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 Editor Advice

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MitochondriaBox
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Sat Oct 04, 2014 5:45 pm

Since the Auto-Evo's going to base AI organisms' edits on various factors, then make its move, what if the game would kind of do the same for the players' organism, minus the editing, just give advice that can be asked for in the Organism Editor?

Basically, the game would suggest the edits that it would make if the player's species was an AI. For example, if the game noticed that the player's predatory species had a high death rate due to starvation, and noticed things like the players' color clashing with their surroundings, the game would suggest a color change, among other solutions.

This hopefully wouldn't be too hard to implement, and could help players that aren't sure what to do. The only concern would be the additional Org Editor GUI button, and making the game translate the game's Auto-Evo editing into words.
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Sat Oct 04, 2014 6:14 pm

MitochondriaBox wrote:
Since the Auto-Evo's going to base AI organisms' edits on various factors, then make its move, what if the game would kind of do the same for the players' organism, minus the editing, just give advice that can be asked for in the Organism Editor?

Basically, the game would suggest the edits that it would make if the player's species was an AI. For example, if the game noticed that the player's predatory species had a high death rate due to starvation, and noticed things like the players' color clashing with their surroundings, the game would suggest a color change, among other solutions.

This hopefully wouldn't be too hard to implement, and could help players that aren't sure what to do. The only concern would be the additional Org Editor GUI button, and making the game translate the game's Auto-Evo editing into words.


Firstly I'm very new so everything I say may be wrong.

Secondly this should probably be it's own thread.

Thirdly these are some very interesting questions. I have been talking to Seregon a bit and it sounds like these are things that need to be addressed (though there may be answers to these questions I am not aware of).

So, considering the microbe stage for now, when you play the game you have two elements. One is the microbe editor and the swimming around picking up compounds for your personal use.

The other is the population dynamics / compound system / auto-evo. So how are these things related?

As you say it would be nice if the player had their own species. That is when you design your microbe in the editor this design is fed into the population dynamics as one of the species that is then modelled along with all the others.

However then what is the meaning of swimming around and picking up compounds? How does what happens to your individual microbe related to what is happening to your species in the population dynamics?

When you get back to the editor screen are you editing your microbe solely to maximise it's chances in the population dynamics? (As you suggest auto-evo may be able to guess what is best for you). If so why would you bother with the swimming around at all?

Is it that doing better as an individual gives your species a boost? If so what type? Does doing badly as an individual give your species a penalty?

Does how your species is doing in the background affect the gameplay of you swimming around? If your species suffers heavy predation does that mean lots of predators are spawned around you? If your species runs low on compounds is that a problem?

Is it that you can only evolve your species if you get back to the microbe editor? (Which, if I am not mistaken, means keeping your ATP above a certain level for a certain amount of time). And so you are incentivised to get as much energy as possible so you can change your creature.

What does that mean for auto-evo? If you are slow to get a chance to change your creature does that mean all the others will have been evolved a lot by the time you change a little? Can you game it so you evolve much faster than the other organisms?

Presumably a reasonable balance is that if you do nothing (as in you just sit still and refuse to play) the population dynamics / compounds / auto-evo system runs for a while (and the other species get ahead of you) and then it stops and waits for you. If you are very fast back to the editor that is an advantage for you but it has to be capped so it's not game breakingly fast (Although it's not a huge problem if your species evolves startlingly fast).

Hope this is interesting and has not all been decided already.
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Sat Oct 04, 2014 10:50 pm

tjwhale wrote:
Secondly this should probably be it's own thread.

I'ma wait for administrative permission.
As for your questions, I don't know everything, but I'll do my best.


tjwhale wrote:
So, considering the microbe stage for now, when you play the game you have two elements. One is the microbe editor and the swimming around picking up compounds for your personal use.

The other is the population dynamics / compound system / auto-evo. So how are these things related?

Well, population dynamics is, obviously, how many there are left of a species, but it also works as a sort of mechanism for the auto-evo mechanics; checking how many die, and how they die, is useful for deciding how to change an AI species. The compound system, as far as I know, only has to do with individual microbes, but is a mechanism of both of them, one might say.

tjwhale wrote:
When you get back to the editor screen are you editing your microbe solely to maximise it's chances in the population dynamics? (As you suggest auto-evo may be able to guess what is best for you). If so why would you bother with the swimming around at all?

