I am the sole developer of Thrive island for mobile. This is my first game project of 2-3 years with around 8 million downloads.

With the biggest online update coming soon I am doing an AMA.

Proof: http://m.imgur.com/6vlWUzo

Game: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.JohnWright.ThriveIslandsFree

Comments: 610 • Responses: 87  • Date: 

fatclouds69608 karma

Have you heard of thelegend27?

Johndev__794 karma

Yeah he keeps kicking my ass

utcdnaymcaydau186 karma

What was your development stack/engine for the game?

Johndev__172 karma


Trickmantj183 karma

Has creating this game been profitable? Like can this be your sole job?

Would you care to share the metrics on time spent, and earnings?

Johndev__326 karma

Rather not share earnings metrics. But as far as hours invested it's been too many. I work around 60-80 hours a week on it for the last 3 years.

It's profitable from ads and full game purchases and I'm full time working on it.

mingusrude117 karma

80 hours per week is a lot! Congrats on your discipline. How did you fund that time?

andytuba73 karma

Ads and purchases, of course :p

RocAway39 karma

I believes he means how he funded the time before the game was released.

Johndev__161 karma

Minimally. Small savings and lots of ramen noodles

Woild7 karma

If I may ask, what prompted you to go full time? Did you have previous game development experience, did you have a regular job that was crushing your soul?

Johndev__14 karma

Yeah the job. I had no previous experience but I had some good ideas. I just took a leap and tried my best

Twitchy_throttle23 karma

Was it worth it?

Johndev__54 karma


formerbitcoinwhore153 karma

What's your advice to someone who is trying to make their own mobile game?

Johndev__256 karma

I would say start small and be unique for the platform and work from there with updates. Lots of mobile games are the same style. Small, simple and pay to win.

dumbrich2347 karma

Do you think freenium is bad or just the reality of mobile gaming?

Johndev__135 karma

I think freemium can be good, there's some games who do it well. But there's alot of games that are just boring and only way to get any further enjoyment is by paying.

XenDNA109 karma

What's your game about? I've personally never have heard of it! I am very interested in survival though! Looking forward to hear back from you!

Johndev__138 karma

It's a beta mobile survival stranded type of game focused on survival and exploration. Aimed to be more realistic rather than zombie type of games.

CrazyCapitalist63 karma

Like ARK for mobile?

Johndev__182 karma

Without the dinosaurs maybe

DanteWasHere2260 karma

Like rust?

Johndev__412 karma

Without the dangly bits

deadleg2214 karma

Why are all zombie games in beta stage?!>?!

Johndev__82 karma

They're never ending

Trickmantj96 karma

Is the character modeled after your image?

Johndev__159 karma

Yeah the female one. Will be adding more characters in the next update

zenofire69 karma

What's your favorite mechanic in the game? What mechanic was hardest to implement that you insisted be in the game? What is the thing you are looking forward to putting in the game the most before it's finished?

Johndev__87 karma

My favorite mechanic is the radiation system as it makes looting in caves risky but rewarding. The hardest mechanic so far has been transport such as boats as it is tricky to balance the time needed to travel Vs reward (still working on that). The thing I've been looking forward to the most is multiplayer. That's the most requested feature and will be very cool to play with other players realtime

Jivin_Milat54 karma

How's it going chief?

Johndev__57 karma

Good, thanks

cryptolingo48 karma

Hey there, being self employed, do you ever worry about job security? What happens to you when this game fades from popularity?

Johndev__56 karma

Yes, it motivates me to work harder and keep the game fresh.

gordito_gr47 karma

Your game hasn't been updated in almost a year, how is that motivation?

Johndev__69 karma

Upto that point, I was releasing updates every other week but felt it was just delaying the inevitable. Since then I've completely remade every aspect of the game and added online modes which is due to release soon

beast333433 karma

How did you become interested in game development?

Johndev__90 karma

I've always loved playing games. Runescape took up most of my childhood. I've always liked messing with code and mods too. So it was just natural thing to do. I decided to quit my job one day and decided to fully focus on a new game

4fun_rs42 karma

Oh snap! Runescaper spotted! You still play the game?

