King under the Mountain
A simulation-based settlement-building strategy/management game set in a fantasy world, for PC, Mac and Linux.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Thu, August 16 2018 8:00 PM UTC +00:00.
Although King under the Mountain is still quite early in development, we thought it important to share a playable build, both to act as a proof of concept of the basics of the game, and to show that the team has the skills and expertise to make it happen. Playable on Windows, Mac or Linux, you can download it here:
Please note this is early in development (pre-alpha) so most features are missing. However it should give a good impression of where we're going, and more importantly, prove the game actually exists and is something we're capable of developing. Currently the prototype supports English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Polish and Portuguese (both European and Brazilian).
King under the Mountain has a few central concepts or "pillars" of game design that it is based around.
The game world is built out of a series of interlocking simulated systems which come together to create a living, breathing environment. Weather affects the terrain, items and characters. Whole colonies of subterranean critters can be thriving away, waiting to be unleashed when you tunnel into their home. Plants and animals behave realistically across different seasons. Most importantly, your settlers have their own personalities and emotions meaning they'll react to different events in different ways.
Primarily seen in the randomly generated maps the game takes place in, this also extends to most facets of the game: every tree and bush is a slightly different colour, leaves change colour throughout autumn, procedurally-generated materials and liquids can be created through crafting and cooking, right up to randomly-generated neighbours to fight, trade with or even go and explore on a dungeon crawl!
When starting a new game you'll have many options to choose from before your settlers even embark to their new home. From massive decisions such as what race to play as, down to configuring fine details such as what the map should be like, who your initial settlers are and what they're bringing with them. This also includes difficulty options on how the game should play - you can have a relaxed, peaceful game with no aggressive neighbours or live in a hostile hellscape beset on all sides by the undead... or worse.
The design is that all content in the game is moddable. The actual core content is provided as a "base" mod and after the initial alpha release, we will quickly go into detail on how to add your own mods to game and provide tools to make it easier to do so.
Once you have a reasonably robust settlement up and running, you can send some of your best and brightest off-map on dungeon-crawling adventures to other locations! Unlike the hands-off system of indirect orders in the main game mode, you will explore and fight through these other locations with direct control of your adventurers in tactical battles.
This is separate from modding as we feel there is an unsolved problem with games like this. You can spend a long time building a beautiful, intricate town or city of your own creation, only for it to sit on your computer where nobody else will ever appreciate it. One of the most important features of King under the Mountain is that the off-map dungeon-crawl-style adventures will include going to a copy of another player's settlement (and other players might visit your own) giving players a reason to build interesting challenges for others to explore. This will tie into a feedback system to promote the best player-driven content to the widest audience. In this way we hope to foster a whole community of new content without even needing to install any mods.
Here's some of the exciting features planned for the future of King under the Mountain:
- Detailed production chains: Building on the groundwork of the prototype, crafting useful resources such as metal and beer will go through several detailed steps to simulate the real-life methods of producing them.
- Player-driven crises: Not planted enough crops for the winter? You'll have to find ways to deal with a food shortage. Lots of wealth without a strong military? Expect to be invaded by greedy neighbours. In King under the Mountain you'll have to manage crises to keep your settlement running smoothly. Rather than these be randomly generated, they will generally be caused by choices and decisions made by the player.
- Psychology and madness: Your settlers have their own thoughts and emotions which are dependent on how they live and what happens around them. Keep them happy or risk a spiralling descent into madness and destruction!
- Cavern ecology: Large underground caverns will have flora and fauna to discover and make use of (such as giant mushrooms useful in place of trees) or even underground civilisations to trade or do battle with!
- Mechanisms and automation: Dwarven ingenuity can unlock running water (through underground pipes) and systems of gears and mechanisms to automate manual work or even trigger traps.
- Trading and caravans: There's a wider world beyond the settlement which you can trade with to help you prosper and grow.
- Weather and seasons: The weather will have a dramatic effect on your settlers and the world around them. Take shelter from the scorching heat in summer and freezing ice in winter or suffer the consequences.
- Acquire prestige and renown: Starting off as the small colony of a larger kingdom, build and develop the grandeur of your settlement until you're finally ready to declare independence and become master of your own destiny.
- Off-map adventures and exploration: Send parties of adventurers to other locations - which could be randomly generated dungeons or even settlements crafted by other players. Find loot and resources to enrich your settlement, if you can return safely.
This is not a comprehensive or final list, but is intended to give you an idea of the vision for the future of the game.
If this Kickstarter is successful we plan to release the first not-feature-complete version as "Alpha 1" in February 2019, which will initially be delivered via Itch.io or Humble Bundle. All Kickstarter backers will receive this and all subsequent versions of the game as part of their Kickstarter rewards. Subsequently there will be further early alpha releases (Alpha 2, Alpha 3, etc.) either monthly or bi-monthly throughout 2019 and most likely 2020.
