Would it be possible that there are species that can vary in appearance, in game? They could look different based on where any part of a species live in a different environment. A real life example would be like dogs, with different breeds, sizes and colors.
Well, if I remember correctly, castes are to be added (as to distinguish male from female or make different castes for a hive species), so this could probably work as a variation of that.
I think diversification should be separate from caste editing, as castes only arise if the evolutionary fitness is increased by the synergy of multiple castes. Male and female dimorphism is an example, as sexual reproduction increases biodiversity.
The game (once in the 3D stage) should store a random code for each instance of a species which delineates how features should be sized and pigments be expressed. This will create suitable morphological diversity.
As for subspecies variants, the game’s scope probably won’t delve into them too far, as calculating fitness for a slight variant of a species is a bit nitpicky. Having a “base” subspecies variation code and averaging it with the randomness code could work, though.
Well, yeah sure but dont you control only one species ? Why would they be spread out all over the world ? I mean, isnt the point of evolution adapting to a certain environnement so you can survive there ? I guess cousins and such could be all over the world though.
@Louix. There are some animals that could live all around the world, like peregrine falcons or whales. So your species would probably only be on an environment they adapted to.
Ah, yeah I didn’t think of that…
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Variability of view in nature are divided in several groups, including the sexual dimorphism, caste dimorphism, subspecies, breed and etc dimorphism.
The first - sexual dimorphism. It’s really widespread. Even flatworms have 2 variants of body thanks to it - male and female. On this basis males and females can have different sizes (some spiders), colours (birds), fur coat (humans, lions), skin and skeleton outgrouthes (dears, cocks, elephants) and always the sexual glands. How will computer calculate everything himself? I think it’s hard for computer even after many exercises. But possible.
Second - caste dimorphism. It meets rarer but can have a lot of variants. Everybody knows about ants or bees and their division into castes. Ants have 3 main casts - females, males and workers. Some species have warriors and ants, that should store sweet nutrients. Differences: sizes, the presence of a highly developed sexual system, the presence of wings, some other small differences in body, sizes of mandibules.
Subspecies, breed dimorphism. Even insects have differences by this base. Here changes can be absolutely any. Sizes of wings, ears, whole body, fruits, flowers, skeleton, fur, number of offspring. Anything. But with limit. They should can give a viable offspring.
P.S. there can be some other types of dimorphism. And my text can be not maximally true. But main part should be right.
Well stuff like sexual and caste dimorphism would be handled thorugh the caste system which seems pretty straightforward/well thought out. I think the real question here is how will the game handle smaller differences between individuals as OP pointed out (two years ago!) there are small differences in the fur/hair/skin colour and other less obvious variables in many species, such as dogs and humans.
In the game, would all members of these kind of species look identical, or would their appearance be randomised to some degree? I dont’t think using the caste system for this is feasible, as the player may need to add dozens, if not hundreds, of castes to create some variety.
What about variation in a species as in siblings? We can simply add subtle noise displacement of where the parts are and their size/shape. Maybe even a slight difference in any direction of different colours.
Displacement is a start but what about stuff that is less than subtly different (e.g.) hair colour. This would be hard to do with just random displacement; for example: Red hair and black hair are both valid options in humans, but that doesn’t mean the colours in between are, nor does it mean zebras could use the same colour options.
That said it wouldn’t exactly be gamebreaking to just not simulate this. Noise will work fine for creating variations and I don’t think most people would be very upset if all members of a Thrive species had similar colours (especially with the caste system in place to create further variations).