Pre-Cellular Stage

I was thinking to add to the depth of the game, it would be vastly interesting to begin the game in a defined world (A multi-nuclei cell.) with many organelles, proteins/enzymes, and begin life as a simple protein(virus).

Then as you become a more complex protein you add other complex protiens to your chain, and attack other organelles, nuclei, and begin forming a lipid-bilayer for protection against other enzymes in the cell you’re inhabiting.

Then when you burst free from your host-cell, or become it’s replacement nuclei, you then proceed to play the game as a cell.

Adding protiens like lipase, to destroy a lipid bilayer of other organelles. At the protien-level even the smallest cells would seem enormous, despite being inside of a massive cell, the smallest organelles would seem massive to you. Then as you add proteins, replicate, and add molecules to enhance your complexity and continue your growth, by the time you become a full-fledged cell it’d have felt like a journey.

Discovering proteins, molecules, viruses, et-cetera would be incredible. Basically the same game, but at a much smaller scale, even lipids themselves would be like obstructions. So moving into becoming just a single-celled organism would feel like a monumental achievement. Going from a molecule sized self-replicating rogue protein to a cell would be so cool.

Having your ancestors becoming enemies after 20 or so generations would be super neat to, seeing your past evolutionary states becoming volatile creations depending on the path you chose to take during those iterations.

I thought virus’ came after the first cells as virus’ require a host cell to survive.

pretty sure devs arent going to add a pre-cell stage at all

If we were to add a 0th stage, it would be called the abiogenesis stage. And it would consist of the player controlling first simple chemicals and then more complex ones, until the first DNA and membrane got made. At that point the game would reach the start of the microbe stage.

If we were to add that stage, it would be maybe a bit boring as you would be locked to just working towards the start of microbe stage, and we should follow the most accepted theories about how abiogenesis happened and try to translate that to engaging gameplay:

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I think this reply shows why said 0th stage isn’t that great or fun of an idea. A whole lot of liberties would have to be taken in giving the player control over the “stew” of life to make the game engaging; amino acids and such aren’t exactly voluntarily motile. Maybe the gameplay could basically be Doodle God-esque, where a player tinkers with concentrations, processes, etc. to create the building blocks of life and compounds progress by developing these seeds with even more combinations of ideal conditions and what not. However, that would seriously mess with the inherent gameplay themes of simplistic to complex, concrete to abstract, one to multiple, and so on. Other than that, I’m not really sure what else could be done. It doesn’t get much simpler than a blob of cytoplasm, and with an upgrade system coming up, this will be even more apparent.

Maybe in like 20 years when the Ascension Stage is wrapped up, a player could have the option of seeding life through the above in a barren planet and then take control of that planet’s story. This presents a nice gameplay loop and is still consistent with the game design as a whole. Once again however, far off.

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I was thinking it would be more fun to play as a viral protein in a world already inhabited by life. Adding molecules, other protiens.

Adding more and more until you’re no different from regular cells, but then making the distinction between cells types hasn’t been done in this game. Protists, eukaryotes, prokaryotes, viruses.

I’d say the gameplay would be nearly the same. Granted things like phosphorus and other ‘nutrients’ would be more like disruptors and poisons at the molecular stage.

Also as far as realism, cellular motility isn’t a thing until cillia and other motor-bodies are added, so the fact the player can ‘see’ ‘move’ ‘hear’ isn’t realistic as a cell lacking organelles at the start of the game.

I do not think realism is the argument to make in regards to pre-life.

The cell in-game takes on molecules, I’d see very little difference in that style of gameplay.

It’d only reinforce the game’s cellular stage. Viral enemies, and even amoebas aren’t really a concern as of yet, but I think getting to play as a molecule would be weird, because even the smallest cells would look like mountains or planets by comparison.

DNA is technically a pretty new molecule, I do not think DNA is necessary to be something that is a goal. The nucleus of the cell can have ribonucleic acid, or whatever at it’s core.

The complex eukaryotes using DNA is a evolutionarily new thing, so it’s not something that would need to even be featured for a pre-cell aspect of a game.

Anti-bodies, and other molecules/proteins would be just as dangerous as the current gameplay, there’s virtually the exact same potential and argument that could be made for cellular life.

Protiens viruses have existed long before cells have, they were even observed to form at sub-zero temperatures. Most ‘viral’ or self-replicating inorganic/organic simple-proteins are inevitable in nature. So viruses likely existed before cells, they’re just rogue molecules, eventually they got advanced as other life has alongside it.

