There are several game elements in AntMe! that continually interact with each other.
The ant simulation takes place on a small area of virtual forest floor. It’s represented by an elegant brown rectangle. The size of the map is measured in ant steps and depends on the number of ant colonies participating in the game. You can edit the formula used to calculate it in the settings.
The anthill is the heart of every colony. Every player gets a randomly-placed anthill in which all their new ants are born. Ants that return to the anthill regenerate their energy values. The foodstuffs that the ants gather must also be brought back to the anthill so that 1) they can eat them (yum!) and 2) the player can earn points (yay!). Each anthill has a different colored flag. The color of the flag indicates which player the anthill belongs to.
The ants are the heart of the game. The player controls the ants by writing and editing the source code for a computer program. Depending on the program that the player writes, the ants will wander around the map searching for food, defend their brothers and sisters against hungry bugs and rival colonies, or just run around in circles. Every player receives a total number of ants (normally 100 ants per player, but the number can be changed in the settings). All of the ants behave according to the same program, which the player writes and edits. They’re born in the anthill and they need to return to it regularly if they get too tired or if they’ve picked up some food. The color of the ants depends on the colony they belong to.
Ants can detect each other, but unfortunately, they can’t “talk” with each other directly. Ants communicate with markers. The markers are our version of the pheromones or scents that ants use to communicate in real life. They can be sprayed by any ant at any time, depending on how you program them. Other ants then react to the information encoded in the markers, also depending on how you program them.
Sugar is one of the two foodstuffs your ants will encounter on the map. What makes sugar special is that individual ants are able to take small pieces of it. Ants take small cubes from a larger mound and then carry them back to the anthill, earning points for the player.
The second foodstuff scattered around the map is pieces of fruit. Unlike sugar, fruit must be carried back to the anthill all at once. One ant alone might not be able to move it, but several can team up to carry it back to the anthill together.
Food isn’t the only thing your ants will encounter on the map—there’s also danger lurking there in the form of bugs, the traditional enemies of ants (and programmers!). Bugs don’t move around the map in a coordinated way. They don’t actively hunt. But if they do come across an ant, they’ll try to eat it. A single ant doesn’t stand much of a chance in combat against a bug. If several ants battle a bug together, though, they might emerge triumphant. You and your ants earn points for every bug they defeat.