Click on a question below to see its answer. These are the most important questions, but you can find an even longer list here if you’re interested.

Thrive is a free open-source game for PC (Windows and Linux, with Mac version available as is) about evolution, in which the player guides a species from their origin as a microbe to the space age and beyond. Gameplay is split into seven stages – Microbe, Multicellular, Aware, Awakening, Society, Industrial and Space. Through each of these you will guide your creature towards intelligence, sentience and the stars. Our team seeks to accomplish two major goals: create engaging, compelling gameplay that respects our players’ intelligence, and remain as accurate as possible in our depiction of known scientific theory.

While Thrive was originally widely inspired by Spore’s intended concept, we aim to portray a creature’s evolution in a fun and interesting way while remaining scientifically accurate. Evolution will play out on not just your own creature, but those around you, each competing to survive within the simulated environment.

Thrive is still in heavy development, and we are making incremental steps towards our intended vision. For the moment the game may not quite live up to the hype, but there are already systems in place in preparation for later additions. We are an open-source team, allowing anyone with the necessary skills to contribute and further the game’s development, and many of our members are dedicated towards completing this seemingly insurmountable challenge.

We’re Revolutionary Games, an independent open-source game development studio comprised (mostly) of volunteers. You can read more about us individually here. All current and past team members are listed on the wiki. We have also now formed a non-profit association to back the development of Thrive, called Revolutionary Games Studio ry. You can read more about the association and info on joining on this page.

You can find info on getting involved with the Thrive development on our Get Involved page. Or on our wiki. You can also consider donating or checking out our Patreon.

Generally, we’d prefer if you contacted us by posting either on our community forums or subreddit. We have a contact form here if it’s a more private matter.

As an open-source team, we’re always looking for more people to contribute any amount they wish. Visit our Get Involved page to learn more. All of our code is in our Github repository.

We have a Patreon. So you can support us there. However something like a Kickstarter is much different as our scope of the game is enormous and there is no way we would be able to accurately determine how much money to ask for. We could maybe make an estimate for the cost of completing the microbe stage, but even that could be way off. So that’s why a one time payment thing like Kickstarter is not very suitable for us. Thrive is now available on some game stores for a fee, you can find links on our downloads page.

We are also exploring other ways for us to collect funds to put into developing Thrive further. For more discussion see Money and Thrive.

The game now features a tutorial covering the most important aspects. To learn more you should experiment in the game to discover more. You can also watch some let’s plays on Youtube to learn more about the game.

An in-depth look at the functionality of the Microbe Stage can be found here. For an overview of the planned game in general, visit our Wiki.

In-game NPC evolution is based on a system known as CPA – organisms collect, compete for and process Compounds (C) in the environment; based on their effectiveness, Population Dynamics (P) controls how successful they are through a variety of simulations; and Auto-Evo (A) takes hold, using automated algorithms to calculate how a species will evolve each generation. Your own species is slightly different, as you control their changes through entering the editor each generation to make small changes. The player will still collect Compounds, and their overall species success is still governed by Population Dynamics.

Evolution is no longer a factor in the Society, Industrial and Space stages – this is instead the realm of the Tech Editor. Technologies can be discovered to gain access to specific Function Parts (FPs), which can then be attached in different ways to build whatever you can think of – buildings, vehicles, weapons, even chariots drawn by organisms from your planet if you so choose.

In our current concept, yes. You will be able to play using the same evolutionary system as animals, though your options will be limited, including the ability to achieve sapience.

As in Earth’s history, aquatic species will be the dominant species on a planet for the first part of the game (and if you ask a marine biologist, they’ll be dominant forever). On some planets, there will be no land at all, so you will have to stay aquatic, though the intention is for initial planet settings to be decided at the game’s start, so this won’t happen unless you want it to.

You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that this is the single most frequent question the team has been asked during the project’s history, and each time the conclusion has been the same: no. While civilizations can progress as far as pre-Industrial underwater, we have found time and time again that there is no way to perform metalworking underwater, and therefore no advanced society. There are two exceptions – an extra-terrestrial civilization may uplift you, granting you the technology; or you leave water to develop metalworking then return to the seas afterwards.

We have a gallery filled with just some of our concept art and game screenshots. More can be found on our DeviantArt page.

