Pacing and Combat

Originally from a Slack discussion, copied here so we can continue in public.


Tjwhale where did you get with your combat mechanics concept?


What do you mean about combat mechanics concept? I think we’re all agreed (right?) that there’ll be pilli and agents and you’ll swim around stabbing and spraying things to damage and, hopefully, kill them. Agents will be coded to only work on certain organelles in certain species (bit masks ala moopli) so you’ll need to make sure you have the right ones for the job.

Personally, and this is more about preference than anything, I think the combat should be quite fast. Think more like bullet hill twitch gameplay with pausing to sort out whether you have the right agents loaded (if that’s even how agents work) or to turn on and off internal processes (if we have that, like turning off protein synthesis in a fight to save atp - this is the basis of the movementless prototype I made so I guess it blends the playstyles well). So a life might be as little as 10-30 seconds and you just madly rush around trying to get enough compounds to reproduce. It’s a race against time more than an RPG where you spend hours playing one life and caring for it carefully.

But as I say none of this has been discussed (and I totally understand other people may want a completely different, slower, more thoughtful, style). Pilli and agents yes, how it will feel to play them (and precisely how they will work) not finalised.


I was playing Reassembly last week, and that feels a lot like how the cell stage could play. It’s fairly fast paced, both in game, and in terms of editing and improving your ship between plays. More importantly to me, the ‘galaxy’ your playing in feel very alive, there’s multiple other factions with various designs of ships going about their business, and resources are generated by the green plantlike things you see growing on asteroids, so there’s an element of territory control involved.

Not all of this translates well into a game about microbes, but if we can capture that feeling of business, and a continuous process of redesign, I think that might be fun.

Sometime last year we were discussing how what the player does should feed back into auto-evo. We never really came up with an answer, but one of my suggestions was that it shouldn’t, that playing should function as a way for the player to experience their creature, and that it should be the player’s experience that feeds back into how they evolve their creature, with what they actually achieve in game being of relatively little consequence, outside of gathering resources to reproduce, and possibly new organelles. This would work fairly well with reassembly’s gamestyle, or what tjwhale suggests above, with relatively quick games where you simply experience life as your cell.


I meant more along the lines of how pili, agents, etc. would be used. Would it be as simple as just going along to an enemy and pressing a button to stab them with a pili if they’re within range? Things like that.

Personally I’m not partial to a “rush around trying to get enough compounds” sort of gameplay, but as you say we all have different opinions so it’s difficult to say what it should actually feel like. Spore’s cell stage aesthetic (minus the eyes, squeaky voices and twirly dances) was actually pretty good in my opinion. Sometimes you’d be running away from predators but at others you’d just be collecting food, which gave a balance to the two levels of engagement. It was both “floaty” and tense, but not always rapid.

I like the idea of having an alive-feeling environment. There needs to be a lot going on within relatively short distances, but for me not all of it should be out to get you. The player could choose to get involved if they want, but I think they shouldn’t be forced into constant hair-raising situations. Perhaps certain attack or survival strategies would lend themselves to different speeds of gameplay, which would cater for both. Large photosynthesising microbes probably wouldn’t have much to worry about from most predators so gameplay would be nearly leisurely, while small agile predators with agent attack methods would have to both hunt prey and avoid larger predators, making their experience far more involved.


I agree it shouldn’t all be hostile. Some cells will be too small, they’ll run away from you, but probably not be worth the effort to go after, or they might be entirely passive if they ‘know’ your won’t bother them. Others will be autotrophs, or too big to bother with you, and yet others will be largely immobile, even though they might eat you if you get too close.

I do like the idea of having very short sessions be an option, though they shouldn’t apply to all species (it definitely wouldn’t work for proto-plants). Maybe highly r-selected species would reproduce very quickly, and in large numbers of small/weak cells, so that a gameplay session only lasts <1 minute… the risk there is that this becomes very repetitive. Equally on the longer end, if it takes 4-5 minutes of fairly monotonous gameplay (like the recent versions) to reproduce, you’d wish for something shorter. We need to find a balance of having enough to do, and it being interesting enough to spend the time doing it.

