Perhaps the most divisive thing we added in the recent demo was the introduction of trails. This means ants will head to your marker, and then head home from there. If they start heading to a marker they will reach it then return before going elsewhere even if you move the marker.
Part of our design philosophy has been to have the player control the big picture and be less concerned with individual movement. The controls were designed to promote this colony building focus, and be less about high speed plays.
Whilst we feel trails do help achieve this they are admittedly a little unresponsive which can be frustrating (especially if an enemy moves) whilst your colony is still small. On top of this the way they work is not particularly intuitive which has lead to some people believing it to be buggy.
This is a work in progress and it might take a couple more iterations until everyone is happy with the control system. We have been toying with a alternative few concepts which keep the basic idea of ants forming trails, but with more obvious reactions from the ants when you give them new destinations.
Currently the only level with difficulty settings is the new Surrounded level. These settings change the amount, type and aggressiveness of creatures that attack you however they do not make the creatures weaker or stronger; creature stats remain the same but you get attacked by more of them.
A problem has arisen with this approach. Enemies turn into food when they die which is great, however it causes a situation where the more enemies we are sending at the player, the more resources they receive. This escalates to the point where harder modes can actually be easier.
The amount of food available is a delicate stat to play with. On one hand it is nice to give a reward for defeating a big creature, on the other hand once you get past a certain point defeating a big creature becomes easy and your colony grows exponentially; your massive food stores are full and you can go to bed and let your colony deal with itself.
This reduced risk takes the joy out of the reward. It is something we will continue to monitor carefully but for now there are a couple of things that will lessen the problem.
Firstly a drop in the food reward will bring things more into balance. Additionally the game can get harder by increasing the frequency of pack spawns, and also the sizes of the larger packs to increase the risk of the kill (currently only 1 Tiger beetle will ever spawn at a time). The level currently peaks difficulty at 30 mins, we can change that also.
The larger creatures of the game or the Titans (we haven’t added any yet) will always be fought individually and so harder game modes will require their stats altering.