Suggested Biome hacking and natural evolution


New Member
Relating to a comment made earlier by Cervator, I have been an idea to help make worlds more "alive". I'm posting the idea here in the hopes we can discuss it and what might be involved to create such functionality from technical, design, and game asset creation perspectives.

In the game Equilinox, the player helps to evolve and nurture various biomes and the plants, animals, and elements therein. An Equilinox biome consists of the plants, animals, and other inert objects such as stones, soil, and water. Species have a natural affinity towards certain biomes, biome elements (other species and artifacts), and elevations. Likewise, species can have an aversion to certain conditions, elements, or other species.

Terasology idea
It would be cool to provide some sort of biome hacking and evolution meddling in Terasology. This could be done through craftable tools and an inspection/modification user interface, outlined below.

Inspection tool
When a player encounters a plant or animal, they might use an 'inspection' tool, perhaps shaped like a magnifying glass, that allows them to inspect details that plants or animals. These details could include the health, hunger, biome preferences, and genomic information for the inspected entity.

Plants and animals can be transplanted between biomes. Animals could be transplanted with some sort-of craftable 'pokeball' for catch-and-release tool. Plants similarly could be sampled, either in seed form or sapling, and transplated to new biomes where they may die off, flourish, or even transform the biome over time.

When variants are introduced into an ecosystem, new evolutionary gradients are created governing the possible form and appearance of species within the biome. These gradients can also be triggered through player intervention, without the player needing to transport a species from biome to biome, by using the aforementioned inspection interface.

Game model variation
Some evolutionary traits are visible, like color alterations or shape/species transmutation 'trees'. So, it might be useful for in-game models to support color variation, rather than having to texture separate models for each variant.

Building blocks
Now, I am not sure to what extent this is already possible in Terasology, nor how Terasology biomes evolve and grow, but I would like to help add some of these evolutionary biome game mechanics to Terasology.
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Org Co-Founder & Project Lead
I'm a big fan of this concept and have had similar ideas for years. We have all the pieces and just need them put together, as is often the case :)
  • Biome-per-block supports changing biomes over time, either via natural process or player intervention. @Adrijaned even did a bonus PR during GCI to extract out biome stuff to a module and has a module from the past using the tech. I've previously commented on the topic in older forum threads with a favorite example being a player digging through a cave root exposing it to sunlight and having the "cave biome" slowly become outside and start changing its flora and fauna.
  • Visually we can vary the appearance of biomes beyond what blocks they use. There's a tinting system although it is one of the oldest bits of rendering we have so I think it might need some dusting off. @Adrijaned again ran into that one and @vampcat probably knows it some more. My thought was to use the biome-per-block incrementally over longer distances (swamp1-10) to darken/lighten interiors vs edges accordingly. Or some shader hax / perlin noise
  • Genome system was overhauled some for GSOC this year, there's an animal breeding system, and I think I also recall a seed mixing system came about in relation to it.
  • GooKeeper also became a thing this GSOC and more or less has "pokeballs" and capture mechanics. ARK: Survival Evolved also effectively throw "pokeballs" into the most recent DLC and has a huge taming/breeding system I've been wanting to draw inspiration from. Biomes too, along with a huge variety of creatures, most with some sort of special ability or utility.
  • The WorldlyTooltip module allows showing a detailed tooltip for a target, be it block or creature. This could be tweaked to allow more information if the player is equipped with a tool for better analysis
If anything we could probably improve the 3D art pipeline to make it both easier to flow from model to in-game creature (we have a Blender addon but 2.8 seems to break it plus it could be improved further) and to customize "body part" texturing better. In ARK each creature has several "regions" each of which come in a set of natural colors that pass down through breeding and can express new even unnatural colors through random mutations. Something similar would be nice here.

Could be a good GSOC project for 2019 if we get in. I think @Nihal Singh had also played with the idea of introducing more biomes as part of his GSOC in 2017, but that was cut to fit scope. Did introduce some nice deer variants :)


To add to the block coloring thing: in the current state I've removed it from the engine in the form of being dependent on biomes. I'll try looking into how to re-implement that feature through some module.