Informing Players and the Editor Helper

As Thrive becomes ever expansive and complex, players new and old alike will be increasingly burdened with seeking relevant information for each design choice they make in creating their organism. This inevitably means that players will occasionally slip up and miss critical info.

Enter the editor helper tool, a UI widget dedicated to listing off any and all potential errors in an organism’s design.

Should the player make a change that turns out to be detrimental, the helper tool will display a notification, and inform the player what is wrong. With several errors, the Helper will display each of them in a tidy list that the player will be able to review and resolve one at a time. Handy!

This tool could potentially even allow us to inform players on not just issues with their cell, but issues with auto-evo’s determination of fitness by explaining what points the player is doing poorly on. Trying to occupy a very competitive niche for example.

Location and UI

The editor interface is already quite crowded as of late, so finding a home for the Editor Helper is a challenging prospect. It needs to have a noticeable presence in the editor, but we won’t want it to be overbearing for the player. It is my personal opinion that it should be tucked away in a helpful button or collapsed somewhere when not in use for this reason. In my concept, it’s a button that will replace the warning functionality that we have present on the “Confirm” button when something is wrong.

Concept art by MirrorMonkey12 and me, Buckly.

The helper displays some information critical to the player’s design, and is something they will want to check on before confirming their changes, so I think it best that the button be located somewhere close to the “Confirm” button. In my concept, that’s right next to it, but the helper could also potentially find a home located just underneath the auto-evo help button on the right.

When clicked, the helper button should reveal the Editor Helper screen and any potential errors in a neat little list. At this point the player’s viewpoint is already fairly narrow in the editor thanks to all of the panels on either side of the screen, so in order to preserve the player’s view of their organism I’ve opted to temporarily replace the Auto-evo Prediction with the Editor Helper when active. This method would allow players to easily review their design while going through each error in the list.
Afterwards, they can freely switch back to the Prediction by pressing the same button. Any notification bubbles present would be hidden after viewing, until a new error emerges.

Error Types and Priority:

There are at least two types of errors that the helper will point out to players. All of them can be ignored, but some really shouldn’t unless you have something deliberate and unorthodox in mind (Such as placing thylakoids on your cell before needed, in anticipation of needing them later).

( ! ) Urgent errors are notifications that require immediate attention or else they could have significant consequences should the player confirm their changes. These include not producing enough resources for processes, not having access to necessary compounds, and anything else that should concern the player’s livelihood.
Urgent errors are represented by an exclamation point upon a red or orange backdrop.

( ? ) Informative errors are dedicated to miscellaneous details that may not actually be immediately concerning to the player depending on their design, such as not producing enough ATP to fuel movement.
Informative errors are represented by a question mark upon a grey backdrop.

Do these error types seem good enough? Or would we need more specific variants?

Error Explanations:

To many in the Thrive fandom, our warnings are likely to be quite self-explanatory, and going further will not be necessary. To those unfamiliar or outright new however, elaboration on the warnings will be crucial in furthering understanding of Thrive’s systems.

By providing a pop-up window containing an explanation on what exactly is wrong when interacted with, we could provide optional further assistance to those who need it.

This could be a great help to new players, teaching them how to solve the errors that may come up as they design their organism, and allowing them to graduate as a Thriving species in far less time!

Closing Thoughts:

While I’m happy to say that player understanding of the editor is already pretty good, I want to see it reach over 90% players with complete understanding before I deem it accessible. I believe that this feature could substantially improve our players’ understanding of Thrive’s editors and associated processes. However, implementing it might be very tricky for two primary reasons;

  1. Our editor UI is quite cluttered already, and finding a proper home for the tool will either require sacrificing even more of the player’s viewport, or pulling off some potentially tricky UI shenanigans that might make the programmers scream at me for suggesting them.
  2. Translating Thrive is a big endeavor, and this feature adds substantially more word bulk that will only increase as we implement it in later editors.

Not much we can really do about the translations I’m afraid, but I would like to know everyone’s thoughts on where the tool might find a home.


I like the idea of more information being tucked away somewhere where players who like to read will find it. My first thought is that it looks like the bottom right panel now has two tabs, and that the buttons for those tabs should be placed appropriately instead of by the confirm button. I would also advise starting with the warnings, but then again I’ve been against the auto-evo predictor for some time now, so I’m probably biased.


What comes to my mind is why not make the organism statistics panel be one of those tabs too and as how tab buttons usually go, they are placed above their content. Not only it is more intuitive but it also works like our other UI so it’s not that difficult to program. And thus, here’s a mockup of my idea:

The button with the pie chart icon is for the organism statistics panel and although it looks unselected, it’s the one selected by default (too lazy to draw a button with bright selected color) so the editor still starts with the OG panel. You can then navigate through the buttons to switch between panels.

I think with this configuration, the UI clutter will be much more minimized. Though I think there’s still something that can be done about the blank space to the left of those buttons.

Regarding error types, those two seem to be enough already, I don’t have anything in mind for more error types. However, I think informative errors would be better represented by an (i)nfo letter to denote statement while a question mark adds an interrogative tone to the message.

Programmer notes

I don’t know how most games do it but a very vague idea I have to implement this system is to separate it by four parts: a notification JSON to define the notifications, a notification class to define when a notification should be displayed from a context, a notification driver to make sense of and control the notification classes, and lastly the UI components.

This might require restructuring of the existing editor logic that blocks you from exiting the editor with negative ATP balance (among other things) to work with our general editor notification system.

For extensibility, it might be best (but optional?) to make this system able to integrate with contextual hints system in some way.


Really like the OP and Kasterisk/Thim’s suggestions. I think it’s best to have the buttons be as close to the organism statistics panel to minimize confusion and allow clear association.

Another note, I really like this idea because it allows us to implement somewhat more complex statistics while being less inhibited by editor space being taken up.

At that point, I feel it would be better if we made each panel into a collapsable list rather then tabs in one unified panel.

So the player could click on a particular panel to “bring it into focus” and expand it’s contents to see full detailed information, and the others would be collapsed but still show the most vital info, albeit to a minmialized degree. An example would be the statistics panel collapsing to a point where you only see the balance bar, health value, size, and speed. This would ensure that the player doesn’t have to constantly flip between pages and tabs to find all the info they need which would be frustrating.

Something to think about if that is the direction we want to go. Personally I’ll leave further matters of presentation to our graphics artists as they are more well versed than I when it comes to making something presentable.

I think having too many variants is not the best design. Perhaps at most urgent, warning, and informative would be the categories (informative could be stuff like, can’t engulf, can’t really move {if the player is a plant, otherwise this would be a more serious warning}). That’s because I kind of foresee someone wanting to dump quite many purely informative stats in there.

I think a tooltip would be a more appropriate GUI element to use here.

I really like this idea of using tabs. Though, I don’t exactly like that the auto-evo explanation is hidden (though maybe we could put the long-wanted up/down arrow regarding total energy gain straight into the organism statistics so that players would pay more attention to that than the raw numbers).

I guess the JSON layer would be fine to have here to be able to configure which “preflight checks” are enabled for each editor type.

I see just one slight problem for controller navigation: how to select the tabs as it would have to either share buttons with the report, patch map etc. tabs or some other way to switch those tabs.

I think this would be even harder for controller navigation…

My idea regarding how to solve this is to just put the most important stats directly in the organism statistics panel so it would have the at a glance situation report in it, including the most important line of information from the other tabs.

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