Awesome! That's really cool. I'll be back on slack tomorrow night and will have a proper read then.
IMO build something you think is cool, don't worry too much about what I think!
I was thinking about this last night and this post is mostly what I've been wondering about. I think the pictures basically say it all.
So basically the microbe stage is meant to last like 1 billion years in an ocean. So it would be cool to have a representation of an ocean. We could go for realism but I think schematic will be nice and approachable and gamey. The patches / biomes are then distributed in the ocean.
Patches near the surface of the ocean have a lot of sunlight, those near the bottom have basically none. The abyss is completely black and requires bioluminescence. The ocean vent patch has Hydrogen Sulfide and none of the other patches do.
Then have species in the patches. That would be a great start, with everything fixed in place. Allow the player to spread their species to multiple patches.
What would be awesome, IMO, after that would be to have the climate change over time. So I wrote this prototype for planet generation
Which is a bit of a monster but basically should do everything for you. So it will create that big struct called "GeneratedSystem" which contains all the info on the star and the planet. Then, over time, if you vary the oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere you can call "SetPlanetTemperature" over time. This will let you know how the temperature is changing with the atmospheric gasses.
If the temperature goes below 273.15 K ( 0 degrees celsius ) then freeze the oceans over and dramatically reduce the amount of sunlight in all patches (image 2).
A carbon cycle could move carbon from the ocean to the lithosphere, from the lithosphere to the atmosphere (volcano) and from the atmosphere to the ocean (when it is not frozen over). This way, when the planet freezes, over time carbon dioxide will pool in the atmosphere (because it can't get from there back into the ocean when it is frozen) and that will help to thaw the planet with a greenhouse effect.
Anyway yeah that's as far as I got with it. I wanted to put some sliders into the planet generator prototype so that the player could set certain values (like the mass of the star) if they wanted, or they could choose the earth, or they could have a random planet.
I also thought it would be really cool to have a way of loading exo-planet data in. So basically have a big file with the info in the "GeneratedSystem" struct but for loads of different, real planets. And then the player could load one of those and attempt to live on it. Of course the game will be impossible if there is no ocean (temp > 373.15) and will be a bit lame if the planet is permanently frozen over (temp < 273.15) you'll have to live by an ocean vent and have no other choices as photosynthesis won't work. However if it's in the habitable zone some of the time then it will be a good place to live.
Hope this isn't too overwhelming! Basically do what you like, these are just things I was playing around with. I hope the planet generator prototype is useful, it's really good at calculating planetary temperature (and light spectra). Even something as simple as "climate changes over time" -> "potential freezing over" -> "saved by carbon cycle pooling carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" would be super awesome.
So yeah do what you want with it! Just a basic, static, layout of the patches would be cool as a start IMO.