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