Alpha 7 Update – Tutorials and Objectives

Alpha 7 is ready and posted, with a new Demo as well as a new Gameplay Video. In this update the main focus is on improving the Tutorial and adding an Objectives System.

Thanks to feedback I received, I learned the game was a bit overwhelming to the new player with all the different systems interacting at once. It’s hard to experience your own game like a new player when you’ve worked on it for thousands of hours! On the left-hand side of the screen, it now lists the current objective based on the current active tutorial.

20150708 Camping

The update also includes the first iteration of the main objectives for the player. These are increasing Prosperity and discovering all neighbouring tribes, which now begin as “Unknown”. A new Scout profession allows you to select which Pokians can go on Scouting missions. A summarised list of changes is below. If you like more detail, weekly progress is listed here, here, here, here or here.

20150702 DriedPond

New Features

  • Implemented nomads joining your tribe event
  • Implemented achievements/objectives for tutorial
  • Added various event-related notifications
  • Added more tutorials and made the transition smoother
  • Added minimap rectangle to let player know current viewing area
  • Refactored game engine to allow for new games without restarting
  • Events panel can be moved around and position is remembered
  • Added scout task for human AI to explore surrounding area
  • Added some diplomacy-related tasks
  • Added sound effects for eating, drinking and shivering
  • Added food security and burning carcass objectives
  • Pokians won’t perform any tasks if their primary needs are too low


  • Nomad appearance chance based on current tribe size relative to prosperity
  • Doubled water update frequency
  • Added main objectives for discovering all tribes and becoming most prosperous tribe
  • Diplomacy panel disabled and blacked out until first main objective complete
  • Modified Career class so Pokians can have multiple professions
  • Added foreign tribe discovery stages
  • Moved scouting action from tribe-specific action to global action in diplomacy panel
  • Foreign tribe prosperity fluctuates in proportion to foreign tribe size
  • Halved day length to fit new update frequency
  • Reduced severity of hunger and thirst effects due to sickness
  • All animals eat and drink twice as fast
  • Change notification sound to achievement completion sound
  • Decreased rate of gaining symptoms from sickness
  • Increase base influence area around camp
  • Made data overlay for forbidden movement hexes clearer
  • Animal spawns are less aggressive overall
  • Change animal decision to migrate to take into account crowdedness
  • Changed animals to disengage targets if they are out of breath
  • Reduced severity of food decay

20150702 SoMuchPain


  • Notifications now show most recent first
  • Fixed changing combat move direction not immediately removing previous move order
  • Fixed tutorial and event notifications bugs
  • Tutorial notifications now have green text
  • Fixed duplicate water supply hexes
  • Fixed crashing when closing game with human off map
  • Refactored object destruction to be more stable
  • Fixed filter broken on task query panel
  • Fixed combat mode tutorial achievement appearing even when no tutorial
  • Fixed migrating animals not being properly deleted off map
  • Minor objectives only activate when tutorial over
  • Fixed humans not using fists when no weapons to hold
  • Fixed filling water skin from river not giving clean water
  • Improved debug panel
  • Fixed move forbid cells not remembered when saving game
  • Fixed if human can’t reach extract/harvest task, performing task via telepathy
  • Fixed herbs counting towards food stockpile even though no hunger reduction
  • Fixed humans sleeping and storing objects in shallow water
  • Fixed when zoomed out, combat mode selection not scaling as well

If you would like to support development you can purchase and play the Alpha or sign up to the newsletter

Twitter – ParsleyPWG

Website –

By |July 9th, 2015|GameDev|0 Comments

Tribe Of Pok: Changelog for Alpha 6

This update focuses on improvements to the Combat user interface and mechanics. Although fighting is not a major focus of the game, it’s still important that combat feels solid, given how important it is for hunting animals and protecting the tribe. A full change log is listed below. Firstly, here is a screenshot of the new main menu with a beautiful background by our artist Alfonso:

20150528 mainmenupreview

Alpha 6 Changelog

New Features

  • Implement animation for mosquito and fish school
  • Added clay as a resource
  • Added clay statue and clay necklace items
  • Diseases on/off toggle on Generate World Page
  • Entering/exiting combat mode is more prominent (UI changes and music added)
  • Added battle damage reports under human thoughts query panel
  • Bipedal animals get randomly selected proper names instead of being numbers
  • Added tutorial for query panel
  • First implementation of query panel filtering (only vital statistics show up unless filter unticked)
  • Added music volume slider on options page
  • In combat mode, player units and enemies differentiated by green and red text
  • Added ability to select all Warriors from side menu in combat mode
  • Added short tutorial for entering combat mode
  • Implemented new main menu background/music
  • Added path building for increasing movement speed

20150522 Fighting

Gameplay Changes

  • Reduce frequency of fish and mosquito creation
  • Changed ant mount generation from completely random to forming in patches
  • Ant mounds no longer take up space (volume = 0)
  • All animals now have a body, not just bipedal animals
  • Damage amount of variation is dependent on strength of damage
  • Added natural pierce, slash, blunt protection for animals
  • Added damage to clothing durability when body part hit
  • Replace attacking cool down green bars with blue bars
  • Removed tribe member’s sickness/disease from prosperity calculation
  • When in combat mode and selecting Pokians, query panel now autodisplays random selected Pokian
  • Implemented variable attack speeds for different animals
  • Bow reimplemented, creates arrows automatically
  • Arrows disappear through decay after small amount of time
  • Changed sleep progress bar from zZz to blue moons
  • Combat dodge chance varies depending on stamina
  • Stamina reduced by fighting
  • Added aggression comparison to fight or flight AI to decide which animal flees
  • Tweaked plant harvest chance growth so higher in summer/spring and decreases in autumn/winter
  • Tweaked some symptoms effects for more fun

20150604 Path


  • Fixed mini-map clicking not going to the correct location
  • Fish school image adjusted so it appears underwater
  • Fixed animal fat using fish image and fish using animal fat image
  • Fixed bubble text alignment
  • Fix tool-tip going too far left when off screen
  • Removed redundant minor/major injury designations from query panel
  • Fixed animal attacking itself after another animal begins attacking it
  • Small tweak to global enemy targeting to stop premature “No more fighting” comment
  • Fixed warriors running away when still in combat mode
  • Fixed tile map not drawing bounds correctly
  • Tweaked combat mode so Pokian doesn’t switch between attacking and running away rapidly
  • Tweaked input processor to stop camera jumping around when assigning movement in combat mode
  • Game window only edge scrolls when it’s in focus
  • When entering/exiting combat mode, close query panels and map menu
  • Fixed sprite getting stuck as explosion cloud
  • Fixed flying weapons not showing up and aligning properly
  • Fixed UI combat arrows not aligned properly for attack
  • Realigned panel summary info to be below top menu
  • Tweaked UI side menu sprites for meeting point and start fire
  • Fix exiting UI state via side menu not removing centered text
  • Slight changes to which thoughts show up on screen
  • Fix text going out of bounds in notes
  • If Pokian in middle of task and decides to do something more important, will put task back on queue for others
  • Fixed destroying animal while fighting causes winner to be stuck in loop

If you would like to support development you can purchase and play the Alpha or sign up to the newsletter

Twitter – ParsleyPWG
Website –

By |June 4th, 2015|GameDev|0 Comments

Tribe Of Pok: Improvements made to the combat UI

Been working on battle reporting lately. When a Pokian swings an axe, throws a spear, causes damage or gets attacked the event is recorded. Information about each hit can be found by hovering over the actions in the query panel. Damage to weapons and clothing durability are also recorded.

20150516 QueryCombat

To go with this, I made some combat mode improvements to how unit and target selection work. You can now also specify which Pokians you want to choose to move, even if there are multiple standing on the same tile. Right-click the name to de-select that Pokian.