Because, for one, people expect and want to play as the organism they've designed. Two, the developers have discussed so long about the swimming around that cutting it out is counterproductive and unwise. Three, well, it's not going to be as monotonous as you think; there's going to be plenty of variety going on. Plus, you kind of need to do the whole "swimming around" think to be ready for the later Organism Mode.
Also, since the whole reason Thrive is around is to succeed Spore in a way, for the sake of people who wanted to play 2005 Spore, so cutting out the swimming around parts could be likened to the underwater segment of the Creature Stage being cut out of Spore; people would be Belguimming mad.

tjwhale wrote:
Does how your species is doing in the background affect the gameplay of you swimming around? If your species suffers heavy predation does that mean lots of predators are spawned around you? If your species runs low on compounds is that a problem?

Well, not everyone's going to be rendered at once, although what they're doing could be kept as a private note by the game. I'm not sure how population dynamics would work in a microscopic world, though, but the second two stages would certainly have that. Therefore, it might not do too much to you swimming 'rind. Predation wouldn't lead to more predators; rather, a higher population of them would lead to their appearance.
Also, keep in mind that your entire species doesn't have a single compound stockpile they're magically sharing; each cell has to find things to fill its own vacuoles.

tjwhale wrote:
Is it that you can only evolve your species if you get back to the microbe editor? (Which, if I am not mistaken, means keeping your ATP above a certain level for a certain amount of time). And so you are incentivised to get as much energy as possible so you can change your creature.

Actually, your cell makes an imaginary compound called reproductase that is meant to be the key to the Microbe Editor. Really, the incentive is to survive long enough for your nucleus to craft the appropriate amount of reproductase (5 by default).

tjwhale wrote:
Presumably a reasonable balance is that if you do nothing (as in you just sit still and refuse to play) the population dynamics / compounds / auto-evo system runs for a while (and the other species get ahead of you) and then it stops and waits for you. If you are very fast back to the editor that is an advantage for you but it has to be capped so it's not game breakingly fast (Although it's not a huge problem if your species evolves startlingly fast).

Why would the dynamics need to stop? Being game breakingly fast isn't exactly a problem, since you'll be asked at the start for how quickly you want to evolve, as well as your rival species (plural). Also, since Thrive is about realism/believably, then the population dynamics coming to a stop goes against that.

Good questions. Of course, I don't know the definitive answers for every question you had, so, y'know, maybe some higher-ups could answer your questions better than I could. Hope I came close enough.

EDIT: I thought of this while I was pacing around; there could be another neat thing about the "swimming around" portion of the game. It's unintentional symbolism, but still. Anyway, in the Microbe through Aware Stage, your species is divided into individuals; Law of the Jungle. However, starting at the Awakening Stage, you're working with your peers as a species, fighting back against these ancient laws; you can finally Thrive together as an allied force. Sure, everyone' still just trying to survive, but it works quite nicely to show that you've evolved past the individual survival level. Controlling your whole species from day one without being limited to one guy wouldn't make much sense, in this regard.
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Sun Oct 05, 2014 6:55 am

Thanks for the detailed response.

I'm really not arguing in any way for the swimming around to be cut out (that's obviously madness at this stage of development and I like it  :D ). What I am saying is that the swimming around and population dynamics need to be linked together in a meaningful way. It's very dissatisfying if all the "real" game play happens in the editor screen and the swimming around is just a distraction until you can get back there again.

Though maybe the race to get back as quickly as possible is enough incentive to make it interesting.

The reason it matters if the other organisms evolve a lot faster than you is that auto-evo selects a positive mutation each time it gives them one (I believe). So if you just sit there, always the same, you will get a lot of predators who are specialised in the environment and who out compete you for resources and eventually your species will become extinct (though exactly what extinction means is another huge question).

Finally

MitochondriaBox wrote:
Also, keep in mind that your entire species doesn't have a single compound stockpile they're magically sharing; each cell has to find things to fill its own vacuoles.

this is a rather complicated question but suffice to say I believe your species will share compounds freely. I believe the idea is either to have an average individual which is modellend and then keep track of your population number or just to keep track of your species as a pile of compounds.

It's not computationally feasible to have thousands of members of thousands of species and keep track of the compound levels in each one.

Moreover it doesn't add very much.

The question of variation inside a species is interesting but I don't think it's very possible (or meaningful) to keep track of. Of course in real evolution variation is everything but in the game an entire species has the same structure (DNA, organelles etc) and so does it matter if some of them are weak and some are strong?

