For this weeks update I wanted to talk about something I'm currently working on (conceptually and actually in code):
The Cell Stage and how its gameplay works.
Disclaimer: I'm not promising anything I'm just explaining the plan we have for Lyfe and we will work hard to get as close as we can to that vision. Secondly Some of the info you read here might not yet be in the DesignDocument but it will be updated after this post.
You start out as just a membrane with some DNA in it. Floating around one of the possible bioms. Different bioms have different spawn rates for different chemicals. We haven't yet fully worked out what chemicals will be there in detail but the basics are: Oxygon, Carbon (mostly as CO2 or simple Sugars), Hydrogen (since you are under water there is quite a lot of that so it might not necessary be a ressource), Nitrogen (as Ammonium), Phosphorus (organic Phosphorus), Sulfur.
Since these are the building blocks for life. Since at the beginning you are not really a living organism yet you don't need any of it. You don't have any real means of propulsion at this point, too. You can simply wiggle around a bit and move forward this way or get carried around my the currents of whatever body of water you are currently in. At this point the game is like a low key cutscene.
This changes when you meet your first other cell. It will weither be a "Proto-Mitochondrium" or Cyanobacterium. The biom you are in has influence on this. If you are somewhere deep in the ocean cyanobacteria might be more scarce since... you know... it's dark down there and photosynthesis doesn't work so well without light.
As you might have guessed this unlocks the Mitochondrium or Chloroplast. (The other one can be unlocked later one as you move to other bioms over time.)
Both of them can produce ATP which basically is the value of how much energy you have.
The Mitochondrium uses sugar and oxygon to produce ATP while the Chloroplast uses CO2 (since Hydrogen might not be a ressource). To balance this the Chloroplast produces less ATP.
As long as you have those chemicals left energy will be produced. Other organelles you unlock on your microscobic journy will consume it to give you an advantage in surviving.
For example if you got a flagellum or cilia on your cell and move forward ATP will be consumed over time. The more organelles are on your cell the more is consumed. This will force you, the player, to think about what you really need to survive.
Some organelles you might unlock include:
Mitochondrium -> Produces ATP
Chloroplast -> Produces ATP (but less)
Vacuole -> Store more compounds
Cell Core -> better defense agains viruses
Cell Wall -> More health but slower
Endoplasmic Reticulum -> Repairs Cell
Golgi Body -> Produces Vesicel => Reduced cost for ATP production since compounds get transported faster
Flagellum -> Movement
Ribosome -> Produces protein => your acquire DNA faster
Poison Vacuole -> Damages cells attacking you
<Poison Excretion> -> Lets you excret poison to damage enemy cells
Sensory Input -> Allows you to "see"
Cilia -> Movement
You might now have some questions like "what's it with allowing me to see?"
So basically at the beginning - and I can't stress enough how much this is just the plan we're TRYING to follow - you don't really see what's around you. You can make out your surroundings as basic shapes. This part is basically some artsy-o vision through you see the game world. The simple reason we decided to add this is that having no eyes has a penalty in the creature stage and a consistant ruleset is an important factor in this, so it feels like one game. But we also didn't just want to make a black screen because that isn't fun. (Also we're up for suggestions on how we could solve this better.)
Then: DNA. You acquire it through absorbing other cells. The same way you can unlock new organelles. The criterium that decides if you absorb the cell or it absorbs you is how much mass you have. One simple rule that works like one browsergame proofed.
And apart from other cells viruses might also be a factor in gameplay. This is also more of a experimental-feature on which I'd like to hear your opinions. If you spot a virus you can swim away from it absorb it. If you pick the latter one of two things can happen: You gain a bonus or a malus for this "life". They are gone as soon as you die. Splitting your cell doesn't remove it.
This neatly brings us to the next point: Splitting your cell and the editor. All I want to say about it in the cell gameplay is that you need a certain amount of DNA to split and open the editor. We want it to be something the player has to work for. After all Lyfe is supposed to be a game.
Now we come to the control settings which aren't that essential to this entry but I'm currently working on them so I just want to throw this in here:
The player can chose from one of three settings:
Move To Click
I think I mentioned all I need to make clear how this part of the game works except for one thing and we're still struggling with that: How will you, the player, progress through this stage. Of collect all the organelles but those just give you options to adapt to your environment but what is the overall goal you are working towards?
For the other stages this was easy to decide because there are other games to look for examples. But for this part? Not even our big inspiration Spore really had something interesting in this place. It was basically pacman but with a full 360° range of motion. We want to improve on that. But as I said we don't have a 100% bullet proof idea, yet.
As always we're open for suggestions.
That's it for this week from the Lyfe team and me. Thanks for reading.