October 2020 Update – Alpha 4 Released!


Hello and welcome to the resumed King under the Mountain dev update! I’m happy to announce that the remaining pieces of work for the brewing beer update were completed, so this has formed the initial   Alpha 4 release.

In a slightly different format I thought I’d explain the process (for the player’s point of view) to making use of this new and perhaps crucial  feature.

First of all, rather than being somewhat random, each new settlement now starts with a fixed number of a fixed group of seeds for planting, as shown here:

The fixed amount of seeds each settlement currently starts with

In the not too distant future, starting resources will be customisable by the player upon starting a new settlement (the “embark” screen!), but while this feature is not yet implemented, this is the stopgap solution. Expect some seeds like wheat to be more valuable than others, as wheat tends to go a bit further to feeding your population due to the bread baking production chain (at the cost of more time, labour and furniture).

A new settlement will probably want to spend it’s first spring focused on planting all of these seeds so they can be harvested in autumn to provide food for the settlement past the initial supply of rations, and now also produce beer! With most features in King under the Mountain, I put a fair amount of research into understanding how the production chains in question work in real life, using this as the basis to have a grounding in reality, before removing or simplifying some parts so the game isn’t too grindy with small details. Take the opening line of the wikipedia page on beer –

Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drinks in the world, and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. Beer is brewed from cereal grains—most commonly from malted barley, though wheat, maize (corn), and rice are also used. During the brewing process, fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer. Most modern beer is brewed with hops, which add bitterness and other flavours and act as a natural preservative and stabilizing agent.

As malted barley is the most common ingredient, right now that is the only way to produce beer in the game, though I intend to add other methods and other alcoholic beverages over time (or perhaps the modding community will step in before I get there!) So in reality beer is produced from water, barley (or another cereal grain), hops for flavouring, and yeast for fermenting. I decided not to model the yeast aspect of fermentation explicitly, instead you can assume your brewer dwarves keep a small supply with them to be added where needed. That leaves  water, barley and hops. Water is clearly an already very important part of gameplay (there are not many quicker ways to killing off a settlement than removing its water supply) although moving it around currently leaves a bit to be desired (look forward to piping and aqueducts in the future!) Long time players may remember that both hops and barley were already implemented along with the current batch of crops, though they were removed for a while as there was no use for them in game. Clearly that has changed so you’ll now want to start farming barley and hops to produce beer!

Barley and hops in different stages of growth

 

Once your settlement’s most pressing needs are seen to, you can now start to think about the construction of your first brewery. The beer production chain makes use of a new item – a metal barrel called a “tank”. One of the many additions to the game’s codebase for this feature was to allow for liquids as both inputs and outputs in a crafting process, which beer production is a big part of. To support construction of your brewery you’ll need a decent metal production chain fuelled by either charcoal from lumber or coke from coal.

A basic metalworks

 

This allows for the production of metal plates and barrel hoops, both of which are the input materials for the new metal tank item. Setting up a brewery is a much more resource-intensive venture than anything else in the game currently!

The first step in beer production from the raw materials is to turn the barley from your farm into malt, using a malting station at the new brewery zone. There’s also a new profession required (the brewer) and your settlement is not guaranteed to start with any active brewers, so look out for this as a potential problem with your first brewery!

The malting station

 

The malting station, with included water tank and mini-kiln, takes your freshly harvested barley and turns it into sacks of malt. In reality, there are several steps to producing malt, but I felt it worth simplifying those steps to a single piece of furniture which combines all of them “behind the scenes” to a single crafting process in  King under the Mountain. The player does not get away with it too easily however, as after producing the malt it also needs milling (producing “milled malt”) which currently takes place at the hand-operated gristmill located in a kitchen. I thought it might be interesting to have the production process need to change locations between a brewery and another zone, but I may end up adding the gristmill to the brewery. In either case, I’m also planning to add easier, more traditional milling methods (a literal windmill or water-wheel powered mill) in the future.

Once you have your milled malt, it’s on to the mash tun where it is combined with water to produce wort.

The mash tun

 

As part of overhauling the liquid-management system in the game, water can now be transferred in other containers than just buckets. Fortunately this means the 6 units of water required by this crafting recipe can be delivered in one go by a dwarf hauling a barrel to the river, filling it, and dumping the whole barrelful in one go! As an aside, the game also tracks liquids in containers better than before, so soup left over in a discarded cauldron can now be used correctly rather than being thrown away as it would in the past.

Flavouring (i.e. the hops) are added in a brew kettle (also known as a “copper”, although it does not need to be made out of copper *yet*) to produce hopped wort, which is the final step before fermentation.

The brew kettle

Finally, the hopped wort is moved to a fermentation tank for, no surprise, fermentation, which produces the final beer. Fortunately for your now metal-deprived dwarves, these can be constructed either automatically by placing a metal liquid tank, or crafted by a stonemason out of stone blocks.

Fermentation tanks

 

Once the beer has had enough time to ferment, it can be decanted back into a barrel, ready for consumption as glorious dwarven beer! All that’s left is to build the most important piece of furniture of all – the beer tapper – in (of course) the feasting hall for your dwarves to enjoy!

A beer tapper with beer barrel

 

And that’s the beer production chain!  It almost goes without saying that dwarves much prefer drinking deliciously brewed beer rather than water from a barrel, and will be much happier in your settlement after a good drink.  Beware though, as if a dwarf drinks nothing but alcoholic beverages for several days in a row, they will become dependent upon it to get through the working day. While this applies, they’ll still have the same happiness bonus from drinking beer as before, but if it runs out, expect a disastrous hit to happiness while they go through the withdrawal effects of going sober!

