Devblog #28: Colonizing the pond

Today is the day we take our first steps towards the Multicellular stage, binding agents are finally implemented! Now you can join other cells and start the first colonies. While in this mode, you’ll share resources with your partners, though you will have to leave the colony to reproduce.
This release features some graphics improvements too, now your cell membrane and color can be previsualized in the Membrane tab of the editor, lighting has been improved in the editor and toxin particles fade instead of just disappearing. We also changed to Godot 3.3.2 fixing some issues, added balance changes to organelles, made Glucose actually decrease over time, improved the Microbe AI and much more!

You can download the launcher below to get the newest version, and read on for more information.


Thrive 0.5.4

If you want a summary of what this version brings, here are the patch notes for this release.

Binding Agents

The main feature of this version are the Binding Agents organelle, which is unlocked once you evolve a nucleus. They are necessary for joining with other cells of your species and thus achieving the next step in evolution, Multicellularity. However, there’s a lot of work to be done before we reach that stage, nevertheless this is our first step forward towards starting the next stage.

With these agents your cell can now enter a new mode by pressing B, binding mode, and by colliding with other cells of your species you’ll get stuck to them. While cells are in a colony they share resources with each other, but if you want to reproduce, you’ll have to leave the colony by pressing U.

There are some issues regarding this feature, particularly some crashes, we intend to fix them in a future update. We did manage to fix some of the binding related crashes just before this release, but there are still known issues with the binding agents, and probably bugs we didn’t even find.

Editor improvements

A new feature of the editor is that now the membrane can be previsualized on the membrane tab (formerly known as the appearance tab). Now you can see how your cell will look after changing its color or how much its membrane will wiggle with a new rigidity value and cell wall. There are also changes to moving organelles. Moving a newly placed organelle  is now free, this action can also be aborted with a new button and its price has been reduced to 5 MP.

The editor visuals were improved by adding brighter lightning and a fading grid that will follow the cursor. The cell hexes won’t appear until reaching the editor tab, so they will no longer be shown under the patch report and patch map. Graphs now display information with properly calculated max and min values, and lines with insufficient data won’t appear.

The experience on the editor was improved as well, organelles now rotate more accurately when symmetry is on and we fixed crashes related to spamming the editor and next buttons. Some tooltips were changed improving their wording. The flagellum tooltip now explains that its direction when sticking out of the membrane affects the cell’s thrust and the thermoplast’s says its not implemented yet.


For this section, we have a couple of new features: The loading screen now shows a random piece of concept art with its title. While loading doesn’t usually take more than a few seconds or even less, we expect that as the game gets more complex it will take longer, so at least you’ll have something nice to look at while you wait. The other new thing is that now cytoplasm chunks have a model when cells die. Before, the mitochondria model was used as a placeholder.

Now the clouds look better and they should no longer flicker, which happened in some cases. The noise library used for them has been changed affecting their movement slightly. Toxin particles now fade after colliding with cells, before they just popped out of existence which is not pretty.
Scrollbars now are thicker so its easier to use them with the cursor. We added compound icons and tooltips to the patch report and we fixed the population number display to show large populations.

The game now defaults to fullscreen, which means that hopefully dedicated graphics cards are now preferred to run the game, instead of defaulting to integrated graphics, and fix fullscreen related bugs.


You probably knew this by now, Glucose amounts decrease after each generation, it is explained in the patch report. But this didn’t actually happen due to a bug, thankfully it’s been fixed and now the gameplay will be more interesting. You and the other species will need to evolve new ways of obtaining glucose because it won’t be in the environment forever. This decrease will be visible in the editor graphs, so you know it’s actually happening. It’s also the first environmental change we add, which is nice.

Microbe AI saw some improvements, we fixed a bug that didn’t let AI cells shoot toxins and they can eventually get tired of chasing other cells. On top of that the microbe AI saw finally someone work on the core logic so the AI should behave quite a bit differently now.

The mutation algorithm was tweaked so that cells are now likely slightly larger.

Balance tweaks

Osmoregulation factors were tweaked for all membranes and the normal membrane has now a factor of 1, so the other types of membranes were adjusted according to that value. The storage of all organelles was reduced to make managing cell storage space a more interesting gameplay element.



Several texts were fixed to be translatable, like input Key names and MP costs. New languages were added: Latvian, Swedish, Estonian, Dutch, Thai, and Sinhala, and Organelle process tooltips were improved so they show the actual keybinds and can be ordered naturally in other translations. Tooltips also react to language changes. Many of the translations aren’t complete, which you can help with on the community translations site.

Misc. changes

  • Updated to Godot 3.3.2. Fixes problem with exiting fullscreen not remembering the monitor. Fixes some physics errors.
  • Cell entities are now removed much sooner after they have died
  • Changed the placeholder image file to be a transparent one. This avoids the problem in GLES2 mode with the Thrive logo being overlayed over the gameplay when a shader fails to compile.
  • Added a new cheat menu (F6) that has a few new cheats on top of the old ones
  • Fixed a bug with all keys getting disabled if input rebinding was canceled
  • Rigidity slider tooltip now shows the middle value as +0 instead of 0. The tooltip also now displays the speed difference as percentage
  • Editor hexes should no longer be bugged in GLES2 mode
  • Editor fade in now happens after the loading screen instead of before
  • Improved the experience regarding turning the organelle place hover hex on after loading a save made in the editor
  • Tweaked the undo tutorial text
  • Adjusted Godot tooltip positioning to make the cursor overlap less with them
  • Refactored custom theme out of microbe editor scene to a shared theme file
  • Improved automatic code checks to even further help with automatic pull request reviews
  • Internal refactoring on the organelle tooltips to make them easier to work with
  • Build changes, we now recommend dotnet for building
  • Updated code style guide

What’s next?

We want to continue working on features necessary for starting the upcoming multicellular stage, this will bring new challenges as we figure out how should this new phase of the game be, what new mechanics we’ll need and how they’ll work and so on. Not to mention that the current stage isn’t finished either and we already have plenty of mechanics and features we want to implement. But progress on Thrive will continue, thanks to your generous support, we reached our second goal on Patreon, allowing us to hire a part time developer. To support this we formed an association some time ago, but we are still setting up some aspects of it to make it possible to hire an employee.

You can ask us questions about Thrive on this thread. and we’ll answer them in a new Thrivestream later today, where as usual, you can learn about the development of the game and also hear us rambling about flying volcanoes, underwater civilizations and such.