We will want to replace reproductase soon, and as was suggested before, the replacement would be a threshold level of ATP. However, the replication in cells should be a bit more complex than that (and also if we switch to having ATP being mostly maintained at a constant level that would mean you could replicate all the time).
Here’s my proposal for a system to replace reproductase (up for review).
This system basically has DNA synthesis, division of the nucleus, and division of the cell all happen in one step. There are several requirements for the cell to be able to replicate:
- Compounds need to exist in a certain amount in the cell. This needs to be decided upon. It would be some combination of glucose, amino acids, etc. The absence of any one of these compounds would prevent replication, whereas a low amount of any one of these compounds just slows down the process.
- ATP must be at its normal level. If we go with the system of ATP not being gained over time but rather maintained at a certain level, then you would just have to ensure your ATP is at this level to be able to replicate.
- The nucleus must be free of damage. If any damage has been done to the nucleus (and thus implicitly, to the DNA), then replication is locked until the nucleus has been healed. We can also decide whether other organelles must be fully healed as well.
- The cell must be at a threshold size. This doesn’t apply now but will apply when we have dynamic membranes.
When all of these conditions have been met, the player can reproduce.
By looking at this you might think that it overcomplicates reproduction for the player, but from the player’s end, there’s not much that they need to know. Provided their cell is undamaged and ATP levels are normal (ATP levels should only ever not be normal when the cell is not undamaged anyways) then the player just has to go out and gather some compounds until they can reproduce.
This ensures a gameplay cycle of:
Spawn->Gather Compounds->Reproduce->Evolve in the Editor->Repeat
What this leaves open to be decided is the specific compound levels necessary for reproduction, and whether organelles beside the nuclear core (nucleus, ER, golgi) should be undamaged before replication can occur. The required compound levels should scale somehow with the size of the cell and the organelles present in the cell. It could even scale based on how much the organelles in the cell have been upgraded, so that upgrading an organelle can increase it’s effectiveness, but as a consequence increase the requirements for reproduction. This would mean smaller cells with “simpler” organelles could reproduce far faster than a larger cell with highly upgraded organelles.