MP Discounts: When and Where

So lately I have been thinking about the nature of MP discounts, and how we might apply those to make choices like the symmetry of your organism or placement of your parts more meaningful. I believe that this should be handled carefully as it can easily skew the balance of the game otherwise.

At the moment I only have two concepts regarding MP discounts to discuss, but might have more at a later time in regards to methods of reproduction and such.

Replacing Prokaryotic Parts
As of now, replacing your old parts with the more efficient eukaryotic variants can be a bit of a hassle due to needing to first delete your old parts for an MP cost (20-30 MP to make space for the new organelle) before placing down the organelle. This results in a player only being able to afford one new organelle per generation through this method. I believe that this makes replacing old organelles an unattractive option for many, as I see them simply placing more parts on top of the old, rather than replacing them outright.

I believe that by allowing players to place organelles on top of prokaryotic parts (In a similar manner to placing parts on top of cytoplasm to replace it), we can better encourage them to optimize their cells.
In addtion to this; We could apply discounts or even penalties based on the parts that are being replaced. For example; placing a mitochondrion on top of 2 metabolosomes would incur a 10 MP discount, where as placing a mitochondrion on top of two thylakoids could perhaps incur an MP penalty of 20 MP (Equal to just removing them). This could encourage more strategic purpose to the placement and organization of a cell’s parts without being overly punishing.
(Concept art coming soon, don’t let me forget)

Purpose for Symmetry
Not too long ago, someone brought up the idea that symmetry could incur a discount for parts placed when used. I have mixed feelings about this because on one hand this would actually enable players to use symmetry, but on the other hand it would be rather unbalanced due to allowing players to place more parts at once, thus evolve more parts more quickly; Essentially speeding up the process of evolution in Thrive. As we know; Symmetry is actually helpful and easy for evolution, but as it stands right now, radial symmetry would just provide an unfair advantage over all others simply because of the amounts of parts placed; Thus discouraging players from using any other symmetry options and very quickly being able to evolve a nucleus and binding agents…

I’ve been thinking hard about how to handle this, and I fear that there may be no perfect solution for the microbe stage at least. Regardless I will list some of my disjointed ideas.

Idea 1:
My first idea was to implement a basic discount to parts placed through symmetry as was suggested, thus enabling players to utilize the higher symmetry options. The discount would scale with amount of parts placed, just enough to enable one or two placements per generation with the symmetry option.

However; Players could place parts with the highest symmetry option to get many parts in one generation, which would more than likely grant them immediate access to the nucleus in the next generation.
They would simply get more production/consumption faster than creatures with less symmetry lines.

Idea 2:
This is an odd idea, but I considered making symmetry itself an adaptation with a cost. Essentially it would be a selection of buttons similar to how players select their membranes. By evolving a symmetry type, the player would be able to place parts along that plane. However; Should they deviate from their selected symmetry plan, they will suffer higher MP costs for placement. This would make it so that radial organisms would find it more costly and expensive to evolve things like flagella without putting them around the entire cell. (Thus encouraging bilateral symmetry for motile organisms).

The biggest issue here is how we would handle nucleus placement… since the nucleus is already 100 MP it would make it impossible for radial organisms to place it down if they had an MP penalty… Aside from that I just don’t feel entirely confident about this idea.

Personally; I think radial symmetry won’t be able to work too well with how our microbe parts system is designed, but it might work better in later stages where we deal with sculptable tissues instead due to a less rigid placement system.

Please let me know what you think about this.

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I approve of talking about MP discounts instead of increasing the MP count (as it is a percentage). I don’t have the mental energy to read and digest these suggestion right now so I hope someone else comments on these specifics.

Alright, if nobody else is gonna take it, I would like to back up and ask some more foundational questions?

  1. How badly do we want this in the microbe stage? I don’t recall many players clambering for either discounts or symmetry, and anything we spend time on now is something we don’t implement somewhere else (it doesn’t really “delay” release, since we all already know our wishlist is beyond mortal means). Personally I’ve never been bothered by the little germs having floaty bits on one side and not the other; that was my impression of how they really look under a microscope.

  2. Do you have any idea of what progression curves should look like for the microbe stage? If we can agree on questions like, “how many generations until a skilled player can have a stable flagellum?” or “any player who’s trying to beat the game should be eukaryotic by X generations” can give us a much better standard by which to call something OP or UP, as well as inform the balance and mutation rate of the AI cells.


For me, it is not critical at all, and is only thoughts on how we should do it; If we do it. I ended up discussing symmetry as being involved with discounts due to some folks in our chatroom occasionally mentioning that symmetry is genetically cheaper and more efficient so I was thinking of ways to reflect that while actually making symmetry options in Thrive feasible. Unfortunately I feel that it won’t work out too well with how we set up the parts system.

As for replacing prokaryotic parts; I figured it would be a nice quality of life feature that would help encourage players to build more efficient cells. However I have my reservations on that as well. Namely that it would speed up the post-nucleus progression by alot.

An excellent question.

I personally feel that a good spot to aim for is around 10 generations to reach the nucleus, and from there however long it takes for the player to streamline their cell how they want for colonial life. (Probably about 5 or so generations)
The stage should take about an hour or half an hour to complete on average.

As it stands now, if you go full metabolosomes and nothing else you can fairly quickly get the nucleus in less generations than other diets due to needing less parts (Other diets save for rustycyanin all depend on metabolosomes for processing), but I feel that the need to hunt down prey aught to balance this out in the future.

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I’d rather that microbe stage potential features are discussed, instead that like late multicellular control schemes are debated. I’ll take this microbe feature discussion over that any day.

I said this years ago already, but microbe stage should be about 20 generations for the relatively competent player who knows how to progress (ie. doesn’t waste too much time on getting organelles that won’t help them progress). This is done with the calculation that the microbe stage should in my opinion last about an hour, and each generation takes about maybe 3-5 minutes.

I was more trying to hint at the “when do we switch focus to closing out microbe stage” conversation here, but this probably isn’t the place for that.

As for generations, 10 to nucleus seems about on par without discounts, and 20 generations to a colony of ten cells is pretty generous right now. The lowest-effort eukaryote (the benchmark for a player who fully understands game rules but isn’t demonstrating any skill) I can think of would be:

  1. Add nothing, move towards surface.
  2. Add nothing, move towards surface.
  3. Add nothing, move towards surface.
  4. Add nothing, move towards surface.
  5. Add two Thylakoids, stay at surface.
  6. Add one metabolosome and one Thylakoid.
  7. Add two Thylakoids.
  8. Add one metabolosome and one Thylakoid.
  9. Add two Thylakoids.
  10. Add one metabolosome and one Thylakoid.
  11. Add one more metabolosome.
  12. Nucleus.

That’s 12 generations, on a path where every generation you are either alone in your patch or a self-sustaining autotroph. Rewatching the last lets play I saw the nucleus in generation 7. From there, binding agents is not a tough process, and I would expect most players to finish the colony in the generation they can start it, because I don’t know of any reason not to.

We can talk about how that won’t work in the future because of some other feature/change we’ll have by then, but right now that would just be a hypothetical, and something we can’t balance against until implemented.

I can see the case of using discounts to encourage “cleaning up” the prokaryotic organelles, but balance-wise I feel that organelles are a little cheap if anything (although if you upped costs over that critical 50MP threshold things would start to change dramatically).

Encouraging symmetry for its own sake is all well and good, but I’m unsure what would be a strong enough incentive for a player that didn’t want to be symmetrical would feel pressured to be, but not strong enough to make the microbe stage even shorter.

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