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.