First of all, amazing work. This game is already very enjoyable and I can see myself playing it for a long time.
I'm happy to see so much activity from you Ray. Gives me hope this will turn to into a classic. The reason I say that is I'm an avid dwarf fortress player and I've been looking for other games to scratch that itch I have. Years ago I tried "Towns" and then "Gnomoria" and both were abandoned by the dev and left incomplete despite having potential. These games were supposedly partially inspired by DF and is what drew me in. I suppose trying to reach even a fraction of the current depth DF has is a daunting task and leads to burnout. Anyways, this game is already much farther than both those I mentioned combined and seeing the current activity from you gives hope.
Ok enough praise. To the point.
I played one area thus far and made it to the point where I've built everything and maxed out my castle. The primary "issue" I've seen is how villagers build things. Ray you know how you've programmed the building task so I won't try to "guess" how it works. But one aspect I don't really like is how long it takes. Even with 52 builders and all resources present at the building, it takes dreadfully long for it to finish. What I've observed is that a builder will walk up to the building, "build" one time and increase the percentage, and then walk away or go chat with someone. I haven't seen any builder just stay at the building location and continuously "build". This is by far the main issue that ticks me.
I get that they have a mind of their own, and want to socialize and such. But perhaps I'm use to how DF works and prefer that method. The method being, a villager should work at his assigned task until a "critical" level of thirst or hunger or cold or socializing is reached. Then they abandon their task to fulfill these desires. But currently, it seems these workers will perform a task "once" and then walk away to do something else (talk about a lack of discipline ). I've seen a tower stuck at 96% for such a long time despite no other buildings being built! I check if there are any other "problems" like hunger or thirst but none are present! They just seem to be in a constant state of "idle" or "confused" or "chatting".
I could be wrong with all this, I haven't played as long as others have. Maybe I'm missing a hint or tip. But presently, it seems building things just takes too long despite having 52 builders!
With this new "guards" update, something I've greatly wanted to be able to do is "motivate" my guards to move to a specific location. I know this is suppose to be a hands off god-like approach so I'm not talking about direct micro control. Rather, perhaps a spell or action that you cast on a point which then temporarily gives your guards a place to "patrol and seek out enemies"? I wanted to use this to direct my guards to maybe fight some mobs at a nearby location, maybe to try and remove a nearby spawner. I really hope something like this is implemented. I don't think it messes with your hands off design approach.
Right now, I'd have to build outposts to make my guards "hop" their way to where I want them to go. And I don't think that is your ultimate intention with this feature. So a way to temporarily "guide" your guards to move/attack a location would be nice!
I really enjoy the idea of monsters spawning around the map from spawner buildings that appear in greater frequency as the game progresses. A suggestion for more variety and difficulty is if a "horde" occasionally spawns from the edge of the map to attack you. This would be a special event with its own message popup since these monsters won't give up and walk away until they are destroyed. These "hordes" or "invading armies" could appear in greatly quantities and varieties over time. This would help create challenge with situations where a player might have cleared the map out of spawners or at least contained them.
The game is overall well balanced between interior and exterior difficulties early on. Late game though (or 7 hours in my case) the interior difficulty goes away. Interior here means the difficulty from villager needs and other situations that don't stem from monsters or enemies. I think there could be a lot more implemented to keep the interior challenge present throughout. Presently, with what is in the game, I'm not sure how this could be done. But looking into the future, I could see the addition of more buildings that are luxury focused instead of basic needs focused being where this challenge stems from.
I'm talking about villagers demanding more fancy and varied drinks instead of water as time progresses, better quality food and variety instead of the same ol' raw carrot, etc.
Thus late game, the challenge isn't just the monsters that get stronger and greater in quantity but the villagers' happiness as well. To keep them happy and productive (and so they don't go crazy and kill everyone), you would need to build more "advanced" luxury and "unnecessary for survival" type buildings. Buildings for nice clothing, furniture for their homes, better quality homes, etc are things that come to mind besides the addition of better quality food and drink. These luxurious buildings would require a large chain of other buildings in order to make their specialty product.
As much as this is just my "suggestion", I also think its very critical to try to implement this somehow for the game to maintain its challenge later on. Like I said above, I think the external difficulty is done right thus far. The game gets harder as time passes from monsters and that aspect is done well. The internal difficulty, from the villager's perspective, ceases to exist after a short while, and I think this should be a focus of yours later on.
Anyways those are all the thoughts that immediately came to mind right now. Hopefully a tiny fraction of what I said helps though I'm sure you've thought of all these things given how complex this game already is.