The Hive Mind: Ant Sim Formicarium Kickstarting

Ants are pretty fascinating creatures to just sit and watch. The ease with which they coordinate themselves to accomplish things no single ant could manage alone and their apparent sense of purpose are remarkable. Wouldn’t it be interesting to experience what it’s like to be the one trying to orchestrate that organisation. Fancy being the hive mind ant god and seeing if you can keep a colony of ants running with as much precision as an actual colony seems to? Well, Formicarium is the game for you, so long as you don’t mind seeing copious amounts of legs skittering everywhere.

The idea behind Formicarium is simple enough. You play as essentially a hive mind for a colony of ants, focusing on helping the group grow stronger while avoiding damage. you could come under attack from natural predators like spiders and wasps, infestations, starvation and all sorts of other things that will either kill off your ants of cut down the strength of the colony as a whole. You have to build out your nest across multiple layers, while keeping an eye on the status of an ever growing group of ants. The more ants you have, the more you have to manage. The more you can do, the more risk there is of things going wrong. I like that concept, just a shame there’s so many damn legs.

If you like the idea of digging holes, building a society and are not bothered by mountains of legs, you can check Formicarium on Kickstarter.

28 Comments

  1. Shadowcat says:

    I guess it’s been a while since we had an ant sim.

  2. Der Zeitgeist says:

    Could it be that the author of the article has never heard about Sim Ant before?

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Dang youngsters!

      EDIT: I also noticed that the creators of the game mention The Sims and Sim City, but not Sim Ant.

      • LionsPhil says:

        From this we can conclude it will have no laser spiders, and thus be a lesser game.

        • Bersaelor says:

          Sadly no laser-spiders, no.

          But ichneumon wasps that lay eggs inside ants alien-style. Or ant-lions that trap the little fellas in funnels.
          Or ant-mimick-spiders that pretend to be ants (animated on the campaign page).
          List goes on for a while ;)

          • Jonfon says:

            Ichneumon wasps have always been one of my favourite things in the entire natural world ever since I first read about them as a 10 year old, (although I think the species in the book was preying on grubs in pine trees and using its ovipositor to drill into the tree and unfortunate grub), The same book also had a bit about Ant Lions, whose babies are the trappers and look worringly like those brain bugs Khan used in Star Trek 2.

            Any inclusion of the bizarre collection of ‘zombie’ fungi which can infest ants and ‘steer’ them to the tops of plants so they can sprout and fruit (pretty much the influence for The Last of Us)?

            Ants (and bugs in general) are fascinating, looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

          • gschmidl says:

            You should read the latest issue of National Geographic, which has a long article about that kind of zombifying predator.

        • Rufust Firefly says:

          The laser-wielding spider was the bane of my ant colonies back in the day. So vicious! (It certainly wasn’t the Red Ants, there seemed to be a bug in the way they managed their colonies in larger games. Somehow they always spent most of their economy on creating new queens and left themselves open for raid after raid.)

        • Haborym says:

          The laser spider was fucking hilarious.

    • Bersaelor says:

      @Zeitgeist:
      To be quite honest, I had already finished the tiling-layer-engine part when a friend pointed me towards SimAnt. I did install it via DosBox sometime, but it’s not the main influence.

      The main influence on how the game is built is Dwarf Fortress, the way we simulate metabolisms of individuals is heavily inspired by that game.

      I guess I would have loved SimAnt back when I was young, it unfortunately never crossed my path.. it was just after the fall of the wall and my parents weren’t buying a lot of games.

      • Der Zeitgeist says:

        I find it fascinating to watch these emerging generational divides in current gaming. We are seeing so many spiritual successors these days, it would be nice to see some “accidental” remakes from younger developers. :-)

        That’s why I initially thought “Could it actually be? Could someone actually have re-invented Sim Ant without ever having played or even heard about the original?”