This project has been around for a while, so we’ve discussed a lot of things. You might have a really cool new idea, but 90 percent of the time that’s an idea that has already been discussed. If you’re still absolutely certain we haven’t covered your suggestion, please post to our community forums first — if the idea warrants further discussion, it can be brought up on our development forums. Please note that ideas with little gameplay value or no scientific basis are extremely likely to be immediately refuted, so think twice before suggesting space-faring microbes.

Since we are a non-profit community, we cannot pay to be rated by PEGI, ERSB, etc. Be warned, though, that natural and war violence will feature to an extent, and sexual references in nature will also be present, though these can be turned off in game if need be. Also, due to the game being constantly under development it is difficult to get an official rating.

While the possibility of a fully multiplayer-oriented game is incredibly unlikely due to the vast scales of each stage and the time discrepancies which divide them, social interaction will still be possible. Players will be able to exchange save files (along with custom organisms, technologies and all manner of other creations) and challenge each other to survive on desolate planets, create brilliant technologies, or simply touch-up an organism that could be a little more beautiful. At some point single stages may be converted into multiplayer variants in which players may compete or co-exist in an environment to discover who can wield the forces of evolution more effectively, but don’t expect too much development here until most other features have been ironed out.

No, at this point Revolutionary Games is entirely centered on the development of Thrive, and the suggestion to create anything else, while potentially attractive given the unique open-source nature of the project, is irrelevant. The seven stages will effectively be separate games anyway (though we’re aware of how Spore’s attempt at this created stages which felt too much like mini-games, and we have concepts in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again).

Perhaps you like the idea of Thrive but would prefer a different approach — if so, visit our friends at Species: ALRE, another evolution-based indie game where you observe and indirectly affect evolution.

Several years ago (2009 to be exact), a topic was posted on the Spore forums detailing a game called Evolutions! with screenshots showing ultra-realistic graphics and an organism editor with much more flexibility than Spore’s. It was later revealed to be a hoax, created to convince EA (Spore’s developers) that they had competition, supposedly inciting improvements to Spore. However, enough people were interested to start a small development team, with the thread’s original poster as its leader. Soon it became apparent that the team in place didn’t have the necessary administration to run effectively. A small group consisting of people who had the skills and determination to make a realistic evolution game broke off, and Thrive was born.

The open-source nature of the project has meant none of the founding member are still with us, but plenty of skilled newcomers have arrived to take the place of those who leave. For much of Thrive’s development, little programming work was done, a lack of coders meaning conceptual work was favored. By mid-2012, so little concrete development was visible that the only remaining programmer left, believing the project was too ambitious from the start (an understandable sentiment, if you ask us). However, the team worked to reverse the situation in only a few months, aided by a Reddit post in early 2013 which saw 30,000 visitors to the forums in a single day.

Since then, work has progressed, like the proverbial tortoise, in a slow and steady manner, with increased organisation and a growing internet presence. And followed by an outreach initiative to attract new members and grow the team. The full Microbe Stage is still some way off, but most of its core systems have been thoroughly planned, only implementation and assorted balancing remaining. Luckily we have seen more and more programmers and other developers joining the team to speed up development. Once we are happy with the stage as (mostly) final, we will move on, beginning work on the Multicellular Stage.

You can read a more detailed account of the project’s history here.

Along with the conundrum of the underwater civilizations, this is undeniably the most frequently asked question we have. Each of our team members has their own opinion on the matter, so a single uniform answer isn’t possible, and in the context of visible progress so far, many are justified in believing that the full game will indeed never come to fruition.

The team formed out of a uniform desire to create an evolution game better than all which came before. Spore was, for many, a huge disappointment – after promising the epic tale of an organism’s grand rise from cell to space empire, all it delivered was a set of limited, scientifically inaccurate mini-games. Admittedly, it’s still fun (many of us still play it to this day), but it’s certainly not what EA promised. Revolutionary Games’ goal is to find out where Spore went wrong, fix its shortcomings, improve upon it as much as we can, and ultimately give the world the game it was denied. Yes, we are well aware of the risk; the possibility that, despite its lofty ambitions, the project will fizzle out has been a constant thought in all our minds. We seek to accomplish more and have less capacity to do so than some, but each of us has the motivation and skill to succeed, and so far, despite the adversities we’ve experienced, we’re still here, incrementally drawing closer to the game we hope is possible.