King under the Mountain

Created by Rocket Jump Technology

A simulation-based settlement-building strategy/management game set in a fantasy world, for PC, Mac and Linux.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

April 2019 Update
24 days ago – Wed, May 01, 2019 at 12:05:41 AM

Alpha 2 is upon us! The main feature is that the placeholder production of metal (which was simply and easily turning raw ore into metal ingots) has been replaced by a more in-depth production chain. Raw, mined metallic ore needs crushing down to remove the useless stone and get to the usable ore. This is then smelted at a bloomery furnace into a "bloom", following how iron was historically produced before modern mass-production. The bloom is then hammered by a smith into usable metal, which can be worked into its final form. This update also introduces fuel in the form of coke (refined from coal) and charcoal (produced at a charcoal clamp using wooden logs).

Alpha 2 also includes the most-requested feature by players - a screen to view and manage all of your dwarves! This was teased in last month's update but it has now been released, head on over to rocketjumptechnology.itch.io/king-under-the-mountain to download Alpha 2 if you already have a copy of the game, or purchase it if not! It's still early days for the user interface (I'm treating the whole thing as a placeholder) but this work solved some of the problems of dealing with the UI (most importantly a way to draw entities like the settlers as interface components) so expect more to follow - perhaps most importantly a screen to manually organise crafting and production so that the player has direct control of what is being created!

Following the "add a natural resource" reward emails which were sent out previously (please do get back to me if you've received one and not responded yet, or if you think you should receive one and don't remember seeing anything), more recently emails have been sent out for the "Add an animal species" and "Design a farmable crop" rewards. In the end there were only 8 of the former and 4 of the latter, with two super-backers covering both! Unlike the "add a natural resource" these will all require custom artwork to be created so I look forward to sharing these in the future.

As it had been so long since the Alpha 1 release, Alpha 2 was actually released early while there was still more content intended for part of this release milestone. First of all, metal plates are to be added as a new intermediate product so that constructing furniture out of metal is a bit more sensible - rather than hammering a few metal ingots together to form an elaborate construction, instead plates will be forged by a blacksmith which are then put together along with other mechanisms to produce some of the machines used by the dwarves (such as the ore crushing station). Expect this to feature more heavily when brewing is added due to the number of metal tanks needed as part of the brewing production chain.

Also on the topic of working with metal - dwarves in King under the Mountain are the only race to know the secrets of producing steel, superior in strength and quality to iron which will be important when different materials have different in-game effects, particularly in combat! Central to this is the crucible furnace, which will be the largest piece of furniture in the game so far, used to convert iron to steel in sizeable quantities.

Long-rumoured to the world of King under the Mountain are giant mushrooms - mushrooms so large, tall and tough that they can be used as an equivalent to trees! A later update will see a visual rework of the game's funghi, but I wanted to have using-giant-mushrooms-as-trees in one of the earlier updates.

With those features added the next major milestone (Alpha 3) will be all about mod support. Modding is an absolutely central pillar to the design of the game and I can't want to see what people are able to come up with once the ability to mod the game is thrown wide open. It's these early days of modding which will shape exactly how mods work and what they look like, so if this is something you're interested in, please get involved (ideally via the Discord server) and help me to add what it is you want to be able to support mods.

March 2019 Update - (Not) Reading from a script
about 2 months ago – Sun, Mar 31, 2019 at 01:14:31 AM

It's not released quite yet, but here's a sneak peek at the much-requested Settler Management screen/feature coming in Alpha 2 of King under the Mountain:

Alpha 2 is on the horizon now, potentially including a resource management screen as well as this settler management one. It's taken a lot longer than I'd have liked to be able to go from Alpha 1 to 2 but there's some good news there - I've secured several days in April for development of King under the Mountain and I'm sure we'll see a big jump in progress, and with a pinch of luck, some form of Alpha 2 being released in April.

I forgot to mention that last month saw the start of gathering information for Kickstarter rewards (other than copies of the game), specifically emailing those backers who had one or more natural resources to add to the game. If you think you should have a "pick a natural resource" Kickstarter (or BackerKit pre-order) reward, you should have received an email asking you for the details of this. Try searching for the subject "Claim your pick a resource reward for King under the Mountain" in your inbox or spam folder. It's now over a month since these were sent out but only 47 resources out of a total 169 have been received so far, so please get in touch with me at ross@kingunderthemounta.in if you think you should have this and can't find it.