20150520 CombatSelect

Then when you click on a hex with possible targets, a pop up appears allowing you to select which animal to attack

20150520 CombatTarget

It’s also more obvious when you’ve entered Combat Mode now. Battle music will start playing and the UI changes colour. I’ve also made some menus and panels auto-close when switching between modes to keep things clean.

20150520 CombatUI.png

Some other improvements to combat:

  • AI improvements. When you select a target for your Pokians to attack, they will keep attacking it until they are too weak, even if you exit Combat Mode. Previously if you exited Combat Mode while they were still fighting, they would run away immediately.
  • All animals now have natural slash, blunt and pierce protections, so some weapons are more effective against certain animals
  • All animals now have a body, not just bipedal animals (means front paws can be damaged separately from the head for example)
  • Damage is not fixed anymore, instead it varies around a base level. This is to overcome the 20 pierce defense clothing providing immunity from the 20 pierce attack weapon problem
By |May 20th, 2015|GameDev|0 Comments

Tribe Of Pok Demo and Purchase Available!


Greetings everyone! It’s time. Time for what? For the first proper Alpha release (to be called Alpha 5 due historical reasons)! The past month and a half has been spent play testing, fixing obvious issues, improving the user experience and setting up the deployment process for future Alpha versions. However, being a one-man studio means there are likely still problems I haven’t found, so please consider downloading the Alpha 5 Demo to see if the game works on your system. Bug reports on the forum are also appreciated. You can purchase the game via the Humble Widget on the Poking Water Games website.

20150214 New objects art

Some mechanics are bare bones and require more work to be done, for example Diplomacy. Other mechanics have undergone several iterations and work well, for example gathering/extracting resources. A road map showing the progress of each feature can be found on the demo page.

20150515 Crocodile massacre

I was hoping to get a trailer done but that would have taken another few weeks – time I would rather spend developing the actual game. I did record some footage, which I might edit and post one day.

20150509 OnFire

I look forward to future development with feedback from the community!

By |May 8th, 2015|GameDev|0 Comments

Tribe Of Pok: Iterating on the Water Mechanics

It’s been over three years since I started working on Tribe Of Pok. Over that time I’ve grown as a developer and found better ways of doing things. One example is water flow mechanics. It’s one of the first things I worked on and has undergone several iterations.

When I was a newbie programmer with barely any experience, I was creating a new object for every unit of rain that fell and then destroying it when it evaporated or soaked into the ground. If you have any experience as a programmer, you’ll know how disastrously bad of an idea it is to create/destroy hundreds of objects every second. That implementation was quickly scrapped when my frame rate dropped to 10 FPS every time it rained.


Next, I tried storing the amount of water in each tile and performing water calculations only on the tiles. Performance was much better. All I had to do was +1 for every unit of rain that fell and -1 for every evaporation/saturation event. Simply calculate the height of each tile to determine if water can flow into it from an adjacent tile.

However when it rained, the ground would become blanketed in a layer of water. Hills would be just as saturated as valleys and there was nowhere for Pokians to hide. As a side effect, dry ponds would never completely refill since much of the water was stuck on higher ground. I fixed this by introducing movement to saturation. In effect, the water in the soil was “flowing” downhill just as the water above ground did.

Now water was flowing somewhat realistically and wasn’t hampering gameplay.

20150330 WaterDownhill

A year or so later I added rivers. Rivers form long, narrow paths that move in one direction. However with the simulation as it was, water moved in a random direction with each update. Sometimes water would flow into an adjacent hex. Then on the next update it would randomly decide to flow back into its starting hex. The result was water taking too long to go downriver. For particularly long rivers, the water evaporated before it even reached the other end of the map!

To fix this, I’m cheating by teleporting water from the high points to the low points along the river. Eventually I’ll replace teleporting water with a better method. In the meantime, I’m iterating and improving other aspects of the game.

