The Great Discussion [New ideas and a new approach to game development]

Hi everyone, I am TheGreatChainOfBeing. Some of you know me for making some logos for the game that are available this forum. (I am still working on them and I have a great idea and I hope it works out).

I am not sure if this is the right place to post this but in a way it I am helping the developers.
Please advise me where to put it if it is in the wrong space and please do not delete it, thank you.

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-> Development and how to organize it

In this thread I am going to talk about some aspects of the game and its development.

As you know this game has been in development for years and I never quite understood why is that. I always thought that the problem was just that there is not enough people developing the game to make it happen. But after reading the development forums and seeing what the developers were capable of I was sure that the problem with the development of the game is simply the lack of a defined direction. (hhyyrylainen already corrected me and there is a lack of developers in the game.)
Of course the objective is to create an evolution game where you start as a microorganism until you reach the final frontier. But the true problem is that there is a lack of direction in deciding the very small details, for example should the mitochondria simply be added to a organism in the cell editor with no scientific context behind it or should the mitochondria be adapted later in the game via a symbiotic process?
These small details take a long time to be decided as the community is full of different ideas and generally it is really divided. I do think that to solve this problem there should be either someone in charge of the design and game-play of the game giving the developers a specific task, or it should be the community that would submit and vote the small changes that should be added or modified in the game. Or possibly a hierarchy of developers each having their own different decision power.

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-> Some aspects of the game and how they could evolve

Well as you know when you start a new game on thrive you’re welcomed by a harm animation, after that you go in the menu and you are presented with an animation of a microorganism, but suddenly you’re a microorganism in the middle of nothing with what seems to be some gasses floating around. For a beginner this is extremely confusing as there is no direct explanation from the game about what the objective is and what you should be doing. I know that maybe there are some people working on this problem but I just wanted to reinforce its importance. Also I think that this game being a scientific accurate game it should have the stages in the following order: God stage (new), Molecular stage (new), Microbe stage, Multicelular stage, Aware stage, Awakening stage, Society stage, Industry stage, Space stage, Ascension stage.

Firstly I will explain what the god stage is. The god stage is probably not even a stage in itself but I really don’t know what to call it, the god stage is basically a stage where you choose in what galaxy,system,planet,specific place the molecular stage will start, this would work really well with the patch technology that some developers are proposing (patch map based on the planet). This stage would present you the different conditions of the planets and help you chose a good place to start.
But there could be no god stage at all as the game could decide itself where to make you start the game. But thats something that I am just putting on the table.

The molecular stage is something that i will admit to not know how it would work, but I think that it could work similarly to what spore supposedly had in its plans, and that is create different molecules like a puzzle and from there slowly develop a really simple microorganism.

–> A different approach to the microbial stage

The godot switch made me think about something. The microbe stage is basically you playing around with one cell in a 2d environment with very little depth, that makes you think almost that you’re seeing the microbe via a microscope. So my idea is that the microbe stage should be 3d to make you really imagine how the microbial life really is. But there could be another route that being that the microbial stage should be similar to the civilization stage from spore. Crazy I know but i will explain.

As you know the microbial stage is played from the perspective of one cell, which probably was based off spore as the spore gameplay focuses more on the player and not on the species itself. The population of a certain microbe in thrive is a simple variable that changes when you die or evolve (decrease/increase), so my proposal is that in the microbial stage you would control your species from a god like prespective (similar to a map), controlling the patch that the microbe is expanding on and evolving the species with time , also this would work really well with a food chain simulator and a species chain simulator as you would have precise knowledge about the environment.

–> Development of the game and how the game should be developed

I think that we should be focusing on the planet/galaxy generator right now as we will probably need it for the patch map and we will need in the future for the awake stage, because without having the details about the planet in which the user starts will create some really difficult bumps in the development of the game.
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Final thoughts

I hope that whoever reads this takes it as a personal opinion and not something that i am forcing to be made.
I also hope that this creates a healthy and beneficial discussion in the community in order to make this game great.
I will be extending this thread thorough the time.

