Specialization and Unique Gameplay

I’ve had this idea for quite a while and now want to hear your thoughts on it. I’m sorry if this is something that’s already been discussed and I’m just regurgitating old ideas.


The biggest criticism of Thrive that I’ve personally seen online is that it’s boring. I believe this is partly due to the fact that most metabolic pathways you can take and most gameplay types in the game are all very similar if not practically identical. Take lithotrophy and chemotrophy, both function in a very similar way (i.e. Find compound cloud, absorb all of the cloud, repeat). I propose that every gameplay type have different mechanics.

Differing mechanics of gameplay types

Currently in Thrive, I can count 6 (7) different gameplay styles:

  • Predation
  • Scavenging
  • Photosynthesis
  • Chemosynthesis
  • Lithotrophy
  • Thermotrophy
  • (Also just using environmental glucose)

Predation and scavenging are probably the most different, as they have entire mechanics devoted to them (Pilus, Toxins, Mucilage) which is what makes them the most exciting and interesting to play.

Photosynthesis has become more interesting with the addition of the day-night cycle, another mechanic almost fully dedicated to one style of gameplay. Photosynthesis requires managing storage to survive the night.

However, the same cannot be said for Lithotrophy, Chemosynthesis and even environmental glucose, which do not have unique mechanics, making them considerably less interesting to play. I personally see this as wasted potential, as interesting mechanics have been proposed in the past for these styles of gameplay.

In conclusion, adding unique mechanics would increase replayablity and enjoyment, as well as allowing for more variation of play styles.

Risk and reward, benefits and drawbacks

It has been discussed on here before, that ideally players should consider each evolution carefully. The best way to do that, is ensuring every evolution has both benefits and drawbacks. Currently in Thrive, most organelles and organelle upgrades offer only benefits with little to no drawbacks, which should probably be its own thread. However, implementing new, unique gameplay mechanics would give the chance for risk and reward in the gameplay itself.

(The following is just an example, and I have no idea how realistic this is)

For example, a unique mechanic for hydrogen sulfide would be that if you consume too much of it, it will become toxic to you, causing damage. This itself would make the gameplay more interesting, as sometimes hydrogen sulfide would be something you seek, and another time it would be something you actively avoid.

The specialization upgrade system

This is what I’ve been leading towards. I propose a system of “specialization upgrades”, most likely to the nucleus. It would work like this, that every x generations or something, the player would have a choice out of 2 or 3 different “specializations” or “adaptations” or something based off of the player’s cell and the organelles it contains. The player would choose one of the options and would get it’s effect.

The effects of each of the options would be both a advantage and a drawback. For example, a photosynthesis specialization could increase output of photosynthetic organelles, but increase ATP required for movement. The player could decide how much they want to loose/gain: options with better advantages would have worse drawbacks.

Why do I think this system would work

This type of system is usually most prevalent in rougelike games, where similarly you specialize in a certain type of gameplay or build. Thrive currently kind of resembles a rougelike game, as in Thrive you too specialize yourself and focus on a specific build.

A system like this gives player the agency to decide how intense or how risky they want to play the game, as well as coercing player to play in a specific style and not “something in between”. Moreover, it is a simple system that is not too complex and decently simple to teach to the player.


In conclusion, I believe a system allowing players to choose their own level of risk and expanding on unique mechanics for different types of gameplay would make the game deeper and much more interesting while being easy to teach as tutorials can focus on one mechanic per game. Additionally, it would increase the amount of total content and play time, as well as replayability.


I think you do bring up a very valid point, that diets/lifestyles can be made to be more unique and that we should try to offer a bit more options for players to specialize their organism. You also bring up very good points about risks and rewards - there aren’t really any when it comes to diets right now, just different options. This naturally inclines players towards oxygen/photosynthesis because, all things being equal, oxygen and the sun provide the best advantages.

