Questions from the Wiki


I figured it might be handy to have a general thread where we discuss inconsistencies or strange concepts we see on the wiki. Feel free to use this thread to bring up any questions you have. I’ll start it off.

Going through the wiki this past week got me wondering about a lot of the design decisions that were in there, as well as inconsistencies that I noticed. I’m going to make this thread for now so that we can answer as many of these as possible, and if it turns out that any of these do not have a simple answer and produce a lengthy discussion, we can make it it’s own thread. This should help clarify the current concept a lot:

  1. Can you edit anything from the nucleus? From the Golgi? The ER lets you edit agents, that’s all I know.
  2. Should the player start with a mitochondrion? I thought that was just a temporary feature, and in a future update we will remove that?
  3. Do organelles need to be placed in preexisting cytoplasm? It says so in the wiki, but at the moment you can just stick on a mitochondrion without any cytoplasm to place it in (I guess assuming it comes with its own cytoplasm).
  4. Why does the cell wall only become unlocked when the player unlocks a chloroplast or a thermoplast?
  5. Are we going to include chemosynthesis/chemoplasts?
  6. Are we sure about requiring the player to place engulfing edges to be able to engulf and to determine the maximum size of things it can engulf? I thought engulfing was a natural feature of the membrane?
  7. Where did the concept for lamellipodia come from? In the thrive wiki it says it’s evolved from cilia and helps cells crawl across solid surfaces. The info on wikipedia about them says nothing about that. It also seems like a relatively obscure organelle that we have included.
  8. Will organelles take damage while off? Why? (It says so in the wiki).
  9. Can highly upgraded cell walls prevent death by osmolysis (running out of ATP and having your membrane burst). If so, doesn’t that make those cells immortal?
  10. Can cells use pili or agents to escape from inside a cell that is engulfing them (wiki says you can)?
  11. Do organelles have health bars? Or is the health of an organelle represented by how many of its compounds it is composed of (i.e. damaging a mitochondrion would be equivalent to sapping amino acids from it)?
  12. Why does consuming a nucleus grant an extra 25 MP in the next editor session? Are we sure about this? I would presume this has something to do with obtaining the DNA from another cell and incorporating it into your own.

I’ll keep it to those questions for now. When we settle these I still have another batch to go through.


I’m hoping that others will comment, too, but here are some comments on these things:

Hasn’t there been plans to allow upgrading organelles? So that could extend to the nucleus, but I’m not sure what type of buffs could be added if the nucleus was updated.

Aren’t mitochondrions basically required for even basic cells to function? Making it part of the zeroth stage (if we ever get into abiogenesis).

That probably relates to the size of the cell, which could be separate from the organelles. So if we wanted we could require the player to first increase the size of their cell before they can fit in new organelles, but that’s probably quite unnecessary at this point.

Is there a better way to “detect” that the player wants / could be a plant, which could replace the condition for unlocking the cell wall? Maybe the membrane could have an upgrade for that?

This is probably completely useless. Instead if we want to restrict engulfing it could, too, be a upgrade on the membrane.

I’d say we can throw that onto a new page titled “unlikely / might do someday ideas”.

Like if you pause a process or something? Seems a bit confusing and unnecessary.

Upgraded cell wall could reduce the amount of membrane integrity loss you take without ATP (health damage). Probably not realistic to allow being completely immortal, more like surviving a few minutes without ATP, which could be useful for flagella-less plants.

That could be an interesting mechanic. To balance engulfing there should be ways to counter it, and these could work quite nicely.

I think we already have separate health values for individual organelles, which I think is a good idea. Maybe they should be shown when hovered over.

This doesn’t sound like a good idea. AFAIK bacteria can take dna and merge it into their own, but cells probably can’t. So the only realistic thing would be to have a like a retrovirus agent or something that you can use to take random bits of dna from other cells.
I’m not sure that that is very realistic or good gameplay as it should be at least somewhat random.

  1. Yes
  2. Are we having the organelles be toggable to begin with? it seems kind of unrealistic and very micro-managy.
  3. It can probably kill the engulfing cell before it engulfs it, which is a way to escape i guess
  4. the second one.
  5. that seems like it could be used in a whole bunch of crazy exploits to make supercells in one editor pass.


Yeah, organelles will be able to be upgraded. I guess for now we can leave the nucleus and golgi body as un-upgradable until we can think of a type of buff to give them.

From what I understanda no, cells can perform glycolysis in their cytoplasm, which is just a less efficient form of respiration that doesn’t use oxygen and instead produces lactic acid as waste. It’s basically just anaerobic respiration.

On the other hand, I could see how it would help slow down the pace of evolution (which is a little fast right now) and give purpose to placing cytoplasm.

I remember the discussion was that plants should be soft-coded and not hard-coded to evolve separately from animals, and that hybrids should be possible.

I’m thinking what if chloroplasts are largely a bonus over time effect, in that you really need to sit in a light spot for a while to let the glucose production accumulate. That way a mobile cell with chloroplasts would hardly get any benefit from them (and would also be slowed down and have a tougher time reproducing). Cells that plan to use their chloroplasts effectively would be incentivized to be immobile and develop cell walls, because they’d spend a lot of time sitting in one place and cell walls would be the best form of protection (and also make them heavier and less vulnerable to currents).

I’d agree.

Yeah, like if you turn off an organelle for micromanagement purposes.

((After this point I got tired of quoting so no offense crodnu))

I’d agree with you both on the idea of cells being able to escape engulfment sounds good.
On the topic of immortal cell walls, I’d agree with you both that they simply extend the amount of time before osmolysis and not prevent it.
Ok sounds good, so organelles health is basically how large it is, which is basically how many compounds it is composed of. An organelle is at full health when it is at original size. That matches what is currently in-game as well.
I’d also agree that consuming nuclei not grant extra MP. The whole idea of MP is that it represents 100% of the possible genetic change within a series of generations (hence having 100MP).


We should keep anaerobic energy production as an option, but I think the default cell should start with mitochondria because our gameplay is oriented towards collecting compound clouds (this could be changed in the future) and evolving into multicellular LAWK. So I think it would be better to shove the cells starting without mitochondria to the zeroth stage.

Btw could we call the zeroth stage abiogenesis and collect all of the threads about the origin of life in thrive and perhaps playing as a bacteria or something to a new wiki page? But mark it as “might do in the future” so no one expects it be a starting option in the game any time soon.


Hm I’m not sure. In such a case the player would need still need to collect compound clouds, they would just be solely collecting glucose instead of glucose and oxygen. I personally feel like it would add some progression to the game and not put the player in too difficult/frustrating of a start. What do you other guys think?

Yeah sure, we could call it the Abiogenesis Stage or the Protocell Stage or something like that.


I hadn’t thought of that. Starting without a mitochondria could make the early cell stage much easier to play.

I’d prefer abiogenesis as we can dump literally everything that happens before the cell stage there, whereas playing as a strand of RNA arguably might be earlier than Protocell stage…


Perfect that sounds good.

If anyone else wants to discuss any of the questions I’ve raised so far feel free to do so, otherwise I’ll post the next batch of questions later today.


I have some things to discuss so wait a moment before posting more questions. I’ll leave this post here and edit it with my responses when I get time later this evening.


Most of Nick’s questions come from either ideas from the old forum, my attempts at creating workable systems, or some reconciliation of both, so I know where most of these come from and can try to explain them where needed. The best example of this is osmoregulation, which Nick hasn’t put down but I think deserves some discussion in future, preferably involving people who know what they’re doing with regards to biochemistry and game design.


The idea was to have the starting cell be as basic as possible while still fully functioning. If the player starts with a mitochondrion it adds complexity they have to learn quickly (i.e. front-loadedness, something I discussed with @zyad137 in Slack recently) whereas if it’s the first processing organelle they have the opportunity to add or acquire by endosymbiosis that could be a good introduction to more complex compound processing once they’ve learnt the basics.

On the other hand, people will be much more familiar with aerobic respiration, so in a sense it’s more complex to start with anaerobic. I agree with all the other points about this discussed so far. I really don’t know what’s best.

This was the plan for a while. I think it was @TheCreator who implemented a system where cytoplasm is inbuilt with organelles as a potentially temporary placeholder. We had a discussion about it here although that was mainly about whether cytoplasm should be a place-able organelle at all (I think it definitely should be, whatever the verdict here).

As has been said, to know whether the player is a plant. Now I think about it, does the cell wall even need to be an unlockable thing?

And it relates to this. Engulfing edges were planned before (not my idea, I was just working with what old members had said) but I’ve come around to having a full-membrane shader option. The player would have a selection of periphery organelles - ordinary membrane, engulfing membrane, cilia, cell wall, lamellipodia(?) - and can only choose one at a time. This way, cells with walls can’t also have cilia or something equally unrealistic.

It was in Nimbal’s original GDD and I liked the idea from a gameplay perspective. Surface crawling sounded cool.

Not sure why it says that, I agree with @hhyyrylainen.

This too was part of Nimbal’s original GDD. It’s a very game-y mechanic, so I guess it can be scrapped for realism’s sake.


On the topic of mitochondria, I think it’s best if the players don’t start with it and need to assimilate it. I feel like it should be part of the progression of the stage, and as you said is a perfect way to gradually introduce the players to the idea of endocytosis and more advanced forms of respiration. Glycolysis should be able to sustain cells without mitochondria, mitochondria should simply make surviving a lot easier (you shouldn’t be required to have a mitochondrion to survive). Plus, it means at the start of the game the player has less compounds to have to worry about collecting (just glucose and ammonia really). Really the starting cell just needs a nucleic core and thats it. The membrane can engulf or absorb nutrients, and can also distort to move via pseudopodia. Everything else I feel like should be obtained as part of the progression of evolution.

