God has never been more jealous. Jealous of a game, that is. Will Wright, developer and brains behind the Sim's franchise, has schemed up a game that will have the gates of the infinite opened unto man. Spore takes on the potential and open-endedness of near limitless possibilities. This year at E3, behind a door and a simple sign that read "Spore" in two foot high letters, two developers showed off some simple gameplay choices and revealed a little bit more about the features of Spore.
If you haven't already seen one of the many videos demonstrating Spore's features that have been uploaded to the usual social video sharing websites, you should pause in your reading and check it out now
. Your jaw will drop and you will feel awe at what this man and the people at Maxis have developed. In essence, you start at the most primeval of stages and work your way up through the stages of evolution until you reach sentient thought. From there, the galaxy, and the universe are yours to explore and colonize. Spore will be a genre definer, however, after watching the behind doors screening there are one or two things that I was left questioning.
In total, Spore will include six different levels of existence. Starting at the cellular level, you eventually advance out of the ocean and start roaming the landscape. After a while of defending your nest and breeding, you advance into the tribal stage of Spore. From here you start developing your culture and the different aspects of your society. You can purchase weapons and tools for your creatures to use, or upgrade different parts of their communal hut. Almost every aspect of the game is malleable and can be modified through one of the seven different editors present in Spore. After the tribal stage, Spore takes you into the city era where you really define how your society will look and function. From here, obtaining a spaceship, getting into the solar system, exploring the galaxy, and onto the whole of the universe are some of the different avenues of gameplay that will be featured. However, in the demo, the entirety of the universe was never shown. I only saw the expanse of the galaxy and all of the different star systems, black holes, and nebulas present.
Changing your creature's appearance and abilities is dependent on the amount of DNA points you accumulate through gameplay. Once a certain stage is reached, your creature lays an egg, from here you enter the creature editor. This editor lets you modify every aspect of your little beast. Add more legs, arms, eyes, mouths, skin types, vegetation coverage (yes, I said vegetation), feet, and hands. Each body part will have an effect on any one of five aspects of your creature. These five aspects are: power, speed, stealth, herbivore ability, carnivore ability, sense, and social ability. Once you have adapted your creature, you will be born back into the world as a baby. From here you start the cycle again until you reach the next stage of evolution.
In total, the two developers showing off Spore said that starting a game and getting to the space era will take between five and seven hours. From there, the game simply opens up. This in part is do to the closed ended online structure of the game. Whenever you start up Spore, creatures created from computers all over the world will be downloaded to planets and star systems in your own Spore universe. Consequently, any creature that you create will also be uploaded to the Spore mainframes and downloaded to computers all over the globe. This gives the player some very interesting options. I wonder if you could in fact create a "Borg" like race, or some king of virus race that would try to take over other gamers' galaxies. Suffice to say, the universe is yours for the taking. If in fact you do run into a populated world, there are many things that can happen. Enemies or allies can be formed by contact and will be revealed through pop up dialog boxes. If in fact the race pisses you off enough, you have the choice of simply destroying the planet instead of them trying to hunt you down once they have the UFO ability.
There is no doubt in my mind that Spore will win awards and grace the screens of countless computers when it's released. But there are some questions that are still nagging at the back of my head. To be honest, I was really disappointed by the graphics. They seemed cartoony and really goofy. I'd simply expected more from a game that promises to offer so much. Hopefully by the time Spore is set to launch the graphics will be more refined and up to date. As the developers were showing off the galaxy, I was wondering how you will know which parts of the galaxy you have explored. They never showed off any star map or in game tool that would let the player know where he has been before. I imagine the universe can be a very vast and complicated place; any tool to help navigate would be really useful. Also, in a universe that is complexly under user control, where your creature's actions are procedural and open ended and new content will be downloaded to your computer from others, how do you expand on something that seems so complete? I realize that flying creatures or underwater creatures could be a possible addition, but in the spirit of the Sims franchise, how will this game be expanded upon? We'll have to wait to find out more. These questions aside, Spore holds the best promise so far to deliver a truly extraordinary God sim.