It’s Time To Get Excited About Clockwork Empires

By John Walker on March 20th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

Imagine if so much of the bullshit Peter Molyneux has talked over the years was actually in a game. A simulation game where each tiny human lived their own lives, had their own thoughts and feelings and memories, and behaved accordingly. It’s a claim we’ve heard so often that it’s hard not to dismiss it out of hand. So much so that when Dungeons Of Dredmor developers Gaslamp Games were claiming it, I demanded they stop and prove it to me… They did. Clockwork Empires, a colonial village building sim (of sorts) pulls you in with the cult monster worship, but you stay for the extraordinary AI.

When I first saw that the people who brought me Dredmor were working on something that immediately looked like The Settlers, honestly, my heart sank. Managing stocks of wood and grain is something I’ve perhaps done often enough. Then I got to the end of that trailer last year, saw the cephalopodic demon raising, and realised that perhaps there was more to this than yet another village sim. It turns out, having sat down with the team to watch the game and chat for an hour longer than we were meant to, that there’s an awful lot more than that, too.

Gaslamp spent two years working on the infrastructure for Clockwork Empires. Not the game, but rather creating a pile of tech that would allow them to start making the game, and working out how to get processors to let them do it. These guys are smart. During the development of Dredmor, two of the original three members of the team (they’re now up to “six and a half”) were completing degrees in maths and physics, which they say – as if it’s a failing – meant they weren’t entirely focused. Now they are, and their ambitions for the utterly dissimilar Empires are bigger, broader, and far more complex. In an hour with three of the most warmly enthusiastic and wonderfully strange developers I’ve met, in which the words “It’s a really tough life if you’re a model dating a bee,” were uttered, I’ve become pretty convinced they can do it.

The beginning of the game is very familiar. A green field, a few Victorian-era colonialists pottering around, and a few resources. They’re going to need farmland, materials for building other buildings, storage, and lecterns upon which paperwork can be completed. Paperwork is extremely important to the game’s middle class citizens, something they’d far prefer to be doing than any of the manual labour they foist upon their lower class underlings. Quickly and intuitively, buildings are drawn on the ground, given pleasing L-shapes or howsoever you may want them to stand, and then filled with furniture and décor. Materials are gathered, shit gets done. It’s all very familiar. Except when programmer (and CEO) Daniel Jacobsen stops playing for a while to tell me about things, the characters have less to do. They start talking to each other, sharing ideas, exchanging memories each has. And a couple of them find they have an interest in ancient relics in common – an unhealthy interest. They start telling others, evangelising their beliefs to them, encouraging them to head into the woods and search for such relics, see if they can have a go at raising these ancient demons they’ve heard about. They start forming cults.

Jacobsen is quick to point out that allowing cults to form isn’t the idea of the game. It’s an idea in the game. Some players, he explains, will want to do whatever they can to distract their peoples from such activities, spot the developing patterns, and indirectly intervene. (You never directly control characters in CE, but rather apply influence on the world through construction.) Cults are dangerous, and what they can unleash could wreak havoc on your settlement. That might spoil things for you.

“We don’t want tornadoes,” explains art director David Baumgart, referring to the sorts of disasters that might bring sudden calamity to something like SimCity. Instead in CE, the idea is that anything that might cause such destruction is because you allowed it to happen. The signs were there, and you didn’t step in. And why wouldn’t you step in? Because your citizens turning to insane cult worship and raising demonic beasts could be rather fun.

This all sounds superb, and where Dredmor hinted at Gaslamp’s love for cramming in huge amounts of peculiar variation, Clockwork Empires appears to be expanding on this enormously. Multiple monstrous or fantastic races will interact with you – build too close to the beach and you might find yourself negotiating peace deals/launching war with the aquatic Fish People – and all manner of ancient oddities could be revealed. And you can be directly involved. Say a cult based around the Obeliskians is attempting to incarnate some horror, and for this they need some bones, you could help out there. Before they figure out that other humans are full of bones, you instead could see to having some of your less favourable inhabitants perhaps meet their end, and then deposit those bones nearby. But this isn’t what made my jaw hang slack during the demonstration.

