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 Microbe Stage Progress Report

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Tritium
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:56 pm

True people won't think much of 2 balls on screen even though this is a major leap in development, someone who is expecting to play a game won't be able to see the significance of this demo. I'll also use this post to express my compliments to Nimbal, thank you for giving us such excitement great work!
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:47 pm

NickTheNick wrote:
I see what Dalroc is saying, and it's something I agree with. I think that it would be best to not publicize any current or upcoming releases, and then after some significant change, once we have all the basics of a game, go public on reddit, youtube, etc. with that new release. What do you guys think?
I'd agree

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:00 pm

Oliveriver wrote:
On the subject of movement, for the concept animation I used Spore's movement system, whereby you have to hold the mouse button down in order to keep moving towards somewhere, except I added an animated marker to indicate where you're moving to. I did have a different idea while I was making it - we use an RTS point and click style. You click somewhere in the environment and a marker is put down, whether your mouse is still held down on that spot or not. Your cell will then constantly try and get to the marker until you click somewhere else and place another marker, removing the previous one. This would help if you're trying to move to a specific place but want to do other things at the same time, such as check compound stores or examine another microbe.
Perhaps the Marker could be a small blue "Blip" in the water so that it's visible, yet doesn't remove the atmosphere of the game? Spore had no indicator in the game, but I'm sure the people who get a little too over-entrenched in their video gaming experience will throw a massive fit if a little flag pops up in the middle of the ocean. I don't get that immersed in games, but I know some people do. And perhaps as you are dragging the marker along, it appears as a line of ripples running through the water?
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:57 pm

[quote="TheFellowWithTheHat"]
Oliveriver wrote:
A bit too long to fit here.[/i]
I approve of this idea. The rippling might confuse the player when near a current, but that's the only problem. The blue blip could also be equated to a small, possibly chemical signal that the player cell is being attracted toward, like an agent only it can sense.

Also, will cells have a sort of "wobbling" to make them look gelatinous, or will their membranes be completely stiff?
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:47 pm

I think the point and click is a good idea, but without the marker. Although the marker helps you see where you are going towards, you can pretty much know based off of remembering where you just clicked and where you are moving. Also, I think there should be a WASD movement system as well, which would override any movement to a marker.

However, pressing W to move to the cursor is the most consistent with the 3D Organism mode, in all the succeeding stages, so what do you guys think should be used for movement?

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:10 pm

even though the W key to move towards the direction of the cursor (or symbol) is a bit weird at first, it does allow both omni-directional maneuverability and constant movement, without spam clicking everywhere.

but having a symbol may look odd and not having one may get challenging when moving from a stationary point in the direction you wish.

if we go with WASD then you can only move on the up, down, left, right and diagonal but it doesn't have a need for a directional symbol...

which one is better out of those 2 i don't know.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:37 am

As far as I can tell we have four options for microbe stage movement. All of these will, of course, be working against the fluid dynamics, so if you are heading in a certain direction you may not get there very easily.

1. Point and click based movement, similar to Spore's microbe stage. You click where you want to go and hold the mouse down to continue moving in that direction. As soon as you take your finger off the left mouse button, your microbe stops moving towards its destination and instead is at the complete mercy of the currents.

2. Point and click based movement, but this time similar to an RTS. As soon as you click on a location, a marker is placed (which could be visible or invisible) and the cell tries to move towards it until you place another marker. The most recent marker placed is always the one the cell moves towards - all others disappear and are irrelevant.

3. WASD/UpRightDownLeft movement relative to the screen. This option is very limited in terms of directions, as it only allows 8 possible directions of movement (4 of which are diagonal using two keys at the same time).

4. WASD/UpRightDownLeft movement relative to the mouse pointer. This is the system used in Nimbal's release, although he only used W and S. This system is a little counter-intuitive, but allows the most freedom.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:20 am

Oliveriver wrote:
This is the system used in Nimbal's release, although he only used W and S.
Note that the only reason that sideways movement isn't possible in the version I uploaded is because the player microbe has no organelles for it. The first one to figure out how to add them (hint: player.lua) will get a virtual cookie.