The management of tracking if a dwarf is drunk and/or dependent on alcohol is using a “status effect” system which I don’t think I’ve detailed in a dev update yet. It’s the same system that makes the progression of hungry > starving > dead (and the counterpart for being thirsty) work in the game. Perhaps this will be worth detailing in a future dev update?

Constructing a functioning brewery requires a surprising amount of metal ores, ingots and fuel to get going, and with this update you may find more than ever that you want your dwarves to produce certain quantities of items in a certain order, or more likely not produce other items that they currently are doing. This really necessitates the ability for the player to control what is crafted, AKA production management, so that’s the next feature which is being worked on for Alpha 4! In a similar vein, being able to prioritise which jobs you want doing urgently rounds off the roadmap for Alpha 4 and probably what is most necessary at this stage.

Finally, a note of thanks to community member gammalget  / falkowich who offered some help in diagnosing and fixing the issue that’s been plaguing the Linux version of the game since the Java update. I’m happy to say this has now been resolved so Linux players should be able to use the executable provided rather than need their own installation of Java to run the game.

If  you find any issues with this or any version of King under the Mountain, the best option is to drop a message in the official King under the Mountain Discord server in a relevant-looking channel. I’m also on hand to answer questions directly there, if you’re interested.  On that note, thanks as always for sticking with development of the game (or at least this update) and see you next month!

The “Game’s Not Dead” sorry for the delay Update


Hello followers of King under the Mountain development! This is the much-needed huge apology for the radio silence for the last couple of months, it’s always been a great motivator to have the monthly dev updates out somewhat on time, but there hasn’t been anything posted from the end of June until now. Well, the main message is not to worry, development isn’t dead, I’m always going to stick to finishing this game until it’s finished, or else I wouldn’t be able to create anything afterwards!

I’d have liked to have put an actual new version release out alongside this post, but it’s been so long since the last update I figured it was better to post this first and then aim to (finally!) release the brewing beer update. Following that will be manual selection of crafting by the player (quite a big change from the current automated process! Perhaps players would prefer a mix of the two?) and then it’s on to more content on the road to Steam Early Access.

It’s not been all-stop for the last couple of months either, I’ve been working with an artist to produce a lot of the new assets that are going to be required between now and the Steam release, primarily this has been a lot of different animal species to be added to the game, including backer-specified rewards, and of course, elephants.

Still, I wanted to post this really brief update rather than put things off even longer to a proper update with more details. Perhaps I’ll finally release that brewing beer with the next monthly update? Again though, more than anything I want to apologise for the lack of communication and I’ll be doing my very best that it doesn’t happen again.

 

June 2020 Update


Welcome to the monthly King under the Mountain dev update! Very happy to say that development is back on track now after all the disruption from covid-19 and other sources the past few months. That said, I was expecting to have more gamedev time than I have had this past month after my day job changed to 3 days a week, turns out they can’t make do without me so I’ve been asked to work most of those extra days! Will see how that pans out.

It must be months now that I’ve been promising brewing beer is just around the corner for these forcefully sober dwarves, and I’m afraid to say that’s still the case – I spent what time I had in the last month polishing the edges of alpha 3 and then investing quite a lot of effort in making crafting stations require tools during their construction. Previously, crafting stations just required a few stone blocks or wooden planks for them to be constructed, and they would magic into existence a few relevant tools to be used as decoration (dwarves would need to equip the relevant tool from their inventory to work at the station), which was more of a holdover from the initial prototype days rather than any conscious decision.

One of the main design goals with King under the Mountain is a reasonable level of realism in the simulation of the game world, so I never really liked these tools just appearing out of nowhere as decoration (you can look forward to beds needing cloth materials to construct them as well). Now, instead, constructing the crafting station requires the tools that would previously have been freely created as decorations to be actual requirements in the construction. This means your supply of tools will mostly get “baked in” to the construction of furniture (until it is removed at least), but the upside is that dwarves no longer need that tool in their inventory, instead they walk over and equip the item directly from the top of the crafting station, work as normal, then place it back after (undoubtedly a bug has been introduced if a dwarf drops dead while having this tool equipped as it goes to their corpse for the moment – that’s one to sort out in the future, right now dwarves probably won’t be working if they’re knowingly close to death, perhaps a cave-in could do it…). The main benefit of this is that as a player you’re not relying on the few dwarves with the right tool equipped to be able to work on the crafting jobs, instead any dwarf with the correct profession can come and do the crafting work (though you’ll want more control over this in the future when crafting quality is introduced). Here’s a video of it in action with a woodcutter’s bench now requiring a saw and axe to be created, but the saw is used as part of crafting a log into planks.

Astute players will be wondering “What if I build so many of these I don’t have any axes left to chop down trees?” Well, this has led to the implementation of the first non-tutorial hints – the game now gives you a (currently one-time) message if you use up all your axes, chisels, planes and so on with a note to either craft more or deconstruct one of the pieces of furniture to get them back. Soon players will be able to specify what should be crafted rather than the current automatic system. The whole feature looks pretty simple but there was quite a bit of work in getting the AI to either equip a tool from their inventory or wait and pick it up from the crafting station as appropriate!

This does bring something of a requirement for more tools at the start of the game – previously every dwarf would spawn into the game with one of each of the tools for their assigned profession. Instead each settlement now starts with a set number of specific tools. They are currently randomly spread between the dwarves but when more work has been done with container furniture such as chests and crates, I expect these items will start in a crate or similar ready to be picked up and used. As things currently stand, the player now needs to designate a tools stockpile for the dwarves to place them down so they can get into the right hands. The increased tools at game start has been balanced out a bit by the fact that immigrants in the 2nd year and onwards no longer bring extra tools or seeds, you’ll need to craft or farm these yourself! They do at least still bring a big stack of rockbread rations, so they shouldn’t starve for some time, but I expect the progression of population size is a bit trickier to manage now (I’d love to get some feedback on how people are finding this).

