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Empires of the Undergrowth
« on: December 06, 2017, 05:40:41 PM »


Ant colony management game, in a fast-paced real-time strategy style. The player excavates their nest underground, constructing tunnels and chambers to store food and raise brood. On the surface, the ants claim territory, gather resources, overwhelm fearsome arachnids and clash with other colonies.


Official Site: Here
Forum: Here
Steam: Here
YouTube: Here
Demoi: Here


Single-player:

Lead your Ant Colony to Dominance!

Early Access Trailer



About

"Your queen has set up home beneath a rotting log. She is fat, and vulnerable. Her first brood will need to move quickly if the colony is to survive. Their priority now is to find food, and there is plenty around; but there are other hungry creatures in the undergrowth. The workers will need to be vigilant."

Empires of the Undergrowth is an ant colony management game, in a fast-paced real-time strategy style. The player excavates their nest underground, constructing tunnels and chambers to store food and raise brood. On the surface, the ants claim territory, gather resources, overwhelm fearsome arachnids and clash with other colonies. Nest design, army size, composition and attack timing are key to securing victory.

Missions are narrated from the perspective of a documentary film maker studying the ants, who offers intelligent insight into the goings-on of the colony and the undergrowth beyond. The primary game mode in early access is Formicarium, where you take ownership of a home colony of unique DNA-harvesting ants as they work to assimilate the desirable traits of their foes. You can upgrade them by playing one-off missions, sometimes with your home colony and sometimes with other ant species.


•   Carve out and construct your underground nest to suit your strategy
•   Engage in fast-paced colony versus colony combat above ground
•   Play as different ant species and explore their unique traits and weaknesses
•   Encounter and overpower dangerous beetles, arachnids and other awesome arthropods
•   Grow your pet formicarium over time by completing missions



















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Offline General Sandman

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2017, 05:48:53 PM »
Ha, funny thang that.

I once played "ants" in the mid ninetees on Amiga for a couple of weeks.

I found the structures of state building insects fascinating and it was a way to learn some more about them while gaming.

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2017, 06:32:41 PM »
I played the ants games as well :)

I have this and will hopefully let you know what I think  :thumbsup

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2017, 06:26:32 PM »
0.1142 Change Log
Empires of the Undergrowth - Slug Disco

For now this is available in windows. We will try and get the mac and linux builds up in the next couple of days!

At the moment these are still mostly bug fixes, however there are a couple of balance changes and additions in there as well! We very much appreciate your feedback and do keep letting us know if any issues occur.

Additions and Improvements
•   Added photo mode:
  o   Please note - this is an early feature. It is fully possible to see off the edge of the map or inside the terrain with this feature. Additionally, there are some issues with shadows that will be looked into in forthcoming builds
  o   By default F9 will enter photo mode. This Pauses the game, hides the UI and gives you control of a unique camera allowing you to get closer screenshots and interesting angles. Additionally, you can unpause and re-pause the game whilst in this mode. Note the photo mode camera is tethered to a limited distance from the initial point the camera was activated
•   Digging out the tunnel to the surface is now done in the same way as tagging any other tile to dig
•   Formicarium ability purchases can now be swapped for the other (but for the full cost)
•   Subtle increase of light levels underground
•   Formicarium challenge mission button graphic updated to make it more obvious it is a mission
•   Alert message added about seeds dropping on the surface each time you receive seed rewards
•   Changes to Mac build to allow lower OS requirements
•   Updates to Formica ereptor queen animations
•   OpenGL has been added to windows (considered alpha)

Balance Changes
•   Beach wolf spider nest behaviour has been changed - It will now path to random nursery tiles for 40 - 60s. During this time it will not attack the queen. This should give players time to respond to the attacks even if they have nurseries right next to the queen.
•   Pop cap changed to 100 / 125 / 150 (from 50 / 100 / 150) allowing more ants to be used for formicarium challenge 1
•   2.1 Night creatures will now attack the player if they are attacked at night
•   2.1 When a night creature takes damage on the surface it may attract other night creatures (1 every 5 seconds) to its location

Bug Fixes
•   Fixed an issue where dead spiders (and possibly other creatures) could not be harvestable if they die on top of the surface tunnel (let us know if this still happens)
•   Fix added for mass of eggs appearing at the queens rear. This was caused by a tile being deleted before it received an egg. The job is now removed as well as any eggs currently in transit to the tile
•   Collision shape fixes for surface tunnel - ants should no longer get stuck in the walls
•   Creature instant kills (water, spiders, tile removals) now always kill the creature
•   Fixed an issue where upgrading an ant would not update its maximum health stat
•   Fix added where pheromone markers placed on tunnel exit could sometime hit an invisible sphere and end up in the sky - the ants could not reach it and froze
•   Removed code that stopped multiple version of the game being open at the same time (It was happening if you had any Unreal Engine game open which has undesired effects)
•   Large Beach Wolf Spider devour ability now removes the ant it eats, rather than the ant floating in the air, along with other fixes for the ability
•   Possible fix added for Oculus Home opening when the game was started. Let us know if this is still happening!
•   Fix added for surface torch being on in the ending cutscene
•   Fixed some pebbles in 2.1
•   Disabled access to the wiki from the tech tree (currently wiki only has placeholder text)
•   Time bonus has been removed for levels 2.1 and 2.2, as these levels cannot be completed any faster
•   Fix added to reduce (and hopefully prevent) creatures getting stuck when moving from above to below ground
•   Fixed some issues that could cause eggs to be dropped on floor where there is no nursery
•   Fixed some issues where text would appear un-wrapped then suddenly wrap in tooltips
•   Royal Jelly tooltip in tech tree corrected
•   Fixed a typo on the rapid fire wood ant tooltip
•   Fixed a typo in challenge mode