After Alpha 2 is released, the big focus for Alpha 3 will be to enable modding in King under the Mountain. Since the early days of the project, making as much of the game data-driven has been a key goal. This means that things like items, plants, resources and so on are all defined in (JSON format) data files that are loaded and used by the game. The majority of these reference .PNG image files which are also loaded and used to make up what you see when you play the game, or .wav or .ogg audio files for sound effects. Most games combine these "assets" into compressed or obfuscated packages to make the download size of the game smaller but also so they can't be easily modified by users. Instead, King under the Mountain plainly exposes its assets (take a look in /mods/base in the game directory if you're curious) so modders can see how things work to add their own.

This works for adding new things to the game with different values and assets, but doesn't cover adding new functionality to the game, which require the game code to be modified in some way. This month I spent some time investigating this. Initially I was planning to add some kind of scripting engine using a language like Python or Javascript, which would open up the game to small scripts of code to be run. I was worried about the performance of this (although there's quite good options for running snippets of these languages in Java) but also how it would expose the classes and functions used in the core engine for these scripts to make use of. In the end I settled on a different approach, very similar to the one used by Rimworld, where small libraries of additional Java code (the language the game is written in) can be loaded and used by the main game. The main benefit of this is that modders will be able to write code mods that make use of the entire codebase of King under the Mountain, albeit in a controlled manner where certain new classes can be added, rather than just letting a mod change any code within the game.

The way the AI works is heavily inspired by this post by the Starmancer devs, where I have a system of Goals made up of Actions. The Goals are JSON files (look in /mods/base/ai/goals) which are made up of a set of selectors to determine when a settler chooses to select the goal to complete, and a set of Actions which are Java classes used to fulfil a certain, well, action, with a success or failure state. Until now it would only have been possible to add mods implementing new Goals using only the existing Actions. As a test case I had the game load in a new Action from a mod and use this instead, which proved modders will be able to add their own AI steps to the game as well as overall goals. The same can be implemented for basically anything that has a range of different implementations rather than just data values, such as different job types and their effect on the world, and hopefully going as far as new UI screens and views possible in mods. I'm really excited to see what people will be able to come up with in mods and I'll have a lot more to say on this (and guides!) in the near future. I'm sure it'll be an evolving process as some things that I've not really considered might not be possible to mod yet, but I'd be able to open it up as the modding community makes requests.

So it's another relatively short update for the month. Again, I'm very sorry at the lack of tangible progress since Alpha 1 was released but I'm fully committed to breaking through that wall and getting the next major build to you guys soon. If you're already playing the game and haven't joined already, we have a friendly discord server at discord.gg/M57GrFp and if you're just discovering this game for the first time now, you should head on over to rocketjumptechnology.itch.io/king-under-the-mountain and grab a copy of the game while its still in earliest access! Itch purchases will include a Steam key when the game is ready to move on to Steam.

February 2019 Update - The road goes ever onwards
3 months ago – Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 01:39:31 AM


February was a quieter month after the hectic buildup (and aftermath) of the Alpha 1 launch. The main part of development was fixing bugs that became apparent with the much bigger playerbase (nearly all fixed now) and re-organising the roadmap based on player feedback. By far the most common piece of feedback is that players are desperately missing a way to keep track of all their dwarves through some kind of management screen so that has been bumped up the priority list to the top!

Until yesterday, the amount of exposure generated by the alpha launch was very disappointing. Very few gaming new sites picked up the story (thanks GamingOnLinux!) and most (but not all) youtubers who covered the game previously haven't picked it up again with the alpha release - I assume because there isn't a huge amount of extra content compared to the pre-alpha builds. The revenue brought in by the launch is very little (averaging around 1 sale per day) which should be expected really, especially without any major sites mentioning the game yet. Oh and many more of those sales than I would have expected include a tip, so thank you very much! Things are looking up a little with an article yesterday on Rock, Paper, Shotgun which I think it a tough but fair preview based on how early in development the game still is.

All in all, it's not the boost to development finances I had hoped for. Still, the way I'm developing the game is prepared for that. The Kickstarter funding allowed me to fully focus on development as well as commission new artwork and sound effects for a few months to get the game to Alpha 1, but that has all been used up now. This month I've had to go back to software development contracting full time which does not leave anywhere near as much time for gamedev unfortunately. This is not a permanent situation though, I'll need to continue this way for a short while as I stretched the budget beyond breaking and need to build up more funds. After that I'm planning to split my time into a healthy balance between gamedev and contract work, which should give some good results.