Only once we have a relatively polished (though still not feature complete) Alpha version will the game transition to Steam Early Access, most likely in late 2020.
From this point there will still be many Alpha releases of content as the remaining features are implemented, before the game finally transitions to Beta (mostly feature complete) and Version 1.0 (feature complete) although we won't be stopping there!
It's a long and detailed roadmap (which you can read about in more detail at kingunderthemounta.in/roadmap) and at every step of the journey we'll be working closely with and listening to you, the players, for feedback and improvements along the way.
King under the Mountain has a particularly long and ambitious roadmap (detailed here) that we're aiming at regardless of how successful the Kickstarter campaign is. We've decided to include some stretch goals to reach for, but these are only going to come a long way down the line after the "1.0" release is live. This way we're not adding to the existing scope of the main part of the project (potentially delaying it) but we're committing to adding something special afterwards.
If we reach £35,000, we'll commit to releasing a free expansion for everyone which will add playing as an outcast wizard or warlock (effectively another "race" option). Magic is dangerous in the world of King under the Mountain and as a result you've been cast out of your society to fend for yourself against a hostile world. You'll want to build a defensible lair using the muscle of magically-created golems, placing traps and magical defenses for any foolish adventurers or mage-hunters coming for your loot or life. Once you've secured your hideout, adventure out into the world hunting for tomes of magical knowledge to extend your power and abilities. Perhaps you'll take your revenge upon those who cast you out in the first place?
The second stretch goal works much like the first, committing us to releasing a big free update for all players, but instead of playing as a wizard who has been cast out through no fault of their own, this time you've decided to become a student of the dark arts of necromancy in search of the ultimate goal - immortality. As you expand your knowledge of magic in the domain of death, you will raise loyal followers from the corpses of your enemies. Send out your legions of undead to attack and conquer the surrounding areas, and later, the world!
For this Kickstarter campaign, we're offering "add-on rewards" as an upgrade to your pledge level. After backing the campaign and selecting any of the pledge levels, you can go to edit your pledge and increase it by any combination of the following amounts to receive the following extra rewards (this will all be sorted out in the post-campaign pledge manager). You're also welcome to add any add-on reward multiple times if you wish to do so.
Ross Taylor-Turner, Lead developer and designer - Ross has been both playing and designing games for as long as he can remember, and developing software for nearly as long. Being a huge fan of Dungeon Keeper and other Bullfrog classics in the 90s led into discovering Dwarf Fortress in 2006, and it's this path that has led to the creation of King under the Mountain. "I'm incredibly lucky to be working with such talented individuals on the rest of this team, and I'm hoping for a successful Kickstarter campaign to turn this dream project into a reality!"
Derek Restivo, In-game artwork and design - Derek is an illustrator based in Canada who has several years of experience creating art for games, album covers, shirts, and other mediums. Within the last two years, he worked extensively on three Steam games, two of which are still unreleased but coming soon.
Inspired by his first console, a Sega Genesis, Derek has always had a love for 2D visuals in games. The relatively recent surge in indie games has been his favourite development in gaming from the last decade; both because of the abundance of 2D art, and because of the creativity and risk-taking inherent in indie game design. Derek plans to continue to hone his art skills within this market for as long as the wave lasts.
Jordan Chin, Composer and sound design - When he was just a young boy, Jordan watched his first Studio Ghibli movie. Moved to tears by the music, he looked up toward the sky and shouted, "One day, I'll become a composer, just like Joe Hisaishi, damn it!" Twenty years have passed, and Jordan has explored the use of music as a narrative tool in games, film, and original songs. He's produced music and sounds for titles such as Puzzle Raiders and ViPR Strike, and is the founder of the cinematic prog-rock project, Chemical Skies. As an original member of Materia Collective, Jordan has also reinterpreted music from game franchises like Final Fantasy and Sonic the Hedgehog. Working with Rocket Jump Technology on King under the Mountain has been a real treat, and he hopes to see the game fully realized.
Anthony Avon, Concept artist - "I find it difficult to put into words just how much our co-operation meant to me and how big of an impact it had on my career as an artist. So I've decided to put that feeling of gratitude into art. Within these colors you might see my path through uncertainty, a deep dive into a career of my dreams, navigation through thick forests of challenges and competition, a wall put before me to hinder my effort, my rise above the line of bright new opportunities, a steep climb towards perfection, my ambitions still hidden in the mist, and my goals too far and too high to be known at all. This would not exist in this form, or maybe not at all, if I didn't have your support. Thank you!" You can view the artwork Anthony is referring to here.
It looks like Prison Architect, or, it looks like Rimworld, why is that? As Rimworld has proved, the visual style pioneered by Prison Architect is an ideal fit for this type and genre of game. It's also, most importantly, achievable for a small indie team with a limited budget which is why we've decided to use the same styling. We're not in any way affiliated with the teams behind either game and don't share any code or assets. We do however owe them a lot of thanks for pioneering the genre in modern times and we think you'll be seeing a lot more games with a similar style in the near future.