About movement in general. The way I see it, there are two main components in microbe movement: maneuverability (turn speed) and acceleration. Each of those can itself be modelled in various ways.

One of the simplest forms of movement controls would eliminate maneuverability and just accelerate in a given direction. This model would work great with just four movement keys, relative to the screen. But I don't think it's a good fit for the microbe stage, because it deprives us of an upgrade path for improved turning speed.

A medium complex model would have no sideways acceleration, only forward/backward, plus turning. If anyone has played GTA 1 and 2 (the 2D-top-down ones), that's the movement I'm talking about. This model would be easy to do with just the keyboard (two keys for forward / backward, two keys for turning) and it's adaptable to analog controls on a gamepad. It does not, however, allow strafing, so any organelles that "shoot" something would be much harder to target.

Then there's a slightly augmented version of the previous model, with a uniform acceleration in all directions. That model would be great with Oliver's option 3, using the mouse to turn and WASD to accelerate relative to the screen. It's easy to learn, and allows some advanced maneuvers like strafing around an enemy while blasting them with agents, although in a limited way (since, with a keyboard, there are only 8 directions to move in).

Probably the most complex movement model would split the acceleration into four components: forward, back, left, right. Each movement organelle would contribute a bit of propulsion to each of those components. Some would contribute a uniform amount, but some (like flagellas) would have a dominant direction. That's the model I implemented in the prototype (but in a bad way). And in my opinion, movement relative to the microbe (and not the screen) is the only sensible control scheme here. Having the movement relative to the screen might feel strange because the result of pressing "forward" is very dependent on the microbe's orientation. I'll implement it, though, to see how it actually feels.


Anyway, I'm in the process of implementing saving / loading game state. It's coming along nicely, but requires some extensive changes in how Lua scripts interact with the engine, so it'll be a bit before I have something new to show.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:35 am

This sounds greats, Nimbal. I had no idea you had even implemented organelles into your cell editor script. I still think that the current system is probably the best, but in future versions we should leave it to the player. I'm looking forward to the saving/loading of game states, keep up the awesome work!

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:46 pm

Why not just map keys to organelles?
What I mean is, W maps to the first movement organelle placed, S maps to the second, and when pressed they propel the organism in the direction in which they face. Every cell should have a basic ability to turn and move forward.
On second thought, that's probably not the best idea.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:35 pm

After playing the current release. I find the current method of controls counter-intuitive and was going to make a case against them. But after reading your posts and thinking about it I think they probably are the best way.

I think it would it would work best if you point and click to move, like in spore, but can then move side to side forward and back using WASD in relation your current movement, essentially just using WASD to strafe and mouse click to move. Otherwise your cell will be spinning around like an idiot looking at your mouse if it was just to point at it. You might say that whilst strafing you would have to keep clicking with the mouse to target properly, but this is no different to a FPS where you have to keep readjusting.

A counter point to this is that the only way to turn is use the mouse click, but I imagine most people would use this anyway, as it is easier and more effective.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Sun Sep 15, 2013 2:27 pm

Saving, loading and a bunch of bugfixes just went up. See the "prototype" branch in git or here for a pre-compiled version.

Use F4 to save, F10 to load.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:08 pm

Nimbal wrote:
Saving, loading and a bunch of bugfixes just went up. See the "prototype" branch in git or here for a pre-compiled version.

Use F4 to save, F10 to load.
Sweet, good work.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:33 pm

Excellent job Nimbal! Is there any assets or concept you need for the next release? I think we have yet to have a chart describing all of the in-game organelles and their functions.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:17 am

To be honest, I'm not yet sure where to go from here. I guess I'll add some documentation and create a few GitHub tickets for the stuff that I think would be good next steps. Then we'll see.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:07 pm

I think adding a main menu and an in-game menu would be good, unless you want to add more to the functionality of the gameplay first.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:12 pm

I think menus would be a good next step, unless you want to continue adding to the gameplay's functionality. I'll try and organize something as well, if it helps, outlining future steps to take with the development.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:55 pm

This looks great Nimbal, and it was a good idea to put saving in sooner rather than later.

