Devblog #3: A Farewell to Hexagons

0.3.0

It’s official: after a pre-release to clear up a few bugs, Thrive version 0.3.0 is now available to download. To do so, either visit our Releases page or the link below:

THRIVE VERSION 0.3.0

This devblog will run you through the various new features, along with other miscellaneous updates, including what’s coming next.

Release 0.3.0


 
0.2.4’s successor, 0.3.0, is finally here. Wondering why it isn’t 0.2.5? Thanks to the new membrane, organelle models and other graphical updates, we’ve decided it’s a major enough update to warrant an increase from 0.2.x to 0.3.0 instead.

Here are all the new features:

Membrane

As you’ll notice from the image above, thanks to the hard work of the developers, our cells now look like actual cells instead of honeycombs. The membrane is created procedurally based on the arrangement of organelles in the editor (still hex-based) and flagella are attached to its edges. As of yet it doesn’t distort in-game, but it does have collisions implemented so cells won’t pass over each other (unless there’s engulfment involved, but we’ll get to that later).

Organelle Models

Floating inside your new membrane will be several organelle models. In the editor, organelles now comprise several hexes of space, can’t overlap and have to be placed in a contiguous shape next to existing organelles, so building cells becomes more strategic. We have Chizu Nordenstam and Nanu to thank for the new models, although more are sure to come as new organelles are added with new gameplay possibilities.

Opening Cutscene

Now you can watch our opening cutscene when loading up the game, skippable with the escape key. Indirectly, this was probably the most difficult new feature to add. We’ve had the completed video ready for a while now, but adding it to the game required a major upgrade to the graphics engine, although it wasn’t the sole reason. Our programmers spent several months working on the update, which from the outside doesn’t look particularly major. It was difficult work, but we’re incredibly thankful for it. However, it is likely to be unplayable on Linux machines due to dependency issues, which we’re working towards fixing (see below).

Microbe Engulfment

Microbe engulfing is now possible – enter engulf mode by pressing G and you can slurp up other microbes (but be careful when doing so against those with toxin capability…). This is at the moment a crude system and unrepresentative of the way engulfment will eventually work outside of endocytosis of bacteria, but at least now you can be a giant all-consuming blob.

Minor Tweaks

There have been a few small tweaks to things, such as the GUI (with a slightly more readable help panel and better font in the compound list), AI and compound processing. Thanks to bug fixing, several other small issues have also been fixed.

Other Updates

Although the release is our main news item, it’s not the only thing going on. If you haven’t already seen, our community forums are full of activity, and we invite you to join them to keep up to date with Thrive-related news and interact with the developers and community.

http://thrivegame.freeforums.net/

The community is now large enough that we’re looking for moderators to help organise it. If you’re interested, you can either apply via the usual method (i.e. our Application page) or as a thread in the Meta section of the community forums. Bear in mind we’re mostly looking those who are already established members of the community, and for the moment we don’t need too many.

Our website front page has had a new lick of paint too, including more summarised information on the game and its concepts. You’ll also find links to both forums and a brief gameplay overview/tutorial, newly updated for 0.3.0. You’ll also find the entire Microbe Stage plan within the GDD linked at the bottom of that page.

Recently we’ve seen an in-depth discussion on our development forums on the possibilities of representing light and vision in gameplay, as well as deciding on organelle functionality and upgrading systems. Check them out here and here respectively.

What Next?

So, we now have membranes and organelles, a considerable graphics overhaul. Where are we going next? For one thing, there’s another Devblog coming soon, and it’s a pretty special one…

You can find our discussion on upcoming features here.

Here’s an overview:

Linux Fixes

Perhaps our biggest issue right now is that the game often doesn’t work on Linux machines, preventing a significant proportion of our fanbase from playing. We were going to include fixed dependency issues in 0.3.0, but time got the better of us so we’re moving it to the next release. Expect 0.3.1 as soon as these problems are resolved. Similarly, a Mac port is also on the cards as soon as we get Mac OS-based developers.

Gameplay, Gameplay, Gameplay

It’s safe to say we don’t have much of a game right now. It’s a considerably prettier not-much-of-a-game than it was, but it’s still mostly proof of concept. Our next few releases will shift the focus towards implementing gameplay mechanics to create a fun experience. These include: agents (substances created by cells and released into the environment to perform specific tasks, like damaging organelles or signalling other members of a species), bacteria, combat (using piluses, agents and engulfment), health and death.

Editor Improvements

There are a lot of small fixes to make to the editor. Symmetry, for instance, is currently non-existent. Cytoplasm too isn’t yet implemented, and will require an overhaul of the organelle placement system.

Compound Clouds

At the moment, compounds are emitted as discrete packets from static objects. This is obviously unrealistic and not balanced for gameplay at all. The plan is to replace them with coloured “clouds” spilt into the water, which can be collected to provide compounds. This also ties in with fluid dynamics, another planned feature. You can find our discussion on fluid dynamics and implementing compound clouds here.

New GUI

The current GUI is a stopgap for later additions. It’s better than what came before it, but was never intended to be permanent. The editor in particular is just a little bit ugly, and we’re looking for vector artists experienced with interface design to help us create a new one.

How Can I Help?

Excellent question! We’re still an entirely open-source team, and we’re always looking for new members. If you think you could help with any of the above tasks, or anywhere in general, visit our Get Involved page to see how you could join.

If you don’t think you could help with programming, art, music, etc. don’t fret. We always appreciate help getting our name out there. We would advise you do so carefully. Don’t spam anyone and abide by the rules of wherever you’re posting (if they prohibit advertisements, maybe it’s not a good idea), link to the front page of our website in most cases, and direct people to us if they have any questions you’re in any way unsure about.

That about wraps up this latest Devblog. Stay tuned for another relatively soon. We won’t reveal anything about it yet, but we think you’ll enjoy it.

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