DevBlog #5 - Call of the Forest
Hello, For the Hive fans, and welcome to our fifth instalment of game updates.
We’ve been working incredibly hard on some major changes to the game, it has taken us a while to get back to you since our last devlog, but we’re sure you’ll love it, and we’re excited to share our progress with you today.
Game development is full of trial and error, failures and frustrations. However, there is a lot of excitement to be had, and today, we’re so excited to share some amazing results with you.
We’ve improved the visuals, especially regarding lighting and fog effects. We made a more visually appealing sky and clouds, and more detailed models and textures. If you've checked out our video update, you'll notice some of our low-poly models in it; these are simply placeholders for the time being and will be updated with more detailed models very soon.
We’ve also spent some time on our gameplay systems to create a more exciting and immersive gaming experience. These include updates to stamina, levelling and experience, energy and sleeping, and more.
We've also been collecting a lot of feedback from you on what you want to see in our devlogs. And you’ve been telling us overwhelmingly that you want us to go deeper into game mechanics so you can be better informed and more involved with us in our development journey. That’s exactly what we’ll be doing from now on.
We also encourage you to head out to our Discord and interact with us there, your questions and suggestions are welcome!
2) High-Definition Visuals
2.1) High-Definition Models
Creating the ant model was an opportunity for us to see how a more realistic art direction would fit within our creative vision of the game.
We loved it, and it fit so well with what we had in mind. While we also love the charm of low-poly games, we decided to shift directions to capture our creative vision better.
2.2) High-definition Rendering
Nature plays a starring role in For the Hive, and we wanted to do Mother Nature justice and let all of her beauty shine through. Thus, we took great care to ensure that the overall visuals look natural, including smoother lighting, reflections, and shadows.
Our rendering engine got an upgrade, creating more stunning and subtle visuals, such as light filtering through the leaves in the morning and adjustments to fog coverage throughout the day.
2.3) Improved Night Time
We’re particularly excited about how beautiful the game’s night scenes look now. With distant shapes fading with the bluish background, light beams from the moon and the Milky Way galaxy in all its glory.
As we said in a previous devlog, we want you to be able to play during night time as well, that didn’t change, your surroundings will be bright enough to see, but of course not as bright as in day time.
2.4) Improved Sky and Clouds
We worked on the sky and clouds to improve the visual fidelity of the game overall. Our clouds are now fluffier and more animated, even casting shadows on the ground below.
Just as the sky in the real world is dynamic, so is the case for the sky in For The Hive. The colour of the sky as well as cloud density and speed will change throughout the day.
These upgrades will make rain and snow effects possible, so stay tuned for those updates.
3) New and Improved UI
Our UI has received a fresh coat of paint, it is now more compact and less intrusive while still giving you vital gameplay information.
The top bars include your experience, level, health, and stamina. The bottom of the screen provides food, water, and energy levels.
All of our bars are animated, dynamically displaying the damage you've taken in a brighter colour before dissolving into the actual energy value.
Many gameplay systems use the UI to display information. Below, we’ll explore each of these systems in more detail.
4) Experience and Levelling
As you achieve various goals in the game, your character will gain experience and eventually level up.
Currently, the only way to gain experience is by killing enemies. We are planning to add more ways in the future, and we’ll share them with you as we continue developing them.
Levelling up in RPG games is a special moment that should be celebrated. With this in mind, we mark your achievement with a “Level Up” banner that flashes across the screen, accompanied by sound effects and new visual effects on your character.
Our new and improved UI keeps you informed on your progress toward levelling up and also flashes the most recent experience points you've gained in the first few seconds after achieving them.
Earning a new level gives you ability points that you can use to unlock special abilities and raising your stats. This will help you make your character stronger, faster, and more powerful overall.
Trying to catch an aphid that’s running away? This used to be very hard to do, now the poor aphid will get tired and slow down, because we’re introducing stamina!
Every time you perform an action such as attacking or sprinting, a portion of your stamina bar is consumed. This means that you can’t spam the attack button, and you won’t be able to bunny-hop around, or sprint for hours on end.
Every character in the game has a stamina bar now, including yours and all NPCs you may encounter. This makes combat more tactical, you’ll have to manage your stamina bar as well as your opponent’s in order to win, or at least, stay in the fight long enough to deal some serious damage.
As in real life, your stamina will replenish over time. All you have to do is slow down your pace and try to avoid combat.
6) Energy and Sleeping
Similar to the real world, insects in For The Hive have a limited amount of energy to spend each day. This energy can be replenished through sleep.
Expending too much energy is dangerous in the wild. Depleted energy means slower movement and other penalties on your stats.
With all that said, sleep is going to be an important part of your day. All you need to do is find a safe place to rest, and hit the sleep button.
We wanted sleeping to be a very visual experience, with the camera looking up at the sky, clouds moving fast as time flies by, and environment colours changing from the brightness of day to the darkness of night and vice-versa.
We plan on expanding the sleeping mechanic even more by having food and water being
consumed, and having a small chance of being ambushed if you sleep in dangerous areas.
Similar to the real world, insects in For The Hive will vary in size. Allowing our characters to be bigger or smaller have posed some significant technical challenges that we had to solve.
Growing in size requires a healthy diet, good hydration and sleep. However, if you neglect these aspects, your size will stagnate or even decrease with time.
8) Improved Camera System
Our improved camera system is now more responsive to unique gameplay situations.
8.1) Camera Lock During Combat
The first improvement we’ve made is a camera lock-on feature.
This enhancement will allow you to lock in on an enemy during combat. With the camera looking at your target at all times, this makes combat a little more comfortable, especially with a controller in hand.
This is a completely optional feature that you can choose to use, or not use, at any time.
8.2) Sleep Camera
We’ve already discussed the sleep camera, a new feature that makes the camera look at the sky as time fast-forwards.
8.3) Third-person Camera Improvements
We’ve also made improvements to our third-person camera. Recent updates have made the camera smoother and now capable of avoiding walls and other obstacles.
9) Forest Biome
The world is going to have multiple biomes, each with their own unique features, plants and insect species.
The first biome that we’re making is the European forest biome.
To add more variety to the world, we’re also going to have a desert biome, and a Canadian tundra biome, that should give you a great mix different environments to play in.
We’re also going to make a Birch forest biome like the ones commonly found in the pacific northwest region of the United-States.
We’ve started building our forest biome with an Oak tree model.
Making these models has been a challenge since they’re obviously going to be very big, therefore they need to be quite detailed up close.
We want the tree to be fun to climb above all, as is the case for all objects in the environment, so we’ve been testing various shapes and sizes and tweaking the collision boxes to make climbing a smooth experience.
In the future, trees will be teeming with life. From Bee hives to termite colonies, you can spend a lot of time exploring a single tree. So for all these reasons, we wanted to give them special attention.
9.2) Additional Environmental Models
As our biomes grow, we’ll continue building additional models to achieve a more diverse and realistic environment, including rocks, plants, mushrooms and more.
10) Final Thoughts
We’re starting to get into the juicy parts of our development journey, you guys have been
awesome interacting with us on social media, giving your input and cheering us up.
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Thanks again for being part of our journey!