It seems that signalling agents are on their way to Thrive : Add signaling agents · Issue #2364 · Revolutionary-Games/Thrive · GitHub. While cell communication is cool, I feel like it could be a bit different than what is proposed at this moment.
My main issue with such signalling agents is that it feels like the player is the mastermind of his whole species; yet, he’s just a cell at this point. I think that this can be further split down in two:
Signaling agents have no reason to only affect one’s species. Say the player uses an agent as attracting: then not only could he attract his species member (for binding/being in a pack), but he could also attract preys or predators (especially the latter, the former having all reasons to find the agent actually repulsive).
The player has also no reason to be immune to these agents. Of course, there’s a major difference with other cells: the player is an actual person looking for fun, among other compounds. So, while there needs to be a balance, the player should be affected by signalling agents as well.
In the wake of this trail of thought, I came up with a system I rather like, although it could (and hopefully will) be expanded.
There would be N signaling agents (SAs) available, that player could access through specialized SA organelles (SAO). An SAO could be linked to a given SA (either with having different SAOs, or, and more nicely, SA-specialized generic SAO). Thus, to use all N signaling agents, the player would need N SAOs, which leads to having to balance between communication efficiency & cost.
What would these SAs do? Giving outright orders seems a bit complicated. However, it would be possible for the players to associate behaviors to given SAs for their species (AI would evolve it). I see two classes of behavior at this point:
Attractivity would define if the cell moves toward or away from the SA source : it is interesting in finding binding mates, attracting preys, repulsing predators or concurrents… The player cell can easily be affected by this as well, by applying an attractive force to its movement : it would then be up to the player to decide to move away from it (but being slower, which has its cost), or to move towards it (with its associated movements), and conversely for repulsive agents.
Agressivity can be used to trigger defensive behavior from fellow cells (attacking cells of different species), but it could also trigger agressive behavior from nearby cells. Conversely, it could also trigger passive behavior* to allow preys to calm down predators. It is still unclear to me what the effect on the player should be: reduced damage for passivity, increased oxytoxyn production rate for agressivity? Attraction/Repulsion again? HP/ATP related things?
Anyways, I think that this system could allow for very interesting strategic choices, while still working out at the level of individual cells rather than hive-minded species. I’d love to have your feedback on this, because signalling agents could enrich the current game so much that they definitely deserve to be thoroughly discussed.
Thanks for reading me.