Protein Synthesis Design

On 8.9.2012 by Antti Lepistö


I’ve wanted to make a game about microbiology for a long time. With help of my loving wife (who actually knows this stuff) I created design for Protein Synthesis, a tower defense game with a match-three mechanics. In Protein Synthesis you play the part of a hypothetical organism that builds proteins in order to protect itself from attacking enemies.



Proteins as Currency

Proteins are created in a simple match-three gameplay. In protein synthesis the messenger RNA is matched in codons i.e. batches of three bases. Each codon of transfer RNA carries a specific amino acid into the line of amino acids that will eventually be transformed into a protein. This process has been streamlined in the game into a simple score system where player receives “cash” for each three RNA bases he matches. This currency can then be used in several ways to help the organism to survive.

  • Create mitocondrios. Mitocondrios are the power plants of all cells and the supply mechanic in Protein Synthesis. Every mechanism of the organism requires certain amount of energy that these mitocondrios provide.
  • Create defensive mechanisms. The organism can defend itself outside its boundaries as well as within. Outside defenses are more or less cannons that either damage or otherwise hinder attacking organisms. Player can also create defenses within the cell. These suicidal patrolling mechanisms attack any foreign matter that penetrates the surface.
  • Create enhancements to specific properties of another mechanism i.e. upgrades.
  • Create reconstructive mechanisms to the protein synthesis process. This speeds up protein production in safe situations but also negates the effects of enemy RNA (explained below).


Bacteriophages as Bad Guys

Bacteriophages are nasty little parasites of the bacterial world. They attach themselves to cell’s surface and inject their genome into the host. Instead of creating useful proteins the cell will then start to create copies of the bacteriophage. If enemy genome reaches the nucleus in Protein Synthesis player is penalized by forcing him to build proteins that yield no resources. If not corrected, this effect quickly spirals out of hand and the game is over because player’s organism has become but a host only producing foreign proteins.

Cells have ways to detect and destroy foreign genetic material and these mechanics are the basis for the organisms inner defenses in Protein Synthesis. Organism can either destroy enemy genetic material before it reaches the nucleus or repair the damage when player is forced to build enemy proteins.


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