Behavior Editor

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.

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I mean, that is the plan. Auto-evo will at some point affect the player species, and require the player to set good behaviours on the AI members of their species, otherwise auto-evo will reduce the player’s population a lot.

Some numbers I’ve used before: the player species’ population could be affected 80% by player actions and by 20% by auto-evo, which places more emphasis on the player swimming around as a cell. Other way around could be used if more emphasis is to be given to very careful and strategic use of the editor.

I think that this is more like organelle upgrades than behaviours. Behaviours should only be about behaviour and not about boosts to organelles. So the only actual behaviours you propose are apoptosis and quorum sensing.
I like the idea of quorum sensing as that’s a real thing that clumped together cells use to make them living close-by more efficient.

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But why having behaviour? Cells don’t have a brain. The only behaviour you can get is the one that depends on organelles.

Cells exhibit quite impressive behaviours for not having brains. First thing I found about cells using receptors to affect their behaviour based on their surroundings:

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Well, hormones can change their behaviour, but my point was that their behaviour would immensely depend on their morphology (e.g. front pilus would make them more agressive).

I’m pretty sure hormones are message transmitters between cells within an organism. Single celled organisms obviously wouldn’t have that.

But why is that needed? What if the player wants to add 12 piluses and make their species just protect itself (low aggression value)?

Not necessarily. For example, a behavior as unique as quorum sensing doesn’t necessarily have a distinct morphological adaptation to make it possible as far as I’m aware, cells just have evolved a unique and sustainable response to signals.

Do you think this would be engaging for the player, however? It is a cool addition of course, and I do see how it could be made to be an essential component of how the player adapts their organism, but I feel that:

a.) There are various complex behaviors which are rather difficult to implement through simple edits of behavior
b.) The behavior tab could have more interesting mechanisms attached to it that make it engaging

I do agree with you in saying that a lot of the things I proposed could basically be represented through organelle upgrades; but for a cool feature such as quorum sensing, I don’t really see how organelle upgrades/behavior editing as is could represent them. This is why I created a concept which used a perk system; it’s just difficult to represent some behaviors, so I believe it would be cool if the player had a chance to choose a certain behavior. I also feel like such a feature could be utilized in the more advanced stages.

I precised it as a front pilus, meaning it’s intended for attack. It charges towards cells…

But I guess it would mainly be for AIs.

As for hormones, they are agents. Most agents ideas were about the behaviour. Proteins can be agents and hormones are proteins. I concluded that agents could be hormones.

The plan is to anyway have the organelles you select affect how well your species does in auto-evo. Behaviour values are just one extra thing to tweak. We need to design a really good report as well as tool tips to let the player know how the choices they are making affect their population.

I don’t necessarily see complex behaviours as necessary. The AI uses the behaviour values to control all the NPC cells, it makes sense that the player could tweak these values for their species as the player’s goal is to act as an intelligent designer trying to beat evolution.

To fully integrate complex behaviours for cells, they should also affect the population numbers generated by auto-evo, otherwise the AI species won’t use them (as it will be just random that they gain some behaviours, if it doesn’t affect their population).

If you want to have defensive piluses, you also need one at the front, otherwise predator cells will poke you through the hole you left…

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I mean, if there is only one pilus…

Oh screw it, it’d be too difficult to implement anyway.

Nevermind.

i really like this idea. the behavior tabs’ planned function from what I’ve seen of it has always struck me as as a bit odd (in a good way) the concept of having the success of your species dictated on how you adapt its behavior alongside the individual success of your player controlled character is really cool. and i think your idea has some merit. and i also think it has a few issues.

your ideas will definitely make the behavior tab a more engaging thing to interact with. having your choices effect not only effect your species population and your game play i think should definitely be added. however it shouldn’t just become a vague upgrade slot perk tech tree. having it upgrade the efficiency of certain organelles feels out of place for the behavior tab. the only ‘behavior perk’ you brought up that i really do like was apoposis. mainly because it has positives and negatives. rather than just positives like increasing the efficiency of certain organelles. the perks you gain from changing your species behavior should also be balanced out with negatives.

For example; cannibalism in your cells species would

Positives:
give you a new food source
increase inttraspecific competition (possibly lets you use more mp? not sure on this one)

negatives:
hurt your species auto-evo stats
allow your cell to be predated upon by other members of your species.

you could possibly set it so that our species only partakes in cannibalism when food is scarce?


in summary i agree with what you’ve presented. i think the behavior tab should become more engaging. i just think how this is done should be thought about carefully.

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Oh yeah, definitely.

There are certain behaviors in the real world which would be really cool to include in Thrive which, if implemented in an interesting way, would seriously increase the flexibility and replay-ability of the microbe stage.

I think the biggest thing this idea would need to sort out however is figuring out if there are enough behaviors which can’t be simulated by already existing concepts, such as organelle upgrades, which warrant the inclusion of an extensive behavior perk system. A lot of unique behaviors in microbes today are simply a result of species adapting to use an nontraditional source of energy; for example, caulobacterial and geo-electrical “behavior” could simply be simulated by a toxin upgrade for the former and a mitochondrial upgrade for the latter.