As another nice tidy-up type of task, it’s been requested a few times if something could be done about all the dwarves “clumping up” together and getting stuck in queues once the population gets a bit bigger – dwarves that are colliding with another dwarf go at half speed. A slight improvement has been added to the AI pathfinding so that a dwarf will every so often slow down a bit more if it notices that other dwarves in front of it are heading in the right direction. You can see this in the following video where lines denote the direction and speed dwarves are attempting to move in – white means they are unimpeded, red if they are colliding with another dwarf and going slow, or blue if they have decided to slow down even more to let those in front “escape”:

It’s not perfect as a particularly large pile up of dwarves at a bottleneck like the one above will still cause a traffic jam, but then I’d rather leave that to the players to design their settlements to be more efficient and avoid these chokepoints.

In a more technical change, the version of Java that the game is built upon has been upgraded from Java 8 to Java 11 now using the OpenJDK libraries rather than Oracle’s JDK. Oracle decided to make the license more restrictive after Java 8 and businesses either needed to start paying a fairly expensive license (too expensive for a game which doesn’t make a profit yet!) or switch to the OpenJDK implementations for any future updates which is what prompted the change, rather than any requirement from my side. Everything *should* still be working as it was, though if you were running the game straight from the .jar file (perhaps more for the Linux players out there) you’ll also need to be running Java 11 or later now. Mostly I’m interested in if this causes new issues that I’ve not run into while testing yet – everything seems to work the same now but I’m nervous with such a large underlying change that it might affect players on different systems.

I’ve recently replaced my development PC with a hefty upgrade, which had the nice side-effect of exposing an issue that was stopping the multi-language fonts from working correctly for some people that I was never able to reproduce on my old machine. Fixed now, and also the Japanese translation has had a lot of work put in by the Japanese community so that’s close to being quite usable for Japanese-speakers which I’m very happy to see.

In fact on that note the latest version with all of the above is now live on Itch.io at the usual place – rocketjumptechnology.itch.io/king-under-the-mountain

Barring any crash-fixing releases, this means I’m now done with development for Alpha 3, and onto Alpha 4 at long last, which I hope won’t take anywhere near as long as the last couple, not least because the tutorial feature was already pulled forward from alpha 4 and implemented. Here’s what there is to look forward to for the immediate future:

  • Brewing and Taverns – a particularly hefty feature as it not only involves the fairly detailed, fairly realistic approximation of the process of brewing beer and serving it out, but also the short and long term effects that can have on your populace!
  • Production Management – finally the player will be in control of what is produced and where. I’m undecided yet on if this should entirely replace the current completely automated model, or keep some parts of it for the relaxed “hands off” approach the game offers currently (thoughts and feedback much appreciated!)
  • Job Prioritisation – This should at least cover a “work on this thing as top priority” button, but possibly also a mechanism for defining which types of jobs are in which priority order for the whole settlement – something like the approach used by Rimworld – currently job priority is using the skill level a dwarf has in a particularly profession (which isn’t really a feature yet) and then distance to the nearest job of that profession.

As mentioned, the tutorial was brought forward out of Alpha 4 so there’s really not much left in it, just the above! It feels like after getting the initial mod support in place and deferring the rest of it until after the Steam launch (and the recent general tidy up of smaller tasks), development has climbed over a hump it was stuck on for a while and the upcoming roadmap looks much smoother than the first couple of alphas. In fact most of the alpha milestones are much smaller than they were now, at least until alphas 8, 9 and 10 mostly due to the introduction of combat and the many things that entails, but once the game gets to that point it isn’t far from the Steam launch! Onwards and upwards then, and see you next time!

 

May 2020 Update


Hello and welcome to a massively delayed King under the Mountain dev update! I am truly sorry for missing the last 2 monthly dev updates – it was a point of pride that one was always released while development has been ongoing, even if not always on time! As with most small businesses and in fact people around the world, COVID-19 has had a hugely disruptive impact which is the main reason for the radio silence for the last couple of months. While it’s not been all stop on the game development front, it has been extremely disrupted but I’m happy to say that quite the opposite is going to happen for June – due to the economic recession of the virus, my day job is changing from 5 days a week to 3 days a week, so the good news is that (for a while at least) I’ll have two working days to commit to gamedev and get the project back on track!

While I don’t have any new gameplay features to show off this month, I am very happy to announce a new music track by Jordan Chin to add to the game’s soundtrack. “Dawn” is another track to accompany the peaceful expansion of your settlement, and it captures the essence of its namesake perfectly – have a listen!

Those of you following the dev updates previously will know I planned to attend and exhibit at EGX Rezzed. No surprise now that the event has been cancelled and even a postponement looks unlikely, so perhaps next year instead.

I’m progressing with a number of small improvement and tidy-up tasks from Alpha 3, which should include an interesting change to gameplay that I’ll go into more detail on next month.

The period of relative quiet has allowed me to consider the roadmap as a whole. Seeing as the demand or size of the community isn’t quite there yet to be creating mods for the game (and the game itself still being in relatively early stages where more features need adding before mods become more interesting), I’ve decided to push back the central mod repository and code modding features until after the Steam Early Access release. That means more gameplay features sooner to get the project on track for a release on Steam, with the expanded mod support to follow sometime after. I can’t give any specific timelines at this point, but let’s see how things go now that I should have more time to dedicate to development!

