In-game encyclopedia


I’d be interested to know if others agree but a principle I quite like is that “in each stage you should only have access to info your creature has.”

I think it’s quite a good principle because it means that discoveries can be made later in the game. The first creatures that get above the sea can look up and maybe see the moon or a gas giant the planet orbits. In the society stages you can discover and unknown continent and astronomers can discover what planets there are in your system etc.

So for example a microbe could know it’s patch’s: temperature, salinity, alkalinity, light level, light spetrum, other species living there etc. However it wouldn’t be able to know: the size of the patch, the absolute location of other patches in relation to this one etc.

Which I think means maybe it’s worth having a patch diagram which is quite abstract rather than geographic. So rather than showing you where they are in relation to each other it shows more which ones are neighbours (so you know where you can move) and the local conditions of each one. Like mirror monkey’s blocky one above is great because it’s just giving you the info you have access to, however I think a map is too much info.

I guess on the other side I do really like clade diagrams for keeping track of the species and maybe it’s unreasonable for microbes to have that but I think they add a lot.

I like your idea of having something hierarchical @Narotiza, that makes a lot of sense for organising the info.



This is exactly what I want. Starting with limited info and then giving the player more will be more interesting than the player having tons of stuff to look through as soon as they start and then not getting anything new to look at for the rest of the game.



In terms of info in the patch microbe stage.

Do you know the food chain? Do you know whats going on in the adjacent patches unless you’ve been there?

So for microbe,
We know basic statistics I think about the current patch O2.Salinity,C02, light, temp, etc so you can make descisions editing your cell.(also lets be honest with ourselves, a microbe irl doesn’t actually know these specific numbers, or anything for that matter, this is a gameplay concession it’s info the player playing the microbe needs to know not info a microbe in real life would actually know)

We know what’s in your patch (the exact food chain maybe), what type of patch, the name of your patch, and perhaps know what types of patches are adjacent (but not their conditions until you’ve been there) I imagine the block diagram except it only shows where you’ve been, where you currently are and adjacent ones but when you want to look at data on adjacent patches you’ve never been to it’s a big fat question mark.
That way you still have a feeling of “uncovering “ your world.

What do you guys think?

I’m also partial to a clade diagram of your current patch and patches you’ve been to just because I personally like having a bunch of stuff to look at.

1 Like


I like this idea. Maybe some information (perhaps rounded) should be shown from adjacent biomes that you’ve never been to to give the player some idea which biome they should try to spread to next.



Mockup of most of the different windows. Thoughts? Anything missing? Any confusion because this whole thing is just a big, confusing mess?



These look nice. I think with things like planet view I’m not sure you should be able to see that until you launch a satellite so that’s quite far down the road.

I’ve been thinking about clade diagrams a bit but it’s a pretty hard problem, how to draw them so there are lines from each “parent” to “child” that look nice and species in the same patch are grouped together. Here’s a page on it. If we go with “when a species splits the two halves are considered new species” that makes things easier I think as then every species will have only 2 descendants.

Re the patches screen the way I’m imagining it at the moment is like this, I’d be interested to hear if everyone else sees it the same:

you swim around and press a button in the top right. you go to the patches screen which shows you how your patch and it’s neighbors (to some degree) have changed in the last time step (like 100m years or something). Maybe temperature or acidity changed, maybe the species that live there got auto-evod. It then asks if your species split into a new patch in that time.

Then you click a button in the top right and you go to the editor screen to answer the question “how did your species change in the last time step?” So you’re always editing retrospectively, the climate and conditions change and so your species changes to adapt. Does that make sense, anyone have other ideas?

If so I’m not sure about the points and lines patch diagram because is that the info you need? On the patch screen you need to know about climate conditions, which patches are neighbours and species in patches and I’m not sure if that’s the best way to display that info. You don’t need to know where the patches are in the real world geographically.

I don’t know if we need a seperate species screen or whether that can be included in the patches screen.



Unless I’m misunderstanding what you mean, I’m not sure I agree with directly telling the player what’s going to happen in the future. As I said in the auto evo readout thread, such information might be overwhelming and give the player too large of an advantage. Also, generating future changes before the player evolves means the player either has no effect on the environment, or they do but the predictions are inaccurate once auto evo factors the player’s new species in, making them unreliable.

I also think that a species can potentially spead throughout the entire world in way less time than it takes for it to evolve, so one patch per editor cycle seems too slow to me. I think spread should be automatic depending on whether or not you’re adapted to other biomes.

