Muscles in the multicellular stage

So i 've been playing the early multicellular prototype and discovered the microfle, which is planned to be used to create muscle cells, which got me thinking, how would muscles be implemented in thrive? My idea was to have the cells compress and stretch based on a button press. This would allow for a variety of basic multicellular movement if paried with softbody mechanics. The cell’s morphology would affect its speed and strength, and using the modify button, you can change the delay, as well as if it is mapped to movement buttons or not. This also led to me wondering if this could effect late multicellular movement as well, since a simple swimming motion could be made in 3d without to much struggle especially after the player gets acclimated to it in early multicellular. This could result in the game not having to make many procedural animations if it has a robust enough physics engine.
This, of course, leads to problems, like performance issues, complexity, and other things I may not have noticed, which will need to be addressed.
Preformance could be solved by calculating the movement one time and then converting it to procedural movement. I think this is possible, I do not know. Like I addressed before, complexity wouldn’t be an issue in the early game since the movement would be so simple and, if done right, the player wouldn’t even notice the growing complexity of their creation’s movement, of course until they change one thing and their whole system falls apart, this will necessitate the existence of an preview mode or the ability to see their species move in the editor.
The complexity would also help with limiting the types of limbs and keeping the game realistic by preventing the player from growing a completely different set of limbs in one editor cycle as I heard being discussed.

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Having all the muscle fibers start moving from a button press could be a good idea. This would be basically the same as switching flagella on or off.

I’m not sure if player-defined muscle movements could realistically be implemented without over-complicating things. I think the current idea for muscle cells in macroscopic is it’ll increase swim speed if you have more of them, but the movements themselves won’t be different. This is the simplest implementation for that stage and early multicellular, too. Probably all the movement animation will be procedural. It’ll probably be implemented like that early on. There would have to be consideration after that of whether it’s worth adding more complexity.

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True, but I believe this form of movement would work well in early multicellular, because i don’t see many ways for more complex movement to be added for that stage, and having it be procedural seems a bit difficult given how generally defined multicellular organisms are in the stage. And many forms of movement could be manipulated with only one or two muscle cells.

Though late multicellular is another story. I think it’s best to wait to see what’s the expected complexity of an orginism becoming macroscopic is before deciding what should be simplified or expanded apon.

Though I do believe if this was added to macroscopic the complexity jump wouldn’t be too difficult. If a simple back and forth movement was made for an organism, similar to the movement of a fin, then they would only need to make the fin wider for more directional push, if they needed it for crawling then they would only need to add one more cell inorder to lift the limb before pushing. Procedural animation could then be incorporated to have the movement be able to adjust to it’s surroundings.

Oh, the tool tip had me under the impression it was a placeholder mechanic.

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While this may not be really related to multicellular stage, I’d like there to be a requirement for the player to have muscle cells for them to start awakening stage.

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Hmm, I think I see where you’re coming from but I don’t feel it would be very realistic. Since getting awakening is about how your species thinks and understands and not how well you’re able to move. Though this could be a soft limit given how everything shifts and moves, plants angle themselves toward the sun and even corals shoot out their polup things to go and eat their neighbors, so I guess what I’m saying is the limit seems arbitrary. If we went with this how what would keep the player from making making a useless waving stick or something inorder to get to the stage?

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I’m assuming you mean the Aware Stage. From the wiki:

The Aware Stage begins with the player controlling their species that has just developed a nervous system and gained sentience.
…The stage ends when the player has increased the brain capacity of their species enough for them to reach sapience and gain the ability to develop and use tools.

There will probably be a requirement to have muscles to get to the Aware stage, at least in LAWK, due to lack of evolutionary reason for sentience to evolve in beings which can’t do anything about their situation.

You might be right. It would be nice to have a system where the player places muscles in appropriate areas. I imagine that in Aware Stage it would be assumed muscles are under all parts of the skin unless otherwise specified, but could be increased in size where needed - in order to reduced the complexity of the systems the player has to work with.

