King under the Mountain is a game about peacefully building up a settlement in tune with nature, or mercilessly plundering the surrounding countryside for its natural resources. It’s a game about building a town where everyone is happy and loves their work, or it’s about keeping settlers drunk enough that they don’t care about the hellish conditions they’re living in. It’s a game about building up an impenetrable fortress to protect your ill-gotten gains from others, or it’s about putting a team of hardy adventurers together and sending them off to loot the riches of your opponents.
King under the Mountain is all these things and more, but to put it technically, it’s a simulation-based settlement-building strategy/management game in a fantasy world. To break it down a bit more, the game is based around these central goals:
- A simulated world – The game world is built on a series of interlocking systems which combine together to simulate a living, breathing world. As night changes to day, trees and plants will grow (or not) based on sunlight and rainfall. The local environment and changing seasons have effects on the native flora and fauna. Your settlers and other characters have their own personal social and physical needs that you’ll have to fulfil to keep them happy (or at least stop them from breaking and going insane!)
- Procedural generation – Every map is randomly generated from an initial seed (a large number) so that no two maps will ever be the same – unless you choose to use the same seed! The art assets for the game have been created in such a way that they can be drawn by the game engine for near limitless variation in colour – so every tree, plant and character will have their own unique combination of colours and appearance.
- Peaceful expansion – It’s an important design goal that it’s possible to play the entire game without getting into armed conflict with other factions (if you choose to). Although weapons and combat can be significant parts of gameplay, we wanted to make sure you can peacefully build up a fully-functioning town to have the satisfaction of sitting back and watching your settlers go about their business in an “art farm” style of play.
- Multiple ways to play – As well as different ways to build and grow your settlement (do you focus on mining? farming? crafting? buying and selling goods?), in King under the Mountain you can play as several different races and factions each with their own unique gameplay elements. You could build a dwarven fortress dug deep into the side of a mountain, a town of humans at an important river crossing, or a tribe of orcs hunting and raiding others. More than just different races to play as, we want to introduce completely new play styles as unusual factions – perhaps a lone wizard building their secret lair with golems they have constructed, an evil necromancer raising an army of the dead, a dragon amassing a hoard of gold in a giant cave system, or even an invasion of demons attacking the material world.
- Player-driven content – Have you ever spent hours in a creative game building something, only for it to sit hidden away on your computer? In King under the Mountain, players can opt-in to automatically upload their settlements for other players to visit. This drives the basis of the adventure mode – you put together a party of champions from your settlement’s population, and go off on an adventure to explore another player’s creation. This mode will involve turn-based tactical combat as you explore and battle through another player’s fortress, claiming rare resources that may be difficult or impossible to acquire otherwise. It’s important to note that nothing will be lost by either player in this encounter – you don’t actually “attack” the other player, only a copy of their settlement, and there are benefits to be gained by both parties.
- Mod friendly engine – Another big design goal is that everything you see or read in the game (and the variables behind them) are fully open to modification. In fact, the base game is built as an engine with one base mod applied to it (which modders can look at to see how things work). As the game nears release, expect more articles explaining how to create and edit mods. For now, you can read about the basics of the system in this post.