Enzyme Concept

Looking over the development forum, I took a particular interest towards the conversation regarding enzymes. As a result, I have made a general concept which I feel could be of interest.

As is established, enzymes will be used to mitigate the effects of damaging compounds to the cell. Although they are an essential component of all cells, they do not have an extensive presence in the microbe stage as of now. It seems that this is mostly due to a lack of consensus regarding how to implement enzymes. I suggest that enzymes, specifically upgrading and balancing them, could be an important component of the microbe stage.

As of now, the general plan regarding enzymes revolves around utilizing them to mitigate the detrimental effects of certain environmental compounds. For example, catalase, an buffer against the damaging effects of oxidation, has been proposed, and its inclusion could essentially create the mechanics needed for a Great Oxygenation Event. The thing about enzymes, however, is that they aren’t necessarily an organelle, making it hard to implement as simply another tool to add in the cell editor. This wouldn’t really make any sense anyways; enzymes are extensively utilized in all life and do not take up a significant amount of space within cells. A slot system has also been proposed, and while this does solve the problem of space, the concept of a slot doesn’t really align with established Thrive mechanics. To solve this problem regarding the implementation of enzymes, I propose that enzymes should be the introduction to the upgrading system that I believe should be an important component of how Thrive develops conceptually.

This concept depends on the idea that compounds such as oxygen, hydrogen sulfide, sunlight, etc. will negatively affect you at certain percentages.

I will be using three enzymes to illustrate this concept: catalase (oxygen), melanin (sunlight), and enzymeHS (hydrogen sulfide). Note that these enzymes might not necessarily correspond to their respective compounds in real life, I’m just trying to make a point.

Hydrogen sulfide’s effects on the cell is the easiest to understand. If you wander into a cloud of hydrogen sulfide with no adaptations to it, your cell will take damage as long as it stays in the cloud. For more atmospheric compounds, such as Oxygen and Sunlight, there will be certain thresholds (as mentioned on the development forums) at which certain effects begin to show; for example, at 5% of compound x, y will start to happen, at 10% of x, z will happen, etc. Oxygen effects on the cell will reduce the amount of ATP generated within the cell; the effects start at 5%, and only escalate from then on. Light at 20% reduces the total health of a cell (from 100/100 to something like 75/75); the effect rises in impact as the light exposure % increases, to the point that sunlight will eventually damage a cell (in conditions such as a tidepool).

The enzymes which combat the effects of these compounds shall be presented as upgradable options within cell editor, with upgrade “levels” in each enzyme earned by allocating points. Below is a rough concept.


The player will distribute a set amount of points into each of these enzymes, so they would have to wisely allocate their points according to what their cell needs the most. With each level comes an increased resistance to the detrimental effects of a certain compound. In general for each enzyme, level 1 and 2 reduces the effects of a detriment, level 3 completely mitigates the detriment and increases the efficiency of the organelles associated with the enzyme’s compound, and level 4 and 5 adds on to this efficiency. As a player’s population continues to grow, they will be given more upgrading points; this caps at around 10 UP.

Below is a general concept of what I have thought of so far.

With this system implemented, I feel that upgrades have been implemented in a way which extends the depth of the game and helps simulate evolution while providing a way to balance against organelle gluttony in a way that doesn’t take away that much from the sandbox aspect of Thrive. I feel that the system is robust enough to simulate various natural phenomena and specific enough to limit the player’s autonomy in a way that is as limited and fun-purposed as possible.

With this in mind, imagine starting in those hydrothermal vents. In the first generation, although life is pretty easy, you still have to be wary of those H2S clouds. When you visit the editor, you have 3 upgrade points available, which gives you enough to begin the process of specialization. A player that intends to maximize their advantage (who starts on a planet akin to Earth in that it has limited oxygen initially) would likely either invest in tolerance for H2S and begin to tussle with other species in the vents or specialize in melanin and rush to the barren, sunlight rich biomes above them. They can then pick and choose to specialize in whatever they believe would serve them best in their environment. When Oxygen begins to increase in the environment as a result of the rise of photosynthesis, the need to invest in Catalase will now be apparent, and the player will then have to make a choice; they could either suffer through the detrimental effects of O2 by reducing their cell’s features, or begin to invest in catalase. A player who was pretty successful before this point could possibly have enough MP to generally spare them a bit of heart-ache when it comes to re-distributing their upgrade points, as they have earned a few extra; a player who is less successful would likely have to make a hard choice, as they have less of a cushion.

Imagine an event, such as a catastrophic volcano eruption or a meteor impact, which increases the prevalence of H2S in the environment and reduces the amount of light available. Players could use this opportunity to invest in enzymeH2S at the expense of Melanin, as the latter wouldn’t really have a use in the environment. They could also use this opportunity to fully invest in catalase as well, which unlocks the full utility of oxygen related organelles.