        • B.rake says:

          “Hey, I’m drawing a blank, what sort of game should we make?”
          “We could remix an antique. Thats how most people come up with stuff now anyway.”
          “Not a bad idea! How about a sim? Obscure sims are pretty trendy.”
          “Did you ever play SimAnt?”
          “No, SimAunt, eh? Whats it about?”
          “Me either, but my grandpappy told me about it, you play an aunt and your goal is to stop the communist aunts from destroying your garden.”
          “What’s a communist? What do they have against my garden?”
          “Well you see they were these people who didn’t believe in private ownership and forced everyone into collective agricul…”
          “OH! I think I heard of this before! Something called Red Alert.”
          “YEAH! In that one you tried to erase communist aunts from history using time travelling Legionnaires. It sounds awesome.”
          “Wait… what do The French have to do with anything?”
          “They had a complicated relationship with communism, I think.”
          “It sounds awesome, I wonder why they stopped making it?… we should definitely do a Red Alert simulator.”
          “Oh shit, it’s owned by EA.”
          “Oh god, EA. They’ve been around that long?”
          “…”
          “…nevermind”

  3. WJonathan says:

    Why did I first read that title as “Ant Sim Fornication”?

  4. Unruly says:

    SimAnt HD remake please? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

  5. Simplisto says:

    I think I’d enjoy this game but they haven’t explained why they are using crowdfunding. They have a breakdown of costs – 47% of which is a salary for them both – but surely the whole idea of Kickstarter is raise enough capital to get an idea off the ground. I understand they have to earn money from somewhere during development, but the general rule is that you earn your money from sales. This isn’t their first game, and by the looks of things, they’re already earning a living from their past projects and elsewhere, so what do they need us for?

    • Bersaelor says:

      Dear Simplisto,
      I don’t know where you are getting your information from, in this configuration this is our first project together, and we have been working on it for the majority of 2014.
      I (Konrad the developer) paid Dorota for the majority of this time from my private savings which are running out soon (even at minimum wage). And sure I can code Apps for Nickelodeon again to make a living, but who’s going to program Formicarium then?

      If you check the campaign page, you’ll notice that all the lower tiers save you money compared to the planned release, so if you’re trying to save money, even better ;)

      • Simplisto says:

        It’s always good to have this information available to those you’re asking for support from. I didn’t know you had run out of money and I had presumed Dorota was a business partner rather than an employee. What went wrong (if you don’t mind me asking)? Did the project grow outside of your initial budget or has it just taken more time to bring together than you first anticipated?

        Edit 1: By ‘this configuration’ do you mean ‘with an employee’ instead of you alone?

        Edit 2: Forgot to say it looks fantastic and good luck! ;)

        • Bersaelor says:

          @Configuration:
          Yes, so far I’ve been freelancing and working on my own. I knew Dorota for a while and noticed she had no job anymore early 2014, then just gave her some ideas to draw.
          After I saw that the results were amazing, we planned to build a prototype/demo as long as I can afford to pay her and then do a kickstarter to be able to finish it.

          And well, projects always take longer then you anticipate, that’s why one always puts a safety-zone of +50% on top of them. At least my freelancing clients usually that I’m faster then some others, so that gives me some confidence ;)

  6. Shazbut says:

    You are the Antmaster!

    (where else am I supposed to quote in jokes from a defunct Amiga magazine?)

  7. Niko says:

    Up with this kind of thing!

  8. anonzp says:

    in a state of constant evolution based on a digital genetic imprint?

    that sound like a bunch of crap to anyone else?

  9. sinister agent says:

    Just wanted to say that I am really glad this is being made. I’ve been fascinated by ants since I was a kid and have always hoped there’d be more games about or inspired by them. I mean, bugs in general are amazing, but especially spiders and ants.

  10. hausser0815 says:

    TBH, when i compare screenshots of this and sim ant, i find sim ants higher zoom level and clearer graphics way superior to this games style of ultra close cam and green bugs next to green leaves on green soil(?) / nano grass. Also sim ants underground view from the side, not top down, looks way more interesting.

  11. Bersaelor says:

    Hey RPS, we have a new dev-update out, with now far more intelligent hive-behaviour.
    Check it out: link to youtube.com