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Topics - Mike

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General Discussion / Screen Shot Saturday - Medium Media
« on: July 14, 2018, 10:08:16 PM »
After the tiny minims and the small minors, the next biggest step up in Leaf Cutter society are the medium-sized "media" ants. These bad girls are much bigger than the minors, and they pack a serious bite with the slicing jaws. Formidable fighters in their own right, they're perfectly adapted for a life of cutting and collecting foliage for their colony's fungus gardens.

These still aren't the biggest - come back next week to see the absolute units that are!


General Discussion / Screen Shot Saturday - A Minor Issue
« on: July 07, 2018, 04:24:21 PM »
After the minims, the next smallest members of Leaf Cutter society are the minors. Being substantially bigger than the minims, these ants join the foraging trails, tend to larvae, cut and collect leaves, and help defend the nest from predators and other threats.

In Empires of the Undergrowth, Leaf Cutter minors will take on a very similar role to the worker ants from the current species. There are still two more castes of Leaf Cutters to show, so come for next week's #ScreenshotSaturday to have a look at the next!

General Discussion / Freeplay Launched! V0.122 Patch Notes
« on: July 03, 2018, 08:44:03 AM »

Customisable - play your way!
Freeplay is a highly customisable game mode giving the player full control over what creatures and landmarks can spawn, how hard they want the game, how the difficulty of the game will change as time goes on and much more.

The Dunes Freeplay map – a monster of a map!
The Dunes is the largest map in the game to date, made possible through optimisation of the surface tiles allowing us to get more for the processing power. It boasts:

  • 4 possible start locations for the player’s colony
  • 120 by 120 surface tile grid (the previous biggest being 96 by 126)
  • 80 locations for landmarks to spawn and 25 locations for creatures to spawn

Freeplay colonies can be saved and returned to later, allowing you to take your time and even try that horrible attack wave again. For now saving is manual and there is no backup; we are planning on introducing backups in a future update.

Landmarks – let’s make this interesting!
Landmarks are various interesting points on the surface. They are randomised in look, functionality and location, will appear and disappear as your game progresses and scale with the difficulty setting.
    Aphid Farm
    • Has between 2 and 4 patches of 10 aphids
    • Has randomly generated plant decoration
    • Ladybird attacks increase with difficulty

    Poppy Plant
    • Will intermittently drop poppy seeds; the dropped seeds have a limited lifetime

    Funnel Web Nest
    • Generates dead creature chunks
    • Contains funnel web spiders that will kill nearby enemy creatures (from the player’s colony… or anything else it is big enough to take on!)
    • Number of spiders increases with difficulty
    • Has randomly generated stones nearby

    Dead Fish
    • A large source of food
    • Will attract enemy ants

    • Attracts large group of enemies of a specific type
    • This large group stays around the central point
    • The size of the group increases with difficulty

    Creatures fight each other

    In Freeplay mode creatures on the surface will duke it out with one another. However, they will not just attack anyone! Some of them will not attack larger creatures, or will ignore the smaller ones. In Freeplay every creature has a list of other creatures they do not want to fight.

    Random start location

    The player will start in a random pre-prepared start location. These undergrounds are similar in the resources that are available but the locations of resources are different, including where they start on the surface.

    Day / night cycle and spawning
    If turned on, the game will slowly tick from day to night and back again. When day turns to night nocturnal creatures will come out, and diurnal creatures will hide. Some creatures are about in both time periods. A full 24 hour cycle lasts 30 minutes in game-time.

    Food spoiling
    Creatures killed in Freeplay mode have a limited time to be harvested before they “spoil” and disappear (3m). Additionally, food generated by funnel web and poppy plant landmarks do the same so as to not cause too great a buildup of food.

    Uber creatures – oh boy, it’s a big one!
    Ubers are souped-up versions of some of the larger creatures. They can be identified by a red glow, increased size and will be announced in a message when they spawn. There are 4 types that are as difficult as each other and all provide 1000 food when killed. They take much longer to spoil than other creatures because of this (10m). The 4 types are uber hermit crab, uber beach tiger beetle, uber devil’s coach horse adult and uber beach wolf spider. Enabling uber creatures increases your score.

