PDA

View Full Version : Empires of the Undergrowth



John Connor
November 20th, 2015, 15:03
Hi I am John, part of a small indie team working on a game inspired by Dungeon Keeper and also Sim Ant. We have been working on it for over a year now and thought this may be an appropriate place and time to post about it.


http://www.eotugame.com/images/promo/eotuHeader.png

Here is a link to the Kickstarter page with a lot more info:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/eotu/empires-of-the-undergrowth/

Empires of the Undergrowth is a real time strategy game that takes place in the world of ants. It features underground tunnelling, nest construction and fast-paced battles with insects, arachnids and other ant colonies. For much of the game we have drawn heavy inspiration from the well-loved nineties classics Dungeon Keeper and Sim Ant, while the colony versus colony aspect of the game has been particularly inspired by Starcraft 2's popular 'Desert Strike' arcade game.


http://www.eotugame.com/images/promo/baseSmall.jpg

The game’s theme is taken directly from nature and offers a fresh alternative to the usual sci-fi, fantasy and historical settings for this genre. In the single-player campaign, the player takes control of Formica ereptor: a unique colony of DNA-assimilating, nomadic ants embarking on a great journey. They must set up temporary nests, gather food and defeat neighbouring colonies. Their epic story is narrated from the perspective of a documentary filmmaker studying this species of ant.


http://www.eotugame.com/images/promo/tugOfWarSmall.jpg

There is a lot more info on the Kickstarter page about the game, and us, and of course a video which should give you an idea of both the game and the documentary style we are going for.


http://www.eotugame.com/images/promo/gifs2/JumperUpdate.gifhttp://www.eotugame.com/images/promo/gifs2/Queen.gif

Here are some real ant fact gifs you may not know about units in our game:
http://imgur.com/gallery/YQTEV
https://imgur.com/gallery/2W5RW

We welcome feedback, about the Kickstarter, ourselves, our ideas, the game and everything else! We are always trying to improve. Thank you for taking the time to check the game. If you like what you see and you think your friends might also, please do share.

YourMaster
November 20th, 2015, 16:24
Hello John,

This immediately makes me think of two things:
This. (https://keeperklan.com/threads/4872-Formicarium-DwarfFortress-Dungeon-Keeper-SimAnt-xkcd-Genetics)
Ant this. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Connor)
Any relation?

I'm assuming this game at the very least will feature honeypot ants? They seem to be missing from your list and they along with the exploding ants that do feature on your kickstarter page would be the first I would be assimilating. (Edit: I see they are included, yes.)
Also, I'd love to see some of the more unique non-ant species that ants interact with like woodlice that provide honeydew for protection, armored caterpillars raiding the nest for larva, moth species with pheromone-camouflage that make the ants feed them as if they were their own young, stuff like that.


On the kickstarter page itself, I immediately notice that for very little money you'll have very ambitious stretch goals. That you have Mac/Linux listed tells me you have trouble prioritizing and you just put stuff up there to get more people to donate.
I'd say focus on fun gameplay first, get a proof of concept going that is fun to play with as little effort as possible. Playtest it, get feedback on it and improve. When you have feedback that you're really onto something share it with people so they can get a sense of what they are investing in. I like the setting, but have no idea if the game would be nice to play or not.

John Connor
November 22nd, 2015, 18:07
Hi YourMaster

Ha yes my name is both a blessing and a curse but at least it is amusing.

And with regards Formicarum, we are part of the same same indie collective Playful Oasis and they have been helping us out with promoting the Kickstarter.

Your advice is helpful. You are correct Honeypot ants are in the game and serve a specific purpose. We will be going into more details regarding the units in an update we have planned. Some of the other things you mentioned we also have plans for although we only have time to implement so many.

We built the game engine ourselves from ground up in C++ which should help with portability to different systems. We felt the Mac and Linux versions were important enough to be made an early stretch goals. I do understand your concerns though.

