Category Archives: Ants

May Newsletter

As we steam ahead in our run up to early access May has seen many developments.

The process of putting a level together involves rapid iteration between our team members, and each level being added is more complex than any of the demo levels!

In putting these together, all aspects of the game have been affected. Here are some of the recent changes and updates to the game – please note that you’ll get your hands on these when we go into early access; there are no more planned updates to the demo.

Creatures

Models

Each level introduces an increasing pool of creatures. Formica rufa – the wood ant – has had multiple models added. These fulfil various roles in the colony from worker, to melee attacker to ranged attacker and the different models gives some visual representation for these. These have all required unique animations.

AI

Many of these creatures will follow the standard ant colony behaviour we have been developing from the start, however in order to make each feel both more realistic and unique a whole raft of new abilities and behaviours are being added.

Combat behaviour

Other creatures in the game will now have different behaviours to better reflect their natural tendencies. They can attack and fight furiously to the death, (which is what they do in the current demo), they can flee, they can ignore you or they might attack only in response to being attacked themselves.

Self-cast

Some abilities are not damage abilities and are instead buffs for the creature using them.

Ability triggers

Creatures can now trigger abilities based on more than just having an ability available to use. Certain abilities (such as the woodlouse bunker down) will be triggered when a creature takes damage, or when their health hits a certain level.

Totally Unique AI

Some creatures need to perform specific tasks and the default AI structure did not fit. These creatures have very unique AI and they may for example attack only when another creature enters their lair or they may target your colony’s eggs rather than the ants themselves.

Projectiles

Some creatures fire projectiles such as the wood ants below. Damage done by these is handled differently than melee abilities as there needs to be a check to see if it collided with its target.

Level design

With audio being added to the new levels, this needs to be triggered at certain points in the mission. This requires an extra careful approach to level design to make sure things fire at the right moment. That being said the maps themselves are coming together very smoothly. The tile-based tools we have developed to put levels together are really starting to pay for the effort that went into making them! Once the levels have had their basic design and gameplay pass, they can go to our art person to get them looking the part.

Game modes

On launch, early access will focus around one key game mode. This mode has a home colony (Formica ereptor) that the player keeps coming back to, unlocking upgrades and ant types to strengthen their home colony. To unlock these the player must complete other missions. Here the player can play as other ant colonies from nature in scenarios based on the natural habitats of those species.

During early access, we plan on releasing new species along with missions based around them that will allow you to further upgrade and personalise your home colony! With all this will come even more enemies, unique abilities and behaviours.

We have planned other game modes as well, including endless modes that get harder, survival-based wave modes and other more unique modes that we plan to add as early access progresses.

Interfaces

We want to deliver information to the player in an unobtrusive way that is easy to find out more should you want to. Most information in the game will be delivered through an in-game wiki with a search function. This will give both gameplay information and facts about the creatures in nature.

During play, the player will be given notifications when there is something new to read about. These can be ignored or turned off from the options menu and will open the wiki to give further info if the player requires it.

Additionally the whole home colony section of the game requires a unique interface to upgrade your colony and make other decisions.

Saving and Loading

In order to make the home colony work it needs to be able to be saved and loaded. We are still implementing this however we have made good progress – it’s one of the things we get asked most through our Stomt feedback page and we’re glad that we’re working solidly on it now.

Key Bindings

One of the most requested features are more hotkeys for interacting with the game world and interface, and a way to change those keys to a player’s preferences. We’ve taken some time to make all hotkeys completely rebindable to your liking from the menu.

Steam keys for backers released!

Please note: this is not the release of the game, but the Steam keys in preparation for your Early Access this summer!

Backers, rejoice! Steam keys for Empires of the Undergrowth have now been sent to your emails. This will be the email associated with your Kickstarter account, or with your PayPal account if you backed after the campaign – so please check that for your key (also check your junk mail folder just in case, sometimes your email provider can confuse things as spam).

There are a few things to be aware of here, so please read them:

  • If you are a beta backer, your key will allow you to download the Backer’s Demo through Steam immediately! When the game goes into beta testing in a few months, your Backer’s Demo will update to be the beta Early Access version.
  • If you are not a beta backer, your key will allow you to add Empires of the Undergrowth to your Steam library, but not download anything yet. When Early Access is released this summer, you will have immediate access to it through Steam.
  • If you backed a tier that includes additional copies of the game, you will receive additional normal keys (not beta keys). You are free to share these with your family and friends, and once activated, they will also get Early Access in the summer.

The guys are now soaring ahead to the Early Access release this summer. Once things have settled down from the Steam key release, the three of them will be knuckling down hard to reach that goal, so there won’t be any more demo updates until early access, barring major bug fixes. The upside of this is – there’s only a few months to wait! Early Access will bring the surface, lots of new missions, new ant types, and new modes of play. Exciting times ahead!

