So...what do we do now?

A belated merry Christmas to everyone. :christmas_tree: I think it’s time we talked about something. Again.

The project might as well be dead right now. I’m sorry for saying it, but it’s true. The last post here was nearly a month ago. Our most recent news update came at the end of October and promised bi-weekly mini updates which haven’t appeared. The last commit to the main branch of GitHub was a week before that (there have been more recent commits since, but these have all been small and confined to the engine branch). Even the subreddit hasn’t seen a post for a month - that’s not just from us, that’s from our fans as well.

The only active areas recently have been our community forums and Discord, and the former was chopped in half in an effort to replace it. This was my fault, and I’ve come to the considered opinion that, excepting any objections from other members, the old forum should stay. I tried customising it and found it too unwieldy. The dev forums are fine on Discourse, but no matter what I couldn’t make an environment that was in any way fun or recognisable as the community forums should be, at least in the couple of hours I spent on it.

Meanwhile the Discord server gets plenty of activity but comes with its own problems. Hardly any of it is Thrive related, the small amount that is bears no relation to current development, and our moderators have become so tied up with keeping order and dealing with problem users that they have no time or incentive to do anything publicly. Some of its users may balk at this, but the majority of our developers and fans don’t care about the Discord. Most don’t even know it exists. Rightly or wrongly, that’s the situation. We have a vocal minority of fans confined to one place nobody else can or wants to see.

A lot of this is of course my fault. I can’t sit here telling people to do more when I haven’t really done anything for months (see here). So I won’t be making any impassioned pleas for more motivation here. It just saddens me (and a lot of others presumably) when progress has clearly halted with no future in sight.

So, what’s the solution?

Thrive has spent eight years with the same business model and err, let’s be honest, we haven’t achieved much of the initial vision in that time. Sure impressive things have happened, but compare our current Microbe Stage progress with what was planned. It’s just in a bit of a dour state, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s time to conclude this approach doesn’t work. We’ve tried our best with it and though at times it looked like it could succeed, right here, right now, that perspective is a million miles away.

I’m suggesting we seriously look into something financial. Now, I’ve argued against this kind of thing in the past and maintain that many approaches would be ridiculous. Kickstarter, for instance, makes no sense for us. I think we should instead accept voluntary donations providing we can work out the logistics of what to do with them. Even if we fall far short of what we’d realistically need to subsidise a single programmer, the fact that people are willing to give us their hard earned money would (hopefully) inspire some confidence and motivation within the team. And if the project grows even a little as a result, that amount will grow and perhaps could be put to use one day.

If we decide to go through with this, we’ll of course announce it on all our platforms and acknowledge the potential pitfalls. I’d wager far more of our supporters would be happy to see us finally listen to them than would be disappointed at our abandonment of a totally free approach.

Is this actually going to solve anything though?

The project’s main issue remains the same: it’s still far too reliant on contributions from a few members. I’m sure we’re all very grateful for hhyyrylainen and crodnu continuing to program and organise things recently (without those two the project really would be dead), but without Nick, TheCreator, moopli, myself and others helping over the past few months, it’s clear things aren’t happening as quickly as we hoped.

Is money going to fix this? Who knows, but I genuinely don’t know what the Belgium we can do instead. We’ve tried quite a lot and progress improvements have been temporary at best. If we want the project to survive, we might need it.

I’ll post links to this on Slack, the community forums and Discord. Please reply if you can. This goes for fans too (though of course you’ll have to discuss it elsewhere) - what do you think we should do?

EDIT: Following some discussion on Discord, it’s come to my attention this might not be the only last resort. Contacting old members, trying another massive outreach push, etc. are all alternatives that have been done before but might be worth doing again. Feel free to discuss those here (or elsewhere) too.

I had a go to make look more like the old forum. I did get pretty far but the icons next to posts can’t really be made bigger without making a discourse plugin / changing the code that generates the html as it places the small icons there.

The lack of activity is probably because no one on the team has energy left after school or work. At least that’s been the case for me the past few months. And a few other programmers have also said that they’ve been busy with school.

