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 Trying to Explain Thrive

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Oliveriver
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PostSubject: Trying to Explain Thrive   Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:28 pm

Before I start, I should say that I've only written this post to show what happens when you describe Thrive to someone. None of this has to be implemented or taken note of.

Earlier today, I got into a conversation with my friends, Will and Tom (they specially requested I tell you their names, for reasons that will soon become clear), about Thrive. I can't exactly remember how it began (something to do with my Youtube channel, I think), but from it I learned a fair amount about how people react when they're told about it, and how difficult it is to explain everything to them.

I first explained the main concept - you start out as a microbe, before evolving to a creature with a more realistic evolution system than Spore, after which you become a civilisation and then a space-faring empire. So far so good, but almost immediately they asked me whether we were just making Spore again. Naturally, I explained how it would be more scientifically accurate than Spore, and much more enjoyable at the same time. Will was convinced by this - Tom wasn't.

Their first few questions concerned our team - what was I within the team? Who is the leader? How long has it been going? How many of us are there? The last one caused a bit of a problem, as when I told them there were 750 of us (well, 750 users on the dev forums) with about five to ten active programmers, they immediately saw a flaw. "So it's taken three years and you haven't even started the first stage yet? And you only have five programmers? Oliver, this game is never going to be made! It'll take like . . . fifteen years!" I paraphrased a little there, but that was basically what they said, even Will, who'd managed to look past our resemblance to Spore. I answered that with the release of the first stage, we could attract more programmers, which would speed up the release of the next stage. Will agreed with this - Tom didn't.

Next I further explained some of the features - how evolution works, how you build your creature, what the strategy mode will be like. Both agreed that, if it could be made, it would be the best game ever hands down. Will then proceeded to bombard me with new ideas for the game, some of which weren't half bad. Tom also added a few, but he still didn't like that what I'd described sounded almost identical to Spore, just with a few things added. Here are some of their ideas (they told me to mention their names so they'd get the credit). Bear in mind that not all of these I agree with, some have already been mentioned and some will be impossible to implement.

Spoiler:
 

So what can we learn from all this? It seems there are two default reactions to learning about Thrive - either you go crazy for it and start suggesting your own ideas (like me and Will), or you dismiss it as a pipe dream that'll never realise itself except in the minds of its creators (like Tom). What we need is either to stop people having the second response, or, as I saw in only one conversation, try to make as many people have the first response as possible so that they'll argue for us. How do we stop people having the second response? Release something that will set their minds alight.

Now, as an amateur author, I know that the unwillingness to complete something is more than just laziness or lack of time. It actually arises because in your mind you can have a perfect vision of what you're creating, whereas when you actually come to writing it, making it or programming it, you fear that it won't live up to what you see in your head. I'm not accusing anyone of laziness - far from it, as you have all done more than anyone else in your position could. All I'm saying is that in order to get more people interested we need to stop fearing that we'll fail. We won't. With the concepts and ideas alone on this forum any team could probably program Thrive. It's conceptually sound - we need it to be sound in all other ways as well.

The main points seem to be that we should go to games conferences, get more programmers, focus on each stage as it comes and release it for free on Steam.

Oh, and make it different to Spore. That'll probably help.

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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:56 pm

Oliveriver wrote:

With the concepts and ideas alone on this forum any team could probably program Thrive. It's conceptually sound
I have to disagree here and point out one of the biggest problems I see with the project right now. There are many ideas, but not much of a concept, at least not a well documented one. It's all a collection of disjunct discussions, scattered across a forum with many (often inactive) subforums. There's an effort underway to condense all this information into the Wiki to have a single, authorative documentation on how the game will look and feel, but this will take a while.

Ideally, the Wiki will soon be detailed enough to enable someone to "play" Thrive with a pencil and a piece of paper. Until we are at such a stage, there won't be much use for an army of programmers because they wouldn't know what to implement. Everyone would have different ideas of how the game is supposed to look and how it should play. In short: we need a game design document.
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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:08 pm

Nimbal wrote:
Oliveriver wrote:

With the concepts and ideas alone on this forum any team could probably program Thrive. It's conceptually sound
I have to disagree here and point out one of the biggest problems I see with the project right now. There are many ideas, but not much of a concept, at least not a well documented one. It's all a collection of disjunct discussions, scattered across a forum with many (often inactive) subforums. There's an effort underway to condense all this information into the Wiki to have a single, authorative documentation on how the game will look and feel, but this will take a while.

Ideally, the Wiki will soon be detailed enough to enable someone to "play" Thrive with a pencil and a piece of paper. Until we are at such a stage, there won't be much use for an army of programmers because they wouldn't know what to implement. Everyone would have different ideas of how the game is supposed to look and how it should play. In short: we need a game design document.

Brilliant idea - we need a game design document. It would streamline our current process, which involves the programmers having to look through the entire forum for information that may or may not be relevant. We should probably start with one for the microbe stage.

