(Only occasionally interested in Thrive)
I get to make the thread now.
Migration is still a bit dull as I only ever encountered iron (and, what, 1-2 ammonia clouds, after dying once) once I migrated to a new area. All glitches and all that I’ve already posted in the Discord server (reproduction button glitch, Catalan not text wrapping, etc.)
As per tradition, I did a run without evolving after a run playing the game properly, and:
It’s no better to lower the percentage of glucose as generations go by like in the ancient sea (higher than now and decrease with time), which was initially a glucose production and over time, there were more glucose-fed organisms and the inorganic glucose production drops to a level of almost no production. Glucose. Is this what motivated the predator-prey chain and the development of phototropic (plants and vertebrates) from the beginning?
It’s just my opinion, but it could be challenging and also more realistic if it were that way.
The German translation is quite good. Usually they are filled with anglicisms and poorly done, but this one was not like that.
I would like if the pink clouds that cause damage had some label. When I put my cursor over them, there is no tooltip, so I only learn they are dangerous by running into them and taking damage.
As the other commenters mentioned, the game is still very easy. There is not much challenge and it is more like a sandbox. If I stay in the same biome for long enough, something will develop toxins and kill me a lot. Overall there just isn’t much competition or struggle to survive. Resources are generally plentiful, even in later generations. For there to be greater challenge, there must be a very high number of organisms crammed together and quarreling over meager resources. I don’t know if the game can handle that many organisms on screen simultaneously, though.
Sadly there seems to be quite big performance problems (often tanking to about 20 FPS) when a ton of cells spawn. Hopefully we can either find why it is so expensive to make it run faster, or we can make the world livelier with fewer cells but ones that would try to stick closer to the player.
So I have a ton of feedback. Not just on 0.5.3 but on the game so far in general. Before I start I just want to say that I love Thrive and think it’s already a pretty fun game. I wouldn’t have made two let’s plays on it if I didn’t enjoy making those lol. I think the game has great potential but the experience right now doesn’t always live up to that. I’m saying this because I’m about to give some pretty critical feedback and I don’t want to give the impression that I think the game is bad lol.
While the overall experience is fine I think the game suffers from two major problems right now that need to be fixed in some way before I would consider the game a fully viable product.
The Problem of Scarcity
The problem of scarcity is that scarcity is in all the wrong places. This problem is about the spawn system.
Glucose is not scarce enough. When I look at the game right now I can tell that it was balanced around the idea that glucose would be hard to get. The player is clearly expected to want glucose, getting it by either being a predator, or by being an autotroph. In practice, the only good option is to be neither. Glucose clouds are far too common and easy to get, to pass up.
Just look at my flagellum video, where I had to beat the game with a stupid amount of flagella. How did I get enough energy to support them? Did I place a ton of thylakoids and photosynthesize? Did I eat all the surrounding cells after becoming an efficient predator? Of course I didn’t. Any experienced player would find the idea laughable. I found some glucose clouds and sat in them for twenty minutes. The challenge wasn’t even difficult, just time-consuming
My suggestion with this problem is to just tone down the glucose clouds. Every time you enter the editor the current game claims that glucose has been reduced to 80% of the previous amount. Right now, this is an empty threat. Both in the patch screen and in the actual game glucose levels remain constant. My first suggestion is to actually reduce glucose. Secondly, instead of 80% of the previous amount, I’d make it 80% of the original amount. Yes, this means all the glucose will be gone after 5 generations. Too bad. You’ll have to feed yourself like the strong independent microbe you are. Only then will all of Buckly’s game balancing actually matter.
The other spawned objects in the game are better but could use some tweaking. I don’t like how cloud spawns appear to be based on time rather than location. If I hang around a cloud for some time, more clouds will always appear there. I think I’ve said this before but this leads to very counterintuitive gameplay where if you want to find more clouds the best thing to do is to swim in circles. In general, resource collection is a very important part of gameplay right now and I think it should be made into less of a chore. The fact that multiple people on this forum have asked for a phosphate production organelle (which would fully automate resource collection) should tell you how fun most people think it is right now.
I believe that the spawn system could really use some work to become fun. The purpose of a random spawn system is to procedurally generate fun content for the player. The current spawn system is innefficient at that. Let’s take a look at two scenario’s, both of which involve exactly one microbe, and one compound cloud.
Scenario 1: The game spawns a cloud of some compound you weren’t looking for. It also spawns a plant, which immediately swims off-screen and is never seen again. You do not interact with either of them.
Scenario 2: The game spawns a cloud of some compound you really need, but right in the middle of it is an defensive cell eating the compound. Do you try to attack the cell and get the compound as a reward? Do you attempt to steal the compound behind its back? Do you swim on? Or do you wait for the other microbe to finish eating and make do with the leftovers?