I’m not exactly sure if you suggested this, sorry, but I do think things could be a bit more clear to the player when they do enter their next generation, perhaps. Maybe after they’ve already confirmed their changes to their organism, the game could give them information on how things relevant to them have changed, such as temperature, new threats, spread across patches, etc., and afterwards allow them to choose a patch (that their species already inhabits, of course) to start playing in.



I think for gameplay reasons it should be one patch per editor cycle. Also @tjwhale while I do get that it doesn’t make much sense to show actual world layouts I quite like this:

It’s not a true world layout but patch placement is logical and sorted by depth and the connected patches make logical sense. And I wouldn’t be against some diaganol placement like in Naro’s thing:
Basically patch wise what you would see as a player in the patch screen is your patch, adjacent patches(with hidden data, for example I don’t think you should know what species are there), and patches where you’ve been and patches adjacent to patches you’ve been to. (Also with hidden data, perhaps more hidden data then the current adjacent patches)



@Narotiza I agree that the player shouldn’t get info about what will happen in the future. I think it’s better if you tell them what’s just happened and let them adapt to that. Tell them about the past and then let them make choices.

I agree with @Untrustedlife that there is a lot of gameplay in spreading between patches so we should use that. Interestingly I think from a realism perspective patch spreading and evolution are linked (I would imagine, I’m not an expert) for example a microbe species might spread out in salt water until it hits and estuary of fresh water and then stop, waiting for the one mutant which can survive in the fresh water to colonize it. So I think there is a nice link between evolution and patch spreading.

I think it makes sense to have the editor session last so you can use information you were just given about climate to make changes. If you have editor then climate info then swim then editor then you need to remember the climate info you were given all through the swim which doesn’t feel quite right.

@Untrustedlife I also quite like that layout too, the depth thing makes sense. I also like the idea of hidden data, I think that makes sense. I agree with you @Narotiza that keeping the information load manageable is a good idea.



We should add “Saline Sea” as a biome type. Essentially it’s like the dead sea (maybe less salt but still a ton of it) except it also has a overexpression of ammonia in it (that’s what they think the ocean may be like on Europa)



I think I prefer the node map because there may be situations later on where a grid won’t work, like if a patch, somehow, has more than 8 neighbors. (unlikely, but it could still be possible)

And regarding species spreading, I imagine new species start in one place, with a mutant, and then spread outward to wherever they can thrive, right? If you can only spread to one patch per editor cycle, and each/most editor cycles marks a new species, you will thus almost always have a very small population, assuming the game doesn’t just replace the your ancestor’s population with your new species. For instance, if your previous population is adapted to a certain biome but your new one isn’t, it wouldn’t make sense for the new population to replace the old one and exist in that biome where they’re unfit to survive. Rather, if your new species fills the same niche as the previous and is capable of surviving in the same biomes, it should spread throughout all those patches, outcompeting its ancestors and potentially driving them to extinction, or, if the niches are different enough, the two could possibly coexist.
I do agree it would be pretty nice to let the player have some control over where their species spreads, though.

The way you worded the before-editor patch changes thing confused me a little, I thought you were saying it would show what would happen in the future, so thanks for clarifying! Putting it so close to the editor might be confusing for players too, but it could probably work. And if not, there’s nothing stopping them from looking at the patch history in statistics on their own.

1 Like


What’s the advantage of having more than 8 neighbours to a patch?

If you like the node and line idea then feel free to maybe draw what it would look like, I’m open to being won over. I do quite like the boxes because I think they show the information quite nicely but basically whatever is the best way of displaying the info is best. I may like that concept because it’s colourful lol.

re species spreading: I think when you split your species you should only get control of one half. So if you choose to go to a new patch then you lose control of the pop you left behind.

In general I quite like the idea that at the beginning you are the only species so everything in the game is a descendant of your original cell. Moreover it might be cool if you are the only one who can add a nucleus (as I think that only happened once in evolutionary history) so again all eukaryote species will be descended from that one event, though I’m not sure whether that is a good idea.

And yeah I agree that AI species should be able to spread between patches, however I think it should be close to the timescale of the player, as in there is some chance they will when you get the chance. So yeah there would be competition between the offshoots of your species.

I don’t think you should split your species every editor session. I’m quite blurry on it but maybe you build your population up over time and make continuous changes which keeps the species the same and then splitting is a bigger decision. I don’t think it’s quite right to move patch every editor session, but I don’t know.

