Clockwork Empires Enters Beta, Nearing Proper Release

After two years in early access, Lovecraftian colonybuilding/survival sim Clockwork Empires [official site] has released its first beta version. Changes like “New Event Arc system to chain interesting events together to produce Interesting Times” sound quite delightful until you realise this is a nice way to say “Now there’s an arc to how frontier struggles murder your colonies and eldritch horrors megamurder them!” Beta status means Clockwork Empires is still not done but a finished version is a whole lot closer – think months, say developers Gaslamp Games, not years.

“We have now essentially finished all of the back-end code required to complete the game, so we can switch to integrating mechanics, UI/UX improvement, optimization, and stability,” Gaslamp say in the patch notes. “And we can finally say that the completed game is a matter of mere months away!”

Along with event arcs, the main features of this month’s shift to beta are a new workshop order queueing system, “subtle UI usability improvements,” and a quality of life system which means “good colonies produce happy, productive overseers”. Presumably bad colonies produce unhappy, destructive overseers.

The patch notes have the full rundown but hey, you can see a bit of all this stuff in a new trailer:

We haven’t had a good look at Clockwork Empires since ooh 2014, so danged if I know what shape it’s in now. Have have you been finding it over the years, gang?

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  1. darkath says:

    Been in the alpha for a while. Sadly it seems the devs got lost at some point in their designs. They had lot of trouble getting the technical issues sorted during the alpha, which prevented content to be added and the game, which is simply not anywhere close to a finished state yet.
    I really hate to say this because i love Gaslamp and the devteam is awesome, and I really loved the early concepts of the game, but atm it just doesn’t live up to expectations. I would strongly advise to wait.

    • syndrome says:

      “the devs got lost”
      “the devteam is awesome”

      I smell “technical game design done by game designer” flaw

      • ElVaquero says:

        what on earth does that even mean?

        • syndrome says:

          That means that “game designers” are typically (not generally) extremely extravert, charismatic, communicative (verbally and socially intelligent) but non-technical people who seemingly care about their own look (and image) more than how things get engineered.

          That’s how
          “the devteam is awesome”

          More often than not such “game designers” let themselves design a game that relies heavily on some piece of technology, because it’s a popular genre/trope (i.e. everyone wants a DF-clone-done-right these days, but underestimates the algorithms that make things seem simple when looked from a player’s perspective), and everything along the way is something a programmer will magically solve, right? We just hire the guy, and you know, poof…

          However, programmers are typically nerdy and/or slightly eccentric introverts, about whom public knows very little, who are hard to come by if they’re really know what they’re doing. Regardless, if a game is a DF clone, the team heavily relies upon this team member. Needless to say, it’s incredibly hard for this person to focus on the _contents_ the “game designer” wants implemented, especially if someone didn’t manage the project with a highly relevant but invisible production cost in mind. I.e. having a good pathfinding solution or a better AI foundation is in fact worth more than new game items, but isn’t perceived as such by non-technical people.

          In my mind, the entire project has a giant “ROOKIE” label written all over it.

          So the team concensus is that critical bugs in the underlying codebase (which is written mostly ad-hoc and/or as a placeholder) now seem to “stand in the way” of development. That’s not how you build games. Such things cannot be “in the way”, they are planned for, and are to be expected in the dev process. You are not supposed to add content regardless of these technicalities, but according to them.

          So, that’s how
          “the devs got lost”

          That’s also (interestingly) a main philosophical difference between S:C and E:D btw. Introvert vs extravert designers. Think about it. Chris Roberts was always someone who wouldn’t shy from talking and waving with his hands too much (he’s of director mentality), while David Braben (who actually codesigned and programmed the original; he’s an engineer) simply wanted a game he thought about for a long time. Think about what these games promise to deliver, and you’ll find E:D to be a heavily introvert game.

          Hopefully I made myself more clear. Sorry if my English is bad.

          • syndrome says:

            And I’m sorry for the typos.

            You can also look at how Rimworld was made, and define it as basically: Dwarf Fortress (conceptually) meets Prison Architect (graphically), set somewhere in the Firefly-ish universe.

            But when you take a look at who did it, it becomes clear why this guy couldn’t shake the status quo, and why he just reiterated on what was previously done by Bay 12 Games and Introversion engineers.

            The reason why it works at all is quite possibly because his programmers are nerdy Ukrainians (kudos to them). But did he really had to write a book on game design in the meanwhile? What’s the purpose of it? Is Rimworld that good of a game?

            So that’s how he established himself as a designer and author, BEFORE he even tried to make a working game. In my lingo, his behaviour is called extravert (or extrovert, whatever the exact spelling is).

            He didn’t do it to make a brave new technical milestone, nor to demonstrate some marvelous design, he just did it because he had money and made a qualified assumption there is a popular demand for such an innovation.

            People need to understand what a designer is not, as Tynan should be more accurately described as a game producer, a PR and a sale representative; in other words, a socially-intelligent English-speaking frontman for a good programming team from Ukraine.

          • Solomon Grundy says:

            a) I can’t reply to your Rimworld reply because you’ve used up all the replies apparently.
            b) Tynan’s “team” in the Ukraine is one dude (correct me if I’m wrong). Tynan did all of the development himself before November 2015.
            c) You think too much and not all of it is the good kind of thinking.

          • eightohnine says:

            @syndrome Where is all this coming from? You’ve supposedly been on the receiving end of such a conflict at some point and been somewhat frustrated by it. But it’s mighty dangerous to argue in such binary terms. Extrovert producers/designers VS introvert developers is such a simplistic way of thinking and should not act as the core argument of your venting. If someone says he likes black, this doesn’t automatically mean he dislikes white. There’s always more facets to an issue that first meet the eye and it’s vital to know about everything to be able to make an informed comment. If you’re not able to know all the aspects, then filling the blanks with assumptions that fit your preferred narrative is not an option. If anything, baseless rambling makes you look silly.

    • colw00t says:

      From your description it sounds almost like Clockwork Empires just recently entered beta, not being in a finished state at all!

      Oh, turns out that’s exactly what they just announced – it just made beta.

      • CaidKean says:

        I thought beta meant feature/content complete and that all that was left was to iron out bugs and such?

        If so, that doesn’t address his complaint that he feels the current release is lacking in content.

  2. Synesthesia says:

    man, i’ve been waiting for these one. Hope it’s good.

  3. Davie says:

    I last had a go at it back in October or so, and had loads of fun with it, but it still felt very rough around the edges. Looks like they’ve added a lot in the past few months, though, so assuming they can iron out the remaining bugs and weirdness, I feel like this might end up being the best DFlike yet.

    • Hand me an 8th says:

      have you played RimWorld?

      • Poet says:

        Rimworld is my game of the year so far after having fired it up half a dozen times before it finally mainlined. Give me a game that lets me build bases and feelings for my “peeps” then tells a different story on every play through and I have my desert island game.

  4. April March says:

    Excited excited excited. This is one of the few games I’m actively looking forward to.

  5. Moogski says:

    I’ve been playing Clockwork Empires since 2014, absolutely love it! Initially the difficulty curve was merciless, you’d rapidly spiral into starvation, cannibalism and cults. Such horror (And hilarity).

    The UI look and feel was dreadful initially. I enjoyed playing it nonetheless with the bugs and lack of visual polish, the mechanics are so unique and general course of events so delightfully batshit insane. Moreover, it’s strangely immersive. The world is very cohesive.

    I’m hoping that the navy ships, armies and Steampunk robots hinted at in initial artwork show up. More general insanity (Scenarios, features, AI quirks, sprinkles etc) and refinement of mechanics for fluidity would be awesome too. Overall, it’s been fun to watch it grow. I’m a big fan of the look too. Wonder if they’ll be going down a DLC route post release? I’m hoping it goes CIV wards with expansions and modders aplenty.