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I think Plague is a very excellent game and here are some ideas which might make it even better. Organized into two parts

First - Real world inspiration
=================
at some point the game says it's a hyper simulator and it is indeed, which gives it a certain charm. things that happen in real world and can also happen in plague simulations include.

- there can be experimental cures. or more than one. which might work or cause mutation (some times no real effect) and sometimes worsen the situation.
- a cure is too expensive (especially if still experimental) meaning it only works in parts of the world or is just slow or not a good cure.
- a cure can become ineffective due to a mutation.
- Mutation can be effected by DNA string complexity, ie, how many gens it has. the more there is the more chance of something going wrong.
- Mutation can mess up DNA strings sometimes. causing devolution or lowering one of the plagues properties. in real life there are Good, Bad & harmless mutations.
- there can be immunizations or other diseases competing that slow down the spread of a plague.
- HIV is dormant for years without any symptoms and that's why it spreads so much. here I'm talking about the time it takes to kill a patient, which should be somewhere in the spreading category.
- areas can be quarantined to contain an epidemic
- Viruses, Bacteria and others are very different in how they kill (or infect) people, respond to drugs, speed of mutation, they are stronger in different stages of an epidermic and they have different reasons for being dangerous.
- ie viruses mutate faster and infect faster but they can die out if they kill more than they infect early on.


Second - Info
=================
the game feels extra cool when you know basic high school biology like, Viruses don't have DNA but RNA. Bacteria have no nucleoli. or that they make spores to spread. or the reasons for rising and drooping in trends of a disease or that antibiotics don't work on viruses as well as they do on bacteria.. or why anthrax is so dangerous, or why the black death entered history books.
- such things can always be there as tool-tips and articles that don't necessarily interfere with game-play. and may be useful in general or just be there for the fun of learning. they defiantly add to the game and make you appreciate it more.

I know not all of that may be practical or useful but just thought to post it anyway let me know what you guys think Smile
Quote:Viruses don't have DNA but RNA

That's actually a specific type of virus known as a retrovirus. That's what HIV is.

As for the other suggestions, some concessions have to be made in order to keep the game strategic and not just a dice roll. A game where your choices have less influence than whatever the random number god decides to throw at you isn't satisfying.
I agree the game has to be balanced, and too much randomness is bad. still some degree can be acceptable especially when the degree of randomness is controlled by player decisions. it would mean deciding to do something that incurs a certain risk, which fits within the strategic game-play as another element in decision making.

an already existing example, is the increased chance of mutation when you use certain methods of spreading. this adds symptoms and is bad when you want to spread without anyone noticing too early. so its a risk decision. same would apply to the size of your DNA or amount of gens inserted. the idea is of adding another element to decision making, and it may only happen in certain difficulties.

for instance choices would effect the chance of mutating to pause a cure (surviving it until an improvement is made). and having too many gens can cause bad mutations later on. again it's all about balance.

other things such as an excremental cure, don't necessarily involve randomness. it just makes the effect of the cure not as immediate. it would still give good challenge (pressure on the player) if they come out a little earlier (at lower percentages). the goal is to add game-play value to the endgame without breaking the game structure (beginning, mid-game and end-game).

another non random element is how differently plagues behave providing for more varied game-play and thinking.
@ brolegion wow, that was a lot of information to digest. and no I don't know biology too well.

I understand parts of what you said. but I'm confused as to how other things would add value to gameplay.
(30-06-2014 05:24 AM)A Guy Wrote: [ -> ]
Quote:Viruses don't have DNA but RNA

That's actually a specific type of virus known as a retrovirus. That's what HIV is.

As for the other suggestions, some concessions have to be made in order to keep the game strategic and not just a dice roll. A game where your choices have less influence than whatever the random number god decides to throw at you isn't satisfying.



RETRO Virus - wut a virus from 70s?
(07-07-2014 10:40 AM)camper255 Wrote: [ -> ]
(30-06-2014 05:24 AM)A Guy Wrote: [ -> ]
Quote:Viruses don't have DNA but RNA

That's actually a specific type of virus known as a retrovirus. That's what HIV is.

As for the other suggestions, some concessions have to be made in order to keep the game strategic and not just a dice roll. A game where your choices have less influence than whatever the random number god decides to throw at you isn't satisfying.



RETRO Virus - wut a virus from 70s?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retrovirus
I think the game does take many of these variables into account as suggested by the popup messages. I assumed that there are circumstances that may or may not occur such as natural disasters or funding in research. It would be nice to know more about the mechanics but that's probably being worked on along with the tutorial.

I like the idea of there be more information about each sort of pathogen and opportunities to learn how real pathogens work and how our bodies fight them, but I'm quite content to just enjoy the jokes popups too.

I really love the game. My biggest gripe is the map... I just think it's a missed opportunity that could be so effective with a few tweaks. Please, please, please make the map more detailed and accurate. You could combine areas into chunks if need be and still show their individual countries. For instance, it'd be so great to learn the names of all the African countries and where they are. Also... (deep breath) I love you UK, but you only get to claim the northern bit of Ireland. Seriously, you simply have to change that. I understand they're just two tiny islands but you have to find a way not to needlessly piss people off.