As for the need for programmers, I still stick by this. Even if we have to wait until the final game design document for the microbe stage is written, we'll need more. Having read some of the older threads in the forum, the programmers themselves seem to be complaining about it. Roadkillguy's 'Dear Thrive' thread was one I found especially poignant, stating that he found that he alone was trying to simulate (and I quote), 'The entire Belgiumming universe!' That situation has now changed with the arrival of new programmers, but as I found in my conversation, with less than ten regular programmers we're still not going to get anywhere.

A game design document is maybe the way forward then. Again, excellent idea, Nimbal.

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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:49 pm

I would like to add that the problem is not all programmers will join doing the game for free... It takes a lot of time, and I believe people would like to spend their free time on something else than helping program the game for "nothing" (free). Unless, they have some goal.

The reason I'm helping is because I want to see the planned, I would really enjoy the creature stage, that's one of my reasons to help. The creatures reality behavior (not waiting for you in the nest) keeps me programming. (And yes, I've spent more than a week (whole days) just to make the cell editor)
Another reason for me, is because I like to program and take new challenges.

Now who else will help to Thrive like my reasons above? Few...
Take even the Linux distros, like Ubuntu, Fedora, they create a free OS, with the ability for customers to donate or buy DVD's so they (the developers) can have a little profit.
And from the Thrive news, Thrive isn't going to take donations or anything for any kind of reasons, that keeps away programmers, because roughly saying, you're wasting time. (yeah, the game will develop faster, but people are not interested in this case)

So I'm not surprised why there's no people offering to help.
And making a game design document won't change much.

And if non-professional programmers working on the game, they develop speed would be slow, I won't say impossible, but really slow, so I also have to agree with your friends, Oliver, that it going to take 15 years... =\

I'm sorry, but that's facts.

However, working on it will bring more players though.
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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:26 pm

Thrive is a project of online, international, non-profit volunteers, planning to make a realistic, high-quality, galactic simulation. Obviously, its no easy process, and without large numbers of regularly paid programmers working on it, its a lengthy one as well.

However, a large team of paid programmers is exactly what we need to avoid for this game. I would argue that it was that very element that brought the demise of Spore, and EA, and most gaming companies for that matter, especially as they rise in fame. It reminisces to me of the rise and fall of civilizations, as a mighty empire arises out of its humble origins, its only a matter of time until its end. Likewise, any large gaming company follows that trend. It is clear with World of Warcraft, it is clear with Call of Duty, and I can even sense the seeds of decay when I play Skyrim.

This is the result of corporations.

When your programmers don't work for money, it means they have different incentives to contribute to the project. It means they have incentives not based in how many pieces of paper you have ready for them in your wallet, or how many digits of a certain sum you plan to transfer to them. They work because they love what they are working for, and when you love what you are working for, its not even work.

I know 15 years sounds like a long time, but to be honest I would say it is the best estimate that we can make at the moment. The faster one wants it to happen, the more they ought to contribute. That is part of my very inspiration.

Now, it is inevitable that there will be people who think of Thrive as Vaporware, who think that we will never finish or that we will take too long to. The answer to this is not to persuade them otherwise, but to actually make the game itself. That is the most solid proof you can have to back up what you say.

To Tom's comment that Thrive is Spore 2, people's perception of our game is purely subjective, and really if someone wants to look at our concept and code and give it label "X", then they are free to do so.

By the way, on the topic of Game Conferences, I am still but a high school student, and I prefer to remain anonymous in my contributions to the project. I do hope to one day leave Thrive in a state of self-sufficiency and retire to other parts of my life, but don't worry, that won't be for a long time now.

Of course it always good to get more programmers to help out, I have taken a lot of steps to do so, and I have none to pull out of my Belgium, and so since we have a considerable amount I tend to focus on other things. However, if any person or group wants to organize an effort to get more coders, thats fine by me, and would be very useful if successful.

Now, finally, I will address the ideas they presented.

  • We won't be coding morals and ethics into the game. Way too over the top. Also, even if we did, it couldn't be used to subdue other tribes.
  • Extremely hard to program. How do we know what is defined as an "unfriendly" appearance? It is all subjective and dependent on the species in question.
  • Already covered.
  • Read what I said before for myself. I can't speak for the others though.
  • Incremental releases is what we're going for.
  • I don't know how hard it would be to have variable time scales in game.
  • I don't really understand. Could you elaborate?
  • No money. Free on Steam has been discussed, but I cannot remember the verdict. Care to fill me in here ~scio?
  • I'm not so sure about this. Its not something I would look for in the game, or find fun. I could even see it getting annoying.
  • What I intend is to make as good a game as possible. If it happens to not be like a Spore 2, then all the better for this Tom guy. However, I really don't care what label someone gives it. As long as it is good, I will be satisfied.
  • Already covered.
  • Too much detail. There will be units that transport resources inside cities, but nothing more than that. Models moving around inside and SC are mostly for looks.
  • Way too much detail

@Nimbal: Although I was trying to keep this as a surprise for a later date when I would be finished, I guess now is the time to mention it. I have been working on such a document for the Strategy Mode for quite a while now. Now that I have mentioned it, I guess there is pressure on me to get it finished faster. I will try but it is a lengthy document.