Regarding game-play what we are doing is quite different to what has been seen before. There are many many stats to tweak in a game like this. Up to now we have been showing close friends and family and getting them to play test and iteratively improving the combat. However going forward we would like others involved and will be working to produce game builds that the wider community can try and help us improve.

We have update videos planned for the Kickstarter which should give a better feel for how the game will play focusing on individual aspects of the game. I will post them here as we release them.

Again thanks for your advice and interest it is useful.

YourMaster
November 23rd, 2015, 00:02
You're welcome. But your figures really give me the creeps,....

Your asking for 15000 England-euro's, of which just under half can go to game development for 3 people. For 2500 a head that makes me hope you're all working from a bedroom in your moms house otherwise you'd be announcing launch a week after funding,... Even if that were the case you'd still have to be well on your way with development because you can't do much for 7500.
Now, if you're so very, very close to finishing up, that really should mean you have something great already. If you would have done a proper vertical slice you can have a working level up and running, that are fun to play. Tweaking stats although important shouldn't be the difference between getting a good feeling for the game and not, because getting a good feeling should have been one of the first priorities. When development is nearly done you're either just polishing or adding content, but generally not completely new features.
All this comes down to, what do you need this money for you want people to invest? 'Finishing development' is not an answer.

On top of this, you're planning to release on Steam, IOS, Android and DRM Free, plus maybe Max and Linux. So that's 6 versions of the game, all with customer support and the hassle of dealing with the distributors. All this considering patches and fixes after release. It sounds to me like a far, far better plan to spend all your effort on one version of the game, on one gamemode, to be as fun and stable as possible, make money of that, good word of mouth, use that to improve/expand the game if needed, and if successful, port to other platforms.


There are ways to make porting an easy task, but this requires some discipline, and planning ahead.
Porting smorting,... if you're a team of 3 people wanting to make money from a game spending valuable mindspace on considering portability is already a waste, but they also have to consider they have to help people who bought their game for their Apple2 or whatever and can't get their mouse to work and ask for support. Testing, publishing, marketing, documentation, support,... like they don't have enough to do to get their game out there.

mefistotelis
November 23rd, 2015, 00:04
Regarding portability:

There are ways to make porting an easy task, but this requires some discipline, and planning ahead. The main helpers are:
- OpenGL. If used instead of DirectX, it makes porting the engine quite easy. There are still different windowing system initiation calls, but 95% of code stays the same across platforms.
- C++11. Windows programmers tend to use well-documented-but-inconsistent WinAPI calls, while most of them can be made as C++11 platform-independent code.
- Padding in structs. Various compilers do it in a bit different way. To have the same data files for all platforms, it is best to make those structs which are to be loaded from files with all fields n*32bit, and using constant-length types for them.

Endrix
December 17th, 2017, 13:30
It is released.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRNGEXyFyCI

Woudo
December 18th, 2017, 02:39
It is released.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRNGEXyFyCI

Looks pretty radical. I'll wait until it's content complete and then surrender the shekels.

Lquiz
December 18th, 2017, 10:39
Nice bump, going to buy this in the next few days, looks like everything I ever wanted in an ant sim.

DBlac
December 18th, 2017, 11:19
I grabbed it, absolutely in love with it, cant wait till more content. Total recommendation from me!

YourMaster
December 19th, 2017, 01:03
Yeah, it definitely needs some polish, but it is already great fun. I played the first two levels and the first challenge, and then decided to restart the game because I was completely unhappy about the main nest I made and you can't fix that it seems.

I really like building the hexagonal rooms.

It does suffer from two of the problems that afflict WftO though, the developers clearly don't understand their own mechanics, and they don't have a proper way of introducing mechanics to to their players.
You get to build rooms, if you shape them efficiently you can upgrade units which doubles/triples their costs and increases their efficiency by - I don't know - 10% or so. With money for units and upgrades limited, and space for units plentiful you have to ignore this mechanic and just build rooms wherever but plentiful to get many units.
Also, there's a silly divide between workers and soldiers, with workers having nothing to do most of the time but collecting food which soldiers can also do. Then when it comes to a fight you've got to dig to the enemies but your soldiers can't do so and your workers will attack as soon as they make the first opening dying in the process and will refuse to open up more space to get more surface area causing you to fight in a choke-point. (This always sucks because your ants are small and always weaker than the bigger insects you find and you want big open areas to surround your enemies).

