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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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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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March Update – State of play


This blog has started a short way into development of King under the Mountain so I’ll use this post to bring you up to speed on where we’re at.

For those interested in the technologies being used, King under the Mountain is written in Java using the LibGDX framework. LibGDX allows you to cross-compile your game for deployment on many different target platforms, so a port to mobile/tablet is a possibility in the future but for now the project is aiming at PC only.  LibGDX is also a wrapper aroung LWJGL, which is a lower-level library and the one used to most notably create Minecraft.

The very first “working” version of the game was to get the concepts of the 2D world and “walls” working correctly. As I’m drawing inspiration from Prison Architect and a lot of older tile-based games, of course the game world in King under the Mountain is tile-based. The very first problem to tackle was the fact that as the game involves digging into the side of a mountain, I do¬†not want walls next to each other to look like this:

Adjacent walls in Prison Architect
Adjacent walls in Prison Architect

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