Clockwork Empires

Gaslamp Games discusses emergent character traits in Clockwork Empires, head bumps

Omri Petitte at

Clockwork Empires

The dark whimsy Gaslamp Games is piling into Clockwork Empires is delicious. Their dev blog continues to reveal pleasant surprises like creepy plant people and "BIRDS, terror of the open skies." The latest glimpse into the strange minds of Gaslamp came earlier this week in another update that breaks down how citizens' personality traits drive their Dwarf Fortress-like, emergent actions.

On the blog, Gaslamp CEO Daniel Jacobsen explains how Clockwork will simulate the brains of its citizens. He titles his write-up "New Breakthroughs In The Field of Reverse Phrenology"—a science that doesn't technically exist, but like many other things in Clockwork, is a reference to the ludicrous ideas of the 18th century. Phrenology, an actual theory that surfaced in the early 1800s, posited a relationship between the shape of a person's skull and the brain matter beneath guiding conduct and disposition. No, I didn't need to look any of that up at all. Wait, why is my liar lobe aching?

Jacobsen hints at some peculiar examples of behavioral traits from a "huge list" created by the team. As a colony leader, you might very well have to satisfy the needs of a Hat Enthusiast or help someone with a Romantic Inclination find some love. Even a Bee Fancier has a chance of showing up. Yes, someone who fancies bees. I have no words.

Just as interesting are the existence of hidden quirks, wildcards that can make a trait even more ridiculous. A character with Fishy Behavior, for example, could simply be obsessed with all things aquatic, or he or she may just simply decide one day to "take a long walk into the water, never to return." A cruel fate, for sure, but also totally hilarious.

"Characters will have the ability to gain or lose traits due to traumatic/ecstatic/sublime experiences, and will also form strong attachments to things that have been important to them in their lives—other characters, other items, or other places," Jacobsen wrote. "This is not good if the place is 'the mysterious statue on the outside of the town' or if the item is 'the mysteriously glowing jar with a skull in it.'"

It sounds horrifying, but who knows? I might like having a Glowing Jar Hoarder around.