So yes I believe it is wise that a species as a whole shares a pool of resources. And that brings us back to the question of how your actions matter? Could there be some mechanism where if you personally have more resources than your species then your species resources are increased a bit? And if you have less they are decreased? That means swimming around well is really helpful in every way. You'll spot your species is low in oxygen and go and get a lot for them.

That feels like quite a good link to me. But as I say I'm very new and I rather see my role as assisting Seregon as best I can. Seregon's put loads of work in and has some really great ideas and things are coming together nicely.
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PostSubject: TEMPORARY THREAD   Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:28 am

tjwhale wrote:
The reason it matters if the other organisms evolve a lot faster than you is that auto-evo selects a positive mutation each time it gives them one (I believe). So if you just sit there, always the same, you will get a lot of predators who are specialized in the environment and who out compete you for resources and eventually your species will become extinct (though exactly what extinction means is another huge question).

Yep. The AI getting more and more cool stuff than the Player is a concern. However, the player's probably not going to just sit there and stay the same, but, if he/she did, well, catching up isn't too hard (you just need enough reproductase). Heck, keeping your cell smaller apparently prevents your reproductase needs from going above the minimum, and you can even return to the minimum by reducing size, so there's that. Also, not all members of an AI species change at once; I'm pretty sure that sitting back and waiting would just cause more AI species to occur, but the old ones would still be around until they go extinct, so you'd have plenty of warning to evolve. Otherwise, yeah, you're screwed, and have to start over at a previous point of your choosing (preferably before they started swarming you).

tjwhale wrote:

So yes I believe it is wise that a species as a whole shares a pool of resources. And that brings us back to the question of how your actions matter? Could there be some mechanism where if you personally have more resources than your species then your species resources are increased a bit? And if you have less they are decreased? That means swimming around well is really helpful in every way. You'll spot your species is low in oxygen and go and get a lot for them.

Well, if there really was a global compound supply for a species, then none of them would starve to death, and starving is an important part of evolution. It would tell the player to evolve an extra vacuole, or speed up the mitochondria, or something. Then again, the only AI with organelle storage being kept track of are the ones rendered around you. At the same time, the game's going to render way more space in the future than the releases we have now.

Also, a global storage would get in the way of agent mechanics. Agents. Y'know, the poison and/or bait your cell uses on other cells? If your predators had one huge agent storage, then they'd spam nasal spray (just making fun on how oxy toxy sound like oxytocin) at you, and then you'd either get pwned or they'd all run out at once. And then only one of them would get to use it when they collectively produced enough for another round... Probably resulting in an argument.

Also, how exactly would there be a global compound storage? Maybe they'd share as a multicellular colony, but when they're swimming around as individuals, it's not like they could share from across that distance. Not even if they were both on the screen. Unless there was a magical giant vacuole in the sky.

NOTE: Waiting for administrative permission to start a new thread about an "advice" mechanic in the editor.
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PostSubject: Editor Advice   Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:18 pm

Alright, I thought I'd go ahead, since I received feedback from at least one person to start a thread about this.

MitochondriaBox wrote:
Since the Auto-Evo's going to base AI organisms' edits on various factors, then make its move, what if the game would kind of do the same for the players' organism, minus the editing, just give advice that can be asked for in the Organism Editor?

Basically, the game would suggest the edits that it would make if the player's species was an AI. For example, if the game noticed that the player's predatory species had a high death rate due to starvation, and noticed things like the players' color clashing with their surroundings, the game would suggest a color change, among other solutions.

This hopefully wouldn't be too hard to implement, and could help players that aren't sure what to do. The only concern would be the additional Org Editor GUI button, and making the game translate the game's Auto-Evo editing into words.

Long story short, I had the idea to have an in-editor button to tell the player advice on what to do. Basically, it'd work the same way as the Auto-Evo mechanics just short of the editing part, and simply tell the player what changes it WOULD have made if the player's organism was an AI.
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:33 am

Well, I'm about to go read the main discussion on the Misc thread, but in response to what you've mentioned thus far, there is a big problem with this.

The AI does not choose how to evolve a species each generation off of some guideline or in accordance with some overall strategy. It is purely random what changes are made. This is to simulate random mutation. Therefore, there could never be an AI's advice to what changes to make.

Also, I'd like to see a link to somewhere where the concept on Auto-Evo mentioned guided evolution, because from all the sources I've read the changes that occur to AI species are random.