It wasn’t how the game will adapt to your play-style, offering you missions based on how you’re approaching things, either. You’re a settler for the Empire, “exporting racism” from the British homeland, and you can do things to help the Empire out. In reward for this, they may supply you with extra units of useful types, or perhaps send in troops if you find yourself under attack. It’s a reciprocal relationship. Don’t reciprocate, and things change, different missions or events appear, and you might find yourself without a useful squad of Steam Knights showing up in the midst of an attack. But you may well have triggered useful events based on your friendly relationship with other races, instead. It’s not that bit.

It’s not even the presence of echidnas in the game.

It’s that bit from before, where I said the little humans were “talking to each other, sharing ideas, exchanging memories”. I wasn’t embellishing. The entire time, every colonialist in your village, is developing relationships with others, learning from experiences, and behaving accordingly. And dammit, I think this time it’s really true. I think Gaslamp might be making the game that delivers what so many have fallaciously claimed. They rather proved it to me.

Each character has personality traits, given to them from a large pool. They may be gregarious, shy, obtuse, silly, overbearing, and so on. They may have particular fears or favourites. These traits define how they behave when they encounter others, and indeed encounter the events that occur in the world. And more than that, as they exist, they gain memories of what’s happened to them, and those memories affect them, change them, and change their behaviour and relationships.

No, I didn’t believe it either. I interrupted Daniel mid-flow and told him, “I’ve heard this before! It’s never true!” I put a fire under him. Each character can be clicked on, and their information pulled up. And in there was a list of every significant (and even insignificant) event that’s happened to them. People they’ve spoken to, thoughts they’ve had, things they’ve seen, all listed for you to see at any point. And then he did some debug magic and pulled up a console that showed me how this information was being processed, how it was affecting their particular code. It really seemed to be real.

Further, he showed me a battle situation. Fish People were attacking, so the soldiers in the village reacted. They ran over to the store of weapons, and grabbed guns. Even this was based on behaviour and memory, and he proved it to me, too. They are scripted with the knowledge that they need to defend their village because they’re soldiers. They’re also scripted with the information that guns can kill enemies and make them stop. But it wasn’t a scripted event that in a battle situation, soldiers pick up guns. They figured that out based on their knowledge. Then when in war, they were shooting at the Fishy people, and it wasn’t going well. One particular soldier turned and ran away. Not a big deal at first glance, but then I was shown why she did. It was the dead bodies. She saw too many of her chums dead on the ground, and it freaked her out. She ran away out of fear. Her personality traits, combined with this experience, caused her to behave in this particular way in that moment. And this is all now memories she has, information that will influence her future behaviour, and perhaps be something she’ll share with others.

It is, say Gaslamp, important that their behaviour is believable enough that you’ll begin to commiserate with characters, feel guilt when they suffer. They need to create enough dots close enough together that when you draw the narrative together in your mind, it will connect with you. They want players to recognise the behaviour of units, and name them after real world friends they remind them of. “The next day at school,” says Daniel, “they’ll tell that friend how they died that night, why it happened to them.”

And the behaviour can even surprise the developers. They hand wrote that soldiers can get demoralised in battle, Jacobsen explained. And they hand wrote that drinking too much alcohol can cause characters to lose memories. What they hadn’t written is that soldiers who drink too much after battle are the best units, as they can forget the horrors they faced and might be willing to fight again.

This is really exciting stuff. Of course, it very much remains to be seen how much of it will translate to the player as they play. Such tiny details will be making differences, but will they be tangible when you’re zoomed out to the scale of managing many of them, worrying about maintaining buildings, sorting food issues out so they don’t start eating each other’s corpses (because they may). That’s where this extraordinary detail could get lost, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how they ensure that this information is reaching players in a meaningful and game-influencing way.

But, it does seem to be the case that Gaslamp have, as they claim, created a game in which “the characters can experience trauma.”

Meeting Daniel Jacobsen, David Baumgart, and largest of life, technical director Nicholas Vining, I felt like I was in the middle of the friendliest hurricane. I did have to confess to them to wondering how three such idiosyncratic people ever managed to create a game, let alone decide on one particular game to create. All three feel like individual forces, fiercely intelligent and each uniquely eccentric, endlessly interrupting each other and shouting in horror at suggestions one might make. (A discussion about echidnas took on a life I could never have hoped for.) So even though their friendship and fondness was immediately apparent, how could they ever actually make games?

