Just to throw in my thoughts on the discussions recently in Slack on prokaryote gameplay.
I think the best start is to start as a single hex of cytoplasm. The only thing you can choose is your initial mode of respiration (i.e. what molecule you consume to produce energy). For many cells it’ll be fermentation, which is using glucose to produce energy (using oxygen to break down glucose, aka aerobic respiration, hasn’t evolved yet). For some cells though it’ll be using iron, and for others maybe some other chemical.
That is all you can choose. Then you spawn as the single hex and you swim around (albeit slowly since you have no movement organelles). I think it’s better not to start in the editor, but to save that to “reveal” to the player later, when they reproduce for the first time. I think it makes more sense to introduce them to the gameplay first, then to the fact that they can customize their abilities for the gameplay.
This basically leaves the player with a totally blank book to write the story of their species’ evolution, instead of starting with some of it already filled up. I was thinking we could even start the game with a cutscene of floating DNA merging into a floating bubble of membrane (called protocells or mycelles) to form the first cell, which the player then takes over and plays as.
There was also a question about how to handle the transition of prokaryotes, who use proteins to do photosynthesis and aerobic respiration, to eukaryotes, who use chloroplasts and mitochondria, also called endosymbiont organelles. There were two approaches that were brought up (please point out if I’m missing any) on how to implement the energy producing organelles (Bioenergetic organelles? Energy Organelles?).
A) Proteins auto upgrade into endosymbiont organelles: If you are a prokaryote, and you evolve into a eukaryote, then all of your proteins automatically evolve into their eukaryotic counterparts (like aerobic respiration proteins into mitochondria). If you ever evolve back into a prokaryote, the organelles also evolve back.
B) Proteins and endosymbiont organelles can exist simultaneously, but endosymbionts are more efficient: From Andross’ post: “I like the idea of protein organelles as well. In fact, I think that these should still be options for Eukaryotes. My idea is that any cell can have these proteins, they are less expensive (mutation point wise), less efficient, but don’t require a nucleus to function. Then, the organelles that we currently have in the game would be “upgrades” in the sense that they are more expensive, more efficient, but require a nucleus to orchestrate their functions.”
I personally think option A is better, because it allows for a quick and easy transition between them and is overall pretty simple. What do you guys think?