  1. I think pilli will just stab anything they touch, friend or foe, without needing to be activated or anything, it’ll just be a collision. That’s my understanding, happy to discuss it more. Agents we really need to have a proper talk about and fix something (probably through prototypes) because the bit-mask system is important and needs testing.

  2. The thing with photosynthesizer gameplay is that it’s going to have to be radically different. If you can’t move what can you do? The game can’t just be sitting around waiting to fire agents. My suggestion has been (prototype on the old forums and in the git folder) that the game should be turning on and off your internal processes in response to what is happening in the environment with time quite radically sped up.

My original idea was for a tree where a season is 10 seconds and you need to turn on and off growth and seeding at the right times, “oh noes a horse has bitten off half your leaves” etc, much like an infinite running game bizarrely enough.

This could be meshed in with the main game (swimming around as a predator) by giving all microbes the option to control their internal processes (turn on and off different ones at different times) and therefore the movement-less gameplay would be a pretty natural extension of this. Not sure, happy to discuss it.

  1. When it comes to combat I think testing should be king. We should get pilli and agents in to the game and then test lots of different speeds and styles until we find something good. I am happy with anything so long as the gameplay is good. I don’t really mind inside that exactly what it is like in terms of speed, controls etc. It’s just got to be the kind of thing you can sit down to and play some amount of without frustration and then look at the clock and think “I should really stop”. That’s what we should be aiming at IMO. That’s why I’d like to get started with testing sooner rather than later because it could be a long process.

  2. @Oliveriver I agree about not getting involved, I think often you should see one microbe chasing another and think “thank god that’s not me” and just swim away without participating. That’s cool.

I have been thinking about ways how we could make the AI better and how actual cells and bacteria fight. I decided that I would get the best results simply by looking at videos of actual bacteria eating each other. Apparently this was not as easy as I thought, since simply typing “Cell fighting cell” or “Bacteria eats other bacteria” tends to produce different results than the one I need.

Anyway, below I have compiled a list of videos I found in the past two hours that could be used to get a better idea at how the combat mechanism should work.

To begin, I would like to share a very interesting weapon I found. In Thrive we planned on having agents that we could shoot at other cells; nature went one step further and developed a gun that could be used to launch these agents quickly at other organisms.
You can read the article if you want, but if you scroll below you can find a video that shows it in action:

If the live footage makes little sense to you, just skip to minute 1 which shows a graphical demostration.

The second category of interesting fighting mechanisms I found was hand-to-hand combat.Most of these videos involve killer t-cells attacking cancer cells by injecting them with ligase. The videos are ranked by order of interestingness i.e., the first one is cool too watch while the rest are less so: (watch only the first minute, after is a commercial) (you should probably watch this one too, its good and in some of the videos you can actually see the ligase being injected) (the red one is the killer t-cell)

The third category is simply engulfment. What surprised me in these videos is that a lot of times a very slow amoeba is able to catch a ciliate, which are really fast, by stalking it. (they don’t even see it coming) (this one uses pseudopods to stalk its prey) (another case of phagocytosis) (at 0:33 you can see a cell come in feeling prey with a tentacle)

Now is a misc category of other videos I found. (really slow in my opinion) (I don’t even know what’s going on tstt) (this is a good example of phagocytosis)

As you can see most of these are either engulfment or hand to hand combat. I suggest the first one will work in the game by simply trying to swim over a smaller organism than you. The second one will involve trying to engulf something, but failing (its to big to eat that way) and then pressing the numpad keys to release agents. What I couldn’t find a single example of was a cell actually shooting agents as in the current version of Thrive. On the other hand I did find a cell using a lure that attracted smaller cells to it and I think this should hands down be an unlockable organelle later on.