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This was quite worth the read, GreatChainofBeing! :smile:
Your ideas are very interesting to say the least.
I think there will be something similar to the god stage you said in the future, but I’m not so sure about the molecular stage. How life began is still a mystery so i think that’s why the devs are sticking with the microbe stage for now because how life began is not fully understood yet.

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Hi MechanicalPumpkin, hope you’re doing well.

I did not know about that, do you have a link on the forums so i can have a better idea of the plan?

To me the molecular stage is something that could be implemented in the future and maybe not right now. There are some theories about the formation of microorganisms, in the start of life there would be small molecule clusters that would grow with time until it obtains a certain strucsture that would allow it to reproduce and survive. But maybe instead of a molecule stage there could be a simple animation showing these molecule clusters evolving into the player “microorganism”.

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I vaguely remember it being discussed before but I don’t remember the exact thread
Edit:

Thanks hope you’re doing well too

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I’ve been considering making a sort of survey-esque poll here on the forums from time to time to help the dev team decide on certain features and decisions by knowing what the community at large favors. It always helps a ton to know what everyone wants! But I haven’t quite gotten around to it yet, for no good reason.

By the way I think alot of the confusion caused by the abrupt start of the microbe stage could be resolved with a nice tutorial. Ideally one with minimal hand holding.

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I think, the player should have the ability to switch between the “Spore Civilization” mode and the “microbe face” view. What do I mean by “looking at the face of a microbe” if it doesn’t even have eyes? I suggest that you fantasize about what the world looks like for microbes with chemo vision. Maybe it’s just a black background with colored spots? Or something completely different? This may not be very interesting for most players, but it can be an interesting challenge for other players. Again, I do not pretend to add everything I have listed. Unfortunately, I’m getting off the subject again.
I suggest not to worry about the problem of the appearance of life on Earth, it is probably one of the unsolvable mysteries. But you can use theories of the origin of life. You don’t even have to choose one. At the very beginning of the game, when you are still in God mode, As @TheGreatChainOfBeing wrote, the player will be able to choose from at least a couple of options for appearing on this planet. When life is born naturally, competition will initially be small, and resources will be plentiful. If a player chooses a “Space Marine”, then a larger number of competitors will develop along with it. Additionally, there may be a certain portion of the DNA that will help, for example, to save ATP, glucose, and so on. In any case, there are advantages.
I hope, you understand me. I don’t believe translator :smiley:

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Are you sure about that? We are still consistently only having 2-3 active programmers at a time (me + someone else).

Also, we’ve been losing steam recently on getting code changes done: https://github.com/Revolutionary-Games/Thrive/commits/master (see how the last 20ish days have had way less commits). Part of that is me working on making a new devbuild system for patrons. Once I’m done with that housekeeping stuff, I’ll work on the main code base more.

I can kinda agree that it is hard for new people to find stuff to work on. Pretty recently I made a kanban board for us that pulls in all the issues and categorizes them: Planning

But I think the main issue is that we just have too few skilled programmers actively working on Thrive.
I hoped that by this point (after the move to Godot) we would have way more active developers (especially programmers), but that hasn’t happened. I think there’s still hope that we’ll get exponentially more developers once the game starts seriously shaping up.

This is just one example, but I want to comment on this a bit.

I think this is a case of where we went with a simpler to implement approach first, with the idea of bringing in endosymbiosis later into the game. In this case I’ve vetoed making things this feature requires issues on Github, because no one has come up with an actual full plan and considered all the gameplay implications.

I feel like part of the problem is that we currently have a bunch of bugs and issues, as well as the game balance is all over the place, which saps attention from the grander plans. We just need to somehow get the base game to a better place so that we can discuss more about the future stuff.

