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Grinding Gears: Clockwork Empires Doing 'Earliest Access'

What scamps!

The whole idea of Steam Early Access is that games on it aren't finished, but people rightly expect certain (and sometimes unreasonable) levels of completeness, workingness, and polish. If a game is a bit too wonky when it hits Early Access, it may struggle massively to overcome spreading word that it's a garbage scam. Needing time and more testers to give Clockwork Empires a going-over before it's ready enough for Early Access, the gang at Dungeons of Dredmor creators Gaslamp Games are today launching it into what they cheekily call Earliest Access.

If you absolutely positively cannot wait to have a crack at the colonial city-building/Lovecraftian nightmare fun that made our John fizz and foam so much, Earliest Access will open tonight.

Clockwork Empires, to recap, sees you trying to build a (steampunk) colony in a America where you'll find everything from fish people to eldritch horrors, and may end up dabbling in cannibalism or eating off meat trees. It's a bit Dwarf Fortress-y in how much it simulates colonists' thoughts, memories, and behaviours to allow exciting emergent happenings. John noted the wonder of the best soldiers being alcoholics because boozing after battle literally makes them forget, so they don't brick it next time they see one of the horrors that tore their mate apart. Lovely.

You can slap down $30 now then at 6pm tonight get a Steam key for Earliest Access, which will become the Early Access version when it's ready (in August, Gaslamp think), and finally the full game when it's released.

"The game needs more hardware compatibility testing, large-scale bug hunting, and some more UI iteration before we're ready for Steam," Gaslamp say of Earliest Access. They're clear the game's still a bit wonky, as you can see in the delightfully detailed development progress updates. Raised expectations are a big cause of Early Access upsets, so they're trying to manage them.

It'd be handy if they'd show off more of the game, though. While Gaslamp's splendid development blog is filled with explanations and tales from the game, they're light on video or even full screenshots. So here's PC Gamer having a bash back in March (which obviously is outdated now):

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