Someone should really set a weekly notification (if I remember correctly the bumping rules) for posting thrive to (and maybe

Game dev classifieds is where I found out about thrive.

Edit: good example:

1 Like

Interesting post Oliveriver.

Personally I think the one core thing we are missing is gameplay. I think you can’t really sit down and play Thrive and that is our main problem. Without gameplay there isn’t a game.

Looking at as an example I don’t think the underlying systems need to be complicated to make good gameplay. You don’t need great graphics or lots of mechanics, simple things can be fun.

I’ve got a few suggestions if any of them would be helpful:

I think darksouls based combat would work well. What I mean by that is adding some mellee weapons and having the ai turn towards you slowly and occasionally charge. I think this wouldn’t be so hard to implement and it’s a proven formula.

I’d be happy to put out an advert for a game designer as I suggested, I think that might help get someone onboard who is passionate about gameplay.

I’m happy to help anyone else who has other ideas for gameplay to flesh them out and test them. I did some testing with movement and personally I enjoy swimming around more when it is more fluid / easy.

I think we’ve been stuck without gameplay for a long time and it’s the only thing we really need at this point.

That’s just my opinion, I’d be interested in hearing from others about this.

1 Like

I do agree that we are missing the gameplay (the basic “fun” element that should be present, like in agario as you mentioned). But I’m not exactly sure how useful a game designer would be at this point, other than filling in the blanks in the design documents and of course designing the fun gameplay. That would certainly be useful but without anyone to implement the design it’s useless at this point.

We already discussed many potential improvements to the fighting: like more precise movement and better AI and new organelles for fighting (the pilus). But the AI thing didn’t get implemented because I don’t know how the current AI works in order to change, also crodnu probably doesn’t either and there was that one guy who wanted to work on AI, but gave up after we instructed him to look at the microbe_ai.lua file. So that change to make gameplay better was again prevented by currently active people being unfamiliar with how the game / engine works.

I’m going to (others are free to try another approach) try to sort out the engine whether that is the ongoing engine_refactor branch or starting from scratch with godot 3.0 (once it is released, the current beta explicitly says it’s not production ready). So that we can clean up the engine and also document how it works making future changes easier and new programmers can then actually do stuff instead of us just going “look in that file and try to figure it out”.


We could start with the release candidate, because i think it’s safe to assume the release version won’t be too different in core features, and it’s not like we’ll release before them

There is still a risk that what we build with the beta version is broken and we need to spend a lot of time to debug it all again.

That’s more customisation than I thought possible, but it still feels…off. I suggest we put it to a community vote (making it clear the theme can still be changed) and go with whatever option people prefer.

That’s a good idea, and it seems Slack can give regular reminders, so I’ll look at setting that up now. Some sort of reminder to reply to applications would also be nice, though it’d be a bit useless in the periods in which we get no applicants.

True, but we have a relatively detailed concept for gameplay and we can’t realistically do anything with it until the engine is in a usable state. Right now it appears to be hard to add anything without wading through engine annoyances.

So, basically it seems I was mistaken with my initial idea. At least I got people talking about things again. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Although I will say, if we’re still in this position in six months’ time, we need to revisit this and think about something more radical.

Basically everything that can be done with css or javascript added to a webpage can be done with discourse themes. As I think I said somewhere, the only issue that needs creating a discourse plugin would be to increase the profile picture sizes next to posts, they are currently loaded from a 45x45 image so it cannot be sized up without it being really blurry.

The customization takes quite a while as I basically have to open firefox developer tools on the page, read the html structure and select how to assign styles to only where I want to change some property.

Well, I’m back with the community and currently due to my state of employment, I have nothing but free time for weeks on end. So if at all possible, I’d like to get to work and move things forward.

There is this thread that was discussing about improving the visuals, which is something you could probably do: at least the GUI improvement part.

The second part about lighting will need changing Ogre materials, which is harder and requires looking into the Ogre material documentation (and maybe trying to figure out the possible parameters). But the current engine refactoring work (which has switched to Ogre 2.1) requires material fixes anyway, so someone working on it would be very helpful.