3D anorganic environment design document

It’s been a long time since I posted on the development forum and since I contributed to Thrive in any substantial way. But that doesn’t mean that Thrive wasn’t on my mind. As the last few months have seen the addition of prototypes of all stages to the game, I asked myself how Thrive would eventually depict the 3D environment the later stages are set in. As it happens, over the last few years I have become increasingly more interested in minerals, stones and sediments in the context of my university studies. As an architecture student I’m by no means an expert of geology or natural sciences. I have however, some understanding of how different kinds of natural materials can shape our concious and unconcious perception of an environment. Based on these experiences, I tried to sketch out a blueprint of how we might go about depicting Thrives 3D environment.

I’m aware that the focus point of development is shifting back to the microbe stage right now and I´m all for that. This document is mainly for starting a conversation and thereby articulating different viewpoints of how we imagine the 3D stages to look and work like on a graphical level.
Through these conversations, I hope that a consensus will emerge (which almost certainly will and should look very different than what I have in this preliminary suggestion document) about how we will go about creating the 3D environment graphics.
It’s great to see serious discussions about a microbe stage graphic revamp going on. If I remember correctly we have tried these kinds of revamps in the past and they have always petered out somehow, mostly but not soley owing to too little time and energy available on the graphics team. I’m confident that it will work out better this time, as it feels like we have more active and motivated members in the graphics team than we had at many points in the past.
Looking back, there have also been other hurdles to past graphic revamps. As @Deus recently aptly noted in another thread:

This is something we can try to do better for future graphic revamps. Something which might aid us in these future endeavours is proper documentation of stuff which we implement. These kinds of design documents are meant to summarize information not only for ourselves in the present, but also for ourselves and other developers in the future. Where are we now? Where do we eventually want to go? Which elements of the game are meant to be placeholders and which are deliberate design choices which we want to keep as they are? I feel like this kinds of questions could be more clearly answered and recorded in Thrives graphics development.
Concept art like this one by @Uniow referenced by @Deus in the thread mentioned before go a long way in explaining what we want to reach:

However, I have come to believe that this kind of visual communication about the what needs to be accompanied by a lot of written discussion and summarization about the how, why, in what order etc.
Ultimately, I think that future graphic revamps could be made easier by documenting these things from the very start. This is what this document and the discussion which it will hopefully start aim to do.

If people find such a document to be a worthwhile investment of time and energy, I will try to update it to reflect the consensus developed in this and other discussions about the 3D environment. I will also try to expand it to include things beyond the geological environment, such as the atmosphere or water visuals. I can also imagine the possibility of compiling a parallel document for our plans for the microbe environment if people are interested.

I’m eager to hear your thoughts and inputs!

EDIT: I created the bulk of this document way before @Kertit recently became Graphics Team Lead (congratulations again) so I didn’t yet have a chance to get their input on this. Needless to say, I’m especially looking forward to getting their opinion on this as how we go about organizing graphics development will ultimately be in no small part their decision:)


@deus @MirrorMonkey2#4721 I’ve just read both of your documents (my brain will now be disabled x) )

So first going with Deus’s non-organic design doc:
This document gives a pretty clear (maybe even too clear and scientific for artist!) idea of how the environment should look when we’ll reach a more “3D” view of Thrive, and that’s pretty cool!

Now I like the idea of getting a full 3D scene even in the microbe stage but that will need a huge amount of (re)work.
In the first line, I think we will need the convolution surface to be implemented (using it to render the membrane in 3D so it can react with light better!)

Talking about light: those are clearly not the hardest to play with.
In the first place, only one directional light will be needed, and to simulate patches of light we can use masks.
Where it requires more work will be how the environment reacts to light (hello main menu planet atmosphere that never was done!)

So overall I completely agree with your idea. now the challenge will be to find people able to create this all.
I’ll take a look at it but I’m still pretty noob at using Godot (damn I’d loved using UE5!).

Thanks for the answer! I’m a bit unsure what you mean by Deus’s non-organic design doc. Are you referring to this thread: Graphics Tasks/Work-Flow Discussion? Or are you referring to the concept art by Uniow?
In general your answer was mainly focused on the microbe stage side of things. Just to clarify: At the moment my 3D anorganic envorinment design document doesn’t touch upon how we can make the microbe stage look more 3D. It’s mainly about how we might go about creating the environment for the 3D stages, which in my mind are all the stages except for the microbe stage. I thought about renaming it “macroscopic anorganic envorinment design document”, but I would eventually like it to include ideas for depicting the very early 3D multicellular stage, which features three-dimensional gameplay but is not macroscopic in the strict sense.
On the other hand, the microbe stage features 3D graphics and we talk all the time about making the microbe environment look more 3D all the time, but in my mind it’s still “the 2D stage” due to its gameplay.
Man, this kind of terminology can be confusing at times…

1 Like

I was talking about your googledoc anorganic thing :wink:
And yes I’ve understood it concern future stages. I was then talking about Uniow’s concept.

I know microbe stage features 3D graphics. I would just love to see it evolve to a full 3D and not a mix while keeping the 2D/topview gameplay.

1 Like

I see:) Now I can better understand your previous post! Yeah, @Uniow s concepts are definitely something of an ideal we strive to reach.

I’ve said this on Discord before, but I wanted to note on the forums that this is a very good way of organization thought surrounding graphics and art topics. I get the impression that we have a very loosely defined “style guide” to the point that new artists have no idea where to go. If we can make similar guides for other topics, such as the Microbe background visuals, then I think we can see a more involved arts team.

As to the document itself, I think that is about as much of a jumping board as we can possibly have for discussion/efforts for 3D environments. One thing to note is that it might help to focus specifically on underwater environments since we won’t see surface areas for a very long time.

Also wanted to note that I had nothing to do with the Google document shared by MirrorMonkey; that was all him!

1 Like