EDIT: I merged the posts from the Misc thread to this thread, and I'm also going to take a shot at answering some of the raised points of discussion in this topic:

Quote :
I'm really not arguing in any way for the swimming around to be cut out (that's obviously madness at this stage of development and I like it). What I am saying is that the swimming around and population dynamics need to be linked together in a meaningful way. It's very dissatisfying if all the "real" game play happens in the editor screen and the swimming around is just a distraction until you can get back there again.

Editor sessions will essentially be where you control the fate of your species. Population dynamics is pretty much entirely based off of what your organism functions like after you've made changes to it in the editor. Having said that, gameplay is still important because you need to survive long enough to reproduce (or continue after that if you so desire) and so it's in the gameplay that the player actually uses the organism that they created in the editor. If the player dies too many times in the same generation, they will run out of species members to switch to and the game will end.

The player can make bad choices in the editor but deal with it if they play well in the gameplay, or make good choices in the editor but then make many mistakes while playing. However the rest of the species is mostly independent of the player's specific gameplay, and so for them their success is more based off of the editor.

Quote :
Presumably a reasonable balance is that if you do nothing (as in you just sit still and refuse to play) the population dynamics / compounds / auto-evo system runs for a while (and the other species get ahead of you) and then it stops and waits for you. If you are very fast back to the editor that is an advantage for you but it has to be capped so it's not game breakingly fast (Although it's not a huge problem if your species evolves startlingly fast).

Well actually evolution is tied into how soon in their lifetime an organism can reproduce, so there certainly is some incentive to have a species that reproduces sooner and more often to evolve faster (which is not unrealistic, evolution is based off of random mutation from reproduction). However basic laws of nature will ensure that species won't reproduce incredibly fast or slow.

Quote :
The question of variation inside a species is interesting but I don't think it's very possible (or meaningful) to keep track of. Of course in real evolution variation is everything but in the game an entire species has the same structure (DNA, organelles etc) and so does it matter if some of them are weak and some are strong?

So yes I believe it is wise that a species as a whole shares a pool of resources. And that brings us back to the question of how your actions matter? Could there be some mechanism where if you personally have more resources than your species then your species resources are increased a bit? And if you have less they are decreased? That means swimming around well is really helpful in every way. You'll spot your species is low in oxygen and go and get a lot for them.

I think that could be a useful processing power saving tactic in the appropriate situations. For example large populations of species that are far away from the player and not being rendered nearby certainly would have aggregated statistics regarding compound ingestion, processing, and excretion, as a part of their overall population dynamics, but for organisms nearby to the player and interacting with the player, including the player's organism itself, I think it's fundamental that they have their own compound stores.

For example, species wide compound stores would mean no individuals would ever die off of thirst or hunger, until all of a sudden the entire species succumbs to it at once. Individual compound stores allows for scenarios where there is organism based competition for resources, even between members of the same species (eg. two lions challenging each other over the same carcass). It will also allow for say a herd of organisms where some are more sick, tired, or hungry, and it's usually these stragglers that are picked off by predators. There are countless more reasons but these are just some of the examples of the depth to gameplay individual compound stores adds.

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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Mon Oct 06, 2014 7:07 am

Hi Nick, thanks for the response.

NicktheNick wrote:
The AI does not choose how to evolve a species each generation off of some guideline or in accordance with some overall strategy. It is purely random what changes are made. This is to simulate random mutation. Therefore, there could never be an AI's advice to what changes to make.

Also, I'd like to see a link to somewhere where the concept on Auto-Evo mentioned guided evolution, because from all the sources I've read the changes that occur to AI species are random.

In the population dynamics thread

Population Dynamics

in Seregon's last post on the first page (sorry don't know how to link to a specific post) it says

Seregon wrote:
To pick a mutation, each species looks at the fitness change which would result from changing each of its parameters. ... What happens next is fairly obvious, whichever mutation has the greatest effect on fitness is picked (if the effect is negative, the reverse mutation is applied). This is very simple, very crude, and exactly why this model is very naive, but it (sort of) works.

I don't know if this idea has been changed since. The reason I think this is better than random mutation is that what really happens is each member of a species gets a random mutation and then the weakest get culled off so overall the species is better adapted (my Biology isn't very good but I believe that is reasonable). So when we model it adaptations should make you better.

If adaptations are purely random then things will tend to go round in circles and you will end up with some very weird species (which are quite mal-adapted).

