For the last two months I’ve been working on some of these balance & pacing issues. Below I will talk about a few specific gameplay aspects that were not working and how I’m changing them to make the game feel just right.
As a result I reduced the number of skills to 7: Hauling, Labor, Crafting, Cooking, Smithing, Needlesmithing, and Engineering. Now the player can have their dwarves focus on collecting wood one day, mining deep the next day, and building a castle on the third. These are all jobs that laborers excel at so they can switch between them while still benefiting from their labor skill value. As a bonus, 7 skills are much more approachable than 16.
I have since replaced the bed system with a Renown system. The dwarven kingdom has a renown value based on the value of various things in the kingdom. The player can actively increase their renown in a number of ways. Crafting items (chairs, armor, statues, etc), building structures, and domesticating animals all increase renown, which in turn increases the population.
To build a tall wall dwarves need a boost to get up to the high blocks. This boost is provided by scaffolding that the dwarves can set up. But if the wall is 10 blocks tall by 10 blocks wide that’s 100 scaffolding that needs to be crafted and individually placed next to the wall. It took forever!
I’ve recently improved scaffolding so that when a dwarf emplaces it, it creates scaffolding three blocks tall. Now only one third the scaffolding is needed. Additionally better quality scaffolding covers more blocks, up to 9 blocks tall. In this way the dwarves can quickly cover a wall in scaffolding allowing them to build a wall in a much more enjoyable time frame.
A elegant fix to this was to allow dwarves to carry multiple items at once. Now a single dwarf can go out to the forest, pick up three logs, and bring them back nearly tripling their efficiency. Additionally as dwarves get stronger they can carry more and more requiring fewer and fewer dwarves to do the same job. This change has greatly increased the players ability to maintain a clean kingdom and an efficient production chain.