Why Kickstarter? King under the Mountain has been in active development for the past couple of years on a very small budget to get the basics in place and build towards the playable prototype that's available with this campaign. You can follow the last year or two of dev updates here. We're now at the stage of needing to add a lot more content both in code and artwork, both of which are very expensive to do well, so we're on Kickstarter in the hopes of a successful campaign to both make that content possible and massively speed up development time.
How do I know this Kickstarter will deliver an actual game? Far too many games on Kickstarter run a successful campaign only to end up never actually delivering a playable game into the hands of its backers. The great majority of these are usually impressive concepts and mock-ups without a "real" game behind them. This is why we've worked hard towards releasing the playable prototype with this campaign - to prove the game already exists in a playable form, that the team is capable of building it, and as a proof of concept for the basics of gameplay.
When will the game be finished/released/done? We're aiming at having the first alpha release in February 2019. From there, we'll be releasing new builds of content and features every 1 or 2 months. At this stage it's impossible to say exactly how long the entire development lifetime will last (a lot depends on stretch goals being hit or decent alpha sales) but roughly, we have a plan to keep updating the game and adding more to it for several years.
How will you fund the game with a £10,000 Kickstarter goal/budget? So far development on the game has been done around other (contract) work which keeps the lights on and development ticking over. £10,000 isn't enough to fund the game (not even enough to cover either of the art or music budget), but it'll mean less time spent on other contract work and more development time on the game, and/or more budget for artwork, music and sound effects (which are freelanced currently). In the case the Kickstarter is extremely successful it might end up being able to fund the great majority of development, but the more likely outcome is it speeds up development quite a bit while not quite removing the need for funding from elsewhere.
Will there be multiple levels per settlement or "Z levels"? No, primarily for game design reasons - we think it's more interesting to impose the design constraints on the player of having to build a working, efficient settlement on a single level. Also, introducing "Z levels" could make things very confusing for a player exploring another map split across many different levels. There will however be "entrances" to other levels within your settlement, such as discovering a stairway into a dungeon or forgotten realm within the caverns of the mountain, which you'll have the option to explore with a party of adventurers.
Can I play multiplayer (online or co-op)? While we don't have any plans for "direct" multiplayer, you'll be able to visit and explore the settlements of other players in a kind of asynchronous, indirect multiplayer mode. This is not exactly a player vs player mode - if someone attacks your settlement (or rather a copy of it) you won't be at risk of losing anything, instead there will be bonuses for participating in the system. We also have plans for more peaceful exploration of the creations of other players, particularly via "friend" features which are planned late in the development roadmap.
Are there any restrictions on naming my settler? Yes, we'll ask that you either use a "real world" name or a fantasy name in one of many styles, which we'll be providing further details on as this backer reward is fulfilled. This is to avoid any immersion-breaking modern gamer slang names or inappropriate content for others. Similar rules apply to the naming of other backer-created content.
Which platforms will the game be released on? Windows PC, Mac and Linux. We also don't have any plans for any kind of console or mobile release, but never say never. Thanks to the platform-independent technology, we'll be releasing on all these platforms at the same time.
Will there be a DRM-free or non-Steam version? Yes! While we're primarily aiming at Steam as a platform for digital distribution, we'll be happy to use GOG.com or the Humble Store for DRM-free releases for those that prefer them. At this time we can't guarantee being listed on the GOG or Humble storefronts as they are curated platforms (unlike Steam).
How will the "Design a ..." rewards work? There will be no programming or technical skills required. For the basic "Design a settler" reward there'll be an online character creator tool for people to use. Food, drink and legendary items will (probably) have something similar with an online tool, but for the majority of them it'll probably be back and forth via email to see what the backer would like to include. The top tier of designing a non-playable race will effectively be the backer making decisions and coming up with ideas on what they'd like to see implemented, with the dev team actually implementing those ideas into the game.
Risks and challenges
The main risk with most games on Kickstarter is running a successful campaign only to never actually deliver a working game into the hands of backers. We've already mitigated this problem by building and including a playable prototype at the top of this page, which we're going to continue to work on and improve into the full game as development continues.
The other major problem with most gaming Kickstarters is that sometimes the funding runs out before the game is finished and the project dies off without meeting backers' expectations. We've chosen the visual style of King under the Mountain to be relatively cheap to produce so that development has progressed to its current point with minimal funding. If for some unforeseen reason the Kickstarter funding runs out before meeting all the promised rewards, and the game does not sell well enough in an "early access" model, we'll continue development in the same way it has worked so far - with a small team on a reduced budget supplemented by side jobs and contract work. We're on Kickstarter to remove the need for these side jobs which massively slow down the development and focus on King under the Mountain, so we can get the final vision to you as soon as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter