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Age of Ants

send your worker ants to gather resources…
amass an army to defend your queen…
build your ant empire and conquer the lawn!

Age of Ants is a demake of Age of Empires II (with an ant/bug retheme, why not), featuring:

  • 1 map with 4 possible starting locations
  • Up to 2 allied AI opponents with 3 difficulty modes
  • 9 units, 8 buildings, 12 tech upgrades (most are repeatable)
  • Up to 99 active units per player
  • AoE2 controls & behaviors (let me know if something seems off, it's been a while)
  • Savefiles¹ (save in the pause menu to generate a screenshot, drag and drop to load)
  • Original soundtrack
  • wololoooo

Defeat the enemy queen to win!

It's playable on:

  • desktop with mouse (best experience, download here)
  • mobile/tablet (on bbs the page might scroll around - for a better experience try playing on itch)
  • handheld console

When the game first launches, open the pause menu and select the appropriate controls mode.

¹there are some caveats with savefiles, see the note on itch


I tried to stay as faithful to AoE2 controls as possible, but if you've never played or you need a refresher, check out the gifs below. If you prefer, there are also video versions embedded on itch (that way you can pause etc).

desktop tutorial (gif)

mobile tutorial (gif)

Note: Playing on mobile from BBS is a little broken, the page might scroll around as you drag onscreen. For a better experience try playing on itch.

handheld tutorial (gif)

advanced controls

The following controls try to copy some of AOE's quality-of-life shortcuts:

  • Double-click on a unit to select all visible units of that type
  • Left-click (or x) on a unit's portrait to deselect it
  • Right-click (or o) on a unit's portrait to select just it
  • Right-click when placing a building to build another one of the same type (replaces shift)
  • Workers automatically know how to allocate themselves to farms (e.g. with 5 workers selected, you can build 5 farms and they will all farm a different one)

tech tree


thank you to:

here's the uncompressed and highly commented sourcecode if anyone is curious. lots of token hacks and pretty tersely named variables, so hopefully the comments help demystify what's happening (i was originally attempting trying not to use shrinko but i caved once i added in helper text)

itch link for downloads and stuff: https://eeooty.itch.io/age-of-ants

Cart #age_of_ants-7 | 2023-03-24 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

have fun! if you'd like, share savefiles of your games (they will still work even on the win/lose screen)


v1.7 (2023-03-24)

  • fix bug where units will stop short or not attack buildings behind fog of war
  • fix bug where game would crash shortly after loading game
  • fix bug where an enemy castle or tower could get undiscovered if it attacks a ladybug
  • fix fog borders appearing on far right edge of map even when those tiles are explored
  • enemy units attacking you from fog of war now get "discovered" (same behavior that buildings already had)
  • if you lose visibility of an enemy while chasing them, attacker will now continue to its last known location

v1.6 (2023-03-14)

  • fix bug where AI attackers could stall in the middle of the map
  • fix bug where AI sometimes didn't repair buildings
  • fix bug where a worker ant could drop resources off at an opponent mound (now it goes back to queen)
  • fix possible out of memory crash when there are too many active units
  • fix bug where mounds could take an extra long time to register as drop-offs
  • added sfx to difficulty selection in title screen

v1.5 (2023-03-11)

  • fix bug where HP would be very messed up (much lower) when loading a saved game
  • fix bug where unit spreading out wouldn't work on the right half of the map
  • fix bug where you could cancel an enemy building construction
  • fix bug where ladybug dying on an already-exhausted resource tile would produce a tile with infinite food
  • better army composition in endgame for hard ai
  • adjust damage multiplier table slightly
  • allow loading games on mobile via file upload button (itch.io only)
  • improve title screen font slightly

v1.4 (2023-02-28)

  • fix possible infinite loop when a large amount of units were near a building
  • fix bug where archers could walk through buildings when attacking
  • fix bug where if the game starts with the mouse was over where the minimap will be, the camera starts there
  • update "leaf" sprite (green resource) to have more contrast and more closely match the color of green resource value

v1.3 (2023-02-24)

  • new unit: spider web. a light wall built by spiders that can only be crossed by your own spiders
  • new: right-click when placing a building to build another one
  • new: small grass tiles now contain a small amount of plant (green) resource (should reduce confusion)
  • fixed: groups of overlapping units could go through buildings when spreading out (hopefully new algorithm for this is not too buggy/slow!)
  • fixed: when ladybug died, it could drop its food tile not at the closest available spot to it
  • fixed: tile directly above queen's right half was inaccessible
  • fixed: when easy AI started in the bottom-left corner it never built anything

v1.2 (2023-02-07)

  • regeneration tech upgrade now in mantis nest instead of castle
  • farm upgrade is now slightly cheaper
  • show victory if enemy queen is converted
  • make "move" (not "attack-move") the default action on mobile, remove support for attack-move on mobile
  • fixed bug where workers in a clump could move far from a resource and continue gathering
  • fixed bug where population count wouldn't transfer properly after a unit is converted

v1.1 (2023-02-05)

  • fixed bug where gathering workers would drop resources off all the way back to the queen unnecessarily
  • fixed bug where the bottom-right idle worker button would sometimes not detect idle workers (specifically if they depleted all nearby resources of a certain type)
  • fixed bug where double-clicking on a unit that overlapped with a building (e.g. farm) would not select all visible units of that type
  • fixed bug where worker ants would overlap when gathering resources
  • improved late-game AI resource allocation, plus normal and hard AIs now research fireball
  • updated map a little bit with a new mini pond tile
P#125247 2023-02-03 20:58 ( Edited 2023-03-25 03:43)

OMG you did it!

P#125254 2023-02-03 21:00

Brilliant! I love it, so far I played it on Easy and enjoyed a lot 👌

P#125266 2023-02-04 00:31

great game, amazing work! good job, keep it up! i converted the enemy queen to ours and end screen did not appear. i think it is a glitch.

P#125400 2023-02-06 07:14 ( Edited 2023-02-06 08:00)

thanks @Heracleum, glad you enjoyed it!

@mcman thanks for the nice feedback and bug report! i just updated the cart to fix that, along with a few other minor things

P#125488 2023-02-07 20:04

It would be very helpful if the appropriate resource was highlighted when you're mouse hovering over its icon or value in the bottom statistics bar. It's quite hard for me to tell which exactly little greenish thing I should start gathering when I'm out of one of them.

Otherwise, it's an awesome RTS. Super impressive for Pico-8. Thanks for making the game!

P#125719 2023-02-11 11:52

Also, usually AI gets their colony set up and expanded pretty quickly, but once in a while it just won't build any structures while only gathering resources with basic ants, so it can be easily defeated at times. I assume it's a glitch of some sort. Happens on easy difficulty as far as I can tell.

P#125755 2023-02-12 11:27

@lastofavari thanks for the feedback! about the greenish things to gather - i'm guessing these decorative tufts of grass are what's confusing?

i think it's a fair point and will see if i can use a different color (although that'll be tricky!)

also thanks for the bug report about the AI - i'll look into that!

P#125769 2023-02-12 20:04

finally had some time to release v1.3! release notes are at the end of the original post, but fixes include the AI bug pointed out by @lastofavari and the confusion around the grass tiles (which are now gatherable).

this release also introduces a new building type, spider webs. these are lightweight walls that can be built by spiders. they can help keep waves of enemy units out while letting your own spiders through, to deal with any caterpillars or mantises that might arrive

P#126252 2023-02-24 22:10 ( Edited 2023-02-24 22:12)

Congrats on a new version! Nice to have the AI fixed.

What I've meant talking about resource value colours is that since the resource icon in the bottom-left corner doesn't really match the colour of the resource tile on the map (for example bright green thing is not bright green) it's was a bit hard to tell what this 5 pixel tall icon is supposed to represent. But it's probably just me being stupid :)

P#126274 2023-02-25 08:05

ahh i get it now - no that's good feedback, thanks!

i took your suggestion and tried using the darker green as the main color for the "leaf" version of the green resource and i think it looks better now, more contrast. v1.4 released with it, along with some other bug fixes :)

P#126416 2023-02-28 15:32

Came here to say, wow. Also, the music is incredible. Double wow.

P#126435 2023-02-28 20:23

This is amazing! great work :). I love seeing such a well developed rts on Pico8!

P#126853 2023-03-09 16:00

@lewsidboi @olivander65 thanks, much appreciated!

i just published v1.6 with yet another round of bug fixes, which i discovered while trying to beat 2 hards... here's the video of a successful victory in case anyone's interested :)

P#127139 2023-03-14 18:41 ( Edited 2023-03-24 01:56)

okay, probably last update for a while. just released v1.7 with some more bug fixes, and managed to free up another ~75 tokens (thanks _env!) for future scoresub support and possibly AI improvements

also spent some time pretty thoroughly commenting the original sourcecode, mostly for my own future sake. you can check it out here if you're curious

lastly, i also put together a quick tech tree! (added to the original post)

P#127553 2023-03-24 17:34

this game is really cool but I feel like it could have a few different types of ant other than an acid-spitting and warrior ants

P#129689 2023-05-13 15:03

@burnout hi, thanks! those are the two army units produced in the barracks, but by building other buildings you can produce a number of other army units too: spiders (cavalry), beetles (rams), mantises (monks), and caterpillars (trebuchet/catapult). check out the tech tree in the OP!

P#129871 2023-05-18 10:33

Very awesome made! it felt playing just like the original and I didn't had trouble understanding it. It's very impressive to manage so much management in such a tiny enviroment. Bravo!

P#131034 2023-06-16 15:59

@eeooty I made a cheat sheet for the units in the game. Feel free to use it if you want :)

P#131769 2023-07-09 02:50 ( Edited 2023-07-10 17:45)

This is really impressive, and was super fun to play! A great idea and excellent execution. Thank you for making this!

P#132466 2023-07-27 16:20

this is really something special, great work!

P#133928 2023-09-04 21:11

This is a really impressive game!
I've only been able to defeat an easy AI, I feel the jump in difficulty from easy to normal is rather steep, I always get rushed right at the beginning when I'm just starting to get into military stuff 😅
But it's really addicting! I'mm'a have to look up strategies or something!

P#134184 2023-09-11 17:26

thanks everyone, it means so much that you all are enjoying it :)

@olivander65 i love your cheat sheet! maybe i'll add another one later, i'm thinking of making a matrix for what's good against what

@Mitale yeah, i think it is a fairly significant jump. keep at it, you will fend off the waves! happy to share some strategies if you're interested. also, if you or anyone is curious about how the ai difficulties compare, here's the breakdown:

  • easy
    • 14 max workers
    • 26 max total units
    • all units produce 5 times slower
    • doesn't do any tech upgrades
    • only builds 1 castle, barracks, and den
  • normal
    • 27 max workers
    • 52 max total units
    • builds several castles and military buildings
  • hard
    • 41 max workers
    • 78 max total units
    • builds 2 more castles than normal
    • cheats: resource tiles that it mines contain 5 more of that resource
    • cheats: starts with a bunch of upgrades for free (regeneration + first level of each of the repeatable upgrades)
P#134311 2023-09-14 05:57

@Mitale There are a couple of playthroughs on YouTube which might give you some ideas on how to improve your play. It definitely helped me.

My two cents on preparing for the AI hordes:

Build up your numbers quickly. During the start of the game, keep asking yourself what limits you from building units faster (more food? more mounds? multiple barracks? unnecessary spending on things that aren't units?). Whatever the limiting factors are for you, tackle them aggressively. Multitasking (and therefore, more worker ants) helps speed up progress: this worker is building more mounds while that one is building a barracks, etc.

P#134417 2023-09-16 01:04

Gnar Gnar

P#134465 2023-09-16 23:00

I am really enjoying this (read: can't stop playing it). When I'm focusing properly I can deal with medium AI. I've yet to test my mettle against hard though. I feel like I need to really optimise my build orders for that.

Oh god, you've got me thinking about build orders again. I thought I had freed myself from SC2. What hast thou wrought?!

P#135497 2023-10-06 05:28

I'm not really a RTS fan but a good game nonetheless!

P#135511 2023-10-06 16:21

It's stupefying to me how good this is. Doing a demake of simant is huge achievement, but you went ahead and did a simant plus starcraft and I am in awe.

P#135912 2023-10-15 04:11

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