And with that, it’s onwards for more focus on gamedev and gameplay features in general. Maybe next month will even have the release of the long-awaited dwarven beer brewing? See you then!

February 2020 Update


Welcome to a late King under the Mountain monthly dev update in what is now a grand tradition of being a bit late!

Begin the tutorial!

The main body of work achieved this month was finally adding a tutorial to the game.

Actually, what’s been added is support for a set of “hints” that can pop up when the player performs an action, such as placing a specific piece of furniture for the first time, or another event, in this case starting a new game.

The hints are very configurable – they can have multiple buttons to perform different actions, such as showing another hint (which in this case is used to actually start the tutorial from the “new game started” hint) or disabling hints entirely (which can be re-enabled from the options menu).

Rather than having a simple “dimiss” button, hints can also have a set of progress indicators, which is the primary way that the tutorial works. The game explains a mechanic or concept, which initially is placing farm plots, and tracks how many farm plots have been placed and how many tiles of farm plots have been placed. When both of these progress indicators are complete, the hint’s first (and only) action is triggered, which in the case of the tutorial is to show the subsequent tutorial prompt in a series of them.

As with almost everything in King under the Mountain, the hints are defined in simple JSON files, with the hope being that modders will look at these and expand upon them when adding new gameplay via mods. Perhaps a mod adds a new type of room or furniture which performs a special task – now a hint can be shown to the player the first time they go to place this room or furniture.

Of course, this is in addition to the tooltips that have been implemented for most items and other things in the game. King under the Mountain is now a much more user-friendly experience than it was previously! One of the design goals was to allow for deeply simulated and interesting gameplay, but in a way that is very accessible to new players to the genre. The tutorial is released today with Alpha 3.5!

EGX Rezzed

As mentioned in last month’s update, the plan is to exhibit King under the Mountain at EGX Rezzed in London from 26th March (less than 3 weeks!). Personally I’m expecting it to be cancelled following Coronavirus fears and an increasing number of cases in the UK (and the rest of the world), I can’t see an event where thousands of people are touching the same keyboards and joypads as being allowed to go ahead.

Still, if it does go ahead, I’ll be there exhibiting the game, so please drop by and say hello if you’re a reader of this dev update! You can bag some fairly exclusive King under the Mountain pin badges too:

Dwarf character badges for EGX Rezzed!

 

That’s all for this month. I’m hoping to have the long awaited brewing of beer implemented in time for Rezzed, I suppose we’ll find out how that went in the next monthly update!

January 2020 Update – Modding is here!


Unusually on schedule, welcome to the January 2020 development update for King under the Mountain!

Alpha 3 Release – Mod Support

At long last, the game now fully supports user-created mods to change and add to the base content pack.

In short, everything in the “mods/base” directory forms the data-driven part of the game (compared to the code that loads and uses it), so hopefully you can go and see how this works to be able to add your own additions or modifications. For (surprisingly?) the first time, I’ve recorded and narrated a video to help better explain this, which ends with me implementing a simple mod to replace the game’s default font with the OpenDyslexic font.

I was very keen to get this release out as soon as possible for those interested to be able to start trying out their own mods, and help me to discover what features are missing when it comes to modding. Although this is released as “Alpha 3”, this isn’t yet covering everything that I plan to release as part of Alpha 3 – most importantly the integration to mod.io to act as a central place for people to upload and browse mods for the game. This will be coming in the near future, but in the meantime please do join the game’s Discord server and hop into the #modding channel with any questions you may have. No doubt I’ll have an FAQ up before too long.

Community Translation Support

One of the “mods” that the game now comes with is the “Community Translations” mod. While King under the Mountain is in active development, the text in the game is constantly being added to. Until release, it would not be feasible to produce a complete translation into the main languages as they would quickly fall out of date with each new release of the game. The intention for this mod is that the translations will be kept up to date with contributions from the game’s developer and community (as in, I’ll add to it as new translation strings are added to the game, and if anyone wants to keep it up to date in a different language from time to time, that would be amazing!). You can find the Github repository here. If you’d like to contribute but don’t know how to use Git or Github, you can download the .csv files, edit them in most spreadsheet software (remembering to save back as .csv) and email it to me at ross@kingunderthemounta.in

Most of the languages have had an attempt at translation using Amazon’s translate service, so they’re probably very poor machine translations that could do with a human touch.

Following the earlier experiment with East Asian character sets, I’m very happy to say that the game does now support translation into Japanese, Chinese and Korean!

The main menu partly translated to German and Japanese

 

EGX Rezzed 2020

Finally I’m happy to say I’m going back to EGX Rezzed to exhibit King under the Mountain at the end of March! I previously exhibited at Rezzed 3 years ago(!) to coincide with the launch of the original Kickstarter campaign and the first public pre-alpha. The game has come on a long way since then and it’ll be great to be at an expo with more of a game than that early tech demo. If you’re going to be attending Rezzed yourself, please do come and say hi! It’s always an encouragement to hear from and meet part of the small following this game and dev update has. I plan to have the brewing and drinking of beer in the game in time for Rezzed so even if you won’t be there, I’ll be bringing forward that feature from the roadmap a little to add to the game. Also if you are attending, there’ll probably some kind of King under the Mountain-branded freebies to grab, but they are still to be confirmed at this point so tune in to next month’s update to find out more!

December 2019 Update


Welcome to the King under the Mountain monthly update! A little late (again) though I hope you’ll forgive me what with it being the Christmas holidays.

At the end of last month’s update I was all set on finally moving on to mod support, or at least initially different translations. After the update, on 19th November, Alpha 2.8 was released which introduced the new Kickstarter-backer-specified resources. This brought a reasonable amount of traffic from players old and new, including highlighting several bugs and other problems, most of which had been around a while but I hadn’t been able to recreate myself.

In the end, I spent late November and most of December rewriting the item allocations system. That is, whenever something needs to be crafted, or some furniture constructed, or a settler needs a tool, or basically for any use of an item, the game has to keep track of which items/resources are available and which are free to be used. Up to this point, each item entity had a simple pair of integer counters, one for the quantity of the item and one to say how many of that quantity are currently allocated to be in use somewhere. Say a piece of furniture requires 10 stone blocks to be created. It’ll ask for stone blocks to be assigned, and perhaps there are two piles of 6 stone blocks that are available. All of the first and 4 of the second would become “assigned”, leaving 2 of 6 stone blocks available in the second pile. Something might then go “wrong” though, the stone blocks could be being carried by a settler just as a cave-in happens overhead crushing the settler and the items, or the player might decide to cancel the construction. This should then de-allocate the items assigned to the construction, setting the allocated amount for both piles back to 0 (specifically, decrementing the first by 6 and the second by 4). In almost all situations this worked fine, but there was a very hard to track down problem where sometimes items were not de-allocated properly, leaving them stuck as allocated forever even though the original use for the allocation had since been cancelled or completed.

The above was a very tricky problem to recreate – I could never quite figure out under what circumstances this happened, and when helpful members of the community sent me save files that included occurences of the issue, it had already happened in the past and I had no information to look at to see what had led to this point, just a number saying a certain quantity of some items was allocated somewhere and I had no idea where.

I ended up biting the bullet and spending a lot of time rewriting this system, so that instead of a simple number, each item allocation is now a small group of data detailing the purpose of the allocation (such as for hauling, being used in inventory, etc.), who requested it, the intended destination and so on. I couldn’t otherwise figure out the root cause of the problem so at least changing all the item allocations over to this new system would give me enough information to look deeper into the problem and narrow down where it was coming from.

As is often the case with massive changes to a system, having to touch many parts of the codebase led me to discover and fix some existing issues (hopefully including the one that caused me to do this large piece of work in the first place), and of course, inevitably, introduce new problems 🙂 Still, I think the item allocation overhaul has been a big success and was very much worth doing, just a shame it’s delayed the implementation of the modding system for another month or so. It wasn’t just item allocations that were rewritten either, the way stockpiles manage and keep track of their contents was also overhauled, having been one of the earliest parts of the codebase and something else that wasn’t really fit for purpose any longer.

Additionally, I ended up also changing over how liquid allocations work, as that was also a bit of a hack previously. Until now, units of liquids like water and soup were also stored as integers (whole numbers). A barrel can hold 6 units, a bucket moves 2 units of liquid, and so on. This didn’t really work for drinking barrels, as I wanted a single bucket of water (2 units) brought to a barrel to suffice for many settlers to drink from. If the 2-unit bucket of water only supplied enough for 2 drinks, the settlements would spend even longer moving water around than they currently do! The original solution was that instead of removing 1 unit when a settler had a drink from a barrel, there was a random dice roll which determined if a unit of water was removed (I think it was a 15% chance). This way, a bucket of water would last several drinks, it would vary in amounts quite a bit, but overall on average it would balance out. Not a great solution but it did work.

However there was also an assignment problem with water barrels. There would be an issue if dozens of dwarves went to drink from the same barrel with only a small amount of water in (say 1 unit). The first dwarf on the scene might end up emptying the barrel, then all the others would get there, get slightly annoyed the barrel was empty, and have to go in search of another, probably all going in a big horde to the next barrel that would probably get emptied to. To avoid this, each 1 unit of water in a barrel was reserved (allocated) by a dwarf wanting to drink there, and unreserved/deallocated when they finished drinking (if they did not end up randomly using up that unit of water). Much like the item allocations, there was also a bug here that I could never quite track down, where some of these allocations would also get stuck and live forever, resulting in the water barrels eventually becoming unusable as their entire contents were incorrectly allocated (a number of people had encountered this one).

So as well as the item allocation overhaul, I finally did the obvious thing and move liquids to using floating point (decimal) numbers for their quantities and allocations. Now a settler reserves 0.15 units of a barrel, and always removes 0.15 units when drinking. A bucket still brings 2.0 units of water to the barrel so each bucket provides enough for 13 and a bit drinks. There’s still a lot of legwork for the dwarves to do to get drinks available in water barrels, but do not fear, water pipes and pumps are coming in the future to automate this!

In the same way that overhauling item allocations seemed to fix the problem I was looking for, I believe the new liquid allocations (which get tracked with more info in the same way as item allocations now do) do not have the problem I was looking to solve anymore. Good news!

Helpful members of the community (especially SirRockstar who’s been a fantastic help with detailing problems) have been sending me details and savegames for issues in the current versions so there’s also been quite a lot of bugfixing going on. A nice one to finally figure out was that bridges didn’t always get constructed (I think it depended which side they were “dragged” from by the player) so that’s now sorted, and a major quality of life improvement in that constructions now use the nearest available resources rather than what was effectively any (random) available resources.

Sorry it’s been a very plain, media-free update this time around. I said it last time but now I will be going on to the first part of modding with language support so look out for that! There’s also some semi-exciting news to share but I’ll leave it until next month when I have more details nailed down, so see you then!

October & November 2019 Update


Hello! Sorry for the big delay on this month’s dev update. In fact it’s been so long that I’ve decided to bundle up both the late October update and the upcoming November recap into one bumper issue! Since the last update I’ve been exclusively working on adding natural resources to King under the Mountain chosen by Kickstarter backers as part of their rewards. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing in terms of gamedev, it’s been another super busy month otherwise!