As the player you will always pick a beneficial adaptation so shouldn't the AI play that way too? Otherwise you will very quickly become a lot better than them.

This leads on to another point,

NickTheNick wrote:
Editor sessions will essentially be where you control the fate of your species. Population dynamics is pretty much entirely based off of what your organism functions like after you've made changes to it in the editor. Having said that, gameplay is still important because you need to survive long enough to reproduce (or continue after that if you so desire) and so it's in the gameplay that the player actually uses the organism that they created in the editor. If the player dies too many times in the same generation, they will run out of species members to switch to and the game will end.

The player can make bad choices in the editor but deal with it if they play well in the gameplay, or make good choices in the editor but then make many mistakes while playing. However the rest of the species is mostly independent of the player's specific gameplay, and so for them their success is more based off of the editor.

what is a good choice in the editor? Should I pick what is best for my species or best for me as the player? Can I have my species be very bad but as a player I am very strong and I can get back to the editor screen very quickly and so in the long run "out-adapt" the other species? Like if my species would really benefit from adding photosynthesis but I want more flagella because I know I can gather resources faster which one should I pick? It would be nice if they had the same effect but that is very unlikely in two very different systems.

When the player is in the editor it's bad if they are only thinking about how to maximise their species and not about their individual or visa versa. If we can design it so you have to somehow optimise both that would be much better. Which is why I bring all this up in the first place. I'm not sure how to do it however I agree with you that racing back to the editor is good incentive in itself.

NickTheNick wrote:
I think that could be a useful processing power saving tactic in the appropriate situations. For example large populations of species that are far away from the player and not being rendered nearby certainly would have aggregated statistics regarding compound ingestion, processing, and excretion, as a part of their overall population dynamics, but for organisms nearby to the player and interacting with the player, including the player's organism itself, I think it's fundamental that they have their own compound stores.

For example, species wide compound stores would mean no individuals would ever die off of thirst or hunger, until all of a sudden the entire species succumbs to it at once. Individual compound stores allows for scenarios where there is organism based competition for resources, even between members of the same species (eg. two lions challenging each other over the same carcass). It will also allow for say a herd of organisms where some are more sick, tired, or hungry, and it's usually these stragglers that are picked off by predators. There are countless more reasons but these are just some of the examples of the depth to gameplay individual compound stores adds.

I fear there is a problem here that you are suggesting there be three systems.

1. Local individual swimming around
2. Local AI playing
3. Global species population dynamics / compound system / auto-evo.

By adding another layer you have increased the complexity as now all of these need to be linked together (and layer 3 is going to be very complex as it is). What are the populatiuon dynamics of the local AI species? If they are different from the global mechanics (for areas you can't see) we need to be sure they correlate well. You can't have your local species massively outpacing the species you can't see (or falling behind) so the systems will have to have similar outcomes but by running different processes (averaged vs individual modelling) which is a rather big technical challenge.

In terms of the examples you raise I think the way the population dynamics system is going to work is very dependent on averaging which neglects variation.

For example I am a predator and I go out hunting. Sometimes I find a sick juvenile I can easily eat and other times I find a healthy adult I can't. However over 100 hunting trips this just reduces to mean I eat 0.5 of a prey each time I go out. So it doesn't matter who is strong and who is not.

In terms of thirst and hunger and death it would be more like if there isn't enough water in your environment to support your species at it's current level then your population count would decrease until there was. So say 10% of your species dies. This models some of your population dying of thirst and others not but just on average, we don't know which ones died, we just know 10% of them did because of lack of water. Another thing is it doesn't matter which ones die as they are genetically identical.

So if we are thinking from a highly averaged perspective then I don't think individual variation matters and I personally think it is important to keep things as simple as possible (2 systems not 3).

However I am very new and I respect what you guys have done a lot and I want to help you make the game you want so if you think you want 3 systems and you want variation then I am happy to think about how this might be implemented. However make sure that you only build in meaningful complexity.

Hope this is helpful
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:50 pm

NickTheNick wrote:
Well, I'm about to go read the main discussion on the Misc thread, but in response to what you've mentioned thus far, there is a big problem with this.

The AI does not choose how to evolve a species each generation off of some guideline or in accordance with some overall strategy. It is purely random what changes are made. This is to simulate random mutation. Therefore, there could never be an AI's advice to what changes to make.

Sorry, I misinterpreted the Wiki when I was looking at the whole "hard-coded mutations" thing with the list of attributes. So, this idea has nothing to do with Auto-Evo any more.

