A lot to cover this month! First of all, here’s a little video showing some of the main progress in the last month with dwarves being assigned to mining jobs and removing rock walls, producing large stone resources in their place.
However the biggest news this month is that after last month’s update covering the procedurally coloured leaves in Autumn, we were featured in article on Rock Paper Shotgun! As a huge fan of RPS, this was personally incredibly exciting (one ticked off the bucket list). Even better than that, the coverage effectively doubled awareness of the game, so here’s hoping for more articles in the future 🙂
Today we’re unveiling our plan to launch a Kickstarter in early 2017 to make King under the Mountain a reality. The rest of the development effort for this year is aimed at building a small slice as a proof of concept for the game and to have something concrete and actually playable to back up the crowd funding effort. If successful, this will allow us to massively ramp up development efforts and bring in more talented creators to build the content and gameplay required.
To do this, we’re going to need your help!
Our one-shot mailing list is going to let you know when the Kickstarter launches so you don’t miss out. Subscribe once, and we’ll email you once and no more (no spam from us!). What we really need though, is your help to spread the word to your friends that you think would be interested in this game we’re making. To add a little incentive, everyone who refers a backer to the signup form will be entered with a 1 in 10 chance of winning a free copy of the game! So if you haven’t already, send your friends on over to http://kingunderthemounta.in/download/ and this could be you 🙂
Though it’s early days yet, given the recent interest in the game from a wider community I thought it would be a good idea to add King under the Mountain to the “concept” section of Steam Greenlight. While I’m working hard on getting a playable alpha together for a proper greenlight process for distribution on Steam, please keep an eye on the Steam page for updates and feedback on what you’d like to see.
Here’s a quick overview of this month’s progress: there’s the start of the UI to let you interact with the game world, support for translation into multiple languages, and procedurally coloured tree generation!
In this article I’m going to talk a bit about the design decisions and goals when it comes to modding in King under the Mountain. Please excuse the poor programmer art!
A bit too long ago when I was studying at university, dreaming of being a game developer, I read the first few entries in the Game Programming Gems series. The very first chapter in the first volume stuck in my mind and stayed there, it was titled “The Magic of Data-Driven Design” by Steve Rabin. Here’s a decent article (from the same time period) by Kyle Wilson on the subject (and here’s a good stack overflow post), but it can be summed up as not having any game-specific data hard-coded into the game engine, instead it is all pulled in from external data files. All the weapons, enemies, levels, AI and anything else is driven by easily modifiable data files so that additions and changes can be made easily without needing a single line of code to be changed. Internally for a team of game developers, this lets artists and designers plug their assets or variables/scripts into the game they’re working on without needing a programmer to make any code changes, speeding up the development process considerably. There’s a potentially even bigger win for game devs however, in that this also opens up your game to the modding community, who often come up with weird and wonderful additions that the original devs wouldn’t (or couldn’t) have managed on their own.
Having as much as possible in the game open to modding is one of the architectural design goals of King under the Mountain. Not only does this make new content easier to add as the game developer, modding communities tend to extend the life and enjoyment factor of a game massively. Despite some complicated algorithms going on under the hood (such as the lighting algorithms and figuring out which wall tiles to draw), I wanted the data-driven side of the game to be as easy and accessible as possible. I decided to use JSON as the data format of choice (here’s an intro for non-programmers by Scott Lowe) because it’s a fairly compact text format, easy for humans to read and edit, and has good support in terms of coding tools and libraries. Next I’ll show you some examples of how this is being used under the hood.
If you look back at the development progress so far, you’ll see that most of the early updates were on designing and implementing a dynamic lighting system for the game engine. This month, it all comes together as dwarf characters can now be shown in-game with dynamic lighting applied. Read on to see how we did it!
After working on getting characters moving around the area map, where the map consisted of a literally random scattering of walls, I thought it was time to make a start on actual maps for use as game areas, and so this has been the focus of July’s development effort.
Following on from some work I’ve done previously with procedural generation, I decided I wanted to use midpoint displacement, aka the diamond square algorithm, to generate some random heightmaps to use as the basis for a 2d representation of the playable area in and around a mountain.
This month I’ve moved on from the lighting system that’s been the focus of development in previous months, onto getting characters into the game and moving around. The goal of the first playable prototype is to have dwarves in the game as a playable race, before working on bringing other races in.
First of all, it’s with great pleasure that I can unveil the first piece of concept art for King under the Mountain, produced by Anthony Avon. As something of a specialist in landscape concept art, I contacted Anthony with a description of the game, the setting, and a brief of producing a landscape depicting a dwarven settlement in the game world.
While working on the technical side of King under the Mountain I’ve been in touch with several creative types to help out with the more artistic side of the game. I’m pleased to announce the first set of music tracks have been produced and they’re ready to be unveiled to the world!
Each of these tracks is to be used as peaceful background music while the player is building up and managing their settlement, so they share the same theme and goal, but differ in approach from each individual composer.
A Call to Create is by Frankie Rivera. His main website is his soundcloud site where you can listen to the rest of his work – soundcloud.com/ciscophony
An Industrious Beginning is by Hannah (Safi Composer), who has a portfolio at saficomposer.com
Peaceful Thoughts is by Bettina Calmon and she was kind enough to extend and update the track after initially finishing work on it. Bettina’s professional website is bettinacalmon.com
All of the above artists are freelance composers with experience in creating a range of different music for games. If you’re a fellow indie game developer and need something composed, be sure to check them out!
I’m back from (a fantastic) honeymoon and working on King under the Mountain once again. Apologies that there were no real updates – I was on the other side of the world for a month!
In development news, in addition to the point light system detailed earlier, I’ve been working on “outdoor” lighting, to illuminate the outdoor areas of the game compared to indoors and underground. Even more excitingly, I’ve also added the basics of a day/night cycle, where this lighting changes colour throughout the game day. As with nearly everything in the engine, the values used are open to modding by being stored in a simple JSON file, which will allow people to change the brightness, colours and times of the phases of the sunlight shown.
Light from outside bleeds inwards over a distance (as shown with the area on the right in the video). The goal is to tie this into game mechanics with how well lit areas are for the characters in the game to be able to “see” to perform actions.
I’d like to add a direction to the sunlight that changes throughout the day (simulating the sun rising, moving and setting) and shadows, but I think this will do for now while I concentrate on getting other basic systems in place to have something playable.
In other news, I’ve started outsourcing some creative work to some very skilled artists and composers and I can’t wait to share more details with you very soon!