TJWhale was the microbe stage design lead making the final decisions, but he retired from the project. And we still don’t have anyone to replace him, all of our new theorists and game designers haven’t stepped up to the task. I’m already ruling over the code with an iron fist, so whenever low quality PRs appear, my hands are full just reviewing them. It would be way too much work for me to handle to make finished game designs on top of that, that’s why I’ve been hoping someone would step up to take the responsibility over finalizing designs.

I haven’t myself experienced this, but the split between the community and dev forums was done because the community’s ideas are very raw and low quality, to put it kindly. Perhaps voting would be a bit better? BTW the VIP patrons have had the chance to vote on what I’ll work on next.

I’ll reiterate my earlier point, no matter how many levels of management and control you have, 2 programmers can’t get more work done than they could before. Unless of course we reach the Patreon support levels where we could have a part time or full time employee work on thrive.

Work on the tutorial has been pushed back because no one has picked up the responsibility, and I haven’t included it in the releases as the main gameplay loop is still rough and balance is off.
We do have ideas for how to do the tutorial.

This is just the new game options.

This is pretty much the plan for the zeroth stage, abiogenesis, I haven’t participated in the discussion on why it was not included, but I think it probably was skipped as it wouldn’t be super interesting, and the end result would always be the same (the single hex of cytoplasm where the microbe stage starts).

This is exactly what the design tries to look like (looking at microbes through a microscope).

This is the editor part of the microbe stage, where you now can choose where to spread. What is missing is that auto-evo would affect the player as well (it’s currently random so it is disabled for the player). But once that is done, and a bunch of graphs are added, the editor becomes the way to control how well your species is doing.

Going strategy all the way, would make a much different game, and we might as well scrap a ton of the plans for Thrive. It’s probably the most important design decision that the early game will be from the POV of a single member of your species.

Some work was done on that, but the people working on it are now inactive.

Once again we need more motivated and active programmers.

I’d be really interested to know what solution you suggest to the (what I think is the actual issue) lack of programmers working on code. None of the other solutions, in my opinion, can work without having active programmers doing things.

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Hi Buckly, thanks for the reply.

That is a very good solution, I think that would also establish a very good connection between the fans and the developers.

Hi Gotor thanks for the reply. I also thought about that, because if you think about it you’re just one cell and it makes the game very individual focused and not species focused.

Hi hhyyrylainen thanks for the replies.
Your reply confirms that I am wrong and that my initial idea that the development is taking years because of the small development team is correct.

I was going to talk about the balancing in my initial post but forgot about it, I think that a solution for that problem would be the creation of different teams within the development team to work on different tasks (a team for balancing, a team for the gameplay, etc), but maybe the kanban board that you referred may help with that problem (i never used it so i do not have knowledge about it). Another solution that would require some money would be wiring some new developers thought the patreon.

I’m new in the forums so I do not know who TJWhale is, but either way that is really unfortunate to hear because that is one of the problems that is making the game take some time to make too. I do not know how the work was done before but having someone control the microbe stage is a good idea because the person in charge would guide the development of the stage making it faster.

I think that my idea about a developer hierarchy could help with that problem, but the size of the team would be a problem.

Like I just mentioned I do think that that is a great idea, but the way forward would be a part time employee because patreon is too unstable to support a person working a full time job on the game, but that’s just something that I am imagining as I do not have access to the data about the money donated through patron thorough time.

Yes it can have multiple names.

If it would make the game boring it would be a better idea to create an animation that shows that happening in a very brief or detailed way.

These are the type of decisions that I was talking about, having a developer or the community decide these would be a very good way of making the process faster.

Like you and I said, maybe a solution for that problem would be paying for a programmer, but that doesnt seem like a good idea because the funds from patreon are not sufficient. So my final idea to solve this problem is to use the patreon money to promote the game or promote the development of the game trough social networks and we would target programming channels (youtube) or design channels or science chanels depending on what is needed in the team. But I do not know how the money is being used or how much is made monthly so that is just a suggestion.

