The Planet Editor

Let’s finally make some noise about the planet customization concept. I realize that the team is focused mostly on bug-fixing for the upcoming release, but I think this is worthwhile to address for the near-ish future. Many developers who wind up putting effort into the planet generator/editor are lost, and I think this is largely due to scope creep and confusion regarding what exactly is needed. So, let’s have that talk now.

I tried making a very cohesive and contained concept proposal, but there really is a lot up in the air, and it’s hard to address all at once without going on tangents and hypotheticals. So this is something that we will have to walk through bit by bit. Let’s focus on immediate impacts to the Microbe Stage; we don’t need an in-depth planetary simulation right now.

The first question to discuss: what exactly should be impacted in the Microbe Stage from tweaking planet parameters? In other words, when the player makes changes to their planet, how will their changes be present?

I think there are currently about three groups of parameters that are targeted by planet customization…

  • Environmental Factor Related - Parameters related to environmental tolerances and events. How warm is your planet? How volatile is the climate? How much sunlight goes through the atmosphere on average?
  • Patch Frequency Related - Parameters related to the distribution and frequency of patches. Are oceans shallower or deeper? Are caves frequent? Are frozen patches frequent?
  • Compound Availability Related - Parameters related to the distribution and frequency of compounds. Is iron widely available? How much oxygen is able to be carried by the atmosphere?

As you can imagine, there is intercorrelation between the three groups; for example, deeper oceans means less coastal shelves, likely more sparsely distributed compounds, and more stable environments. A colder planet will naturally end up with more frequent frozen shelves. That’s where the nuance and detail comes into play with this concept.

Let’s think of some parameters relevant to the Microbe Stage, in accordance with this grouping. Here is what I have so far…

Environmental-Factor Related

  • Average Temperature - Is the planet colder, comparable, or warmer relative to Earth?
  • Temperature Variability - Do temperatures vary dramatically, normally, or minimally across biomes compared to Earth?
  • Average Sunlight Availability - How much sunlight makes its way through the atmosphere towards the surface?
  • Climate Volatility - Does the climate transform dramatically or remain stable from turn to turn?
  • Snowball Earth Frequency - How likely is a snowball Earth event to occur?
  • Volcanic Activity Frequency - How likely is volcanic activity?
  • Meteor Bombardment Frequency - How likely is meteor bombardment to occur?

Patch Frequency Related

  • Shallow Sea Frequency v. Open Water Patch Frequency - Are surface patches more likely to be shallow seas or epipelagic?
  • Cave Frequency - Are caves more or less likely to form?
  • Hydrothermal Vents Frequency - Are hydrothermal vents more or less likely to form?
  • Freshwater Frequency - Are freshwater estuaries more or less likely to form?
  • Frozen Patch Frequency - Are ice shelves more or less likely to form?
  • Heated Tidepool Frequency - Are heated tidepools more or less common?
  • Abyssal Patch Frequency - Are abyssal regions more or less common? There will likely be atleast one patch per planet due to spawning conditions.
  • Patch Volatility - (When dynamic patch maps are introduced) do patches and the links between them change more or less frequently?
  • Patch Diversity - Are patches more uniform or diverse across the planet?

Compound Availability-Related

  • Oxygen Capacity - Will oxygen levels exceed, be comparable, or lessen compared to Earth?
  • Rate of Atmospheric Oxygenation - When photosynthesis develops, will the rate at which oxygen diffuses throughout the globe be average, faster, or slower?
  • Iron Availability - How common is iron on the planet?
  • Nitrogen/Ammonia Availability - How common is nitrogen and accessible ammonia on the planet?
  • Carbon Dioxide Availability - How common is carbon dioxide on the planet?
  • Sulfur Frequency - How common is sulfur on the planet?
  • Glucose Availability At Onset - How much glucose will be available at the beginning of a playthrough? (already implemented)
  • Phosphate Availability - How common will accessible phosphate be on the planet?
  • General Compound Volatility - How dramatically will compounds shift from turn to turn?
  • General Cloud Density/Scarcity - How common or scarce are clouds on the plane?

I think this is enough to digest for now. I have a bit more thought put into this. I currently am envisioning something where the player first defines broader settings, then goes into more finetuning settings. Broader settings will impact the range of more detailed settings - for example, tweaking the distance of the planet from the home star will constrict the temperature range so that even the warmest distant planets might not be as warm as the coldest near star. But the exact details of this can be discussed later if we agree with the current line of thought.

Hopefully, this will begin break the curse of developers disappearing when they tackle the planet editor interfa -


You have some important questions here, and it’s a great start for discussion.
Regrettably though, until I find the time to dig deep into the subject and design a concept, there’s not much I can do to really answer the questions at this time.

I’ll just pose this simple statement of desire; The planet editor will need to be clean, and most importantly, fast. This is so that players don’t have to spend centuries fine-tuning their planet to whatever measures they desire. Just about 3-4 drop-down options and boom they are done. Now, we would probably want an advanced editor tab for those of us who really do want that nitty gritty design, so I’m not saying we deny them that. Just need some quick settings first and fore-most.

We’d probably follow a preset method so players can quickly choose the type of planet they want, and then have a couple following tweaks to get it how they want.
So they would pick their planet, then be able to adjust the most impactful things such as landmass size/sea-level, temperature, whatever. Maybe even a way to save planets as presets akin to the fossilization feature. So players could encounter another planet and be like “Oh I would want to try and evolve on that.” So boom they save it as a preset.