August – September 2019 Newsletter

With the summer coming to a close we thought we’d publish another newsletter for you guys. This time we’ll be talking about a few extra systems we’ve been working on (such as achievements) as well as talking about us as a company taking the intrepid steps into working with some other indie developers. So, we’ll be introducing Tom and his game Ecosystem a bit further down!

A dramatic shot of leafcutters battling wood ants in freeplay from Steam user hugo27rex

Getting There – Updated Systems

Over the last few weeks progress continues to be made on the updated movement / collision system and a large round of profiling. Methods have been tightened to reduce computational overheads, new algorithms have been refined and the old has made way for the new. We’re now nearing the end of our self-allotted time for this large task, and when that happens we’ll need your help testing it.

The ants calculating ways to avoid each other (me irl)

The below video shows something we weren’t able to do with the old system, which is to use a vector calculation when a creature hits an obstacle and feed it back into its direction. This means with a bit of tweaking we can give the appearance of quite natural avoidance of walls and other tricky bits of terrain such as ramp edges.

Bonus marvellous spider

As briefly mentioned above, once we have a release candidate for our movement code changes and freeplay update we will run a beta for all Steam owners of the game. This means that those who want to will be able to participate in a pre-release by entering a beta code into their Steam client. We will detail this when we announce a date, and as always, we won’t do that until we’re certain we can honour it.

Achievements

Whilst Liam and Matt have been working on the aforementioned changes, it hasn’t been practical to test new content such as maps and game modes. John has therefore been using this time to get up to speed on several systems that we haven’t had the time for until now such as achievements. He is now deep into the groundwork for this system and through his livestreams and our official forum has reached out to the community for achievement ideas.

Achievements of the Undergrowth!

We think we’ll release the achievements incrementally through Steam (and eventually other platforms). There’s still plenty of time to get your suggestions in for fun achievement ideas / names before we lock them in, so please do join us on our official forums and post in the thread made for this purpose!

Extra Levels: Holdout Extreme

Extra missions are going to become a hopefully regular feature (read the previous newsletter for extensive detailing) beginning shortly after the release of the freeplay and movement code overhaul. Here’s a fun one that John’s been working on on-stream, with a working title of Holdout Extreme! It takes the idea of waves of enemies in an underground space as in the existing demo level Holdout and runs with it. Takes it to the extreme, if you like.

It’s like Holdout, but Extreme!

Once defeated you will be given an amount of unlock points based on how well you have done. Next time you play you can spend these to unlock new species of ant giving you a better chance to get further next time. The level also features randomised underground caverns adding to replayability.

Publishing

This is a topic only indirectly related to Empires of the Undergrowth, which is of course our own self-published game. We’ve been working on EotU in some form since we had the idea back in 2014, and we’ve been through a lot with it. We’d like to think that the experience we’ve gained along the way, the pitfalls we’ve traversed and the mistakes we’ve learned from go towards some wisdom that might help other indie developers working on their own titles. If we were going to do this, we thought, it would make sense to stay within the sphere of nature-based projects for now. After all, that subject obviously fascinates us, and we know people who have been working on some wonderful projects.

With that in mind, let’s go into detail about the first of these:

Introducing: Ecosystem

It’s time for us to talk about a partnership we’ve forged with our friend Tom Johnson. Tom has been working on a unique evolution-based sandbox game called Ecosystem for some time now – and it’s a game that really deserves to see the light of day. We’ve been advising Tom in the context of the wisdom we’ve gained from EotU, and will be acting as Ecosystem’s publisher to bring it to the world!

An infinite variety of creatures can evolve in Ecosystem

In Ecosystem, you have control over an ocean environment where a huge variety of marine animals can evolve and thrive, or falter and perish. The pressures of natural selection, guided by your hand, will determine which lifeforms are fit for purpose and which will be confined to evolutionary history.

Reefs and plant beds, placed by the player, support the evolving Ecosystem

Your creatures can take on an infinite variety of physical and behavioural forms, all driven by genetic and neural algorithms. It’s a game with incredible depth and, we hope, a bright future.

We invite you all to add Ecosystem to your wishlists and follow its social media accounts, where there will be regular updates, and the demo is available NOW! Go and give it a spin.

Ecosystem on Steam
Ecosystem Official Website
Twitter Facebook
Ecosystem Forums

We’ll talk about Ecosystem a lot more on the Slug Disco social media, and our official website. Normal service shall now resume!

YouTuber Highlight – TheGamingBeaver

TheGamingBeaver will be quite familiar to some of you but we just thought it was worth giving him a special mention this time around. He’s covered our game for a long time now (we first linked to him in a newsletter way back in April 2017!) and has recently come back to it to put his formicarium colony to the test against a whole lot of everything, which made for a fun episode. Thanks to TheGamingBeaver for playing EotU and bringing the game to his fans!

TheGamingBeaver goes full mad scientist mode

Whilst we’re on the subject, if you know of any smaller YouTubers covering our game who deserve a special mention by us please let us know about them. Send an email to mike@slugdisco.com with a description of them and a link to some of their videos.

Screenshot Central

Photo mode is activated by pressing F9 by default. It will allow you to get all sorts of fun angles to make for interesting screenshots! If you hold down shift whilst pressing F9, you’ll have a free camera, allowing you to take some potentially amazing shots (but you might see level stuff that’s usually hidden, so prepare to have the illusion spoiled if you do this!). Upload them to Steam or mail them to mike@slugdisco.com and we’ll include some of our favourites with our newsletters.

A pleasing trail of leafcutters from Steam user germinal.ronse
Battle formation against an Uber creature from Steam user AK_tion_47
RIP Hungry Spider from Steam user doge gamer