I think having to place organelles in existing cytoplasm makes sense. It gives purpose to placing cytoplasm. I definitely do think it should be placeable though regardless of the decision.

I don’t think the cell wall should be locked to start with. I think something like I suggested above to incentivize cell walls in sessile microbes primarily would be best, instead of hard-coding any restrictions.

The thing is though why make a distinction between ordinary membranes and engulfing membranes? As far as I know most cells can use their membrane to absorb particles from the outside and then use internal organelles like lysosomes to digest them. We currently don’t simulate lysosomes because they are assumed to be running in the background, but if we ever did want to restrict engulfment I think we could simply allow the player to edit their lysosomes from the ER or the Nucleus or something. I think engulfment should always be possible though (provided no cell wall).


Unless there are any objections, here is the next batch of questions:

  1. Is it necessary to limit colonies to late game? Why not allow them to appear earlier if evolution happens that way?
  2. Will the NPCs at the start of the game come from presets, or be procedurally generated. I’m pretty sure at the moment they are procedurally generated, but the wiki says they should be presets.
  3. Should chances for endocytosis be fixed or summative? Should it always be the same chance (such as 1%) or should that chance increase for each past failure? In the first scenario it’s the most realistic, but also the most frustrating for players who get bad luck. In the latter case, the chance of endocytosing successfully gradually increases with each failed attempt their odds get better (to mitigate very bad luck).
  4. When bacteria are successfully assimilated, is the corresponding organelle merely unlocked or unlocked and a copy immediately placed in the cell?
  5. Should interspecies colonies be allowed to form?
  6. Should rotating your cell not use ATP?
  7. Can bioluminescent agents exist? Can these agents trigger the light needed for chloroplasts? I feel strange about this because the cell would basically be spending ATP to make the agents only to power their chloroplasts to eventually make ATP. Also I’m not sure if this is based in any real phenomenon.
  8. Should a player who places an agent secretor get a randomly assigned agent or should they be able to choose the agent to get?

Edit: For clarity try to number your responses to the point you are responding to.

  1. If colonies get large and advanced enough early on the stage reaches its end too quickly. Whether it’s an artificial or organic limit we need some way to make at least the player’s ability to form colonies difficult.
  1. The wiki meant that the starting cells will all be the same as the default player cell, kind of like Species ALRE where new species branch off from a stock starting position. They could be procedurally generated instead though, as if simulating a few million years of eukaryote evolution before the player jumps in.
  1. That’s a good point. Increasing chance each time seems better to me.
  1. Unlocked and a copy placed in the cell, otherwise the concept of assimilation doesn’t really apply. The difficulty here is if the player doesn’t have enough room in their cytoplasm to accommodate it. Either more is added for free or they have to have enough space to allow endocytosis in the first place.
  1. I couldn’t think of a way this would work when I wrote the GDD but I think it needs to be possible somehow. Anyone have any ideas?
  1. On one hand, it’s movement, so yes, but on the other, when the player moves their cursor around the screen to click buttons the cell rotates to follow it, so maybe not.
  1. While I think this idea is cool I now realise any useful implementation of this system would kind of violate some thermodynamic laws. Bioluminescent agents are still viable and maybe they do make light for chloroplasts, but it shouldn’t be enough to really power anything.
  1. See the discussion here. We’re still not really sure how the player creates agents, so this is part of that question we need to resolve.


I think they should appear in any moment (even being available from the beginning maybe, what biological requirements would they have?), and the reasons to stay in the microbe stage would be the ability to change your cell easily and increasing your species population, which would probably take a dip while your species transitions.

Currently they’re generated yes, i think the best would be having a middle ground where we figure out different roles (predator, producer, etc) and we try to generate cells that fulfill those roles.

I think they should be fixed, otherwise the player could end up with all the organelles in every playthrough without even trying.

And is that new organelle permanent or does it just stay there until you enter the editor/die?
Also how would that be handled as a microbe colony?

Do those exist irl?

Nope, that breaks thermodynamics in a million ways. Photosynthesis can only occur with big light sources, like the sun and hydrothermal vents. The bioluminescent agents can confuse the photosynthetizers into believing there’s such a light source when in reality there’s a microbe tryng to eat them, however i’m not so sure about being able to cheese the ai by design.

  1. Hm, how about NPC species are hard-coded not to evolve binding agents before a certain number of generations, but players have no restriction. On the one hand it’d be good to prevent the stage from being too short, but I think crodnu also makes a good point that the Microbe Stage offers better customization of your specific cell before you become a colony and that becomes harder.
  1. Ah, in that case that’s a good idea and that makes sense.
  1. Hm yeah, that’s true. Fixed it is then.
  1. I’m not sure, I’d have to research it more and see if it’s even a phenomenon that exists. It might be better as a feature to keep on the backburner for now.
  1. Yeah, I’d lean towards no just for ease of play.
  1. Yeah sounded wrong to me. We’ll cut that from the wiki.

  2. Alright, we’ll have to do some conceptualizing for agents and finalize their design.