Author Topic: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants  (Read 10423 times)

JeffNevington

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #45 on: December 25, 2017, 05:49:01 PM »
Congrats, it looks like you guys won Editor's Choice: Best In Show for 2017 on IndieDB!

http://www.indiedb.com/groups/2017-indie-of-the-year-awards/features/editors-choice-indie-of-the-year-2017

Thanks! This was a nice surprise. Crytivo are an interesting lot, working on The Universeim - we are waiting for it to come out

JeffNevington

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #46 on: December 25, 2017, 05:59:20 PM »
Ooh, that's fantastic - ditto the above post!

A few feedback points on the game at present:
  • Needs more info/intro when you start your first formicarium. I imagine this is coming, but had I not known how the thing was meant to work I'd have found the start a bit confusing - not so much in terms of the actual controls, which are really nice and intuitive, as the overall setting - one of EOTU's biggest selling points is that it has really nicely researched actual creatures in it, and so I think you need to make it clear early on (and ideally as part of the voiceovers) that the formicarium is a kind of contrivance that functions as a base/home camp and that they will soon get some more natural-feeling games. At present I think it'd be too easy for a new player to assume that EOTU was actually a sort of mad science game from the way things start.
  • In the Rising Tide level, my ants didn't seem to be able to gather properly from the fish, they just milled around down there. Is this meant to happen?
  • I think the tile upgrade stuff bombards the player with too much info. I'd change it to a more colour-based visual, where an outer hexagon around the tile has the six bars coloured according to how much "support" the tile is getting from each direction, and the centre has the level-flags and maybe an X/8 number to show how many more support-grades are needed (although there might be a neater way of doing that too).
  • In terms of mission variation, I think at some point a build & destroy mission taking on another colony directly would be fun. Likewise, flipping the idea behind Rising Tide (perhaps with a different core threat) and relocating your own colony would be a cool "protect the objective" mission starting point.
  • Suggestion from my mother - ant spiders, which mimic ants in appearance and have front legs that they raise if spotted to mimic antennae. This would provide a great higher-level challenge as they'd be "infiltrating" enemies for the player to deal with that could slowly pick off parts of their colony. I can get you some more info & a relevant paper if helpful.

All in all I'm really enjoying it at the moment, though, I got my formicarium through the levels pretty fast (found the first challenge tougher than the second I think, though I see you've upped the ant limits to compensate since I did so).

Great feedback as usual. We are light on intro info and tutorial stuff generally. It definitely needs more of an explanation as it takes a while to feel things out.  One of the problems is that the whole scientist thing was a bit of an afterthought that we came up with around 8 months ago when we realized that a full campaign was going to take too long and we needed to switch to an Early Access game. So it doesn't sit perfectly.

- In the rising tide there shouldn't be a fish. Unless John added one without telling me, I thought it was just on "queen of the hill" and it should be quite difficult for your ants to get down that far past the rival colonies.  I think the max number of ants that can harvest a fish at any one time is 6 or 8 so if there are more than that, the rest will wander around.  If you hover over the fish you should see a number "X/8" or similar.  If not, you may have found a bug.

- I don't like the tile upgrade info overlay, it was our art guy's first pass and he just left it as is. We probably want a 2-tier overlay: a simple colour based one for everyone, and then the ability to add the numbers if you really want them.

- Conquest missions where you destroy an enemy queen are on the way.  We will experiment with it in the upcomming "freeplay mode".  A new tier of missions is going to take a while as we want to do a bulk batch of 9 in one go (mainly due to the expense and time investment associated with working with the voice actors).

- Love the idea of ant mimic spiders.  The spiders in hats have been a big hit, I think it is likely that each new tier of missions will come with their own spider :D

Jubal

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #47 on: December 26, 2017, 12:55:22 AM »
Agreed re the campaign... I think it's do-able to make it fit, it's mostly a case of bringing in & clarifying for the player "don't worry, we'll get you out into some real undergrowth soon" at an early stage, IMO.

Ah yes, it was on Queen of the Hill - sorry, got confused. I decided to try playing it on easy, and went for the bottom right fish, and none of my ants seemed to be harvesting/returning with fish bits.

And yeah, the option for the complex overlay would be worth it - a default colour overlay sounds good though :)
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JeffNevington

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #48 on: November 30, 2018, 06:41:38 AM »
I can't believe its been almost a year since all of this post-release chat.  What's more worrying is that a lot of this feedback still hasn't been properly addressed...

It's incredible how much time we have sunk into optimisation and bug fixing over the last 11 months, I think in the run up to release we became experts at brushing issues under the rug.  Anyway, I'm much happier with where we are now in terms of a robust ant simulation game foundation.

