Thrive is a free, open-source game currently being developed by an online volunteer team called Revolutionary Games. Drawing inspiration from numerous simulation and strategy games (in particular the original concept behind the PC game Spore), Thrive is a game about a species’ evolution from unicellular organisms to galaxy-wide space travel.
Our team seeks to accomplish two major goals: create engaging, compelling gameplay that respects our players’ intelligence, and remain as accurate as possible in our depiction of known scientific theory without compromising the former. The eventual game will contain powerful creation tools, allowing players to realistically craft organisms, technology, cultures, and even entire planets.
Write Your Own Saga of Life
Thrive’s goal is to encapsulate the player in the wonders of the universe, and to allow them to manipulate the virtual world around them in any way they please by using editors to modify technology, culture, organisms, and entire solar systems. Seven stages are planned – Microbe, Multicellular, Aware, Awakening, Society, Industrial and Space – though for the moment we’re only focusing on the first of these, as the whole project is a massive undertaking.
Explore the possibilities of simulation within a game context, competing against the game environment as you wield the forces of evolution. Create and edit an organism on its journey from insignificance to the stars, using all the creation tools at your disposal to rise above your adversaries, themselves products of evolution by natural selection as the game simulates its own ecosystem. Hunt or cooperate with a procedurally generated assortment of organisms as they collect and process resources in multiple biomes.
Difficulty levels can be set by modifying the rate of simulation in the world around you. Quicker evolution rates will pose a challenge as organisms can react to changes in less time, while slower rates won’t put you under as much pressure, so your imagination can run wild as you edit your own species’ anatomy. Choose your own way of playing.
Evolution is gradual, with minor changes made each generation for both you and other species. By collecting substances from the environment and processing them in a simulated metabolism, you can increase your species’ fitness rating, building resistance against extinction. Less successful evolutionary paths will die out, and only one may progress through the crucial transformative steps towards cell cohesion, terrestrial conquest, sentience, settlements and space travel. Will you thrive?
Rise to Galactic Dominance
From the lowly tidepools of your home planet, you will rise to cosmic prominence. Along the way, use behaviour, nation and technology editors, plus many more, to create a culture of your own. Design a roster of units and buildings using Function Parts to conquer the planet.
Defeat the armies of clashing nations within your own species, then travel off-world to do battle with the galaxy’s best adapted organisms. Control a fleet of starships of your own design, defending your own system and colonizing others. Build massive orbital structures, including the Ascension Gate. With it you can rise to a new plane of existence, even bending planets to your will. From your new perspective as the survivor of all life’s trials, watch over your domain, or go back and start all over again.
Join the Community
Along the way, trade save files and creations with friends, challenging them to survive better than you did in the same circumstances. Create brilliant technologies, or simply touch up an organism that could be a little more beautiful.
The game is completely free and open-source, so anyone can join our team provided they have the necessary skills. Visit our Get Involved page to see how you could help. Maybe you’re a talented artist or musician, a programmer, or even an expert in one of the various scientific fields we aim to simulate. We’re always on the lookout for potential new contributors.
Good news: Thrive now has its own dedicated launcher. Even better news: there’s a whole new release available as a demonstration of its abilities. This Devblog will run through both, as well as the general miscellaneous updates we post to make sure nobody mistakenly thinks the project is dead.
Thrive 0.3.4 isn’t a large release on the surface, but underneath our programmers have been hard at work on some very important features and fixes. And for the first time, we have a voice-over (by developer MontySpud) for our trailer:
As you may have seen on social media, developer hhyyrylainen has built us a Thrive launching program. Why is such a thing needed? For one, the launcher handles downloading of new releases on its own – download and run the launcher, and you’ll never have to manually download a full release again. It also comes with handy links and feeds from our development forum and website.
Meanwhile, developer crodnu has wrestled with the temperamental process system, the logic involved in collecting and converting compounds within cells. The compound bars featured in the GUI of our last release revealed a strange bug where cells would lose all their starting ATP and remain at near zero from then on. We’ve done our best to fix this and other process issues, so compound changes should now be much more readable.
As if that’s not enough, we’ve also completely rewritten the way the game handles Lua files. Lua files are the scripting on top of the engine, and until now have been the game’s major performance bottleneck. Thanks to another titanic programming effort from hhyyrylainen, the game now runs on a completely different form of Lua.
It’s hard to state why this is such a major change. We recommend you look at the absolutely enormous list of code changes on GitHub to get the full picture. With this upgrade came a couple of major crash fixes, though we’re still on the lookout for information which could help us fix more. If you have a crash while playing, let us know in the bug reports section of our forums, and make sure you post a screenshot of the console printout. If you don’t, our programmers have nothing to go on to help fix the issue.
It’s been quite a while since our last Devblog. Many minor things have happened in that time. We’ve collated them below for your convenience.
Not content with contributing two massive lumps of code to this release, hyyrylainen has also been making tentative steps into a potential engine conversion. Since the beginning, Thrive has run on a custom engine built with Ogre and Bullet, and let’s just say it has…issues. Inability to take screenshots, difficulty using alt-tab, large file sizes, and most prominently, endless headaches for new programmers wishing to set up a development build make it unwieldly at best. It’s certainly served us well, but the need for an accessible programming environment drove us to consider alternatives.
The best alternative appears to be Unreal Engine 4. Unlike all engines available when we started building Thrive a couple of years ago, it’s open-source, which makes it appropriate for use in our project.
In the interests of fair comparison, hhyyrylainen is working on a copy of Thrive 0.3.4 constructed inside Unreal. You can find progress and thoughts on the relative merits here. We feel that if it’s possible to develop what we already have in a reasonable timeframe without any major compromises, a complete engine switch will benefit the project significantly in future. Please test it out by downloading here.
To make it clear, this is nowhere near a certainty, merely an experiment. If it goes well, expect to see us moving into the realms of unreality sometime soon. If not, Ogre it is (unless any of you have suggestions for alternatives, and we’d love to hear them).
The main findings centred on adjustments to our many websites. Our main website homepage has undergone significant change, incorporating: feeds from our Devblog and development forums, more prominent links to forums and Wikis, more efficient space usage, and of course the good old Disturbance. We’re still working out the kinks, so let us know what you think of it and if there’s anything else we could add.
Our community forums also look noticeably different. White on white was alright, but we decided it was better to showcase some concept art with a more adventurous colour scheme. If this scheme isn’t to your liking, fear not – if you create a profile, you can choose from a bunch of premade themes we’ve worked on. Go to Profile -> Edit Profile -> Settings and under the Forum Theme dropdown, select the one you want to go on a new colourful Thrive adventure.
Our first step towards more involved self-promotion was the day r/thrive was named subreddit of the day. Exposure to new people is always a tense experience for us – will they see potential in the project or think us morons for pursuing it? Responses to the SROTD post were encouraging, and you can read our own subreddit’s thread on the event – which quickly became the most upvoted submission on the subreddit ever – here.
Expect more news in the outreach department soon. In the meantime, keep spreading the word.
Anyone of an artistic nature might be interested in joining our community forum art competition, running every month in this thread. Submissions can be any form of static visual media you want – digital art, 3D models, pencil drawings, paintings, etc. Users vote on their favourites for each month, and the winning submission each month will be posted to Thrive’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. Winners will also receive time machines to see the completed version of Thrive in 2150.
Terms and conditions apply. Time machine delivery dependent on someone inventing it in the future and going back in time to give it to you.
Shortly after the release of Thrive 0.3.3, we staged another livestream showing off its features, discussing random topics and answering fan questions. Despite a disconnected microphone leading to a load of us accidentally talking over hhyyrylainen as he explained the engine, it went well and we all had fun in the process. Schedules mean it’ll be difficult to organise another in the near future, but keep an eye out.
And finally, memes have started appearing on our subreddit. Memes as a scientific concept are a potential feature of the game in the Society and Industrial stages (and you can read some or join some discussion on them here), but we obviously can’t pass up the opportunity to make our own image-based stupid inside jokes. Does this deserve a whole section in a Devblog? Probably not. Oh well.
That’s it for the latest Thrive news – stay tuned for more in the coming months!
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The latest version of Thrive, including procedural membranes, organelle models and much more, is now available on ModDB. The last download here was posted...
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