The Absolute Size of Thrive

We all know thrive is going to be immense in scale when the game is completed (if it is going to be). A game with this much depth and size is a god game player’s dream. But there is something about the size of thrive i feel like needs to be acknowledged. We know the game is going to accurately simulate evolution as well as the universe to some extent. The universe is big, really really really big, mind-blowingly big. I’m certain the game won’t simulate the entire universe, so let’s think of something smaller: a galaxy. A galaxy is much easier to grasp, but it’s still large enough to pose a problem. The Milky Way has a couple hundred billion stars, which may not sound that big at first, especially when compared to other galaxies such as Andromeda and Messier 87, but here’s some perspective.

One billion seconds is roughly equal to 31.6 years. If Thrive was to simulate a galaxy that was around the size of the Milky Way, it would literally be impossible to explore it all, even if you visited each solar system for one second. Even if you spent your entire life playing Thrive and exploring the galaxy, you would still only have 2-3% explored. Even cutting it down to 300 million it would still take about as long as Thrive has been in development to explore all of the galaxy. 10 million and even 1 million seem a bit too overwhelming to me. A million seconds is a week and a half, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, but only if you are visiting each solar system for a second. Depending on how long it actually takes to beat the space stage and what the player does, it could still feel very tedious to the player, especially if one of the goals is to carve out a big slice of the galaxy for their empire or sphere of influence, having to spend months conquering and colonizing with seemingly no end in sight. I think somewhere between 100,000-500,000 sounds much more reasonable. I feel like I as a player know that it’s still a pretty big world, but I can explore it without wasting a lot of my time. A hundred thousand is still a decent amount, and I know that’s probably a puny galaxy in real life, but it really wouldn’t be much to sacrifice for gameplay. This obviously doesn’t apply to the game now, but I feel like it should be decided eventually when the game is in a much more complete state. I don’t want people playing the game to be utterly overwhelmed but rather mesmerized and immersed.

I rest my case.


That is a reasonable amount, Thrives point is to be accurate, but to some extent, it still is a game, not a simulation

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Some very good point. Thrive tries to balance being real and being a game, compromises have been and will be made on both sides.

In the space stage the player will be controlling an interstellar empire. They won’t be personally flying in some dingy ship to explore the galaxy, instead they’ll command like all of their thousands of colonized planets to send out 20 colony ships each, each year. With such an exponentially growing number of colonies, is the only realistic way to colonize a galaxy. There’s a well known name for a self-replicating galaxy exploring spacecraft:

Though, I suppose due to various limitations in computer performance we’ll need to have some number of star systems that represent a galaxy (so like one solar system could maybe represent 10000 ones, and their stats and time to explore would be adjusted based on that).


Although I agree that you shouldn’t be flying in one personal ship, I can’t bring myself to agree that the galactic empire I’m controlling, made up of many different and unique stars and planets, is a viral entity, and that is the way the Space Stage should be. I personally think the Space Stage should be all about exploration and engaging in that exploration.

Space is the final frontier, and a huge one, but there’s still individual planets. Even if humanity uses millions of self-replicating colonizing ships, we still have to keep track of all the planets we colonize, otherwise it will be chaos. Seeing as how we can barely manage our own planet, we obviously are not at that level where we can grasp the entire milky way, and we won’t be for a long time. So I agree that there has to be a compromise for the sheer number of celestial objects.

That being said, I personally don’t agree that the Space Stage should just be a game of ‘colonize this region, then send out ships and colonize the next’. I think planets and stars should just exist in it of themselves, and not be dots that represent a lot of other solar systems. I think you should be able to interact with all celestial bodies and have the option to switch to an individual and go explore a planet yourself. Just as the multicellular stage opens up a larger 3D world and the society stage lets you take matters into your own hands, the space stage would open the doors into the whole galaxy in which you can do anything you want with what you have, the experience you’ve had throughout the game, on steroids. You should be able to engage in starting and managing your colonies, maybe there’s a disaster happening on that planet and you need to send aid and take control of how the settlement is planned. Maybe as the stage goes on it’s easier to establish colonies and you don’t need to manage them as much, but as i said there should be engagement and it should feel like your planets and people are actually there. This is all just my opinion and honestly I’d be fine with whatever direction the space stage goes.

