January Update – Second Wind


Hello world! We’re officially in the build up to Kickstarter and all the events that go with it – including two gaming expos! But first, here’s a brief look at the state of the game. This month has seen a lot of behind the scenes improvements and incremental updates as everything is prepared for kicking off work on the game’s first trailer, which will be produced by the talented M Joshua.

You may notice in this video that there’s a lot more variety in the different outfits worn by the dwarves. These have been produced by Derek Restivo based on Anthony Avon’s character concepts and we’re excited to be able to present the final (first) set of them soon. There’s also now a full set of tools for the dwarves to use (and produce themselves) as the basics of the crafting system are put into place. We’re hoping to be able to show you some workshops and actual crafting in the very near future!

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December update – Road to the world


There’s so much to get through this month, I thought it would be best to start with one of the recent in-game progress videos:

Above you can see that the dwarves are now able to haul resources (stone boulders and wooden logs in this video) to stockpiles as required. I felt it was very important to visually show the items being carried around in this way, in an effort to recreate the look and feel of The Settlers which is a big inspiration to King under the Mountain. We’re really aiming at recreating that feeling of a peaceful, industrious ant-farm-like hustle and bustle of a small society.

Easily the biggest news this month is that we’ll be attending EGX Rezzed in London from March 30th. Rezzed is the indie-focused sister event of the Eurogamer Expo and its incredibly exciting to announce we’ll have a playable demo of King under the Mountain for attendees to play!

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Having this playable demo ready is also the primary milestone towards launching our Kickstarter campaign so with this event booked in I can also confirm that we plan to launch on Kickstarter on March 27th! It’s worth noting that this demo will be the most minimal set of features that we’re comfortable showing off – meaning most gameplay systems and features will be missing. It’s intended to show that King under the Mountain is a real game that people can play already (compared to some Kickstarter campaigns that end up being vaporware) and to give an impression of what it can become with more development time and effort. We’ll have more details about the launch in the coming weeks, but for now if you’re interested in the game, the best thing you could do is to sign up to our one-shot mailing list to remind you when we launch on Kickstarter (if you haven’t already)!

In other news this month, I’m very happy to say I’ll be working with Derek Restivo as an in-game character and environment artist. We’re working together on all the assets needed for the playable prototype and I very much hope we can continue to work together following a successful Kickstarter 🙂 Here you can see some of Derek’s work on implementing the dwarven character concept clothing into in-game sprites.

Character concepts with in-progress sprites
Character concepts with in-progress sprites

In other development updates, I’m currently working on a more detailed method of designing and placing rooms such as workshops containing furniture. Here’s a short video with a behind the scenes look at our furniture asset tool, which helps test out the metadata attached to a piece of furniture such as which tiles it covers or otherwise uses.

I’m hoping to shortly have workshops properly implemented so that the dwarves are able to process stone and logs into blocks and planks for further crafting or other constructions.

Finally, be on the lookout for our first article on worldbuilding in King under the Mountain which will go into some detail on how magic works and affects the world. This is to be the first of several articles that digs into the background of the world and lore in the game, to give us a solid basis for designing further mechanics and systems that contribute to gameplay. For now, here’s a sneak preview of an illustration of the magic system, created by Jeff Ward.

An illustration of the magic system
An illustration of the magic system

That’s all for now! If you’re in the UK or already visiting London at the end of March we’d love for you to drop by our stand at EGX Rezzed and say hi! We might even have some freebies to give away!

November Update – The difficult path


Hey everyone, good news and bad news this month, though nothing *too* bad fortunately.

I’ll start with the good news – Anthony Avon (the concept artist for King under the Mountain) has finished the second major piece of concept art, this time depicting a dwarven settlement in one of the massive caverns that make up the underground sections of the world. Although this concept mostly focuses on dwarven structures and underground flora (like the giant mushrooms), you may notice a small party discovering the settlement on the left side of the image. This both introduces orcs as one of the other playable races and the concept of dispatching small teams of heroes or champions to go on an adventure to other player’s creations. These adventures can be thought of as classic RPG-style dungeon crawls through player-generated content that will make up one of the major gameplay goals of King under the Mountain, so watch out for more info on this in the future! Check out Anthony’s concept of an orc in this world for a sneak peek of what might be next 🙂

Concept art of a subterranean dwarven settlement
Concept art of a subterranean dwarven settlement

There’s more good news in that the extremely talented Jordan Chin has composed and produced his first track for King under the Mountain, hopefully with more to follow! You may recognise Jordan’s work from his contributions to the Materia Collective such as MATERIA: Final Fantasy VII Remixed which I’m a big fan of, and it’s a delight to have Jordan contributing his talents to the game! Start Anew is intended as a piece of background music to be played while the player is peacefully building up their settlement. Let us know what you think in the comments!

The bad news is that Dave Rigley, the animator and artist responsible for the in-game character sprites (and upcoming resources) has had to pull out of the project due to personal commitments. We’re in the process of looking for a replacement sprite artist and it looks like we’re close to finding the right replacement. Along with the fact that development has been a little slow in November, it means the existing prototype release timeline has had to slip a little. It’s unfortunate, but better to wait a little longer for the right vision of the game, rather than a rushed release to meet an arbitrary deadline. This means we’re now aiming at February for the first playable prototype of the game, with a view to launching on Kickstarter around April – May. If you haven’t already, it would mean a lot to us if you sign up to our Kickstarter notification list and we’ll let you know the moment we go live. We’ll only email you once from this email list – we all hate spam as much as you do! That being said, signing up to be notified in this way means we’ll have the momentum we’ll need to make a success out of Kickstarter, and ultimately, the game itself. So if you want to get your hands on the game you know what to do!

In terms of development updates, I’m working on having the dwarves carry around resources such as stone and logs. This will unlock the ability to haul items such as these to workshops for processing into other resources, forming the basics of the economy and production chain. Hopefully I’ll have more to share on this topic in the near future, including an example of how easy it will be to mod your own assets and resources into the game. Modding is a key “pillar” in the design of King under the Mountain and its important to get these basic systems correct before adding the polish and more complex systems that will make up the game proper.

Also, for a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at the design process, I’ve put together a short document describing how the initial setup and gameplay might play out that you can read here. Let us know in the comments if you’ve anything to add or any questions!

October Update – Setting Goals


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 🙂

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July Update – Raising Mountains


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.

Midpoint displacement of a line
Midpoint displacement of a line

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June Update – Life!


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.

Concept art of a dwarven settlement

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May Update – Underground, Overground


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!

April Update – Let there be light!


I’m happy to say I’ve got the first major building block of lighting and shadows into the game. Here’s an example of the final result:

Coloured point lights with shadows!
Coloured point lights with shadows!

There were quite a few stages involved in getting these lights working, with a lot of thanks to Amit Patel’s excellent article on 2D visibility. Amit’s brilliant interactive tutorials helped me a great deal and I’m not sure I would have achieved these results without them. I also need to thank Wholehog Game’s article on lighting a 2D game for the clear explanation of using normal maps in 2D and lights as geometry.

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