Patch Map Design Discussion

Yeah maybe, there’s some other stuff I want to do first but that’s something worth considering. I can imagine straight lines with rounded corners looking good.

Some decent progress today. I started with the graph colouring problem of trying to assign biomes to each patch. I just did 1x1 patches in each region just to make it easier. This is probably the best one produced so far.

The property this has which none of the previous ones have is that each connection makes sense, as in moving to a neighbouring patch is reasonable.


Ok so I’ve made some decent progress today. The map now generates actual worlds, so they definitely have all possible patches in them and all the connections obey the connection rules. (It’s got writing all over it so looks terrible but then you don’t need a legend to know what is happening)

Something to discuss. I set it so that whenever there is an ocean stack it’s always Epipelagic down to Abyssopelagic. We can change that, add more etc. I think think though maybe it makes sense that if you are in the ocean you can always go up, so if there is mesopelagic there is always epipelagic above that, does that make sense? (The epipelagic might get frozen into an ice shelf but is still there) We could have stacks of different heights, maybe have an ocean floor at the bottom of each stack, not sure really.

Basically what should the rules on stacks be? Can you always go up? Should they always have a different depth floor on the bottom? Should they always be the same size?

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Looking good!

I figure you should have an epipelagic patch above every ocean section, mostly for the purposes of simulating marine snow drifting down when we get to that. Different depth stacks would be interesting.

By the way, here are all the (slightly updated) icons I designed for the patches, I don’t think I’ve posted them here yet:
It seems you’re using the hadopelagic icon for the floor instead of the abyssopelagic floor, perhaps I’d change that

I’ll get to posting the individual icons eventually, I was a bit short on time as of writing this


So I tried a totally different approach, as the one I was doing got quite fiendish (it still might be worth pursuing though I just wanted to try this).

How this works is it has a tile library of 25 tiles with different connectors on (Up, Down, Left, Right) and then it picks tiles at random and connects them together.

Compared with the other approach it feels a bit gamey maybe, like it starts to look a bit like a boardgame. However I like how fast it is and also I like that we could design all the tiles by hand. For example I really like the tile at the very top right at the start of the video, it’s a coastal with 3 tide pools coming off it, I think that’s quite interesting. Another one is the underwater cave connector which is two caves on a single tile in a line. I think they could provide interesting opportunities for life to evolve. Also it would be possible to draw nice designs on each tile and have special rare ones for deep ocean trenches or giant river deltas or something.

I think in general it will be able to generate pretty much anything the other prototype can generate, so I don’t think there’s a loss of complexity in general. The other prototype is essentially this with tiles with only 1 patch on. Also having the map change over time is quite doable as we can just swap tiles out for other ones with the same connectors.

I’d be interested in feedback on it. Do you like this idea at all, do you think hand crafting a tile library would be interesting?

Here is the current tile library I just threw together

That’s a really clever solution. That way we’ll have more control over how patches clump together while having a semi procedural map.
By the way, i think conectors should be much shorter, there’s a lot of empty space on the map because of that. Also, interconected patches should be clumped in a box instead of puting each one in their own square, like you’ve done with the coastal with three tidepools.


Finally, I made this patches classification that, imo, we should take this into account when making new tiles


To me the non tile based solution feels much more fluid. This type of grid layout feels very mechanical, so it doesn’t fit thematically with the microbe stage.


Ok yeah interesting feedback. I tried doing it again with hexes instead of squares to see if that fit the stage better. I also tried to make some of the lines curvy to make it more organic (though it looks a bit scruffy).

What do you think of this? Does it fit better with the hex theme we have been using up to now?

The drawbacks of the first prototype are that it’s much more complicated, so will take longer to implement. It’s also harder to control to make sure you get good patch maps out of it, tiles does simplify things a lot however it’s worth considering whether it over simplifies things.

So in terms of hand drawing the first map here are some suggestions for interesting features for it. I made several ocean stacks of different sizes as I think it would be fun / interesting to see what the differences are. I put in a shallow, sunlit, vent like this one dongoro found.

I also made a couple of interesting things with tide pools, one is sort of a river delta with tidepools that are all connected, to see what happens there. The other is two tidepools seperated by a cave (imagine sea water welling up from a cave in an island maybe) to see what happens, how similar do those tidepools become?

Anyone else got ideas?

I think water columns should have more than one floor patch because the sea floor should make a smooth depth transition like in this example MirrorMonkey made:

Of course this will only apply to regions near continents. Water columns that are in the middle of the ocean should have fewer sea foor patches. Maybe we should make sepparate columns for floor patches too, so rectangles don’t get too cluttered.
I like the idea of placing sea vents at different depths, that means that every time you start a new game you may begin in a different environtment. By the way, since sea vents only occupy a small area shouldn’t they appear alongside regular sea floor patches?

