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Thread: Empires of the Undergrowth

  1. #1

    Default Empires of the Undergrowth

    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.

    Here is a link to the Kickstarter page with a lot more info:

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Here are some real ant fact gifs you may not know about units in our game:

    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.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Empires of the Undergrowth

    Hello John,

    This immediately makes me think of two things:
    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.
    Last edited by YourMaster; November 20th, 2015 at 15:41.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Empires of the Undergrowth

    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.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Empires of the Undergrowth

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by mefistotelis View Post
    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.
    Last edited by YourMaster; November 22nd, 2015 at 23:15.

  5. #5
    KeeperFX Author mefistotelis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Default Re: Empires of the Undergrowth

    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.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Empires of the Undergrowth

  7. #7

    Default Re: Empires of the Undergrowth

    Quote Originally Posted by Endrix View Post
    Looks pretty radical. I'll wait until it's content complete and then surrender the shekels.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Empires of the Undergrowth

    Nice bump, going to buy this in the next few days, looks like everything I ever wanted in an ant sim.

  9. #9
    Lords of Nether
    Lead Game Designer
    DBlac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017

    Default Re: Empires of the Undergrowth

    I grabbed it, absolutely in love with it, cant wait till more content. Total recommendation from me!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Empires of the Undergrowth

    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.
    Last edited by YourMaster; December 19th, 2017 at 00:46.

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