As an American I think the Canada taking Alaska thing is funny, but that's because our countries have an affection for and a sense of humor about each other. I still think it would be awesome if the map showed the Canadian provinces and the US states within their country chunks. It's would add a level of reality to the game which ultimately makes the game creepier and more fun. And, yay to learning stuff!
Heart


(30-06-2014 03:46 AM)Xflue Wrote: [ -> ]I think Plague is a very excellent game and here are some ideas which might make it even better. Organized into two parts

First - Real world inspiration
=================
at some point the game says it's a hyper simulator and it is indeed, which gives it a certain charm. things that happen in real world and can also happen in plague simulations include.

- there can be experimental cures. or more than one. which might work or cause mutation (some times no real effect) and sometimes worsen the situation.
- a cure is too expensive (especially if still experimental) meaning it only works in parts of the world or is just slow or not a good cure.
- a cure can become ineffective due to a mutation.
- Mutation can be effected by DNA string complexity, ie, how many gens it has. the more there is the more chance of something going wrong.
- Mutation can mess up DNA strings sometimes. causing devolution or lowering one of the plagues properties. in real life there are Good, Bad & harmless mutations.
- there can be immunizations or other diseases competing that slow down the spread of a plague.
- HIV is dormant for years without any symptoms and that's why it spreads so much. here I'm talking about the time it takes to kill a patient, which should be somewhere in the spreading category.
- areas can be quarantined to contain an epidemic
- Viruses, Bacteria and others are very different in how they kill (or infect) people, respond to drugs, speed of mutation, they are stronger in different stages of an epidermic and they have different reasons for being dangerous.
- ie viruses mutate faster and infect faster but they can die out if they kill more than they infect early on.


Second - Info
=================
the game feels extra cool when you know basic high school biology like, Viruses don't have DNA but RNA. Bacteria have no nucleoli. or that they make spores to spread. or the reasons for rising and drooping in trends of a disease or that antibiotics don't work on viruses as well as they do on bacteria.. or why anthrax is so dangerous, or why the black death entered history books.
- such things can always be there as tool-tips and articles that don't necessarily interfere with game-play. and may be useful in general or just be there for the fun of learning. they defiantly add to the game and make you appreciate it more.

I know not all of that may be practical or useful but just thought to post it anyway let me know what you guys think Smile
Some answers, some background information and much in-depth chit-chat, read it if you are interested in the topic, else go for the conclusions of each extensively explained point.

Disclaimer: I am a molecular biologist, not a biologist, though I had contact with these and many related topics, I am surely no expert on this field. All comments are written with the best of my beliefs, but no guarantee for total correctness.

(30-06-2014 03:46 AM)Xflue Wrote: [ -> ]First - Real world inspiration
=================
at some point the game says it's a hyper simulator and it is indeed, which gives it a certain charm. things that happen in real world and can also happen in plague simulations include.

- there can be experimental cures. or more than one. which might work or cause mutation (some times no real effect) and sometimes worsen the situation.

Medical treatments do not actively mutate the pathogen. The term you are searching for is "selection", a very real problem with antibiotics for example. The genome of every cell is exposed to minor mutation with every reproduction cycle, because of little reading/writing errors caused by the DNA replication system. While most of them have minor impact (the pathogen still is infectious and replicating), out of the few thousand pathogen cells/particles there might be one or two which have a higher tolerance to the drug due to these random mutations. Natural selection and so on, only those two survive and replicate, building up a more resistant strain, further random mutation leads to a strain with even higher resistance, iterate. This is how resistant strains develop.
Most drugs used to inhibit pathogens (classically a virus or bacterium) are targeting a pathogens metabolism choke points, where they differ from the hosts metabolism so they don't do collateral damage. Typical targets with bacteria are for example the cell wall (we don't have one), the folic acid production (we get it with the food) or the helicase activity (a enzyme essential for the reproduction of the bacterial type of genome).

Much blabla, in short:
Yes, pathogens may slowly accomodate to the medication. They don't get actively mutated. Resistant strains may develop and spread anew, a hard to implement feature I think.

(30-06-2014 03:46 AM)Xflue Wrote: [ -> ]- a cure is too expensive (especially if still experimental) meaning it only works in parts of the world or is just slow or not a good cure.
- a cure can become ineffective due to a mutation.
- Mutation can be effected by DNA string complexity, ie, how many gens it has. the more there is the more chance of something going wrong.

Meh. Hard to say without digging through genome evaluations. The most part of the genome is nonsense data, not used for protein translation. This is no informed opinion, but I think the density of useful data in the genome will be more or less the same across the different species, therefore the passive mutation chance, excluded factors like the different polymerases (critical enzyme for DNA replication, among the, from an evolutionary standpoint, older species there are a lot of species with enzymes that works very fast but have less proof-reading capabilities, therefore more mutation per replication cycle).

Short:
Genome complexity in organisms certainly does not influence mutation probability.

(30-06-2014 03:46 AM)Xflue Wrote: [ -> ]- Mutation can mess up DNA strings sometimes. causing devolution or lowering one of the plagues properties. in real life there are Good, Bad & harmless mutations.