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I still feel like this would be arbitrary if it was a hardcoded requirement, like saying you must have advanced lungs or have complex eyes or evolve a prehensile tail atleast once in your evolutionary history, I’m not saying you don’t need muscles or muscle analogs for aware and beyond, quite the opposite, but I feel like it would be too random for something so late. Maybe as a requirement for macroscopic but still.

I think this is a good idea, perhaps as you get further into the game the more simplified your interactions with the muscle system becomes, which would also line up with the shrinking time jumps.

this may be infact required to happen. Muscle-Neuron connection has it’s own entire games centered about this concept, and so it should be simplified this far into a creature’s evolution. Few people would want to connect individual muscles to keybinds every time they add new muscles.

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Hm perhaps when a muscle is put in a group it’s connected to the keybindings to the group unless otherwise specified, or perhaps muscles in the cells tab have whatever keybinding you set as default, but that has it’s own problems… I think this kind of feature needs to be tested out first before being decided on as too complex or simple. Though I am a big supporter on game design that allows you to engage with a simple version something but you are also able to also get into the nitty-gritty if needed.

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perhaps the muscle connection would be more complex when you still have a countable amount of muscle cells and over time the system simplyfies?

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There is a game made by carykh that simulated the evolution of walking and jumping and other things done by muscles as they change where they attach and how frequently they contract. I’m not saying those kinds of games shouldn’t exist, but I’d much more enjoy a game where I press w to go forward.

The skin is always the surrounding tissue around the body. It can do other things as well but it doesn’t have any other main purpose. We don’t call the inner lining of the stomach a skin. The skin can be thin but there is no animal without a skin with muscles exposed to the air and there is no skin that is inside the body behind the other tissues.

Not to mention it would change every time you change the anatomy of your species. Its like switching every letter in your keyboard and trying to type again.

Acclimated how?

I think muscles is the least random thing that can mark the transition between multicellular and aware. Before muscles we had sessile species such as trees and sponges. These species don’t have any body plan. A sponge can get twice as large and it would repeat the same tissues over and over again. Similarly, a tree can have any number of branches. The parts such as leaves can have a symmetry and a standard shape, but the overall creature doesn’t have any shape.

But species with muscles do start to have a body plan and that is a major change. If you evolved and adapted to having 2 legs, you can’t afford to have 4 legs every few generations sometimes.

Plants move towards light and whatever but the player doesn’t need to control that. If you are sessile, the amount of interaction you have with the environment almost none, so it would be fine if the player doesn’t see what is going around and focuses on what happens to the homeostasis of the tissues, similar to keeping all those compounds at a certain level in cell stage.


Now I will tell what I think about muscles. We shouldn’t focus on muscles and focus on joints instead. The player should decide on how each joint can bend, you know, hinge joint, ball and socket joint, whatever, and the procedural animation should decide on how that species can best move with that body given the constraints. Every limb should have muscles assigned to it and a slider should determine the strength of that limb. Stronger muscles should be larger and if the species doesn’t have feathers or whatever, the muscles, alongside the legth and places of attachment to each other of the bones, should determine the outer shape of the creature for body segments that don’t contain organs.

The slider should have a minimum muscle strength limit. There is no reason to have a limb and not have a muscle for it. Structures like a chickens comb shouldn’t be treated like a limb

As for species with hydrostatic skeletons, they don’t have joints. If their body consists of a single limb they should wiggle like worms or slide like snails. If they have limbs, the procedural animation should move them like jellyfish or whatever would make sense. The octopus bodyplan is the non benthic version of a starfish

The strength of a limb shouldn’t be determined by how many muscle metaballs are placed around it, because, why do that? It is so much simpler to move a slider and call it a day. Why would you want to simulate antagonist and agonist muscles? Will Thrive be a game where I can’t go forward when I press w, and I have to painstakingly try to ensure that my creature can stand upright by pressing the right buttons on the keybord, some of which pull a limb to the same direction?

Why make it complicated in the first place? It would be very simple if muscles are unlockable only in the late multicellular when you stopped placing cells and a single metaball or stylised meta cylinder made a limb.