So just a few weeks ago, I created a google form to help assess the current state of our game from the player’s perspective. The form covered topics such as the difficulty of Thrive, it’s complexity and aproachability, and miscellanious information such as how Thrive was discovered. Ultimately, I expected soemwhere between 50-100 responses but to my pleasant surprise we recieved an exact total of 363 individual responses to the form. This is great as it means the data we have obtained is going to be more accurate in it’s representation of our player base.
If you are interested in viewing the raw data, you can access it here. This is the best way to view our custom responses.
Today, I would like to begin discussing the responses we recieved from this form, and how to go about resolving any appearant issues that have been brought to our attention.
Assessing the difficulty of Thrive is very important, as while we want the game to exhibit some good challenge, we don’t want it to feel frustrating to the player. The following responses are all centered around assessing how difficult or easy Thrive appears to be from the perspective of our players.
Looks like the greater majority of players use the default difficulty, which is great as it means the following results will be largely reflective of the current state of default Thrive.
AI Difficulty is not particularly surprising given what we know. The AI needs some serious love and attention as it has largely been left behind in the wake of new changes and the powerful player. As I’ve stated before, I’ve been wanting to assess what needs to be done already.
Finding Food is genuinely surprising to me, as I’ve personally found it very easy to survive with any and all diets with no shortage of food what-so-ever. I am guilty of dismissing the complaints I’ve heard as an issue of skill, but with 48.7% of respondants stating varying difficulty in finding food, I have clearly been wrong. And for that I sincerely apologize! I think I’ll look into tweaking compound consumption rates and/or availability to account for this to make Thrive a little more accessible. Not too easy though!
Creating a Creature is appearantly not too hard, which is excellent given it’s bound to become a little more difficult in the future once environmental tolerance is taken into account. That being said, roughly 27% of respondants expressed having difficulty designing a successful creature. I suspect this might have more to do with not quite understanding how some features work, rather than strict difficulty though. More on that later on.
Most respondants (67.5%) seem content with the Overall Difficulty, with 22.3% of them wanting Thrive to be harder. I would say that in response to this, Thrive should remain true to it’s current course in regards to difficulty level, but perhaps we should consider some neat challenging additions to hard mode to spice things up for those wanting more.
Balancing Thrive’s complexity is an aspect I am most conerned with. Each additional feature we implement will come with a tax of additional complexity that increases the amount that players must learn and understand. Having higher complexity isn’t strictly a bad thing, but we want it to be a gradual curve that increases as the player goes on, and not a sheer cliff that meets the player upon their first experience with the game. Making sure the microbe stage maintains a lower complexity value will be vital in maintaining a good amount of player retention and understanding.
Note that these values were determined from multiple-choice questions so translating that was difficult. Honestly, this graph here is… not necessarily helpful.
Auto-evo is unsurprisingly a rather weak aspect of understandability. 32.2% of respondants stated an utter lack of understanding, or otherwise paid no heed to it’s existence. 39.7% expressed an understanding of it’s importance, but otherwise did not understand how it worked. Auto-evo is in general, something we need to address eventually, especially in how it is presented to the player. Note that the custom responses are also mostly centered around a lack of understanding auto-evo.
Part Impact is acceptably understandable, with 48.8% of respondants claiming complete understanding, and 35% stating they understand what parts do, but not the impact they have. We could probably review our tooltips and stat representation, but I don’t believe change is necessary at this time.
Understanding of the Balance Bar is also within acceptable ranges. 67.2% of respondants state that they understand the purpose of the balance bar, and the impact their changes make to it. However, 31.4% of respondants state they only know that the top bar needs to be greater than the lower bar… Which means that we could probably do to explain it a little better. Our concept for the Editor Helper might be of great value to this.
The dominance of youtube is unsurprising given the success of Oliver’s video essay on the topic, though I am deeply curious on what “other” might be…
Unfortunately did not have a more adequate graph for which platform respondants play Thrive on, So this should suffice.
Once again, unsurprising results as most respondants use the free downlowd and/or steam to play Thrive.
It’s nice to see people making use of our flatpak and itch.io installations.
The biggest question is… what could “other” possibly be??? What are those 5 people doing? Are they torrenting it? Is Thrive illegal in some countries or something? Why would you pirate a free game? I wish I knew…
I apologize for the messy presentation of data. As it turns out, making questionarres is a complex science and the format of much of the questions did not lend well to presentable data sheets. This is something to keep in mind for the future, so that any other polls we make can be more presentable.