First Impressions on

Before posting about returning on the Discord and forums, I downloaded the latest build and tried giving the game a spin to see what changes there were since I was last here. I gotta say that playing made me think back to the state of the project in 2012 and 2013, where even just creating a runnable demo was groundbreaking for us. The game has made HUGE strides to where it is today, it’s amazing to see.

I also know that I’m returning to the project completely out of sync of the development cycles so I know you guys already have a list of planned features for the next update, so this is more to set down ideas for following versions.

Things I Liked

  • The visuals are fantastic and keep getting better with every version. I love the new particle effects, the background blur, and the radial blur, it makes everything look so much better.
  • The ATP balance bar is super nice to have in the editor
  • The “After Action Reports” or whatever they’re called that show up every time you enter the editor are so cool. It’s so nice seeing how your patch and other patches develop every generation, as well as tracking my success vs my rivals.
  • I love how patches feel different with different aesthetics, compound levels, and species present.
  • The graphics team is doing a great job with the models. The membrane, flagella, and other organelles all look great and the membrane dissolving animation is really nice as well.
  • I love the stress of watching my population wax and wane in response to my success and failure, it feels like I’m guiding a species and am responsible for their success
  • The new UI is fantastic and I love the compact options for the bottom left UI elements


  • The hitbox for iron particles should be made smaller. Sometimes I bump into the water around it.
  • A few more things should be labelled in the UI. For example, let me see exactly how much Ammonia or Phosphate I have left to collect to reproduce. When I get close to full, I can’t tell if I’m at 99% or 100%. Also, in the editor, I can’t see the exact numbers on the ATP balance bar so I can only know how much an organelle will change it by placing one and seeing how the bar changes.
  • The Microbe Stage themes get a little repetitive for me, I think it would be nice to add some new music. Perhaps its because I’ve playtested the Microbe Stage so many times?
  • When cells swim through compound clouds, it can look a little weird. I think the pickup range for cells should be a circle not a square. Can we make it so the compounds fade out instead of instantly disappearing? Also is a way to make it match the shape of the hexagons of the cell?
  • Cells should be limited as to how dark their colour can become. Dark cells are almost impossible to see in dark biomes. Maybe I was just playing in poor lighting at the time, so I can test this one again.
  • When engulfing, if you touch a target with your membrane their speed should reduce by more. Otherwise I have to evolve to both be larger and considerably faster than my prey, which is hard to do. May need to playtest this one more though to confirm it.
  • The tooltip in the top right seems to grossly exaggerate the numbers in the clouds. It’ll tell me there’s thousands of ammonia in a cloud that maybe yields me 4 or 5. Is this a bug? Is this just me?
  • We should replace the static bubbles with 3D bubbles. With the amount of improvements we’ve made to the visuals, I think the 2D bubbles are one of the vestiges of the old aesthetic that we could do well to finally remove/improve.
  • I feel like the recent updates have made organelle upgrades more important. I felt the need for organelle upgrades a lot more than in earlier versions. At the moment the only way you can improve your cell is to get bigger. But there is no way to refine your cell while staying the same size, such as by evolving increased efficiency for your existing organelles.
  • Locked organelles should be hidden. I think this adds to the sense of discovery by only showing unlocked organelles. It also makes the early game easier by reducing the number of organelles the player first sees when first entering the editor.
  • Let the player see what range of environmental variables they can survive. For example, in the main editor screen there could be a panel showing the range of temperatures, light levels, etc. that you can survive. Then, if I select a patch the temperature should highlight red if it is outside of my tolerable zone. This feature could perhaps be combined with an update that adds organelles for environmental tolerance (like antifreeze proteins).
  • It felt like the AI species were growing far faster than I could hope to compete with. Am I the only one to experience this? Perhaps I could test it more.
  • The list of AI species in a patch can quickly get hard to read when there are a lot of them. I think if you bolded the species name in each line it’d look better.

I think right now it is pretty much the best tradeoff that can be made between going inside the iron models vs hitting air around them.
To make the collisions more accurate they would basically need like a convex collision mesh. Though I suppose I should open an issue on github for this:


In the code I think that the grab radius is a circle and should be already in use.