Most players would find scenario 2 far more fun. You would probably find scenario 2 far more fun. So why does the spawn system constantly create scenario 1, but almost never scenario 2? I get that this is kind of controversial, that most people think spawns should be random, but why should they? The point of playing as a microbe is that it’s fun, and that it collects data for the population changes in auto-evo. For both of those purposes, it is better to focus on fun, challenging encounters than on the boring parts of a microbe’s life. I think it is part of the game designers job to ensure that procedural content is fun, even if that means it isn’t quite as random.
The Problem of Competition
The problem of competition is that there is no competition. This one is about the auto-evo, which the player is supposed to compete with.
Most of this problem overlaps with the glucose bit in the problem of scarcity. Evolution is supposed to take place in ecosystems. In ecosystems, there are food webs of predators eating prey. In ecosystems, species compete for the same niche. In ecosystems, there is always a need for more energy. Evolution has to be used to get that energy. Thrive does not have ecosystems.
Here’s what I mean by that: The whole point of competing for resources, is that resources are finite. If everyone can just use the same energy source without ever worrying about depleting it, you don’t have much of an ecosystem at all. There is no competition in Thrive, because why would you compete with someone if you could just find your own glucose cloud. Predation is an unviable strategy in Thrive, because why would you eat someone for energy, if you can just eat the same glucose that everyone else eats.
Everyone having immediate access to glucose clouds (you don’t even need a specific organelle to use them, unlike, say, iron) means that there is no competition. No competition means that there is no need to ever evolve. No need to ever evolve means that your best gameplay loop is never seriously used, never needed. There is a reason why never evolving is the best strategy by far.
Another part of the problem of competition is the lack of transparency regarding what other species are doing. This prevents direct competition, because the player cannot compete with something they do not understand. The auto-evo screen tells me nothing about the other cells other than a population and a name. In other words, it tells you how well the others are doing, but not how they do it, or who the others even are. Am I a predator or a prey? How did species X get such a good population? What niches are filled right now? Are the other species even playing by the same rules, population-wise (spoiler alert: no). These are not things the playerbase is complaining about right now, because the glucose situation makes it unneccesarry to even care, but if that gets fixed people will want to know how they’re doing.
My suggestion for this is to greatly expand the auto-evo results page. I’d prefer to keep the sense of discovery we have right now, so some sort of ‘fog-of-war’ would be warranted. Once you have found a cell, though, the game should tell you what it is, exactly. The game should show you stats about the cells so you can tell what you’re up against. It should show you a food-web with discovered cells, so you can tell what your relation to this species is. A phylogeny tree would be cool to see to. I would incorporate images of the cell in as many places as possible. I don’t like how currently I have to play Thrive with a notebook just so I can know who’s who.
To summarise my suggestions for both problems:
Make glucose become scarce early into the game to encourage competition and using better strategies.
Give the spawn system a bias towards interesting scenario’s, perhaps even hardcoding these in.
Extend the UI of the auto-evo screen, incoroporating many pictures, to let players know what’s going on.
After that barrage of criticism I feel like I have to repeat that I do like the game as it is. I just think that when you are working on the game in the future, these are the problems to solve for the most amount of fun / effort.
I’m not disagreeing with you, but it seems to be very hard to get people to work on the spawn system. Especially as any changes to it need quite a bit of playtesting before it can be said if it actually made things better or not.
I’m also leaning towards this kind of option, where the spawns would be way less random and instead controlled by some system that takes into the current player’s situation into account.
Problem is that, the auto-evo algorithm is not that advanced.
Currently it is basically:
Compute total number of organelles in all species that utilize resource X and how much energy they produce
Divide total energy amount from that resource with the species organelle amounts that process that.
Basically each species receives energy from each resource based on how many organelles they have that use that resource.
Also the predation is just adding up a fraction of the total energy to a “predation energy” pool, which is once again divided up for all species based on how many toxins and pili they have. It’s very basic, there isn’t any prey/predator relationships to find in the model. The final populations of the species will then be determined based on how many organelles the species has and how much energy it collected.
With 0.5.3 I’ve noticed that its using less resources (odd) and runs smoother, but if you cell has no way to produce Glucose on its own (fully geared as a hunter) the cells can live on their own without starving. Is this intentional?
(Only occasionally interested in Thrive)
There is a video. See if it’s the game you recognise lol. Srsly though, I would be very surprised if you could not survive, even with a cell that is not a predator and doesn’t have any glucose production. That’s kinda broken.
Guys, I have a problem: I tried installing the new version of the Thrive Launcher but when I finished downloading it I received a message telling me that it is not frequently downloaded and that it could harm my computer. What do I do?
Okay, I finally got to play the new version and based on what I’ve read in this thread, it is indeed pretty easy to win the game. I barely edited my cell and I only died once. Though I have to say that some patch do have some relatively scarce resources, like the cave for example. Also I had an autosave bug and I clicked on the copy button but I didn’t find the log. I have also seen microbes with their pilus rotated to the side; is this normal?