On the topic, I have had the Strategy Mode almost fully conceptualized for quite a while now. I am mostly refining it and putting it all in one place, because currently its filling a whole binder of mine. I would rather make a game design document on it, since its equivalent on the forum would probable be 50+ threads.

@Oliveriver: I tried to start one for the Microbe Stage, but I was missing too much. I have a template someone could use if they want to do it themselves.

@FunnyGames: I would disagree. Many of the best contributors to this project I know of help out for the sake of helping out. I myself don't have an ulterior motive other than having a playable game and having fun, and learning, in the process.

People do offer to help, but just not in numbers comparable to when you guy hire them for money.

I think a game design document will greatly help, since it condenses all the information into a single source, with everything organized and laid out, and everything definite as final concept. It also has the implementation and math specified. It is why I have been working on one so far and as a result posted less in the Strategy section.

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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:05 pm

Yes, it will take a lot of time.

No, i dont think hiring people to work at this would work well.

Yes, it is Spore 2 with another name. It came out of Spore, with the same idea (but done better), trying to remake Spore without as many of its faults as possible.

And finally, 10 active programmers? When? As far as i've seen, there has been only one programmer working at the actual code at each given time. I was Seregon first, then me, and now Nimbal. And together coding the Prototypes and discussing the programming implementation at the forums, i would say we are four right now.
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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:45 pm

Of course it will take 15 years to build thrive fully. That's why the most important thing is to work on cell stage.
I personally don't care much about anything past multicellular stage. I want to build the game as more of a simulator than a game. My vision is for Thrive to be more of an interactive and competitive environment than a directed march through advancement like Spore. I'd agree that a design document for microbe stage should be compiled, and we should use the wiki to do it.

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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:48 pm

Programmers, let's see: Me (prototypes only (for now) rodgame (prototype only) Daniferrito,Nimbal, (is seragen still active?), and Funnygames, We have a grand total of 5 (6 if seragan is still active at all)

DaniFerrito, I am working on my prototype it's just I have alot going on right now (hope you understand)
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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:28 am

I agree with every single point everyone's made. Sorry if it appeared as if I didn't. I know Thrive will take many years, but I don't care - I'm here for the fun of making a game, not just to see the finished product, and it's clear that everyone else is here for the same reason. Again, I'm sorry if this has been taken the wrong way.

I'm aware that most of their ideas won't make it into the game, and I even told them that. I was simply finding out what happens when someone is first told about Thrive, and looking for ways to make the response more positive.

Re-reading my original post, I'm surprised the responses were so calm. It does appear as if I was trying to take matters into my own hands, whereas all I really wanted to do was find a way to draw more people in. It was naive for me to write something so brash, and once again for that I apologise. I suppose I should be grateful that you're all so nice and didn't just throw me out for that. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I really am honoured to work with such brilliant and talented people.

@NickTheNick
I agree with everything you've said. Money is not the way forward, it only brings further problems. As for a games conference, I still think it would be a good idea once we have something we'd want to show, though it's true that many of us want to remain anonymous and therefore we do have a slight problem. I'll have to leave that to everyone else to decide, though, as we've seen I can't be trusted to make decisions on behalf of anyone else.

It's fine with me if you want to lock this thread or merge it with the 'Misc' thread. It seems this discussion was over before it began.

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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Sat Apr 27, 2013 2:37 pm

Don't be so hard on yourself Oliveriver. My responses were to your friends and not you. You haven't done anything wrong, or tried to impose your will on anyone.

@Sciocont: Not Aware? Isn't that the biggest "Animal" stage of the game?

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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:55 pm

@olive- we have a contact who's involved with PAX, and he's told us he would do all he could to help us if we ever got to a conference-ready stage. The plan would be then to raise money via kickstarter to send one or two team members off to a game expo with the equipment necessary to show off Thrive.
@Nick, Yes, aware is one of my priorities. Right now I'm most excited about autotroph distribution modeling in creature stage.

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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:38 pm

A few people here have asked, so I'll answer - I've not left, I'm just taking a break from Thrive for a few months, as I have far too many other commitments right now. I'm reading some posts, and replying when needed, but won't be able to do much else until atleast late June. I will be back at some point, hopefully with more time and energy to work on stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:27 am

Seregon wrote:
A few people here have asked, so I'll answer - I've not left, I'm just taking a break from Thrive for a few months, as I have far too many other commitments right now. I'm reading some posts, and replying when needed, but won't be able to do much else until atleast late June. I will be back at some point, hopefully with more time and energy to work on stuff.
PhD all the way. I have so much respect for you, and I'm so happy to have you on the team.

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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:34 pm

Don't worry Seregon. Take your time and only return when you can. Education and life are far more important than this. Besides, you have been a remarkable contributor anyways.

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PostSubject: Re: Trying to Explain Thrive   Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:02 am

NickTheNick wrote:
Don't worry Seregon. Take your time and only return when you can. Education and life are far more important than this. Besides, you have been a remarkable contributor anyways.

QFT
Without life, we couldnt have Education, and without education we couldnt make Thrive. They are like start of Tech Tree: Nothing can start without them.
Wow, that was kind of Thriveishly poetic. But, yeah, its true.
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