20150319 Dam river

By |March 30th, 2015|GameDev|2 Comments

Tribe of Pok: Balancing the Human AI

Balancing the human artificial intelligence has been one of the harder parts of development. The difficulty stems from trying to make the AI do things that seem “logical” to the player. For example, consider the two possible desirable actions “harvest food” and “eat food”. We need to determine which action takes priority. If someone is hungry, the logical action would be to see if there’s any food around and eat it. OK, simple. We set the desire to eat to be higher than the desire to harvest food.

20150215 FoodDisplay

What if there isn’t anything to eat lying around? Since the desire to eat is higher, they will continually try to eat and never try to harvest food first. The player thinks, “What a stupid AI”. The logical action would be to harvest food first, and then eat the food. OK, then let’s switch it around so we set the person’s desire to harvest food to be higher than the desire to eat food.

20150215 TreeDisplay

Now what if the player creates 50 “harvest food” tasks on 50 different plants? Remember, the tribe member’s desire to harvest food is set higher than their desire to eat food. The AI thought process will be: hungry -> harvest food -> harvest food -> … -> harvest food -> STARVING -> harvest food -> harvest food -> starved to death. They will continue harvesting until they either finish all the harvest tasks or starve to death, despite being surrounded by plenty of recently harvested food. Once again the player thinks, “What a stupid AI”.

One way to work around this is having a variable desire to eat that fluctuates depending on current conditions. Firstly, add a check for food’s existence before trying to eat food. If there is nothing to eat, then set the desire to eat to be zero, no matter how hungry the person. That way the person will carry out any harvest tasks first. Secondly, if something to eat exists, make the person’s desire to eat higher the hungrier they become. With these extra rules, let’s see how the AI behaves in the above scenario with 50 harvest tasks.

20150215 FoodEverywhere

The AI thought process will be: hungry -> look for food -> find no food -> harvest food -> harvest food -> … -> harvest food -> STARVING -> look for food -> find food -> eat food. This thought process requires more calculations, but it makes the tribe member appear smarter to the player.

Now add in desires for drinking, sleeping, staying warm, fighting, fleeing, finding missing equipment, crafting and building to this equation. It’s pretty easy to end up with an AI that doesn’t always do the “logical” thing if the desires aren’t carefully balanced. Even worse is an AI whose desire fluctuates every few milliseconds, causing it to flip-flop between two different actions but not making any progress on either one. If you’ve ever seen an AI in a game move their units backward and forward over and over again, you’ll know what I mean.


I’m constantly testing and tweaking the human AI in Tribe Of Pok to balance desires (and stop them burning themselves, like in the above gif). It can be time-consuming, but I think it’s worth the effort. It’s great to see your Pokians on screen running around acting the way you would expect.

By |February 15th, 2015|GameDev|2 Comments

Tribe Of Pok: New Combat Mode and Prosperity Mechanics

Firstly, there are some new ways I’ll be communicating to the community. You can now follow me on Twitter via @ParsleyPWG for more regular updates on what I’m working on. I’ll also be posting a weekly work log on the website blog. Remember, you can also sign up to be notified when new Early Access versions are available.

Combat mode

Combat Mode was something I put in a while ago, and took out when it became too confusing. When entering Combat Mode, the tribe members stop what they are doing and wait for the player to give orders. Several improvements have been made to the point where I’m happy to put it back in the game.

It works much like in an RTS game now, left-click drag to select and right-click to give move or attack orders. If someone is under attack, you can enter Combat Mode and send other tribe members to help them fight. Much more intuitive than in the previous iteration.

DevUpdate 20150110Animate1


Once a tribe’s food and water needs were met, I didn’t feel there was a strong enough force driving the gameplay forward. While testing the game, I got to a point where everyone was happy and thought to myself, “ok… now what?” Something was needed to tie everything together. There had to be a goal the player could aim for in addition to survival. So I did some thinking and came up with a single measure to handle all this – prosperity.


