Ancestors that stick around

This topic probably applies to multicellular and later stage gameplay as well. Currently when I evolve a new species, the species that i used to be vanishes, and now only this new species exists in the ecosystem. But i feel like this isn’t similar to evolution; When a new species splits off from an ancestor, the ancestor does not go extinct unless the new species outperforms it in it’s niche to the point of pushing it to extinction.

If a species splits off from a species, instead what should happen is the old species sticks around, or another offshoot that is slightly adapted from it outperforms it in it’s niche and pushes it to extinction. I think that especially during the early stages of the game, having your previous species stick around and act hostile towards you would make the game feel more realistic and populated with diversity.

Currently the game feels extremely empty as you evolve, because if you do well at your niche only your own species populates your environment, so having your previous species exist as well would help provide interesting gameplay whilst you wait for auto evo to catch up to you. I feel like an opportunity is being missed because you cannot actively compete with your previous self, and therefore cannot directly test which diversification is superior.

Another way I think this would help is by giving autoevo more opportunities to populate the world with organisms that are similar to you and compete for the same niche. If during one turn i develop an extremely capable predatory organism, when i evolve, it would be neat to compete agaisnt the previous predator example, and then if it somehow survives because both species compete for different niches, it could then create new offshoots on the same turn which are visibly related to but not the same as your own species. And then as the turns progress, it’ll lead to a more gradual radiation of diverse organisms filling different niches, with similar colors and shapes, but subtly different body layouts.

This also leads to a solution for another problem i’ve found; Often when playing the game, you are flying blind when adapting your species for the next turn inside of the editor, hoping that your new additions aid you inside of an unknown ecosystem. Whilst this can add a factor of fun where you need to be more strategic with what you’re adding, and aim to account for more posisble outcomes, it can also lead to a sudden extinction if a very unlikely change to the ecosystem occurs.

More than once the ecosystem has unexpectedly removed the niche that I was surviving in without warning from one turn to the next, due to how autoevo calculates the interactions between newly developed species. Additionally, tentative additions that I add as a test can suddenly make my species completely nonviable due to how it interacts with the environment, and whislt often this is fair, sometimes it can be impossible to predict how your addition will interact with a future state of the ecosystem.

I mention this because if previous examples of your species stick around almost completely unchanged (assuming they are capable of surviving inside the new ecosystem) it gives the option to revert to your previous species if your change interacts badly with the next iteration of the ecosystem. In it’s current state, the game can feel random in terms of what changes make or break your species fitness, because the ecosystem can become completely different in a way you cannot predict. So adding some sort of soft continuation where you revert to your closest common ancestor would help reduce these moments of seemingly random extinction.

In my opinion, the current state makes the environment seem almost too alien too quickly, with either vastly different expressions of your species showing up that don’t feel like a gradual evolution, or no adaptations occurring whatsoever for a while, and the player being left in a sea of only their own species. I think that adding this mechanic would help smooth out the adaptation of the environment and add a more broad spectrum of life to your game, making it feel more realistic.

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I think it should work like that: you change your name – you split off the previous branch.

This is how it currently is:

This is my proposal:

Some explanation:

Zrzut ekranu 2022-05-10 o 14.15.24

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Exactly. Your diagram perfectly illustrates how this would work, and it’s something that’d i’d love to see implemented in that way that you’ve drawn up.

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I’d like to bring up the fact that we used to have it be so that a slightly mutated copy of the player species was created each time you went to the editor in earlier Thrive versions. People complained with that they couldn’t really be predators or get oxytoxy because then basically all other species would get them as the player species always got duplicated. So overall that reduced the gameplay options, or at least enjoyable builds as you always played against slight variants of your current build rather than completely different evolutionary lineages.

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Sounds like people are just bad at the game. My biggest current problem with a lack of fun in the game is that there is no competition against organisms of my own size. I’ve played dozens of playthroughs by now and I’ve never had to compete against organisms that tried to but in on my niche. I’ve never even seen a separate species who’s characteristics are that of a large agile predator.

