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 Building Microbe Stage

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~sciocont
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Thu May 23, 2013 3:38 pm

Wow, you guys are doing fantastic work.
Quote :
allowing the player to adjust his microbe's metabolism on the fly
What do you mean by this exactly? Do you mean that the player adjusts the efficiencies of organelles in their cells whenever they like?
Quote :
Spoiler:
 
This is excellent. We can discuss it more in an art/interface thread at a later date.

I should have mentioned my desire for a less serious death mechanic earlier, I'm partially to blame for that confusion. I agree with the model where you switch to another member of your species from before your last mutation. Consider that all cleared up?

Quote :
There is an alternative, which is a hybrid between the two interpretations. I'm a little cautious about introducing too many new ideas at this stage, but it may be the best of both worlds:
We have a seperate reproduction bar, which would be coded as another compound. Once this is 80% full you can reproduce. Energy/compounds are used to fill this bar up gradually, the more you have available/surplus the faster it fills up. The bar shouldn't go down (unless you suffer some traumatic injury), only up, though it may freeze below a certain threshold (why worry about reproduction when your starving?). This should be less frustrating than the alternatve, as you don't need to worry about getting your energy above a certain level, only keeping it relatively high for a reasonable amount of time, although your still rewarded for getting it higher.
Ok, I like this, here's an interpretation of how it would work:

  • Every cell has an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) organelle. This organelle is what essentially runs protein synthesis- this isn't a new idea, the ER is a standard starting organelle for your cell, and again, all cells must have one.
  • The ER produces a compound (let's call it reproductase [RpAse]) whenever your cell has enough energy for it to do so (pretty much all of the time, unless you're starving. [RpAse] is made directly from ATP, and no other products.
  • When you have enough reproductase [RpAse] (amount needed should be the number of tiles in your cell), you can reproduce.
  • The size of your population earns you extra mutation points to use in the cell editor.

This system is good because:

  • It's simple, easy to understand. I personally don't like the idea of adding multiple currencies: I want to focus the game on simple mechanics that can be used to produce complex results.
  • It sets a farily regular lifespan for a cell in a resource-rich environment
  • Once you have enough [RpAse], it can never go down again.
  • Population size is taken into account.
  • You can make your reproduction happen faster by upgrading the efficiency of your ER. Now the ER has a defined ingame function and you can use the system to your advantage.

Disadvantages to this system:

  • Population size affects the size of mutations, not the breadth of mutational possibilities. This could be dealt with but would probably require rewriting a bit of where mutations come from.
  • Doesn't specifically incentivize anything other than ER upgrades.

Sound good? Did I miss anything? We seem to be getting very close to a concrete current concept.

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Thu May 23, 2013 4:44 pm

~sciocont wrote:

Quote :
allowing the player to adjust his microbe's metabolism on the fly
What do you mean by this exactly?

The simplest version of my idea would be the ability to temporarily "deactivate" organelles. Inactive organelles would consume little or no resources, but wouldn't give any benefit. Activating them should take some time and / or cost some resources to discourage high-frequency micromanagement. Once they are activated, they consume resources just as normal and provide their benefits.

Interface wise, this could be as easy as clicking an organelle in the microbe with the mouse. If we go with that, a zoom function (mouse wheel, most likely) would be nice to give the player an overview, but make it possible to accurately click a small organelle if necessary.
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Thu May 23, 2013 4:59 pm

Activating and deactivating organelles to save on resources is something i believe most cells do. Even more, we could put some parameters so they are automatically turned on and off, to save on some of the player's micromanagement.

That would be for example, turning off sugar production if the sugar count goes above a certain thereshols (80% capacity) or current energy goes below a certain value (less than 10% ATP). All that parameters could be set up in the microbe editor.
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Thu May 23, 2013 5:04 pm

Nimbal wrote:
~sciocont wrote:

Quote :
allowing the player to adjust his microbe's metabolism on the fly
What do you mean by this exactly?

The simplest version of my idea would be the ability to temporarily "deactivate" organelles. Inactive organelles would consume little or no resources, but wouldn't give any benefit. Activating them should take some time and / or cost some resources to discourage high-frequency micromanagement. Once they are activated, they consume resources just as normal and provide their benefits.

Interface wise, this could be as easy as clicking an organelle in the microbe with the mouse. If we go with that, a zoom function (mouse wheel, most likely) would be nice to give the player an overview, but make it possible to accurately click a small organelle if necessary.
Ok, this is fine. I'd rather have a "pause the game and look at a model of your cell cell close up, along with compound levels" but that's not something we need to discuss currently, I'll just leave it as a note for later.
I'm assuming you have an opinion on the interpretation of Seregon's reproduction model?

