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 Starting a New Game

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NickTheNick
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PostSubject: Starting a New Game   Tue May 27, 2014 3:53 am

I'd promised to make this thread a while back, but I first wanted to find an old thread in which the concepts for this had been laid out. Unfortunately, I could not find it after a lot of searching, and racking my brains has yielded no result, so we will have to start from scratch. 

Before the player enters the Microbe Stage, before they reach the initial loading screen, before they even start playing the game, the player will have to setup their game. They will enter the New Game screen where they will set the settings for their new game to play in. Now, certain points of discussion here rely on what we agree on in the saved games thread, so we will need to discuss wait on some concepts on galaxy generation to be laid out there before this can be fully answered. 

Basically, the questions to address are:

How much power does the player have in customizing their starting location?
How much of the power to customize is only unlocked through in-game accomplishment? (i.e. completing a certain number of stages)
How many of the settings are out of the player's control, regardless of accomplishment?

From what I recall, I believe the idea was that the player can choose a completely randomized home-world, or they can choose from a list of preset planets. The ability to customize their homeworld to a greater extent would be unlocked by reaching either a certain stage (such as the Society Stage) or completing a whole game up to Ascension, it was never really decided. This unlocked customization would still be limited, but would be an improvement over complete randomization or picking from presets. 

Other than that, I don't want to say anything more at the moment, as I try to remember what else was said. So, we need ideas. Discuss.

---------

New Game Settings

Galaxy Generation

Star System Generation

Planet Generation

Microbial Generation

Gameplay Settings

AI Difficulty
Evolution Rate (Generation Length)
Technology Rate
Natural Disaster Frequency

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Last edited by NickTheNick on Sat May 31, 2014 1:49 am; edited 5 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Starting a New Game   Tue May 27, 2014 7:26 am

Wasn't there also going to be a set of difficulty customisation options in the initial setup menu? For instance, the player would choose the likelihood and frequency of natural disasters and mass extinction events. Of course, this doesn't apply to the microbe stage and won't be applicable for some time, but there are other factors that can influence the difficulty level of a game. I think AI evolution rate was discussed somewhere as being a useful variable, with a shorter generation time equating to harder difficulty as it would require the player to think more about which adaptations they utilise to combat ever-changing AI cells. Likewise, a longer generation time will reduce the reaction rate of the rest of an ecosystem to the player's changes, overall making it easier.

These three factors (natural disasters, mass extinctions and evolution rate) could be changed individually by the player (some will want to pit themselves against a strong AI without random event interference, while others may prefer an environment where they see how well they can adapt to random catastrophes rather than facing the AI). Alternatively, values of each of these could be used for preset difficulty levels (easy would have a slow evolution rate, zero chance of mass extinctions and a small chance of natural disasters, and extreme/hardcore at the other end of the spectrum would have a rapid AI evolution rate, frequent natural disasters and the odd mass extinction). I think allowing each variable to be changed separately would be better, but preset difficulties could be provided too.

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PostSubject: Re: Starting a New Game   Tue May 27, 2014 7:38 am

Another important question (since I have no time to answer right now): Once we decide on a certain feature set, what will we focus on first?
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PostSubject: Re: Starting a New Game   Wed May 28, 2014 3:43 am

@Oliver: Ah, those are some good settings as well. I agree that setting the likelihood of individual components is better than a general difficulty slider. 

I think it's a good idea to have a setting for evolution rate, because the evolutionary stages could potentially get very long for a player waiting for the civilization stages. The question becomes, should a higher rate of evolution decrease the MP costs of all mutations, or should it decrease the length of a generation (i.e. the time between birth and reproduction)?

I don't think mass extinctions should be their own setting, because they are caused by natural or artificial phenomena, so the natural disaster setting would effectively control that. 

As such, it appears we have several different categories of settings for a new game, because I was also thinking that the player might want to customize how their solar system and their galaxy is generated. We can use this thread to brainstorm all the different options we know we will need at the moment. I'll update the OP to create lists.

@moopli: What do you mean? Could you elaborate?