I will now try to find other methods of cell vs cell combat.

Sorry for not replying to this thread, I kind of forgot. :flushed:

Straight away I’m thinking that would hamper any attempts at forming colonies if any cells have pili. Then again, the player might eventually have to make a choice between easy survival (pili) and progressing to the next stage (colonies) so it might work. I think the player should still be able to control their “spike” attack in some way though (perhaps by shooting agents out of them like the example @TheCreator mentioned). Maybe the player can extend their pili slightly by pressing an attack key, so they can attack more effectively manually but will always stab anything that comes within the normal range anyway.

I agree that managing processes should be possible, and probably the focus for photosynthesizing players. It’s been planned for a while now that the game can be paused and the player can change compound priorities for certain organelles to optimise their metabolism given variation in environmental compounds.

However, I’m wary of slowing down the game pace. For instance, what determines whether the player cell is a photosynthesizer and whether the game should slow down? Do they just have to add a chloroplast or evolve a full cell wall? The former definitely wouldn’t work because there’s a chance for the player to assimilate free living cyanobacteria to gain free chloroplasts, so the game would have to slow and change mechanics in the middle of a gameplay session.

Really I don’t think there should be radical changes in game mechanics, just a different way of using them. Both photosynthesizing and non-photosynthesizing cells could have access to metabolic management, but it should be balanced so that photosynthesizers find it the most useful. In my opinion they should still be able to use agents in the same way as other cells (even if that is slightly scientifically inaccurate) but they’ll be more inclined to use symbiosis-type agent signals like warning others about a predator.

Nice find! I think that’s basically the equivalent of what we have already - it would only take a few semantic and visual changes for it to work like that.

I believe the plan is to add a specialised engulfing edge to some areas of your membrane, allowing you to engulf smaller cells from that area of your membrane only. Like pili, we might want manual control over this, or we might not. Accidentally engulfing a friendly microbe is a bad thing, but I guess good players will realise this and won’t do it.

Good idea. It might be difficult to prevent this becoming completely overpowered though. Perhaps NPC AI could evolve to be aware of this and not fall for the trap, giving the player the upper hand for a while but eventually making it useless.

Now that we have begun implementing part modifications and revising engulfment mechanics I feel that now is a good time to discuss how we might be able to provide more depth to cellular combat in Thrive in the foreseeable future. This post is going to summarize my overall plans for combat, which is not particularly urgent, and can be implemented at any time.

The following concepts cover pili, toxins, and cell membranes in order to enhance the adversity players may face in their worlds, and grant them an expanded arsenal with which they can carve out their own way of life.

Eukaryotic Advantage:

Eukaryotes are large, in fact they are twice as large as their prokaryotic counterparts; So why is it that prokaryotes continue to pose as much of a threat as another eukaryote? With size being their only advantage, becoming a eukaryote can feel pretty underwhelming for the player.

As a solution, I propose a new benefit to possessing a nucleus; A 25-50% damage reduction from any incoming prokaryotic sources. This would ensure that while prokaryotes are not harmless, they won’t pose as much as a threat as a rival eukaryote.


Toxins are already an effective tool in Thrive, as they provide players with a weapon that enables them to bypass pili or catch prey that is otherwise faster than them. However they lack any sort of creative versatility beyond a mere projectile; Something that we can now fix with the addition of the modification menu.

In order to provide more variety in the worlds of Thrive, I have devised a couple of new ways that cells can utilize toxins. This way, players and AI alike will have a total of three options when choosing how to use this deadly tool. I also like to imagine that these different forms could determine if your organism is toxic to the touch, or poisonous to eat in later stages.

  1. Emissive: Emissive toxosomes will continuously release relatively low damage toxin clouds around the host cell, helping to deter would-be predators from preying on them, or perhaps chasing away rival scavengers from a prize meal. This output cannot be controlled however; So long as the toxosome remains active it will never cease to produce and dump toxins out of the cell, which can be expensive.