The probability for a beneficial mutation is much lower than a detrimental mutation. Most probably the mutation will mutate one single base pair in the genome, which will not alter the function of the translated protein in any way. Multiple mutations take their time and may lead to new strains where the choke point enzyme has mutated severely, so that the medical treatment doesn't work anymore.
Bad mutations are much more common, but luckily they are not heritable in most cases due to the host cells premature death.

Short:
In organisms no over-night mutations which make them totally resistant to the treatment, as also stated above. Bad mutations much more common, but due to natural selection a organism/virus doesn't degrade in a large scale.

(30-06-2014 03:46 AM)Xflue Wrote: [ -> ]- there can be immunizations or other diseases competing that slow down the spread of a plague.

This is a very complex model to assess within the game mechanics. This is a topic I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole... Luckily the game is about having fun, not about creating a software for international pandemic forecasting.

(30-06-2014 03:46 AM)Xflue Wrote: [ -> ]- HIV is dormant for years without any symptoms and that's why it spreads so much. here I'm talking about the time it takes to kill a patient, which should be somewhere in the spreading category.

Well, this is the main point in poor countries, at least. Bad medical assistance, many people most probably don't even know about the existence of the disease and if they know, their possibilities of avoiding infection are much lower.
This is one of the main points that should be adressed with the game, the time frame of the infection. The game takes place in a time frame between a few months and about 1-2 years, it is very unrealistic that a pathogen could wipe out humanity in this short time.
Aside of HIV, BSE or Creutzfeldt-Jakob-disease (CJD) is in my opinion the best example for a disease with a very long incubation time. While HIV is a virus, the last two ones are prions, malfolded proteins which "spoil" other proteins, they gather in the tissue, killing slow replicating cells = brain cells. These prions have a very long incubation time, for BSE it can take about 10-12 years for the corruption cascade to take effect. Luckily for us, prions are spread very specifically, through genetic heritage (CJD) or via ingestion of the prions (BSE, kuru). For the ingestion types, a heritable resistance is being estimated, as it is shown by case study with kuru.
Incubation time and infectiousness are very contradictory things, a fast replicating pathogen is more infectious in most cases. HIV is slowly corrupting the T-cells of the immune system, but as it is very focused on the bloodstream it is not very infectious (no, it really isn't). Also, pathogens don't have the primary goal to kill the host, the negative impacts are more due to toxic byproducts or because of the type of substrate, like organ tissue.

Short:
Incubation time <--> Infectiousness are mostly contradictory. The pickiest diseases are the slowest spreading, but if there are no immediate symptoms it is very likely to spread in regions with bad health assistance, mostly poor countries (given that this is a known disease like HIV). This variable doesn't influence the infection to kill ratio in rich countries, but the slow spreading increases the time for governments to react.

(30-06-2014 03:46 AM)Xflue Wrote: [ -> ]- areas can be quarantined to contain an epidemic
- Viruses, Bacteria and others are very different in how they kill (or infect) people, respond to drugs, speed of mutation, they are stronger in different stages of an epidermic and they have different reasons for being dangerous.

Yes and this should be featured in the game much more prominently. Atm the basic pathogen types play almost the same with very little difference in the ability tab.

(30-06-2014 03:46 AM)Xflue Wrote: [ -> ]- ie viruses mutate faster and infect faster but they can die out if they kill more than they infect early on.

Viruses do in fact mutate a bit faster, but that is mostly due to the compact genome (high probability of significant mutation) and is most prominently in retroviruses, which have much higher mutation rates due to missing proof-reading during the "unpackaging" of the viral data into the host cell.
The Ebola virus, this is what you are up to, right? Ebola is again a very deadly, non-picky and easily transmitted retrovirus. Incubation times reach from few days to a couple of weeks at worst, local population is quickly eradicated. The thing why Ebola lives on is because it can be transmitted to wildlife, which are latent carriers (the virus doesn't affect them) and transmitters to human population. Without this trait, Ebola would have disappeared as fast as it emerged.


(30-06-2014 03:46 AM)Xflue Wrote: [ -> ]Second - Info
=================
the game feels extra cool when you know basic high school biology like, Viruses don't have DNA but RNA. Bacteria have no nucleoli. or that they make spores to spread. or the reasons for rising and drooping in trends of a disease or that antibiotics don't work on viruses as well as they do on bacteria.. or why anthrax is so dangerous, or why the black death entered history books.
- such things can always be there as tool-tips and articles that don't necessarily interfere with game-play. and may be useful in general or just be there for the fun of learning. they defiantly add to the game and make you appreciate it more.

I think there is already a great potential to passively learn about pathogens. But it would require more complex and customized transmission, symptom and ability trees. I would reject the idea of straight in-depth information about reality, even if optional. If you put onto your product a label for learning software (figuratively), then you better live up to the expectations you have created. Meaning, they have to consult legitimate biologists, immunologists, medics and so on, too much to ask.


I hope all this text was not too tiring. Please correct me if someone with more expertise spots something wrong.
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