However, would advice still be feasible? Even something as simple as telling the player the death rate of his/her species, and by what, would work as an advice mechanic in my opinion, even if it's not providing concrete ideas.

EDIT: By "not providing concrete ideas," I mean that it's only implying what you should do by providing these death statistics. If your species was dying of poison, that would give clearer implications than your species dying from starvation often (Is my species' coating color not good for hunting? Is there something wrong with the digestive system? Is the brain too huge and sapping too much energy? Are they simply not good enough at finding food?)

EDIT2: I'm not saying it has to be reduced to requested death statistics, just that the advice mechanic can be simplified to something as simple as this.
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Tue Oct 07, 2014 1:26 pm

This looks like a good discussion so far, and is on a key game mechanic we haven't really discussed before now - how what the player does ingame influences auto-evo, and vice versa.  I've come into this discussion a little late, so need to respond to a few points from the earlier posts as well as the recent ones.

tjwhale wrote:
The reason it matters if the other organisms evolve a lot faster than you is that auto-evo selects a positive mutation each time it gives them one (I believe). So if you just sit there, always the same, you will get a lot of predators who are specialised in the environment and who out compete you for resources and eventually your species will become extinct (though exactly what extinction means is another huge question).
This is something which could be influenced by a difficulty slider.  On lower difficulties the game wouldn't allow evolutions to take place that put too much pressure on the players population, and may occasionally make competing species weaker.  On anything but the hardest difficulties, evolution should be prevented from running away from the player.

tjwhale wrote:
MitochondriaBox wrote:
Also, keep in mind that your entire species doesn't have a single compound stockpile they're magically sharing; each cell has to find things to fill its own vacuoles.

this is a rather complicated question but suffice to say I believe your species will share compounds freely.
While the population in your area will have a shared compound store, the individuals you can actually see should (if possible) be fully simulated, each having it's own compound store, which is filled by eating and used up by various processes.  However, if these individuals move significantly outside the players awareness, they're simply deleted, what they did while simulated may or may not affect their overall population, in the same way that what the player does may or may not affect their population - that's something we still need to decide.

MitochondriaBox wrote:
Also, a global storage would get in the way of agent mechanics. Agents. Y'know, the poison and/or bait your cell uses on other cells? If your predators had one huge agent storage, then they'd spam nasal spray (just making fun on how oxy toxy sound like oxytocin) at you, and then you'd either get pwned or they'd all run out at once. And then only one of them would get to use it when they collectively produced enough for another round... Probably resulting in an argument.

Also, how exactly would there be a global compound storage? Maybe they'd share as a multicellular colony, but when they're swimming around as individuals, it's not like they could share from across that distance. Not even if they were both on the screen. Unless there was a magical giant vacuole in the sky.
And this is why it'd be nice to simulate individuals within the players awareness, it makes very little sense for them to share compounds, even if when represented as a population they do exactly that.

NickTheNick wrote:
The AI does not choose how to evolve a species each generation off of some guideline or in accordance with some overall strategy. It is purely random what changes are made. This is to simulate random mutation. Therefore, there could never be an AI's advice to what changes to make.
Mutations are somewhat random, but far from purely random.  Auto-evo selects a mutation that appears to be benificial to each species population dynamics, attempting to pick either the best one, or a reasonably good one, depending on exactly how we implement this.

NickTheNick wrote:
Editor sessions will essentially be where you control the fate of your species. Population dynamics is pretty much entirely based off of what your organism functions like after you've made changes to it in the editor. Having said that, gameplay is still important because you need to survive long enough to reproduce (or continue after that if you so desire) and so it's in the gameplay that the player actually uses the organism that they created in the editor. If the player dies too many times in the same generation, they will run out of species members to switch to and the game will end.
This nicely summarises what we have at the moment.  The player effectively earns the right to evolve by doing well in game, but that's about it.  It'd be nice to have something more, though I don't have any great suggestions as to what.

This also brings up the point that the gameplay becomes a bit of a sandbox, the choices the player makes in the editor makes the game easier or harder, and they may want to choose differently next time.  What the player learns may be the only effect of gameplay on population dynamics?

NickTheNick wrote:
Well actually evolution is tied into how soon in their lifetime an organism can reproduce, so there certainly is some incentive to have a species that reproduces sooner and more often to evolve faster (which is not unrealistic, evolution is based off of random mutation from reproduction). However basic laws of nature will ensure that species won't reproduce incredibly fast or slow.
Interesting, this may work, though the rate at which a species is able to reproduce would probably be more dependant on their genetics (i.e.: their evolution) than how the player plays.

