Since these topics include quite a few important questions about the design of the Multicellular and especially the Aware Stage, I figured it would be best to open a new thread to discuss this here, since the last discussion of this matter didn’t cover everything I had in mind.
As we all know, metamorphosis describes a drastic change in the anatomy and occupied niche of an animal during the transition from larval to adult form in the life cycle of an animal. This is of course a fascinating aspect of biology to explore and would not only increase the realism of the simulation, but also offer the player an opportunity to experience very different play styles during the life of a single organism (e.g. playing as a scavenging aquatic larval form, focused on hiding and avoiding danger, and then transition to a predatory aerial organism, focused on mobility and active hunting). I personally think that different stages of metamorphosis could very well be implemented by tweaking the caste system a bit, and allowing an organism to occupy different castes at different times and chronologically progress through them (probably via a pupation event, that the player can trigger after gathering enough resources).
However, this begs another question: How do you properly simulate the ontogenesis of organisms, that do not go through metamorphosis? Intuitively, you would start as just a smaller version of the adult form, with lower stats and capacity to hold food and gradually grow into a full fledged adult. But this would obviously be a gross oversimplification, since proportions and behaviour of an animal often change drastically during their lifetime (e.g. Tyrannosaurus probably showed ontogenetic niche partitioning, which means that juveniles were built for hunting different animals than adults and were built accordingly (longer legs, weaker muscles in neck and jaw, for hunting smaller, more agile prey), to not compete directly with the adults).
What would be the best way to properly implement these factors into the aware stage? You could theoretically choose which tissues to prioritize during character growth in the editor, but this might involve some very frustrating finetuning, so you don’t overprioritize on tissue a bit too much during a certain age and end up with an organism with an unviable stage in his life cycle, just because you pulled a slider a bit too far. Similar problems arise with the behavioral editor, since obviously juveniles should act differently than adults and might need to hide from animals that their parents would hunt without a second thought. For this it might be enough to add a few if-conditions to the logic gates, e.g. “IF size/age below X, AND encounter with animal Y, THEN run etc.”, but I might be overlooking stuff.
That would be all from me for now, I am looking forward to your thoughts on the matter.