There are a few problems with this concept that I could see. If a player is in an environment which basically only needs the specialization of one enzyme, they basically have 5 extra upgrade points which are useless. I feel that this can be solved by adding more enzymes which deal with other attributes (such as temperature and radiation), but I don’t really have a concept for those two established YET. For now, I want to see if the general idea holds up to scrutiny.

Any thoughts, suggestions, critiques?


I like how thought out this concept is, compared to much of the stuff I see on these forums. Your posts are always high quality.

One thing that I’d like to discuss is, how would this system work with more enzymes? Or would these be the only ones? How would these choices be presented to the player in the editor?


I agree on all of these points, except for one thing: your addition of upgrade points. While they could work as an interesting system, (maybe you could even have the amount you get be upgradable using MP instead of population,) I personally think it might bloat the system. Remember that Thrive is already a rather ‘broad’ game, and the amount of options you get already overwhelm a new player, and this would likely only get worse the longer development goes on. (Remember that a lot of people on this forum have been here for a long while, and have been slowly fed a lot of these features, making them more used to it than new people.) Adding a separate new system that you can’t even casually ignore when you’re out of MP (unless you want to severely cripple yourself) would only increase the feature bloat.

I’d personally suggest just using MP, since then the system would be simpler, while the dilemmas would grow more complicated. For example, would it be worth it to invest in ‘sulfidase’ if you are planning escaping the vents anyway, making it a waste of MP? Should you invest into catalase knowing the great oxygenation is coming in the future while the primordial soup is still making the game easier?

There could also be a compromise where you’d use MP to buy/move (moving being more expensive than buying) the ‘enzyme points’, while there’d still be a maximum amount. This would create even more ‘dilemmas’, since buying enzymes for your current situation could easily be a waste of MP, since you might have to move those points anyway to adapt to changes in the gameplay.


In fact, enzymes are used to accelerate a chemical reaction.

Catalase only protects a cell by transforming hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, IIRC. Thus, I am not sure how it would be related to the Great Oxygenation Event.

Thank you all for the great critique/commentary.

Yes, this is great. I was hesitant of simply using MP because I felt that it would be too much to spend on both organelles and enzymes, but now that you put it that way, this is genius and is a much more robust concept.

I was grappling with that question as I thought of this concept. Although I don’t think there is a need for an extensive list of enzymes, there are more than three environmental conditions which you should be aware of in evolution; temperature and luminescence come to mind, for example. At first, I was kind of stuck with the upgrade system concept; but with Omicron’s MP suggestion, I believe the solution could be as easy as increasing the cap slightly to accommodate any additional enzymes added.

Perhaps this could be a section above or below the main organelles in the parts editor, or could be a separate tab?

Indeed, you are correct. This is generally how enzymes buffer against potentially dangerous environmental conditions if my understanding is correct, as it prevents cells from being damaged by those conditions by either interacting with them or accelerating a reaction to the point that effects are nullified.

Wouldn’t increasing the presence of catalase protect the cell from oxidation damage during an oxygenation event?

It protects the cell from hydrogen peroxide, not from oxygen IIRC.
1 Like


Figure is from David J. Hentges’s book titled Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. According to Hentges, " The continuous spectrum of oxygen tolerance among bacteria appears to be due partly to the activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase, and peroxidase in the cell and partly to the rate at which the cell takes up oxygen".

Hydrogen peroxide is dangerous to cells because it can react with reduced O2 and create a hydroxyl radical, an extremely dangerous oxidant. Catalase helps prevent death from oxidation by reacting with H2O2, hence relieving the risk of a deadly reaction within the cell. Perhaps another enzyme involved in aerobic tolerance, such as superoxide dismutase, could be used, but I feel that catalase works well enough.

Well, it’s not the common oxygen I thought of, it was just O2- (sorry, I can’t change the symbols height like exponent or indice).

Now, I understand.

1 Like

You cantho

But how? I searched for that on google and nothing pertinent alas.

Use <sup> to superscript something. HTML editing is allowed eh

1 Like

And what about indice like the ‘2’ in ‘CO2’?

like this

1 Like

Let me try.

Homo deus breathing CO2 with pseudo cellular respiration named photosynthesis exponentinfinite sakjdhskjaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

jk thx it works

Anyway, let’s get back to thread partner

This is a wonderful idea! Obviously well thought-out through time! But as others have expressed, the system you have proposed will greatly increase the learning curve for new and inexperienced players, as well as create an entire new layer of management that the player will have to maintain in order to thrive. Now that’s not saying that this is a bad idea though!
If we were to implement enzymes, my personal take would be to either have togglable buttons in a menu seperate from organelles, or sliders that change the enzyme/substrate density. I would also prefer the enzymes to be balanced favorably from the get-go so the feature can be reasonably ignored. This menu would probably be regarded as an advanced option, with a warning for you to only mess with it if you know what you are doing so new players dont end up throwing their metabolism off balance without realizing it. That would be really frustrating!