However, I think the gameplay mechanic you suggest - of offering a “perk” every three turns with the nucleus - is a bit at odds with the underlying philosophy of Thrive. When it comes to upgrades and specialization, we try to abide by a few principles:

  1. There is a plus and a minus for every upgrade/specialization to a part - slim down thylakoids or chloroplasts to get faster, but reduce photosynthetic efficiency. Injectable pilus can inflict toxin damage, but inflict less physical damage. You get better at one thing, but worse at one thing. Including perks would represent “flat upgrades”, which, besides opportunity costs, don’t really have concessions attached to them.
  2. We try to have abilities attached to the morphology or parts in your cell, so that the importance of morphology and body plans are emphasized. If we can represent a mechanic via a part rather than a process/system, we default to the part. There is an occasional argument for a more abstract mechanic - I recently argued for such with RuBisCo - but we absolutely prefer physical parts.

If we want to enforce these specializations, it’s probably better to do such through mechanics based on parts. For example, in my concept for surface area to volume ratios, I propose that players might receive different costs or benefits depending on their ratio. High surface area organisms would have better photosynthetic capability, but will have less health, less engulfment max size, and less resistance to extremes. Other benefits or costs can be attached to balance out the game and reflect morphological complexity. I think this is a more part/body-plan derived mechanic to emphasize specialization options that more smoothly integrates with Thrive, though I obviously am biased. It also is a relevant consideration for future stages, as surface area to volume will be especially important in the early macroscopic stage, and will influence factors like size limits/costs in the later macroscopic stages. This concept, incorporated with non-linear osmoregulation/size associated costs, would provide a great cost/benefit dilemma for the player: https://forum.revolutionarygamesstudio.com/t/surface-area-volume-and-ratios/978

So I think you make very valid points, but there might be better ways of addressing them in my opinion. Besides the above mentioned, a few questions arise. For example, could the player theoretically collect all perks eventually and become this really powerful and generalized organism? Could they collect contrasting perks and become less specialized? There are a few gameplay concerns.


I think you bring up pretty cool ideas towards different metabolisms - hydrogen sulfide potentially being toxic for example. Keep in mind however that we might eventually choose to alter the nature of hydrogen sulfide in favor of a more generic “sulfur”, acting as an environmental compound, to provide an anaerobic option once dynamic environments are integrated; but the same costs could probably be applied to that as well. We should also consider the fact that we can make diets differ by introducing different environmental patterns - for example, iron can deplenish or randomly surge based on environmental activity.

Perhaps sulfur/sulfide could be a bit toxic to organisms without the organelle as well? That brings up cool emergent gameplay - for example, implementing anaerobic photosynthesis, which naturally results in an output of sulfur, could see these cool red-tide analogous event occur where surface patches might become dangerous for organisms. We should be cautious though, as we don’t want players to be annoyed by the smallest cloud or hint of sulfur.

EDIT - notice you mentioned some costs would be attached to those specializations, so my fault for not remembering that as part of the original concept. The issue is then just how well this mechanic fits with the rest of our in-game mechanics.


My idea was just a suggestion / proposal of how you could increase how interesting the gameplay is, and honestly I expected it wouldn’t really fit the design philosophies of Thrive. However I would like to discuss the general issue a bit more.

From my perspective, Thrive lacks that decision making when it comes to placing/upgrading organelles. While yes, placing thylakoids decreases speed, but speed is really just a minor inconvenience and is easily remedied by adding a flagellum. Moreover, specific parts do not have specific drawbacks: all parts reduce speed, even those that could benefit from a faster cell.

Herein lies the main issue I see with Thrive: there is no decision making. Ok, that was a bit of a stretch, but the decision making process in Thrive is very limited. The only decision you really have to make is what to eat.

A system/environment needs to be created where players will really have to decide between which parts to place. All parts need to have specific drawbacks other than decreasing speed and increasing osmoregulation. Currently, the player does not make those decisions: “If I can’t evolve this now, I’ll do it later.”

I’m not saying parts should be “limited edition”, but that players should have to very carefully decide what to add and even remove, and feel the consequences of a bad decision.

I believe progress needs to be made in terms of creating a framework where the player will have to make decisions, and I see a few possible ways. Firstly, editor sessions need to be a rarer resource, and need to be valued more than they are now. Secondly, as I said before all parts and playstyles need to have specific drawbacks that the player can feel. Thirdly, players should be punished for bad decisions. This is a bit harsh but without consequence games cannot be fun. Currently there is never a real risk of extinction, and the player can usually survive pretty well even if you evolve photosynthesis at the bottom of the ocean.