  2. Defensive(?): Defensive toxosomes build up toxin reserves within the cell, saving them up until a predator attempts to engulf them. If the host cell is damaged enough by engulfment, the defensive toxosome will automatically release much of it’s built-up poison, and give the predator a nasty and potentially deadly surprise. It uses up a large amount of toxins however, so players will need to save up in order for it to remain effective. It also doesn’t allow players to emit toxins on it’s own.

  3. Projectile: The classic behavior we all know and love, projectile toxins release a targeted and concentrated blast of toxins on demand. I feel that as of now, they are suitable and don’t need to be changed.


The pilus remains one of the most effective weapon in a cell’s arsenal for both defense and offense, with a single pilus easily transforming a humble prokaryote into a savage gladiator in the arena of life. Approaching a pilus can be tricky, I intend for that to remain so, but I feel that they can be just a little too powerful in the right circumstances.

The most important change we could make to the pilus is the introduction of a damage delay. As of now pili can occasionally tear through a cell’s health in less than a second if it makes contact at the right angle, which can make pili far more deadly then they have any right to be. By introducing a delay between applying damage to the pilus, even as small as a quarter second, we could prevent this from happening. As an additional benefit this could allow us to more reliably change damage values in a wider range for future use.

As an external organelle, pili have a large amount of potential for customization. Extra length could give a predator the additional reach it needs to overcome it’s prickly prey, while a thicker pilus could help a cell more easily deflect toxic projectiles. These adaptations should come at a cost of course, which is something we will need to discuss eventually.


In order to make each membrane-type more distinct, I’ve decided to approach them as the different solutions to the same problem that they are in reality.
In order to do this, I feel it might be necessary to implement two new stats; A toxic damage multiplier, and a healing modifier.
In addition, chitin and cellulose walls will eventually require special adaptations to consume.

I am re-imagining silica as giving players the means to almost completely seal themselves away from the environment at large. The idea being that they will be largely impervious to most threats by sacrificing many of their own abilities. This alone won’t save them from engulfment however, so prioritizing size will be key.

Hitpoints: 150
Movement: 0.5
Osmoregulation: 0.5
Resource Absorption: 0.4
Physical Resistance: 1.6
Toxic Resistance: 1.6
Toxic Damage: 0.4
Healing Rate: 0.5

Calcium carbonate:
Where silica walls are a fortress, carbonate is the tank. I am re-imagining this wall to largely shield the user from physical harm, while still permitting exchange with the outside environment. However, it still lacks defenses against engulfment.

Hitpoints: 125
Movement: 0.7
Osmoregulation: 0.8
Resource Absorption: 0.8
Physical Resistance: 1.8
Healing Rate: 0.7

The idea behind cellulose walls is to provide better insulation from the environment while maintaining flexibility, thus I imagine them to have a measure of toxic resistance alongside more health. More importantly, they can only be engulfed by predators that possess cellulase.

Hitpoints: 110
Movement: 0.9
Osmoregulation: 0.7
Resource Absorption: 0.7
Toxic Resistance: 1.2
Toxic Damage: 0.8

A surprisingly versatile compound in nature, chitin can actually have many forms. It can be either flexible, or very rigid and strong. Thus I am reshaping chitin walls to reflect that. Chitin cells will also be resistant to engulfment unless the predator possesses chitinase.

Hitpoints: 110
Movement: 0.9
Osmoregulation: 0.8
Resource Absorption: 0.8
Physical Resistance: 1.2

My hope is that these changes will effectively expand upon predator/prey relations in Thrive to allow for compelling ways to specialize and adapt to adversity.

If anyone has any questions or comments please do not hesitate to provide them, any and all feedback is welcome.