Prosperity is a measure of how well your tribe is doing. Currently it is affected by factors such as the size of your tribe, amount of food available, the value of items and severity of diseases. In general, the value of items will only count if they’re located within your “circle of influence”. The circle of influence is an area around the tribe that can grow or shrink. I implemented it a while ago as a way to prevent roaming animals from constantly wandering into the player’s campsite and starting fights. I wasn’t sure whether to display this influence area or leave it as a bit of a mystery, but with the introduction of prosperity, the effect needs to be made clear. The influence area can be expanded by building additional fire poles, which need to be occasionally maintained by adding animal fat to them.


The intention is to have prosperity fluctuate as the fortunes of your tribe change. I have some ideas to build on this mechanic in terms of progression and unlocking advanced crafts. It needs a bit more work though before I say any more.

By |January 10th, 2015|GameDev|0 Comments

Tribe Of Pok: Using the UI to improve feedback

This update will be about ways I’ve been improving the UI for a better player experience. Below you can see the new look for the UI.


Alerts system – to give a bit more direction to the player, I have added an alerts system. It’s similar to the one used in the Europa Universalis series, and a great way to inform the player about issues that need attention. When a certain trigger is activated, a little popup will appear at the top of the screen with some information. Examples of issues that will trigger an alert include lack of available food and water, being under attack and lack of a camp fire. Once these needs are taken care of, the alert should disappear. Hovering over the image also gives a description of the problem.


More immediate feedback – the player will receive immediate feedback when trying to perform an illegal action. I noticed players tended to start clicking random buttons and hexes when nothing in the game was reacting to them, so now a tool tip immediately pops up informing the player what went wrong. This should lead to less frustration.


Minimap – The minimap is more useful after some improvements. It now shows buildings, people and animals wandering around. You can also click on it to zoom the view to that location.


By |December 12th, 2014|GameDev|0 Comments

Tribe Of Pok: Harvesting system update

Food gathering works slightly differently now. Before it was too obvious which trees were fruit producing (like apple trees) and which trees weren’t. This led to a situation where the player is encouraged to cut down only the non-productive trees and leave the fruit producers. Eventually the trees would grow back, and the player could repeat the process until the entire forest was full of fruit producers.


This solution was too well-engineered for a game set in the Paleolithic era, and it wasn’t very fun to constantly be cutting down trees but trying to avoid/remember the fruit producers. So now, food harvesting has changed. When the harvest button is clicked in the menu, all the potential hexes that can be harvested are marked on the map.


Almost every tree and bush has a chance to produce fruit or seeds when it is harvested, and the type of produce varies depending on the species of plant. Some plants will produce nothing, and others will produce a random amount of food. The player won’t know what they’ll find until the harvest action is complete. They also won’t be able to tell which hexes will be fruit-bearing, so cutting down a whole forest will mean the loss of potential harvest locations.


After a certain amount of time you can harvest the plant again, unless it’s been cut down or died of old age.

By |November 25th, 2014|GameDev|0 Comments

Tribe Of Pok: Development of tool tips

I’m going to try a new approach to news updates. Instead of a big update every month, there will be smaller updates explaining one or two changes at a time. Although I liked the consistency of updating at the same time each month, I think it was a bit all over the place and harder for new readers to understand. So to start us on these more focused updates, I’m going to talk about… tool tips!



As in most games, when you hover over a button for long enough a tool tip appears that gives information on what the button does. I’ve improved the Tribe Of Pok tool tip so it hovers near the mouse and can be used in a variety of situations. For example, in the crafting screen it will tell you what ability and materials are required to make an item, as well as give statistics on that item.


You can also set in the options menu the mouse idle time before they show up, or turn them off completely if you want to play without knowing things for some reason.

So that’s it on tool tips! Hope you all found it interesting, even though it’s not about the actual gameplay. Since this is a strategy game, having the required information available is important, and I think improving the tool tips are a step in the right direction.

By |November 5th, 2014|GameDev|0 Comments