Devblog #33: A Whole New World

Three months since our last release, we’re back with another Thrive update. Thrive 0.5.9 heralds the arrival of a large slate of game-changing features, many of which have long been stuck on our to-do pile. From procedural patch maps to 3D editors, cilia to thermoplasts: read on to learn more about these new additions.

As always, to get the newest version, either download the free launcher below, or purchase Thrive on Steam or to support the game’s development.

Thrive 0.5.9

Our developers have worked hard stuffing this release full of juicy new content to make the game a richer and more diverse experience. We’ve outlined the major changes in this devblog. See the patch notes for a full list of features and bug fixes.

Note that saves created in previous releases will not load in Thrive 0.5.9. This was a necessary change for some of the new features to work correctly, since the new features were so big it wouldn’t have been worth the large effort to write a save upgrader.

Procedural Patch Map

Perhaps the biggest change in this release is the procedural patch map generator. In previous versions, every game took place in the same world with the same biome layout. In Thrive 0.5.9, each game world is different, with a dynamic map to explore and adapt to.

In future, we hope to extend this system to allow more detailed planet generation. While different planet types do arise in the current implementation – it’s possible your planet may be full of ice biomes for instance, suggesting a much colder world – these arise by pure chance, and still rely on only a small set of patches. But this system is a start, and adds a replayability factor the game was sorely missing.

If you yearn for the familiar layout of Pangonia though, don’t fret – you can switch to the classic patch map thanks to our next important feature.

New Game Settings

Have you always found Thrive too easy? Too hard? Too boring to always start in the hydrothermal vents? In Thrive 0.5.9, we’ve addressed these issues and more with the new game settings screen.

Select a difficulty preset to adapt the game to your skill level. If you’re feeling adventurous, switch to the advanced view, where you’ll find plenty of sliders you can fiddle with to fine-tune various difficulty parameters.

Meanwhile, with the planet settings, you can enter a chosen seed for the procedural map generator and choose your starting patch from a range of scientifically plausible options. The advanced view also lets you switch between procedural and classic Pangonia map layouts.

Speaking of scientific plausibility, we finally have a LAWK toggle! That’s Life As We Know (it), for those unaware. If you’re all about that strict realism vibe, turn this on to disable speculative game elements we haven’t observed in nature. More on these shortly…

Engulfment Revamp

We’ve given engulfment mechanics a makeover in this release. It’s now more engaging than ever to swallow chunks and other cells, with custom mutations to expand your options further.

Digestion is now a timed process. Engulfed objects remain inside the cell as its enzymes break down ingested material. You can evolve lysosome organelles to make this process faster and more efficient. Modifying these lysosomes unlocks the ability to digest tougher membrane types, which have been buffed with resistance to engulfment from all cells without this mutation.

Macroscopic Prototype

Following on from the Multicellular Stage prototype last release, Thrive 0.5.9 adds a prototype editor for the macroscopic portion of the Multicellular Stage. Yes, that’s right – a 3D editor!

Right now it’s rather basic, consisting of a load of coloured balls representing cells. Other features meant development time had to shift away from this prototype, so there’s no 3D gameplay for the time being. Still, it’s a strong statement of our future intent with the game, and a lot of important work went into refactoring the game to pave the way for this feature and others.


Their icon has been in the editor’s organelle list since Thrive 0.3.4, so we’re ecstatic to finally announce the arrival of cilia as placeable organelles.

Cell rotation rate now depends on size – the larger the cell, the closer its agility will be to that of an oil tanker. Cilia though boost rotation rate to help you fight this inevitable inertial creep, so be sure to add a few as you grow.

In future, cilia will be upgradeable, with further mutations generating currents to pull in unwary prey, but this feature didn’t quite make the cut-off for this release.


The thermoplast is another organelle we’ve been hoping to add for a while. Thermoplasts (and their prokaryotic counterpart, thermosynthase) are speculative organelles which produce energy from heat gradients.

In Thrive 0.5.9, thermosynthesis creates ATP at a flat rate which depends only on the ambient temperature in a patch. This can be quite overpowered, so we’re looking to implement a more involved mechanic where the player has to chase dynamic heat gradients to keep their ATP topped up.

Spawn System Revamp

A less visible change is a revamp of the system spawning objects and clouds in the environment. While still subject to variation, the new system is less susceptible to large and frustrating regions of emptiness. Hopefully this should make gameplay more satisfying and the world more vibrant.

Art Gallery

Alongside all the above gameplay features, we’ve added a special treat to the main menu. Under the extras menu, you’ll now find an art gallery, full of some of Thrive’s iconic concept art, in-game models and in-game music. Browse at your leisure to the sound of a Thrive Main Theme smooth jazz remix.

Other Changes

That’s the big changes covered, but there are many more smaller changes to enjoy.

  • Easter eggs – We’ve added one type of randomly spawned Easter egg to the game environment, and most of you will find it quite familiar. Can you find it?
  • Patch-wide population system – Going extinct in only one patch no longer means game over. Instead, you’ll be greeted with a screen to choose a patch where other members of your species reside, giving you a second chance to thrive.
  • Configurable maximum entities option – If you’re having performance problems, head to the options menu and reduce the maximum number of entities in the performance tab. While it’s not a silver bullet, this should go some way to helping those with less powerful machinery play the game.
  • Pause hotkey – Press space to pause and unpause the game.
  • Debug overlay – Press Ctrl-F3 to open the new debug panel, featuring performance metrics and other helpful information.
  • Nucleus damage reduction – Having a nucleus now gives a 50% reduction in damage caused by enemies.
  • Many other tweaks and bug fixes!

You can read the entire list of changes in our patch notes.

Looking Ahead

In our next release, we’ll be solidifying many of these features with stability and performance enhancements. We also hope to continue expanding the Multicellular Stage prototype, and add further features to the Microbe Stage to bring it closer to its final form.

Again, we’ll be holding a developer livestream to celebrate the new release, so make sure you join us to ask questions and learn more about the inner workings of Thrive and its development team. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

We also look forward to seeing you here for our next release!