This does not in any way mean development is stopping, I'm fully committed to bringing this game through to completion. I thought I'd explain why things have been a bit slower this month and how I'm tackling it, as I've always been open and honest about the development process. Making indie games is a super tough business, and only the top 1% of titles break out into being a profitable success. I plan to get there eventually, I think where the game is now is still a bit early to find that breakthrough to a bigger audience, so I'll just keep striving forwards until it gets there!

January 2019 Update - Alpha One launch!
4 months ago – Wed, Jan 30, 2019 at 11:53:46 PM

Potentially even bigger news that the Kickstarter launch - King under the Mountain has just launched Alpha 1 as early access on Itch.io!

The game is still extremely early in development (be sure to check out the roadmap), so the game is only going to be on Itch.io at this stage. Later on it will transition to Steam, so don't worry, any Itch purchases will also include a Steam key when this happens. The same also applies to any Kickstarter pledges or BackerKit preorders.

If you backed the Kickstarter or otherwise pre-ordered the game through BackerKit, you should have received an email directing you to BackerKit to claim your Itch.io game key. If you've not received that, head to kingunderthemountain.backerkit.com and you can retrieve your BackerKit pledge manager which should now include this key. If you're having any issues with this, please email me at ross@kingunderthemounta.in from your Kickstarter/BackerKit email address, and I'll sort it out.

There will probably be a lot of updates to the game, mostly bug fixes to begin with and new features later. If you use the Itch.io launcher it will automatically keep the game up to date, but I realise having yet another launcher is a big ask these days, so the game will also notify you on the main menu if a new build is available. It's always worth updating to the latest version as there will probably be a large number of bugs fixed now that a lot of people are playing the game and finding them! If you do find any bugs (or are not sure), jump into the Discord server where I'll be available most days to talk through any problems.

The last month saw a flurry of activity to finish off the remaining features for Alpha 1. One important feature is that caves within the mountain will now often include harvestable mushrooms, which can kick off an underground mushroom farm to replace your above-ground crops.

Also finally, finally, you can now build bridges to be able to cross the river. No longer will it be an impassable obstacle to your expansion!

Perhaps most importantly for rounding off the gameplay experience to turn this from a pre-alpha prototype to the first real version of the game, is that your settlers will now die - or worse, go crazy - from not fulfilling their needs for food, drink and sleep. If you are unfortunate enough to lose some settlers, they'll need burying quickly to avoid the rest of your settlement from getting very upset at being near a corpse! Right now the main challenge is surviving year to year - if you do survive to the next spring you'll get a bunch of optimistically-happy immigrants to boost, or rather replace, your population.

There's also a lot of small tweaks and improvements as well as bug fixes over just the last couple of days. The game now includes a changelog.txt if you want to browse through these, though it's not particularly exciting yet. Look out for fun dwarf-y bug descriptions in the future!

So what's next? In the short term I'll be keeping a close watch on the automatic crash reporter to fix any crashes experienced. There's still one or two outstanding bugs that I'm aware of and working on ironing out, but for the most part the game seems very stable right now. Looking ahead a little, this version does not include translations other than English, and I'll be working on something to bring extra language support that can also be contributed by the community, rather than just translating to "the big 8" languages. A couple of features, namely producing and using fuel from coal and charcoal, the proper smelting workflow and producing beer has to be pushed out of Alpha 1 so they are at the top of the features roadmap. With all of those in place, there'll be a big push to open up mod support to the community. If you're an aspiring or experienced modder, I'd love to hear from you in the modding channel of the Discord.

As ever, thank you so much to all of you who have already joined me on this journey as I bring King under the Mountain from idea to execution. This is a really major milestone to have been hit, and now you should see a steady progression of updates and features, available to everyone from this point onward. See you next month!

December 2018 Update - End of a big year
5 months ago – Mon, Dec 17, 2018 at 09:43:25 PM

Welcome to the December update for King under the Mountain! Plenty of progress this month, again thanks to the funding from Kickstarter, so thank you to all of you who backed the game!