Edit: I actually forgot to describe an idea I had where different wall types would have separate versions of the rigidity slider that would effect their stats differently. Alas, I had attempted to prototype the feature myself but it seems to be a bit more complicated and messy in practice than anticipated so I will withhold it for now, unless anyone is interested.


I’m posting this here with regards to predation. Spawning has rightfully taken the spotlight currently, as a proper spawn-system will tremendously help not only predation but every other aspect of the game. But when we consider game design changes in the near future with spawning fixed, this can serve as a bulletin board of ideas.


  1. Limited Benefit to Mass – Many in the community point out that becoming bigger generally isn’t worth it. Although it allows you the ability to engulf larger things, size costs a lot of energy to maintain, and thus is a resource sink. This post here provides some detail regarding the player experience (the second list of bullets and before is what I’m looking at specifically): 0.5.7 Feedback thread - #10 by Sentiant - Current Game - Thrive Community Forum
  2. Speed is Difficult – It’s difficult to maintain a build fast enough to catch up to prey, with a large amount of flagella needed to catch up to smaller organisms. See this post here: 0.5.8 Feedback thread - #3 by AstralArcher - Current Game - Thrive Community Forum
  3. Not Enough Resources From Predation – This one is a bit multi-faceted, but predation generally doesn’t provide enough reward for a lot of energy. Aspects of this involve the prey being too small, the search cost for prey being too much (difficult to find cells), and not enough resources being dropped from a successful kill (I think this can be solved through other means besides just arbitrarily bumping up drops).
  4. No Need to Adopt a Predation Build – Because there are usually rather accessible phosphate and ammonia clouds, some players mention that they never feel the need to adopt a predation build, as they can otherwise get their nutrient needs through compounds. Not necessarily an issue, but a factor to be played with in the future if we find that predation isn’t as incentivized as we want it to be. Feedback on Predation - #3 by blackjacksike - Current Game - Thrive Community Forum


There are certain factors at play here not directly related to things within the player’s control affecting predation, which could mean we have an imperfect understanding of how exactly predation is hampered in terms of gameplay.

  1. Auto-Evo – Auto-Evo seems to punish size heavily – for instance, a nucleus, which doesn’t currently give a benefit in itself for AI, is rarely evolved due to the massive uptick in regulation energy cost. This means that the size of cells is oftentimes limited to that of prokaryotes, with no sizable prey items for eukaryotes.
  2. Upcoming Spawn Revamp – The environment can be rather inconsistent at this point, resulting in either a bustling ecosystem or a sparse expanse with no cells. As such, it’s a challenge to find prey items in the first place a lot of times. As such, we will have to reassess predation when the spawning system is revamped in the near future.
  3. Upcoming Engulfment Revamp – Kasterisk’s work on the way engulfment works, featuring a simple digestion system where a cell will gradually be broken down, will undoubtedly change the nature of predation as well. Balancing and additional features will likely have to be considered.


Predation doesn’t have to be complex, but I think it is too simple at this point. I think there are generally three existing predation strategies…

  1. Engulfing Prey – Get as close as you can to a prey item and press G in an attempt to consume it, keeping up with the creature at the same time.
  2. Toxins – Shoot projectiles at an organism, remaining close enough so that your projectiles are able to hit the target.
  3. Pilus – Swim close to an organism and stab them with your spike, inflicting enough damage to make them burst.

I think there’s enough variety here, but each option doesn’t have a lot of depth to it and are flawed in some way. Toxins tie into the agent system discussion, which I think should be saved for later and in its own concept separate from predation itself. I think worthwhile discussion can be directed towards engulfment and the pilus however.

Both the pilus and the engulfment methods of combat are similar in that they contain a pursuit aspect and a direct contact aspect. They differ a bit, however, in that the pilus has a defensive aspect to it, at times preventing engulfment.


I feel that the “pursuit” aspect of predation is too simple because it ultimately is basically pointing your mouse in a direction, pressing W, and letting the game take it from there. If your base speed is faster than the organism’s, you’ll catch it eventually (either pretty soon or in a while depending on how much faster you are), and if your base speed is slower than the other organism’s, there is absolutely nothing you can do.