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PostSubject: Re: Starting a New Game   Wed May 28, 2014 7:29 pm

NickTheNick wrote:
@moopli: What do you mean? Could you elaborate?
Certainly. Currently, when you start microbe stage, you immediately start controlling a standard template cell, in the same tidepool every time. Once we've reached the tenth or so space/ascension release, or some other suitably far time down the road, we'll presumably have a well-featured game configuration / galaxy generator. Since it's pretty clear to me that we wouldn't create the entire galaxy generator for Microbe stage, I want discussion on features to also include the general milestone for inclusion.

For example:

  1. We stick with some basic tidepool customization  for the Microbe releases
  2. Some time in Early Multicellular we add a more fully-featured start-biome customization
  3. Either soon before, or soon after, our first Aware Stage release, we add planet generation, and that includes some customization options too. By this time, people will probably add options for disasters and so on whenever they feel like.
  4. Chances are we'd have simple solar system generation in a release soon after; replacing whatever temporary solution (skybox?) we had before. Thus, people get the chance to poke somewhere (okay, not just anywhere, but somewhere with a viable star) on the HR diagram, and play a planet orbiting such a star.
  5. The rest of the galaxy will probably come in bits and pieces, until an imminent Space Stage triggers a rush of interstellar work.

NickTheNick wrote:
The question becomes, should a higher rate of evolution decrease the MP costs of all mutations, or should it decrease the length of a generation (i.e. the time between birth and reproduction)?
Decrease generation length -- I'd find it more realistic to model more small steps than fewer big ones.


Last edited by moopli on Sat May 31, 2014 9:24 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : formatting -- ugh why do lists have so much padding)
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PostSubject: Re: Starting a New Game   Sat May 31, 2014 1:47 am

Ah okay, that makes more sense and I agree with it. So then, the question becomes, what are some configurable settings we could have for the Microbe Stage?

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PostSubject: Re: Starting a New Game   Sat May 31, 2014 9:51 am

NickTheNick wrote:
what are some configurable settings we could have for the Microbe Stage?
For one,
Oliveriver wrote:
AI evolution rate was discussed somewhere as being a useful variable
I've also seen mention of location -- tidepool, stromatolite, hydrothermal vent, etc. Above I mentioned that we start with a template cell, perhaps starting cells could be chosen from a template set, or procedurally generated (ie, you keep clicking regenerate until it gives you something you like). We could also choose "start time" -- pick one of the (possibly quite a few) points in the auto-generated early history of your world when eukaryotes are flourishing. Together with start location, this would make a starting scenario of sorts, which we could template at first and generate later.

For a more rigorous approach, here are some variables that could technically be customized:

  • Environment
  • --Compound concentrations -- covered by choosing location
  • --Free organelle concentrations (we probably won't want to expose these in the starting options)
  • --AI cell types -- covered by choosing location, hopefully procedural
  • Microbes
  • --You -- not too much I'd say
  • --AI cells themselves -- probably bad idea, god powers should be saved for ascension
  • Game rules
  • --Evolution rate
  • ----Mean generation time
  • ----mutation budget
  • --Biochemistry/cytology -- probably best left for modding, but, for example, we could have a LAWK toggle to disable thermoplasts
  • ----Compounds
  • ----Processes
  • ----Organelles
  • In-game options it would make sense to be able to choose before starting
  • --Visual themes (realistic, colorful, something for the visually-impaired)


Last edited by moopli on Sat May 31, 2014 10:47 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : added start time)
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PostSubject: Re: Starting a New Game   Sun Jun 01, 2014 2:35 am

From what I can see, stromatolites are found on beaches, in tidepool-esque environments, so I don't think it's really any different from a tidepool. But I like the idea of choosing whether to start in a tidepool or near a hydrothermal vent. We ought to include descriptions, though, so that a player could decide which one suits how they want to evolve their species better. 

For the starting cell, I'm pretty sure you just start with a kernel/nucleus, so there is not much  in the way of customization other than the colouration of your cell. 

Otherwise, those all sound like good microbial starting options to me.

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