Go ahead and redeem your Steam keys now! We’re really excited to finally get to this stage – it’s been a long time coming.

The Mysterious Formica Ereptor

Of the species that emerged from the Event, without a doubt the most intriguing is the recently discovered Formica ereptor ant. As unique and mysterious as the island on which it is found, it gets its name from a Latin word for thief, and it very much lives up to it.

The closest analogy seen is in old-world slave-making ants. However, rather than enslave the offspring of rival colonies like those more familiar species do, Formica ereptor literally harvests the DNA of its conquests. This allows it to spin polymorphic DNA into its genetic code, giving birth to offspring that exhibit the traits of their foes.

The ereptor ant lives a unique nomadic lifestyle centered around a super-colony on the island that serves as its breeding site. The recently mated queens fly far from this fertile pinnacle, with the intent to bring fresh genetic material back to the larger colony. As she does this, she diversifies her workforce and it is the most diverse colonies of this species that tend to be the most successful.

There would be far too much genetic material to include every desirable trait into their offspring, so Formica ereptor selects only the choicest gene sequences to splice into its own double helix. The method by which it does this is unknown, but research continues into the matter.

Formica ereptor is as competitive with its own species as it is with others, since competition is the driving force of evolution. In the end, only one colony will dominate atop the ancestral mating grounds, and take its place among the great Empires of the Undergrowth.

Introducing the Antbassador

As the guys get properly elbow-deep in code, artwork and audio, they find themselves with less time to dedicate to the social aspects of game development. Which is a real shame, because interacting with a burgeoning community is one of the most joyful things about building a game from the ground up. Something must be done about this.

Introducing me. I’m Mike, and the Slug Disco guys have taken me on to be their community person, or “antbassador” if you will. Some of you will know me from Youtube – I own the MasterMike7000 channel, and I did some videos around the time of the Kickstarter introducing the game mechanics and suchlike. If you supported Empires of the Undergrowth around the time of its successful Kickstarter you’re likely to have seen one of my videos.

It’ll be me handling the social media side of things as well as answering questions on all the various platforms we use. I have a Twitter account @MikeSlugDisco, but will be mainly posting on the official @SlugDisco. We have some exciting news coming up in the near future regarding the game, so keep an eye open for that soon!

Thanks, ant community. Thantcommunity.

Gifs and Music

Last week we began a bit of a media drive ramping up to EGX Rezzed. We have been releasing more gifs, screen shots and music than ever before. You can see them by visiting our twitter account and Facebook pages, but here is a selection of them in case you missed them:

Sample of some in-game music, I think Liam has done a great job:

The first iteration of the games main menu, credit to Matt for putting this together:

via GIPHY

Travelling from below ground to above ground:

via GIPHY

A pan over two of the environments in the game:

via GIPHY

Keep up to date as we release these by liking our Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/slugdisco/

And following us on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/SlugDisco

First model updated in UE4 – The egg

The first model to receive an update is the ant egg and we think you will agree that it looks splendid in Unreal Engine 4.

Egg Model Update

The worker AI and user world interactions are currently being added to the game. Once they are running I write a post about the new system changes. We are taking a slightly different approach this time to worker task priorities.

We still cannot share our good news, but it should not be long.

2016 first two weeks.

With the first couple of weeks of the year already gone by you may be wondering what we have been up to. Well, Matt has a screen shot for us today:

Underground Unreal Engine 4

This is an early shot of the Queens chamber in Empires of the Undergrowth, running in Unreal Engine 4. The little white point-lights will eventually form part of ground decoration which should be appearing in the coming days. Exciting times!

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Moving to the Unreal Engine

Happy Christmas Eve! I thought we should chat about this most festive of topics, the move to a pre-built engine.

TLDR: Kickstarter showed that PC is the most popular platform for the game so we are focusing on that. We need not be as efficient with our programming for PC and a pre-built engine allows us to give prototypes to the community so they can help in development. Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) has some great features that will help us more rapidly move forward with the project.

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Some new site updates!

Added to http://www.eotugame.com:

A mailing list – join it and you will receive updates on the game and sites as they happen, the first will be send out with the launch of our Kickstarter campaign a week on Tuesday.

Added a new unit in the species section, the trap-Jaw ant!

Trap-Jaw Ant

Added the Kickstarter launch date to the site

Added some social buttons in the top right.

We have been working extra hard in the build up to the Kickstarter! Matt continues to render stunning 3d scenes, Liam is preparing the music and bringing the video together and I am getting into the specifics of the Kickstarter campaign. Much to do so I will get back to it.