Of course, there should be a “casual” mode where survival is not that much of an issue (ie. Thrive right now)

This all also fits real life (in my opinion) as thousands of species go extinct each year. Thrive should create a competitive environment, or at least make it harder for the player in terms of decision making.

A specialization system (like the one I described) would force the player to make these decisions. While the implementation probably shouldn’t be what I described, I still believe it would be worthwhile. Elaborating on the concept, and answering some of your questions:

  1. Each specialization would have both benefits and drawbacks, meaning you will get a “flat upgrade” but also have to deal with certain, more concrete setbacks.

  2. These would be a scarce resource. Ideally the player would only choose two or three specializations during the course of the game, meaning they are permanent effects, and the player would only be able to get two or three different specializations, meaning they loose out on all the other ones.

  3. While it was only a passing mention in my original post, each specialization would be closely tied to the player cell’s morphology. With most specializations only becoming available only in certain conditions. For example, a specialization that improves photosynthesis would only become available once the player has chloroplasts or thylakoids for multiple generations.

Again, this is just my idea of what I would do. However I do believe players need to make more impactful decisions in Thrive.

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Oh no, I definitely agree. I think Thrive could definitely improve in terms of offering genuine replayability and challenge to more experienced players. Right now, the only challenge is essentially learning the mechanics; once the mechanics are learned, there is an occasional threat in the form of other cells, but that’s it really. Part of this is that important features representing challenges aren’t implemented yet, such as the transition to oxygen or environmental tolerances, but there also is a lack of concepts dedicated towards the building of your player. I personally find this leads me towards very unimportant trips to the editor, where I literally don’t need to do anything or I just quickly add two more parts without much thought and proceed - this is okay sometimes, but I think it happens too much. We previously interpreted this as needing to necessitate more binding choices, but that isn’t necessarily true - we just need more impactful decisions, which can be undone, but require deliberate consideration.

I think I said practically the same thing in the surface area thread I linked, where I said players don’t really face many decisions beyond “what part” and then that’s it. The surface area thread was essentially an attempt to involve a decision making process related to thinking about your entire organism’s composition rather than just a part-by-part basis. If KSP was just “let me place rocket down for more force/gas down for more fuel” it would be much less engaging; however, you also have to consider aspects like aerodynamics, center of gravity, mass, etc. and other more holistic considerations rather than just individual parts. That is what I hope something like surface area to volume could replicate a bit.

I wasn’t saying that we shouldn’t consider features to enhance specialization - I firmly agree with you there. I was just saying that I think there are ways to introduce this already conceptualized and in less of a way that is deviating from Thrive’s existing design. There are a few things I can think of right now previously conceptualized that would go a long way…

  1. SA to Volume ratios, forcing the player to consider their holistic design.
  2. Non-linear energy costs, forcing players to be a bit more intentional and prude when considering additional prices - is this additional part worth the additional size costs? Even that would do a good job to force players to be more deliberative.
  3. Making membranes have notable gameplay impacts, such as through invulnerability or a shield mechanic, which opens up a lot of different playstyles and rooms for upgrades and niches to be impactful, such as the injectosome.

I do think there is room for expansion beyond that if you’re willing/motivated to implement features - though that of course needs to go through discussion - but I do think these previously discussed features would do a good job of enhancing decision making. It might be better to start there, and then if we see room to expansion we can consider more distinct concepts.

EDIT - I think what could help right now is thinking of what sorts of decisions many great simulators/strategy game have and making an assessment on how to apply such strategies. For example, 3 categories I can think of right now from the previous posts are:

Part-Placement Decisions
Body Plan Decisions
Patch Movement Decisions

This can give us some understanding of where we can introduce more dynamism. I can look at some similar games and see some topics.

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I definitely agree that it would be useful to list/categorize the different decisions the player has to make. I would personally split them into two categories: general decisions and moment-to-moment decisions.

General decisions are decisions that have an overarching effect on the game. This includes:

  • Choosing your playstyle
  • Choosing a destination patch
  • Choosing a membrane
  • Even placing your first organelle

Moment to moment decisions are ones that have more of an immediate effect. These include:

  • Deciding on which organelle to place
  • Where to place said organelle
  • Deciding which organelles to upgrade
  • Deciding which patch to migrate to
  • Deciding whether or not to stay where you are or continue (in the physical game world)

If there’s any I missed please tell me.

