More flexibility, more efficiency, more ants!

It’s been three weeks since our last major post so it’s probably about time for an update. The dust feels like it has finally settled after our intense crowdfunding campaign and it’s back to business as usual.

During the run up to the kickstarter, and over the course of our campaign we focused our efforts in the direction of game aesthetics, music, and level design for the demo: all very marketable developments, with lots to show off. But now it’s time to revisit the workings under the hood: upgrading skeleton systems that worked well for the demo, but that now need to deliver more: More flexibility, more efficiency, more ants!

The team is currently working in parallel on three separate areas of the game. Matt has conducted the first complete analysis of code efficiency for Empires, otherwise known as “profiling”. His task is to find out where the bottlenecks are in our game when it comes to CPU and GPU effort. Not only is this necessary to ensure that we don’t demand out-of-this-world PC specs to run the game, but by doing this sort of analysis now, we can be alerted to issues and avoid over-using processor-heavy methods when building new systems. He has also got our mini-map working properly!

Minimap is functional

After an intense 5-hour Saturday skype meeting about the nature of the surface world, including resource collection mechanics, territory and level of player control, John got to work implementing new AI routines for the ants. We want there to be similarities between the control systems above and below ground so that the two environments merge together as seamlessly as possible. However, there are a number of key differences and rules that the ants must obey in the over-world and this means big updates to their little brains.

I have once again been updating the ant job management systems. Trying to find the balance between an autonomous colony-like look and feel, but with enough player control to call our game a “real-time strategy” and not a full-on simulation. The kickstarter demo saw big improvements in this system, but there are still some important changes to implement that will make the workers more predictable and reliable. With the move to the surface there is also a whole host of custom swarm mechanics that need to be moved from the old build and re-created in Unreal Engine.

I hope this explains why there have been no new creature gifs recently. Don’t worry, we will have some new models and flashy mechanics to show off as we start properly testing out the over ground. In the meantime, if you fancy watching John fight with the ant AI, check out his dev stream at https://www.twitch.tv/slugdisco tomorrow at midday (01/07/2016 12:00 BST)