Week 65 Update

Welcome back to another Beneath the Mountain devlog! It's been (somehow) already 4 months since my last update, and we've got a lot of new features and improvements to discuss.

Before we get started though, I know I said the previous build of BTM (1.1.9) would be the last public build, but because we adjusted our launch date, this (1.2.0U) will likely be the last public build of BTM until our official Steam launch.

New Background Art

We recently got some amazing background art from a very talented artist (Brandon Ellis), and we've been using it on the Steam page as well as the in-game loading screen. I'm truly happy with it and I think it does a great job of conveying the feeling of a dwarven kingdom and its people.

Unit Abilities

Adding abilities to the game really felt like it added a new dimension to the gameplay. It took about two months to implement this system and all of the various unit abilities, but I'm really happy with the final result. Adding abilities to the king, some of the dwarfs, and hostile creatures has really added a lot of value. 

Below you can see all of the King's active abilities (he has many more passive abilities). Unit abilities come in two forms, baseline abilities (an ability the unit always has), or abilities that come from the "talent tree" (more on that later).

Creature Abilities

I've also added some abilities to the hostile creatures that you find in caves. The Lich has an ability to summon more undead units (up to a limit), as well as teleporting around randomly. The Greater Slime also summons Lesser Slimes while in combat.

Just to be clear, I plan on adding a lot more abilities to hostile creatures. I'm itching to do an orc and goblin shaman, as well as adding a ton of fire and shadow magic to the demons of the lesser floor. Also, the behemoth needs an enrage.

"Talent Tree" Version 1

Since I started this project, I've been dreaming of making this system. I had more fun making this system and its components than any other part of the game. I really, really love creating ways to customize a gameplay experience. 

Below you can see the initial version of the talent tree system. I ended up not going with this design, but it was in the game for the better part of a month. Before we get into the 2nd version, lets discuss how this first version worked and why I ended up not going with it. 

Version 1 was basically a series of rows, with talents that competed for your attention on a given row. For example, the third row talents are Charge, Leap, and Natural Born Sprinter; all movement abilities. So, the row basically says to the player "Here are three movement options. You must choose one of them to continue down to the next row".

What if I don't want to choose a movement ability? What if I want to choose two movement abilities? Basically, this system is restrictive and reduces the possible talent combinations considerably. I'm embarrassed to say, but my version 1 was basically a classic representation of the restrictive systems that have always frustrated me as a player.

Furthermore, the structure of the tree implies that the talents at the top are weaker, and the talents at the bottom are stronger. This means we have to concern our self with the balance and strength of each talent and if we ever shuffle anything around, we have to re-balance everything. This is tedious and a waste of time.

The Runeforge - "Talent Tree" Version 2

So, with all of the problems understood, I came up with the Runeforge. On the right are all of the talents for a given tree, and as you gain Runic Knowledge, you can spend those points to unlock talents in any order. This gives the player ultimate freedom to customize their gameplay experience. You can freely swap between trees (on the left), and the interface in the top right lets you know how fast you're gaining Runic Knoweldge.

I took a lot of time to come up with interesting talents that change how the game looks or how the game plays. Let's take a look at some of the more interesting ones:

New Building: The Forge (visual overhaul)

I can't believe this is actually the 3rd version of this building, but I think I finally nailed it lol. The Forge now has the same footprint as the Workshop (2x2 with 1x2 entrance tiles), and still produces Iron at a fixed interval.

New Building: The Mushroom Farm

The Mushroom Farm is an alternative building to the Brewery, and produces food over time. The Mushroom Farm is much larger than the Brewery (3x3 with 1x3 entrance tiles), and so it produces more food while only costing slightly more than the Brewery. When you have a lot of space (for example after clearing out a cave), the Mushroom Farm makes more sense to build than multiple Breweries.

New Building: The Deep-Water Dock

Another alternative to the Brewery, the Deep-Water Dock can only be placed next to water. Due to this restriction, it produces more food per minute than the Brewery. So, if you find yourself near water, always build the Deep-Water Dock!

New Building: The Alchemy Lab

The Alchemy Lab will offer a variety of upgrades (eventually), but for now it is simply the prerequisite building to train the new Explosives Expert unit (more on that later).

New Building: The Gate

After many, many requests from the kind people in my discord server, I've finally added the Gate! The gate offers a way to control access to your kingdom. I often use it to stall enemies and let my troops get in position before taking on an incoming wave of goblins and orcs. The default keybind to open and close the gate is G.

New Building: The Berserker Hall

The Berserker Hall, like the Alchemy Lab, is simply a prerequisite building to train the new Berserker unit (more on that later).

New Building: The Library

The Library doesn't produce a resource in the same was as other buildings, but it increased the rate at which you gain Runic Knowledge (tracked on the top resource bar). You gain 1 Runic Knowledge every 5 minutes by default, and building more libraries increases that rate. Here's how it works. 