i apologize for the long posts lol


Oh man, do NOT remind me of Spore’s space stage with that idea. You’d be there, on your colony, terraforming it to T2, when all of a sudden:


help, our colony is under attack or help, we have an environmental disaster we can’t take care of ourselves because we’ve spent our entire military budget on a literal crusade to get a T0 planet

And all the prompts are triggered at the same time. It happens a lot, once you ally the first 4 empires around you, once they get more than 3 colonies, they will make it their priority to attack their neighbour, no matter the planet, including the CAPITAL! It’s frustrating because you can’t get anything done and your allies attack your other allies because they aren’t allies so you can’t gun down the assailant’s ships or else they’ll turn on you so the defendant gets angry at you for “failing your mission” even though I have no obligation to protect my allies, right?

Sorry this became a Spore rant, but that sentence triggered some memories in me I would have rather kept repressed.


I was just saying what would be a realistic way to “conquer” a galaxy, which seems to be what many people think the space stage is about. Instead it is about researching cool tech and building megastructures to eventually win the game.

I’ve read quite a bit about how unrealistic large space empires are, if you don’t have very fast communication and ships. Because if it takes like 4 years to send a message to one of your planets, it’s very simple for them to just decide that “we’re our own nation now”. And it just isn’t worth it to spend a ton of resources keeping them in line.
So instead space “empires” need to focus on a few core planets and fill them full of technology, computers and stuff like that.


I agree with @CaptainCH that one of the most exiting things in the space stage is the exploring. Visiting alien worlds, some of them barren wastelands, some of them THRIVING (see what I did there?) with alien life looking nothing like the life on your home planet, discovering nebulae, rare natural occurrences, getting to know and understand the universe itself. I think that’s one of the beautiful wonders of the Space Stage.
I also agree with @OmnipotentFNarr to an extend. These disasters in Spore were a tedious duty everyone hated. In Thrive, they should be very rare event, that DOESN’T HAPPEN EVERY FIVE MINUTES FFS. The player should experience them like maybe just once to three times during the entire Space Stage. It should not be a mundane event the player hates, it should be something that rushes with them adrenaline, something unexpected, something the player will look back on and won’t feel annoyed, but will feel a sense of achievement for fending the danger off and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Give the player a chance to have a few rare memories of being a hero, rather than being a space traveler constantly in charge of tedious chores.
And I also agree with @hhyyrylainen. Space empires spanning half a galaxy are a bullgium (see what I did there? Belgium and bullsh… nevermind ). The player should have a strong, fairly centered empire, not an empire spread too thin over a large area. That does not mean you won’t bother with the rest of the galaxy, that’s why we have the :dizzy: EXPLORATION :dizzy: . If you still want more reasons why big empires are a no-no, watch this Exurb1a’s video. If you have a space empire, be centered in one place, do sciency stuff, conquer the wisdom, tame the technology, build cool stuff. Don’t bother flexing your budget by colonizing solar systems you won’t ever utilize.
Conclusion? Centered empire, the heart of your civilization, the birthplace of wisdom and awesome technology. Adventurous expeditions to every single corner of the galaxy. Just you, maybe a few more ships and a lot of exploring to do. Maybe for scientific purposes, maybe just driven by curiosity (basically the same thing though). And at last, very rare events that won’t make you the galaxy’s babysitter, but a one-time/few-times hero.


I totally agree that those were the MOST ANNOYING THINGS about the space stage in spore. Don’t worry though mate, I wasn’t even thinking of that when typing it out and I definitely don’t want to see something similar in Thrive. What I meant was that there might potentially be a few disasters but if you plan your cities well they won’t be so stupidly dependent on you and can hold their own.

I guess I never really considered that. I can agree that the space stage isn’t just all about conquest and it should be focused on managing what you have and building up your technology and resources instead of biting off more than you can chew. I’m absolutely cool with that. I think as the player develops technology more, they can apply it in many ways, and one of those applications can be expansion, like they can keep in touch with colonies better, and have a better military, but yeah I agree that there would be personal limits to how big your interstellar nation can be. And I also don’t think we should stop the player from conquering the whole galaxy when they have endgame tech and are pretty much a god lol


two necro-posts in one day, I’m on a roll!

There is always a balancing act between realistic and fun to play. one of my favorite games is Stellaris, where you can conquer the whole galaxy. While this would be impossible in any galaxy that is even remotely accurate, but it makes the game have an end goal that isn’t just the ascension gate. While I may have previously said that 10000 systems was a reasonable amount, I now think it should probably be about 2000-3000. There is always the possibility to adjust it down to 100 all the way up to 10000, but I think default should definitely be around 2500. This is sufficiently realistic and it still would give the player the sense of wonder at the size of the galaxy.

I also disagree that the game should make the player stay small and centralized, because again, while more realistic, it wouldn’t be as exciting as the largest empires with the amount of systems in the 50s to 100s range. This would add the difficulties of managing sprawl, and resource management. it would also discourage having war on two fronts. It adds many more interesting mechanics and possibilities than being a small empire in a huge galaxy.

Whole I understand your need to make some empires feel large you have to remember that size is relative. If the average empire has 10 colonies an empire with 40 will feel huge and powerful by comparison. Similarly, if the player’s fastest ships take 100 millennia to cross the galaxy, an empire that takes up 1% of the galaxy will already have to contend with a ridiculous level of sprawl (and consider that even that speed is ftl; the Milky Way has a diameter of 106.000 light years).

I don’t think we should be letting the ‘macho factor’ of controlling an entire galaxy get in the way of making a larger galaxy when controlling a subsector is pretty macho by itself. Just make the largest galaxy we can get away with computationally. After all, is galactic domination still cool if it isn’t hard?

well, relativity can only go so far. for example, what if you are one of two stellar empires (most species are still in the industrial stage) and you control three systems and the other controls only one. Comparatively, you are huge, but that wouldn’t mean anything as you aren’t actually big. My main caveats against having huge galaxies are

  1. Unless you focus on it, you probably wont explore the entire galaxy
  2. The likely hood of some disaster or event to happen to you are greatly reduced, and to combat that, the devs would
    have to make an extremely large amount of disasters/events
  3. This is similar to 2, but you wont encounter many of the strange and wonderous creatures and empires that the game has generated, so many empires and creatures are wasted.

Having a small galaxy doesn’t necessarily make the game easier; in some cases it might make it extremely hard. For example, if you have the default number of possible empires, but a small galaxy, you probably wont have enough resources from the few systems you control to create an ascension gate, or any other large project. But in no way is 2500 systems small. The largest galaxy in Stellaris is 1000 without mods, and it is impressive. I would say 10000 should be the peak, because it is gigantic.

I’m not sure I follow this. The likelihood of an event would be determined per star/planet/area right? E.g: A giant star has a 1% chance of going supernova each century. So the frequency of events would automatically scale with galaxy size.

Well by that logic the player should replay the game an (almost) infinite amount of times just to make sure he’s seen everything the game could generate. In a game with procedural generation there will always be ‘wasted’ content. It doesn’t matter if that’s in the next solar system or the next galaxy/playthrough.

Well, I assumed that some events would be one-time, and that there would be a possibility it wouldn’t happen within your sensor range or whatever it would be. I guess your idea would be better.

You know, when it comes to expansion of an empire, communications and management will definitely become one of the most prominent hurtles. That doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome though.
I feel like stellaris pulls this off quite well with their empire sprawl mechanic, where the larger your empire is, the harder it becomes to maintain and you begin to suffer penalties in economy and science. We could probably do something similar in Thrive, where your empire would only be able to be so big until you unlock technology that assist you in closing the figurative gap between your worlds.

Faster propulsion, expert management protocols, civilian information and propaganda tactics, could all collectively help an increasingly growing empire hold itself together.
Later on, if it’s ever a feature; Wormhole travel, jump gates, quantum communications, could drastically improve the connection between worlds and help an empire manage a more incredible size.

Looking at this, I would think that empires would be limited in size for much of the game until they start reaching into technology that pushes into science fiction where those limits would be broken.

Though until we get to that point in development, I can’t make any promises of how it will work out at that point. Physics and space travel are leagues out of my territory when it comes to theory.


Why are we talking about this now? We know that as time goes on the game will always have optimization in mind. Any methods that are more favorable to playing on your computer will be selected over ones that don’t and the game will eventually adapt and balance to be both fun and playable. I see know reason to worry or even predict this right now, the game will progress into a playable size itself.

(Edit: Wait a minute, I just describe evolution. I guess thrive is naturally built to “thrive” in any rough situation :smirk:. Ok I’ll go now. )

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