Chemoreceptor organelle

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, ever since I added the tutorials, but finally got the push to talk about this.

I hope everyone has seen the glucose tutorial line guiding the player to glucose as this is similar.

Basically my idea is to add a new chemoreseptor organelle into the game. This would help with the player having hard time finding compounds. The organelle would be a placeable prokaryote part, with probably quite high MP cost, that when modified would let the player select what compound they want to find, and what colour the line is. Then in game when a compound that they want to find is within range, a line with the specified colour would point them towards it.

I think this could really help the problems regarding not finding the specific compound you need to progress.

Also the implementation should be pretty simple, just add a new organelle definition, and some code for drawing the lines from the player cell (this can reuse a lot of the code for the tutorial line). Additionally there needs to be a new model and icon for the organelle, and description, but those shouldn’t be too difficult and would give the art team something to do. The only bit difficult part is that this needs the organelle “modify” option to be implemented first.

Anyway that’s an idea for a new organelle. Thoughts? If people aren’t against this, I’ll probably open issues for adding this on Github soon.


I like the idea, it’s basically just radar which is a very useful tool at a player’s disposal. It’s also a feature that could be mechanically carried over to later stages as a sense of smell.

Some people seem to disagree with the idea because chemoreceptors are less an organelle, and more just a membrane-wide collection of proteins(?) used to detect trace substances. I can understand this, and agree with the general sentiment, but I would like to think of a placable organelle as a sort of “enhancement” or “specialization” of the chemoreceptors in the cell, rather than an addition of them; After all, the cells in Thrive already view their world via chemoreception. I might do some digging and see if there is any supporting theory or data on such an idea.

I would also like to mention a potential alternative. Since chemoreception is based in the membrane, we could potentially just have a section in the membrane tab for allowing the player to simply select a compound they want to specifically track down at an MP cost. This would skip the need of having a placable organelle, but could make the membrane tab feel a bit more messy and cluttered with a weird assortment of tweaks and toggles.

So yeah, not against the idea at all. I’m somewhat unsure about it being a placable part, but I don’t think that’s a particularly pressing concern as it still aligns well with the editor.


This is exactly my reasoning why I decided to name this chemoreceptor. Basically it is a placeable buff to the normal chemoreception that cells do anyway, to help out the player and give some really cool placeable stuff they can add.

I wanted it to be placeable, so that you can have multiple. So the player can make a decision based on how useful additional compound tracking is vs osmoregulation cost increase. And also I think this could also be extended to show you nearest cell of a species, so you could use it to find prey or to avoid the most dangerous predator species.


Okay that’s fair. At first I wasn’t entirely convinced, but after a little thought, I also feel that this could make later specialization more interesting, as you would be able to dedicate an entire cell to chemoreception in later stages, for a sense of smell or something. It would also mean that having such reception on your skin cells would be inefficient, and therefore rather discouraged instead of being entirely inconsequential.

Thinking of the future, I say this could be an okay way to implement the feature, so you have my support.

It will also mean we will have less work balancing an entirely different system I suppose.

Sounds good to me.

I completely agree with this. This could carry on later to when we start to program a smelling mechanic too.

Seeing as this didn’t result in pushback, I’ll open issues on Github (we can later decide in which release milestone to include them in).

So I did some quick research on how such an organelle might look. Most chemoreceptor cells in humans and animals have so called „taste hairs“, which are essentially a form of cilia. These cilia are where the chemoreception takes place. This is because the cilia provide a large surface to mass ratio.

This brings us back to tackling the question if cilia should automatically be membrane wide or if they should be placable organelles.
As you see in the illustration above, there are in fact a lot of instances where cells (especially in multicellular organisms) have to only have cilia in a particular area. These cells need to have cilia where they face „outward“, but can‘t have cilia at the edges where they need to connect to the other cells.
Therefore I think cilia should be placeable like any other.
This is a very rough and dirty sketch I did of how a chemoreceptor cilia cluster might look in Thrive:

Their placement should function like the placement of flagella, as they are an external organelle and should automatically be placed at the edge of the cell when rendering it. I suppose these chemorecption cilia should be relatively (or completly) static. For simplicitys sake I envisioned these clusters to be a single hex large.
Adjectant cilia hexes merging into continuous „hems“ of cilia upon rendering the cell would be a cool feature in the future, but for now a simple static model would do just fine.

PS: I‘m not completely satisfied with how the cilia in my sketch look. Are there too many, are they too close to one another, are they too short? For now it’s just a proof of concept, I’m completely open to suggestions.

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In my personal opinion, they should be both.
My personal plan is that should we ever implement a means of upgrading or specializing organelles, we could have powerful but localized regions of cilia, or less powerful but membrane-wide cilia that could each do their own thing. Though, maybe that would actually be different enough to justify being their own part.
From what I see, people generally want to be able to behave like rotifers or stentors, using their cilia to manipulate currents and pull food to them. This would be done with localized cilia, and is why many players want to see cilia be placed as patches instead of just membrane-wide.
However as you may know, many other cells use cilia for movement which is where they are often membrane-wide. This difference in mechanism makes me feel like we should just have two separate “types” of cilia to choose from.

I think this should be fine and should look fairly believable. Thank’s for doing the research by the way.

I admit they look a bit like a crystal cluster to me in that concept, and not quite like cilia. Though honestly some cilia actually kind of look like that. I tried digging around the internet in an attempt to find some good imaging of what they might look at but I couldn’t find anything substantial.

This video seems to show something like that, but I have concerns about it’s credibility. (there’s just no info around it at all.)
All I can say is, this might just be up to artistic interpretation at this point.

These images are what led me to this dense, cluster-like depiction of cilia:

The first picture shows a taste cell from the human tongue. The second image just shows some patches of cilia.

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