- 0 Libraries - 100% research rate - 1 runic power every 5 minutes
- 1 Library - 120% research rate - 1 runic power every 4 minutes
- 2 Libraries - 130% research rate - 1 runic power every 3 minutes and 30 seconds
- 3 Libraries - 135% research rate - 1 runic power every 3 minutes and 15 seconds
- 4 Libraries - 137.5% research rate - 1 runic power every 3 minutes and 7.5 seconds
- 5 Libraries - 137.5% research rate - 1 runic power every 3 minutes and 7.5 seconds

As you can see, building more Libraries is beneficial, but only up to a point due to diminishing returns. Personally, I think rushing two libraries early gives you access to a lot of talent points through the gameplay session.

New Unit: The Berserker

The Berserker is a new unit in this patch, and can be trained after building a Berserker Hall. They have high attack speed, attack damage, and movement speed, but have low armor and no block chance. Berserkers are great to send in after sending in your dwarfs with shields, or are great for catching fleeing enemies due to their high movement speed. 

I have plans to add some very interesting talents to Berserkers in the next patch, so this unit will only get more exciting. Also, Berserkers are really strong offensively, but unlike other high-end dwarf units, they don't require any Iron to produce (only more gold).

New Unit: The Ironguard

The Ironguard are the elite infantry of any dwarven kingdom. They have incredibly high armor, block chance, and a very large health pool. They also cost a lot of gold and iron to produce. These units are meant to be the late-game infantry that have the tenacity you'll need to push to the lower floors. Currently there is no per-requisite to train this unit; you just need a ton of iron.

New Unit: Explosives Expert

The Explosives Expert is the 3rd unit to be trained at the Mining Camp, and requires a completed Alchemy Lab building. This unit (by default) can place explosive barrels (which can chain-detonate) to do damage to rock cubes as well as friendly and hostile units.

The way explosive barrels work on rock cubes is interesting. When an explosive barrel damages a cube, it reduces the hardness of that cube permanently making it much easier to mine. When damaging non-gold-value cubes, the barrels deal a high amount of damage, possibly even destroying the cube. When damaging cubes that have gold value, barrels do less damage to the cube, while still reducing the hardness of the cube. Some gold is lost in the explosion damage, but the reduced hardness is often worth the tradeoff due to the sheer amount of time saved in mining. 

Currently I have mixed feeling about the Explosives Expert. It's really fun to use, but very tedious. I'm looking at way of automating the unit. Imagine marking a cube to be detonated, and then letting everything else be handled by the AI.

New Cave Creature: Cave Goblins

Cave Goblins are a more primitive, less armored, less-trained version of the Greenskin that come pouring in through the main entrance. They're also more aggressive than other cave creatures and will actually come pouring out of the cave when it is opened by a miner.

Research & Tech Upgrades

Although fairly new, I've added the tech system, which allows buildings to research upgrades in the same way that they produce buildings or train units. Right now the only tech upgrades are at the mining camp, but I have plans to add a lot more tech upgrades to buildings like the Alchemy Lab, Berserker Hall, Forge, etc.

Bridge Intersections

After a lot of player feedback, I've added bridge intersection pieces. This allows players to cross holes in more creative ways. Also, you can still run rail across these bridges.

Low Health Indicator

Another small quality-of-life improvement is the low health indicator that flashes a red border on the screen when the King is below 30% health an in danger of dying. Hopefully this helps some players survive close encounters.

Stair Indicators

I really wanted to make it easier to get to the next floor, as well as understanding how to get to the next floor. On the below screenshot you can see two types of indicators. In the top right we've got a 3D indicator that floats up and down, showing you that you can place stairs here. This indicator is always visible and only goes away when you've built at least one set of stairs on a floor. 

The other type of indicator is the directional indicators you see in the top left and bottom right. These indicators show you where stairs can be placed even though the location is currently off-screen. Just follow the indicator and you'll find a place where you can go down to the next level.

Floor Tile Edge System

All floor tiles now have the "edge tiles" that make the transition from dirt to paved ground a little smoother. No-longer do we have these harsh lines where floor tiles start and stop.

Damage Pause Indicator

Buildings are now considered "severely damaged" when they are under 75% health. Under this health threshold, buildings do not produce units, resources, or research tech. The pause indicator you see below indicates that this is the case. 

This creates a natural penalty for having your buildings damaged, but also allows buildings to still remain functional while only slightly damaged (over 75% health).

New Keybinds

With this new pach we have a few new keybinds in the Options UI. You can cycle through a selected unit type with Tab, Select the King from anywhere with K, focus (move the camera to look at) a unit with F, and open and close gates with G.

Gameplay Footage

I uploaded some new gameplay footage to go over some of the new features and more generally share how I'm playing the game. It's not a perfect run, but that's fine, dealing with disaster is part of the game lol.

