Here is the much anticipated 0.4.1 feature discussion thread. Feel free to suggest any features you think would be cool to have in the patch.
Firstly it would be good to keep the patch quite small. I think this will help keep the time until we can release it relatively low. So when we have discussed the ideas we are interested in we will choose a few to put in 0.4.1 and save the rest for later.
Secondly I think, as always, it’s good to prioritise stuff which is low effort but high return. So features which aren’t too difficult to implement and really improve the users game experience a lot. I think focussing on these helps with momentum.
Here are my suggestions:
Starting the player as a single hex of cytoplasm, I think this is not so hard but adds quite a lot more gameplay.
Decrease compound availability over time: I think this was nicks idea originally, to have free floating glucose be common at the start of the game and get more rare over time. I think this is relatively easy but will make the game harder over time in a good way, forcing you to find new ways of getting glucose, from predation to autotrophy.
Adding in a patch selection screen: this is quite big but I think it gives a huge amount of gameplay. It’s non-trivial to sort out the issues involved however I think it will make the stage vastly bigger and give us a couple of hours of gameplay which is a big step forward. I also think there’s a limit to how far we can get with balancing the game until this is done.
I don’t think we should try to add auto-evo or too much complicated population dynamics yet, just because separating out the patches alone will be a reasonable task. I think just the separation will make it feel like you are living on a whole planet.
All feedback welcome, do you think the above ideas would be low effort, high return and are worth doing now? Also feel free to contribute your ideas that add a lot of value for not a huge amount of work.
Do you think adding “Melee organelle (Pilus)” is a good idea?
As to the changes you suggested: I think that will be a lot smaller update than I had in mind for 0.4.1. It would make it much faster to do. I think the only time consuming things are adding the patch selection to the editor and the ability to place one nucleus.
Do you also want to separate the NPC species into patches or would they still stay the same (ie. same NPCs in all patches)?
Unless we get a graphics programmer to join the team these are somewhere between really hard and impossible.
@Untrustedlife has been wanting to add floating things for a while so this might be a good, fast to implement feature.
I like Naro’s gui concepts, they’re great. I can also see the benefit of switching gui early because that means less to rebuild.
I like the idea of having a pilus, especially as we might want higher tier versions of it (harpoon or straw etc) so getting the first one done and tested would be good.
I think if we’re splitting up the patches it would be good to have separate species per patch. If it was wanted we could even have the player start as the only species and have species splitting and ai patch migration, though only at random.
Yeah floating thins is a nice idea, especially as now we can make more organelles. Also I’m not sure what people think about new organelles but we could add some, one we need is the prokaryote version of the chemoplast which is necessary for the start of the game.
Re “underwater sensation” that’s an interesting idea I will make a thread about game feel I think. Anything which is hard from a technical perspective is probably best avoided.
Agents are a tricky issue. The X’s are only a placeholder. Here is the most recent discussion, if anyone has input then it’s welcome in that thread. I don’t think we’ve really sorted out what to do in a satisying way so that we can move forward with it.
Well, I think we should at least add a nucleus. But otherwise I’m for early game reductionism to stop the player getting overwhelmed by a load of organelles when they first enter the game.
Good idea. It can be the start of balance tuning.
This is a nice one. More variety is always good. Maybe we could have their spawn increase over time so players get used to dealing with cells first and then, once comfortable with that, are confronted with new objects in the environment. They also open the door for new organelles like lamellipodia which allow surface attachment and crawling.
I had a glance back through the GDD and found a few things small enough to implement in the near future.
Foreground texturing. Like the background, a few translucent layers above the layer of microbes and compounds.
More active differences between biomes. Right now the only difference is the background, but I assume it’s not too difficult to change individual compound spawn rates for each biome. This should make the game more tactical as players can choose to stick with a biome or change to a new one, even if this switching system is overhauled by a patch-based system in future.
Persistant light spots. Chloroplasts in these light spots would work more quickly. Could also be tied to the above as they’d be more common in lighter biomes.
Bioluminescent organelles. We already have the editor icon for them, and while they don’t serve a gameplay purpose yet, it would be a cool visual addition to cells.
Bump up the role of cell inertia and change how fast cells can move with and without flagella. At the moment there’s little advantage to adding flagella as the speed difference isn’t considerable. I would like to see it so that flagella-less cells are more or less stationary, at least at some point. Until currents are added this wouldn’t be fun at all, so for now cells should still move at some rate without flagella, but only with flagella will they actually be able to turn and move effectively.
More readability of reproduction and health. There’s very little going on to tell me how close I am to entering the editor unless I watch all my organelles closely.
There are two major things I want to see at some point soon, though I recognise they’re difficult to include for 0.4.1.
Currents carrying cells and detritus around. Wiring the fluid simulation controlling compound clouds into momentum of cells would in my opinion add a lot to the realism and game feel.