The team is now desperately trying to speed towards a major content update where we unveil leafcutter ants.  There will be more creatures added than were in the original early access release, and some really in-depth mechanics to emulate the complexities of leafcutter society in game-form.  I'm just hoping people are still interested (especially those who haven't bought Empires of the Undergrowth yet!).  :ogre:

Jubal

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #49 on: December 01, 2018, 10:12:14 AM »
I've not played much in a while, but I'd definitely be very keen to jump in and have another go when the leaf-cutters become available :) I should actually write or video-log something about the game really, I do think it's a really interesting implementation of natural processes in a gamified form and I'm definitely interested to see more as it appears.
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JeffNevington

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #50 on: December 03, 2018, 01:45:38 AM »
Yeah, I would hold out for the Leafcutters if you want to see something new.  A video log would be superb, if you wanted to do that, I'd post it around heavily :D.  I can't say that will make you famous though.  I'd actually like to do one myself, I don't get any opportunities to just play the game as a whole.  I'm always just testing little pieces of it.

Jubal

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #51 on: December 15, 2018, 01:13:05 PM »
Heh, I'd have given up before getting to ten years running this site if it was fame I was looking for! And I really very much know the playtesting but never playing issue as well. I'll see what I can do video-wise over Christmas, the Exilian Channel on YouTube could definitely do with some new content...
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JeffNevington

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #52 on: April 10, 2019, 10:08:29 PM »
I am dying in a sea of self imposed crunch.  There is something wrong with sound concurrency, half of the music isn't ready, we're trying to crow bar German and Chinese subtitles into the game, the whip spider's inverse kinematic legs are getting stuck on ledges, the preying mantis sometimes gets an ant perpetually stuck in its mandibles, but one way or another its going to be sorted by the 25th. 


Jubal

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #53 on: April 11, 2019, 09:04:50 PM »
The leaf-cutters do look great though :) I'll have to have another run at playing it when the new stuff is out!
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JeffNevington

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #54 on: April 24, 2019, 06:30:37 PM »
Just mopping up the last of the horrific game breaking issues now...


Jubal

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #55 on: April 24, 2019, 10:07:29 PM »
Awesome! Really looking forward to the new stuff, and the short play trailer looks neat :)
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JeffNevington

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #56 on: April 24, 2019, 11:41:13 PM »
Awesome - I hope you enjoy it.  It will be interesting to see if this breathes much new life into it.  I worry a bit that its not that much content wise, it's basically another 2-3 hours worth.  It just takes so long putting it all together. 

At least we managed to get the new spider hats in. 

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #57 on: April 25, 2019, 09:08:42 PM »
Is there any chance of a level editor turning up at any point? I feel like that's something where you could get a chunk of extra content once people had got their teeth into it.

Also, good job on the fez :) And what kind of spider is that?
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JeffNevington

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #58 on: April 30, 2019, 02:16:50 PM »
I would love to put in a level editor - you are right it would give it so much more replayability.  Our original in-house engine that ran our 2015 mobile version did actually have an editor for 1v1 missions against an enemy colony... Amazing how that has gone from a reality to a distant, complex goal in UE4.

I'm not sure what the best way of doing a level editor would be these days.  You would think it would be easy as we use hex-grids for everything, but the ants go up and down ramps that are neatly placed by hand.  The ant entrances are also placed by hand, there are invisible pathing penalty zones and impassable walls on ledges that have to be edited manually in certain circumstances.  Even if we made a system whereby those could be placed easily, painting the surface is also not automated, its also a manual process, blending the non-tile grid objects into the tile-grid ones.  Finally we would need a way for the user to add enemy colonies, define their behaviours, trigger creature spawns & events etc... Would be quite a lot of work.

We are going to have a meeting next month to assess the current situation and what we need to do next.  The leafcutter update has been really well received but as we feared, its really just a 3-4 hour additional burst of content.  Once it's done, it's done (unless you have a thing for harder difficulty modes).   Skirmish mode, map editor, multiplayer & improved freeplay will all be on the table for discussion.  I would also like to finish the game in this lifetime...

The fez spider is not technically a spider.  They are of the order Amblypygi but commonly known as "whip spiders".  Not a scorpion - not a spider, something a bit similar to both, but is actually neither.  It walks on 6 of its legs, its two front legs have become long modified antenna-like structures for feeling around (the two big arms on its face are enlarged pedipalps).  One crawls on Ron Weasley's face in The Harry Potter movie - Goblet of Fire.

Jubal

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Re: Empires of the Undergrowth: A game about ants
« Reply #59 on: April 30, 2019, 11:20:45 PM »
Mm, yes, I can see the difficulty. And whilst it's a good way to get member-generated content, it's maybe harder to distribute that than it once was? I've been a little sad at how few people have picked up the skins I've made for Son of a Witch, but it seems like it's harder to pull so much of a community together around games than it used to be. Nonetheless, if you do add one, I will be very happy!

And ooh, neat stuff re the whip spider, thankyou!
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