Sessile Gameplay

I read the dev discussion about the sessile question, where they were deciding how to deal with sessile gameplay and make it fun. They eventually decided on settling for a time skip or sped up time feature for sessile organisms, which turns the gameplay into one about building strategy. This is a design decision that I fully support, especially the sped up time feature, because it’d give players a cool-looking time-lapse to observe whilst watching with bated breath to see if the organism survives.

It would make us players experience the genuine tree lifestyle, because all of the motile organisms would be born, reproduce and die in an instant, and we’d feel like older, more long term organisms that outlast them. I look forward to gameplay where there is constant rapid movement of organisms all around the sessile organism we create, and herbivores arrive, eat leaves and then depart in a short time period, and then we watch as the leaves grow back quickly over time.

However, the reason i made this post is because devs couldn’t decide on a way of implementing a way to recognize a sessile organism and activate the speed up or time skip feature for sessile organisms. That makes sense because as they explained, there is no hard border between motile and sessile life. How do you account for a creature that is so slow that it’s almost sessile, or creatures which are stationary most of their life and then move around a bit? It makes sense that such limitations would present problems with implementing a feature such as this.

My proposal in order to solve this issue is to simply allow players to speed up their game no matter their creature design. There is no massive difference between motile organisms and sessile organism so it seems like the same amount of work to code this feature for all organisms. But the benefits are that it’d allow flexibility in how players can choose to play the game; Organisms that are designed to have long periods of stationary gameplay would be able to flexibly activate sped up time, so for instance sleeping and hibernation gameplay would be benefitted by this, or waiting for weather events to finish. It also means that there is no artificial check on species design that has to be implemented, increasing the realism of the game experience.

Possible ways to make this work well is to have various increments of speed increase; the slowest speed would be more of a ‘slowed awareness’ style of gameplay that would be usable for motile organisms that are extremely slow and not too affected by changing environmental factors. I know that this would definitely improve my game experience when creating huge herbivores that are unthreatened by any other species at later growth stages. The middle to max level of speed would be something more like hours passing quickly, or even days passing in minutes of time spent, with the actual physics engine and creature events occurring with a sort of estimated variation of normal behavior. This would be more useful for shorter lived plants, or motile organisms that are sleeping or in hibernation.

One thing that could be added to this, is the option to skip gameplay entirely when pressing play whilst in the editor. This would be more useful for very long lived plant species such as larger trees, and would be perhaps the only option that is locked behind some sort of qualifier such as lack of motile adaptations or a fully sessile creature behavior. This would likely only have become available by the time the player has already been experiencing the slow time feature due to their gradual progression towards a sessile lifestyle. To make this option more interesting, perhaps the game simulates a number of example recordings of the species surviving in the environment, and then shows them to the player as short cutscenes.

This would be done by spawning the creature in the game world with other species spawned around them as though regular gameplay, recording what happens, and showing the player that several second event as a single recording - It would do this several times with the organism in the same position on the ‘map’ but at different growth stages, basically fooling the player into thinking that this is their organism. I’m not sure how to prevent the species being killed in one recording and then another recording showing an older example that’s still alive. Maybe there is a coding solution where if the example organism’s death variable becomes true at some point during the recording, it abandons and re-does all of the recordings with a new ‘seed’ of surrounding organisms and location.

Probably some variable to track organism motility (how many legs/movement adaptations it has) would help with how these recordings are set up, where that variable as well as an age variable is tracked, and it affects what creatures are spawned where based on those variables. So for example, long lived organisms that have no movement capabilities would show up in the same place every time throughout the various recordings, with similar growth progression to the player creature if it’s also long lived and sessile. Any such organisms that are killed during a recording are not spawned in later recordings. However creatures with shorter lifecycles or greater movement variables will spawn in random positions or not at all.

This would help fool the player into thinking that these recordings are snapshots into a persistent simulation, when in reality they are representations of what occurs assuming the player organism doesn’t go extinct. Mostly it’d be based on what Autoevo decides, and simply function as a way of representing it to the player based on how long-lived their species is. This time skip and recording feature would be something that the player can choose to have active based on how they designed their creature.