Johndev__38 karma

I try not to play any mmorpg these days, I get too hooked. I play casual browser games lately so I don't spend too much time

JmGra11 karma

Read or listen to any LitRPG? I don't play MMO's anymore for similar reason, just too absorbing, but it's awesome listening to audio books / reading books in relation to them. If you haven't check out the mirror world series by Alexey Osadchuk or Alterworld series by D. Rus.

Johndev__7 karma

Not heard of it. Will check it out

TehGreatFred28 karma

Can you add a reddit easter egg?

Johndev__49 karma


Brasswick27 karma

Haven't heard of the game, but will check it out!

  1. What makes your game better than others of the same genre?

  2. What's the best advice you have for someone starting the game?

Johndev__34 karma

I decided to focus on this game as more of a realistic survival sim rather than zombies and pc. I felt when I started and still to this game that there are no great survival open world games on mobile other than Minecraft so I decided to try my best to bring that to mobile.

For advice I'd say build a bed asap to get your spawn sorted

SirLordBoss24 karma

How did you learn how to code? If self taught, how would you recommend that someone else do the same? What languages and frameworks did you use, do you recommen them and why?

That's all, keep up the good work man! People like you are an inspiration to us all!

Johndev__31 karma

Self taught and most of my learning was just messing with code and modelling programs. YouTube has videos on anything and everything you could need to know.

I chose and recommend Unity because the learning curve is not steep, there's huge amount of resource information and documentation online and is also able to publish on tons of platforms.

SirLordBoss12 karma

How young were you when you started? Do you think a 20-something year old can still take the path you took?

Johndev__22 karma

I was young when messing with html and game codes but I never fully understood programming until later on.

It's never too late to start, I decided to learn unity and focus full time on game Dev at 25

Utkar2213 karma

Is there a bright future in game dev for 15 year olds?

Johndev__17 karma

Yes. Great age to start

Odell_Strangehams18 karma

I stumbled on your game awhile ago. It's fun and definitely unique. But, do you have any plans to make it more stable? It crashes constantly on iOS. Particularly when I am navigating between the map and such.

Johndev__29 karma

Yes. The new update has a whole new optimised and designed world. Also all code has been optimised. I have tested it on low end devices which couldn't run the game at all previously and now they can run it with good FPS.

buddy419418 karma

I've not played the game, but will check it out now. Based on the ratings, controls gets the lowest score out of the 3 categories. Are you doing anything to improve the controls, and if so what?

Johndev__36 karma

In the next update I am releasing. I've completely redone all of the controls and character controller. It makes controls 10x better. Much more fluid and easier to control. Similar to GTA style controls. Also added controller support

ProdigalTimmeh14 karma

1) Are you the sole developer, or do you have anyone else working on the game with you?

2) Are there any plans to bring the game to other platforms, or will it be mobile-exclusive?

Johndev__20 karma

I'm the sole developer. Some models have been contracted, some assets purchased.

Eventually maybe I will release on other platforms once I feel it is great enough and more content available outside beta. There is plans to release on iOS and Microsoft store soon once online is added

ankyle13 karma


Johndev__31 karma

I wouldn't say it's optimal return on time investment

Vermonster4x413 karma

Will I be able to play this game offline? My data charges are already through the roof and I'd like to be able to play this when I don't have access to WiFi.

Johndev__21 karma

Currently the game is single player and will always be an option to play. Online will be optional

BeerHR11 karma

The reviews seem like there are a lot of intrusive ads. Does the paid version completely eliminate ads?

Johndev__21 karma

Ads are removed when purchased but they are something I want to improve in the next update. For online they will be minimal at game start or endings but I am leaning more towards reward ads which can be optional.

coryrenton11 karma

what sort of ongoing costs do you need to be aware of when developing a game with a large user base (servers etc...) -- does that influence the kind of game you choose to develop?

Johndev__14 karma

Starting out costs are minimal. Unity engine is free to start with. As for servers the cost is affordable these days and you can scale up to meet demand. I think within reason costs don't influence me too much although I don't have any salaries to pay or offices.

iamDNGR8 karma

How would/did you pitch the game. What makes it special?

Johndev__12 karma

I would pitch the game as a realistic survival game for on the go

TheJoshalosh8 karma

What's you're favourite mobile game and why mobile game development?

Johndev__11 karma

My favorite mobile game I've played is probably a game called Warspear. It's like a pixel style mmo. It's been a while since I've played but it's a cool game.

I chose mobile because I feel alot of mobile games are the same. Freemium pay to win games and feel there is alot of potential to create unique games. Mobile is still in early days

udioDeep7 karma

What were you doing before getting into game development full time?

Do you have a degree?

How many ideas did you put down on paper, or whitebox, or whatever your ideation process is, prior to arriving at the one you finally stuck with for Thrive?

When you first started with Unity, did you envision developing for the mobile platform or was it something that arose through experience?

When working solo, how did you motivate yourself to continue the grind? -- I freelance, and I take mostly short term work because I tend to struggle to motivate myself to continue my own projects after working on them for a month or so. I'd love to hear about your experience working towards success so that it might help me continue to work on something of my own for longer.

Johndev__8 karma

I was working in a computer company that destroys data. I don't have a degree.

Before starting Thrive island I prototyped a few ideas like racing games, infinite runners and similar games but felt they had already been done a million times on mobile.

When I settled on the idea of a mobile survival there was none at all other than Minecraft so felt it was urgent to get a foothold in that market.

Players comments and ideas motivate me to continue and the thought of going back to a real job helps me work harder.

Trevloc7 karma

I just downloaded and played it for a few minutes. Seems like i could have fun with it, but it was rather glitchy. Also, i didnt know what i was doing. Am i suppose to attack stuff? Or just free roam? Maybe a "how to" when you first open the game. What the buttons are for... i ended up falling into a river and spend 4 minutes swimming with walls on both sides of me. And thats where i came back here. That stamina decrease is insane. I couldnt swim for 5 seconds without having to stand still. Maybe a slower swim when out of stamina. And one arm stroke of a swim shouldnt take 10 percent of stamina. But i will be trying to figure out this game. How do i get clothes? How do i use this axe thing? A tutorial is needed for non expert gamers like i. Good work though.

Johndev__5 karma

Lot of these issues have been addressed for the next update. Stamina will be improved. Also the world has been redesigned to avoid endless swimming and running. I do plan to add an introduction guide too.

Start by collecting logs and stones around the world and clothing can be made by finding sugar canes by rivers and hides from animals. Hatchets for trees, pickaxe for stones

Mr_Classic7 karma

What would be the funniest glitch you came across during development?

And what was the most frustrating thing in development? And if you needed help to figure out that problem who/ what did you look to for guidance?

Johndev__11 karma

The funniest glitch I saw was a flying cow early on which would follow players.

The most frustrating thing has been online multiplayer as I have had to recode so much work from before. Google/forums usually has the answers to everything

IcarusReams5 karma

Not sure if you're still answering or not, but what do developers like yourself do against people stealing your namesake? I've seen a lot of garbage games on apple called things like "thrive island survival simulator" and things of that nature that completely rip your game off, and it's definitely a pretty common practice in mobile app development. Is there any way to combat it?

Johndev__5 karma

I once emailed Google play about it and they wanted a letter from a lawyer. I contacted a lawyer and they wanted extortionate rates to write a letter to cease and desist. So I just ignored it and warned players on social media. Since then Google just removed it, I haven't contacted Apple until I release there.

I've learned to just accept it as I would be spending all my time stopping that stuff so I just focus on my game.

iwas99x5 karma

Mr. Wright what is your day job?

Johndev__6 karma

Game development


I'm assuming you initially developed this for Android. How much extra work was it to port it to iOS? For beginners, would you recommend only sticking to one platform? If yes, which one?

EDIT: It looks like the iOS version is a ripoff, but you're developing for iOS as well so the question still stands.

Johndev__3 karma

Porting to iOS won't be a huge change as all controls are same. The main reason I've been holding off iOS is I want to release once the game is at a point where I feel there is enough content, fun and multiplayer.

I'm hoping I don't get ant hassle releasing considering that game copied my game name and released first on iOS.

kalirin4 karma

Is there an iOS version of this?

Johndev__9 karma

Not yet. Will be releasing after online update

GirlswithbigTips4 karma

I'm sorry but what type of game is this? I ran around for ten minutes and didn't see anything.

Johndev__5 karma

Logs and stones on the floor with help you get started

iwas99x4 karma

Mr. Wright do you you ever ask questions to other people in there AMA'S?

Johndev__6 karma

I read alot of AMAs

neon-blue3 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. I never really see people ask or devs talk about this so my question is:

What are the 3 things you hate the most about developing mobile games? (Or bug you the most, being that it is your full time occupation)

Johndev__5 karma

The amount of work it takes for one person bugs me sometimes, and also the business side of things. I'm not a businessman, I just like making games. I think they both come with the task and you just have to accept it

hbomb2003 karma

How much money do you make per download?

Johndev__8 karma

Ranges from $0.001 to $3.50

MercurySG3M3 karma

Ya played knack?

Johndev__2 karma


Yodatheslayer3 karma

This game looks a lot like rust and the forest building wise, did you get any inspiration from those games or is it a coincidence? Also how do you rate unity VS unreal engine for a new developer.

Johndev__5 karma

Building was inspired by ark although I want to expand on it to make it more realistic when adding parts.

I've not tried unreal engine so wouldn't have an opinion although I think unity is a great way for new Devs to learn

nps3 karma

Don't you think that cloning Rust is just an extra contribution to help gaming industry getting drowned in mediocre halfassed idea rehashes?

Johndev__16 karma

I think every game is inspired by other games to some extent. I'm focus on making my own game and don't intent to clone any game.

Zerocyde2 karma

How do you think your profits would change if you sold the game for $5, or $10, or whatever dollars, but had zero in-app purchases?

Johndev__3 karma

It has no inapp purchases so not too sure. It's very rare to charge $5-$10 for mobile game too

Zerocyde2 karma

Ohh, my bad, your link shows no price but "in-app purchases available".

Johndev__3 karma

There's a one off in app for the full game

Plasmatic-Feroce2 karma

Can an Ipad Mini 1 run it without constantly crashing every 3 minutes?

Johndev__4 karma

I haven't tested it yet but will be aiming to optimize it as best as as i can to run stable on as many Apple devices as possible when releasing on iOS.

Chauncy_Prime2 karma

Are you the developer of Thrive island mobile survival game?

Johndev__2 karma


Fidesphilio2 karma

Does the game work on Windows phones? If not, is there a plan to make it work on Windows phones in the future?

Every time I get excited about a game it turns out not to work on my phone....

Johndev__3 karma

Yes it will be available on iOS and Windows phone soon after online update is released

skepticetoh2 karma

Is it on iOS?

Johndev__5 karma

Not yet. Will be releasing on iOS after the online is released. Although I did notice there is a game on the iOS store copying my game name

Vitadek2 karma

What programming language do you think is most suitable for mobile game development?

Johndev__5 karma

I think it's personal preference. I like c#

Vitadek1 karma

If you dont mind, i just thought of other questions to ask, like did you create the visuals yourself or did you have a 3rd party dev? Have you developed any other programs or apps other than games? Do you have any future plans for any other games? On different platforms? I read that you were self taught for programming, but did you go to schooling for game dev or anything?

Johndev__2 karma

I created some visuals myself and outsourced others. I haven't developed any other apps or games, just some hobby things. In the future I'd like to make a browser type of mmo game like those io games although I won't commit to anything yet while I'm focused on this game.

I self taught everything myself online, no schools

Facile_username2 karma

When iOS?

Johndev__3 karma


Tristan_Jay2 karma

What kind of phone do you use as your daily driver?

Johndev__2 karma

Nexus 5

Mazda_Shite2 karma

Can you tell me why the game crashes every 5 minutes when I'm playing on my iPhone?

