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King under the Mountain from developer Rocket Jump Technology, a simulation-based settlement-building strategy game, that was going through a big upgrade and re-brand with Mountaincore ended up shutting down and being open sourced.

This is actually news from back in January that I missed (thanks for the tip, Sin), because there's just so much news all the time and smaller games end up getting a bit buried. Which, is actually part of the issue here, although only part of the problem though.

Pictured - King under the Mountain

You see King under the Mountain was picked up by a unnamed publisher, who helped finance a big upgrade to the game. 9 months into expanding the game — the publisher backed out. Why? As the developer said "They were worried that a number of similar games that have released in the time between would cause it to struggle to stand out.".

The developer mentioned they were able to continue it on, and eventually re-released it as Mountaincore. That didn't go well either, as the developer posted on Steam back in January, with the release being so small they didn't pull in enough revenue to "keep even a single dev employed working on the game".

As a result the developer "had to be declared insolvent", and so they no longer exist to continue developing it in their free-time.

In this case though, it's somewhat a happy ending, and probably one of the best endings you can hope for, as the original game King under the Mountain was made fully open source under the MIT license. So anyone who wants to hack away on it, or build something from it, can now do so. The upgraded version with Mountaincore couldn't be released as "the legal ownership of Mountaincore itself is still unclear".

Real shame this, as no one wants to see a developer have to shut due to low sales, but in this case it's also partly because the publisher backed-out after making them go silent on it for so long.

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TheSHEEEP May 21
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I understand why the publisher would back out.

Games of this kind need to stand out quickly - best at first glance - to stand a chance.
If the player cannot answer "Why would I play this if I can instead play that other extremely similar game that seems much better/I already own?", then there is little chance for success.

And despite owning both the original game and Mountaincore, and repeatedly checking in on it and looking at gameplay, I never really saw anything that made me want to play the game over any of its "competitors".
A look that would always immediately remind people of RimWorld and gameplay that was neither as deep as RimWorld nor even close to Dwarf Fortress. And that was an issue from the get-go.

What I don't understand is why the publisher started financing in the first place.
It seems obvious that this never really had a chance of much success. And a publisher should have the market overview to recognize that.

Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 22 May 2024 at 5:14 am UTC
pb May 21
You said all that I was thinking, just one thing to add:

Quoting: TheSHEEEPWhat I don't understand is why the publisher started financing in the first place.
It seems obvious that this never really had a chance of much success. And a publisher should have the market overview to recognize that.

My guess is they started before it was announced that Dwarf Fortress was coming to Steam, that's all.
hardpenguin May 22
Cheers for not letting it go to waste
Pyretic May 22
Still, despite everyone's negative opinions here, I'm glad that they left the code for us to peel through. Even bad games are worth preserving.
Gamall May 23
Quoting: PyreticEven bad games are worth preserving.

In that case, I don't think anyone said it was intrinsically _bad_, just that it lacked something special to stand out from the crowd.
I wish this fate would happen to more games that they stop development on. The gaming sector has a huge amount of software that just sits there with nobody able to help keep it going yet the people who own the rights do nothing with it.
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