“Spite-driven development,” declares Nicholas, the other two nodding immediately. I ask them to explain, and Daniel gives me an example. Let’s say he wants rabbits in the game – as the programmer it’s not really within his powers to make this happen. So, he says, he’ll use his poor artistic skills to draw something like a rabbit on the office whiteboard, take a photo, put it on his computer and crop it out, and put that square flat drawing into the game. On seeing this, says David with a look on his face that entirely confirms this isn’t hypothetical, he’ll be so horrified that he’ll be forced to draw a proper one to replace it. Or, says Nicholas, blackmail is employed. He wants echidnas in the game, say – in order for David to craft one, David will pretend he needs a particle system to be coded. Nicholas will reluctantly code particles into the game, and then David will pretend something else Nicholas hasn’t gotten around to is necessary. And yes – I can entirely see how such systems work here.

And the model dating the bee? I can barely remember. Nor can I recall why exactly Nicholas regaled us all with a tale of a zen master training his student by cutting off his thumb, to illustrate… nope, it’s gone. Gaslamp are an extraordinary bunch, and experiencing the genuinely lovely madness of their interaction has helped convince me that they can do something pretty special with Clockwork Empires. They’ve got a big challenge ahead of them, but the groundwork is astonishing stuff. This is one to follow closely, and one that will likely be letting us through an alpha sometime later this year.

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84 Comments »

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  1. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I want to believe.

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      Skeletor68 says:

      I’m with you. It’s nice to see Mr.Walker positively giddy in this interview.

      • Malfeas says:

        Yeah, I have to agree. IF this turns out the way it sounds, I may need someone to surgically remove me from my chair and show me the wonders of the outside world after I’ve spent weeks with this game and forgotten how to live in polite society. I’ll try my best to retain knowledge of donning pants, but I promise nothing.

      • Belsameth says:

        Its actually what makes me believe. Not even Alec is as grumpy as Walker…

    • Shadow says:

      I’m with you as well.

      I found about Clockwork Empires months ago and have been periodically checking their development blog (You missed that link, John!). It looks amazing, frankly, and so far I have found no reason to be cynical about it. As an avid Dwarf Fortress fan, I was already excited about it, and now I’m having trouble keeping the excitement failsafes in place.

      I’ll also have trouble staying out of the alpha, which might be a problem since Early Access is always a mixed blessing and can burn you out on a game too soon. But the truth is I can scarcely wait.

      I suppose the best thing to do right now is try and forget about the game, given how it looks like it’ll be a while before we can get our grubby hands on a sufficiently playable version.

      • mangobyte says:

        I honestly expected “fun” to be hyperlinked (right above the fish-people art).

        Now I have to go start up DF again. See y’all in a week >_<

  2. Untas7 says:

    Sorry if I’m being a Negative Nancy, but I’m withholding my hype until I see a more final version of this thing. The Gaslight guys certainly seem nice, but I’ve been burned before, and what I’m seeing so far is another simpler dorf-em-up with an iffy ( though admittedly unfinished ) artstyle and SLIGHTLY more lovecraftian themes. I’m not saying it looks bad, I’m saying I’m not really sold on it at the moment.

    • sabrage says:

      Iffy? It’s absolutely gorgeous.

      • Dharoum says:

        I have to agree, the art puts me off. I love the concept and all, I just wish they would have gone for a more abstract look, so that you could fully focus on the mechanics at work and not worry about the human, imitation of real-life aspect.

        I think that is a mistake, if they can do what they say they want to do, then it would be bloody genius a you wouldn’t need to hang it up on some old game idea like settlers building a society or what have you…
        Just go simplistic, stylish and abstract so that you can enjoy the mechanics in it’s full glory.

        • subshell001 says:

          You must be joking. Abstract art is not always applicable or appropriate. It doesn’t inherently make things better because you “only have to focus on the core mechanics.” That’s such a naive way of thinking, it’s almost cute.

