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Formicarium: Dwarf Fortress meets Sim-Ant (+ xkcd-genetics)

Hey there, my name is Konrad Feiler, I'm following Erfworld since the days it was still over on giantitp and I was very excited when erfworld came to kickstarter and I could contribute. These days I'm even more looking forward to the Forecastle story updates than to the ones about Hamster ;)

I also loved board games, strategy games and of course HOMM, but today I want to write for you about emergent games.... 

 

me playing 7Wonders

(Proof: Me playing 7Wonders ;) )

 

Wikipedia defines emergent gameplay in the following way:

Emergent gameplay refers to complex situations in video gamesboard games, or table top role-playing games that emerge from the interaction of relatively simple game mechanics.

It's those moments when something happens that none of the designers could ever foresee. There are Dwarf Fortress websites that share stories about events that happened inside the game! Go check it out, some are hilarious.

Obviously the most popular emergent game is the one you all know.. Minecraft.

Sometime into my own third fortress, I thought to myself:

"Hey these scurrying little dwarf's look like a busy chaotic anthive under my control..."

"Waaaait... someone should totally make a game about an ant hive with the attention to detail Dwarf Fortress had!" 

 

So, one year later, many weekends and 3 full months spent with C++ later, we present you:

 

It's called "Formicarium", you play the invisible hive-mind behind an ant-colony.
In nature, there are many extraordinary ant species, including acid sprayers, honey pots, tiny nest maintenance ants, enormous tank ants, poison attack ants, leaf-cutting specialists, suicide bombers and more. The pool of species will grow over the next six months. You can tell ants to dig tunnels, strengthen walls with earth and stone, build above and underground structures, build nurseries and even cultivate subterranean fungi gardens. Furthermore, Formicarium uses a simplified model of genetics as a game-play element, so that you can design the very body and genetic expression of your ants, shaping them to your needs as a player. We think this is wonderful, and hope you do, too!

Now a lot of people have compared us to Sim-Ant , but while I know about this game, the main influence still is Dwarf Fortress. I also take some Ideas from Plage Inc. (DNA points, unlocking abilities) and FTL (random events), but DF is the predecessor in mind. 

 

In the next picture you can see the zones that ants should dig out and the areas selected for storage & nurseries:

 

 

And furthermore, here is an update to our latest youtube dev video: 

 

 

 

Here's a small graphic I made about our influences ( to clarify between SimAnt and DF):

 

I should also mention that I already had a double-genetics system set up, when read Randall Munroe's (xkcd) new Book What If and his model of genetics with the additional multipliers and the double-multiplier being a genetic weakness totally blew my mind. Using this new system I have the following genetic pattern (for brevity I always only show 3 attributes, in the game there are far more):

Now I put all the "???" around our game, because it's not a sure thing yet. We have a working prototype, but there's still a lot of work in front of us. But that's where you come in!

 

 

Who are we? (I'll just copy our section, since I reaaally want to finish this article and get back to make my ants carry objects around, my programming goal for today)

 

 

 

So if you like our idea, want to see more emergent game:

 

 

PS: If you have no bucks to spare, any share/like vote for us gets everyone a lot closer to see this project become real!

Comments

  • DVL

    Well, it took me a little bit to figure out the genetics.

    So:

    "x.2" means you multiply the value from the other gene by 1.2

    "s.2" would mean you multiply the value from the other gene 0.8

  • Fridgemagnet

    A nice posting, and an interesting-looking game idea. 

    On the topic of emergent games, I've always thought it would be interesting to develop a multiplayer version of Conway's game of life. It probably wouldn't be as strategically satisfying, unfortunately, but would be interesting to see if people could produce defenses that actually work.

  • Bersaelor

    @Fridgemagnet:

    I'm juggling a concept that uses a similar architecture like Formicarium for this in the back of my head for months now.

    The thing is Formicarium has two layers, Simulation and Presentation. I was thinking of running a simplified version of the simulation layer on a web-server and then the presentation in browsers/apps using the already existing interface.

    It would be a lot of work, but maybe it will be the project I'll do after formicarium :)