P.s.
I just thought about something, as the player will grow in a alien planet will the chlorophyll adapt the color that it absorves (its color) to the color to the light that it receives?

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I’ve never heard of this kind of approach being used in game development. Because balancing and gameplay features are very tightly coupled, and I can’t see different people being able to do those in parallel.

The patreon is currently at a bit over 100 dollars a month. For hiring programmers, that’s nothing. That’s not even enough for me to work part-time as a student.

These types of things are absolutely massive things, and it’s very hard to discuss this.
I’ll use the 3D cell stage as an example. People suggest that, but they don’t realize that such a change leads to a huge amount of design decisions being scrapped, we’ll need to rethink all of these (and probably more): how will cells see, compound clouds, microbe AI, the editor, stage backgrounds.

I won’t accept this kind of discussion, unless the person starting it is also willing to redesign everything that gets thrown out because of the new idea.

AFAIK the rate for ads is like a couple dollars for 1000 views (not even people clicking on your ad). So we could have 10000 ads shown per month, but what would that do? I doubt that we could actually do much of an impact that way. It’d be basically waste of money. I instead want to use the couple hundred the patreon has racked up (after server costs) to pay for setting up a non-profit organization.

Much more effective would be if Thrive fans would go out and tell new people about the game.

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I don’t know how it would work in practice but in theory it seems like a good idea, but the size of the team is an obstacle.

If there was a developer in charge and he wanted to implement this idea I agree with you, but if the community chooses that it is a good idea to implement into the game, it would only be implemented if the developers are willing to do so.
Anyways , it is only an idea and the developers always have the last word.

People are getting into the development of the game because someone talked about it. Using ads would make the same effect if not better. I do think that we could push some new developers into the development team using that strategy if the ads are catchy and well targeted.
But the problem is that those developers probably would be as reliable as a paid developer.

With ads I am almost sure that we would get at least 2 new developers, and if that is the case it wouldn’t be a waste of money.
Banner ads are terrible and I think the best platform would be youtube as we could target the ads to different types of channels (science channels, spore channels, design channels, programming channels, game development channels), we could distrubute the ads in via those channels or we could target a specific channel, and we could use a very well thought out video to show what we got and what the game would look in the future. (“And we could also make a really crazy click bait with spore 2 in the start and slap thrive on it but that’s just a crazy idea.”).

Tell me more about this.

We do not live in a perfect world.

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It would be much cheaper and more effective if people went and persuaded big science related youtubers to cover the game for free.

To actually have legal agreements (for example work contracts), Revolutionary Games needs to be made an actual legal entity. Right now we are just a collection of people working on a common thing, but there is no legal basis for the team as a whole to do anything (like hiring someone would be).

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Oh i see now, how much money is needed to set this up?

From what I’ve read the minimum would be around 200 in fees for setting up in Finland. But it might be problematic for example if the organization rules can’t be in English (so an official translation is needed). Also there might be a problem with not having enough founding members residing in Finland. It’ll be a huge hassle to do, but I guess I’ll have to do that as well as no one has suggested really anything else (than me setting up an organization in Finland).
So depending if I can’t find the information I need, I might need to hire help. So the actual cost might be increased by a few hundred more.

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From all your answers we can really see that it all boils down into the problem that you mentioned above that is the lack of developers and that goes into either bringing more people into the team via ads or paying a full time employee, or hope a big youtuber talks about the game.

Anyways you’re really pushing this game forward so props to you.
I would love to help in the development of the game but I dont have any experience with godot and I am not that deep into programing.

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@hhyyrylainen will this be of any help https://www.gitpod.io/

Unless they add out of the box support for Godot projects, that’s not going to help. Because I don’t think the amount of effort it would take for us to make that work (if it is even possible as the Godot editor web support is pretty rough), would get returns (at least for me). Now with Godot being super simple compared to the earlier setup, there still isn’t a massive flood of new developers.