Another thing I feel would be useful is to list all the parameters that affect the player. By that I mean all the different values that affect the player’s decision making (i.e. everything that can be modified for bonuses or drawbacks)

  • Speed
  • Storage
  • Health
  • ATP Production
  • ATP Usage
  • Reproduction Cost
  • Generation of certain compound
  • Use of certain compounds
  • Available organelles (in the context of organelle unlokcs)

Personally, I think there should be more of these. Currently most of these like speed, storage and health play little to no role in the player’s decision making process. A good example of this is the metabolosome organelle. As the metabolosme can provide enough energy for itself and other parts, ATP really isn’t an issue, as you can always just add another metabolosme. Non-linear energy costs would be a good way to tackle this issue, but what I think is the bigger problem here is that the player has too much of everything. Storage is not an issue as you almost always have more of it then you need for example.

Upgrade based framework

This leads me to another idea I had regarding this. The idea here is to make all organelles much “weaker” by default, and then relying on upgrades to make the organelles actually worthwhile.

For example, thylakoids could start out as porducting glucose very slowly, or being less efficient. Then the player would need to spend additional MP in later editor sessions to actually be worth it. These upgrades would then come with clear-cut drawbacks, perhaps you’d have to pick between two upgrade “paths” where picking one excludes the other.

Linking back to what I said about needing more parameters that affect decision making, perhaps some sort of byproduct could be produced by these lower level organelles that would have to be removed manually or perhaps some actions will have to be done manually by the player and later be “automated” by higher level organelles. However I still feel that there are not enough different options for perks/disadvantages.

Yet another idea I have is a little extreme but I think it would be worth giving a shot. Namely, organelles should almost always consume more ATP than is available, meaning a negative ATP balance. This would make ATP an actual resource you have to be considerate about using, turning specific processes on and off depending on how much of it you have.

This system would effectively split the question of “What organelle should I place?” into two: “What organelle should I place now that will give me benefits in the future?” and “What exactly do I want to do with this organelle?”. I think this system would be especially effective as it also means the player has to invest more time and MP into each organelle, which would mean that once they realize that they’ve made a mistake they would’ve already invested a lot into it.

As a side note I’ll also say that I’m fully willing to implement any of the features I mention.

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Before anything else, I will say that prototypes and the such are absolutely encouraged if you feel strongly about a new idea. Though prototyped features won’t be implemented without consensus and agreement from the team, they definitely help us understand new features and ideas better. I disagree with the design principles of some of your suggestions and find them at odds with what we currently conceive of Thrive, but I would definitely be willing to test them out.

I think we should be wary of introducing more factors because we don’t want to unnecessarily bloat things. What makes a lot of strategy games isn’t necessarily the number of parameters, but rather the unique behavior and interaction of different parameters with each other - Civ 6 for example has only like 5 currencies, but underneath each currency is a unique mechanic that allows different playstyles and benefits, which can dramatically affect your strategy.

I think if anything, we should be looking at tweaking existing parameters. For example, I agree that we could look at making storage more scarce/valuable - I personally don’t really remember using vacuoles and the such for example as each part generally provides enough storage capacity to not require additional space. And if I think about it, there really aren’t many options regarding additional health besides changing your membrane, which oftentimes isn’t worth it currently. That’s part of why I think introducing a shield mechanic with calcium carbonate and silica, with invulnerability to specific types of damage except specialized parts, would help introduce some specialization options.

Metabolosomes and mitochondria right now are definitely the most powerful parts, with very little drawbacks. I think a big part of this though is less an inherent feature of the part and more the fact that oxygen is constant and at a historically high atmospheric quantity; 21%, which doesn’t reflect an early planet yet at all. In my head, oxygen-metabolism will serve as this high-risk, high-reward playstyle in the Microbe Stage for two reasons…

  1. Oxygen quantity might be unstable at first, as photosynthesizer populations on an early planet fluctuate with disasters and instability. In Earth’s early history, oxygen rose, plateaued, and plummeted pretty dynamically. Making your organism too dependent on oxygenic metabolism quickly might result in punishments later down the road, when oxygen dips.
  2. Oxygen is toxic to life without prior adaptations. If oxygen levels rise too fast, even aerobic organisms might start feeling punishment.

