Hi everyone, it's been far too long since the last dev update for King under the Mountain. Well, there were a lot of factors that fed into that, but rather than go through them, I just want to share the big news with you all - King under the Mountain has a publishing deal! There's many great parts to this announcement, but perhaps most important is that as of 3 weeks ago, I'm no longer trying (and failing) to fit gamedev around a full time day job and family life, instead thanks to publisher funding I'm now working full time on developing the game! The roadmap is in place, most of the artwork required for it has been created, so now I'm just powering forward to bring the game to Steam Early Access as soon as possible. We're aiming at a January 2022 early access launch which is just 6 months away - almost no time at all compared to the time the game has been in development so far!
You might even be wondering why it's taken this long for me to sign up with a publisher - or why I have at all with how relatively close the early access launch is. Well on the first point, this is the first time I've spoken to a publisher who really understands the vision for the game. I've spoken to others who wanted the game completely done and dusted in 18 months time, but I see games in this genre as really benefitting from a long early access period - just look at the growth in gameplay and success of games like Prison Architect and Rimworld. Some publishers weren't willing or able to invest the amount required to allow me to quit my day job, so that was a non-starter. As to why would I sign up with a publisher when I've already got the game so far along the road to the early access launch? Well, as you can see from the increasingly sporadic dev updates, I just haven't been able to find the time needed around everything else to progress the game - it would have still taken a crazy long time to get the game to Steam from where it was. In addition, any publisher worth their salt brings with them some great marketing clout - instead of this now being a hobby project with one guy working on it, there's a whole team pushing the game forward, with multiple people dedicated to marketing so many more people should hear about the game, rather than the small niche it's in currently.
So who is this mysterious benefactor? A fairly new publisher called Boombox, which is a partnership between Philippe Erwin who brings many, many years of experience in production and business development in games from senior positions at big names like Activision and Warner Bros, and Alexander Poysky of Poysky Productions, who produced Regions of Ruin, Between the Stars and Travellers Rest (among others). I've actually been in touch with Alexander for over 2 years already, specifically around publishing King under the Mountain, and everything just lined up on both sides recently that we were able to come up with an arrangement that works for both of us. I'm very excited to be working with them and their wider team!
So now that I'm working full time on the game, I was able to wrap up development on Alpha 5 in just a few days. You might remember from the previous update that I was due to go onto constructing roofing and flooring. Well I'm pleased to say that's done now! Here's a little look at constructing roofing in the game (with a bit of a preview of rain as well):
Roofing isn't super important yet but it will be once weather effects are added (which is the current development goal!). It does change up the happiness bonuses a little though - dwarves now get a happiness bonus from working in a zone completely enclosed with walls or doors and a roof. Of course, any mined out areas come with a roof already so perhaps this will encourage players to dig into the mountainside? You may have noticed in the video that the "Quad" option for building walls has been replace by "Room" which also fills in roofing in-between the walls.
Finally you can also put your own constructed flooring down. Along with this, flooring now provides different movement speeds depending on the type of flooring. You will find that gravel is quite slow to walk on, but any flooring constructed by dwarves speeds up movement considerably, so it can be worth laying down paths between high traffic areas. Of course, the AI pathfinding now takes the floor speed into account, so it will plan out paths based on the flooring available. This might mean if you do build quicker paths between areas, you might need to widen them to account for the higher traffic passing by!
Having wrapped up Alpha 5, it was released as Alpha 5.3 to the Itch page. Now that we're fully focusing on the Steam Early Access release, the game is not currently available for new purchases on Itch.io. Current owners will still be able to download any and all future updates, and it also shouldn't be too long before we start pushing updates to Steam as well. At that point, we'll make Steam keys available to anyone who currently has a copy on Itch (i.e. anyone who backed the Kickstarter or has purchased the game since) so look out for that news in the near future.
Next it came time to make a start on Alpha 6. Looking into it, I was still waiting on a few of the art assets which were being produced which made Alpha 6 all work together. To avoid any waiting around (though those assets have since been completed), I ended up swapping the contents of Alphas 6 and 7 with each other, so now Alpha 6 covers fire and weather effects. On that note then, I started with fire, and as a good indication of how much more progress is being made with me focusing fulltime on gamedev, the entire fire feature has been completed as well! Here's a look at it:
The game's now getting to a point where the different systems really start to get to interact with each other. Fire spreads to nearby things depending on if they're flammable, which itself is determined by the materials that form each item/entity in the game. Unfortunately for your dwarves, they count as flammable too, but at least a dwarf will roll around or seek out water (when not running around in a panic) in an attempt to put themselves out. Everything else will require the use of a new order to extinguish flames, which involves filling a container with water and dumping it over the fire to put it out. Failing that, fires will either spread to nearby entities or else eventually consume and destroy the thing on fire. Here's a tip - don't build things around the blacksmith's forge out of wood!
There's good news for your flaming dwarves though, with fire done I'm now working on adding all kinds of weather to the game, first of all rain which you can see a little of in the roofing video above. Rain has a good chance of extinguishing fires, but only if they are outdoors! Rain will make your dwarves a bit upset at walking or working in it, but especially upset at having to sleep in the rain (wouldn't you be?) so you'll want to dig those bedrooms out fairly quickly. Rain will tie into the more advanced modelling of farming crops which is now part of alpha 7, and perhaps most awkwardly of all, introduce the system of oxidisation to certain metals (i.e. iron and steel items will eventually rust and become useless if left outside). And that is just the first type of weather! Look forward to snow and cold in winter which will be harder to survive, thunderstorms with fire-causing lightning strikes, and more, all to be released as Alpha 6 in the next couple of weeks.
And that's where we're up to! I am very sorry this update is such a long time since the last, but now with the publishing deal in place, I can't imagine missing another one until the not-too-long-in-the-future Steam release and beyond! See you next month, or if you want to keep more up to date, join the King under the Mountain Discord server.