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2018, 05:01:18 PM »
February 2018 Newsletter
12 MARCH   - MIKE

Hi all - gosh, March already! Time flies when you're having fun - and for that reason it certainly flies when you're developing a game about ants. We've recently been assessing the way we tell you all about the future of the project, and we realize there's a deep need for us to communicate better - as we posted in a mini-update a couple of weeks ago. Although we have been developing Empires of the Undergrowth for several years, we only launched on Steam in December and therefore we're new to having a big community that we have responsibilities to. We want you guys to feel justifiably assured that things are progressing well (as they are) - and for this reason we're going to be doing our best to communicate here. We've been doing these newsletters for some time - but this is the first time we've worked out that we can actually post them properly formatted to Steam, rather than just a link to elsewhere. Always learning.


Screenshot credit: Garenator on Steam

We're certain that we don't want to rush - and that's always been the case. Our modus operandi has been quality first - ultimately, we're making our dream game here and we want it to be great just as much as you do. Given our limited resources (our team size is 3) we've made decisions - like not releasing small, incremental updates and instead focusing on the bigger picture with larger updates. That's because the whole process of an update is a drain of resources and time. In a larger team or for a game of lesser scope, this might be doable. We feel we're in the right place here.

With that clarified, due to many understandable requests, we've made what is often referred to by makers of early access products as a "road map".

Road Map

A road map refers to a rough outline of how a developer intends their project to progress. It's usually an abridged version of the internal plan the developer has, as it is in our case. This is ours for the remainder of 2018.



You'll notice that it's rather vague - this is deliberate; as we'll talk about later in the newsletter - software development is so unpredictable that even the most seasoned veterans have real difficulty in pinning down exact release dates. However, you can see that we plan on releasing the third tier of the Formicarium in the summer (Major Update 1), and the Freeplay mode before that. All of this, by necessity, comes with the caveat that it's subject to change.

Freeplay

John, after moving house, has been continuing his work on Freeplay mode. He's recently been working on the vast amount of options that the mode will allow - the difficulty slider will feed in to many different things that affect how the game will play. In this stream recorded in February, you can see him tweaking things such as creature temperament, and connecting all the disparate systems that need to work in harmony in order for this game mode to become a reality.


A poppy head "landmark" - this will drop seeds for your colony in Freeplay

It's clear from the complexity of Freeplay that a lot of its enjoyment factor will come down to the setting of parameters - and for this reason it's definitely going to be a mode that will be balanced and tweaked extensively. We're going to need your feedback on that one - and that brings us to the matter of when we release it. As mentioned earlier (and is discussed more extensively below) deciding on an exact release date in this line of work is folly until you're sure - and even giving vague guesstimates is usually pointless. The best we can give on this is "a few weeks". We hope you guys understand why.


A tiger beetle guards a dead fish in Freeplay

John is continuing his streaming after a short break for the aforementioned house move - it's usually on a Thursday afternoon, Greenwich mean time. For now, John is working the notice on his day job and that will continue until the Easter break. After that, he's a bona fide full-time Empires of the Undergrowth developer and the streams are likely to become more scheduled and regular.


A landmark occupied by aphids - landmarks can take a wide variety of forms.

A Little About Leaf Cutters

As previously announced, the next species of ant added to the game will be Atta cephalotes - a South American leaf cutter ant. These ants don’t eat meat - although they can give you a particularly nasty defensive nip with those huge mandibles, they're in it purely for the leaves. The colony forms distinct trails as it searches for suitable leaves, before cutting them down in a variety of ways and transporting them back to the nest. Here, the leaves decompose due to a mutual relationship the ants have with a special kind of fungus - and it is the fungal growth itself that the ants feed upon.




Although we've had a bit of variation of sizes between ants before (between workers, soldiers and upgraded ants) that's just peanuts to leaf cutters. Atta cephalotes is a very distinctly polymorphic species - meaning it has within it several "castes" of ant that exhibit obviously different traits. The "minors" are undeniably tiny compared to the "majors" - which can be several times as long and more than 100 times the mass of the minors. They have unusually-shaped heads that house the huge muscles needed to power their slicing jaws. There is also an intermediate "medium" caste.


