Would Virus’ and Bacteriophages be in the Microbe/Multicellular stage? I believe they would work well as a hazard that could be deadly to cells not specialized to deal with inside ‘invasions’. I think, if they get in, these should be ‘activated’ once the middle part of the Microbe Stage is reached (Generation 10 or 500 population) and should have a population that is scaled to the mean of the population rounded down to the closest 50th for each unique species.
An example would be: Cell A has a population of 350, B 600 and C 1000. That would leave about 550 possible Virus’ and Phages (a 50/50 split would work for now) that is distributed unevenly between all patches that have a species present in it. Cell B mutates to become fully phage resistant (I am oversimplifying this) meaning the new population would be 550 with a 70% virus 30% phage split. In my opinion, the number of possible Virus’ and phages would be decreased by X (X being the number of the population)/3. With that, only 250 viruses and phages would be present. Of course, the number of each species will change and so will the new number the viruses and phages.
In this section, I shall discuss how phages could work and how they can affect the population number and split. Once a cell has entered a radius around a Bacteriophage (or a swarm) the phage will go ‘invisible’, activate and slowly (enough to be slightly faster than the average cell) make its way to the cell, once the phage is within 7 metres of the cell it would be visible. Hence, the cell has some time to react. If the cell has a toxin, they could try shooting at it to deter the phage (30% chance to slow, 40% chance nothing happens, 20% it stops, and 10% chance it dies) but if the phage gets within engulfing range, it enters the cell. The cell would gradually lose (in this order) Ammonia, Phosphate, Glucose then HP. After it reaches 75% HP the visuals of the cell would show some Phages floating around, 50% some more and a slight reduction in speed and at 25% the cell would be bloated and be moving at a 75% reduction. If the player dies at any stage before 75% only ten phages would be added to the pool of phages (take ten viruses’ at random and despawn them and spawn ten phages in their place) after 75% but before 25% one hundred phages will be added, and at 25% 350 phages will be added. If the cell that is hosting phages is engulfed by another cell, the engulfer will become the new host.
This section will describe how viruses would work. Viruses would be less upfront then bacteriophages and will be far less dangerous. Just like bacteriophages, viruses will ‘activate’ once a cell enters a radius around itself, unlike phages viruses are visible the whole time but are far faster and easier to deter.
Shooting Oxytoxins at a virus has a 45% chance to slow, 50% chance to flee and 5% chance to kill. If the virus gets within the engulfing range, it enters the cell and does nothing until the cell produces, or gains, any resource then the virus will start to drain from the cell. At first, the cell would only lose 5% of each absorb, but it will soon add up after every 120 seconds to a maximum of 60%.
Once the 60% deduction is reached, the virus will wait until the cell can evolve. When the cell can evolve the virus, will rapidly drain the ammonia and Phosphate of the cell once the cell runs out of both of those resources the virus will create copies of itself and burst out of the cell, dealing 50% of the total HP to the cell. This process creates 250 viruses, but if it kills the cell during the burst it will create 350 viruses.
Is there any way to defend against these threats? Yes, but it requires your cell to experience some encounters with the viruses or phages. The standard cell wall types can protect against the viruses and phages (physical resistance for phages and chemical for viruses). Still, full immunity requires your cell to resist attacks from both parties. Surviving three virus burst will have a chance to grant a 100% virus resistance that costs 100MP, while phage resistance requires you to kill ten phages and evolve before a phage can kill your cell. Both of these options don’t require a change in cell wall type or a new part; they just cost an upfront cost.
Sorry for the long post, if you have any suggestions or feedback feel free to leave them in the comments.