I also think a behavior “perk” system would be essential for certain complex multicellular/aware behaviors, such as migration, hibernation, etc; the question is figuring out how to implement it.

So I guess the best way to approach this topic is simply starting a forum thread which asks posters which real-life behaviors in cells intrigues them and figuring out a way to represent each of these in a game. From there, if the topic generates enough buzz and legitimate concepts, we can then go back to talking about a perk system. I’ll start the behavior suggestion thread soon.

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Now that the behavior tab has been effectively implemented into Thrive and we have an understanding of the basic concept, I think this discussion can become more fruitful.

Currently in the behavior editor, established parameters help dictate the way AI cells react to the environment; how far they are willing to track prey, how fearful they are of predators, etc. This serves an obvious and basic function that is well-founded in the natural world, allowing both the AI and the player’s species to have their own personality.

I still think that having some sort of perk system focused on behavior could be of benefit to replayability and the fun-factor of Thrive. Once again, certain complex behaviors we see in life are a bit out of the scope of simply finetuning a few sliders and hoping for the best. I previously mentioned quorum sensing as an example of said behavior, but looking down further into the future stages of Thrive, that much is still apparent. How can things like migration, hibernation, and breeding patterns be dictated without giving a “preset” for the game to work with?

One concern besides a complexifying of the game which can be avoided if a better idea pops up is whether or not enough behaviors can be present to justify the inclusion of a perk system. In my mind, there would essentially be a slot (or multiple) in the behavior tab that a player or species can fill with a unique behavior. In the more complex stages, such as late multicellular or aware, I think that this system or a similar one is unavoidable; for the microbe stage, I have a few more questions. Also, as was a problem with previous suggestions in this topic, some behavior is simply a result of morphology; for example, specific types of predation are influenced by morphology and thus parts which falls under part upgrades. And furthermore, some behaviors could be covered with signaling. Perhaps quorum sensing can be a function of signaling, where you press a button that sends out a ping activating a behavior/effect.

At the end of the day, I think it’s clear that Thrive can benefit from the inclusion of more complex behaviors not easily defined through sliders, and at the end of the day, there will need to be a way to implement these behaviors. But the question is how. And while my mind drifts to a “perk” system of sorts, if it can be done in a more simple way (through part upgrades or signals or whatever else), then it should be done in a more simple way to streamline Thrive.

That being said, I think the best approach is to find unique cell behaviors that have yet to be implemented and find ways those can be represented in Thrive. If we find that the majority of these behaviors can be implemented through simple ways, then I think they should exist within established concepts. If not, then I think a very good case should be made for the addition of another system, such as game-like behavior “perks”. Here are a few ideas that come to mind immediately, and I implore others to either bring up cool cell behaviors they want to see or propose mechanics for said cool cell behaviors.


Dormancy - In difficult conditions, cells will enter a stage of low-activity which allows persistence through otherwise unsurvivable conditions.

  • Mechanic: The player/AI is allowed to select one (or more?) patches (in the case of a player, has to be a patch not currently playing in) to “freeze” population from the effects of compound availability and environmental factors like pressure or temperature, etc., significantly slowing down the dwindling of the species population from these pressures in auto-evo. However, predation still impacts your number, and population gain is significantly diminished. OR instead of selecting a specific patch, an effect is applied to auto-evo numbers which reduces the effect of environmental factors on a species population in patches that are unfavorable to the species, but positive gains in population are still significantly reduced and predation still has an impact.
  • Tradeoffs: More of a passive trait. Although you significantly reduce the rate at which your population dwindles which allows your species a sort of “safe haven”, you lose the benefits of a growing population and still suffer some loses. Also, you lose out on other helpful and active perks.
  • Implementation: This is one of those behaviors that I can’t really see being implemented well without a sort of perk system. But maybe it can be an upgrade to the membrane?

Quorum Sensing - Cells will alter behavior in response to the number of other cells in its species within a patch, allowing an efficient management of energy.

  • Mechanic: When in the presence of other cells of its own species, cells withness an increased ATP production efficiency, which scales depending on the population in a patch and the number of cells in immediate vicinity to an amount up to 25% of reduced consumption.
  • Trade-off: When not close to another member of species, consumption goes up by 10%. Also, time needed to reproduce increases.
    *Implementation: I can see this implemented through signaling, where an upgrade to signals activates a swarm and creates those benefits.
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I believe that for an unique behavior a system of trigger and response would be better:

For example, there would be a list of triggers that would be like population amount, amount of cells nearby, glucose production, atp production, the detection of a compound cloud, when the condiction of a trigger is activated, there would then be the response which can be something like a a change in metabolism, swimming towards/away etc.

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Pretty sure that was discussed on the dev forums way back.
Found at least this:

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