In short, they need to work on their interface, really dig into how their mechanics affect each other and tweak those behaviors, and introduce a lot of economic jobs for workers to do because this is far too barebones right now.

DBlac
December 19th, 2017, 10:38
Yeah, it definitely needs some polish, but it is already great fun. I played the first two levels and the first challenge, and then decided to restart the game because I was completely unhappy about the main nest I made and you can't fix that it seems.

I really like building the hexagonal rooms.

It does suffer from two of the problems that afflict WftO though, the developers clearly don't understand their own mechanics, and they don't have a proper way of introducing mechanics to to their players.
You get to build rooms, if you shape them efficiently you can upgrade units which doubles/triples their costs and increases their efficiency by - I don't know - 10% or so. With money for units and upgrades limited, and space for units plentiful you have to ignore this mechanic and just build rooms wherever but plentiful to get many units.
Also, there's a silly divide between workers and soldiers, with workers having nothing to do most of the time but collecting food which soldiers can also do. Then when it comes to a fight you've got to dig to the enemies but your soldiers can't do so and your workers will attack as soon as they make the first opening dying in the process and will refuse to open up more space to get more surface area causing you to fight in a choke-point. (This always sucks because your ants are small and always weaker than the bigger insects you find and you want big open areas to surround your enemies).

In short, they need to work on their interface, really dig into how their mechanics affect each other and tweak those behaviors, and introduce a lot of economic jobs for workers to do because this is far too barebones right now.

I never once had to ignore the upgrade mechanic, in fact it was imperative i do not because the upgrades to the ants, esepcially at lvl 3, as it is stated they gain a special power then, are significant. Also chokepoints have actually been my saviour more than i can count. Id rather fight 2 bigass beetles at a time than 6. As for the workers vs soldiers. Hmm.. its almost like thats based on something... like a real world something... wonder what it could be.... i just caaaaaaaaant seem to think of it. Use your pheromone markers to put your combat units next to the area youre digging and PRESTO!

Your strategy of quantity over quality is exactly what's fucking you up. Youre the one who doesnt understand the game mechanics. Upgrading a unit costs the same as building a new one, but upgrade sufficiently and it is far more cost effective.

YourMaster
December 19th, 2017, 11:07
No, it's not based on real life. The ant-species you play with does in the real world not have soldiers at all, just different sized workers. And of most species in general, all individuals can and will dig, and it's just a small percentage that has features made for fighting. You have small workers for cleaning eggs, big workers for moving stuff in real life. Now all the ants really have to do is fight.

And I did not lose, I won. Indeed an upgraded unit is rebuild for the same prize, but the cost of the building is 10 times the prize of the rebuild unit so - at least in the levels I played - you never get your money back. Especially because the game seems centered around ever expanding your army - building a swarm - so that instead of fighting with 10 ants, losing 8 and rebuilding them cheaply for the next fight, you have 10 ants in the first fight, 25 in the second and 50 in the third so that the building cost is always the only significant thing.

The choke-points are just a bit weird, and I have not completed the entire game yet, but so far looking at the mechanics by far the best way to play is to sacrifice one worker to open up a pocket of enemies, have the invaders come to you, and swarm around them with as many low level ants as possible for high dps.
The upgrade system is made especially pointless by the way since most stronger enemies seem to have instakill-attacks that kill low workers just as easily has upgraded fighters.

DBlac
December 19th, 2017, 11:15
I dont know man, all i know is i didnt have any problems with the upgraded ants. It takes the original cost of the tile to upgrade it each time. So in total you have to spend 2x the amount you spent to build the tile to fully upgrade it. Not at all unreasonable as you get used to the mechanics and spend wisely. Infact i began dominating everything as soon as a figured out how to balance my build and upgrade order. If you have significant troubles youre either picking the wrong fights when youre too small or just not upgrading right.