I’m also not sure if you should split your species and have both halves stay in the same patch, not sure, open to ideas.



Here’s a quick node map based on a quick landscape I did, showing lots of interconnected biomes, and below that, an example of how a patch can have well over 8 neighbors.

Why should it split in half? I imagine, based on how well and how quickly your new species can compete with your old one, you could end up with a population larger or smaller than theirs, or your population can flourish alongside theirs without decreasing it very much. Splitting it in half kinda feels like an unrealistic and gamey representation of a pretty important game mechanic. I suppose it might work until we have a way to properly determine that sort of stuff, though.

I definitely like the idea of you being the first and only cell to evolve a nucleus. A while ago I did mention the idea of there being a really rare chance for another cell to evolve it as well, so your planet would have two completely separate lineages of eukaryotes (though I feel there’d have to be a significant difference in the nucleus and its effects for that to be any meaningful)



That looks really nice. I’m a bit worried about giving the player geographical information in the microbe stage because I think we want to reveal that later, with voyages of exploration and satellites. For example in this image can you see where the continents are? If I told you light blue was coastal can you see them now? And that’s without connecting lines or knowing what the dots mean.

Moreover does the player need this geographical information? If they are moving from abyss to ocean does it matter if that’s north or south or 5 miles or 500 miles?



I wasn’t suggesting that the geographical map be displayed, I was just showing it alongside the node map to give you an idea of how a node map based on it would look. I can see that the location of the continents is somewhat apparent in my map, but that’s probably just because of the way I drew it. A computer-generated one would probably look more random. You could still tell there are continents - even without terrestrial biomes included, there’s still the shallow ocean biome which usually suggests a nearby landmass, but their sizes, shapes, and locations shouldn’t be correct.



Yeah ideally we could build a planetary map based on our patch node map so we don’t need a completely new system once you can be on land and such.

1 Like


Did a quick drawing on my whiteboard, trying to figure out how nodes (and grids) could handle maps that loop around (e.g, planets). The nodes ended up a little messy sometimes, (I like how the big map at the bottom middle looks though), and I couldn’t get a grid to handle it at all. In the bottom right, I also messed around with the idea of node paths being able to wrap around the edge of the frame instead of having to go all the way through the middle.
Apologies if the colors are hard to differentiate



Ok I wanted to summarize where we are at with the patch selection screen / map. What we want is a map screen which shows the patches you can see and how they are connected. It lets you split your species if you wish and send some to a new patch. It should probably also have some climate data for each patch (energy available, light levels etc) however this could be on a different screen. Maybe also it needs info on which species are in which patch, however this could be a different screen too.

We’ve talked about having a node and line style to it which I am ok with, I’m open to other ideas if people have them.

We’ve also talked about whether to have the map be side on or top down, here are my thoughts on that:

Side on: patches which are deep in the ocean are the bottom of the screen and ones which are shallow at the top, northerly latitudes are at the left and southerly to the right. This is cool because depth is a large part of the microbe stage, it determines how much light a patch gets and how much debris falls down to it. Also whether it is on the ocean floor is quite important. It also doesn’t give away much geographical information about the planet.

The drawbacks with this are that it probably won’t work for later stages. I can imagine a screen with land and sea patches all side on but it might be a bit odd, changing map styles between stages is not ideal though possible. It also doesn’t really allow for wrapping the patch map around the planet however I am not sure if that is important.

top down: it works just like a normal map. This is cool because it’s easy to understand and can work easily for all stages. It’s easier to wrap around the planet if that is desirable.

With this though I really don’t want to generate a planet map and show that to the player at any point before they are discovering it with Columbus style expeditions in the strategy stages. So we can generate a top down 2d map for the microbe and creature stages which has the right proportions of patches but which is jumbled up, though this might be confusing.

Moreover it’s a bit more complicated to communicate depth and light levels etc however this shouldn’t be so bad with colours and labels.

Does anyone have opinions or preferences about this? I think I’m slightly in favour of side on but I don’t mind too much.

1 Like


I like side on but I realize we need to still think about later stages when making these sorts of descisions. Maybe side on then we take that map and “convert” it when you get to the next stage.

1 Like


I just thought I could post this here so it doesn‘t get lost in the discord feed. It‘s basically the same in-game encyclopedia, just within the editor session.