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Spore Hands On Preview

February 13th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 6 Comments · Maxis, Preview

No, not me. Sadly.

But if someone knows someone…

Anyway, the hands-on doesn’t tell us a lot we don’t already know. Some new screenshots, and a description of the editing tool.

However, the editors aren’t as straightforward as they look and it’s not actually as simple as just tossing a few hands onto a blob and putting that in the game. Instead, players are limited in terms of how detailed they can make their creatures and adding new limbs and so forth will cost you in terms of DNA points.

It also has a very unfortunate paragraph near the end.

I find the backstory of Spore fascinating too, not just the up-front gameplay. Electronic Arts gets a lot of stick from the gaming press and from gamers at large and a lot of people hold the uber-publisher with ire – the company is well known for its repeated visits to Sequelville.

Gamespot UK’s Guy Cocker has another hands on over here. And the typical Will Wright humor seems to be in place.

Spore has a very dry sense of humour, and it calls on you to collect creatures for your own nefarious ends. However, there’s a downside to your scientific experimentation, and in our demo we managed to introduce a rogue infection to our city by collecting bug-ridden creatures. The result: You have to eradicate the surrounding colonies with your onboard laser, using the left mouse button to fire. Before you can start exploring and colonising other worlds, your final task on your home planet is to colour it purple, although we couldn’t quite understand why.

Nice to hear that there is a game there, though, since one of my concerns was how well EA/Maxis would be able to integrate the various levels of the game. It’s hard enough to get micro/macro right in settled genres. Trying to do something completely original and make it seamless from primordial ooze to prime directive is an especially big challenge.


6 Comments so far ↓

  • Jason Lutes

    “Primordial ooze to prime directive.”


  • Andrew

    There are also three really long updates about it at Level Up (linked above because I’m lazy), including a two-part interview with Will Wright. It has some pretty interesting looks at how development went. It does, however, lack any hands-on play time.

  • Michael A.

    Spore reminds me a bit of Black and White. Can anything that has been hyped to this extent ever do anything other than dissappoint? Even if it is a great game in its own right, it could still leave lots of people dissappointed because it doesn’t quite fulfill their expectations of what the game should have been about.

  • Scott R. Krol

    Heh, good call on bringing up Black and White. That too had the hype machine set to 11, with so many promises made before release on what it was supposed to do, and in the end it was a game all about the poo.

    I suppose someone could argue that Wright has a good track record, but so did Molyneaux. In the game world I don’t think you can always bet on future projects because of past projects.

  • Troy

    Yeah, we should all be a little cautious. I’m not excitable by nature.

    But I think the big difference between the Spore hype and the Black and White hype is how little of the former is being pushed by PR and the developers. You don’t have Will Wright doing a lot of interviews talking about how revolutionary Spore is.

    Spore was unveiled, after all, as an illustration of a design point Wright was making at GDC a few years ago. He showed nothing but the creature editor and viewers went nuts for it. This is gamer generated hype.

    Not that this will matter if Spore turns out to be a dog, or just a more user friendly version of SimEarth or SimLife. I’m still a little concerned about the transition points between controlling an animal and controlling a sentient species – how do gamers make that jump and how does this relate to the streaming of data from other people’s machines?

  • Jason Lutes

    “I’m still a little concerned about the transition points between controlling an animal and controlling a sentient species – how do gamers make that jump and how does this relate to the streaming of data from other people’s machines?”

    My understanding (gleaned only from Wright’s lectures and the stuff I’ve read) is that the downloaded content is used to fill cosmetic content holes as needed. You design your own species at every stage of its evolution*, but all or most of the other races you come into contact with will have been designed by other people, and once downloaded into your Sporniverse aren’t altered on the fly. I imagine it to be like playing the Sims 2, as if all of your neighbors were designed by other people and downloaded to populate a fresh neighborhood when you start a new game. Essentially computer-controlled NPCs that have been customized and dressed up by other users.

    But I may have that completely wrong…

    *Although my understanding is that as you encounter other player-made species in your explorations, you’ll have the option to adopt and use their designs.