The Z-level Verdict
If you've not seen it already, the previous update went into detail on "the Z level question", so check that out first if you're wondering what that means. In short I was listing the pros and cons of including Z-levels in the game (at great time and cost) and asking for feedback from you guys.
And what a response! Over 90% of the comments were of the general opinion that Z-levels shouldn't be added based on: wanting to stick to the current exciting roadmap; not really working with the visual style (3D or isometric would be a different story); and generally just not fitting with my original vision for the game which would massively extend the timeline/delivery of the game and add a lot more work (or rather time) to development.
That's the view I'd already come to myself, but it's great to have so much of the community validating that decision. I realise there's something of an echo chamber effect with only people that have backed the Kickstarter able to comment on the update, so there's some bias compared to the gaming community at large, but I think it's sufficient evidence that the majority would rather I keep working to my vision of the game, to make it the fun game I always wanted to play, rather than open up to (more) scope creep and features with a poor cost/benefit ratio requested by a more vocal minority.
In the end, there were maybe 2 major reasons that people wanted Z-levels to be included: to add to the exploration and discovery aspect of the map, and to simply have more space - and more interesting space - to construct the settlement within. There's now a new update at rocketjumptechnology.itch.io/king-under-the-mountain-prototype which more than doubles the available map size. You'll notice there are now some very large mountain areas, and within these mountains are large cavernous regions which in the final game will be populated with interesting flora and fauna to discover. Digging further into the mountain brings with it the risk of digging deeply into one of these caverns which could contain a hostile civilisation (or worse) but also access to more valuable raw materials, which is one of the requested benefits of multiple levels. The other point is also somewhat covered by there being an inclusion of an "underground" layer for laying out pipes and mechanisms for the player to build interesting traps and contraptions with the actual gears and machinery hidden away. Finally there will be the opportunity to discover cave entrances to deeper levels which can be explored with a team of adventurers to uncover loot and hidden dangers (before they come after you first), which loops back in to the gameplay mechanic of exploring what's living underneath the mountain.
All in all I hope this satisfies the majority of reasons people wanted to have Z-levels in the game, but without the massively increased cost and time which would have threatened lots of other features on the roadmap and keeping the game on track to release and according to what's been promised in the Kickstarter. I'm sure there'll be players who are ultimately disappointed that Z-levels will not be included, but as the saying goes, you can't please all of the people all of the time, so I'm going to stick to my vision of the game as something that I've always wanted to play myself, so I hope that you'll join me on that journey!