I think we should add another potential input for the player to interact with in their gameplay, so it isn’t just pointing your mouse in a direction and pressing W; this makes the pursuit aspect of predation rather monotonous and not as engaging as it could be. For example - as Buckly suggested, a sprint button, although rather simple, can make pursuit more engaging.

Direct Contact

Funny enough, my mind drifts to God of War when considering ways to spice up direct contact (get your mind out the gutter). In it, you have two weapons – an axe enchanted with frost, and two blades enchanted with fire. The axe is potent against fire-based enemies, and the blade is potent against frost-based enemies. You play through half of the game with only the axe, familiarizing yourself with the base mechanics of combat, but eventually, you unlock the blades. And although simple, that small of a mechanic adds some much-needed spice to gameplay. Instead of blindly hacking your way through hordes, you now have to pay a bit more attention and switch between two weapons depending on the AI you face.

I think a similar distinction could be valuable in Thrive, where certain aspects of an organism require the player to adjust their pilus/engulfment strategy within the editor. For example, regarding the pilus, a certain length/girth is more effective against a specific type of membrane or a specific rigidity/fluidity, meaning the player will have to adapt their pilus and behavior based on their surroundings. And certain enzymes in the passive-effects system can speed up digestion against specific types of membranes.

Notes from Maxonovien: In addition to pursuit and contact, we also should think of the effort a player puts in to learn more about their prey and adapt their organism in light of this information. Two aspects of this information search were mentioned…

  1. External Factors - Observing the parts on your prey item and deducing information - a nucleus means more mass and more abilities, pilus means close contact is dangerous, toxins indicate ranged ability, etc. Related to the skill of observation.
  2. Internal Factors - Memorizing aspects of your prey which might not be readily apparent, such as aggression levels, skittishness, endurance, membrane flexibility, etc. Related to the skill of memorization.

These two factors interact, resulting in the player discerning which viable strategies would be best to a specific prey item. For example, a heavily-armored bacteria might require a different pilus, or an incredibly aggressive prey item might require more defensive measures meant to mitigate their weapons. Depending on how much we want to prioritize strategy and predation, we should bring focus on these aspects as well.


Not everything has to be implemented of course, and certain options might be better than others, but here is a list of solutions brought up previously we may consider. I organized it loosely from what I think needs less programming effort to more programming effort. Also, just to make sure it is known: I didn’t come up with a lot of these.

NOTE: I feel spawning and Auto-Evo’s treatment of size should be prioritized before the implementation of other features regarding predation so that we have a more clear understanding of predation.

Next Steps?

Drop FLAGELLA_ENERGY_COST Constant from 7 to 4 – Mentioned by Thim in this post: Essentially, makes larger cells quicker without making smaller cells quicker. Already merged with code.

Damage Delay on Pilus – Will help with the general bugginess surrounding pilus physics, where a certain angle and flick of the wrist can absolutely devastate a cell instantly.

  • Buckly mentions “even just a 1-tick delay should negate that issue”.

Increased Mass = Increased Health – Addresses the issue relating to little benefits in being bigger, where a cell’s health increases as they obtain more size.

Have Chemoreceptors Target Cells - Have the ability to track a specific prey item (species), reducing the search cost in finding prey and giving the player some sense of direction.

  • I imagine this might be replaced with something a bit more nuanced than just “find x species” but it should be relatively easy to implement and update in the future.

JPG. Files of Microbes - Creating images of AI cells to use instead of referring to them by name in the report, which can rather easily lead to the player forgetting what a species looks like. Otherwise a generally useful feature with many implications, but in relation to predation, this should represent the beginning of the mental aspect of predation.