The cells basically have a really fast absorption speed and grab fraction to basically instantly grab compounds underneath.
It used to be so that you would need multiple passes over a cloud to pick up everything. I think there’s a pretty good gameplay reason that the absorption rate was made faster. Though I suppose debuffing the absorb rate would also solve your previous point as well.

I suppose it could be but it would make things a lot harder as you would need to compute all the points in cloud local coordinates that are under the cell. Right now the cell radius and center point is used to compute all the points.
This would also probably impact performance quite a bit as the cloud simulation is already the most expensive part.

I think we managed to improve this a bit for 0.5.1 as the speed debuff didn’t actually apply in 0.5.0. I suppose with some playtesting the speed debuff could be made even higher. @Buckly ?

They are completely different units, cloud density and compound storage are off by factor of at least like 1000.
Not sure how well it could be fixed as the clouds dissipate very fast and move to near by points etc. So if you wanted to accurately calculate what you would get, I think we’d need a sampling method for the points around the cursor and then convert that to the cell storage units.

It’s very difficult, but at the same time other people have also talked about it. I could perhaps open a hard issue for solving this (though nobody please don’t attempt it if you need implementation help as I would need to first implement it myself before being able to guide someone on it, which would be a bit pointless).

You mean in the background layer?

I can kinda agree with this, but if we do stuff like have photosynthesis and other organelles locked behind being in a specific patch, I’d like the locked organelles to be shown along with how to unlock it.
Right now it’s pretty clear that you need the nucleus.
Also by seeing the organelles locked behind the nucleus you can plan what to get after the nucleus.

This is a good idea once those patch conditions are implemented, currently they do nothing.

Currently the AI gets just a random number added to their population.



My bad I should have clarified, I think the absorption speed is fine, I just mean what if visually the compounds have an animation that fades them out over the course of a second after they are absorbed?

And yeah fair enough, I could see how cell-shaped pickup radius could be taxing to implement.

Ah okay I see. Yeah I think if we could find a way to represent one in terms of the other it could make the tooltip a lot more helpful, since you could better estimate how much a cloud will yield you. I have no ideas on how to solve this at the moment though.

That’s a good point. I had some more detailed thoughts on organelle progression that I didn’t include in the OP so I’ll bring those points up in a new thread.

I think that’s pretty hard to implement, and might also cost a lot of performance.

The clouds work like this (very basic explanation):

  • you have a 2D grid of points for the density of each compound at all points near the player
  • each frame (all parts don’t run each frame as that takes too much CPU power) each of those points are computed (moved to nearby points, diffused, cells grab them, chunks and spawners add density)
  • after the computation that 2D grid is made into a texture image and uploaded to the GPU
  • the GPU renders with a shader that reads the pixel values from the texture applying the colour based on the density info from the texture

I can’t see an easy way to make compounds fade, unless you made some tricky visual grid layer that kept compounds on it for a while after disappearing from the other grid. Once again I expect this to require quite a bit of computation as each single grid position needs calculation each frame (and this actually needs to be almost each frame, otherwise the fade is not smooth).

This and the other one I talked about are hard issues. It takes a lot of software engineering mental power to plan software changes that will address these problems, which I don’t currently have. So I’m throwing the ball to the other programmers here.

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Yeah good points on both of those, we’d have to see if someone could come up with solutions for them.

When i made the patch report concept i added this list on a population graph, maybe something similar can be done for the patch map screen.

species list

However, generating an image of each cell may be hard to acomplish, so for the time being species names could have the same color as their cells’ hue, though that could bring readability problems. Perhaps the font colors should all become paler to avoid that.


It would certainly be preferable for text to have a static color, instead it might be better to fill the circles on the left with full color or something to represent the species if we cant use snapshots of the cells.


Yeah good points all around. I was wondering how we could distinguish the species names in the list. Filled circles beside the names are not something I’d thought of that’s a good idea. Obviously cell snapshots would be ideal. Something I was thinking but I don’t know how useful it would be would be to put descriptors beside their name. Like for example:

Modelus Specius (Phototroph)
Primum Thrivium (Heterotroph)
Microbius Maximus (Mixotroph)