Clockwork Empires

Clockwork Empires dev diary talks building improvements, "terrifying plant people"

Omri Petitte at

Clockwork Empires house

When we last checked in on Gaslamp Games' steampunk sandbox Clockwork Empires, Technical Director Nicholas Vining spoke of such wonders as carnivorous birds blending hapless humans into edible giblets and the soul-searching presence of useless machinery. In a new entry charting the rise of Empires' endearing quirkiness, Vining exposed more of the cog- and steam-work guts powering building construction and plumbing, and a small invasion of plant-like humanoids.

Vining explained how interface wizard Chris Whitman implemented a new method for drawing out building blueprints directly onto a construction grid, allowing players to set custom layouts for modules and resource stockpiles. "We’re still trying to suss out the right interface for selecting wall stylings, but that’s on the to-do list," Vining added. "You can even decorate it with windows, lamps, and other useful features."

He also declared that "most of the exploding building bugs have now been thankfully resolved." Well now.

Descending into the spaghetti-bowl world of pipes gave Vining and the rest of Gaslamp's team a challenge over how much control to bestow upon the player when managing tangles of plumbing. "We’re actually in the middle of a knife-fight about exactly how much we want the user to plumb things in themselves, and whether or not giant cities full of terrifying amounts of piping are, in fact, fun," Vining wrote. "They’re certainly visually pretty."

Vining is also toying with a new water renderer because "the old, horrible one was annoying," an instantly relatable decision for most day-to-day purposes. "It looks much better," he continued. "We added ambient light—dynamic lights for lanterns and explosions are coming as soon as I have a spare day—and made the ambient occlusion term a little less moody so that humans were not surrounded at all times by terrible clouds of awful darkness. In general, the game sort of feels like, 'Oh, I might want to play this!' and not, 'Oh, dear, look at all the awful things.' That’s good news."

And yes, plant people. Vining only spoke in hushed whispers surrounding the enigmatic creatures, attributing their appearance to "a bad rewrite of the texture code." The subject was then promptly dropped. Why? Because it watches. Waits.

We've snipped some of the best screenshots of Vining's post for your perusal below, but be sure to have a look at his words for interesting technical tidbits on Empires' formation. We've also got our own word-pile right here in our extensive preview.

Clockwork Empires plant person

"Weird. I suddenly have this refreshing mint flavor."

Clockwork Empires cultist altar

Clockwork Empires water test

Clockwork Empires turbine placement

Clockwork Empires house layout