A good next step may be menus, as Nick said, or perhaps putting in the first AI cells (no need to implement an actual AI at this time, just spawning them in.)

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Thu Sep 19, 2013 2:05 am

Here is a chart of all the current agents.


NameTarget*EffectMagnitude
ToxinAI cellsDeals damage to cell membrane per second% membrane damaged/second = 35 - (35-15) * 1.3^(-n)
ParalyticFlagella, cilia, and lamellipodesDecreases efficiency% decrease = 80 - (80-50) * 1.3^(-n)
Organelle DepressantMitochondria OR chloroplasts OR thermoplastsDecreases reaction rate% decrease = 75 - (75-30) * 1.3^(-n)
Organelle StimulantMitochondria OR chloroplasts OR thermoplastsIncreases reaction rate% increase = 75 - (75-30) * 1.3^(-n)
Signal AgentAI cellsAttracts or repels cells= 35 - (35-5) * 1.3^(-n)

n = The level of the organelle. We can start with this as a constant of 1 until we implement the Microbe Editor in which organelles can be levelled up.

*Note that no agent can affect the cell releasing it.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:24 am

And here we go again. This chart looks nice, but raises more questions than it answers, mostly because it uses terminology and concepts (membrane, reaction rate) that I can't find in the wiki. Where were those agents even discussed?
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PostSubject: cell metabolism   Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 am

Nimbal wrote:
And here we go again. This chart looks nice, but raises more questions than it answers, mostly because it uses terminology and concepts (membrane, reaction rate) that I can't find in the wiki. Where were those agents even discussed?
Ah, sorry. Once again, we have terminology written by biologists who think everyone else is a biologist as well.
So the membrane in question here is the plasma membrane, essentially the "skin" of your cell. If it ruptures, you die. In this case, the membrane is going to have some sort of hitpoint system that this toxin affects. Don't worry about this toxin ATM, I think it needs more discussion.

The reaction rate is how fast an organelle takes compounds and turns them into something else. For instance, Mitochondria take in sugar and oxygen, and produce ATP (energy), water, and Carbon Dioxide.
Efficiency is the same thing as reaction rate (don't know why it's put as separate here).
So the paralyitc agent reduces the speed at which a flagellum or other motile organelle can propel the cell, since it's turning ATP into movement.
I hope that helps. Regardless, agents aren't the highest priority right now, we need a cellular metabolism first. Luckily, seregon and I have already worked out the main processes. I'll post the doc here in a moment.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:45 am

Well, I have an idea what a cell membrane is and "reaction rate" isn't too difficult an expression to understand even without a formal definition. The thing is, I couldn't (and still can't) find information about those in terms of the game.
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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:52 am

Nimbal wrote:
Well, I have an idea what a cell membrane is and "reaction rate" isn't too difficult an expression to understand even without a formal definition. The thing is, I couldn't (and still can't) find information about those in terms of the game.
Understandable, that is a problem, we really need more people updating the wiki.

Code:
Processes>-<Process TimeTaken="1" Name="Photosynthesis">
-<Inputs>
<Input Amount="6" CompoundID="Water"/>
<Input Amount="6" CompoundID="Carbon Dioxide"/><Input Amount="1" CompoundID="Light"/>
</Inputs>
-<Outputs>
<Output Amount="6" CompoundID="Oxygen"/>
<Output Amount="1" CompoundID="Sugar"/>
</Outputs>
-<Organelles>
<Organelle OrganelleID="Chloroplast"/>
</Organelles>
</Process>

-<Process TimeTaken="1" Name="Aerobic Respiration">
-<Inputs>
<Input Amount="1" CompoundID="Sugar"/>
<Input Amount="6" CompoundID="Oxygen"/>
</Inputs>
-<Outputs>
<Output Amount="6" CompoundID="Water"/>
<Output Amount="6" CompoundID="Carbon Dioxide"/>
<Output Amount="38" CompoundID="ATP"/>
</Outputs>
-<Organelles>
<Organelle OrganelleID="Mitochondrion"/>
</Organelles>
</Process>