Like with advanced features (e.g. scripting) in Space Engineers?

Welcome to the community, by the way.

That is a good point. In this case, I feel that this is an added amount of difficulty which increases the value,replay-ability, and fun of the game, so I believe it is worth implementing. However, you are correct in saying that if we just throw this at the player, they would be very overwhelmed.

I believe if we introduce this concept bit-by-bit as a player goes through their game, then any new player could get this system with relative ease.

The nature of this enzyme concept, if implemented, would make it so that the player could not really ignore it, atleast not without encountering considerable difficulty in avoiding hydrogen sulfide clouds in the starting vents. Even if they chose to avoid the hydrothermal vents and rush towards the surface, sunlight would seriously impede your cell’s health, and eventually, oxygen could kill you off. My concept makes the detrimental effects of each environmental compound rather harsh in order to really make the player think about how they want their creature to evolve in a way that represents evolution while also adding another layer of depth and player autonomy. If set up this way, unless the player was consistently engaged with evolving their creature, their success would be hampered.

The good thing about this, however, is that as a planet’s atmosphere and the life within it develops, environmental compounds develop as well. If proto-life had to deal with an atmosphere akin to that of Earth today, then, putting it bluntly, we would have been screwed. Life did not begin with a tolerance for sunlight, temperature, and oxygen, for example; this tolerance developed as the presence of each compound developed within the atmosphere. For example, cells on Earth didn’t really have to deal with oxygen as much as they do now. Before the rise of photosynthetic life, there was not that much free oxygen in the oceans/atmosphere; it was only after their processes developed that a bunch of Earth’s life died because of oxygen poisoning.

If we use this philosophy in Thrive, the player would find it easy to engage with the enzyme system initially, and would be smoothly introduced to multiple enzymes as the planet developed. With my concept in the beginning, the only thing that the player really would have to deal with is hydrogen sulfide, as they start off in hydrothermal vents; so, the only enzyme they would have to deal with is is “sulfidase”, the one that deals with H2S. This gives them relative freedom in 3 or 4 patches, as sunlight is not strong enough to really hamper their HP in the deeper, less bright patches of the ocean. Then, if they make the decision of going into the surface regions for whatever reason, they then have to worry about only two enzymes. Only when the environment begins to oxidify with the advent of photosynthetic life will they then have to worry about all three enzymes so far.

By starting as cell life did in real life - simple, dependent on a few resources - we can provide the training wheels which a new player needs, eventually allowing them to engage with various complex enzymes.

Of course, this depends on the implementation of a dynamic patch system which would know to increase/decrease compounds in response to the presence of photosynthetic cells, so if this proves to be a Thrive worthy concept, it would need to wait a bit for it to be introduced.


Apologies for the double post, but I have more ideas for enzymes. The first one I feel like could be a really cool system and could serve as the basis for chemical/toxin warfare; the second one I feel less confident for, as it could perhaps be simplified into the function of an organelle which can then be upgraded.

The first one was created in an attempt to basically create some sort of basic immunity system within the microbe stage. The quotation marks in the name of the enzyme (“Toxi”) indicates that when various toxins are added, enzymes which combat their specific effects can be added as well. Through this, a cell which has an immunity to one type of toxin could still be very susceptible to another, meaning that there could be a constant evolutionary war occurring in which toxins are introduced, tolerance develops, and a new toxin is introduced. And if level 4 and level 5 don’t make sense for toxicase: If toxin A damages your health by 20, then at level 4, it heals you by . If toxin B damages your ATP by 4, then at level 4, you get 1 ATP back.

The second enzyme was created in an attempt to tip the balance slightly away from becoming autotrophic, as I personally feel that there is no reason why a player would be discouraged from putting in chloroplasts on their cell considering how unfruitful predation could be. I am not sure if this necessarily needs to be an enzyme, as implementing an organelle could essentially serve the same functioning a way that doesn’t clutter Thrive. It also could be somewhat difficult to program (as I have learned by attempting to add glucose to the compounds that are dropped during cell death), but I feel that it could be a worthy addition.


IIRC the original plan was to have a sort of ‘code’ system where each organelle/agent has a certain code, (which you can change yourself of course) and the more the agent’s code corresponds to the organelle code the more it is affected, but that idea was from a year or two back and I’m not sure if it is still on the shelf. Also, I’d assume this would overcomplicate the game even more.


Have no fear, more enzyme ideas are here.

I’m not sure sure about how smart the inclusion of the last enzyme would be, as it could unnecessarily complicate engulfment in a way that is more obtrusive than intuitive. The other two I feel can be pretty useful, as I based them off of discussion within the development forums. I ncourage other community members to make enzyme ideas if they have one.
Note: On the benefits side of the Lysozyme, as pointed out by @Omicron, slower is supposed to be faster.