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Thu May 23, 2013 5:43 pm

I like the idea of being able to deactivate some organelles. We could go into more detail by prioritising some systems over others, but that's probably not necessary.

Automatically deactivate (e.g.:) sugar production once sugar is near 100% is actually built into the compound system. A process' rate falls when one of its outputs is plentiful, or one of its inputs is lacking, although it will never actually stop (unless something reaches 100% or 0%, which should almost never happen). We could add hard cutoffs when a process stops completely, but that gives us more parameters to tweak, so I'd suggest not doing so yet.

I agree with scio's simplification of the reproduction/mutation system (simpler than I'd like, but close enough), except on one point. We need some sort of seperate pool for different traits, primarily becuase it prevents players (or AI) from repeatedly mutating the same traits one generation after the next. The alternative is a common pool for all mutation points, but some sort of cooldown on how much you can spend on each group of traits.
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Thu May 23, 2013 6:50 pm

Seregon wrote:
I agree with scio's simplification of the reproduction/mutation system (simpler than I'd like, but close enough), except on one point. We need some sort of seperate pool for different traits, primarily becuase it prevents players (or AI) from repeatedly mutating the same traits one generation after the next. The alternative is a common pool for all mutation points, but some sort of cooldown on how much you can spend on each group of traits.
Why not introduce some sort of rotation on available mutations?

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Thu May 23, 2013 6:54 pm

That works too, but could get really annoying if you need a particular mutation (e.g.: more speed after meeting a new predator) but have to wait several rounds before it comes up.
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Thu May 23, 2013 7:03 pm

Seregon wrote:
That works too, but could get really annoying if you need a particular mutation (e.g.: more speed after meeting a new predator) but have to wait several rounds before it comes up.
Actually, why not use populations to solve this? Make it so that after you mutate a specific organelle, you have to make it to some population milestone before you can do it again. The problem, I guess would be for species at a carrying capacity which isn't about to change. Hm. That's probably not the best idea.

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Thu May 23, 2013 9:59 pm

I seem to have missed alot of conversation (finals) , for a guy who was writing/wrote a microbe stage prototype, sorry. please forgive me.

I read through the last few pages, and it appears the death mechanic is being discussed along with reproduction and evolution (which I thought we already had conceptualized)

Like we discussed in an earlier topic, death and permadeath are issues that we will have different difficulties for. Permadeath only happens in a sort of hardcore mode in which you have a population number and once it hits 0 you are dead, permanently).
When one dies:
We switch to a cell of the species (apparently from an earlier) mutation I do not agree with this little part, what if the player just had bad luck and got murdered by chance and what they did was a perfectly viable mutation.
I say we have a counter, a sort of life counter and once it hits a certain point then it goes back to an earlier mutation. 3 seems like a good number for this. I feel going back to an earlier mutation is very punishing and should be at least negated.

I like the current idea for reproduction.

Evolution, I feel we should be mutating/adding different organelles, I like the idea of doing it based on a population level however, we need to add another factor to this, like the competition or how well your creature is competing (which we will be keeping track of anyway).

For we will be upgrading parts procedurally (at least this is what we discussed in the organ thread)
------
edit: is this post seriously being looked over as a side note, we don't want to punish the player too much.
We need a death counter so that we only take away mutations once you die a fixed number of times.


Last edited by untrustedlife on Fri May 24, 2013 9:05 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Fri May 24, 2013 3:59 am

~sciocont wrote:
I'm assuming you have an opinion on the interpretation of Seregon's reproduction model?
I'm a little skeptic, to be honest. The most glaring issue is that (in its current form) it requires the simulation of populations, but nobody has spelled out how we should do this. I have some superficial knowledge of the math behind population dynamics, but how does it fit into the gameplay of the microbe stage? What kind of data do we feed into the equations? How will the player's actions influence that data?

Second, as I've noted before, I'm not convinced that having reproduction coupled to "high energy over an extended period of time" will be better (as in "more fun") than just requiring high energy at the time of reproduction, if coupling it to energy at all. It would probably be best to decide that through playtesting, though.

~sciocont wrote:

Doesn't specifically incentivize anything other than ER upgrades.
Making upgrades to any one organelle progressively more expensive should take care of that.

Slightly unrelated, but since you brought up an organelle that every single cell has, there's a small issue with the microbe editor right now. It would make implementation a little easier if there were always a "kernel" to the microbe that the player can't remove. That way, we don't have to worry about what happens when player removes the last hex or, conversely, adds the first hex to the shape. Those are edge cases I'd like to avoid since they pose some challenges both in the user interface and in the implementation underneath.

So, could we use the ER for that? That would also be an elegant solution as to how the player selects it for upgrading. It would just be another organelle, the only difference being that it can't be removed.

