I was thinking more about radiotrophy, I think it’s a really interesting idea. Here’s an idea for mechanics for it, would love to know what everyone thinks.
While planetary O2 is low and there is little Ozone layer it can work like a chloroplast, on surface patches there is some “cosmic radiation” amount and you can harvest it to make glucose.
There can be radioactive rocks you find as you swim around. I think it would be cool to use the geiger counter sounds for it as they are so immediately communicative
Each rock has a max_intensity value. Each tick each rock generates a pulse of random intensity between 0 and it’s max_intensity value.
Each cell has a low radiation threshold and a high radiation threshold. The low is fixed and the high is the low + a constant multiplied by the number of melonin organelles you have. So if you have no melonin they are equal, if you have a lot then they are far apart.
The radiation dose you receive is the intensity of the pulse the rock sends out divided by your distance to it. If that received dose is less than your low threshold nothing happens, if it’s between your low and high you gain some glucose, if it’s above the high you take a little damage.
I hope that’s not too confusing. I think what this would mean is you would get this rattling geiger counter type pattern when near the rock. The player could then feel out the right distance to be based on how much glucose they were making vs how much damage they were taking.
For AI we could work out the right distance for each rock and each cell so that it could sit at just at the point where it would never take damage but would collect glucose. That is distance = max_intensity / high threshold.
Hopefully that would feel quite “radioactivey” and also be quite intuitive to figure out. All feedback welcome, not sure if this is a good idea.