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What if you lived in a fishtank, or ate a big pile of germs? These are all things to consider.

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I was originally gonna leave the notes I had for this scribbles on a google doc I hadn’t touched since December 2021 but with the announcement that Klei is vaguely-kinda-planning DLC2 concepts I thought I’d share a hobby/mental exercise that I’ve used in the past to think about ONI’s systems as a gestalt. This sounds like something you’d only need to do if you were a programmer or something but no, this is just what I’ve needed to do in order to feel like I vaguely understand how to play this game (Which I still don't). But it's also probably useful for coming up with just general ideas for novel challenges in colony planning as you guys plan DLC. Basically what you do is:

  1. You look at a general description of one of dupe’s basic mechanics
  2. Swap out one or more words or numbers in that description for something else
  3. Stop to consider that the hell that’d even do
  4. Find that almost universally the answer is that it’d change how you interact with 20 other different mechanics
  5. Find out how you'd be able to build around it.

The basic traits of your dupes are the starting point for a lot of systems that go on to shape the fundamental structure of your colony. Making sure Mi-Ma can eat requires an agriculture system that places demands on your ability to regulate temperature, which places demands on your power and plumbing, and so on and so forth until you need to build a rocket for the sake of your hamburger production. Changing those initial variables tends to lead you down a different path that interacts with progressively more and more unrelated mechanics until you find you’d need to think about how you set up your base's systems in an entirely different way to manage it.

    I’ve already run through this a couple times with a couple different changes for fun. Swapping out dupes oxygen consumption mechanics with something that runs off of liquid, for example, has a ton of cascading consequences for base design not considering the typical concerns about actually acquiring a steady supply of it. 
Liquid normally flows to the bottom of a base instead of diffusing through it, as oxygen does. This means that rooms would have to be very intentionally designed to hold enough liquid for a dupe to breathe. If that room specifically runs out of liquid after cycles of dupes passing through, it can’t be refilled by a system running on the other side of your base, it needs to be piped into that room specifically. 
Simply flooding your entire base has different knock-on effects, requiring reinforcements against pressure damage to be built in a very different context than you would in a normal colony.
There’s also a bunch of miscellaneous concerns. How do you deal with germs in a liquid environment when you can't just pipe it all out? How do you deal with living long-term in a thermally conductive atmosphere? How do you deal with dupes milling about in an atmosphere that can freeze solid? These are not rhetorical questions. I am genuinely not smart enough to answer them.

The questions don't really have to come about from specifically dupes that breathe water, though. They can just as easily come from trying to transport a valuable material that can never be taken out of water or setting up several floors of machinery that only work while submerged, et cetera et cetera. The point is that coming to these sets of weird new questions is a lot easier when you think of twists on a dupe's basic needs just because of how thoroughly it goes against what you normally want to set up a base to support.

There’s also a couple other tweaked dupe scenarios that I’ve thought of, if only to further obfuscate my point in the service of rambling.
Dupes that could eat food poisoning germs for calories instead of the calories present in food itself could get pretty weird since gross food would be a benefit instead of another incentive to refrigerate it, but the same conditions that cause germs to grow on food quickly also cause it to spoil and turn into inedible rot and also require additional time added onto the supply chain before your dupes can actually eat. It’d create a sort of balancing act with your food supply that requires different infrastructure to manage.

Again, the problems in designing systems for dupes that eat food poisoning can easily be applied to any hypothetical situation where you'd want to actively cultivate a germ. The fact that these considerations were originally brought up thinking about one problem doesn't really prevent them from popping up in a different one.

And of course, you can do this with any number of hypotheticals. Dupes that required different circumstances for stamina generation would create situations with dramatically different working schedules and bedrooms that were placed and built differently. Duplicants with different methods of locomotion would require revamps to your entire base layout. And I’m not entirely sure what a dupe made of bleach stone instead of genetic ooze would do, but it would certainly make you care a lot more about gas pressure.

I’m not suggesting that you dedicate a substantial amount of capital and creative effort to making messed up fish dupes just because I wrote about them in a forum post. In fact please don’t. I would go mad with power and nobody wants that. It’s just a good tool to come up with exotic scenarios for base design problems that have cascading effects on other parts of the game, regardless of whether or not they're spurred on by mutant dupes or some other factor.

Cheers, and I hope this comes in useful as you’re exploring DLC ideas. I dunno if it is. If it isn't I'm sorry I'll send you a cheque in the mail or something

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