First up is that in addition to the frequently mentioned "make soup" from the trailer, the dwarves have figured out how to make bread now. Wheat needs to be sown, tended and harvested, then milled into flour before being prepared as dough and cooked using a bread oven to create loaves of bread. There's more work for your settlers to do in this longer production chain than cooking vegetables into soup, but there's a big payoff in that wheat crops made into bread is more efficient in terms of food produced per crop tile. The loaves are then served up in a feasting hall in the same way that soup is from a cauldron. Here's a video of it in action:

The flour mill is a new kind of furniture which requires components to be produced first (the millstone itself) by a stonemason, bringing together the different production chains in a functioning settlement. You can expect to see more of this in the future as the majority of furniture and crafting tables currently implemented are something of a placeholder.

Along with needing to eat, your settlers now need to quench their thirst or risk getting so dehydrated that they die of it! With nothing else available, they'll have to walk over to the river and drink from it directly like some kind of animal (which makes them a little upset as you can imagine), so now you'll want to set up some water barrels around your settlement to keep everyone happy and hydrated. This will still require a dwarf to head over to the river to fill the barrel up every so often, but it's far less intensive than *everyone* having to go to the river regularly so it's one of the first things you'll want to get set up. In the future, the wonders of dwarven engineering will provide flowing water to the settlement though underground pipes, but for now they'll have to do it by hand.

Following on from mentioning the unhappiness from drinking from the river, the first stages of the happiness system have been implemented too!

The current settler inspection window
The current settler inspection window

Dwarves will get upset at sleeping outside and on the ground, so players finally have a good reason to carve nice bedrooms out underground (or indoors when you can build roofing, shortly). Dwarves are quite picky so will still be a little bit upset at sharing a bedroom with others so you might want to cater to their every whim by giving everyone a private bedroom. Fortunately, every new settler has a long-lasting happiness bonus at the optimism of starting their new life - you'll want to make sure they have a comfortable place to live and work before too long!

Sound effects are finally being added to the game, although this is only in the first stages so it is a bit too early to show this off just yet. Button clicks and other UI sounds are in, and I'm working with Jordan Chin, the talented composer, to come up with fitting sounds for the vast majority of the things that can currently happen in-game. It's been a bit weird to have the game world completely silent (other than background music) up to this point, and I'm sure having sounds in the game is really going to bring it to life in a very big way!

Finally, immigration has been added, so early each year (after the first) a number of new settlers will join your burgeoning town. They come with their own supplies of seeds for new crops (though you'll have to work quickly to get them planted in spring) and rations to avoid a food crisis, but if your pantry is particular well stocked you can expect even more to arrive. This is going to need a lot of balancing to get right so expect both of those points to change in the future. It's worth re-iterating that the game's current UI is very much a placeholder, and as part of that there's now a notification system to tell you about important events like the new immigrants arriving:

That brings us up to the present where I'm currently working on map exploration or a "fog of war" (although not a dynamic one) which means you'll have to mine into the mountainside to see what's there, with the potential to uncover underground caverns that you weren't previously aware of. In the future these will often contain useful plants (mushrooms) or dangerous foes, though for now they'll probably just act as a way of uncovering more of the underground area more quickly.

Past that there's many more things to work on but it's going to depend on the order that the new art assets are finished off in so I can't quite say for sure other than they should all be quite interesting and add more depth to the game!

If you backed the Kickstarter or are a Patreon backer, this is your LAST CHANCE to complete (or modify) your backerkit survey (which can be retrieved from kingunderthemountain.backerkit.com) as they will be locked at the end of December. If you've selected any add-ons in Backerkit or placed a pre-order then cards are due to be charged mid-January. To clarify - Kickstarter pledges have already been collected but if you added anything on BackerKit and had to enter credit card details, these haven't been charged yet as Backerkit prefer project creators to not charge cards until less than 30 days before rewards are due to be sent out (so that refunds for incorrect orders can be applied in the 30 day window). This means they'll be charged in mid-January as the plan is to release the first alpha in mid-February! If your card being charged in mid-January is going to be a problem for you, please contact me at ross@kingunderthemounta.in using the email address associated to your Backerkit/Kickstarter account and I'll see what I can do to help.

It's the end of 2018 (it's been a great year for King under the Mountain!) and IndieDB have launched their annual Indie of the Year awards. Incredibly flatteringly, King under the Mountain has been chosen in the top 100 for 2018, so I'd massively appreciate any votes in the awards by going to indiedb.com/groups/2018-indie-of-the-year-awards/top100 and voting for King under the Mountain under "Real Time Strategy" in "Upcoming Games". Thank you and have a great holiday season!