What's Next

We're getting very close to our final build now, but there's still quite a few features left to develop. Here's a rough list of the remaining scope: 

  • Campaign System: a world map with different playable mountains.
  • Unit XP System: units gain experience through actions (fighting/working) and gain stats as they rank up.
  • Voicelines: voice over work for all the dwarf units.
  • Talents & Abilities: more talents for all the talent trees, and more abilities for all the enemy creatures.
  • Buildings & Units: more buildings (Throne Room, Training Hall, etc), and more enemies (Basilisk, Dragon, Fire Elemental, Golem, etc)
  • Squads & Control Groups: a better way to control and organize your fighting forces.
  • Affix System: random map buffs/debuffs that change how each map plays. 

Testers Needed

Do you want to play the latest in-development build and help make the game better? Join the discord server and ask to be promoted to the Tester role. Huge thanks to all the great testers who have helped find bugs and suggested solutions to problems. You guys are the best!


Beneath the Mountain 1.2.0U.zip 761 MB
Apr 19, 2022


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What a great game Max! I mean you just freaking nailed the Dwarven mining genre! Well bloody done mate!

I realise that the demo may not represent the final product, but having played the demo for over 40+ hours now, I wanted to share some thoughts on game improvement from a players perspective.

1. Dragging wall selection:
Currently, when you want the Dwarfs to smash out some rocks and get some gold/stone, you have to left click on that rock and then the Dwarfs head over and demolish it. I can also right click it an prioritise a specific rock which is cool too! (that's a nice feature). However, if I want them to smash out all the possible rocks on that floor and collect as much gold as possible, I have to individually click on each and every available rock (to which there are a lot per floor!). It would be a great, extra couple of features if I could select multiple rocks in a straight line simply buy holding down the left mouse button and dragging the line of rocks I wish to smash out. And then maybe if I hold down the right mouse button, I can select multiple rocks, diagonally, in all directions (not just in a straight line). Those features would save me so much time having to click on each rock individually.

2. Building new rocks:
I can have the Dwarfs smash out the available rocks to get gold and stone, but it would be great if I could also build new rocks. Maybe I accidentally clicked on some rocks that I did not want to demolish? Or maybe I want to be able to build rocks to create a barrier or a new pathway to steer the enemy waves into? You could charge players stone and iron for these build-able rocks so you don't have to change too much to the final game. It would be really great to be able to re-route the path of the enemy waves right into my newly created rocks, shaped like a confusing maze filled with traps, that would surely stop 'em! ;) For the easy levels, the player could build up as many rocks/blocks as they like. As for the harder levels, you could make it so that the player can only use X amount of rebuild-able blocks. This means that the harder levels would require the player to choose wisely as the harder levels would not be able to create a forever maze like the easier levels could.

3. FPS:
I am sure that you are working on this as the feedback about poor FPS has been talked about so much already. I tried a few different methods to keep the FPS around 60 all the time and found a temporary work around. I found that by not building any cart tracks (the rail road) and by not putting any lights/lamp posts up gave me the fastest FPS without any game lag. Of course, this is not ideal and getting my gold stats up took way longer as the Dwarfs had to walk everywhere rather than zipping along quickly in carts, but my solution to that was placing more gold deposits sporadically around the floors so that Dwarfs would not have to walk to far. If you are struggling to fix this in time for the game launch, maybe you could charge less per building so that the player does not have to spend so much money to build gold deposits? (as I noticed that each gold deposit buildings cost more money with each new building purchased). Or maybe as the Dwarfs demolish the rocks, that the gold would automatically increases without having the Dwarfs needing to carry it all the way back to a gold deposit buildings?

4. It would be great to know how many enemies are coming when you first see the warning to prepare for the wave. And, from which direction!

5. It would be great to win some gold or a some other reward (runic points maybe) when you kill enemy swarms/groups that lurk on the floor (spiders, leechy monsters, ground worms, skeleton guys, Spider nests etc). When you break through some rocks into a dark territory, you could find yourself in a heated battle with 5 or 6 ground worms or a full nest of spider eggs and things could quickly be out of hand. Defeating these 'groups' or mini-monster camp sites, you should reward your players for their efforts. You could make it exciting by offering some of the better technology stuff which requires runic points, can only be unlocked when you defeat a swarm of spiders, or when you clear out the entire floor from those enemies. Food for thought for your team.

6. It would be great if the hero had some character, personality or story that the player could connect to. Maybe he levels up during game play. Maybe remove all runic points from his tech tree and allow them to slowly become available after a certain number of kills?

7. A little round mini-map in the corner of the screen of the floor that you're on would be great too!

In saying all that, I am a supporter of the game/concept and I am looking forward to purchasing the finished game when it comes out in a few weeks time. Well done again, your team should be very proud! :)

P.S. Happy to be promoted to a tester role before the new launch if needed. Happy to edit/piece together a nice trailer for you if needed too (I'm a videographer)




WOW! This is very proffesional game. And keep working on the project week 65 it is very hard! Game looks like Diablo 3, cartonish action rpg!

I'm honored for the Diablo 3 comparison, I feel like it looks more like Diablo 1 lol. Thank you! <3


Looking like a huge update.

New splashes are awesome.