Maybe the old system can be added as a mode later on?

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I think I had only one playthrough when a large predator has been developed by auto-evo, and that was my fist playthrough lol.

I understand how this can be annoying, but the issue already exists with your own species. As you populate more of an area, it becomes harder to stay a predator without the assistance of another source of energy. Having to deal with mutations of your own species would help limit how quickly your species can over populate an area.

A Family tree system would be a good way to implement ancestor species. Though if you change the name of your species, would it keep the previous one around or would it change that too?

I’m not sure what do you mean.

I think with that they are asking, if your new renamed species is seen as seperate on the family tree to the old one. So do describe it a bit better, If you have your species, well call them chicken nuggets for simplicity, thats one part of the family tree. I think what they are asking is if you then would rename your species, to lets say cheesy burgers as an example, would it be a seperate thing on the family tree or would that existing thing on the family tree just have its name changed. I personally think it would be best to have its name change instead of having it be a seperate entity on the family tree.

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That makes no sense, why would their name change? They are not the same species.

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Yeah i wasnt sure how it was meant either. Thought this might have been what they meant

You explained it well here.
I was wondering if the most direct path down the tree (one where you never diverge) would be the player,

or if the player could make their own divergence (i.e chicken nugget is still around and the player is now Cheesy Burgers)

I’m not sure how to explain it better than this:

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Ok that makes sense, labeling the lines definitely helps

Scenarios where the lack of rival ancestors hurt gameplay enjoyment and immersion:

Loss of food source

A common occurrence when I evolve large motile predators, is that if I accidentally make them larger than the ecosystem can support, they are extremely successful as predators when young, but incapable of finding food whilst adult because they’re too slow. Whilst it’s fair that I should go extinct if I was operating as a lone example of my organism, it can become extremely aggravating if the young of this species is thriving at first and numbers in the dozens on screen at any one time.

Having ancestors that stick around would solve this issue because the slightly smaller consumable predators from the previous turn can act as a food source for the larger adult population of my new species, allowing for a transition into apex predation by eating the young of that species. In evolution, if a predator becomes unable to consumer the smaller producer organisms of their environment for what ever reason, but still is surrounded by lots of biomass in the form of smaller examples of itself, the predator will shift into a diet of it’s ancestor, which will in turn evolve to become a smaller generalist. For a real life example, fish species that become too large to eat smaller organism will instead turn to their recent ancestors, and get larger and bulkier to consume those instead as a main food source.

The lack of any way to consume larger predatory organisms that become common by eating smaller faster organisms, means that thrive possesses no wat to make a transition in food source when the previous food source becomes scarce or unattainable by happenstance. I cannot tell you how aggravating it is to have no source of food as a large adult predator, but constantly bump up agaisnt smaller, engulfable examples of your own species that have proliferated the environment.

No adaptive radiation

One weird thing about thrive in it’s current form is that evolution seems to be sporadic, random, and almost as if creatures emerge from nothing all of a sudden. This is because autoevo seems to spawn new species into the simulation wholesale, without much relation to species that already exist in the game world - For example a few times, on the second turn I will see enormous cells spawn in comparison to my own starter species, or in an environment comprised mostly of small photosynthesizes, a massive predatory organism with toxins might arrive that has no relation to the existing organisms.

Maybe this is an aspect of autoevo pulling from other hexes, or maybe a deceptive use of cytoplasm that makes it loo larger than it should. But either way, it leads to an experience that is perceived as being random, not continuous, unrelated to progressive diversification, and it especially feels unrelated to your own organism’s evolution with creatures instantly shapeshifting into forms that seem alien and unrelated. This is especially bad in relation to the circumstance that this section is about, specifically adaptive radiation in the scenario that a patch-based local extinction event occurs, or when you first join the game and other species are supposed to radiate out from your own.

