Microbe Stage

This article describes design decisions that will be rediscussed before their implementation in the future, and as such are not final.


Previous stage: No earlier stages.
Next stage: Multicellular stage

The Microbe Stage is the first stage of the game. You start off as a simple cell with basic organelles and must survive to collect enough nutrients to reproduce. Every time you reproduce, you can evolve your cell in the Microbe Editor. The stage ends when two cells of your species bind together.


In the Microbe Stage, the player’s species begins as a unicellular organism exploring an environment populated by other microbe species, simpler life-forms and floating organelles.

Distributed throughout this environment in various forms (including other microbes) are compounds necessary to a species’ survival, such as oxygen, glucose and ammonia. The player must collect these to keep their own ATP stores (equivalent to energy) high – organelles inside microbes simulate their metabolism, with compounds combined, stored and converted in accordance with known organic chemistry. Some of these can even be turned into agents/toxins, which influence surrounding microbes in a variety of ways.

Once enough compounds are collected and converted to a locked-up form, the player can enter the editor. Mutation Points act as a mutation currency, preventing wild changes to the organelles and shape of a microbe within one generation. New organelles (unlocked from the environment) can be added based on a hexagonal grid, and eventually upgraded to be more efficient. With one generation’s changes complete, the player re-enters the environment.

At the same time, AI microbe species will be evolving via a procedurally generated interpretation of Darwinian evolution (affectionately called Auto-Evo). Their generation time can be modified beforehand to change the difficulty, as the player will be directly competing with them for resources, or working with them in a symbiotic relationship should they so choose. Eventually this feature will grow in importance, with agent signals released by microbes to keep colonies intact. This is the first step towards multicellularity, needed to progress to the next stage of the game.


Being the first stage, there is no transition into the Microbe Stage.

To progress into the Multicellular Stage, the player will need to develop the ability to bind with other members of their species through the use of a communal membrane protein.




  • The microbe will follow the direction of the mouse.
  • Use WASD to move.
  • Use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom.
  • Press E to release toxins.
  • Press ESC to toggle menu.
  • ` to bring up console. (Debugging feature)
  • Press F2 to switch between editor and gameplay.
  • Press F4 to save the current game state.
  • Press F10 to load the previous game state.
  • Press F12 to save a name change.

Status: Partially implemented:
These are the current controls.


Your cell starts with a set of internal machinery, called organelles, which allow it to perform some basic abilities. The starting organelles are a nucleus, an endoplasmic reticulum, a golgi body, and a mitochondrion.

  • Organelles are what are needed for the cell to function properly.
  • They effect the abilities and efficiency of the cell and are crucial to survival.
  • They must be added to the player's cell in the Microbe Editor.
  • For more details see organelles.

Status: Partially implemented
A few are currently implemented but there are still plenty to go. There are also no organelle upgrades yet.


  • This differs from controls because it is how the microbes move inside of the game.
  • Because of the size of the organisms in this stage, they will be heavily affected by fluid dynamics.
  • The player will have to navigate the currents and can use them to their advantage.
  • The speed of the cell and the turning ability will depend on the organelles.
  • The cell will face the direction that your cursor is in.

Status: Partially implemented:
Fluid dynamics is being programmed.

Populating the environment

  • At first, the environment will be populated by template microbes i.e those that have been pre-created.
  • However, Auto-Evo will evolve these and so the species in the environment will change.
  • Compounds and NPCs will be procedurally generated.
  • Certain types of bacteria will also be procedurally generated.
  • These contain no organelles but do have compounds.
  • They will also be used to spruce up the environment a bit.

Status: Partially implemented:
Bacteria are being worked on.


  • They will be in the environment.
  • If the player absorbs them, they have a chance of unlocking a new organelle for use in the editor.


  • Microbes will compete with one another for resources.
  • They can attack and kill one another or flee.
  • They can also form co-operative colonies and assist each other.

Status: Partially Implemented:
There is basic interaction such as killing.


  • If the cell has excess compounds, they are used to "grow" organelles.
  • Once an organelle grows to double its normal size, the organelle splits in half.
  • When all organelles have doubled, the reproduction button pops onto the screen.
  • Dividing splits the organelles and compound stores between the two daughter microbes.

Status: Planned


  • The only available editor in this stage is the Microbe Editor.
  • It is entered as mentioned above.
  • Here, the player can add organelles to their cell or change it's shape and size.
  • For more detail, see Microbe Editor.

Status: Partially implemented:
This is working but some organelles are still to come for the editor.


  • A cell can be killed by deprivation of a necessary compound i.e ATP or by another cell.
  • This results in the player respawning as another member of their species.

Status: Implemented


  • Different modes (predatory, plantlike, prey-like possibly)
  • Surviving, seeking out necessary compounds and feeding on them
  • Killing other microbes (predator mode), this involves using agent vacuoles effectively
  • Fleeing from predators (prey-like mode, and possibly predators from larger predators)

Status: Partially implemented
More advanced AI is being worked on.


  • The user interface is made up of shards.
  • There are a few shards in each corner.
  • In the bottom right, it shows the players compound stores.
  • In the bottom left, there are six shards.
  • One has a question mark, and is the Help button.
  • Next to that on the right is the Save button.
  • Below that there is the Load button.
  • Clicking the button right in the very corner will hide this part of the interface.
  • In the top left, there is a display of the player's health.
  • In the top right, there is the button for the main menu.

Status: Implemented

Game Screens

What is displayed to the player in each section of the game and how to travel between them.

See: http://thrivegame.wikidot.com/gdd-microbe:game-screens


How the player will experience the game and the various abilities available to them.

See: http://thrivegame.wikidot.com/gdd-microbe:gameplay


The different abilities and mechanics available at different stages of the game, and how to win.

See: http://thrivegame.wikidot.com/gdd-microbe:progression

Simulation Specifics

The nitty-gritty of the game world and its simulated aspects.

See: http://thrivegame.wikidot.com/gdd-microbe:simulation-specifics


Over the course of the Microbe Stage, the camera is locked in a top-down view, although it is in 3D. It will be styled as if the player is looking through a microscope, although it will be more colourful than that.


  • Compounds are what the player needs to survive.
  • They are gathered by the Microbe going over them.
  • Compounds are stored in vacuoles.
  • If the vacuoles are filled the compounds cannot be gathered.
  • They are created by bacteria swarms, dead cells, and emitters (such as volcanic vents and limestone).
  • The player can also gather them by killing other microbes or bacteria.
  • For more details see compounds.

See: http://thrivegame.wikidot.com/gdd-microbe:visuals


What the game sounds like.

See: http://thrivegame.wikidot.com/gdd-microbe:audio


Videos which play at particular times in-game.

See: http://thrivegame.wikidot.com/gdd-microbe:cutscenes


Things not covered elsewhere.

See: http://thrivegame.wikidot.com/gdd-microbe:miscellaneous

Related threads



  • (Simulation Specifics) Add Procedural Generation, Environment Creation, Metabolism, AI and Statistics sections
  • (Simulation Specifics) Complete CPA section
  • (Simulation Specifics) Update Compounds section


Lists of assets and game elements.

See: http://thrivegame.wikidot.com/gdd-microbe:appendices

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