(another PICO-8 game from me)


Menu: Z to start game.

Game: Z to create ant (costs 3 food), left-click to drop scent (guides ants), right-click to remove scent.


Extremely basic cat-herding strategy game - you have to keep your ants going towards the food (using scent, or waiting for them to find it for themselves). Once they spot food they will grab it and return it to the anthill. 


This started after I wanted to make something that had entities just doing their own thing in the game world. I remembered a section of Will McGugan's Pygame book ( where he builds a little ant/insect simulation using simple checks for behaviour. I decided to give that a try, without actually referencing his book to see how it worked! But I managed to get the ants moving easily enough, finding food and returning it to the hill, and eventually picking random goal points so that they were not jittering around when not 'on mission'. Then I wanted to add more stuff, at the same time being frustrated waiting for the ants to find food sometimes, so I put in a thing where the player could use the mouse to drop a scent trail and thereby guide the ants in the right direction. Finally I wanted a threat to the ants, and I figured a bird would be appropriate, but didn't want it to be too punishing. I settled on a bird that would only prowl the edges of the play field. The only loss condition is when you have no ants left, and not enough food to make another ant. But it's not really a game you're 'supposed' to lose at. It's just a fun thing to play around with. Amusingly, you can 'micro' or 'macro' the ants if you are used to that kind of play from actual RTS games - leave a scent trail sitting near some food and wait for the ants to find it, or click quickly near an ant, dropping one scent after another and slowly dragging it in the right direction.

I'm really happy with how neatly this came together! Hope you enjoy!

Lexaloffle BBS thread: here.

#1GAM August 2018

Waypoint Community Game Jam 2 (Big Boy Season)

PlatformsWindows, macOS, Linux, HTML5
Made withPICO-8

Install instructions

The game should work great in the browser whether downloaded or not! Download the ZIP and put both files in the same folder, then double-click on 'ants.html'. It should open like a normal webpage.

The binaries just need to be downloaded and unzipped on the correct kind of computer - they should work from the unzipped folder with no extra messing. I'm just using the built-in PICO-8 binary export, but please let me know if something is weird with them. It is a new enough feature.

If you have PICO-8 and want to check out the game's code/etc. or just play it in the 'real thing', download either ants.p8 or ants.p8.png to your pico-8/carts directory, then load from within the game with 'load ants'.


Download 335 kB
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ants.p8.png 11 kB
ants.p8 45 kB


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The game is cool. But I still feel the Bee game you made is better. You could have used that same concept for the bee game by turning the bees as ants and make them follow the foods. Have some mobs roam around in the field and using mouse click command the ants to join together to attack the mob. Check this game out   , its a cool multiplayer game that  still needs some work but still offers fun. It will give you a decent idea. Good luck.

Yes, that's true I could have done it like that, but for the bee game I wanted things to be calmer and less interactive. I still might do something more strategic like having a game where you command things to attack etc., I just haven't wanted to do aggressive games for the last while.

Thanks for the feedback!