In the context of starting the game, adding ancestors that remain in the game world as rival species will increase how much it seems like you are competing for the first stable niches, and increase how fun it is to race towards the available cloud-like resources. In the early game it can be quite easy and boring to evolve your creature into the first few iterations because there is no competition for resources. This is especially obvious when replaying the game, and that part of the experience might as well be removed in terms of actual gameplay because there is no skill involved.

In the context of responding to extinction events on the other hand, it can seem weird for species to vanish, but then fully formed species to move into the patch and take their place with no context for where came from or how they evolved. In the gameplay which is where such info matters, evolution can seem random and that makes it feel unfair if you are outcompeted by these seemingly random new species and go extinct. By allowing ancestors to stay around and slowly fill niches by adapting over time, it reduces the amount of out of context invaders that can arrive to instantly fill extinct niches, and also allows players to see the progress of radiation and how these species adapt and change to suit their environment.

The final context in which ancestor survival helps adaptive radiation seem more visible, is if the environment changes around you in such a way that there are multiple niches that your species can fill, for example either a stronger predator, smaller herbivore, a generalist, etc, and any of those choices would be correct in the context of evolution. The saying “evolution abhors a vacant niche” is important here because realistically, there should be a massive adaptive radiation of your own organism into various similar niches based on what is vacant in the environment. Currently in the game, the environment has this weird situation where the player lineage only fills a single niche, and any AI species adapted from it become either massively different to the point they aren’t identifiable as from the same lineage, or go extinct.

By having ancestors stick around and compete for your current niche, you will see various descendants of the two competing species enter their own niches later on, by diverging more realistically. You will be able to watch as species derived from you slowly change to fill environmental niches, and then eventually after many turns, they are their own distinct lineage with their own relatives and offshoots, and you can see visibly how an example of what you made slowly changed to fit into the ecosystem alongside you, in a different way.

Final thoughts:

So far, the only major reasoning to disable ancestor survival is that the players ended up swamped by their own species in their environment, which reduced ecological diversity. However, Nie’s idea to make ancestor retention tied to species name changes gives control of this mechanic to the player, and allows them to strategically deploy ancestor retention only when it would be beneficial to the gameplay experience. It effectively lets players choose their preferred playstyle whilst designing the species; Those that prefer an experience more similar to thrives current state would change their name less often, whereas those who wish to see a world more filled with offshoots of themselves will change their name more often. Or maybe the feature could be turned off entirely if a menu option is clicked?

Overall, i think that this feature is a vital component of evolution that becomes more conspicuous in it’s absence the longer it remains out of the game. A vast majority of IRL speciation occurs through competition with ancestor organisms, or related descendants of ancestors. Imagine how the world would have turned out if stingrays never competed with sharks, or octopus never competed with squid, humans never competed with neanderthals, or lizards never competed with snakes, etc. In fact, i’d wager that this is such a large aspect of the conventional evolution process that if it’s not implemented into thrive early on, multicellular and macroscopic sections of the game will end up being way less realistic than they should be, and the long term gameplay experience will suffer.

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Migration from other patches exists, so it’s possible that That’s a species that just migrated.

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That is true, and I acknowledged it in the post, but the point is that early on the speed at which creatures get large and different from you can make it seem like they are changing too quickly even though it’s technically realistic evolution. Having ancestors stick around helps reduce how sudden and early these evolution and migration events feel. It adds coherency to the ecosystem by ensuring there is always something familiar present, rather than every turn everything changing into a completely different size, shape and colour. it makes the evolution feel more continuous.

I want to add on that one thing 0.5.9 did that made the start seem more natural was having other species exist along side you when the game begins. This really helps the autoevo system feel like these cells diverged instead of coming into existence all of the sudden.

But you play as LUCA, if we simulate other species, then we should be sure that they all go extinct, it is pretty hard using auto-evo system

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But other species don’t exist at the start? All other cells you might encounter are members of your own species. When you get to the editor the first time that’s when other species can appear.

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