          There are gameplay reasons to not be abstract, like showing the emotional state of a person by how they look and act, etc. not to mention there is a lot of tech behind the house building and procedurely generating the frames based on the foundation shape, etc.

          If you want abstract simulation, this is not the game for you. Move along.

          • Dharoum says:

            Relating to my people, seeing there emotions etc, is something that other games could probably do ten times better because it’s their main purpose. Just because there is brilliant tech behind it all doesn’t mean I will feel more connected to there stories. Just because it’s all AI generated doesn’t mean it’s more significant or better or even good, than if someone made up a story and wrote it into a computer game.

            My point is, the tech sounds amazing, display that, utilize it to create fun game-play, why bother with such chores as human emotions, it’s a whole different thing. And I am not saying games can’t go across genres, but you should know what you want to do, and from the art, my opinion is that you are just doing it for the sake of it. It looks generic and the stories it creates, however cute, could come to light better in a more abstract environment.

            I would love to see something come to life and create it’s own behavior, have a memory, share it, think ideas etc. But why would you limit that to some framed setting? Being abstract allows you to utilize the possibilities of the core game to the fullest instead of trying to mix it into some art-work and an old game-play-theme.

            And it’s not that I like abstract simulation, I like innovation and quality, I think both would show off more in an abstract setting.

          • Shadow says:

            I’m not sure what you’re arguing for here, Dharoum, in the context of Clockwork Empires. It seems your ideas go fundamentally against what the devs are describing, which is a village builder set in a defined steampunk setting, with robust behavioural mechanics to allow the player to strongly relate to his little people.

            It sounds like you’re asking for an entirely different game, if similar at its very core.

          • sabrage says:

            So…. Thicker eyebrows, is what you’re saying.

          • Dezmiatu says:

            You have to nurture racism and sadism in the settlers to explain why the Eyebrowed Ones are fleeing into Dredmor’s dungeons.

        • Shadow says:

          I have absolutely no issues with the art style. It looks very Settlers-esque, which I find most appropriate.

          And frankly, I don’t want another Banished.

  3. Firkragg says:

    If you happen to come upon their website, please remember to enjoy their tag system. You’ll know when you see it.

    • Baboonanza says:

      ‘john walker is a hugging man’

      I knew it!

      • BooleanBob says:

        ‘Hugging’ being used there as an intensifier, I assume?

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      Faldrath says:

      Gaslamp’s blog is one of the most entertaining reads you can find. Worth an email subscription.

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      Bluerps says:

      It’s also worthwhile to subscribe to their newsletter. It doen’t only tell you when their blog updates, it usually contains something extra too.

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    harvb says:

    Have to say this game is intriguing me more than any other upcoming. It could, done right, be the graphical Dwarf Fortress we’ve been longing for. Great interview too, thanks John.

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    soulblur says:

    This is the sort of game where I would be interested in playing around with the alpha (and certainly the beta).

  6. Brinx says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. It sounds like a pretty lovecraftian Dwarf Fortress. Except for the part where you care about your characters of course.

    Also: This sounds like one of the few types of games that are suitable for early access. If it works anything like DF or Prison Architect, i.e. a complex and playable game that gradually gets features added that make the game even more complex, it should work really well.

    Edit: OK, I basically said “If it works, it works”, but still…

    • frightlever says:

      You didn’t care about your Dorfs? Not Nobles, obviously. Fuck those guys.

      • Brinx says:

        I wouldn’t call locking children in rooms filled with wooden spikes caring per se, but you’re probably right.

      • Brinx says:

        Also Lyemakers. Down into magma with those guys.

  7. zain3000 says:

    It’s a really tough life if you’re a model dating a bee

    What kind of bee produces milk?


    ..
    .

    A boo-bee

  8. derbefrier says:

    Well this game wasn’t on my radar at all 5 minutes ago. Now I am looking forward to it. Let’s hope it delivers.

  9. Teovald says:

    Another project added to my radar.
    Does anyone know a good way to follow indie games that don’t offer to send your email updates ?
    I know that they generally have twitter/facebook accounts, but it is very easy to miss a launch anouncement on both of these networks (not to mention that I don’t use them much) : in twitter it will easily be flooded between many other messages, and facebook algorithms have good chances to decide that I don’t want to read about it..