Also if you think you're playing with one species of ant you need to keep going for that argument to make sense. Hell even in the Formicarium you play with a species of ant that.. well im not really sure is real, i doubt it, but is different than Formica Fusca.

YourMaster
December 19th, 2017, 12:10
I don't have any difficulties. Not at all.
I just noticed unupgraded units are far, far superior to upgraded units. Look at workers, at three times the cost a lvl3 worker works a bit faster than a lvl1 worker, but far, far slower than three lvl1 workers. You can complete the levels just fine if you waste money on upgrades, I initially did, but it is just that, a complete waste. You said you'd rather face 2 beetles in a choke than all 6 at once, but that's just because you wasted money on upgrades as the 6 beetles would have died far quicker with fewer loses on your end if your army was 3 times the size it was now and you'd fight out in the open.
Theoretically it could be beneficial at some point to have a few upgraded units on the front line tanking damage, but the grouping system does not allow you to control stronger units separately from weaker units as control groups always contain all units from a single room and thus you can't make a squat of just 2 or 3 upgraded units. With the current combination of mechanics, upgrading = not upgrading right.

The core of the game right now though, what I feel is what makes it fun, is their system of building the rooms and controlling the ants with the pheromones. That simply feels right and looks wonderful. And that is what they have right now, a very nice proof of concept.

And I don't care if what they do with the species matches real life, it doesn't right now and that is ok. I'm saying they will need to tweak the capabilities and behaviors of the units somewhat. They need more of an economic game, once they have that workers will have more to do I hope. And it would be better if soldiers could dig out tiles as well, just like workers can already fight. They could also change it so that when soldiers are around workers will ignore the fight and focus on digging out dirt and bringing home the already killed units, while soldiers ignore the food and digging if there are enemies. This would be far more optimal behavior and allows you to balance the use of both units. Right now, workers will always engage in a fight around their waypoint if at all possible, ignoring the rest around them.

And I guess that's the good thing with early access, it allows you to get plenty of feedback from users, and I'm sure they will make some significant changes still.

DBlac
December 19th, 2017, 12:21
And there we have it. I finally got you to say what you wanted to say without that annoying, condescending "the devs dont know their own game" shit. Wasnt that hard huh?

The only times i got my ass handed to me by enemies btw was when i was still very small and unupgraded and accidentally dug into them. Sure upgrades could be slashed a little bit, but ultimately one fully upgraded soldier has proven to be able to take a fair amount more beating than one unupgraded one, atleast in my time of playing the game. But you know, get to level 3 of a mortar wood ant and tell me upgrading it is useless :P

In the end yes i agree, theres still like... 8-10 more formicarium levels to be built, meaning atleast double that in missions so yeah the game isnt finished. It needs some more tweaking sure, but the concerns you raise hardly imply the devs "dont know their own mechanics". Please be careful how you phrase shit because you come off as incredibly obnoxious sometimes.

EDIT: It's not that your feedback isnt excellent and well thought out, its just that when you open it with a line that sounds like "The devs dont know what they're doing" youre creating an antagonistic aire around the whole thing. That makes it harder for people to actually accept your feedback. That line was utterly unnecessary and only harms your own otherwise great arguments and feedback. I mean no hate or disrespect towards you <3 we gud

YourMaster
December 19th, 2017, 15:07
Don't get your panties in a bunch, it's not your game. And even if it was, I wasn't being negative.

And I initially said I wanted to say, 'the devs' most likely know their own game, but my impression is indeed that they have not fully analyzed how their mechanics interact with each other. I simply gave one or two out of many examples on why I feel that way, which you misinterpreted as thinking I couldn't play the game because of this.
And it is true, I haven't completed the full content, but so far it is the impression I get. I'm pretty sure that those examples I gave - unit roles and upgrade mechanics - will either have to be fully tweaked based on pre-release feedback, or in the initial patch on user blow-back. This isn't the end of the world, as they are quite easy to tweak.

