What is Thrive

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Thrive is a free, open-source game about the evolution of life.

From the lowly tidepools of your home planet, you will rise to cosmic dominance. At every step, powerful creation tools and deep simulation mechanics will aid your species’ development. Revolutionary Games is the open-source team of dedicated volunteers aiming to make Thrive a reality.

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 without compromising the former.


Thrive will encapsulate the player in the wonders of science and the universe, allowing them to manipulate the virtual world around them with editors to modify technology, culture, organisms, and entire solar systems. Seven stages are planned – Microbe, Multicellular, Aware, Awakening, Society, Industrial and Space – and transitions between them will be as smooth as possible making it hard to discern where one ends and the next begins. For the moment we’re only focusing on the first of these, as the whole project is a massive undertaking.

Thrive takes many games as inspiration, from roguelikes to grand strategy games, but we plan on walking our own path with many game mechanics. Don’t expect a clone.

We aim to explore the possibilities of simulation within a game context, pitting the player against the game environment as they wield the forces of evolution. Players will create and edit an organism on its journey from insignificance to the stars, using multiple creation tools to rise above their adversaries, themselves products of evolution by natural selection in the wider game ecosystem.

Less successful evolutionary paths will vanish, and only one may progress through every crucial transformative step towards cell cohesion, terrestial conquest, sentience, settlements, and space travel. Will you thrive?

Basic Information

  • Developer: Revolutionary Games Studio
  • Website: https://revolutionarygamesstudio.com/
  • Platforms: PC/Linux/Mac (mac is lower priority, see here for info on why)
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Rating: 12+
  • Status: Under development
  • Tagline: Write your own saga of life

The game’s code repository is hosted on GitHub, and our Wiki details important game concepts to help newcomers get up to speed with development.

All code is licensed under the GNU General Public Licence, while assets (like music and art) are covered by CC-BY-SA. This means we encourage anyone to copy and modify our code and assets, but all adaptations must be shared under the same conditions (available for others to modify) and attribute the original source as Revolutionary Games Studio.

Gameplay Summary

Thrive is a massive undertaking, comprising seven stages (plus a sandbox mode) across a species' entire progression from tiny cell to galactic god. We recognize making the whole thing will take a while and is effectively impossible for a small team, so we instead want to complete it one stage at a time, since the complexity of each rises exponentially from the last. Thus, concepts for the Microbe Stage are far more fleshed-out than those for any other stage, and some ideas for later stages are still highly speculative.

Microbe Stage

Main Article: Microbe Stage | Game Design Document: Microbe Stage GDD

You begin the Microbe Stage as a minute cell in the primordial soup that is the chrysalis of life on your planet starting as the first species. Here, the player first experiences the Organism Mode, only having control of their one cell. The world is three-dimensional, but the camera is locked to a top-down perspective. Your goals are to acquire the nutrients and process them inside your cell with the compound system, to compete against other species you encounter and adapt to the ever-changing environment. You will also manage your species' Populations spread through different patches. As the generations pass, Auto-Evo evolves the other microbes around you as well as splitting new species from yours. You can take evolution into your own hand at every generational interval by accessing the Microbe Editor. To progress to the next stage, you must produce a specific enzyme that allows your cell to bond to others of your species, allowing for the development of colonies that will eventually become multicellular organisms.

Multicellular Stage

Main Article: Multicellular Stage | Game Design Document: Multicellular Stage GDD

The Multicellular Stage takes you from a single cell to a more advanced species with more complex organ systems. The stage is divided into two parts; Where you play as a colonial organism learning to specialize cells in the 2D early stage, and later on develop tissue types and specialized organ systems as a fully 3D macroscopic organism. Procedural evolution continues to play a major role in developing your species and the species around it. You can now use a new editor, the more fully-featured Organism Editor, to edit your organism. This stage transitions into the next once the your organism develops a functional central nervous system.

Aware Stage

Main Article: Aware Stage

Once entered into the Aware Stage, evolution continues to play a significant role. As one of the longer stages of the game, the Aware Stage sees the competition of the player's organisms with others over niches in different Patches. Gameplay continues as members of your species, natural inquisitiveness becoming intelligence, begin to think. As their intelligence increases this stage will transition to the next.

Awakening Stage

Main Article: Awakening Stage

The Awakening Stage takes your species through its first steps towards civilization. Communication advances, and species members interact more with their environment, eventually picking up on tool use and social structure. Evolution no longer persists at this stage, since the timespan begins to reduce from millions of years into thousands. Communities of your species form tribes, and the cooperation between species members unlocks the Strategy Mode, which finally lets you escape the confines of a single organism to control the tribe at large. This stage also introduces you to many of the civilization elements of gameplay, such as the PCG, the Tech Editor, and the Nation Editor.

Society Stage

Main Article: Society Stage

The Society Stage begins when you form your first Society Center, or city. This stage builds upon lots of the gameplay mechanics introduced in the previous stage, adding a lot more depth and engagement as the species develops. Discovering Record Keeping unlocks the ability to view the Research Web, although it did run behind the scenes in the Awakening Stage. It also allows your nation to invest into certain fields of research.

Industrial Stage

Main Article: Industrial Stage

The Industrial Stage continues the development of civilization from the past stages, but sees revolutions in all aspects of the nation. It begins when you discover Steam Power and several associated researches. Technology leads to a boom in population, science, warfare, production, agriculture, health, etc.

Space Stage

Main Article: Space Stage

The Space Stage starts when you first launch a ship into space. Finally, the whole galaxy is your oyster, where you can pursue conquest, trade, colonization, exploration, and more. As you progress ever further technologically, highly advanced Researches unlock God Tools, tools which enable you to make major alterations to the galaxy.


Main Article: Ascension

Upon reaching Ascension, your species, having transcended space and time, is transformed into energy and you unlock all the God Tools. These "God Tools" allow for easy manipulation of entities within the game- merging together the editors and gameplay to allow the player to reshape their universe from within. You also unlock a fully-featured Observer Mode at this point, which allows you to detach from your species altogether and simply roam and explore the galaxy, homing in wherever you want, to observe the development and progression of other species through evolution and civilization.

Game Features

Main Article: Game Features

Across all the stages of Thrive there are several main features and systems that the gameplay revolves around. This ranges from the compounds and populations and evolution to the system of game screens and switching back and forth between editors and gameplay.


Thrive is a game about the evolution of species and civilizations. It is about the evolution of your environment and of your competition, but most importantly, how you evolve to survive and thrive through these changes. During the first half of the game, this entails mutating your species through natural selection, and in the latter half this entails cultural and technological evolution and development.

Progression through the stages is not necessarily an objective of the game. We do not want to compel the players towards progressing past a stage of gameplay they may be enjoying at the time, thus there will generally be no penalizations to the player for remaining in the same stage for an extensive period of time.

Although the terms survival and evolution might bring to mind organisms and ecosystems and biological evolution, it also applies to the survival and evolution of cells in microscopic environments, and to the survival and evolution of the technology, society, economy, and politics of peoples and civilizations, be it on a single planet or across the galaxy. The themes of survival and evolution can be found across all the stages of the game. In the early stages, this will revolve mainly around the lifespans of individual members of a species, and the struggle to grow, survive, and reproduce. In the later stages, this will revolve around the society at large, and their struggle to feed their people, conquer their neighbours, control unrest, discover new technology, and more.

Though we said we don't want to compel players to progress through the stages, the ultimate "completion" of the game and the pinnacle of your species' evolution can be seen as Ascension, in which you progress through all the stages and turn your species into energy, essentially entering god mode. At this point the player will also unlock most of the features of game, along with powerful god tools.