Nutrient Cost Trait


In lieu of the other threads I opened looking to increase the transparency of the organism’s stats, and make more of them affected by mutations (Mutation Point Modifier, Phagocytosis Size Trait), another one I had in mind was Nutrient Cost. Just spoke with Deus then other day and interesting to see that he had independently started thinking a similar feature was worthwhile.

Similar to MP Modifier and Phagocytosis Ability, Nutrient Cost already exists in the game, it’s the current total cost of Ammonia and Phosphate it takes to replicate all your organelles. It’s just not shown to the player. The point of this thread is to suggest why it should be displayed to the player, and more clearly affected by certain mutations. This trait will in fact also be very important later in the Multicellular, Aware, and Awakening stages.

Name Choice

Why Nutrient Cost? Why not something like Replication Cost or Reproduction Cost?

Because I think we should make as many systems applicable to as many stages as possible, instead of having many different systems for each stage. Nutrient Cost represents the total cost to Mature AND Reproduce, and so in the future will be the sum of your Maturation Cost (the total nutrients it takes to grow from infancy to adulthood) AND your Reproduction Cost (the total nutrients it takes to spawn an offspring). At the moment, there is no maturation/ontogeny in the game, so that’s why it’s easy to want to call it Reproduction Cost. But we should not mix the two to accommodate for when Maturation is added to the game.


Nutrient Cost: Calculated as the total cost of each compound that is required to replicate each organelle in your cell. At the moment, this cost will only ever be in only Phosphate and Ammonia.

Each part/organelle you place will have its Nutrient Cost listed in its tooltip.

Perhaps some mutations could even apply a general modifier (bonus or malus) to the total Nutrient Cost of your entire organism.

Gameplay Impact

The purpose of this is to provide a clear tradeoff to increasing the size and complexity of your cell (this will even be applicable when you are a colony or macroscopic organism).

Some of the organelles we have implemented thus far, or are planning to implement, or that we read about online, may seem to have few to no repercussions. But Nutrient Cost should always be one of the consequences. It can be an easy way to realistically balance Organelle Upgrades. Upgrading your mitochondrion several times will each time increase the ATP it yields from one molecule of glucose, but also each time increase its Nutrient Cost, representing that the Mitochondrion is evolving more and more internal folds to increase its surface area, which costs more nutrients for the cell to develop and replicate. This actually does reflect science’s current understanding of how the mitochondrion has evolved over time. It was likely very simple at the beginning with few folds but low efficiency, and over time evolved more folds that gives it its current stacked look, but as a result greatly increased its efficiency in harvesting energy from glucose.

That is one example, but Nutrient Cost will act as a consequence for all mutations. Some organelles may incur much larger nutrient costs than others, representing that they are a much larger and more complex structure that is more difficult for the cell to develop/replicate. For example, something like a Nitrogenase organelle could be balanced in this way. Again, this is a very real tradeoff observed in evolution in nature so it works as a perfect way for us to balance mutations.

Next Steps

The implementation of this should be relatively simple, and I could take it on or help whoever takes it on. I’m guessing all the nutrient costs of all the organelles already exist no? We would just now be showing them.

Furthermore, if we get this implemented, it serves as a good foundation for a potential “Reproduction Time” trait (which Deus and I discussed) which I can explain more in the future.

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So this would serve as the underlying mechanic which determines how long it takes for an organism to reproduce?

If we do decide to go ahead and go with time-based reproduction, I personally would think just having it be as simple as having specific times to be added to each part would be good enough. By that, I mean all prokaryotic parts would just add, say, 5 seconds, all eukaryotic parts would add 7 seconds, and then just adding it all up to determine the playtime required. I’ll copy and paste my previous writing:

Baseline = 10 seconds. So as LUCA, it would take you 10 seconds to reproduce with full health and no ammonia inputs.

Cytoplasm = 2 seconds added

Prokaryotic Parts = 5 seconds added

Nucleus = 20 seconds added

Organelles = 7 seconds added

For 2D multicellularity, we can base this time on the stem cell, add 20 seconds to represent added multicellularity complexity, and have each additional cell be something like 4 added seconds. And for the macroscopic stage, we can just have a clean slate and start everything at 3 minutes to reproduce, then restart time calculations from there.

I’m definitely not against your idea and I think it is pretty concise, I just wonder if there isn’t an easier way that would achieve the same thing (again, if we even decide to go with time-based reproduction). I want to make sure the programming team isn’t dealing with both a nutrient cost system and a reproductive time system. I feel like this would be easier to understand, adjust, and implement if we go with the less elaborate route, but if your route is better, then by all means.