    Attack waves
    Up for a real challenge? With this enabled waves of enemies will spawn every 5 minutes after an initial setup period of 12 minutes. These wave will get stronger over time and do not drop food. How many can you survive? Enabling attack waves increases your score significantly.

    Difficulty settings
    Difficulty is handled differently in Freeplay mode. The difficulty changes as the game goes on and affects things such as the spawn rate of enemy creatures, how aggressive they are, how much food dead creatures drop and the difficulty of landmarks. You can set the start point of the game difficulty and how you would like it to change as the game progresses. There are several options.
    • Constant – the difficulty remains at the value initially set and gets no harder.
    • Ramp – the difficulty gradually increases at a steady rate.
    • Spikes – the difficulty remains constant however it will spike up in difficulty every now and then. It spikes for a random amount and for a random length.
    • Ramp with spikes – the difficulty steadily increases as the game progresses but will every now and then spike up in difficulty. It spikes for a random amount and for a random length.
    • Scale With Colony – as your colony size increases so does the difficulty, meaning you should always feel a bit pressured no matter how well you are doing.
    • Random – every so often the difficulty is randomised and stays there for a random amount of time. Note you may end up starting at some very hard difficulty.

    Nest entrance can be dug out, and are hidden until done so (visible on minimap)

    In Freeplay, your route to the nest entrance is not dug out to begin with - giving you the freedom to plan your nest your way. You will know where the entrance is from the minimap, however you will need to tunnel to it to reach the surface.

    Select your species

    Choose from one of the species from the campaign (currently black ants or wood ants) or chose one of your Formicarium colonies to play Freeplay with! If you choose one of your formicarium colonies all the upgrades you have chosen for that colony will be available for your Freeplay colony (note the ants themselves do not transfer, just the upgrades).

    Fog of War

    Enemies and food will be hidden from you unless you are nearby, what will be lurking for you in the shadows? Fog of war greatly increases your score!

    Soft population cap (Upkeep)
    After a certain number of tiles have been built, further tiles will begin to increase in cost. This makes the end game more challenging whilst also keeping performance high. Workers have a seperate population. This can be disabled in setup.

    So, what’s the point?
    You are free to build up a colony and try and survive as long as you can! You can also try to score as high as possible as you will be given a score on defeat. This score is affected by several options:
    • Uber creatures increases score by 10%
    • Attack waves increases score by 10%
    • Fog of war increases score by 150%
    • Disabling population upkeep reduces your score by 60%

    General Discussion / Screen Shot Saturday - Tiny Minims
    « on: June 30, 2018, 12:26:30 PM »
    The smallest members of Leaf Cutter society - the minims - are positively dwarfed by their mother (the queen). These tiny ants rarely, if ever, leave the nest - instead they work tirelessly to tend to the fungus gardens the Leaf Cutters rely upon to survive.

    General Discussion / Screen Shot Saturday - No Leaf is Safe
    « on: June 23, 2018, 10:21:46 PM »
    No leaf is safe .... bow down to your Queen.

    Here's the first of our teases for the next species to be added to the game - Atta cephalotes, a species of South American leaf cutter ant! Here's the queen. As artwork and level creation continues we'll be re-starting #ScreenshotSaturday so you guys can get an early look.

    Please note that for the sake of not having her floating in space we've placed her in the beach underground environment. When the leaf cutter levels are released, she'll get a whole new digs with a suitably rain forest-y theme.