Yeah it might be interesting to try having two (or more) connected ocean floor patches at the bottom of a column, I wonder if all the species will end up much the same or if they will be different, especially if they are at different depths.

That depends on how many patch properties are we are going to take into account. Currently the only property that would affect cells is sunlight (and only photosynthesizers will take advantage of it) and resource avaiability, there are no organelles or adaptations that let cells adapt or take advantege of different pressures and temperatures and I think we should takle that if we want to make the most out of the patch map.
There were many cool ideas regarding membrane adaptations in this thread that I think we should look into implementing some of them, specially membrane fluidity (that would make temperature more important).
Unfortunatelly that means making more assets and coding more stuff, however we already have different types of membranes for npc cells so maybe that’s not too hard to implement.

Yeah I see the point. We’re not going to add a load more mechanics to this release because of the effort that would take and because it’s nice to test things iteratively before building further.

The things we can vary now are: sunlight, H2S, Iron and Marine snow, which should make for interesting combinations. Also we can vary ammonia and phosphates if we want, and also how things spawn (though that might be more work), like few big clouds vs many small clouds.

Even in patches with identical conditions it will be interesting to see how differently all the cells evolve, whether auto-evo makes them all the same or whether the eco-systems become radically different.

Sunlight doesnt vary yet.

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Here’s a representation of an ocean shelf which might be interesting.

Here it is with less patches and more floors per column, sort of as you were suggesting goro, I’m not so sure about it, not sure if I’ve captured what you were saying.

Yeah I’m affraid you didn’t quite catch what I proposed. I placed all the seafloor patches in another column and added a bathy patch.

I suppose the sea vent is on the bathypelagic floor, that’s why it’s conected to the bathy floor next to it and the bathy layer above. Maybe the sea vent could be on the sea floor column instead, since that way its conections would still be the same.

Ok I see what you mean. I’m not so sure about having two floors on top of each other, that seems a little odd to me.

They could be placed horizontaly under the regular sea patches, however i think that would mess the composition up.

This solution you proposed is also good, the only problem is that I think it would end up making too many patches and rectangles.

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So as we‘ve recently discussed on Discord the plan is to make a procedual patch map generator eventually, but for the next release we‘ll stick to a pre-made map.
I‘ve done a quick sketch of such a map and included as many of tjs ideas from earlier in this thread as possible.
For a detailed explanation of how I ended up with my map open this spoiler:


I‘ve started from the assumption that the deep ocean is vertically comprised of five biomes: Epipelagic, Mesopelagic, Bathypelagic and Abyssopelagic.
My next assumption was that there would be some climate zones. I didn‘t want to make too many, so I made three: a warm zone around the equator and one cold zone on each pole.
That means there are already 15 patches without any vents, estuaries etc.
My next step was adding continents and the patches that come with them. I wanted to make two continents so there aren‘t too many, but more than one. The northern continent was to span over the northern and the equatorial climate zones. The southern continent was to only be surrounded by the southern ocean. This would help in making the continents differ from one another.
My next step was to determine how the shores of the continents should be connected to the oceans. First I tried to make the transitions as smooth as possible like suggested in many of the posts above. After adding some estuaries, tidepools etc, this is what I ended up with:

I felt like this would be too much. Because of this I drastically simplified the shore transitions. I‘ve found that in real life the transition between continental shelf and deep ocean is pretty abrupt anyways(, so I figured this might be a adequate sacrifice for the sake of simplicity.
This may start to pose a problem when ocean floor biomes get really different from other biomes. If species for example need a surface to latch onto like stentors they are going to have a hard time to move from floor patch to floor patch if they need to move through non-floor patches first. But as of now this shouldn‘t be a problem. (EDIT: I realized that this potential problem could also be prevented by simply connecting the deep ocean floor to the shelf ocean floor.)
With the simplified shore transitions the map now looks like this:

I hope it‘s more or less clear which biome each color represents. If not please ask!
This is a very simplified representation of what the planet would look like:

I‘m looking forward to hearing your criticisms and seeing your drafts for alternative maps.

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I really like it, I think that’s great. A few tweaks:

At the moment all the oceans are adjacent, if it’s like this then I guess all the life in the columns will be very similar as they will be quite well mixed. I think it would be interesting to break the middle left connection so if you want to go from ocean o1 to ocean o2 you have to go through a shallow sea s1. Imagine a band of land all round the planet maybe. That way there’s two large oceans connected so we can see what happens there and one which is a bit seperated.

I think it might interesting to have an ocean column of a shallower depth, maybe a small arctic ocean? It would also give an area which is almost always frozen which would be interesting I think, one of the vents could be moved there.

Here it is with those changes, what do you think? Otherwise it’s great. :slight_smile: