What is Thrive?

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 – though 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.

By collecting substances from the environment and processing them with a simulated metabolism, you can increase your species’ fitness rating, building resistance against extinction. 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
  • Website: http://revolutionarygamesstudio.com/
  • Platforms: PC/Linux/Mac (once a programmer with a mac joins the team)
  • 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 (non-commercial, available for others to modify) and attribute the original source as Revolutionary Games.

Gameplay Summary

Thrive is a massive undertaking, comprising seven stages (plus a sandbox mode) across a species' entire progression from eukaryotic 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

You begin the Microbe Stage a minute cell in the primordial soup that is the chrysalis of life on your planet. 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 you need to survive, which are processed inside your cell by the compound system, and to compete against the other cells you encounter. As the generations pass, Auto-Evo evolves you and the other microbes around you. You can also take evolution into your own hand at any generational interval through accessing the Microbe Editor. To progress to the next stage, you must assimilate a specific enzyme that allows your cell to bond to others of your species, allowing for the development of multicellular organisms.

Multicellular Stage

Main Article: Multicellular Stage

The Multicellular Stage takes you from a basic organism to a more advanced species with more complex organ systems. Upon beginning the stage, the camera unlocks itself from the top-down perspective and rotates to allow three-dimensional movement and observance. However, you will still be locked in the Organism Mode. Again, procedural evolution plays an important role in developing your species and the species around it. If you ever wish to make direct edits to the evolution, you can now use a new editor, the more fully-featured Organism Editor, to intervene. This stage transitions into the next once the your organism passes a certain threshold of intelligence.

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 Biomes. Gameplay continues until members of your species, natural inquisitiveness becoming intelligence, begin to think. Having reached sapience, the next stage begins.

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. Populations are introduced at this time.

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.

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