But regardless, it definitely is a good idea to show the player whatever their reproductive cost time is.

Yes exactly. What I’m suggesting in the OP does not change the game mechanically whatsoever. It’s just a visual change of displaying the Nutrient Cost to the player, both in the organism stats and per organelle in its tooltip. However it serves as an important foundation for the next step.

Once this is in place, we could then go ahead and decide we want to also implement a way of calculating the time it takes for an organism to grow/mature/reproduce.

What you’re saying is in essence exactly what I was thinking. However, I don’t think we need to even come up with arbitrary numbers per part. We can simply use the total Nutrient Cost of the organism. I’ll give a quick preview (don’t want to dive into too much detail yet just to see if there’s agreement in the team for Nutrient Cost first).


We can define a Growth Rate for the cell, and this is the rate at which stored compounds are transferred over to the Reproduction Bar. Your Reproduction Time is the time it takes for your Growth Rate to transfer your compounds from your storage over to your Reproduction Bar (which represents your Nutrient Cost).

Calculating Reproduction Time

For example, if a cell has a growth rate of 10 Nutrients / second, and their Nutrient Cost is 100 Ammonia, and they have 100 Ammonia in storage, then the cell will take 10 seconds to one by one move each unit of Ammonia into the Repro Bar. Here their Reproduction Time will be calculated (and displayed in the editor UI) as 10 seconds.

If a cell has a Nutrient Cost of 100 Ammonia and 100 Phosphate, and they have sufficient amounts of both of those in storage, and their growth rate is 10 Nutrients / second, then their cell will transfer 10 ammonia or phosphate (can be randomly split between both, or 50:50, whatever makes the most sense) over into the Reproduction Bar every second. So in this case, your cell’s Reproduction Time will be 20 seconds (since your Nutrient Cost was doubled from last time but your Growth Rate stayed the same).

Influencing Growth Rate

All cells will start with a Growth Rate of 10 Nutrients / second (or whatever we feel is a good default number). Future mutations can allow this number to be increased, representing an organism that has evolved to replicate its organelles/cells more quickly.

Example mutation affecting Growth Rate

For example, we could have a mutation where you evolve to replicate your cells twice as quickly, which doubles your Growth Rate (halving your Repro Time), but as a consequence there are more errors and inefficiencies during replication and so your Nutrient Cost is increased by 25%. This mutation would favour a cell with abundant access to resources but wants to grow faster, and would be unfavourable to cells with limited access to resources but no problems with their Repro Time.


This makes Nutrient Cost and Reproduction Time directly related. If you evolve your mitochondria to become more efficient by increasing their number of internal folds, which as a consequence increases your Nutrient Cost, your Reproduction Time will increase.

This system also easily ports over to Multicellular and beyond. Your organism will obviously not immediately replicate once it has finished eating a meal in Aware. It will take time for the nutrients it just ate to go into its body and help it grow. So this serves as a perfect foundation for such a system in Microbe → Awakening.

Fair enough. I think this ultimately depends on what @hhyyrylainen thinks would be easier to implement since they would both essentially do the same thing.

And - I’m sounding like a broken record by now - if that is the direction we are indeed taking.

I know how to program such a system in Python it would be very simple, so I could take on the task of learning how to translate it into C#.

Granted, that’s assuming that people agree it’s a good feature. Which itself assumes that first people agree that a Nutrient Cost trait is a good feature hahah, so I’ll leave it open for now to first settle whether there’s agreement for a Nutrient Cost trait.

I’m not exactly sure if I entirely like the nutrient cost name, but I’m not coming up with any other suggestions (I think I’d slightly prefer “resource cost” but that also isn’t a very good name).

I really don’t want the late multicellular to be a waiting simulator. That’s the part of the game where the player is supposed to go around hunt things or look for trees with fruit or something. That’s the one stage I definitely don’t want to compromise needing the player to actually play the game in.

This design will make meta builds with the minimum amount of organelles in the first stem cell OP if they can grow even super complex cells super quickly as long as the first cell is very simple. So if anything I’d say we should scale down the reproduction time for each cell type in the early multicellular stage, instead of changing it to a flat number that doesn’t depend on the cell complexity.

I think even if nothing is changed it would be a good idea to show the organelle compositions in the editor.

There’s a lot to read here so I’m not really sure which parts you mean as the different options.

I don’t see the following changes as too hard:

  • Organelles will have a default rate of growth they grow at all the time
  • If there exists some of their composition compounds in the cell storage, they’ll use up some of that to make extra progress.

Though, this will bring up the confusing design of the player being full on ammonia and phosphates and not knowing what to do next. When they should just wait around. I think we’d need some kind of tutorial or something. Also this makes it much less obvious that collecting the ammonia and phosphate clouds go into the progress tracked in the bottom right.

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I was referring mostly to whether you thought we should just solely go with basing the time it takes to reproduce on morphology (adding a cytoplasm tile adds 2 seconds, nucleus adds 20, etc.) or going with the nutrient cost method where the total amount of ammonia + phosphate needed is used as a basis for calculating the amount of time it takes to reproduce. You would essentially end up with the same result either way, but it’s a slightly different process.

That’s a strong point, enough for me to realize there are some serious negatives we need to stay away from should we choose to go with time-based reproduction. I think it would absolutely help the microbe stage since the time spent in each life would obviously be a short amount of time, but we really do not want long times of waiting in the macroscopic parts of the game.

To be fair, I’m assuming 99% of creatures in the macroscopic stage will reproduce sexually, so you would definitely still have to be very active (not mentioning the fact that you’ll also have to make sure you have enough food and safety to survive until you get to that point regardless). Perhaps the waiting time could be repurposed for the time it takes to reach sexual maturity, signalling to the player that they can mate and reach the editor. I’m assuming we’d start the player as a very young adult in the macroscopic stage, so I’m sure we can get away with a relatively short amount of time needed. Maybe at the most, if you’re a giant and very complex creature, a 6 or 7 minute lifespan is the absolute maximum we are willing to offer? For most macroscopic animals, we’d want the average to be just under 5 minutes I’d say.

Yeah I can’t think of anything better than Nutrient Cost. Nutrient Cost works the best from all the terms I could think of since it’s very versatile. A particular organelle can have a Nutrient Cost, your whole Cell can have a Nutrient Cost. And I think the advantage of Nutrient over Resource is that it’s more specific to the situation, since a Nutrient is a Resource that is biologically necessary for the energy, growth, or reproduction of an organism.

Looks like no opposition to that then eh? If so I can go ahead and make an issue for it on GitHub and start working on it when I return from my trip.

The current system is closer to the ammonia and phosphate system. In fact we could move to the nutrient cost system by just doing two things:

  • Add passive generation of ammonia and phosphate to all cells
  • Add a maximum rate organelles can absorb ammonia and phosphate to divide (this stops the player being able to get past the time gating by just absorbing a ton of resources)

I think I’m coming around to accepting time based gameplay (or at least more time based) gameplay for the microbe stage, but later stages is another matter.

This wouldn’t be that bad. The players have talked about that will we have different life stages. So implementing life stages as a way to add required time to late multicellular generations would be a positive design, I think.

I was just thinking that would we ever have something that isn’t a “nutrient” required for growth? If we do then picking a term that also includes that resource would make sense.

Opened an issue:


Sounds good.

I guess the only thing I’m considering is wondering if this could co-exist with a previous concept I have which I think would improve gameplay, where ammonia is repurposed to be the growth compound which directly influences the rate of growth and phosphate is indirectly related to growth by increasing the rate at which health replenishes (health could influence the rate of passive uptake) and providing the bonus of speeding up important cellular processes, such as agent production. I think it would be better for gameplay to simplify things by just having 1 compound be directly influential on growth, and it would be a fun additional layer to have phosphate serve the healing role. Perhaps we can drop the phosphate cost and repurpose it but increase the ammonia cost?

If you guys don’t think such a change would be worth it though, then this system can definitely work.

I’m not a biology expert by any means, but is there any scientific basis to ammonium being that much more important in growth than phosphate?
If I understand you correctly, you’re suggesting a system where an organism could grow and reproduce without ever aquiring any phosphate.
In my limited understanding that would be quiet scientifically implausible if the biology of those organisms is in any way similar to that of life on earth.

Sorry for taking so long to respond to this. But don’t you think that 10 seconds is way too short? In 10 seconds the player wouldn’t even have time to go through the movement tutorial.
Even mutliple generations of added prokaryotic parts later, the player would barely have the time to try to search for prey/food.

With such incredibly fast absorbtion, essentially all gameplay would be rendered superfluous. The player could simply wait out the time needed to reproduce without moving, even as a heterotroph.
But not only would such fast time-based reproduction discourage gameplay in between editor sessions. It would also discourage evolving.
We already have the problem that remaining one hex of cytoplasm is quiet OP. In the future this problem will be lessened by dynamic compound levels basically eliminating free floating ammonium and phosphate clouds a few generations in. In such a state, the only way for a LUCA-like microbe to reproduce is to be a scavanger, which is a fairly small niche.

tl;dr: When passive reproduction is faster than the running out of the initial glucose the player has, the player will never have to search for glucose either.
If we choose to implement passive ammonuim and phosphate absorbtion, it has to be pretty slow.

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I worry that we go backwards in terms of design if we make taking damage back to also making reproduction harder, even if we don’t go back to the design where damage directly set back the reproduction progress.

Definitely need to consider that the first generation must be long enough to give the player a feel for the movement and the goal of the swimming around part.

Another very good observation:


Phosphate and ammonia are pretty abstract representations of phosphorus for phosphates and nitrogen for ammonia. It’s hard to “rank” the importance of phosphorus and nitrogen, but from my understanding, nitrogen is oftentimes more explicitly tied to growth and reproduction. Phosphorus has a tremendous role in ensuring the health of various processes, such as the proper use of calcium for teeth and bones, creating many amino acids, and the growth and maintenance of various cells. Nitrogen on the other hand is an essential part of amino acids as a whole, and are incredibly important for the creation of genetic material.

It is important to note that both have overlapping roles - phosphorus is important for amino acids as well. But most (aquatic) organisms, especially micro-organisms, are able to fulfill the need for phosphate/phosphorus through passive absorption. Nitrogen meanwhile is oftentimes the limiting nutrient in ecosystems. Organisms need a bit more quantity of Nitrogen than they might phosphorus - or atleast, they can’t have enough of nitrogen. And nitrogen isn’t as widely accessible as phosphorus, as atmospheric nitrogen is impossible to process for life. Therefore, organisms struggle for any accessible form of it that they can get, hence nitrogen’s status as a limiting nutrient.

So I thought it would be a cool idea to reflect this in game. From a strictly-design perspective, I think we should minimize repetition in elements of the game (phosphate and ammonia are basically the same exact thing but different colors).

Fair points. My thing is I don’t think there is much gameplay to be had when you are a tiny and simple blob - there’s no function other than moving around and absorbing clouds, so it’s not like you’re cutting the gameplay loop short. But it can indeed be a free route to reproduction, especially if it’s 10 seconds, or if you don’t burn glucose quickly enough to even be in any real danger. I’m sure many life forms take this approach, but we don’t want it to be a very common strategy at all in Thrive.

I can imagine some solutions to this problem, ranging from just increasing the baseline amount of time to 20-30 seconds or something and decreasing part costs a tiny bit, attaching lucrative auto-evo population bonuses to ammonia, only enabling the repo-button in the tutorial after a decent amount of info is given, etc. I also remember that ideally, auto-evo would punish you via predation if you stayed so simple, but auto-evo might take a while to get like that.

We can definitely make it work I think, but that’s why it’s a good thing that this idea is on the back burner for now. It’s such a subtle but huge change to the core gameplay that we seriously have to ensure the benefits are better than the cost.

I think having a reasonable cap to how severely low health slows down passive intake, and clearly communicating this to the player, would deal with most of the ugliness that was caused by being able to reproduce only at full health. But it’s a fair point to consider.

Just wanted to suggest that perhaps a deeper dive into this topic would fit better on another thread, but to pitch in on what was brought up so far:

I don’t such a system would be good, just cause right now Phosphate fills quite a close role to its actual role in nature, whereas such a system would move Phosphate towards being a bit more of an invented and game-y role.

Phosphate is in fact an extremely critical nutrient for all life, just like Ammonia/Nitrate. The two of those often serve as the limiting ingredients to how much life a biome can support, alongside sunlight and other factors. All DNA, RNA, and similar molecules use Phosphate. ATP uses Phosphate. Some proteins use Phosphate. Many membrane types use phosphate (Phospholipid Membranes), and by extension many of the eukaryotic organelles that are derived from the membrane also use Phosphate (like the ER, Golgi, vacuoles, lyosomes, etc).

I have also wondered whether it’s detrimental to have both Ammonia and Phosphate in the game with little apparent distinction (currently, to be clear) between the two. However, after reading more about it I saw there are some important differences between them that we have just not implemented yet:

  • Ammonia and other nitrogenous compounds are relatively abundant in Earth-like planets. For example, our atmosphere is 70% Nitrogen Gas. But it’s also dissolved in the oceans, and it’s also trapped in rocks. This opens up ways for species to adapt how to extract this Nitrogen from nature (such as Nitrogenase, but there are a few other ways as well) so that they can produce Ammonia/Nitrate and use that Nitrogen to grow.
  • Phosphate is much less common on Earth, and is mostly in the form of rocks. The only way this gets released for life to absorb is when Phosphate rocks are weathered and release their Phosphate into the water/air. This makes Phosphate often the limiting nutrient in biomes. Also, since Phosphate is mostly in rocks, nature has not yet evolved adaptations (at the cellular level) to extract more Phosphate from nature, so basically all species are waiting for weathering to release more.
  • Although Phosphate is used in some very critical biological molecules (like DNA), Nitrogen is used in more biological molecules by count/volume. As such, most organisms need more Ammonia than they do Phosphate, which we have not implemented yet. This is one reason that in some biomes, Ammonia is the limiting nutrient and not Phosphate.
  • And lastly, I don’t believe it’s creating too much repetition, since it’s only two compounds instead of one. By keeping two we get to add that extra little bit of scientific flavour to the game. If we had something like 5-6 different compounds needed for growth, and there was a scientific way to cut it down to 1-2, I think there would be a much stronger case.

I see your point. This thread sounds like a cohesive design then. I still do think we should attach some sort of additional benefit from phosphate eventually to add some differentiation between ammonia and phosphate’s role in game, but that’s beyond the scope of the particular problems we are trying to solve.

I guess what’s next is to debate the merit of the system this will be feeding into, timed reproduction, which as you say is deserving of its own thread. There are some problems we need to make sure we solve before calling timed-reproduction a good concept, but I think it will overall be a positive to the game if implemented properly. I want to make sure we find examples of growth mechanics in other games, find their benefits and faults and how applicable they would be to Thrive, and find solutions for the problems we have found already in discussion. I don’t want to undertake a sweeping change to the game’s design if the community and developers don’t see its merit. But I’m glad we might find a solution to some of Thrive’s larger issues, such as erratic gameplay loops and providing atleast something for the few people who actually want sessile gameplay.

I was thinking some more about the Nutrient Cost trait.

One of the stated reasons for its introduction is

On the other hand, one of the stated reasons for the implementation of time-based reproduction in a simultaneous thread is

These two developments seem to be at odds with one another.
Do we want to punish large cells with a slow and tedious reproduction process?
Then why is the reduction of this tediousness a stated goal of another change which we‘re simultaneously discussing?

My Pitch:

Overpowered strategies have to be nerfed/punished.
But a very long and tedious reproduction process isn‘t a fun way to be punished.
That‘s why we have increased osmoregulation cost for large cells. Having to fight increasingly hard for your survival as you get bigger is a more engaging way of being punished. If we feel like large cells are still too overpowered, we have to hit them with even larger osmoregulation costs instead of large reproduction costs.

On the contrary, the reproduction costs of larger cells may be too great, as was voiced in the ‚Revamping Compound Clouds‘ thread. We need a scientifically plausible way to reduce the reproduction costs of larger cells (and maybe increase them for smaller cells, as Nick also stated in said other thread).

What are Reproduction Costs

A cells nutrient reproduction costs are what is needed to duplicate all of their organs. So their reproduction costs are equivalent to all the nutrients already present in their body.

Where are the nutrients in their body?

As Nick said in the OP, a large part of a cells nutrients are bound in their organelles. The further upgraded an organelle is, the more nutrients it contains.
The part of a cell where the least amount of nutrients is stored is probably their cytoplasm, given that water is by far cytoplasms main component.
Compared to the cytoplasm, a cells membrane probably contains quiet a few nutrients. The square cube law dictates that the smaller a cell is, the more of its total mass will be made up by its membrane. Simultaneously, cytoplasm will consitute a smaller part of its total mass.
The larger a cell is, the less of its total mass will be made up by its membrane. If we take into consideration that all of our organelles include a layer of cytoplasm around them when placed, the larger a cell is, the more of its total mass will be constituted by cytoplasm.

tl;dr: Consequentually, the square-cube-law could punish larger cells regarding their energy upkeep, but it could actually alleviate their painfully high reproduction costs.

Each hex placed could for example decrease osmoregulation costs by 0.97 or something like that.

I‘m curious to hear what you guys think of this controversial suggestion.

Just to be clear, the Nutrient Cost is not really being introduced as it already exists. Each organelle already increases your cost to reproduce. I’m just suggesting that we officially name it, and display it to the player, as both a QoL fix and as a foundation for some future changes.

Well we know that larger and more complex cells need to have slower and/or costlier reproduction, as that’s one of the basic tenets of life and evolution. In regards to clouds though, clouds are always the same fixed size, and are currently absorbed at the same rate regardless of what your cell looks like. This is why prokaryotes can reproduce in a matter of seconds and eukaryotes take minutes and minutes. However, in real life, larger cells can absorb more nutrients per second since they have a larger membrane, so this helps prevent them from having extremely long reproduction times.

Although this pattern of reproducing slower as a larger cell is accurate and should exist, I think it’s currently too extreme (and it’s also too extremely short for small/simple cells). A larger cell does need to absorb more nutrients to reproduce yes, but also has a larger membrane which should be able to absorb more nutrients per unit time. However, due to the Square-Cube Law, as a cell grows in scale the membrane’s surface area will never be able to grow at the same pace as the volume of the cell, leading to a diminishing return on how much extra absorption you can get by growing larger (the benefits) versus all the penalties associated with getting larger like increased reproductive cost, slower speed, etc (the costs). There should be a reasonable upper limit after which a cell would be so large that their absorption rate will be really lacking in being able to provide them with the nutrients they need to survive.

One way of getting around this is evolving more fluid membranes, with a lot of folding to increase surface area. Such cells will be more prone to physical damage to their membranes but can at least grow to larger sizes and still be able to absorb a lot of nutrients from the water.

But eventually, a single cell will always have a lot of factors giving it some “soft caps” to how large it can grow. That’s when you need to take the next step and become a colony, cause now you can instead have multiple different cells, which can be delegated and specialized towards specific roles, and you can thus bypass the natural upper limits on the maximum size of a cell while still increasing the overall abilities of your organism.

And yeah in regards to your point about membrane versus cytoplasm, that is true. At the moment, we don’t actually consider the nutrient cost of your membrane, we just kind of lump it in with the cost of each part. But it’s true that hexes on the inside of a cell do not require a membrane and thus should have a lower Nutrient Cost than hexes on the edge of your cell. Such a change would slightly increase the Nutrient Cost of prokaryotes, and slightly reduce the Nutrient Cost of Eukaryotes, helping balance some of the extremes of how quickly they reproduce. I’m going to think on it.

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I thought some more about how to diminish the reproduction costs for large cells by virtue of their surface area growing more slowly than their volume. Here’s how we could most easily go about it:

Right now each organelles reproduction costs are a a simplification of:
[the costs of the organelle itself] + [the costs of the cytoplasm which fills out the rest of the organelles occupied hexes] + [the costs associated with the increase in membrane surface]

We should subtract [the costs associated with the increase in membrane surface] from each organelles reproduction costs. It should be subtraced on a by-hex-basis, so larger organelles get a larger reduction of their inherent costs. (This comes in handy as the nucleus being too expensive has been a common complaint as of late.)

In these subtracted costs place, we should add a seperate membrane reproduction cost. This cost could be calculated as follows:
[base cost per hex] * [number of hexes][cost reduction constant]

[cost reduction constant] would of course be <1.
I guess it would make sense if [base cost per hex] was equal to [the costs associated with the increase in membrane surface] which we subtracted earlier on a by-hex-basis.

All this would require is reducing some organelle reproduction costs in the game files and adding a very simple calculation. Given that this would only add two new values, it should also be easy to tweak.
I can calculate some examples of what an adequate constant might be and how it would effect the reproduction costs if you guys are interested in this approach.

I was thinking we could actually calculate this in an easier way that the player could more easily follow.

Each placeable hex/organelle will have its Nutrient Cost simply represent the cost of itself and potentially any cytoplasm surrounding it.

Then, at the end, the game counts the number of exposed hexagon edges around your cell, and calculates your “Membrane Size” (with each hex edge increasing it by 1). You are then assigned an addition to your total Nutrient Cost to represent your Membrane (for example 1 Phosphate and 1 Ammonia multiplied by the number of hex edges).

Membrane Size is a value we need to calculate anyways for Phagocytosis Ability, and for compound absorption rate once we make that tied to your membrane size instead of being fixed for every cell.

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