The only issue this gameplay element poses in my mind is how does the game address viral attack after you go from being a virus to a cell, how do you then address or not address viral enemies.

Seeing as viruses are ‘USUALLY’ pretty small, beside the enormous HIV and Pandora viral ‘cells’.

That would be an alternative gamemode (I’d say even mod territory than ever an official gamemode), one where you can’t actually finish the game as you aren’t on the main path of life.
The whole starting point of the game is that you are the first lifeform on a planet.

While being the very first, why are there random life-forms in the biomes you start in, rather than just rogue offshoots of the same species you started?

I understand the viral concept I argued isn’t well-accepted.

A complex inorganic or organic protein/molecule has a better shot at starting life than a cell would.

There aren’t? If you play in freebuild mode the world is populated with random species to give you a chance to test your creation against other species. Freebuild is not part of the normal playthrough experience.

I have an intrinsic liking to the idea of a stage 0. However, as has been previously mentioned, proteins and stuff generally don’t have a say in what direction they move. Assuming we do not follow the proposal of ignoring that fact, I think one could implement some kind of zero-player game like Conway’s game of life. The player would be able to decide what mutations happen to their molecules though, these mutations occurring every couple of generations. The player will then watch whether the molecule he created will thrive or not. What happens in between the mutations is up to fortune and the soundness of the molecule’s design. Maybe to decrease the effect of randomness or to make the gameplay more interesting, one could let the player observe multiple instances of his creation.
Not sure if it would have too much the feel of a simulator (like Biogenesis or something) and I have no idea how something like this could be made to work with what we already have.

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Among a number of other times where viruses integrated into a host genome, there’s evidence long-term memory originated as a virus.

Someone writing an alternative gameplay mode / minigame that wanted to integrate with the ‘main path’ of life could have one endgame of a virus be to integrate into a host genome of a co-evolved creature and unlock some novel trait of possible viral origin like that.

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Well when we first begin in the game as a cell without flagella, cilia, et-cetera, we technically shouldn’t be able to move, see, or any such things, nor even know what kinds of molecules like phosphates are in the area without vacuoles, but there are ‘liberties’ taken to make the game fun and interesting by being able to see.

Molecule is a strangely broad term, because while some viruses are literally single-chain molecules, others are a multitude yet the line from molecule to virus isn’t clearly defined, I’d assume being multi-molecular gives a virus or protein it’s distinction, but there are some proteins and viruses that have enough motility to ‘crawl’ surfaces such as those that snip DNA/RNA/LIPID chains, et-cetera.

I think motility is only an issue if one wants to make it an issue, otherwise most cells in the game would need to rely solely on brownian motion.

From another perspective, the game could start as a molecule of lipid/cholesterol needing to collect enough to form an actual spherical shape in order to make a lipid-bilayer. Then from there, it’s normal, I think that or things like that would be cool as an initial start of the game. Adding more and more chains of lipids and cholesterol until a cell is formed. Internal molecules aren’t important, unless theirs two starts to the game, where you begin as a lipid bilayer, and one where you begin as a simple molecule and then both play-throughs create the first two puzzle pieces of life.

If you had tutorial/play-through 1A and tutorial play-through 2A be about forming a cell and forming a virus, then prologue 1b and 2b would be about conjoining, then by the actual game, the events that transpired in the beginning lead to more bio-diversity, since all the other enemies and players are direct offshoots of what you’ve done in the beginning of those sections.

Prokaryotic cells have receptors that bind to signaling molecules and initiate a response. These allow for chemically sensing nutrients and food sources in the near environment and reacting accordingly.

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The starting cell can move by moving its membrane. I can’t remember what it’s called but I’ve been assured that it is a scientifically accurate thing that cells without flagella or cilia can move.

Yes it is. A virus that is only a single RNA chain is call a viroid.

I don’t know how it can be a broad term, but a molecule is simply a collection of atoms that are covalently bonded together; ATP is a molecule, glucose is a molecule, water (H2O) is a molecule. I think you’re confusing “molecules” with “particles”; because particles usually refers to either an atom, a molecule or a virus (aside from the macro stuff like dust and a grain of sand, of course).

