Eusociality and castes

I think I am not the only one, who is particulary excited for this feature and the opportunities it presents. After all, what could be greater than watching your beautiful abomination’s struggle against an unforgiving world? Watching a bunch of them struggling together to show said world who owns this place, of course! But since the dynamic between organisms of an eusocial species is so vastly different from the more “normal” types of behaviour, I think it would make sense to discuss everything related to them in this thread.

One question I have about this, is if each visit in the Organism Editor grants you the same amount of Mutation points it usually does, how should it be distributed? To be spend and divided between the evolution of different castes as you see fit, or if each caste gains their mutation points individually (You get the same standard amount of MP per Editor-session for each caste), without the possibility of redistributing leftover MP from one caste to another. I think the second option might be more enjoyable, since it would otherwise drastically slow down the evolution and specializing of the species, especially in the early stages of their evolution, where the different castes are still quite unspecialized and unprepared for their tasks. The first option would essentially force the player to spend as many MP to adapt all their castes, as would be needed to adapt multiple species, and since they all descend from one queen/breeding pair, it would biologically make more sense to enable the player to make small, general adjustements to all castes at once.

Speaking of the editor, reproducing is neccessary to use the Editor, correct? Now what would happen, if the player chooses to play in Organism Mode as one of the castes, which does not reproduce? If I had the choice between playing as a soldier termite, or as termite queen, I know which one I would choose. But then how do we access the Editor and evolve our species further? When interacting with an hatching egg perhaps?
And one last group of questions (which is more a call for useful suggestions) is how eusociality should impact the Gameplay after the Aware stage. An eusocial species whose individual organisms are already adapted to a complex web of interactions between each other should obviously have a different start into tribal and civilization phase, as a more solitary one, maybe with “Castes” already set as default social system in the nation editor and specialists bound to castes. Would it also be allowed to use certain castes, maybe designed to be stronger and bigger at the cost of intelligence, to be used as beasts of burden or mounts by their smaller and smarter brethren, similar to domesticated species? Oh, and what about research? Some eusocial species on our own planet already show behaviour similar to some of the accomplishments we would have reserved for the Awakening and later stages (Cooperation obviously, but also agriculture for leafcutter ants and advanced shelter for … basically all of them. Would the player be able to dig his own burrows before reaching the Awakening stage, if he chooses an eusocial playstyle? If so, how to teach the AI to use it correctly?)

Okay, that was … a lot. But I guess that only shows how much potential this path of evolution has. I’m looking forward to your input.

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Here on earth. many animals exist which survive by working together with others of their kind. this colonial lifestyle is quite visible when we look at coral which are not 1 organism but rather a colony.

However. coral lacks the trait of polymorphism. Coral polyps are most commonly asexually born meaning that they are usually genetically identicle to their mothers. certain species of ants on the other hand are polymorphic and have castes which the workers are born into. amazing amounts of diversity can be seen in some castes such as the leaf cutter major ants which vary in size greatly with the tiny minim worker ants. Ants however are not the peak of polymorphism. that title would probably have to be given to siphonophores.

Ants, while defenseless on their own are atleast capable of digesting food. walking, seeing, and so much more on their own. siphonophores on the other hand are a whole other subject. some siphonophores are incapable of digesting their own food and must have it supplied to them by the mother colony. which in a way is almost analogous to how cells in our bodies have specialized so much that they wouldnt be able to survive by themselves.

So dare i say. let us play as a colony. let us reach into space as specialized super organisms.

I think that Eusociality, if it is in thrive, should require that the organism has a high level of communication. It would also require haplodiploidy sex determination, or a highly inbred population. This would unlock the strategy mode early, but still allow editing your organism. The creature would still have to reach the aware stage.

Some ants also build temporary nests from their body (Driver Ants and Army Ants).

Eusocial insects (mostly ants) in the real world were the most advanced species for a long time, they could farm (early Atta and Cyatta), enslave other ants and build nests from their bodies (Army and Driver Ants). What I would like to know is it a possibility that we could create Eusocial species and how would they work in other stages.

Considering that the transition between stages will be made to be as smooth and unnoticeable as possible, I think a eusocial/caste system akin to ants should be considered a form of an Awakening Stage trait.

It’s difficult for us to treat ant colony organization as a feature which emerges from the beginning of the multicellular/aware stage; ants are so weird and unique in their behavior, for example, that it wouldn’t really be a stretch to say that a colony basically acts as a society. With the aware/awakening stage in mind, I believe that a caste system should be thought of as more of an awakening feature than an aware feature.

I think the easiest way to develop a social organization method akin to eusociality would be through developing your creature’s morphology in a way that sets up a “eusocietal” method of cooperation. This is why I believe upgrades should be a major component of Thrive’s evolution.

I think with an upgrade system in place, the devs could simply set up an upgrade path which unlocks essential adaptations for eusociality. An upgrade path focused on reproductive strategies could see you employ castes; the benefit of this path is that you get access to a strategic interface earlier, in which you are able to control multiple organisms at once, than most species at the cost of slower progress towards the next stage (less genetic diversity). Further upgrades could increase the amount of organisms you can control, until you have enough to begin constructing a base, which in this case would be a eusocial colony. Further upgrades could simply focus on giving you more caste “slots”, developing until you have a functioning eusocial society.

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Why? In a way, gender specification is also a sort of ‘caste system’, so you should get access to it relatively early, and after that it’s basically a case of spending a really, really long time in the behaviour editor to make the ants respond to pheromones properly and release them at the right times.

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I’m thinking in terms of game design when I say that, not in terms of how early/late the feature is available to the player.

I agree that the fact of creating the pawns for a eusocial species is akin to simply editing the other sex of your species while editing the reproductive strategies of the female. But, there are only so many tasks that the player’s species could specify/cooperate on if the player is limited to a 3rd-person (or first person) camera angle, and there are only so many ways that pheromones could be utilised if the player is not able to analyse/simultaneously control the actions of multiple organisms. As Scyobi detailed, the various tasks which ants cooperate on include but are not limited to farming “cattle”, building complex mound structures, harvesting resources from the environment, and complex colony defence. I don’t think there is anyway that the player could successfully consolidate these features unless they have control over a number of individuals which they can make cooperate on a complex task simultaneously.

This is what I mean when I call it an “awakening stage concept”; I ultimately believe the formation and functioning of an ant colony would be best represented through a top-down strategy view. This doesn’t mean that the player should exclusively be limited to the strategy view; they should be able to enjoy playing as an individual from a colony. But, if they have no way to go above the perspective of a single species and consider the actions of a massive group, there wouldn’t be that much progress made towards creating a colony.

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I’m fine temporarily going the down the path that the Australian Dinosaur Ants are currently in, where they throw teamwork out the window.

I think that the ability to play and observe the world as a group rather than an individual, should be treated as an ability that can be evolved whenever the player has made the right parts, rather than something that is given to the player after a certain milestone.

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what parts do you mean by right parts?

also I think a milestone is better.

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I mean when the creature has all the traits needed, for example social behaviour, and a means of communicating with enough complexity.

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This is speculation, but wasps are like ants and bees (they are in the same order I believe) so perhaps the game will take a turn on eusociability by making the player have to go the Underground wasp way of working alone or the social spider way of being in a community with no order.