January 2018 Update – A Dwarf’s Hold is his Castle

Hello undermountaineers! Does that work? Between family and/or Christmas it’s been a fairly slow and quiet month for King under the Mountain, so much so that I’m really intent on making more time available in the coming weeks. That said, there’s still been some development carried out over the last few weeks!

The biggest feature is that it’s finally possible to build walls (out of wood or stone) rather than relying on mining to mark out areas for rooms and doors.

As with most development at this point, this doesn’t quite have an effect on gameplay yet (other than giving another use for planks and stone blocks) but we’re still at the stage of laying out all the groundwork and base systems, before the interesting point at which they tie into and affect each other. Before long you’ll want to build walls and add a roof (where I’m not quite sure how that will be done yet – I don’t want to copy the way rooms/buildings are constructed in Prison Architect by requiring four walls and a door, but instead to leave it more freeform) to shelter your dwarves (or settlers of a different race) from the elements while they’re waiting for an underground home to be mined out (or perhaps you’re playing as humans who don’t like sleeping underground).

A small but nice-to-have improvement is that “designations” (such as areas to be mined or trees to be chopped down) now start blinking when a dwarf is working on them, so you can see what is and is not being worked on currently. Eventually you will be able to prioritise individual jobs and different types of work but for now the UI and player’s interactions are being kept quite simple.

Finally there was a big behind-the-scenes change to pathfinding, where each tile keeps track of which region it is in – where a region is all the tiles that are navigable in the same space – so characters will not even attempt to find a path to an area which isn’t accessible to them. This is then modified as walls are built or mined out without any noticable impact on performance, but it should help massively with the AI deciding what to do or where to go.

This month’s patron release is the water flow calculator (and source code) which figures out the direction of flow of the river tiles, along with part of the map generator to randomly generate a new river each time. Patrons at the $3 level (or above) can download it from patreon.com/posts/water-flow-15826795. Next month’s patron release will either be a new build of the game including building walls (if it is in a releasable state by that point, which is a little doubtful just because there are so many small details to iron out) or else the full map generator and source code which should prove interesting to play around with. Eventually it’ll be possible for modders to include their own map generator and plug it into the game rather than the default one. I’ll be releasing guides on this at the appropriate time, but for now this should prove a good look “under the hood” at how things are working. If any of that sounds interesting to you and you haven’t already, please consider backing the game via the Patreon page! All funds raised via the Patreon are going directly towards commissioning more art assets (currently) and sound/music (later) to get the game into a releasable state more quickly – hopefully I’ll be able to report back on what the patreon has helped to create in next month’s update.

As part of getting walls working fully in the game, I’m rolling it into also implementing “double doors”, or doors spread across two tiles. There’s a bunch of edge cases to figure out such as placing doors next to a door which is already being extended into a double-door, but I don’t think it’s going to take too much time up. Part of doing this somewhat necessitates being able to deconstruct doors as well, which opens up a bigger piece about being able to select walls, doors and furniture in the UI, and set them to be deconstructed by the dwarves.

Once those pieces are all finished off I’ll finally be onto growing and managing crops which has been scheduled since before getting the river working properly. Again, it’s a common thing to hear from sole indie developers but I’m very sorry at the relatively slow rate of updates. It’s quite frustrating for me personally to feel like I haven’t made much progress from a year ago – a lot of time was spent on getting ready for and running the Kickstarter and exhibitions, followed by the 6 month break due to moving home and having the baby boy (who is doing very well!) While I’m sure any parent will understand just how little time you have free between working a full time job and looking after a newborn the rest of the time, now that there is a Patreon running with active financial support from backers every month, it makes me very keen to ensure that progress is constantly being made rather than letting anyone down. In 2018 I’m cutting down on other (but not all) leisure and social activities as development of King under the Mountain really is my top priority after my family, and I want to be in a position to show a reasonable amount of progress since the last crowdfunding campaign before launching a new one. This will hopefully result in enough financial independence to devote a lot more time to this project, which in turn I’m sure will result in much, much more rapid progress than what’s been seen so far. Thank you very much for following along and see you next time!

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