With the last update addition of appearance, the behavior tab is now the only editor function which remains unimplemented. Although the main idea surrounding this aspect revolves around editing already implemented behavior values which determine characteristics such as how aggressive/skittish a cell is, I argue that this editor could also have an even more interesting/engaging gameplay feature.
Although it’s undeniably cool to be able to engage with these parameters, I think that if the behavior tab is limited to be just that, its utility is hampered. The thing about editing parameters is that it only effects the AI members of your own species, meaning that as far as a casual is concerned, it has no direct effect on their own cell and thus there is little motivation for the player to mess with the parameters. Of course, in order to force a player to pay attention to the behavior editor, it could be made so that the editing of values could have drastic effects on your population/auto-evo stats; however, if such emphasis is placed on these parameters, then how would the game calculate a player’s specie’s success without ultimately shifting their specie’s fate away from their own gameplay and into the hands of the simulation itself? While auto-evo should definitely have a say over your creature’s success, it would be pretty unfair if, despite the success of your own individual, a small difference in the behavior stat from what is optimal decimates your population. Now, later in the more “animal” stages, I can definitely see how factors such as aggressiveness and sociality can influence how your individual interacts with other individuals; at this point however, editing factors such as aggression can only take the game so far.
So although I do believe it would be cool if this was an aspect of behavior, because of its limited application, I think another feature should be attached to the editor.
I was recently playing UFC 3, and a certain mechanic appealed to me. There’s a game mode included in which you can essentially take control of a rising superstar in the league from beginning to end. In this game mode, there is a “perk” system of some sort which strengthens a certain attribute. If your fighter likes to kick, for example, there are several perks which helps with kicks; one of them may reduce the stamina cost of kicks, while another might increase the damage of a kick, and another might make it easier to use a specific hard to use kick, such as spin kicks and jumping kicks. At the same time, there are also other pretty useful perks which a fighter would really like to have; faster punches, stronger health, faster movement in general. The only problem is that at a given moment, you are only allowed five different perks, so you must weigh your options and choose what you think suits your playstyle the best. With this system, I believe a complex and multi-faceted aspect of real UFC/fighting is represented pretty well. In the real UFC, although each individual is decently skilled in many attributes, the fighters who end up becoming champions are not necessarily championship-material because they are better in all aspects of their fighting than their opponents; rather, they have a certain specialized skill in one of the many aspects of mixed martial arts which is so refined and powerful, that other opponents which may be better than the fighter overall are overwhelmed by the effectiveness of this skill before they can employ their own. For example, Khabib Nurmagomedov, a currently undefeated champion, is so good at taking his opponent to the ground and beating them there, that no fighter can take advantage of Khabib’s deficiency in pure stand up boxing/fighting; the champion simply takes them to the ground and demolishes them there.
In a way, this can be seen as his behavior: a ground-and-pound wrestler who avoids stand up fighting. If you wish to emulate this behavior in the game UFC 3, you could get perks which amplify that aspect of your game; then, the player will naturally be motivated to act in a way which takes advantage of this trait, as it’s overall just more effective.
I believe that this is the philosophy which Thrive should take when it comes to the Behavior editor. While editing a behavior parameter is undoubtedly cool for refining your species, it is not enough to either make the player feel motivated to change parameters or make the player’s edits feel impactful on them. If Thrive utilizes a perk system which either amplifies a certain aspect of their cell or grants them a cool but simple new ability, however, the player will naturally feel that editing their behavior does in fact change the way their game plays, as they would have an intrinsic motivation to adopt that behavior since it directly benefits their own cell to do so.
In my head, the best way perks could be utilized in a way that represents real evolution is in a system very similar to that of UFC; pick and choose from a variety of many perks which may or may not help you to fill up a few slots. Special care has to be taken to ensure that a perk is not necessarily better than another. Rather, it should simply amplify a certain aspect of your cell in a way that may be extremely powerful in a specific situation or useless and even damaging in another.
With this, I have a few perks in mind.
Apoptosis : Unlocks a function which can allow you to kill another cell of your own species in order to give you its compounds in the microbe stage at the cost of a hit to your population/auto-evo stats. Disappears after a certain part of the multicellular stage, as apoptosis can then be a result of cutting off compound/nutrient supply to a cell. Another key, which could be F, could launch the signal which would kill the other cell.
Ferrumphilic : Increases the efficiency of Iron-related organelles (could be represented through organelle upgrades, so not too sure about it; effect can stack up).
Luminent : Increases the range and brightness of bioluminescent organelles (could instead be done through simply upgrading a bio-luminescent organelle, so I’m not too sure about this one; effect can stack up).
Caulobacter (https://www.nature.com/news/2006/060410/full/news060410-1.html): At the expense of glucose, expels a substance which slows down cells nearby (functions similar to oxy-toxy; could be somewhat easy to implement once toxins function like compounds).
Geo-electric (http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160613-there-are-microbes-that-eat-and-poo-nothing-but-electricity): Iron compound increases the efficiency of mitochondria.
Quorum Sensing: When in the presence of another cell of your own species, glucose consumption slows down by 4/5ths; effect scales as a population in a patch increases, up to an extent of 3/4ths.
I now wish to open up discussion to the forums in general. Do you see any design flaws with a system such as this? Any more ideas for potential perks? If you do have an idea, try to base it off of real observed behaviors in cells today; once you identify a cool adaptation, try to think of a potential way to implement this adaptation within the game in a way that is least difficult to implement.