Reworking Death

Right now cells explode, when we kill them. Which means that when you kill a cell with toxins from a distance, it tends to die, explode its compounds everywhere, and dissipate before you can eat them, and before AI cells can eat them. This is not only bad, from a gameplay perspective, but also from a development perspective, the way death works right now, we cannot have decomposers or scavengers, and it has an unnecessary animation, (though we removed that in 0.4.0), and a big, expensive function that spills the compounds.

I suggest we rework death, and i think that some of the plans for 0.4.1 tend to be good test cases for a rework, i think the cell should die, then break into multiple pieces, which then slowly rot away/eject compounds, this is very similar to some ideas that myself and @tjwhale were discussing recently in #theory on our discord.

This would mean that when a cell dies it breaks into multiple pieces that slowly rot away/eject compounds which means you can create a decomposer that hangs out near rotting things to eat and a cell with a toxin can come in and eat the pieces. Also scavengers who come in and eat the left over bits. In real life cells do not fully explode, they explode , partially, but its more like a bug getting squashed, and most of the cell still stays together until it rots away,

This is why i think we should rework death, it would improve gameplay, and allow more options.

I think this is a really nice idea. I like that it would create extra gameplay with smaller cells fighting over the corpse of a large one. I also like that we have the organelle models so having them hang around and float apart sounds doable.

It ties in with something @Oliveriver was saying about osmoregulation. If we rebranded the current health bar as “membrane health” then it would make sense that when it got to 0 your cell would undergo this type of rupture death. Also if your ATP runs out it would make sense that your “membrane health” would decrease as your water pumps would shut down (even though we don’t have them visibly) and so water would rush in and that would start deforming the membrane, damaging it.

If we did the pilus aswell we could roll that into it, it would make sense if you jab someone it hurts their membrane health. It would also make sense of why it slowly heals over time and why different size cells have similar health bars.

We could give cells with a hard cell wall a really large membrane health bar with strong regeneration but a movement penalty.

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So I‘ve done a concept animation of how I understand death should look/work. The end of the animation is way too quick, dead cells should float around for longer until they lose color and start to break apart. The organelles near a rupture could get washed out through the rupture quiet fast though.
I suggest free floating organelles have to be engulfed to be consumed. Wether or not a microbe is large enough to engulf an organelle could depend on the size ratio between microbe and organelle the same way it does when a micorbe tries to engulf another microbe.

EDIT: I forgot to add that what happens in this animation is probably too complicated to programm exactly like this. It should just propose a general direction.

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That is really cool, looks pretty interesting as a process too. For example if you can have holes poked in your cell but they can heal that can make for long bloody fights which maybe you can just limp out of an recover.

Now looking over this, so if a microbe is hit by, say, a toxin, should they squirt out a bit of compound like they would for a pilus.

How does newly reworked death interact with engulfing?

All these questions and more.

@Untrustedlife re the engulfing part: I imagined that once the cell breaks apart, its pieces and even freely floating organelles could be treated like a microbe would be treated when it comes to being engulfed.
So if a cell that is the same size as the player breaks in two pieces of the same size one of those pieces is 50% of the players size, so he should be able to engulf it.
Another example: A mitochondrion freely floats out of a dead cell. It‘s 2 hexes big. A scavanger has to be 1.5 times that size, so 3 hexes big, in order to engulf it.

This feels very natural and elegant to me as it takes the rules that already exists and applies them to situations in which they logically would apply too.

i mean the case where a cell dies while being engulfed, what happens there

I think it would be cool if the microbe bits somehow floated around inside the predator, still letting them swim around while they digest their food. Maybe the same for living microbes they engulf too!

As for what you said about toxins, it probably shouldn’t unless it’s an agent that damages the membrane.

Oh, I see. These are really hard questions to be honest.
I always imagined that at some point an engulfed prey would be inside the empty cytoplasm of a cell and slowly be „digested“, but this would make engulfing much harder and less viable. To engulf something that‘s 2/3 of your size you‘d have to consist of 2/3 cytoplasm. Also that cytoplasm would need to be in one spot.
I don‘t really have an answer to this to be honest. At least you hover over your prey when engulfing it, so you actually get the compounds, in contrast to when you use toxins and they just disappear. So I guess if the prey just pops when you engulf it as it does right now wouldn‘t be as bad. But it‘s still suboptimal.
I‘m curious to hear others ideas about this.

Re the toxins: I guess it would depend on which type of toxin it is. If the toxin targets the membrane the effect could look similar to the effect of the pilus. If the toxin targets the mitochondira for example the cell would just die „internally“ and it would take some time before the membrane breaks and compounds get set free.

EDIT: @Narotiza I see we had the same idea about the engulfed prey floating around in the predator. I still have some worries about how that could make engulfement harder though.

I don’t know how messy it would look but if you had: when a cell dies it breaks into pieces, the pieces emit compounds until they disappear.

When you engulf another cell you could just lock it inisde your cell and then that that process happen the same way. So it break into pieces and then those pieces dissolve. It might overlap a lot with your other organelles so I’m not sure if it would look good.


Yeah i like that idea, its more like actual engulfing in real life in that case im just not sure how to go about locking it inside its engulfer