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Author Topic: Game of Drones: Sex, Treason and Self-Sacrifice among the Hymenoptera  (Read 372 times)

j3b4

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Furthermore, the workers in colonies with a single once-mated queen are related to their nephews by three eighths, higher than they are related to brothers. This results in a conflict where the queen and worker females are at odds over the proportion of male offspring they contribute, since each side tries to maximize its reproductive fitness. Queens favor production of their own sons while workers favor production of their own sons, and do not stop their sisters from laying because of the favorable relatedness to nephews.


If you, like me, think that the bizarre world of insects generally, and Hymenoptera (Ants, bees, and wasps) in particular, has been under-exploited by computer game developers perhaps you would like to join this mental exercise.  I'd like to assemble a 'hive' (pun intended) of creative workers to generate a functional spec for such a game.

If you are interested in participating please jump in and comment in this thread. I'd like to see how much interest and discussion can be generated among the Bay12Forum users before I recruit anywhere else, for it is here more than any other place that I imagine I'll find the most like-minded game-players and schemers. 

Here's a question to stimulate discussion feel free to respond to it or digress in this thread:

Would a game like this have more meaning if developers strove to base most design decisions on scientific knowledge of real world ant (or other insect) behavior  OR would it be better to tap into rich fantasy and sci-fi sources to ensure that the game was above all playable and engaging?

The opening quote is an example of source material for the first option just as the following is for the second:

In Serpent's Reach by C. J. Cherryh, the worker/warrior/etc members of the ant-like majat can think simple thoughts on their own. If a thought seems new, important or disturbing it will go to the Hive Queen and share it with her. The queen takes all of the simple thoughts brought to her by the other castes and combines them together into more complex thoughts. Memories are stored in the group of drones that always stay with the queen, which allows for a single hive to maintain a continuous, single consciousness across a span of billions of years.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2016, 07:10:07 pm by j3b4 »
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IndigoFenix

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Oh, definitely.  One of my favorite games as a kid was SimAnt, and I often hoped to see an improved game based on the same concept.

I think it should place more emphasis on grand strategy and resource management (you should "be" the colony, not a single ant).  While SimAnt gave you some control over the colony's actions, the majority of the colony's behavior was automatic and the emphasis was placed on running around and using your superior knowledge to lead other ants to food and into battle, which isn't really how ants work.

It always felt rather cheaty that you could view the whole map, so the 'colony knowledge' system should be a major aspect of the game.

Some things you could have control over could be: aggression/defensive behaviors, percentage of ants foraging, digging, nursing percentage of different castes produced, triggering the mating flight, triggering invasions of rival colonies, and general activity level vs storing energy.

Basing the game off of a sci-fi species could help with overlooking some of the more handwavey bits, but avoid making the species telepathic, as this will make the game not much different from any other strategy game out there.  Personally I'd like it to be based on ants, but maybe take bits from different species (slave driver, honeypot, leafcutter, aphid farming, etc.)
« Last Edit: June 16, 2016, 10:32:16 am by IndigoFenix »
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TheBiggerFish

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Ooooooh boy this sounds fun!
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Arx

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This definitely interests me. I too loved SimAnt!

Would a game like this have more meaning if developers strove to base most design decisions on scientific knowledge of real world ant (or other insect) behavior  OR would it be better to tap into rich fantasy and sci-fi sources to ensure that the game was above all playable and engaging?

Since this is bolded: It would be better to ensure the game is good. It's a game, not a textbook!
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NJW2000

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The latter might be easier to do well, but working more from the former will get one into interesting places.

And I'd agree with the OP that colony-forming insects are very interesting, though pretty bloody, and are definitely underused in gaming.

Don't forget the non-Hymenoptera eusocials: termites, for example!

Quote
The soldier caste has anatomical and behavioural specialisations, and their sole purpose is to defend the colony.[51] Many soldiers have large heads with highly modified powerful jaws so enlarged they cannot feed themselves. Instead, like juveniles, they are fed by workers.

Quote
Among certain termites, soldiers may use their globular (phragmotic) heads to block their narrow tunnels.[54] Different sorts of soldiers include minor and major soldiers, and nasutes, which have a horn-like nozzle frontal projection (a nasus).[49] These unique soldiers are able to spray noxious, sticky secretions containing diterpenes at their enemies.
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j3b4

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Basing the game off of a sci-fi species could help with overlooking some of the more handwavey bits, but avoid making the species telepathic, as this will make the game not much different from any other strategy game out there.  Personally I'd like it to be based on ants, but maybe take bits from different species (slave driver, honeypot, leafcutter, aphid farming, etc.)

Yeah,  it would be fun to focus on science not for the sake of accuracy but to hi-light some of the most intersting behaviours in difference species.
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j3b4

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The latter might be easier to do well, but working more from the former will get one into interesting places.

And I'd agree with the OP that colony-forming insects are very interesting, though pretty bloody, and are definitely underused in gaming.

Don't forget the non-Hymenoptera eusocials: termites, for example!

Quote
The soldier caste has anatomical and behavioural specialisations, and their sole purpose is to defend the colony.[51] Many soldiers have large heads with highly modified powerful jaws so enlarged they cannot feed themselves. Instead, like juveniles, they are fed by workers.

Quote
Among certain termites, soldiers may use their globular (phragmotic) heads to block their narrow tunnels.[54] Different sorts of soldiers include minor and major soldiers, and nasutes, which have a horn-like nozzle frontal projection (a nasus).[49] These unique soldiers are able to spray noxious, sticky secretions containing diterpenes at their enemies.

It was  a documentary about termites that completely blew my mind in my youth.  I agree they or at least some of their behaviors would be impossible to pass up in a game like this.
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