    General Discussion / Freeplay Beta Patch 0.121 Released
    « on: April 26, 2018, 11:03:43 AM »
      We’ve just released our first feature-adding, bug-fixing and balance-altering update to the Freeplay beta build! We’re currently in the testing phase for Freeplay (sandbox) mode and it’s open to all owners of the game on Steam - if anyone would like to participate who currently isn’t doing so please see
    our most recent newsletter for details on how to join in (please note - the beta is Windows-only). Now, let’s get to the fun stuff.
    New Features

    • Freeplay mode now has the option for Attack Waves. These are sent at the player periodically (every eight minutes) and comprise of random creatures of increasing power. They will give you no food when killed and will not be attacked by other creatures. They offer a real challenge for those looking for something truly hard in Freeplay. Every 5 levels there are special creatures added to the pool to make the fight extra hard. Be prepared if you make it to wave 15!
    • Battle Arena now provides some basic stats for score and survivors that can be reset. Additionally, the battle arena panels can now be hidden (and are hidden in photo mode).
    Bug Fixes

    • Fixed an issue where attack and gather buttons were resetting or setting erroneously
    • Funnel Web detection area and slow is now correctly removed when the landmark disappears in Freeplay
    • Landmark spawn locations have been moved slightly further from the map edge on The Dunes
    • Fixed an issue meaning creatures that spawned at map edges could get stuck (mostly an issue with ladybirds)
    • Fixed an issue where “scale with colony” Freeplay difficulty only worked if you were in a specific underground starting location
    • Fixed an issue that cantered markers on closed tunnel exits when trying to place one on them
    • Fixed multiple issues with victory and defeat animations on various campaign levels including issues with fading in and out. Please let us know if there are any more of these.
    • Slow resistance is considered when slowing creatures on a funnel web; larger creatures should slow down less
    • Fixed an issue where rapid-fire wood ant purchases were activating the wrong abilities
    • Fixed an issue where green glow effect (and others) could be applied after death
    • When looking for food or enemies, line of sight is now only blocked by tiles. This should solve issues of food being stuck on ramps.
    • Removed Freeplay restart button
    • Fixed an issue causing colonies on 2_2 to no longer be allied
    • 2_2 nest entrances now have the correct colours
    • Fixed a graphical issue with the surface painting on 2_1 and 2_2
    • Nest group will no longer count food and speed tiles
    • Fixed the camera focus on Freeplay defeats
    • Fixed an issue preventing queen abilities announcing they have been activated
    • Fixed an issue where ants did not always die on tile deletion
    • Fixed an issue where creatures that did not contain food could spawn a corpse
    • Fixed an issue that would sometimes cause spiders to not walk to the end in Battle Arena
    • Fixed an issue where after queen abilities activate the queen would stop animating
    • Fixed an issue where hats were causing collision and nav mesh changes
    Balance changes / improvements
    • Freeplay ramp rate doubled (should get harder twice as fast in ramp game difficulties)
    • "Scale with colony" difficulty in Freeplay now takes upgrades into account as well as colony size
    • Enemy pack sizes in Freeplay are now affected by difficulty (should be smaller below 100% and larger above it)
    • Food harvested in Freeplay will now spoil after 3 minutes and disappear. Should stop the map being covered in small amounts of food.
    • On transition to night or day if nocturnal / diurnal is selected several creatures will spawn based on the current difficulty (this is to make up for the ones leaving due to nocturnal / diurnal)
    • Main menu music will play over loading screen and will fade out as the level begins
    • Slight optimisation added to minimap rendering
    • Surface minimap will now fade in when tunnelling to the surface
    • Minor performance improvements
    Known Issues / Request for help
    We need help replicating these issues. If you manage to figure out how to achieve these issues we would really appreciate a step-by-step of what caused them. Additionally, any information about what was happening at the time the issue occurred will help.

    • Ants getting stuck underground / appearing to want to walk into walls
    • Creatures disappearing when attacking the queen (specifically the large Beach Tiger Beetle)

    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:


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

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

    Note that the beta is Windows only. We're likely to release it for Mac and Linux a short while before the end of the beta period to ensure things are working properly.

    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 on 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!