Have Auto-Evo Consider Activity Levels - Maxonovien states that according to how Auto-Evo is currently set up, it is unlikely that the player will encounter a cell which “tires out” because the system generally heavily penalizes an inability to sustain mobility+osmoregulation while at the same time not scaling the movement energy penalty with the activity level of the cell. He mentions that tweaking Auto-Evo should allow for cells which display noticeable differences in movement patterns, which should lead to endurance hunting.

Future Features to Consider

Enzymes, Membranes, & Engulfment – Spicing up the “direct contact” aspect of predation with engulfment, have enzymes corresponding with engulfment in the passive enzyme system (outlined here:, with certain enzymes speeding up the rate of digestion for different membranes.

  • For example, a certain enzyme speeds up the digestion of cellulose membranes better, while a certain enzyme speeds up the digestion rate of chitin membranes better.
  • For the immediate future, the implementation of lysosomes as a placable part will deal with this aspect more generally.

Pilus – Spicing up the “direct contact” aspect of predation with the pilus, have certain girths/lengths of pilus be more effective against certain rigidity levels.

  • We’ll have to be careful with lock-and-key mechanics - several features, like agents and potentially pilus, are candidates for such a system, so we need to pick and choose which systems would work best with a lock-and-key method to prevent the player from being overwhelmed.

Sprint Option – A solution related to the issue of speed, have a sprint function attached to the flagella. According to Buckly’s concept, a “strain” system will also be implemented with sprint, where the longer your cell sprints, the less effectively it generates ATP. In other words, turning the ATP bar into a stamina bar. See here: Organism Stamina Mechanics

  • This spices up the “pursuit” part of predation, where instead of deciding instantly that an organism is too fast for a player, they now have the option of burning more energy in exchange for faster speed. Players will then also be discerning whether or not a prey item is worth that energy, adding another layer of simple yet impactful decisions they will have to make as opposed to just seeing if their base speed is faster than their prey item or not.
  • Also deals with the issue of placing 8 flagella or so just to have a usable amount of speed. Now, a player will just need to have enough flagella to reach their desired sprint speed for predation.
  • Can easily lead into modification and customization for flagella options. For example, a slider in the modify menu… one side being faster sprint speed but strain being built up faster, and the other being slower sprint speed but slower strain build up. The first strategy is probably more preferable for players who only want sprint speed as a predation strategy, while the second strategy is more useful for players who want flagella more broadly to get around quicker.
  • Maxonovien mentions that a sprint function attached to bacteria could be bending the realism optic a tad too much, so perhaps the sprint function should be relegated to eukaryotes? Prokaryotes on the other hand will focus more on dealing with the agent system; predation is more of a eukaryotic strategy anyways

Hello everyone! Though combat won’t get the main focus until the update after the next one, I’ve been doing some concept art of the newly thought out Pilus, and the possible upgrades that could be implemented.

My thoughts are the Pilus, without any upgrades, are used as a defensive tool, warding off predators with their nature to wound attackers, and add some health to your general pool. They also can help with general movement, though are very weak helpers.

Now, you can actually take the Pilus you have, and upgrade them. The reasons you would do this are either for movement, or weaponry.

The weapons provided I feel are varied enough to be fun and interesting, as well as accurate enough to their real life counterparts.

Now, looking closer at combat, I feel like we should add more little touches to really make fighting feel fun and dopamine fueling. Hitting another enemy could leave a slight shake of the camera, as well as a punchy sound effect to sell the hit. Getting hurt could also leave some amount of feedback with a sound effect, as well as maybe the same veiny affect on the screen as you see on the cell.

Since combat is the only real mechanic besides general cloud searching in the game, I feel making it a genuinely good time is a must, with interesting weapons and good weighty feedback. It will make everything feel a bit more chaotic and unpredictable, and I think the game needs a bit more of that. Makes things more interesting.

I’d love to hear feedback and critique btw! I want to make this system as refined and as solid a vision as possible while we got time, as well as other possible weapons that could be implemented. I personally think some form of shooter organelle would be really fun!

