Empires of the Undergrowth
Ant colony sim: engage in strategic real-time battles with underground tunnelling, nest construction and a documentary themed campaign.
Thank you all for your fantastic support during our Kickstarter campaign. 300+ backers is an amazing result and although we didn't reach our goal, we gained a significant community of followers which we will be building on over the coming months. It is now clear to us that there is very real interest for an Ant sim/RTS game and this is motivating us to move forward positively.
Find out more about our next steps in this update.
Update #1 - Game Overview
This update aims to answer many questions we have received starting with a massive video explaining just how the game will work:
Also we have added an FAQ section, filled with all sorts of info:
We have also been Greenlit!
Update #2 - The Nest
This update focuses on the nest building side of the game. It takes a different style and had unbroken continuous game play footage.
Additionally here is an animated GIF of combat taking place in the game, it did very well on Imgur:
Update #3 - Combat
Liam demonstrates his inability to multi task as he takes on an opposing colony. This update focuses on the basics of combat and the self-controlled attack waves.
Additionally we have added an article on the subject written by Liam on IndieDB.
Update #4 - Titans
In our final major update in the Kickstarter we have a video showing two of the Titans from the game. These are large insects or arachnids that will require an army of ants to take down.
And here is the Titan Beetle in GIF form:
"The queen has landed. Wearied from her perilous flight she sheds her wings, burrows into the soft sand and begins to lay."
Empires of the Undergrowth is a real time strategy game that takes place in the world of ants. It features underground tunnelling, nest construction and fast-paced battles with insects, arachnids and other ant colonies. For much of the game we have drawn heavy inspiration from the well-loved nineties classics Dungeon Keeper and Sim Ant, while the colony versus colony aspect of the game has been particularly inspired by Starcraft 2's popular 'Desert Strike' arcade game.
The game’s theme is taken directly from nature and offers a fresh alternative to the usual sci-fi, fantasy and historical settings for this genre. In the single-player campaign, the player takes control of Formica ereptor: a unique colony of DNA-assimilating, nomadic ants embarking on a great journey. They must set up temporary nests, gather food and defeat neighbouring colonies. Their epic story is narrated from the perspective of a documentary filmmaker studying this species of ant.
Carve out your nest in the undergrowth, selecting tunnels and chambers for your workers to excavate. Use these as nurseries, food-stores and even farms as part of your strategy towards creating a thriving and powerful colony.
You will clash frequently with a variety of neighbouring ant species, competing for the same territory and resources. Engage in fast paced tug-of-war combat where strategy and army composition are key to dominating your enemies.
Formica ereptor has a fascinating ability to replicate the species of their defeated foes. This allows for a wide variety of ant types to be housed within a single colony. Watch as the acid firing Wood Ant marches alongside the monstrous Driver Ant. Build an army filled with many incredible ant species.
Ants are not the only inhabitants of the undergrowth and you will discover a world filled with large insects, spiders, scorpions and much more. Defeat these Titans of the mini-beast world, butchering and carrying them off to fuel your war machine.
Become part of the documentary as the narrator describes your colony’s movements and explains the real-world inspired challenges they face along their journey.
Progress and Status
We currently have in place a working multi-platform engine created specifically for the game. A lot of the game’s core components are already in place, including an adaptive opponent AI framework and complex swarming algorithms for the ant armies.
Many of the art assets are complete including 3 environments, 15 ant species, 3 Titans and some other insects, as well as a scripted full length campaign and story.
Although the game engine is ready to go, there are still some integral components, such as spawnable specialist ants, that need to be developed. Level design, unit balance and testing are still ahead of us, as well as a finalised user interface, music and sound effects.
The first completed track for Empires of the Undergrowth (used in the October teaser trailer):
We are passionate about our concept, and about creating something that people are truly interested in playing. Getting the final product right will be an iterative process and to be successful we will need to include our player base.
Kickstarter can help us on two fronts, firstly by funding development of Empires of the Undergrowth through to completion and secondly by connecting us with interested gamers.
Before setting up the campaign we did estimates on the cost of the project and where they money will go. Some pledge rewards will cost more than others to fulfil so we've had to make realistic estimates for that slice of the pie.
Access to the Game
We are building the game for iPad, Android tablets and Windows PCs. The game will be distributed on the iTunes App Store, Google Play and also Steam. Additionally Windows backers will be given a DRM free version on release. If we reach the stretch goal at £26k we will also release versions for Mac an Linux.
Who are we?
We are 3 friends who met back in school and stayed together through university. It was there that we first started talking about founding our own games studio.
Matt has very recently finished his PhD in computer science and has snubbed all job offers in order to make Empires of the Undergrowth a reality. Matt is strangely passionate about game engine design as well as game art and he is the main programmer and artist on the project. He also has a strong interest in mini-beasts, having willingly slept alongside many over the years, including three tarantulas while a student! He works full time on the game, and then some.
When John isn't developing games he’s playing them; you name it, he’s got some experience with it. This puts him in a good position for being the lead game designer for Empires of the Undergrowth. He is also heavily involved in programming the artificial intelligence, and as you can imagine, with the ants each exhibiting a level of autonomy, this is no simple task! He works part time at the University of Liverpool to fund the development, working on websites and educational applications.
Liam, like John, has a job at the University of Liverpool but makes time to work on the game. He is the music composer, audio guy and video editor for the project, but is also involved in programming the colony-versus-colony combat algorithms. His PhD was in risk and uncertainty which involved a lot of signal processing, and is a surprisingly useful research topic if you’re programming huge ant battles! Talking of research - Liam has surpassed even Matt’s ant-knowledge to become the resident ant expert! You’ll be hard pressed to find an ant documentary he hasn't seen!
You can find out more about us and our game by looking at our sites and social media pages.
Rewards Reference Sheet
Jenny has been kind enough to make us an example soft toy ant larva:
Whilst Liam was working on game music he got distracted and the following was the result:
There were many out-takes during our little group chat, so we thought we would include them here (long):
Risks and challenges
We have already met with many challenges during the project to date. Tasks that are expected to take hours end up taking days due to unforeseen issues which can push back the plans. Additionally we get easily over excited and have become very familiar with feature creep, though we are getting better at scaling back the ambition of the project and keeping our eyes on the finish line.
We have been working on the project considerably prior to running this Kickstarter campaign, we have a great handle on where we are and where we need to be, and we would not be asking for your help if we weren't absolutely confident we could deliver.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)