Also note it isn't feedback - that would be information for the developers. There's lots and lots of feedback to give, I'm not going to bother, this game has a forum full of players to do that. Playing it you must have noticed many things yourself that still need changing/improving, and I guarantee the people working on the game are already aware of most of the current shortcomings, it's a work-in-progress after all. I'm confident that lot's of it will improve over time.
I was sharing my impressions with the people on this board, where I did post an extensive list as nobody cares that much nor do I want to spend the time. And of course I can't be sure, but I think what is on display now does show that the underlying mechanics aren't the strongest so players jumping on early have to undergo many, many balance changes before the game can get any real dept. It's also not the most intuitive starting out. And the game feels very light on the economics, something I do worry how much they can manage to introduce before needing to call it a day.
At the same time, the look and feel of the game is great. Not unlike DK1, for all it's flaws it's still great fun.

DBlac
December 19th, 2017, 15:20
All in all agreed, it needs more work but its headed in a very good direction. Heres hoping they wrap it up nicely!

Lquiz
December 19th, 2017, 22:29
Lol! Loving the aggressively unwavering opinions from our local horned reaper.

I agree that the game needs more content but I found it to be a great challenge, even on hard mode, let alone insane.

Did you play it on insane YourMaster? When I tried it with the swarming tactic (my initial go to, as the upgrades weren't clear), I ran out of food trying to replenish my easily crushed army.
I had to build a full 19 tile hexagon of level 3 ants, and have them defeated in waves to beat those 6 giant beetles.

Overall, finding it fantastic day 1, hoping they introduce some more units.

YourMaster
December 19th, 2017, 23:41
No, I haven't played that much yet. And I played everything on medium. I first played the first two levels, using the full upgrades. But I did not realize I had limited tiles to dig out on the main tank and I made some crazy tunnels there so I restarted. This time without the upgrades and those two early levels worked much better with the greater numbers.
Today I played 2.1 and 2.2, where I got the shooters, which do massive, massive damage. I stopped using solders all together as I believe 5 workers can tank more damage than two soldiers and the dps of the soldiers is nothing compared to the shooters anyway. I do upgrade those shooters though as the area damage is a useful skill. I managed to one-shot the ladybugs.

Edit: Wait, what beetles are you talking about? I just did the challenge that came after 2.2 and that seems to be the final level and did not notice any beetles. On which levels, and are they exclusive to higher difficulties or is this included in one of 'twists' on an already completed level?

DBlac
December 20th, 2017, 00:35
No, I haven't played that much yet. And I played everything on medium. I first played the first two levels, using the full upgrades. But I did not realize I had limited tiles to dig out on the main tank and I made some crazy tunnels there so I restarted. This time without the upgrades and those two early levels worked much better with the greater numbers.
Today I played 2.1 and 2.2, where I got the shooters, which do massive, massive damage. I stopped using solders all together as I believe 5 workers can tank more damage than two soldiers and the dps of the soldiers is nothing compared to the shooters anyway. I do upgrade those shooters though as the area damage is a useful skill. I managed to one-shot the ladybugs.

Edit: Wait, what beetles are you talking about? I just did the challenge that came after 2.2 and that seems to be the final level and did not notice any beetles. On which levels, and are they exclusive to higher difficulties or is this included in one of 'twists' on an already completed level?

The soldiers of the Formica Rufa were tweaked by the way to do less damage but be tankier specifically for those missions. The dps of your ereptor soldiers and other ants is still gonna be good unless specified by the mission. Id say that swarming tactics might make things a bit easier in easier game modes, but ultimately i think its good that there -are- different tactics to make even with this limited amount of units and tools, i think it speaks volumes.

Endrix
March 6th, 2018, 17:12
Beat Insane Difficulty Rising Tide 2.1 No Commentary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGfj6cO2FXI