Welcome to the monthly update! With Alpha 2 effectively out of the way (though as always there's some small bugs still to look into), the focus now is on Alpha 3, which means mod support! As a precursor to this though, I've been working on a tooltip system. I think this is going to really improve the new player experience by explaining how things work which is a bit of a sticking point without a tutorial (I'd rather add a tutorial later in development when more of the base gameplay is in place). It's also the first time we're getting some background fluff added to the game! You can see it in action here:
A tutorial is often requested as the game is not as easy to understand as it could be. I'm hoping tooltips on practically everything will work as a bit of a sticking plaster until there actually is a tutorial. I decided to get the tooltip system done now as it is massively increasing the amount of text in the game which leads into... multi-language support (AKA internationalisation).
The first big feature I want to enable through modding is to add translations to the game. While King under the Mountain is in development, it doesn't make sense to get a translation company to translate all the text in the game as it is constantly being added to - as soon as a set of translations was finished it would be incomplete in the next update and not usable by any players who don't read English. I think the best approach, for now at least, is to support and encourage translation mods while the game is in development, and potentially pull these and/or "professional" translations into the base game (not as a mod) once it hits version 1.0 (i.e. after beta). The game can even warn you if a translation is incomplete for the version you are playing - it's a problem that needs addressing if not solving while development is active.
To this end, I'm going to be creating tools to help the community with translation mods - probably a small command line executable which initialises or updates a spreadsheet to be filled in with translated text, even including computer-generated translation text as a start pointing. Translations provided by a computer are often poor because they're missing enough context to know exactly how something should be translated, but having them as a base to work on top of should make things easier.
I'm also looking at swapping out the font currently used in the game (Google's Roboto), or perhaps even the entire UI skin, as the kerning (the spacing between letters) is terrible with the current font sprites that have been generated. As with everything else, this will be open to modders to change and improve, so I'm hoping that one day someone comes up with a usable font and set of UI widgets that blows everything else out of the water! Part of the problem is that fonts often have restrictive licensing considerations so it's not quite as simple as deciding "that font looks good, lets use that one", as well as generating a spritesheet for the font which is what LibGDX uses rather than rendering text directly from font files.
If you'd like to help out the early community with translation support into practically any language (I'm aiming to support languages with a large number of characters like Japanese, Chinese and Korean, but I will probably not be able to support right-to-left languages like Arabic) then please head on over to the discord server and the newly created #translations channel where I'll be organising things in the not too distant future!