-<Process TimeTaken="1" Name="Lactic Acid Fermentation">
-<Inputs>
<Input Amount="1" CompoundID="Sugar"/>
</Inputs>
-<Outputs>
<Output Amount="2" CompoundID="Lactic Acid"/><Output Amount="2" CompoundID="ATP"/>
</Outputs>
<Organelles/>
</Process>
</Processes>
Sorry that that's in .xml
That contains the main respiratory processes used in seregon's concept. I'll be uploading more in a moment.

The rest are here.

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PostSubject: Re: Microbe Stage Progress Report   Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:51 pm

Nimbal wrote:
And here we go again. This chart looks nice, but raises more questions than it answers, mostly because it uses terminology and concepts (membrane, reaction rate) that I can't find in the wiki. Where were those agents even discussed?
Thanks for pointing that out Nimbal, and sorry for making those assumptions.

Membrane was something I was not sure about myself. I knew we wanted an agent to just plainly deal damage, but i didnt know what the health system was, and after several times of asking and not getting a response, I just assumed it would be the cell's membrane that would be the "Health" and continued to the other agents.

Reaction rate I don't think is a biology word specifically, it was just something I hoped was clear as a gamey term. Like in Minecraft, the time it takes to turn one iron ore into one iron ingot in a furnace is the reaction rate of that process, and that concept will be used heavily in Thrive (cells have those processes, as do organs in a creature, and buildings in cities, and cities in a nation, etc.) It could be better thought of as the frequency of that reaction, or how quickly the reaction occurs.

The agents were discussed on this thread: http://thrivegame.canadaboard.net/t1210-agents-discussion. The table was on the last page.

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PostSubject: System for saving cells   Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:15 pm

I believe we need to quickly develop a system for saving cell types. One way would be to save data to a file and have Lua read it. Another way is just to have a bunch of cell entities without position or rendering components (so that their data is cloned) and have serialization take care of saving them. I am more in favor of the first option, saving data manually to a file, but the second option, or an entirely different option may be best because I have not spent much (any) time developing, yet.

I believe that saving cells is our top priority right now because setup.lua currently has the player cell and its organelles hardcoded into a setupPlayer function. Imagine if we want to add another different type of cell with AI. We will have to create an equally long, equally hardcoded function for that cell.

I would like to say that the option of saving data manually to a file sounds best to me because the data is then not mixed with everything else like a save state would be. It would also provide an automatic bridge between the cell editor and the game. Lastly, loading data manually from the hard drive is something we will have to do eventually if we want a whole galaxy, so we better get used to it.

This is how I envision doing the Microbe stage (in order). Please tell me if you disagree:

  1. Add a feature for saving cells
  2. Create a few (3 or 4) types of preset cells (save files or functions called by setup.lua depending on which option is picked)
  3. Allow the player to start as one of these preset cells (without GUI, this would be done by changing one line of code in setup.lua)
  4. Add an AISystem (Initially makes CPU cells do nothing)
  5. Add enemy cells with AIComponents. Initially spawn them in setup.lua (again, using the save files so that the initialization of each cell isn't about 25 lines of code)
  6. Add a SpawnSystem which spawns and despawns CPU cells offscreen. This needs to be designed well, but if it is designed poorly, it can be fixed. (Perhaps use a SpawnComponent as a flag for which entities should be despawned and how far away they should be)
  7. And finally, add a system for interaction between cells. I'm not that well updated on the wiki to know exactly what that entails.

Once all these features are added, and AISystem is updated to include real AI (not too complex: run toward food, run away from predators), then we will have real gameplay. It will also be compatible with a cell editor, because such an editor would generate said save files / dummy entities. Making cell processes more complex will also be possible after these steps are completed.

If I am overlooking a detail, please tell me. I am willing to work on any of these steps, but I would like to be given the OK, first.
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