Viruses are typically a collection of molecules - they’re made of a single or double strand of nucleic acid (that’s 1 or 2 molecules), plus proteins - each made up of a single or multiple polypeptides (that’s 1 or multiple molecules) that make up the rest of the virus. Some viruses may even have phosphoglycerides - which are component molecules of plasma membranes - which make up the viral envelope.

(I love ranting)

Speaking of a 0th stage; how about ribocells? It’s a protocell that consist mainly of ribozymes and RNA. What about playing as a ribozyme or as a collection of RNA molecules?

I had this scratch saved for this moment… posting it now:
My idea for a protocell stage

This stage should be relatively quick and simple in terms of gameplay. Though since the RNA World is still just a hypothesis, perhaps it should just be a mod or DLC (“The RNA/Nucleic Acid World DLC”). Or better yet it should be a spin-off game.

If the entity you play as in the cell stage is, well, a cell; then the entity you play as in the protocell stage is a ribozyme - inside the fatty acid membrane. I think it’ll be more like an incremental/clicker type gameplay. Here’s how it goes:

  • You start with a replicase ribozyme, the goal is to reach a certain amount of genetic material [GM] replicated - which becomes the chromosome(s) next stage
  • The starting GM count is 5
  • Your ribozyme(s) will keep producing GMs or other materials as long as there are resources available
  • Nucleotides [NT] are the primary resources to consume/gather; with nitrates, phosphates and carbohydrates as secondary resource (I prefer ‘carbohydrates’ over ‘glucose’ to be more general. I’ve expressed this already from my other posts)
  • You roll your protocell to place to gather or to avoid larger protocells until you have unlocked phosphoglyceride membrane
  • You can assimilate smaller protocells using your microhelices
  • NPC protocells don’t have any behaviour; they move around at random
  • You can also spend resources to buy other ribozymes as well
  • Free NTs run out eventually; phosphates, nitrates and carbohydrates remain somewhat abundant still

At some point, external forces will degrade your GM, there’s also a chance for one of your ribozymes to get damaged/lost from said forces. You might also lose the ability to buy some of the ribozymes (when the GM that encodes for said ribozyme was lost) - a very small chance if you have high GM to begin with. So it becomes necessary to buy RNAs other than polymerases.

List of RNA/ribozymes:

  • Nucleotide Polymerase - consumes 0.375 NTs and generates 0.125 GM per second; a building material for proto-ribosome
  • Microhelix (pre-requisite to flexizyme) - reduces degradation rate by 0.01 GM, also reduces chance of ribozymes getting damaged/lost by -1.2%
  • Ligase (pre-requisite to amino acid synthetase, nucleotide synthetase and flexizyme) - has a 25% chance of recovering 50% of GMs lost from degradation per minute

You can also spend your GMs to unlock more ribozymes to buy or upgrade one of the preexisting selection to an improved version, or split it to divide the protocell and increase lives.

  • Amino Acid Synthetase (pre-requisite to proteinoid synthetase) - reduces degradation rate by 0.015 GM; consuming 1.075 carbohydrates and 1 nitrates per second in the process
  • Nucleotide Synthetase - consumes 2.25 phosphates, 1.125 carbohydrates and 1.68 nitrates and generates 0.99 NTs per second
  • Flexizyme (pre-requisite to proteinoid synthetase) - charges AAs to microhelices which reduces the production rate of AA synthetase (-15% its production speed) and allows the function of proto-ribosome
  • Proteinoid Synthetase (pre-requisite to proto-ribosome) - doubles the effect of AA synthetase (+100% its GM degradation reduction); a building material for proto-ribosome
  • Proto-ribosome - builds 1 enzyme per 5 minutes; each repairs 1 ribozyme per 2 minutes; unlocks phosphoglyceride membrane which halves the current degradation rate

The ribozymes change their names when upgraded:

  • Microhelix (max lv. 4) :arrow_right: tRNA @ lv. 3
  • Proto-ribosome (max lv. 6) :arrow_right: Ribosome @ lv. 6

The ribozymes you spend GM on in order to unlock:

  • Microhelix
  • Ligase
  • Nucleic Acid Synthetase
  • Amino Acid Synthetase
    The ribozymes you unlock for free when the prerequisites are met: Everything else except for Nucleotide Polymerase

Are you talking about gliding motility? Gliding motility - Wikipedia

Nope, it’s the other thing, where you move by jiggling your membrane, kind of like you have pseudopods or something.