Ludum Dare 29 — April 25th-28th Weekend — Theme: Beneath the Surface

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Underworld Evolution

by StudioWolfox - 48 Hour Compo Entry

The epic RTSE (Real Time Strategic Evolution) game! You will take control over the evolution of 20 little minions, or: Evo's. When you start the game, the first generation of Evo's will be "stupid" and prefer to take it easy. It is now up to you to select the right parent for the next 20 Evo's in order to reach your goal.

During each generation, your minions can collect coins, which you can use to speed up the evolution. The goal: send in total 25 of your Evo's to heaven.

------ NOTE -------

Note that I purposefully did not explain all values in the game as I want to provide the player a certain experience: exploration and experimentation. I am aware that this is not entirely quick-play-friendly, which is kinda required with Ludum Dare. However, the overall experience of the game is more important here in my opinion.

Also, a few people suggested fast forward buttons in the game. It is something I considered during the development, and I decided not to implement it, because I wanted to provide relaxing experience. I want to let the skill of the user determine the speed of the game. This way it feels super satisfying when you see your own Evo's rushing through the level. In my eyes, the speedup button would probably spoil the fun of that.

Finally, the music. I had no idea that I also had to create the music myself. I searched for royalty-free music and after 1.5 hours of searching and trying out different things (like the WolframAlpha music generator), I stumled upon these beauties, by Kevin MacLeod. The licenses are included in the game, just zoom out at the briefing UI and go to the left.

Just leave my music rating on "n/a" or something :)

Downloads and Links


Ratings

#7Innovation4.48
#11Overall4.28
#48Fun3.90
#53Mood3.94
#83Theme3.90
#157Audio3.48
#250Graphics3.68
#326Humor2.81
#1409Coolness47%

Comments

Infraviolet says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 2:33am

very interesting mechanics
could use clearer explanation

Apr 28, 2014 @ 2:34am

This is really sleek! love the feel and the atmossphere. The sound-effects are great, and the idea too :)

Pent says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 4:09am

really fun, I picked it up right away, not sure about the win condition but I love digging!

zanenga says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:16am

I love this game! It is so cool!

Lee1121 says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 9:29am

Very interesting.
It's a shame that i don't know what some of the attributes do.
I had a good time overall though :)

Apr 28, 2014 @ 11:14am

Great mechanics! Love this game.

shane1090 says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 2:17pm

Very interesting mechanic though as others have said could have done with clearer context and explanation. Audio use is really nice as well.

graebor says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 6:09pm

Being presented with all the attributes was a little overwhelming, but overall I quite like the idea.

bombjack says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:12pm

I loved it!

Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:42pm

I really dig the fact that you want to let some kind of experimentation, observation and learning. Your game seem really great, i like the concept. BUT YOU HAVE TO TELL A LITTLE MORE! I don't know how my choices are affecting next generation of Evo's. Please explain more i want to play it for hours but i need to know at least what i'm doing.

StudioWolfox says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 10:49pm

Hey thanks everyone for the great feedback!!! I totally agree with the fact that it is a bit too overwhelming and that the feedback is a bit lacking. Gave it a little tweak.

Also, a huge reason why the pathfinding values don't feel that intuitive is because of a tiny bug in the goal finding algorithm: instead of choosing the one the Evo LIKED most, he choose the one he HATED most.... oops!! Uploading the fix right now :)

I'm super glad you all like it! I will soon start rating yours!

StudioWolfox says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 12:29am

OK, FIXED! Along with some other tiny bugs :) Now the properties should work nice and intuitively!

Apr 29, 2014 @ 4:39am

That's way better! I understand now better. And the game IS what i hoped it was. Really great i love the idea. I don't really now what you mean by "long paths" and "paths" and "walls" but it's now intuitive enough to try thing and see how it reacts. Favorite entry so far.

Filecreation says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 10:34am

If I'd make a suggestion for an improvement, it would be a speed-up button that increases the game speed with factors 2 and 4, because ive had a few runs where i had to wait 3 minutes for all my evos to die while they were doing nothing (Bad evo settings on my par)

Also, make sure that the game runs when its not the active screen.
These types of games are ideal to have running in the background, just to see how far you can get while doing your other stuff.

Simon says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 12:24pm

That so much fun! Great entry :)

TeamInCharge says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 9:40pm

Nice stuff!! Digging is so much fun :) 15 evolutions, is that good? Wish there was an online high score system or something :P Seriously sweet A.I. tho. I really start wondering what them little fellers are thinking... they do get smarter after a while, or am I imagining things? lol 4 Meatballs!!

Marcellus says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 1:08am

great mood, very nice game, it's a bit like watching a fire burn, I could do this for hours.

Lyje says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:02pm

Everything about this game is awesome apart from lack of a clear tutorial - so many attributes it is definitely overwhelming as others have said!

ALobker says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 3:51pm

Awesome game!
I originally played it before the bug-fix. It took me about an hour to finish it. I had several iterations where my evo's cleared the entire map of resources.

angelk says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 7:58am

This feels "complete" for a minimalist evolution game. The graphics and sound work well, the evolution menu is interesting, it's exciting to see the little guys grow up :)

asotelo94 says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 1:17am

definitely no a game for everyone, but I did enjoyed.

TeamInCharge says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 10:55am

11

ShivanHunter says ...
May 3, 2014 @ 4:39am

Amazing game! The music really sets a relaxing mood and the audio never gets repetitive. Visual design is also very clean. I've been playing with the idea of evolution-based gameplay for a while, and this gets a lot of it very right.


Did it in 7! My strats: At first, optimize for low dig interval (!) and high preference for digging, collecting coins, and traveling. Around generation 3-6 or so you get a windfall- evos are collecting many more coins than before, but you've spent so little that modifying the gene pool is still cheap. During this period, keep dig interval at 0 and digging/collecting preferences high, and optimize for lifetime, followed by speed and dig strength. Evos should now be clearing the majority of the map now, so spend all your points on preference for entering heaven. At this point, it usually only takes a couple more generations.

Like all stages, the first stage is a bit random. If no one's digging anything, your first couple generations are going to be painfully slow, and you might just want to refresh the page and get a better first batch.

TobiasW says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 3:26am

So - I just played this almost for an hour. This is officially the longest time I ever played ANY Ludum Dare entry EVER. The first time I won, it was with 10 mutations, the second time with 6.

The game explained itself rather well, which is surprising, considering its inherit complexity. Apart from a few roadbumps (mainly "Welp, they like each other, but they don't like digging too much." and "Oh right, I don't want the interval to be HIGHER, guess it's time for a restart..."), this was a really smooth experience.

And what an experience it was! It was fun watching the little critters dig, the music is perfectly fitting and relaxing, the sound effects sound pleasent as are the minimalistic graphics. The symbols are a nice (and useful) touch. And haha, I like the mail in the beginning - it totally breaks with the style of the game, but since I wasn't immersed yet anyway, it was fun to read.

Things on my wish list:
- I want to whitelist/blacklist Evos while they are digging so I have an easier time sorting them later.
- I want to be able to few the evos in a table, remove some, switch them around, sort them etc.

This is really, really well done, *especially* for the short compo timeframe!

PS: I found a bug. When I tried the game a second time after winning, anybody who enters heaven will vanish, but not get counted.

PPS: I just checked the source and found out that you used music by Kevin MacLeod. That's only allowed in the jam, not in the compo, so I can't give you a high audio score. The music was really well chosen though!

PPPS: Heat Resistant? Ice Resistant? Poison? Seems like you planned a lot more fun stuff that never made it inside!

Toby Pinder says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 11:17pm

Simply one of the best I've played this LD. Polished, unique concept, fantastic music, "balance" is perfect etc. etc. Completely agree on your design decisions when it comes to player discovery (which I didn't read before I played) - this game is about figuring out what those attributes mean not simply the "min-maxing" process.

I've been saying things like "this should be expanded into a full game" on particularly good LD games but this is *finished*, it's the complete package!

Don't really have much else to say. Release it on something where you get the ad revenue and exposure, at the very least :D

Would be good on mobile also due to the asynchronous play

Toby Pinder says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 11:21pm

As another person commented has said I've had to withdraw the audio portion of my vote due to the use of other people's music. That doesn't in any way detract from my enthusiasm for the game (or the other ratings!)

TeamInCharge says ...
May 5, 2014 @ 11:01am

7! sight helps in the end :D

sP0CkEr2 says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 2:48am

at first I was not looking forward to playing this and indeed it took a few tries to figure it out - but wow what a great game - very impressed - awesome job

mortus says ...
May 17, 2014 @ 9:07am

Great game! I love genetic algorithms in general and artificial selection in games especially. I believe you've managed to find a decent way to apply it in to a game. Loved the music too!

Would be great if we could select more than one for breeding to combine several good traits.

Kimau says ...
May 17, 2014 @ 1:31pm

BEST LD GAME SO FAR!
I fell in love with this game. I admit I am an AI geek but man this game is cool. I totally agree with your fast forward button, though I urge for a suicide button.

I really hope you do more with this idea post compo! It's so great. I would have loved to see score page with a family tree and random names for the little guys. Just so many things that could be built on this amazing base of game. Hazards, different scenarios, hostile mobs, multiplayer or competitive NPCs.

Really really hope you do something with this post compo if not please say because this is a game I would gladly build a full version of (only if its abandoned of course)

Bravo!

StudioWolfox says ...
May 17, 2014 @ 9:14pm

Thank you all for the great feedback and comments :D

I am very passionate about the mechanics and I am very very happy with this game. I would LOVE to continue this idea. I have already made some plans for the "full" version of the game which I would probably release on mobile devices as its main platform.

@Kimau So, ye! I will be doing something with it! Thanks for your great comment and the idea of the suicide button and the family tree. Will most probably implement the suicide button in the final product.

Dietrich Epp says ...
May 18, 2014 @ 6:41am

Wonderful! I'll probably be playing this again. Too bad about the music not following the rules.

mechabit says ...
May 20, 2014 @ 11:31am

WOW, so good. Totally missed it during voting but I'll give it 10/10 post jam. Would buy full version.

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