Reproduction and when to enter the editor

Atm, thrive only has a cell stage. You gather enough resources to split your cell, and enter the editor immediately upon doing so. If you die before splitting, your pop goes down and you try again. If your pop runs out, you go extinct.

This is fairly simple, and works rather well for cellular reproduction.

Though, there is a minor misunderstanding among some players, who don’t realize the split happens when they hit the editor, as evidenced by multiple people asking in the discord why their cell never splits.

A far larger issue is going to arise once multicellular stage comes to the forefront, however, and that is how to handle different reproductive strategies, in relation to when the editor becomes available.

For example, at what point do you enter the editor, if your species is designed to continually produce spores throughout its life, beginning as soon as possible, but continues living long after spore production begins?

Do you immediately enter the editor at the first round of spores? That essentially allows you to skip a large portion of your own creations life cycle, without ever experiencing it’s full size or range of ability.

There are likely other methods of reproduction with similar problems, so the solution needs to be as broadly applicable as possible.
It’s also better if the solution retroactively affirms how it works in unicellular, or is easily translated back into uni without much change needed, to avoid confusion.

I talked a little about this on discord, and another user, turkeykillerex, brought up an potential answer that I hadn’t thought of, so I’ll cover his first, then move onto my own:

  • entering the editor once you produce more offspring than would be killed.

This sounds decent, but I have issues with this idea, mostly due to how variable it is. The number of viable offspring can depend entirely on external factors, and is therefore necessarily beholden to auto evo, or a similar calculation.
You could have the same rate of reproduction in two different locations, and the amount of time needed to enter the editor would be entirely different, due to circumstances outside player control, even if the amounts of resources needed are the same.
It’s a more complicated than necessary solution, and obtuse for the player to grasp. It puts more influence in the hands of auto evo, and less to the player. It also doesn’t necessarily solve the issue with the spore bearing creature example from earlier, as every batch of spores will likely have a certain amount of survivors, and you only need a greater than 50% viability rate to enter the editor on that first batch.

  • entering the editor at the end of the lifecycle, or death, of your creature, so long as you have reproduced at least one time.

Under this system, death still penalizes your pop and reproduction still awards it, but the trick is to negate and overcome the penalty using reproduction.
The amount of pop lost from player death is always fixed, but the amount of pop you gain from offspring is determined by the maximum number of offspring your species is capable of producing, over its complete life cycle.

Once you reach the editor, the net gain or loss of pop is the difference between the penalty of death, and the reward of reproduction. This is before auto evo calculations.

The more offspring your species is capable of, the less pop each individual offspring grants you. The fewer offspring your species is capable of, the more each one grants you, as it is assumed that the players success represents how successful the species can ultimately be.

This means if you die before reproduction, you take the pop penalty and respawn as usual. If you reproduce once, but immediately die, then you can enter the editor, but you might not have completely overcome the penalty for that death, if your species is meant to reproduce multiple times.

Species that produce a ton of offspring can rise in population rather quickly, which should be reflected in auto evo and in the exact pop award numbers in this instance, but if the player is consistently dying before they are able to realize something close to the maximum offspring potential, then the pop penalty starts to kick in.

The benefit of this, is that it is more in the control of the player.
The player controls how many and how often their organisms can reproduce, and the players skill determines how easily they achieve that amount of reproduction.

This system also somewhat fits into how the system works in unicellular already, if we assume that splitting also technically counts as the “death” of the parent cell, creating two “offspring”.
In this model, the pop penalty of the death caused by the split is overcome by the amount of reward from the two offspring, because a cell is only ever capable of creating two offspring. The pop award for each offspring would then be the same as one death, and twice one death for both of the offspring.
(Pardon if the current numbers don’t reflect this)

As is always the case, more ideas about this subject can only help the development team make an informed decision, so I encourage anyone making it this far to put your own solutions forward.

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It would massively help if we had an actual animation for it:

(note how that’s been an open issue since September 2020)

Then when exiting the editor, wouldn’t you then play as the remaining life stages so you don’t actually get to skip them?

The idea that we would unlink the editor from reproduction has been discussed before on here. Though, now when I went looking I was only able to find one post about it:

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I really dislike the idea of going into the editor when you die unless the amount of evolution points you get is proportional to the number of offspring/surviving offspring you produced.

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Maybe each extra ammonia/phosphate you get is 10 more mutation points for that session (with increased cap)?