I’ve had this idea for quite a while and now want to hear your thoughts on it. I’m sorry if this is something that’s already been discussed and I’m just regurgitating old ideas.
The biggest criticism of Thrive that I’ve personally seen online is that it’s boring. I believe this is partly due to the fact that most metabolic pathways you can take and most gameplay types in the game are all very similar if not practically identical. Take lithotrophy and chemotrophy, both function in a very similar way (i.e. Find compound cloud, absorb all of the cloud, repeat). I propose that every gameplay type have different mechanics.
Differing mechanics of gameplay types
Currently in Thrive, I can count 6 (7) different gameplay styles:
- (Also just using environmental glucose)
Predation and scavenging are probably the most different, as they have entire mechanics devoted to them (Pilus, Toxins, Mucilage) which is what makes them the most exciting and interesting to play.
Photosynthesis has become more interesting with the addition of the day-night cycle, another mechanic almost fully dedicated to one style of gameplay. Photosynthesis requires managing storage to survive the night.
However, the same cannot be said for Lithotrophy, Chemosynthesis and even environmental glucose, which do not have unique mechanics, making them considerably less interesting to play. I personally see this as wasted potential, as interesting mechanics have been proposed in the past for these styles of gameplay.
In conclusion, adding unique mechanics would increase replayablity and enjoyment, as well as allowing for more variation of play styles.
Risk and reward, benefits and drawbacks
It has been discussed on here before, that ideally players should consider each evolution carefully. The best way to do that, is ensuring every evolution has both benefits and drawbacks. Currently in Thrive, most organelles and organelle upgrades offer only benefits with little to no drawbacks, which should probably be its own thread. However, implementing new, unique gameplay mechanics would give the chance for risk and reward in the gameplay itself.
(The following is just an example, and I have no idea how realistic this is)
For example, a unique mechanic for hydrogen sulfide would be that if you consume too much of it, it will become toxic to you, causing damage. This itself would make the gameplay more interesting, as sometimes hydrogen sulfide would be something you seek, and another time it would be something you actively avoid.
The specialization upgrade system
This is what I’ve been leading towards. I propose a system of “specialization upgrades”, most likely to the nucleus. It would work like this, that every x generations or something, the player would have a choice out of 2 or 3 different “specializations” or “adaptations” or something based off of the player’s cell and the organelles it contains. The player would choose one of the options and would get it’s effect.
The effects of each of the options would be both a advantage and a drawback. For example, a photosynthesis specialization could increase output of photosynthetic organelles, but increase ATP required for movement. The player could decide how much they want to loose/gain: options with better advantages would have worse drawbacks.
Why do I think this system would work
This type of system is usually most prevalent in rougelike games, where similarly you specialize in a certain type of gameplay or build. Thrive currently kind of resembles a rougelike game, as in Thrive you too specialize yourself and focus on a specific build.
A system like this gives player the agency to decide how intense or how risky they want to play the game, as well as coercing player to play in a specific style and not “something in between”. Moreover, it is a simple system that is not too complex and decently simple to teach to the player.
In conclusion, I believe a system allowing players to choose their own level of risk and expanding on unique mechanics for different types of gameplay would make the game deeper and much more interesting while being easy to teach as tutorials can focus on one mechanic per game. Additionally, it would increase the amount of total content and play time, as well as replayability.