Here is a list of things which I am using my powers as Microbe Stage Design Lead to decide for the 0.4.0 release. Each of them has been discussed in detail and so I think it’s time to make some simple decisions to test. Several of these things are on the old 0.4.0 release thread already.
Nothing on this list is meant to be a final version of the feature, everything is open for discussion and change in the future after this release is done. I think all these things have a good (awesomeness / effort) ratio and will move the game forward significantly. After 0.4.0 we can use the play testing info we get to work out which areas need improvement the most and what we would like to add then.
Part 1: Fixing some problems
There are parts of the experience which we have now which feel painful to go through. I think they are high priority to fix because they’ll be actively turning players away.
- The player can currently swim through a cloud of ammonia, become clogged with it and unable to breathe. Github
Soln: Moving to individual compounds. That means each compound has its own storage which is separate from all the others. Taking @Untrustedlife ’s numbers as a starting place each cytoplasm will store 5 of each compound, each vacuole will store 25 (this will mean the current starter cell will have approx 100 storage as it does now).
After this release we can have a discussion about whether to move to a different storage system (global storage with variable caps, for example) however I think this is the lowest effort way of dealing with this pain point.
- it is really painful to be close to unlocking the editor and then to be hit by a toxin X and have to recharge health before continuing with editor progress. Github
Soln: Health to be separated from reproduction. Each cell will get 100 health when spawning and each time they are damaged they will lose a little. Health will regen at 1% per second. This is only a placeholder for a better health system which we can discuss in the future.
- Movement is too slow in 0.3.4 and turning is painfully slow. Github
Soln: Movement to be rebalanced in line with the prototype made by @andross and myself, with all cells turning at a constant speed.
Moreover, if you are interested @Treviisolion , it would be great if you could implement a branch of 0.4.0 with your a + d movement scheme in. That way we can make builds of both and test mouse movement at it’s best against a + d movement at it’s best with all other variables held constant and discuss which we all prefer.
- There are too many compounds and processes associated with cell reproduction. It’s confusing for new players and most of the compound bars never move. Moreover the complexity of the current compound system, though it’s an interesting piece of work, is blocking the progress of the CPA. Github
A. O2 and CO2 to be removed. They can be added in later as global variables once we have worked out what that will mean. Fatty acids and amino acids will be removed. Github
B. Phosphates and Hydrogen Sulphide to be added as compound clouds.
C. Chemoplasts to be added as an organelle. Toxin glands and chloroplasts will also be unlocked for the player to use in the editor.
D. The process system to be cut down to the following scheme, each second:
each cytoplasm will take 1 glucose and turn it into ATP
each mitochondria will take 6 glucose and turn it into ATP
each chemoplast will take 4 hydrogen sulfide and turn it into glucose
each chloroplast will make 2 glucose
each flagella, when operating, will use 5 ATP
if there are both ammonia and phosphates in storage 1 of each will be taken and used to grow the cell. once growth hits 100% the editor button will be unlocked.
Once we have this foundation we can add more complexity + compounds in light of testing. (For example sunlight mechanics are important)
- The game doesn’t really feel like a game, I often end up just swimming aimlessly around. Github
A. The first population system to be added. You will start the game with 50 population. Each time you die you will lose 10 population, each time you exit the editor you gain 30 population. If your pop reaches 0 then the game is over.
B. If you survive for 15 generations a text pop-up comes onto the screen congratulating you for being a survivor.
Part 2: General gameplay improvements.
These are things we can add to make the stage feel more alive and fun.
A pilus to be added to the game: if it touches another cell that cell will take some damage. Github
The compound clouds to be rebalanced so they are very abundant at the beginning of the game and become more scarce as time progresses. Moreover, in line with @NickTheNick 's compound rebalance mod, they should be bigger and less abundant in general than they are now. Github
A basic AI to be written. Whoever is interested in programming this should have control over exactly how it works and can use the prototype as a guideline. The goal is to keep the system as simple as possible. The only mechanics required are random movement, fleeing from cells stronger than you and moving towards cells weaker than you and firing agents when you are close to other cells. AI is something it is really important to test a lot so please don’t make anything complicated, just make the simplest possible thing. Github
Something I think we shouldn’t do is change how agents work in this release. Here is a thread explaining why. We should sort out what we want first.
I love the idea of having the player start as a single hex of cytoplasm but I think we should discuss this some more.
All these things are just stepping stones to try out in this release. Many of them will need revisiting (for example the health system definitely needs work, so does the population system) however lets have those discussions in light of our experiences playing 0.4.0 rather than guessing at them now.
Moreover I think this is a reasonable list which will actually make playing Thrive feel like playing a game while not taking a huge amount of time to implement, it would be great to have the programming team’s feedback on that.
I think these things will really celebrate the effort to switch to the new engine and make the microbe stage a playable game where you can sit down and “play a game of Thrive” where you win or lose. I think that will be a big step for everyone and feel great.