    • frightlever says:

      RSS feed for announcements/blog posts if they have one. I used to do that on Desura as well.

      • Cvnk says:

        Yes, RSS is perfect for this sort of thing. All those people that said Google Reader was irrelevant in this day and age of Facebook and Twitter knew nothing.

        Thankfully there’s Feedly which is a great RSS aggregator and has an API that is compatible with many readers if you don’t like their interface.

      • Teovald says:

        That’s not a bad idea ! I don’t like RSS that much for this : it creates a pile of article for me to consume, which is not what I want, I basically want a newsletter. But with page2rss I can create a RSS feed from any webpage and this with a IfThisThenThat recipe I can receive an email each time one of these sites get updated.
        Thanks !

  10. Chiron says:

    Really hate steampunk/victoriana style but I’m still looking forward to this.

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      Gap Gen says:

      I tend to agree, although this is largely as a lot of steampunk glosses over the troublesome aspects of Victorian Britain and concentrates on moustaches, cogs and airships, and I have difficulty with treating imperialism as a fun jaunt that ends at 4pm with jam and crumpets (although, then again, I’m only really familiar with Michael Moorcock’s stuff, which is clearly socially aware, so feel free to correct me!) That said, the ideas in this look great, so colour me curious.

      • TWChristine says:

        Agreed. When I saw “colonial period” bandied about I got rather excited (thinking we were referring to 1700s colonial era which I’ve always had an interest in), until Victorian got mentioned. Throw in steampunk and I groaned. I can’t wait to see how the game turns out still, though.

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          Gap Gen says:

          I mean, not that the early colonial period wasn’t also hideous for quite a lot of people, but yeah, the sense of creating a new world order out of the ashes of feudalism is pretty interesting. Currently hacking through the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, which covers an interesting period of history, and does quite a decent job of stomping around the world rather than just sitting in Western Europe talking about line infantry and wigs.

          • Chiron says:

            One of my favourite books/series. Jack Shaftoe is amazing

            The Steampunk I’m aware of tends towards a) hot chicks with accessories with gears or b) everythings the same as it was but with Zepplins! and emancipation and tea and crumpets.

            Very dull.

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            Gap Gen says:

            Like I say, this is worth looking up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Nomad_of_the_Time_Streams

            I’d like to see other -punk universes. The other day we were envisaging Aliens as told in the 1700s (called “Frenchmen”). I suppose BSG also counts as a modern-day -punk, in that it reflects a lot of modern American society and technology, polytheism and octagonal books aside. Adaptions of golden age SF as 50s-style tech and society could also be interesting, with atom blasters and a sense that nuclear power can build wormhole-linked empires across the galaxy. A lot of Philip K Dick’s writing is rooted in the existential angst of being trapped in the suburbia of the 1950s, and adaptions that move it out of that era lose something, I think.

          • TWChristine says:

            @Chiron: Don’t forget the guys wearing top hats with a pair of goggles strapped around them!

            @GapGen: I really like the idea of 50s SF! I think that was one of the things I liked the best about the ending for Saints Row 3. Large amounts of cheese + goofy looking space costumes = win. Kind of like reminds me of No One Lives Forever as well…which now that I am thinking of it, I am going to install!

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            Gap Gen says:

            NOLF is amazing. Archer’s weird mixture of 1960s and modern life works pretty well, too.

      • Davie says:

        I’m not a huge fan of the usual Alternate-History-Victorian-Britain steampunk fare, but there are a few settings that take the unique concepts of the genre and drag them into very interesting places. I’m reading China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station right now, and it’s full of brass automatons and hydraulic computers and late 19th-century fashion, but that’s effortlessly combined with cactus people and bizarre bio-magic and and Bohemian insect ladies and horrifying Cthulhu-radiation. It’s great.

        Okay, this was really just an excuse to tell everyone to read Perdido Street Station. Do it!

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          Gap Gen says:

          I really should.

        • The Random One says:

          I read Kobo’s free sample of Perdido just the other day, and it’s amazing that it took so long for someone to come up with a sci-fi “cauldron of alien cultures” setting that doesn’t take place in a sci-fi setting. (Fantasy barely counts.)