I think factor 1 will arrive organically as we introduce and balance dynamic compounds. Attaching a cool dynamic to factor 2 might be something we can focus on - the balance between using aerobic respiration, and having aerobic tolerances. This, combined with non-linear size costs could be a very fun and challenging dynamic for the player to deal with - should they stay safe as an anaerobic yet less energetic organism, or should they take the risk and become aerobic?

For an immediate step now, we can consider having oxygen vary between patches now - not dynamically, but having oxygen be lower in deeper patches for example. That way, players are forced to use different metabolisms.

We’ve historically been wary about this because we think that would mean players would just place a loooot of parts rather than focus on making their organism as efficient as possible; as such, we could run into the same problem we were trying to avoid, with players choosing to just add more parts or add a bunch of different metabolisms rather than focusing on making their organism efficient or specialized. Even attaching upgrades could result in this behavior, where players then become these juiced up, generalized organisms.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t nerf parts if we need to - I just think that’s more of a difficulty consideration rather than a replayability/specialization consideration. I think the ideal way to incorporate specialization is to have different behaviors attached to different diets, which is something you mentioned before. For example, you mentioned that hydrogen sulfide could have a toxicity element attached to it; I think this would serve better than just making parts weaker if we want to encourage specialization. The day and night cycle attached to photosynthesis and the oxygen risk-reward system attached to metabolosomes/mitochondria reflect similar differences as well.

We could also reinforce these mechanics through more dynamic systems as well. Going back to surface area to volume: if we have it so that photosynthesis is enhanced by more surface area to volume, but engulfment size is reduced, then players will be conceding photosynthetic capability if they wish to become a predator, and vice verse if they wish to become an autotroph. Then the question becomes - is the additional cost and weight of photoautotrophic parts worth it?

@Buckly would probably have better thoughts related to this, as he spends a lot of energy on matters related to balancing. I will say that I think we should try to be a bit wary of making managing your metabolism through actual gameplay an active process rather than a passive process. Players will ideally be focusing on environmental trends, compound availability, and cellular competition, which might mean that managing your metabolism in active gameplay could come across as being some micromanagement.

Looking back, I think this has been a very useful discussion and has been cutting into an area which I personally agree Thrive can improve. You’re definitely onto something here, and I can see various ideas already forming; the question though is trying to slim down on mechanic bloat as much as possible. I don’t think we need to add many entirely new or alien features to make specialization an important feature of Thrive - I think we can go a long way with relatively simple changes.

EDIT - I’m writing up something related to ways we can possibly diversify gameplay across different forms of metabolism. I think you’ll appreciate some of the ideas there. Again, I think this has been a very useful discussion.


If we wish to introduce different gameplay patterns across different metabolism forms, here are some ways we can achieve this, as well as a proposal for how each different metabolic pathway can be thought of.

Metabolism Benefits and Risks

Oxygenic - High Risk, High Reward

Oxygen will serve as the quintessential high risk, high reward metabolism in the Microbe Stage. The oxygenation of a planet comes with intense challenges and benefits for the life inhabiting it - adapting to use oxygen allows access to the most powerful metabolic process known, but its toxicity and availability makes that adaptation process a challenge to undertake.

Since oxygen will likely be the most necessary compound for progression beyond the Microbe Stage, the challenge related to oxygen should probably be represented mostly in the Microbe Stage, and should mostly be related to the acquiring of oxygen. We will likely have to ensure that oxygen can’t dip too much beyond a certain threshold once reached.


  • Oxygen is initially a very unstable resource.
  • Oxygen is initially toxic to organisms.
  • Requires a stable source of glucose, either prey or ambient.


  • Most energetic and powerful metabolism available.
  • Important for progression beyond the Microbe Stage.

Photoautotrophic - The Tight Schedule

In applicable regions, photosynthesis will generally be defined by the day and night cycle; a consistent, but demanding schedule requiring behavioral or morphological adjustments.

Since photosynthesis’s inherent advantage is its predictability, disruptions to this schedule - such as volcanic events or snowball Earth - represent the most challenging moments for photoautotrophs. Though consistent, players will have to be mindful of the fact that if they do not efficiently adapt to photosynthesis or have a reliable alternative metabolic strategy, disaster can strike.