If you have other ideas for a fixed microbe kernel, just keep in mind that it should be relatively small and circular in shape, making it easier for the player to build the shape he wants around it. I'd say one central hex and all 6 of its neighbours should be the limit. As long as we make them fit, we could also add multiple organelles to the kernel (nucleus / nucleoid come to mind).
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Fri May 24, 2013 8:17 am

Nimbal wrote:
The most glaring issue is that (in its current form) it requires the simulation of populations, but nobody has spelled out how we should do this

This is exactly what we're trying to do in the population dynamics thread. It's not done yet, but it will be. Until it is, giving every species a fixed population should work ok.

Nimbal wrote:
I'm not convinced that having reproduction coupled to "high energy over an extended period of time" will be better

Actually, the requirements for reproduction are seperate. For my system all I really want is that reproduction takes a variable time, dependent on the actions of the player. I don't mind whether that means reaching x% energy, staying above an energy threshold for x seconds, or building up a reproduction bar/compound over time. I prefer the last option, but the evolution system would work with any of those 3 (or others).

Nimbal wrote:
It would make implementation a little easier if there were always a "kernel" to the microbe that the player can't remove

The obvious organelle for this would be the nucleus, which every eukaryotic cell needs, and which is practically spherical. The ER and golgi apparatus are also required by most cells, but they're not really round, and tend to spread throughout the whole cell. In this image for example, you have the nucleus near the middle (1 & 2), the ER surrounding it (5, and 8 i think), and then the golgi apparatus to one side (6).
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Fri May 24, 2013 9:47 am

Seregon wrote:
Nimbal wrote:
The most glaring issue is that (in its current form) it requires the simulation of populations, but nobody has spelled out how we should do this

This is exactly what we're trying to do in the population dynamics thread. It's not done yet, but it will be. Until it is, giving every species a fixed population should work ok.
We can just remove the last provision "The size of your population earns you extra mutation points to use in the cell editor." until pop. dynamics is implemented.

Quote :
Nimbal wrote:
I'm not convinced that having reproduction coupled to "high energy over an extended period of time" will be better

Actually, the requirements for reproduction are seperate. For my system all I really want is that reproduction takes a variable time, dependent on the actions of the player. I don't mind whether that means reaching x% energy, staying above an energy threshold for x seconds, or building up a reproduction bar/compound over time. I prefer the last option, but the evolution system would work with any of those 3 (or others).
The ER based system doesn't really require very high energy, it just requires more energy than the absolute minimum needed for the cell to function, which shouldn't be too difficult to obtain.

Nimbal wrote:
It would make implementation a little easier if there were always a "kernel" to the microbe that the player can't remove

Seregon s correct: the Kernel would need to contain the ER, Golgi, and nucleus.
Also, are you sure you want the cells to begin that small? I'd say we have a slightly larger kernel, here's your proposition and a few others.

An additional pro to the ER based reproduction is that size is directly linked to the minimum generation time, so there is some incentive to build small cells of you want to be able to adapt quickly. Also, this brings up the question of cell orientation in the editor: will the anterior-posterior axis of the cell be along the straight lines of hexes in the editor (horizontal lines here) or along horizontal jagged rows of hexes (the vertical lines here) I'm assuming the straight ones.

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Fri May 24, 2013 12:32 pm

Werent we going to have prokaryote cells as well? In that case, the nucleus can't be part of the kernel because there is no nucleus in a prokariote cell.
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Fri May 24, 2013 1:02 pm

That was something I was wondering as well. Although, now that I think about it, it may have been agreed that all life would be eukaryotic, at least for now.

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Fri May 24, 2013 1:11 pm

Daniferrito wrote:
Werent we going to have prokaryote cells as well? In that case, the nucleus can't be part of the kernel because there is no nucleus in a prokariote cell.
We decided a while back only to have eukaryotes be playable, since there just wasn't much to do as a bacteria.

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PostSubject: gui concept   Fri May 24, 2013 2:33 pm

ok ive done the first rough and ready gui concept for the microbe stage.

youll have to excuse the poorly drawn microbes because i couldnt be bothered collating what we have and using that instead, and also the poor graphics, didn't want to spend too long on it.

Spoiler:
 

as you can see the menu is at the top, and the menu options will change colour and display their box below, on mouseover of the pertinent menu option, as shown below. when the mouse is not hovering over either the menu option in the top bar OR the actual dialogue box being displayed, the box does not display and dissappears. also, i wasnt sure whether to lower the opacity of the dialogue box green background a little. I now think it may look better that way but i cant be bothered going back to change it now.