NickTheNick wrote:
I think that could be a useful processing power saving tactic in the appropriate situations. For example large populations of species that are far away from the player and not being rendered nearby certainly would have aggregated statistics regarding compound ingestion, processing, and excretion, as a part of their overall population dynamics, but for organisms nearby to the player and interacting with the player, including the player's organism itself, I think it's fundamental that they have their own compound stores.

For example, species wide compound stores would mean no individuals would ever die off of thirst or hunger, until all of a sudden the entire species succumbs to it at once. Individual compound stores allows for scenarios where there is organism based competition for resources, even between members of the same species (eg. two lions challenging each other over the same carcass). It will also allow for say a herd of organisms where some are more sick, tired, or hungry, and it's usually these stragglers that are picked off by predators. There are countless more reasons but these are just some of the examples of the depth to gameplay individual compound stores adds.
I agree *completely* with all of this.  These are exactly the reasons why we should have individual simulation for those organisms observable to the player, and some variation in their state when they're generated.

tjwhale wrote:
...I don't know if this idea has been changed since.
 It hasn't, there's been relatively little discussion about auto-evo since that post actually, and we still have a lot to discuss!

tjwhale wrote:
When the player is in the editor it's bad if they are only thinking about how to maximise their species and not about their individual or visa versa. If we can design it so you have to somehow optimise both that would be much better. Which is why I bring all this up in the first place. I'm not sure how to do it however I agree with you that racing back to the editor is good incentive in itself.
This is the key thing we have to solve, if we can make gameplay a good representation of how the players entire species is faring, such that gameplay is hard if its struggling, and vice versa, then I think we're doing well here.

tjwhale wrote:
I fear there is a problem here that you are suggesting there be three systems.

1. Local individual swimming around
2. Local AI playing
3. Global species population dynamics / compound system / auto-evo.

By adding another layer you have increased the complexity as now all of these need to be linked together (and layer 3 is going to be very complex as it is).
This is complicated if we link all three systems, which is sort of what we're trying to do in this thread.  Its fairly simple if 1 & 2 only take information from 3, and don't contribute to it: population dynamics/auto-evo controls everything, when we need to generate gameplay, we create representative individuals based on its species, and simulate them individually (with their own compound system), but nothing they do affects their species dynamics.  

tjwhale wrote:
You can't have your local species massively outpacing the species you can't see (or falling behind) so the systems will have to have similar outcomes but by running different processes (averaged vs individual modelling) which is a rather big technical challenge.

This would be impossible without feedback, in the above I suggest that population dynamic feeds back into individual dynamics, always pushing it to accurately represent the bigger picture.  Whether or not we have feedback from the individual to the population isn't decided.

tjwhale wrote:
So if we are thinking from a highly averaged perspective then I don't think individual variation matters
It doesn't matter at all to the species in the current system, but it's very important to making gameplay interesting (as per my reply to NickTheNicks post).

Back to the original question:

MitochondriaBox wrote:
However, would advice still be feasible?
Yes, all we need to do is get auto-evo to make the same analysis of the player species as it does of the AI species, then tell the player which mutations are or aren't advantageous.  The extent to which this information is available is something we could control through difficulty or other options.  Converting this information into text (e.g.: "Your having trouble escaping predators, grow stronger legs") may be difficult, but we could (for example) tint the 'upgrade legs' button on the gui bright green to suggest it's a good mutation to go for.

That more or less answers the original question, but this thread has brought up a lot more interesting questions:
- to what extent should auto-evo help the player
- how, and how much, should the players actions in game affect auto-evo/population dynamics
- should observable AI organisms have the same feedback into auto-evo/population dynamics
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:09 pm

I'm experimenting with using my phone during lunch at school (we can do this) to post.

Anyway, I don't think the AI's auto-evo favors the player, since its objective is to help that species survive (unless we're going with random mutations, which particularly bad ones would kill the resulting organism before the millions of years the Auto-Evo round takes is even over). I think a round of AI evolution would represent natural selection taking place. Anyway, could the game be able to give specific advice like this? I think my "in-editor death statistics button" idea would suffice, even though I quite like the idea of the game actually telling you a good course of action. Both forms would be good tools for players, though specific advice would be both more useful for the player and harder to implement. I think if we went with both, then the game should show the mortality statistics and then give advice regarding the highest cause of death (50% dies of cold, increase insulation).