These are some wonderful ideas so far. Something I would like to add is not only do we need to make 0.4.1 feel like a fun game, we need to make it feel like a polished game. Currently, even in 0.4 there is not really a balance in Thrive, more = better right now. Some builds are clearly superior over others, while roleplaying as a passive plant cell or speedy sonic cell is possible now, there are no reasons to do so other than roleplaying. Eventually the dominant cell will be some giant pancake with two of every organelle going around murdering everything, this occurs even in bacteria.
Different biomes will indeed help with the situation, but I think in 0.4.1 we can add some basic limiting factors such as wider cells moving slower than thin cells, or organelles having negative effects, such as chloroplasts decreasing the overall speed of your cell. Or maybe even make some organelles incompatible with each other.
Also something else I would like to see is a basic options menu, so the players can actually change their resolution or volume in game.
My suggestion with the github milestone is that we should remove everything and the only add back things we actively want. I think it’s become a bit of a dumping ground and it would be nice to start with a clean slate as it would be nice to do a relatively small patch I think.
@1n48yg I agree about balancing between different cells and their viability and organelle gluttony. I think having compounds less abundant will help, making the player fight to survive requires quite a lot of scarcity. Also I wonder if having bacteria flee the player a bit more would help as they are a free lunch right now. I agree more broadly this is a big issue we need to work on. I think it’s hard to fix properly until we seperate the biomes, being able to use chemoplasts and chloroplasts simultaniously won’t be possible then, now it’s super OP.
@Oliveriver I like a lot of your numbered ideas, they are cool. I agree that flagella feel a bit underpowered. When you say “Well, I think we should at least add a nucleus” what do you mean? We’ve been talking about having the player start as a single hex of cytoplasm as the only life form on the planet and then having the adding of the nucleus be a major gameplay moment you have to work towards. I think that’s a pretty strong idea.
I really like light spots and bioluminscence, though I’ve been thinking that might be worth doing after we have the patches separated as piling them on top of everything else might be a bit confusing.
Most of the github issues are small (or larger) technical problems. Right now I think only a few things like pilus, cilia, saving, appearance tab, environmental oxygen levels, fleshing out bacteria, organelle upgrades, process panel, freebuild editor, fluid dynamics (and maybe options menu) are the only non-technical issues there.
Okay there are quite a few gameplay issues as well. Should some of those be pushed back to (what I assume will be) 0.4.2?
With gameplay features it’s definitely easier to think of stuff to do faster than it’s possible to do it. This means a master todo list will grow over time rather than shrink.
I imagine it’s the same with technical issues, it’s easy to find things that are fixable but hard to actually fix them. All the talks I have heard about shipped games include pained statements about all the bugs they wished they had time to fix.
My suggestion for both issues is to keep a background list of all the things it would be good to do in an ideal world and then each patch just pull a few things from that list and focus on those. I think that helps keep the work focussed and not overwhelming. Also we can focus on the things with the best effort to return ratio.
So I’d suggest putting all those issues in a general pool and then pulling out some technical issues you think would be good to focus on, maybe 4-6 of them, to put in 0.4.1 and then we can save the rest for later. Next patch we can pull out some more and do those. Same with the gameplay features, lets move all of them out and then put back in the ones we want.
I guess it might make the release milestone seem more plausible if most of the technical issues weren’t assigned a milestone. I just feel like that could make it so that for example adding the executable icon back (which a few players have complained about) would take me 10 minutes to do (+ the time it takes me to switch over from Linux to Windows and then back). So I’m trying to get more visibility for the small technical things.
But if you think it would make it easier to track when we can release 0.4.1 if only just a few select technical issues were there and all the rest were in the backlog (without a milestone assigned). I can do that.
One thing to decide before that is: do we want an options menu in 0.4.1 (a lot of issues are related to that) and do we want saving (a bunch of issues are also dependent on that)?
Once those are decided I can move a lot of issues to the backlog. I’ll keep a few technical things I think should get focus.
Is it worth having a “small technical things” folder or milestone or something? That might help keep them organised. I would prefer if the 0.4.1 milestone could be relatively small and focused.
Re saving or options I guess seeing as they are deep engine things I suggest it’s up to you when you want to do them. I don’t mind if neither make it into 0.4.1, I think we can still live without them, but if you’re keen to tackle one then go for it. I don’t know what options we could offer specifically, things like fullscreen vs windowed are nice but don’t add that much I don’t think.
I’m not sure if it’s worth making a half way house saving feature. If we do that and then do real saving that’s like 1.3x as much effort as just doing nothing until real saving. However I don’t mind too much.
I feel like that would sort of not be what milestones (ie. issues for tracking release completion) are about. It’s easy enough to be able to view the issues without a milestone. The labels are another way to organise the issues, so there could be a label for issues that aren’t part of a milestone but have higher priority than other issues without a milestone.
I would rate having creature saving and loading in the editor to be way less work as that can just be implemented with a few methods inside the editor for making the organelle placement into a string and loading it from such a string. Whereas proper saving needs to save every aspect of all the cells and compound clouds to work properly (that’s why it is so much work).