An Atta cephalotes major, giant mandibles and head muscles visible. Photo by Alex Wild.

In our game, the majors will certainly be formidable in combat - huge, imposing and a target for enemies (we will be introducing a "taunt" mechanic that makes enemies want to attack them preferentially). However, all 3 of the castes will be intrinsically involved in what leaf cutters do best - cutting leaves. Each one will have a distinct role that, when used efficiently, will speed up production of your colony-sustaining fungus. We don't want to spoil it too much, so we'll leave it there for now!

Dealing With Delays aka "when it's done"

So, a bit of self-reflection and commentary on development as a whole for this section of the newsletter. "When it's done" has become a meme relating to game development for good reason. We suddenly have a large audience - and with that comes expectations. That’s been a bit daunting but we'd like to think we're learning quickly from the experience.

Delays are frustrating for both developers and consumers. It’s a considerable risk to even give an estimate of when a feature or product will be ready without total certainty. A recent example of that unexpectedness for us is the way that we've been decorating our levels - the Unreal Engine that powers our game has changed in such a way that the method we were using is no longer viable. So, Matt has been working on a custom plugin to help him do the artwork - as a necessity, but it's a drain on time we couldn't have predicted before it happened. On the plus side, in this case - the new method comes with a performance boost.




In 2015 we failed our first Kickstarter - and took a philosophical approach to our failings. We're always learning.

Communication is key - from the point of view of our small team of 3 developers and 1 social media guy, 3 months is not a long time between updates - however, in the eyes of the consumer who is used to quick patches for their games, it sets off alarm bells that the game is abandoned (we've heard that word used more than once in concerned forum posts). This isn't the case - we're just a smaller team and things are going to take time to be done properly. We don't have the resources of the team behind the excellent Factorio, for example.

In a small way the early access model doesn't help these concerns - people know they are paying for an incomplete product and therefore have to have some faith that the investment they're making now will be returned by a great complete product. We'd just like to assure you all that things are progressing well, and the deep transitional phase that Slug Disco is currently undergoing will soon be finished. Once is it, we'll have 3 full-time developers working on Empires of the Undergrowth.

Screenshot Central

We like to trawl through the Steam screenshots of EotU every so often. Here's a few of our favorites from the past few weeks! To get some great screenshots yourself press F9 (by default) in-game to enter Photo Mode.


It's all about that butt - because that's where the eggs come from. Credit: Serafine


Invaders! Credit: Charles the Bald


Sorry, but our queen is hungry. Credit: vervedan

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2018, 09:22:13 PM »
Beta Testing - Freeplay Mode
11 APRIL - MIKE

Hi guys!

We're approaching a point where we can get Freeplay mode out, without the saving functionality. After some internal discussion we feel our closed beta testing group isn't going to be big enough for feedback for this one, since it's a complete unknown and such a hugely randomised game mode that balancing it is going to be really tricky.

So, we're going to open up a beta branch on Steam to owners who don't mind testing. There are some important caveats, please read:

•   THERE IS NO SAVING YET. This is the most important one - Freeplay mode will eventually be save-able since we intend games to last several hours, but for the purposes of the beta, this functionality is not yet available. If you'd like to play a long game, please clear some time for it!
•   There will be crashes and glitches. Our usual approach has been to really polish things before making them publicly available but in a beta things are different.
•   Some deep fundamental changes to the way the game works means that other things may be broken - including the current campaign levels and formicarium mode. We would appreciate testing on these too.
•   Whilst you are welcome to post ideas and suggestions, we are mainly interested in balance and bug fixing at this point. So please do not think your ideas are being ignored (we always read everything, even if we can't reply to everything) but for the sake of beta we are looking to fix the build, not expand upon it.
•   This is not technically an "open" beta, but a beta that is available to all current Steam owners of the game. You will need to own a copy of the game activated on Steam to participate.

This will happen in the next few days. A code will be given out on our Steam forums that people can activate to access the beta branch - instructions for those unsure how to do that will be included in the post. Keep your eyes on here for announcements!


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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2018, 09:23:49 PM »
Freeplay Beta now available - How to Join!
14 APRIL   - MIKE

We have activated the beta for Freeplay and are opening it up to all owners on Steam! If you'd like to participate and are familiar with joining beta branches on Steam, here is your access code:

betatestants

If you're not, please follow the instructions in this post on our forums:

https://steamcommunity.com/app/463530/discussions/0/3211505894108961652/

That post also has a detailed changelog; there have been many fundamental changes to the game that this update introduces.

As an added bonus, we're also adding in the Battle Arena at the same time! This mode allows you to test creature army compositions against each other to see how they work. Find it in the "Other Modes" main menu option along with Freeplay.

We're interested in hearing your feedback with regards to balance, glitches and crashes. Note that the beta version does not have saving, but the final release of this update will - so for now if you'd like to have a good long session, free up your afternoon!


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