Focusing on the Microbe Stage


I’m a brand new player and community member, so I hope you take this with a grain of salt as its very much outside looking in. I’ve also perused the forums and couldn’t seem to find a similar topic.

The Microbe stage of Thrive is fantastic. In my opinion it has the makings of an excellent standalone title. After having put a few hours into it, there’s so much that could be done with the building blocks that are already here. It’s not all the way there just yet, but my goodness it’s pretty darn close to being a gem of an open-source gaming.

So I guess my question with this post is: what if the efforts of the devs and designers, and collective imagination of the community were focused on creating a 1.0.0 release that’s just the microbe stage?


That’s exactly the plan, though?? The development focus is on finishing the microbe stage before moving onto multicellular stage. We have a full roadmap listing all the features we’ll add before we consider microbe stage done and will move onto the later stages:

Of course as an open source project, we can’t prevent people from working on any stage they want, but so far community pull requests have also basically entirely focused on microbe stage features and bugs.


Oh and so it is! I intended to use ‘1.0.0’ in a more abstract sense rather than the formal version as has been defined in the roadmap. My intended meaning here was the end-goal product to ship and to explore the hypothetical of what the game design would look like if the idea of Thrive being a staged game exploring the full breadth and depth of life through to the space stage were disregarded entirely.

I see a few main areas this mindset could be influential. First, by thinking of Thrive as a game of Microbes rather than a game that starts in the Microbe stage, with the goal of moving on to later stages, there’s so much design space that one might be unwilling to explore as it does not gel well with the vision as it exists now. For example, I’ve seen suggestions on the forums for viruses and parasites: ideas which were naturally not pursued as they’re effectively dead-ends that could never realistically progress on to later stages. While those may or may not be good inclusions in a pure-microbe vision, I use them to demonstrate how end-goals might influence what ideas are willing to be pursued.

Another more whacky hypothetical would be whether you’d consider implementing alternate starting conditions and more unconventional environments such as larger organisms by which I mean playing as a pathogen trying to survive and evolve in the face on an immune system. This makes no sense in a game designed to explore later stages of life, but including it in a microbe based game is not a particularly wild idea.

The other areas moving the proverbial goal-posts can influence are more pragmatic in how it affects the psychology of the folks within and without the community. I can’t speak to the motivations and mind-sets of the people who have clearly been working belgium this project for years. But having a project most of the way to completion may help invigorate and motivate contributions by having nearer and more tangible goals.

In your FAQ somewhere I believe you’d stated that a Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign does not align with the goals of the project. That may be the case either way, but it services a good example of how end-goals affect business decisions as well.

The last area is how it affects public perceptions. Early Access titles later in development seem to me more likely to attract purchases, donors, and contributors.

I apologize for the above if I let my selfishness get the better of me and whether I got a bit preachy above, which I hope isn’t the tone that came across. I simply really like what I’ve gotten so far in the playable releases and I want to play the finished item and I’m hoping what I’ve written communicates and helps with that.

At present, Thrive plans to complete the overall route from microorganisms to civilization to ascension. Based on this approach, a development plan was developed to plan the entire game, with each stage requiring a complete foundation from the previous stages.

Of course, each stage is worth exploring deeply, and this development plan is conditional on starting the next stage of development rather than stopping the pre development stage.

As far as I am concerned, it is not necessary for my species to develop into civilization. I don’t mind going to the dead end, referring to losing the possibility of developing civilization. Plants are also a good way to play.

In fact, continuing to be a single celled organism in an ecosystem that has already developed multicellular animals is also a gameplay, even if no one develops it before the main game line is completed. But no one will stop you from completing it.

I hope that the microbial stage can allow species to focus on becoming Green algae or Choanoflagellate and quickly enter the multicellular stage, as well as allow for deep exploration into becoming ciliates. But currently, the microbial stage is only considered a simple transitional stage.

If someone wanted to implement virus gameplay, I wouldn’t stop them. Having the goal of Thrive to still be completing the original vision doesn’t prevent very advanced microbe-only features being added. It’s just that people always have more ideas than skills / time to actually implement them. As such we had to pick a set of features I think we can complete in a reasonable time to consider the microbe stage then done. So far we basically never need to say that a feature is rejected, only that it is very low priority and might not be worked on for two decades until the main part of the game is complete. Thrive can succeed as long as there’s someone willing to continue working on the open source codebase. Shedding most of the features people have been dreaming of for years (and the reason behind Thrive originally starting) would be a pretty big failure of Thrive to reach the original goals set out.