  • Day and night cycle requires concessions.
  • Not very energetic.
  • Limited to surface patches and light as a whole.
  • Adaptations should make it harder to be actively heterotrophic.
  • Produces oxygen.
  • Chloroplasts and thylakoids are very heavy


  • Very stable and predictable energy source.
  • Autotrophic, self-reliant.

Sulfur - Managed Risk

I will note that hydrogen sulfide/sulfur might be subject to change if we cannot find a good way to implement anaerobic respiration with currently integrated parts.

As @Titan mentioned, hydrogen sulfide can be toxic above a certain capacity, and can be more toxic for organisms who do not ingest hydrogen sulfide. Based on the number of chemosynthesizing proteins placed, the capacity for hydrogen sulfide tolerance can increase. This will incentivize players who utilize chemosynthesizing proteins to specialize more around them, or avoid them.

This can benefit Thrive in other ways as well. Hydrogen sulfide can serve as a proxy for the fumes which make hydrothermal vents and volcanic activity potent for unadapted organisms, thus including an environmental hazard in these more harsh conditions.


  • Ingesting too much sulfur will harm the player.
  • Sulfur is more limited to deeper patches.


  • Provides some security, as not all organisms can inhabit sulfur clouds.
  • Can provide a relatively accessible food source.
  • Mitigates environmental harm.

Iron - Territory Wars

Currently, Iron is a more unique diet since it requires some sort of harvesting. I think this can be improved by limiting the amount of iron available to be consumed from chunks and large emitters more strictly, rather than have them passively and consistently emit compounds. This can enhance competition for chunks and parts, forcing the player to be more territorial over their discovered parts.

This would likely require a rework of how iron currently works, largely making it a truly cloudless compound. Rusticyanin would instead likely need to work as an organelle that allows you to directly extract iron from the larger objects, and as currently works, engulf the smaller ones. The more rusticyanin you have, the better you are at extracting more iron quickly.


  • More competition over resources than other compounds.
  • Iron chunks, so requires more searching.
  • Reactive to oxygen - reduces with oxidation.


  • Relatively powerful and self-reliant energy source, as it directly converts to ATP.
  • Securing a spot can mean you have enough energy to last an entire generation.

I didn’t cover thermosynthase, but if implemented fully as originally conceptualized, it would definitely be its own unique metabolism.


I’m glad to see folks looking into the gameplay aspects of Thrive and reflecting on if the direction we are going could be considered “fun”.
The microbe stage in it’s current state is rather dull from a gameplay perspective, and is currently lifted by it’s simulation mechanics and sense of progress.

The first thing I would like to bring up on the matter, is that there are actually a healthy amount of concepts that have already been devised on enriching and expanding on the playstyle of different metabolisms. Unfortunately due to the rather messy nature of our forums, these are easily forgotten by current developers, and never found by new faces.
So I’ll take this chance to remind everyone about some of the discussions that as of today still remain unresolved, unelaborated, or otherwise just not implemented.

Iron Respiration Rework
Sulfur Cycle Expansion (Not much on this one specifically but the idea is often circulated)
Thermosynthesis Complete Implementation
Implement radiotrophy (And radiation hazards)
Photosynthesis Cycle Complete Implementation

Going beyond just the metabolism of life, are the other aspects of microbe gameplay.

Combat Revamp
Straw Pilus Upgrade Concept
Toxin Delivery Methods Expansion
Terrain and Currents
Stamina Mechanics

There is likely much more that I am forgetting, but these concepts are the most recent in my memory alone.

So what is holding all of this back? There is no direct answer, but in the case for most of them, I believe it is the difficulty of implementation combined with having to adjust the AI and autoevo to account for completely unique features. Being a volunteer force, people are only going to work on things they feel passionate about or are most critical, otherwise it’s the easy fixes. Concepts like these; Devised by a different person, much more mechanically intensive, and with the risk of not even being as fun as they sound means that trying to implement them could lead you to putting a lot of effort into something that might not even pan out. And I get that, it’s exhausting.

There is not really a good solution to this. Having a dedicated paid programmer is a huge boon, and will theoretically solve this issue. But Hh is understandably more focused on other things of import, and will likely be hunting bugs and handling major features related to progress instead of revamps or new features.