Thankfully, this task is now complete so I’m going to spend this month’s dev update going through what has been added with some of my thinking or future planning for each one. Those eligible for the reward were asked to pick a real-world type of rock, ore, gemstone or tree to be added to the game, and I also ended up adding the option of a type of mushroom which didn’t have to be constrained to a “real world” choice for some more fantastical elements in the game. Here’s what people came up with!

Gemstones

Some of the resources that have been added (in more detail below) tend to necessitate other new additions, such as metallic ores that can be smelted (or not) into new metals. This is not the case for gems, particularly when jewellery and decoration has not been implemented yet. That makes the list of new gems uncontroversial and simple enough, so I’ll simply list them here with their in-game tooltip descriptions (anything in italics is an explanation for this dev update only):

  • Morganite – A rose-coloured variety of beryl. It was named after being popularised by a particularly wealthy merchant in the age of myth. The particularly wealthy merchant is a reference to the real-world naming of Morganite, which is named for the banker J P Morgan.
  • Ammolite – An opal-like gemstone which has a red to green iridescence. It is known as the “hunting stone” and amulets made from it are meant to bring good luck to a hunt. This description is in reference to the following from wikipedia: The Blackfeet tribe know ammolite as iniskim, meaning “buffalo stone”, and have long believed it to possess amuletic powers; specifically, the gem is believed to aid in the buffalo hunt, and to draw the buffalo within tracking distance.
  • Painite – A very rare gemstone which is often identified as an off-colour sapphire. The crystals are naturally hexagonal in shape and a favourite of tacticians. The “favourite of tacticians” was an addition of my own as a reference to hex-based strategy games.
  • Rhodochrosite – Found in varying shades of red to pink. It is not as hard as most gemstones making it a poor choice for rings and other high-impact jewellery.
  • Bixbite – Also known as red beryl, it is a very rare gemstone. It is often confused for a red-coloured emerald.
  • Opal – A form of silica infused with the magic of the oceans, which makes this a favourite of sailors and fishermen.
  • Lapis Lazuli – A rock with a brilliant deep blue hue which is used as a precious stone.
  • Amethyst – A violet-hued variety of quartz. Ancient humans believed it could magically protect them from becoming too drunk. For this reason it is not very popular in dwarven culture. The name “Amethyst” itself comes from the Koine Greek for  “intoxicate” as it was indeed believed to prevent people from becoming drunk.
  • Labradorite – A rock which shines with a typically light-blue iridescence. Rarer specimens can reflect a wide range of colours.
  • Sapphire – Often believed to protect the wearer from the attention of daemons, sapphires are much sought-after by mages for use in sky and air-based magic.
  • Quartz (Rock crystal) – The purest form of quartz. Rock crystals often feature in magical artefacts as they are a condensed form of the element of ice.

Trees

Adding new trees was a surprisingly popular choice, I’m assuming for backers to include some of their favourite (local?) species based on what was chosen. Currently, each woodland area on the map has 1 or 2 randomly chosen species. I’m hoping that later in development, tree placement will be based on the biome of the map, perhaps taking into account the latitude of the map location and local climate. At the moment there is no rarity to any type of tree which should be addressed when different types of wood are worth more or are otherwise superior to “standard” wood types.

NameTree & wood graphicsNotes
(Gabon) Ebony
This is Diospyros crassiflora (aka African ebony) which has extremely dark heartwood, and much like in real life, is extremely valuable due to its appearance and durability.
Bull-oak
Bull-oak (or buloke) is a species of ironwood tree from Australia. It was only upon implementing this that I realised/remembered that trees in King under the Mountain are currently only described as "(name of wood) tree", and the wood material harvested from this is listed as "Ironwood". This means that in-game this is currently labelled an "Ironwood tree" which is acceptable, although I realise now it would be better to have individual tree descriptions rather than relying on the wood material name. This would also allow trees to have their own tooltips, which is one major type of entity in the game that do not currently have tooltips.
Spruce
The request for this tree was for the Spruce tree. As you can see from the image, I've opted to lean into the blue spruce (AKA Colorado blue spruce) for the blue-green colouration to distinguish it from other evergreens.
Nuytsia
This is the Australian Christmas tree, also known locally as moodjar. Uniquely, it blooms into a bright yellow/orange colour over summer, unlike most deciduous tree types in-game which turn green to yellow to red during autumn.
Star Pine
This is much more commonly known as Norfolk Island pine, although I'm aiming to avoid names that use real-world locations so they can fit better into the lore of King under the Mountain, despite these backer rewards requiring the selection of a real-world species. As with most of the items in this list, ideally this would use more unique graphics than the existing pine sprites, and hopefully there comes a point where that can be added (or even modded) in!
Pecan
Ideally this tree would drop or at least have harvestable pecans (the nut), but in the interest of getting this much-delayed update out, extras for backer rewards such as this have been put on a future to-do list.
Rosewood
Rosewood can refer to several types of tree, but simply "Rosewood" was requested and as the tree description uses the name of the wood material, "Rosewood" it is!
Eastern Juniper
A tree from eastern North America, "Eastern Juniper" is what was requested however this is currently listed in-game as "Red cedar" due to the material of the wood harvested as described above.
Baobab
Out of all the trees listed here, this is probably the one most in need of unique graphics to convey the iconic African baobab - particular the giant baobab. I've based this on the Suarez baobab. The baobab also really highlights the issues that come from just randomly mixing different trees together on a map, this should probably only show up on maps that have a biome similar to the real world locations it is found.
Sycamore
Again, the name here can refer to several types of trees but it's simplified to just sycamore for the moment.
Aspen
And again, aspen covers several tree species, usually defined by the area of the world they are found in, so this continues the interest of removing real-world locations from names.
Red Emperor
The request here was for the Japanese maple, which is also known as the Red Emperor maple which feels ambiguous enough to me that it can fit into the world of King under the Mountain.

Also, bamboo was requested as a new type of tree to be added. While most others can get away with some re-use of the existing assets, bamboo is definitely too distinctive to do the same so this will be added at a later point.

Ores

Adding new ores to the game was interesting, because it usually ends up implying that there’s a new metal that can be smelted from it. Here I’ll go through the ores that have been added and any extra resources that they have led to, or any plans for the future.

OreGraphicIn-game tooltipProcesses toOther notes
WolframiteA metallic ore which complicates the smelting of tin. It has too high a melting point to be smelted with normal processes.Tungsten/Wolfram - not yet implementedTungsten has a melting point of 3422 °C (the highest of all discovered elements!) so it is not feasible to smelt ingots from it. Perhaps it may be of use when alloys are added (as it is often produced in reality by forming an alloy with nickel), or perhaps dragonfire or magic can be used to produce tungsten. For now though, Wolframite is effectively useless so it is also marked as being very rare so you won't be left with many useless ores on your map.
MagnesiteA mineral which can be polished into beads for use in jewellery. These beads can by dyed into many different colours.GemstonesMagnesite can be burned to produce magnesium oxide which is used as a lining in blast furnaces, and this may be an in-game use in the future. Magnesite was requested (quite correctly) as an ore, but as it is also used for jewellery, right now it's been added as a new type of gemstone as that is how it will be used (when jewellery is added).
ThoriumA silvery metallic ore which turns black when exposed to air. It is strangely warm to the touch.NoneThe "strangely warm to the touch" is a reference to the fact thorium is weakly radioactive. I've not yet planned any uses for thorium, and in the real world it is very rare. Let me know if you can think of any uses which would be appropriate to King under the Mountain!
ChrysocollaOften confused with turquoise, it is actually an ore of copper.CopperThis is a simple one, being an ore of copper, it is much the same as malachite, but in a more pleasing colour!
Native platinumNaturally-occuring platinum which must be smelted before use.PlatinumJoining native copper, silver and gold, expect this to be particularly valuable once trading is implemented!
Fool's gold (pyrite)Also known as Pyrite, its pale-yellow appearance causes some to mistake it for gold. It has several uses when crushed, but care must be taken as it sparks when struck.Green vitriol (iron sulphate)Look out when fire is added as this may be an explosion risk! Green vitriol (an archaic name for iron sulphate) has several real world uses, which should be reflected in game as a soil supplement, and perhaps an addition to leatherworking and medicine.
PollucitePollucite is an ore of Caesium, which is currently too dangerous to produce. Particularly crazy dwarven metalsmiths are currently trying to find a reliable method of production.Caesium - not yet implementedCaesium ignites spontaneously in air and explosively when in contact with water, so if and when that applies, it will be a very dangerous material to produce! I would like to introduce some method of producing caesium from pollucite, it feels like it would have some fun uses in traps and mechanisms.
CinnabarAn ore of mercury which is often used in jewellery due to its deep-red hue. It is also used to produce the dye known as vermillion.Mercury - not yet implemented / gemstonesAs the tooltip states, this is an ore of mercury. As mercury probably won't be implemented (unless we find a good use for it?), it'll stay as a gemstone for use in jewellery.
IlmeniteIlmenite is the primary ore of titanium. Unfortunately, a means of titanium production is yet to be discovered.Titanium - not yet implementedAn ore of titanium, which requires slightly more advanced processes than the dwarves currently have available to them to produce. Surely something can be figure out though, perhaps with the aid of magic?
BauxiteBauxite is the primary ore of aluminium. Unfortunately, a means of aluminium production is yet to be discovered.Aluminium - not yet implementedAs with ilmenite, this is an ore of a metal which requires more advanced processes to produce. There will be a way of doing this in the future though!

It should be pointed out that the less useful of these new ores will be very rare in-game until they have a use, at which point they’ll be a little more common. Dwarves in titanium plate armour would be quite something!

Mushrooms

Unlike the other resources added by backers which were constrained to real-world examples, I also added the option for backers to invent their own fantasy mushrooms leading to some interesting additions.

NameGraphicIn-game tooltipNotes
Fly agaricA mushroom with a pink-red cap bearing white spots. It has hallucinogenic properties which warriors sometimes use in preparation for battle.This is the iconic "toadstool" species of mushroom. It is technically poisonous and a hallucinogen. It is thought that viking berserkers would ingest these mushrooms to send them into the classic trance-like fury depicted of barbarians in fantasy. As dwarves are from Norse mythology, I wanted to keep this link, so as well as the descriptive text, these are labelled as "Berserker mushrooms" in-game.
SunglowA bright yellow mushroom which glows with the appearance of sunlight. It loses this glow the moment it is harvested.As the tooltip suggests, this mushroom glows and literally acts as a yellowish light source in the game world, illuminating the deep, dark caves it is found within.
Syrup powderA round orange/yellow mushroom with a white underside. It is said to have been used by mages long ago, but for what purpose, nobody knows.Requested as "Syrup's powder" in reference to the magic powder produced by the witch Syrup in The Legend of Zelda in exchange for a magic mushroom, which usually has a bright yellow/orange appearance that this mushroom is an homage to.
GlowA magic-infused mushroom that gives off light and changes colour with the seasons.The backer that requested this actually let his kids choose what would be added to the game. Specifically that it has "changing colors of the rainbow (Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Purple Pink, according to my daughter)". This inspired me to extend the way certain items can act as a light source, and I'm happy to announce that this mushroom does indeed cycle through all the colours of the rainbow (across a year) and gives off light in-game according to that colour. You can see this in action in the video below.
RociomycotaA white and black spotted mushroom. It has been known to affect the appearance of those who ingest it.I don't know where the name of this comes from so there's not much I can say on this one! The backer requested that it could have a harmless cosmetic effect which hasn't been implemented yet, but has been added to the to-do list and is something I'd like to get around to eventually.
MiltoniaOnce thought to exist only in the Hudds region, it is now found throughout the world.I believe this is a reference to Huddersfield, at least the colour scheme being based on the football kit, although I don't know what the significance of the name is.
FistA black-blue mushroom with a metallic taste. It is named for a group of bards from the age of darkness.This is a reference to a heavy metal band, with the description tied a bit more to the lore of the game world.

The glow mushroom is a bit special in that it cycles through many colours, each of which it also applies as a light source. Here’s a video of it in action (with days and seasons shortened so everything is very sped up, normally the transition would be much more gradual):

Rock types

Only one backer decided to nominate a new type of rock to be added to the game – Icelandite! I’ve been trying to avoid direct references to real-world locations and names from things in the world of King under the Mountain (although if you’re very picky about it this is impossible as names of things are deeply rooted in their real world history). Icelandite is named for Iceland and there’s not much information on it, not many other names that I could swap out instead, so I had a look at alternative names for Iceland itself.

Dwarves, at least the dwarves in King under the Mountain and most fantasy settings, owe a huge amount to Norse mythology and history. “Frón” is apparently the old Norse word for land or Iceland, and so Icelandite has been named “Frónite”, which I suppose means “mineral of land” which is appropriate if a little vague.

It’s quite rare compared to the other rock types (so it will be a bit more valuable too), keep an eye out for its pleasing blue appearance in your maps!

New alpha released!

There’s a new alpha build with these resources out… now! As always it’s available from rocketjumptechnology.itch.io/king-under-the-mountain which all Kickstarter backers and pre-orders should have access to. Please get in touch if you’re a Kickstarter backer but think you don’t have your game key yet.

This update actually removes a small number of the existing resources which unfortunately means it is not backwards-compatible with saves from the current version (Alpha 2.7), except on the off-chance your save’s map does not have any of those resources.

Onto the next update

Finally, with all these in place, it’s finally time to move on to opening up mod support. Now that these new resources, their tooltips, and the many hundreds of words in other tooltips that were added in the last update are in place, I also think the time has come where the main body of text is ready for translation. I didn’t want to get people involved with translating the game while I knew I had quite a large number of words to be added in the short term. Now this is done, I think it makes sense to allow for translations to be the first types of mods to support before going on to more general content-type mods that should be possible. I might even be creating a few tools to help with translation support. A number of wonderful people have already contacted me offering their help with translation to their native language, but if there’s more of you out there in the community it would be great to have you on board! The best place to start is to join up to the King under the Mountain Discord server and either drop me a message directly or say hello in the #translations channel.

Until then, see you next month for the December update!

September 2019 Update


Welcome to the September update! A bit of a short one this month because A) August was late so it’s not been quite as long since the last update, and B) it’s been one of those months where there isn’t any particularly visual or even interesting progress! So what has been happening? The main body of work has been adding new resources to the game – those chosen by Kickstarter backers as part of their rewards. Although there was an email survey sent out several months ago, only around 50% of backers eligible for this reward have responded, so if you’re in the other half who have not got back to me yet, search your email inbox for “Claim your pick a resource reward for King under the Mountain” and get that response in soon to avoid missing out!

Past that, I’m still laying the (huge piles of) groundwork for mod support. It’s the kind of task that requires lot of fairly dull legwork until the big bang at the end when everything comes together.

In other news, this month saw the release of Overland (at least on consoles) which is a game I’ve enjoyed following the progress of although I’ve not yet found the time to play the thing. I mention this because there were several news stories around the fact that it includes the OpenDyslexic font as an option to replace the game’s default font, and coming off the back of last month’s update all about fonts it really stood out to me.

Until these news articles appeared I had no idea that there was such a thing as a font that can be more legible to people who suffer with dyslexia and it quite rightly garnered some praise. Having just swapped out the font in King under the Mountain, it occurred to me that this will make a perfect test case for an example mod that could come supplied with the base game.

The OpenDyslexic font on the King under the Mountain main menu

 

So when mod support does finally drop, you can look forward to this as an example of a simple mod coming bundled with the game, with the bonus of including the OpenDyslexic font for those who prefer it!

Finally there’s some very good news on the horizon – I’m in a position where I’m going to be able to change from trying to fit game development around a full-time 5-days-a-week day job, and instead I’m going to move to a 4-day working week, simply cutting down on the contract work that keeps the lights on to be able to dedicate a full day a week to development of King under the Mountain. Progress has been pretty slow for the last few months, which I’m deeply sorry for and is a source of much personal frustration. Fortunately, you can expect to see things kick up a notch in the near future and bring us closer to release!

See you next month!

August 2019 Update


Welcome to the (late) August update for King under the Mountain! Apologies for the lateness of this, August was a crazily busy month personally, but I thought it still worth putting out a delayed dev update rather than nothing at all until the end of September.

The good news is that tooltips for nearly everything in the game have now all been implemented (thousands of words in total!) and there’s a new alpha build (Alpha 2.6) available on the Itch.io page for all current and future owners to get hold of with these tooltips in. As well as providing some super useful information to the player (especially to explain what a pillar actually does), this is also the start of background lore in the world of King under the Mountain with references to the magic system and the world at large.
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