Laboratory along with Scientists and Laboratory Assistants to work in them, and sprinkled the world with Strange Artifacts to discover, study for prestige, and possibly (probably) make things go Terribly Wrong with. As usual there are also a ton of small changes and improvements which will be discussed in the appropriate sections below.

Oh, and we moved into a new office in the last month! The new place is rather nice, though we're still not sure about this "sun" that keeps shining through "windows"; it's all rather alarming and if anyone can explain what's going on, please do.

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

Here are our development blog posts from the middle of November to the middle of December (which appear slightly fewer than usual due to how the Wednesdays line up, but hopefully the title length makes up for it):


November 2014 update notes:
So, this ended up being a weird month. Our plan was to go in and crank out a pile of economic features and UI in support thereof, but our MacOS/Linux build ended up requiring a two-week+ rewrite of the entire renderer to work with OpenGL 3.2 standards which took most core coder time away from economic feature development. That said though, there are indeed a few important features snuck in, details below. While held up on the big features required for the economy-focused work, a lot of secondary coding and implementation got done on other parts of that game which did not depend on the planned features. So this is all good stuff, just not quite the good stuff we expected this month to be about, and much of what we wanted to accomplish has had to be pushed back due to unanticipated complexity in getting the MacOS and Linux ports working.

As ever, adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

Here are our development blog posts from the middle of October to the middle of November:


October 2014 update notes:
This month we've focused less on big showy things and more on the player experience. We've made existing gameplay smoother, fixed as many little broken things as possible, and have otherwise started putting together the infrastructure for really getting the game economy working. In this update, notably, the module construction and workshop system have received attention to set us up for further economic features. With the foundation set by this month, we will be able to implement much stronger economic gameplay in the following month (with details revealed as we implement them). Meanwhile, we've also put time into making the save/load system more stable, reduced combat micromanagement with AI improvements, and added an ammunition system to tie combat to the economy.

As ever, particularly adventurous players should opt-in to the "experimental" build of the game using the properties>betas option in Steam. You can see the new content we're working on plus receive specific technical fixes that don't affect enough players to require hotfixing into the public build.

Here are our development blog posts from the middle of September to the middle of October:


September 2014 update notes:
This is our second month in the public eye and our first on Steam as an "Early Access" title. It's an intense experience for all of here at Gaslamp to be putting the game out in the public on Steam. The feedback has proven incredibly valuable and we hope it shows in how far we've brought the game in the last four weeks. Our big features are new Cult actions, an entire new biome to play in (with new flora, fauna, crops, and cooking products), improved Fishpeople behaviour, conscription of militia soldier and better squad control, improved farming, and lots of general UI and stability fixes. All the details will be described in the categories below.

Here are our development blog posts from the middle of August to the middle of September:


August 2014 update notes:
Our first month of the public playing Clockwork Empires had generated a tremendous amount of feedback and a great deal of work has been done as a result. As expected, much of the initial technical was necessarily focused on getting the game to run at all on the huge variety in hardware and software setups that gamers own. Apart from that, the range of perspectives vastly increased which gave us a huge amount of user interface and "user experience" feedback concerning how the game is controlled and how information is presented to the player. Upon reviewing our changelogs from mid-July to mid-August, we realized that we did not include a UI/UX category on this page even though it's an essential component of Clockwork Empires. So we added a new category to track UI/UX progress! You will find it below.

More details about the month's work will be added to each section below. In the meantime, here are the development blog posts from the last month:


July 2014 update notes:
The overall status of the project is, as one would expect, quite far along. We've hit the point (as of July 2014) where the game is getting very visibly better with each update we send to testers, and the experience is becoming less about basic functionality as it is about playing the game itself. Hitting this tipping point was the most important criterion for us for any form of early access and we're at the point where people who want to participate will be able to watch the project take shape, submit bugs, help us prioritize features, suggest how to resolve design issues, and play the game largely crash-free.