          • Davie says:

            Really though! It’s way more engrossing than fantasy’s “Human but for two or three physical and cultural traits” elves, dwarves and orcs.

        • TWChristine says:

          I was reading the Wikipedia article about the book to see what it was about, and whether it would be worth me taking a look at. After I finished choking on the water I was drinking, having just read the name of the drug, I have to say that it sounds sufficiently wacky that I’m quite interested. And there apparently being a free sample makes it all the better! Now if only I hadn’t cracked the screen of my Vox :/

        • Hastur says:

          Love Perdido Street Station. One of those books where the scenery is itself a character. Takes a while to build a head of steam, but when it releases…wow.

          Mieville’s The Scar is also fantastic, and set in the same universe.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Solgarmr says:

    Way to excited about this

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    RedViv says:

    I’ve long been at the point where I actually get excited about upcoming Clockwork Empires dev blog entries on Wednesdays. That level of enthralment going.

    • Ravenholme says:

      Their devlogs are hilarious and informative, I think these guys might actually be able to pull this off.

  13. Spoon Of Doom says:

    That sounds like a more promising than average candidate for the title of “Dwarf Fortress with graphics and better controls”. I’ll definitely keep this on my radar. Until then, I really should start playing Dwarf Fortress again…

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    Bluerps says:

    But what if I already was excited about Clockwork Empires, before this article told me that it is now time to get excited about Clockwork Empires? What then?

  15. Synesthesia says:

    I’ve got butterflies in my belly with this one. Check out their dev blog, it’s been consistently interesting and funny. I’ll be ALL over this when it’s done.

  16. serioussgtstu says:

    The ideal city building sim which I have constructed in my head is a mix between Crusader Kings 2 and something like Banished. (I know this already exists and is called Dwarf Fortress, but fuck Ascii, I don’t want to stare at the matrix until I can spot Goblins). This sounds very similar to what I want, it’s personal and if you’re willing to stare at tooltips for long enough then you might end up watching a procedurally generated HBO show.

    Godspeed Gaslamp Games.

    • Spoon Of Doom says:

      There are graphic packs for Dwarf Fortress, replacing the ASCII with actual 2D tiles for forrest, grass, stone, dwarfs etc. Still doesn’t make it look really beautiful by today’s standards, but it’s miles better than staring at the matrix and makes figuring out what’s going on a lot more intuitive.

  17. Lanfranc says:

    Sorry, but after disasters like Simcity and X Rebirth, I no longer, as a point of principle, get excited about games until they’re released and I can see what they’re actually like. In the meantime I subscribe to Yahtzee’s “It’ll probably be shit” philosophy. (Nothing personal against Clockwork Empires, but it’s safer that way.)

    • Untas7 says:

      To be fair, indies have way better track records in terms of shenanigans. EA’s been pulling off stunts like that since way before Sim City, and that one wasn’t nearly as terrible as some crud that’s been done.
      Still, I tend to give indies the benefit of the doubt, on the grounds that they never overhype, lie and cover up crap about their game ( almost never, anyway ), because of a combination of morals and the knowledge that doing something so bad will cost them more than they can pay.

    • ghor says:

      I used to be like you until I realised that an excited “looking forward to this!!” makes me feel better than a smug “told you so!!” does.

    • SillyWizard says:

      To whom are you apologizing, and for what?

      (Preceding opinions with a disingenuous “sorry” is probably the thing I hate most on the internets.)

      • Lanfranc says:

        To Mr Walker, who informs us that “it’s time to get excited about Clockwork Empires.” I feel bad for disappointing him with my lack of excitement. :(

  18. jonahcutter says:

    I’ve been anticipating this for a while now. City-building RTS games just don’t grab me anymore, primarily because it all ultimately seems so mechanical. It never seems like managing/leading a city of actual people, but more a shuffling of numbers from one column to another while watching unthinking robots carry out the tasks. Sure there’s Dwarf Fortress, but interface…

    Which is why this appeals so much. Emergent events based on individuals in the game learning behaviors. And then having to manage that, not just scripted external events. Add in the fun steampunk aesthetic and eternally cool Lovecraftian themes, and this looks incredible.