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I like the idea of an initial state of the pilus being merely defensive. I’m not comfortable however, with the idea of flagella and cilia being packaged as upgrades to the pilus. From a gameplay standpoint it may be best they remain separate features.

I imagine the defensive pili as blocking aggressive cells from engulfing the cell much like the predatory variety, but instead of dealing damage they simply keep predators from getting closer like a shield. Their own unique benefits could also be a wider hitbox, or perhaps even a small boost to physical resistance.

I remain concerned over the plausibility of such a thing being realistic though…

This is always a complicated matter. In the name of preserving realism, weighty impact doesn’t quite apply to the cells as that is not how their physics work in reality. I think we could probably get away with screen vignette though.


Actually, it could seem justified if it happens that the predator can not surround the prey entirely due to the extra protuberance. That could effectively block engulfing due to size constraints: think of putting the star in the circle hole; even when smaller it may not fit. However that would require a more dynamic approach to engulfment possibility than the current hex size comparison method (at least this is what is used in auto-evo, haven’t checked the logic for the gameplay part).


In accordance to the thoughts here: Comprehensive Combat Revamp - #5 by Deus

Why not make this defensive tool a separate part that acts almost as a shield, blocking damage from a certain direction but leaving the rest of the cell vulnerable and slower? We need to increase cellular-player interaction diversity, and the pilus and defensive plates would be rather different in function.

Bird says we can look at cocoliths to serve this role. Thecal plates could also serve the same role.



I think the new thoughts on the pilus came from a brief discussion we had a week back discussing how pili can be OP and I mentioned how their current function is not realistic. To elaborate on that point:

  • I think the pilus is currently OP.
  • Realistically, I don’t think anything exists like the pilus as we have currently implemented it. Or in other words, a spear like organelle that cells use to impale each other or tear each others’ membranes open. That’s why we’re having a tough time balancing it, because we introduced an unrealistically powerful weapon and are having a tough time thinking of anything except for further unrealistic defences to counter that weapon.
  • Realistically, pili slow (not prevent) engulfment. And as far as I know they cannot tear other membranes at all. More specialized structures like the cnidocyst and the injectisome that evolved from the pilus are more offensive.
  • I think a good compromise is to reduce the physical damage that pili do (but still leave some), and also give them the defensive function of slowing engulfment. Or some way of reducing engulfment risk that’s not a 100% guarantee, like for example applying a 30% chance for the engulfing cell’s engulfment to interrupt when engulfing a pilus bearing cell. I don’t think they should prevent engulfment entirely. Not only is that not realistic, I think it’s bad game design to implement hard counters. Then one day we can add in the cnidocyst, injectisome, and other more specialized external structures to act as more offensive evolutions of the pilus.
  • We should also think about what order to implement such changes. If you guys agree with the above compromise, would we want to reduce the pilus’ physical damage right now? Or wait and reduce it in the same patch that we add a cnidocyst organelle?

Pellicles and Theca

These are actually really cool structures that I agree should be added to the game. From what is observed about them in nature, they seem like ways that mobile organisms have evolved to become more defensive without evolving full cell surrounding walls. It appears that double membranes first evolved into pellicles (which paramecium have). Pellicles being a double membrane with “airbags” stuffed between the two layers as an extra layer of defence. The theca then seems to be an evolution of the pellicle, where the airbags migrate outside of the cell and harden into large plates, but with gaps between the plates to still provide the cell flexibility and mobility. Theca have then in some cases evolved into full cell walls, but at the cost of mobility, so this could also be a perfect progression chain, for such cells to evolve towards or away from cell walls along this path of mutations. However, this would not rule out the option for a cell with a plain double membrane to also just evolve directly into a cell wall. This would just be an alternate evolutionary path.

Relevant technical issue:

I say that issue I linked must absolutely be solved before any further design or other changes are even seriously considered.