    News and Announcements / Beta Testing - Freeplay Mode
    « on: April 11, 2018, 11:12:35 AM »
    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 (and here) that people can activate to access the beta branch - instructions for those unsure how to do that will be included in the post.

    General Discussion / Progress Post: AI Nest Excavation
    « on: March 27, 2018, 11:29:00 PM »
    We thought we'd show you something Liam has been working on recently. In this video, you can see an AI routine deciding how to dig out an underground nest!

    The AI ant colony that Liam has been coding (which will be used in future campaign levels, and quite possibly in an as-yet unconfirmed Skirmish mode) can now make decisions about how it goes about building its nest. The flashing colors represent it searching for areas where it can dig out hexagon-shaped rooms whilst also searching for places to build paths. It tries to keep the paths separate from the rooms for ant traffic efficiency.

    In the current campaign level 2.2 "Queen of the Hill", the player faces off against 2 rival colonies. These have only extremely basic AI that is based on scripting, but we loved the idea of confronting a computer-controlled opponent that can come to decisions intelligently and genuinely try to beat you!

    The way it's been set up, it's highly unlikely that the AI will come to the same nest design on any two given play-throughs - so each time you play a level, the computer will dig out its nest differently!

    General Discussion / February 2018 Newsletter
    « on: March 12, 2018, 03:51:58 PM »
    Our February 2018 Empires of the Undergrowth newsletter is up! We go into a little more detail about the upcoming leaf cutter ants and include some juicy screenshots from freeplay mode - and we've included a "road map" for the rest of 2018!

    In Freeplay mode, desiccated poppy heads will drop seeds when a heavy gust of wind hits them. These provide a long-lasting food source for your ants... but free food won't go unnoticed!

    General Discussion / Screen Shot Saturday - Poppyseed Production (Freeplay)
    « on: February 17, 2018, 10:45:23 AM »
    In the upcoming Freeplay mode, there will be things called "landmarks". These are points in the map that will, at the start of the game, take a randomly selected form. One of these forms is a seed-producing poppy head.

    These desiccated poppy heads will drop seeds, providing a regular food source for ants (you can see them on the sand).

    We asked our artist Matt to make us a model for this - we weren't expecting him to also do a beautiful in-bloom poppy flower!

    General Discussion / January 2018 Newsletter
    « on: February 08, 2018, 05:59:48 PM »
    Good morning, evening and variations thereupon everyone - we've compiled and posted our January newsletter for 2018! The newsletter focuses mainly on the upcoming Freeplay mode (which we hope to have out to you in its basic form in a few weeks).

    You can see the full thing on our website. We go into quite fine detail of what is currently being worked on for Freeplay - a potentially endless game mode where you can build your colony at your own pace, save it, and come back to it as and when you want. Some other games call this sort of feature "sandbox" or similar.

    General Discussion / Progress Post: The Freeplay Launch Screen
    « on: January 28, 2018, 03:48:21 PM »
    We haven't done a Progress Post for a while since we've been working away at the new stuff, but there's some interesting bits we can show you now.

    Here's a preview of the launch screen for the upcoming Freeplay Mode! As you can see, there will be lots of starting options for this mode so you can play the game how you like.

    Want a challenge? Have regular spawnings of aggressive enemies. Want a relaxed, endless sandbox-like experience? Disable nest invasion and your colony will never die! Or how about some occasional mega-tough single enemies? Enabling Uber creatures is for you!

    We expect the basic form of Freeplay Mode to be out in February, and it will continue to be expanded on over time.

    General Discussion / December 2017 Newsletter - A New Year!
    « on: January 11, 2018, 12:39:38 PM »
    Hi all,

    We've just published our monthly newsletter. This month, we talk about how the amazing support from you guys has secured the future of the project, as well as the quality of life changes we've made to the game in the weeks since it's been released.

    We also reveal the exact species that will be next to be added to the game (Atta cephalotes), a leaf cutter ant that collects leaf cuttings to grow fungus from. Head on over to our website to have a look!

    Also, Redmoth27 - we included a screenshot by you :)

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