    The only disappointing thing here is that an alpha isn’t due until later in the year. I’d hoped they were further along. More waiting.

    Another game to keep an eye on that has similar goals(emergent AI behavior of your little city peeps) is Astrobase Command. http://astrobasecommand.com/

  19. BTAxis says:

    I’m confused. How can one have managed enough stocks of wood and grain? I could do that for the rest of my days.

  20. Laurentius says:

    Sounds fantastic, exactaly my kind of game. Still I would prefer sci-fi setting, near future, Aliens invading Earth through means of global corporations, banks and PR agencies, building living computers, traveling space, expoloding suns, transhumanism, etc.

  21. P.Funk says:

    “And the behaviour can even surprise the developers. They hand wrote that soldiers can get demoralised in battle, Jacobsen explained. And they hand wrote that drinking too much alcohol can cause characters to lose memories. What they hadn’t written is that soldiers who drink too much after battle are the best units, as they can forget the horrors they faced and might be willing to fight again.”

    This stands out most to me. Emergent gameplay elements based on inspired core design. This just reinforces to me how underachieving 90% of modern game design is. I am very excited by this.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Psychopaths make even better soldiers than emotionally stunted alcoholics.

      It would be an interesting mechanic to either conscript psychopaths into the armed services or risk that they’ll become serial killers — which is essentially how we deal with them in reality.

      (If you didn’t know, most Seal Team 6/Delta Force types are psychopaths, in the clinical sense. Turns out people that can process emotions aren’t generally okay with killing other people!)

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        Lamb Chop says:

        Also our corporate and financial leaders are disproportionately clinically psychopathic. Hmm.

        • SillyWizard says:

          On the other side of the equation, the field of anthropology was invented by colonial Britain to better absorb (subjugate) native populations into the imperial fold. It would be neat to have anthropologist colonists who can help relations with (exploitation of) neighboring populations.

  22. waltC says:

    This reminds me of the oxymoron “AI.” Living, sentient intelligence has no “A” in front of it…;) As such “AI” is always contrived and at best merely imitates “I” but can never *be* “I”. Garbage in, garbage out. It may look convincing the first time you see it; but by the third iteration or so it merely becomes numbingly predictable. Yawn.

    • Josh W says:

      Your grammar here is faulty, I think you mean:

      “As such “AI” is always contrived and at best merely imitates moi but can never *be* moi.”

  23. Gargenville says:

    Where’s Pepperouchau?

  24. zeekthegeek says:

    I went by the Gaslamp office a couple weeks ago to playtest and I totally get what you mean about the lead devs personalities. Swell chaps and they definitely have a helluva back and forth going basically all the time.

  25. namad says:

    this has been done before. not everyone is a liar. dwarf fortress does all those things and more.

  26. teije says:

    I was peripherally aware of this before. Now this awareness has centred itself into a beacon of anticipation.

  27. Josh W says:

    I wandered away from this for a bit, glad to hear it’s still on track!

  28. The Random One says:

    This is the only game I’m looking forward to.

  29. NaFola says:

    I love emergent gameplay, but it so often lacks the excitement that is imagined beforehand. Every now and then though, it blows your mind. Can’t wait to see how this game plays. Things like this always make me want to devote some time to games development again. Need more hours in the day!

  30. squareking says:

    To be fair, it’s always been time to get excited about Clockwork Empires. It’s sounded promising since Gaslamp’s first blog post.

    Also, could you have picked a less-engaging screenshot for the header image? Yeesh.

  31. hotmaildidntwork says:

    Regarding their development methods, I am disappointed to see no mention here of the

    Gaslamp Games Design Discussion And Knife Fighting Arena
    http://www.gaslampgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/gaslamp_comic01.jpg

  32. Ianuarius says:

    All aboard the hype train, eh? That’s what game journalism is all about.

  33. Cutter says:

    Yeah, far too many previews over the years promising the holy land and delivering swamp lamp instead. This sounds great, and if they deliver I’ll be all over it like cheap cologne on a whore. So I’ll remain firmly entrenched in the skeptics camp for now. And I’d really prefer to play as the aquatic Fish People. Building an aquatic kingdom and stopping the evil surface dwellers from polluting my ocean with their bodily wastes and other garbage.