I was thinking a bit more about this after we talked about it and wanted to make it a dev forum post rather than a discord post so it’s possible to refer to it later. I think this is all quite far off so it’s not important now.
Two good goals I think are linking the stages together (each stage should build on your choices from the last one and not feel like a separate mini-game) and code reuse (if we can use a system multiple times it will make the game quicker and easier to make).
I was thinking about how to take mechanics from the microbe stage into the later stages. I think it would be cool if until the end of the game we continue to run auto-evo simulations and in those simulations you have microbial species.
For example in the creature stages each area has some larger creatures (maybe “grass”, “cows” and “wolves”) and some microbial ones. We could classify weapons into two types, Macro and Micro, and simulate combat using these. For example a microbe can use it’s agents to attack a “cow” as that is a Micro weapon, however the “cow’s” horns have no impact on the microbes. The “cow’s” teeth can be used to attack the “grass” and not microbes.
I think this could lead to some cool gameplay around immune systems. So each larger creature can use the cell editor to make immune cells for itself. We could use the agents system so simulate how immune cells change over time, for example when you have had certain diseases you become immune to them because your immune system remembers them. We could model this as you spending MP on changing your immune cells a little (like rewriting agent codes rather than major structural changes to the cells) and so each editor session you can balance whether to change the macro design of your creature or to edit the immune system or a bit of both.
Further in the civilisation stages we could have each province have it’s own simulated animals with immune systems and microbes. This would allow for cool gameplay around diseases with armies spreading microbes to new provinces which then impact the “people” and livestock that live there. With techs like “selective breeding” or “brewing with “yeast”” you might be able to make small edits to creatures and microbes that live in your area. With techs like “gene editing” you might be able to make large changes. One continent that has “horses” and “smallpox” would have a big impact if it crossed the sea to land on another continent which doesn’t have those things, just like on earth.
In the space stage we could build quite a lot of gameplay around terraforming. For example putting microbes on a planet in order to change the gas concentrations in the atmosphere could be a strategy. Or taking microbes and creatures from another planet and engineering them to suit your colonists more. Do you choose to adapt your “people” to the planet or the planet to the “people”?
I think using things like this we could quite dramatically speed up the development for the whole game. For example if the microbes auto-evo and editor is a building block for all future stages then when we have finished those things the later stages might be 20% done. Then we could build the creature stage stuff and use that later so by the time we get to the civilisation and space stages we might have 40% of the content already in place. Moreover we’d have a completely unique, complex, game which no one has seen before, I mean being able to play around with a dynamic terraforming system which models life right down to the microbes sounds great and might not need much work as we already have all that code at that point.
All feedback welcome.