Johndev__4 karma

This game isn't on iPhone yet, you're probably playing the rip off version on iOS. Sorry

sad-brown-cat2 karma

Why do you continue to harm the gaming market by releasing garbage mobile games? That development could be spent on real PC games, with enjoyment...

Johndev__2 karma

I enjoy mobile games. There's alot of potential on mobile and you can't play pc games on the go

flex5542 karma

Have you ever heard of a game called rust?

Johndev__2 karma


CatToys2 karma

Do you get lots of comments calling your game a clone of another game?

Johndev__2 karma


RaMarcus1 karma

Does it have controller support and I can't get it to work or if not is there a plan to add it?

Johndev__3 karma

Yes I've added controller support for the next update when I redid all of the character controls and animation

4fun_rs1 karma

What inspired you to create games?

Johndev__1 karma

Playing other games and a passion for coding and messing with mods

queefin_it_real1 karma

What are your favourite videogames (aside from your own probably)?

Johndev__2 karma

I don't play games as much these days but Runescape was one of my all time favorites. These days I play casual games like agario and moomoo.io

Daniel02carroll1 karma

Is there co-op or are there any plans for it?

Johndev__1 karma

Yes, co-op, last man standing and open world are coming in next update

Castleswillfall1 karma

What's the worst part about coding these games?

Johndev__4 karma

It takes so much time working solo so don't get much of a social life. But worth it when new updates are released and appreciated

bsonstott1 karma

Will you be working on anything that requires voice acting? I'd REALLY like to get my feet wet considering I'm in college right now for communications solely to go into that profession.

Johndev__4 karma

Not at the moment there's lots of things with more priority. But never say never

Notacyblord1 karma

Does your game offer controler support?

Johndev__1 karma

I've added controller support on the new update which is coming soon

Fuetile1 karma

Is this on iOS?

Johndev__1 karma

Not yet, June/july

vegetablesaretasty1 karma

I am trying to get into app development and I want to start with android, so I'm trying to find the best way to learn Java, do you recommend anything?

Johndev__1 karma

I don't know too much about java but searching for tutorials on Google and YouTube would help alot

Mr_Classic1 karma

What would be your inspiration to create this game? And what drove you to develop it for 3 years?

Johndev__1 karma

When I first started there was no survival mobile games so I thought I would spend a few weeks on making some sort of open world game. I probably wouldn't have started it back then if I knew I'd be working on it 3 years later, but the enthusiasm and ideas from players keeps me developing it.

meme__creep1 karma

Hey! Should I play thrive island? Also, what tools (hardware, software) did you use to make this?

Johndev__3 karma

Yeah you should. I started with a laptop and unity and eventually upgraded to a computer

Mr_Classic1 karma

What extra curricular do you do to help cope with the stress that comes with such a popular game. Hike?swim?

Doesnt have to be physical im just saying stuff to keep your mind off work for periods of time.

Johndev__3 karma

Occasionally will go for hikes but usually I'll play some games if I need to chill

mofoman1231 karma

Are you thinking of making an iOS version of this game?

Johndev__1 karma

Yes June/July

Masr_om_el_donya1 karma

Any advice to someone who wants to get into game developing but doesn't have any specific skills and doesn't know where to start?

Johndev__2 karma

Learn a skill in programming or design starting from YouTube. Start with a small idea and go from there. Focus on your strengths, if you're a good designer focus on an engine that don't need so much code where you can dedicate your time to art and design.

Zamphira1 karma

what were your biggest coding challenges? I've made some stuff but all of it was management software. I imagine gamedev has its own set of difficulties. real examples would be appreciated if any comes to you

Johndev__1 karma

Each aspect of the game has challenges but I think the biggest challenge is being consistent enough to reach a point of releasing

Spinymad1 karma

What is your favorite dinosaur?

Johndev__3 karma


lordmitko-4 karma

Did you know your game looks like shit?

Johndev__7 karma

The new update will improve it a lot. The UI needs work and the world has been redesigned