Anyway, my phone's getting hot, so I'll end this post for now.

EDIT: So, if we had a specific button for in-editor advice, what would it be like? I'm kind of thinking a question mark would work, unless it's going to be reserved for something else, like a help menu. If so, then an exclamation mark would work too. Maybe a skull if it shows death statistics only.
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:10 pm

Seregon wrote:
This would be impossible without feedback, in the above I suggest that population dynamic feeds back into individual dynamics, always pushing it to accurately represent the bigger picture. Whether or not we have feedback from the individual to the population isn't decided.

Having thought about it for a while I think this works really well. Having your situation as an individual be a very accurate representation of your species means (hopefully) that when you get back to the evolution screen you choose upgrades that will help the whole species.

It'll be fun in hard mode to have your species suffer a lot of predation and have that show up as lots of individuals attacking you.

Maybe your individual levels of compounds should be reset to your species average level every time you evolve?
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PostSubject: Re: Editor Advice   Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:58 am

Quote :
To pick a mutation, each species looks at the fitness change which would result from changing each of its parameters. ... What happens next is fairly obvious, whichever mutation has the greatest effect on fitness is picked (if the effect is negative, the reverse mutation is applied). This is very simple, very crude, and exactly why this model is very naive, but it (sort of) works.

Quote :
If adaptations are purely random then things will tend to go round in circles and you will end up with some very weird species (which are quite mal-adapted).

As the player you will always pick a beneficial adaptation so shouldn't the AI play that way too? Otherwise you will very quickly become a lot better than them.

Okay that sounds fair enough, since it makes sense that it's just aggregating the ultimate effect of evolutionary changes for distant species.

However I don't think it's fair to assume how that the evolution of species if set to random would produce a circular process without any testing. I'd assume the most would just be phases of evolution that are similar to niches, anatomies, and etc. that existed prior, but that's an entirely real phenomenon. Also the player will not always pick the most beneficial adaptation, they will pick what they think is the most beneficial adaptation, and that's the key difference.

Quote :
what is a good choice in the editor? Should I pick what is best for my species or best for me as the player? Can I have my species be very bad but as a player I am very strong and I can get back to the editor screen very quickly and so in the long run "out-adapt" the other species? Like if my species would really benefit from adding photosynthesis but I want more flagella because I know I can gather resources faster which one should I pick? It would be nice if they had the same effect but that is very unlikely in two very different systems.

When the player is in the editor it's bad if they are only thinking about how to maximise their species and not about their individual or visa versa. If we can design it so you have to somehow optimise both that would be much better. Which is why I bring all this up in the first place. I'm not sure how to do it however I agree with you that racing back to the editor is good incentive in itself.

It's good that you raised this point. The success of the player's species shouldn't, I think, be entirely independent from the player's playthrough. I think the success of the player should somewhat factor into the success of his species (with ample room for random deviation) or we could make this an option that can just be set in the game's settings (i.e. whether gameplay affects population dynamics).

Quote :
I fear there is a problem here that you are suggesting there be three systems.

1. Local individual swimming around
2. Local AI playing
3. Global species population dynamics / compound system / auto-evo.

By adding another layer you have increased the complexity as now all of these need to be linked together (and layer 3 is going to be very complex as it is).

This is quite necessary to the game, however. As Seregon also said individual based play is an extremely crucial element to the game and one of the purposes of its design in the first place. However it seems you have agreed that individual gameplay is important in your most recent post.

Quote :
That more or less answers the original question, but this thread has brought up a lot more interesting questions:
- to what extent should auto-evo help the player
- how, and how much, should the players actions in game affect auto-evo/population dynamics
- should observable AI organisms have the same feedback into auto-evo/population dynamics

1. I think advice should be one of the difficulty options.
2. I think, again, this should be tied into the game's options. Either there would be entire independence of population dynamics, partial dependence, or full dependence (although I feel like the last one is a bad idea).
3. I don't think observable species should be included in the population dynamics calculations, since they will be basically in a separate state of existence (in terms of the game). For example, if they were included in the pop-dynamics and rendered/simulated at the same time, they could be calculated to have had 6 offpsring in pop-dynamics but have had none in actual simulation. Also it feels kind of unnecessary to abstractly approximate the evolution of individuals that are actually being simulated and doing things in-game.

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