I can wildly postulate and speculate all I want, I can scream to the heavens that this feature right here will surely be the best thing for the coming release, but it will always comes down to someone brave enough and dedicated enough to take on an ultimately experimental feature for it to happen. It’s this right here that ironically often makes solo projects go faster than team-led ones.

All the more reason I wish I could program things myself, rather than remain on the sidelines telling people what to do.

Anyway, that aside, I do like the ideas you have for hydrogen sulfide toxicity. It makes for a unique hazard in the vents, and will make them feel more frenetic and dangerous. It would make chemosynthesis more engaging by forcing players to think carefully about cloud concentration.

In it’s simplest implementation, we could probably just have hydrogen sulfide clouds damage cells that can’t store it inside themselves. (So cells that can’t store it, or otherwise are full on storage will be harmed.)

As an added bonus, we could even perhaps introduce a modification to the slime jet that makes it use hydrogen sulfide instead, hehe.

There is just one major problem. Hydrogen sulfide alone is easy to discern, but a potentially dangerous compound can easily be hidden behind a slew of other compound clouds as things get mixed together in the environment. Communicating that a specific compound cloud hurts you can already introduce a bit of learning-curve tax, so how will players handle having to carefully analyze a cloud before diving in? How many will complain about randomly receiving damage and not understanding the source?


I think a good way to incentivize specialization would be to have synergies between organelles that really compel you to pick a niche and stick to it. It could be as simple as organelles getting better as you add more of them - each flagellum I add slightly increases the speed bonus of all of them, adding more rusticyanin makes my iron processing faster or more efficient, etc. I also like this idea from a theoretical standpoint; it makes sense that an organism specializing in a niche would evolve more efficient processes for exploiting that niche over time and this could be a way to represent that in-game without going into things like different metabolic pathways that might be overly complex for most players.


I’ll start be saying I’m absolutely willing to implement most of these features as long as the theory and gameplay side of things are ready. I’m not saying I could implement integration with AI or AutoEvo, but the point of a game is to be fun to play. If people could see all of these concepts in game, even if not integrated with AI or AutoEvo, they would see progress being made, and maby even a fun game.

Until now I didn’t even know some of these are close to implementation (or at least prototypes). Personally, I don’t think these concepts need to be perfect either, just good enough for a prototype. Having unbalanced or not quite ready features is better than having none, especially at this stage. Besides, prototype features could be a setting, allowing players to experiment.

The best pieces of feedback on these concepts would come from players and playtesting. That cannot be done without a proper framework us programmers can use the roll out all these ideas.

I would propose making a organizational board (similar to the one we had post ECS) detailing all the proposed features you mentioned, their status, at what level discussion is, and any related issues/dependencies.

Honestly having a board like that would make discussion and implementation of these features much easier. I’m also pretty sure these concepts do not have to be implemented as these batch chunks, instead be split up into more smaller, more manageable issues instead.

Let’s get prototypes in game.


Replying very late due to this thread appearing just as I headed out for my break.

This sounds exactly like the planned thermosynthesis gameplay (moving between host and cold spots, otherwise it stops working). Maybe it’d be better to implement this feature fully first before planning some new stuff to see how well it is received?

I think this goes a bit too hard in a “game” direction.

Fully agree with this:

This is a pretty easy to test idea, if anyone wants to make this change. I also don’t foresee it breaking the game balance too badly so it might be also easy to approve and merge in.

Yep, but I hope at least the latter half of 2024 can be basically all just working through the microbe roadmap for me. Which is also a bit of a problem as I plan to only really work on the roadmap items and skip anything not accepted onto the roadmap. The whole point of the roadmap is that we can at some point call the microbe stage done and move forward.

So the unfortunate truth is that these unique mechanics will need multiple enthusiastic volunteers to see them through. Otherwise they will just be forever on an idea level.

This could work. Emphasis on could even now most discussions kind of just fizzle out so who would be responsible for writing down stuff? It’s easy enough to open a new organization project on github where people can just write whatever ideas they want as drafts. But I foresee that becoming also a such a huge list that you cannot reasonably find anything there. It’ll be basically be the same as here on forums: use the search feature to see if what you want to talk about is already on the board / has a discussion thread.