Spoiler:
 
Note: I forgot to stop the uploader shrinking the image, sorry.

on mouseover of the molecules, their formula is displayed in a small green box i havnt shown (also, if you cant work it out, blue=nitrogen, red=oxygen, black=carbon, pale grey=hydrogen). you change between viewing external and internal biochemistry by clicking the tabs on the left of the box. they both would look exactly the same though aesthetically. Now one more bit: the structure bit.

Spoiler:
 

since it may not be clear what they are, in order from top to bottom, thats a nucleus, mitochondrion, chloroplast, thermoplast (i modelled this off chemosynthetic bacteria with those orange sulfurous blobs), flagellum, some cillia and a vaculole (or whatever you want it for, could be a liposome if you like). The dots fill in when another of that organelle is acquired. Here ive got a limit of up to 5 of any organelle. I havnt bothered making a concept for the metabolism tab because it would look very similar to the biochemistry dialogue box with the bars (i think id actually show the names of the processes instead of a diagrammatic view because i cant think of a simpler way).

this is my first idea for a microbe stage gui. call it 'minimalist' for now, but i have some other ideas ill get around to making concepts of. i think it would be good if the player could choose a gui to use from a dropdown list with, say, 'minimalist' as default. so, what do you all think?

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Fri May 24, 2013 3:19 pm

It's not bad. For most of gameplay I want the GUI to be as minimal as possible. So far, I've been planning on having no upfront GUI during cell stage gameplay, and having the visual cues embedded in your cell. This doesn't mean that your work is for naught, since we should obviously include a pause GUI where you can check up on stats.

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Fri May 24, 2013 3:26 pm

how about having the menu bar fade in when the mouse is moved to the top of the screen, then when the mouse is taken away the menu bar stays for a few seconds then fades away, like a web browser in full screen mode or something.
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Fri May 24, 2013 3:52 pm

hypoxanthine wrote:
how about having the menu bar fade in when the mouse is moved to the top of the screen, then when the mouse is taken away the menu bar stays for a few seconds then fades away, like a web browser in full screen mode or something.
Yeah, sure.

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Sat May 25, 2013 4:50 pm

I just pushed a big update to the specification. The changes are pretty extensive, so I urge you to read over the complete specification with fresh eyes, noting anything wrong, inconsistent or ambiguous. Remember, anything that is not explicitly mentioned will not be in the game (at least not for a while), so if you miss anything, speak up. For example, we'll have to talk about sound soon.

Take note of the "open questions" section at the bottom. To recap:

  • How will the player unlock new organelle types? I couldn't find a definitive answer here in the thread.
  • How will we handle movement? Simplified, ignoring the actual placement of movement organelles, or a little more accurate, but possibly hard to control?
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Sat May 25, 2013 5:51 pm

Will we be able to play as different microbes, such as amoebas that use slow pseudopods to move, trapping their prey and engulfing them? Euglenas that use chloroplasts to produce their own food, or something else... Maybe there would be an option where you could be a host off a multicellular organism, like Giardia, but maybe that's a little too far to even make code for.
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Sat May 25, 2013 5:54 pm

My personal opinion is:
- The player has to upgrade one of his mandatory organelles to unlock new ones(the player will be reproducing anyway for upgrades if counting the number of cell divisions player eventually gets everything on a plate but with this he'll be actually working towards that one upgrade he wants)
and
-Apply impulses at the points of attachment for each movement organelle (at least for the player cell if its too much for all of them, you know let the editor do more than edit looks "cough like spore cough")
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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Sat May 25, 2013 6:43 pm

Nimbal wrote:
I just pushed a big update to the specification. The changes are pretty extensive, so I urge you to read over the complete specification with fresh eyes, noting anything wrong, inconsistent or ambiguous. Remember, anything that is not explicitly mentioned will not be in the game (at least not for a while), so if you miss anything, speak up. For example, we'll have to talk about sound soon.

Take note of the "open questions" section at the bottom. To recap:

  • How will the player unlock new organelle types? I couldn't find a definitive answer here in the thread.
  • How will we handle movement? Simplified, ignoring the actual placement of movement organelles, or a little more accurate, but possibly hard to control?

Remember to add in that organelles and enzymes will be distinguishable by the colour and shape of their particles.

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Sat May 25, 2013 9:20 pm

The only problem with the specifications is the "enzymes". I realize you don't like "toxins", and I agree that it could be improved, but "enzyme" has a specific chemical definition that the "toxins" do not meet.
Why not call them "agents"?

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Sat May 25, 2013 9:24 pm

If enzymes don't work, toxins would be fine. Agents would work too, but right off the bat sounds less biological. Nonetheless, this is pretty trivial, so you decide.

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PostSubject: Re: Building Microbe Stage   Today at 2:39 pm

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Building Microbe Stage
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Thrive Game Development :: Development :: Design :: Gameplay Stages :: Microbe-
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