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unlurking
12-26-2005, 02:31 AM
Finally, something different in the MMORPG world. I'm really looking forward to this. Anyone else?

Spore Review (http://internetgames.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=internetgames&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fpc.gamespy.com%2Fpc%2Fspore%2F616537p1.html)

A few months ago, Will Wright's presentation of Spore at the Game Developer's Conference absolutely floored us. Imagine a game that starts with single-celled microorganisms and allows you to control the evolution of a species all the way to galactic conquest. It sounds like a ridiculous undertaking until you see it in action. But if anyone can make it happen, it's Will Wright, the master at creating computer 'toys' like SimCity or The Sims.

Wright's presentation of Spore at E3 was virtually identical to his demonstration during GDC. So, be sure to read our complete writeup from before for every juicy detail. Assuming you've checked that out, here's a look at what caught our eye this time around:

First of all, it was great to see the game in action on a high-definition screen where we could analyze all the details. The game opens within the primordial soup, which absolutely teemed with blobs and squiggles of prehistoric life. As your creature evolved into a 3D environment and swam around in the sea, the water swarmed with life: plants, bubbles, little microorganisms. That same detail carried out once your critter walked out onto the land, where tiny insects buzzed around. Outer space was cluttered with comets, meteorites, gas clouds, and all sorts of interstellar phenomenon. Visually the game is a treat, not from state-of-the-art graphics but simply from a standpoint of detail and variety.

Wright explained that the real goal of the game is to allow players to create things, and to allow them to transparently share their creations with other players. So, the idea isn't to make you go to a website to actively download stuff; instead, new content is constantly sucked into your game for you to experience, and you won't have to lift a finger. Similarly, the things that you create will be beamed out into the ether for other players to share.

Since creation is key, a great deal of attention is being paid to the editor. The same 3D editor is used to manipulate creatures, buildings, and vehicles. We took a closer look at it to see how it worked: the tools were very simple. It was like playing with blocks of clay. You could slap shapes down, pull them, move them, stretch them, combine them, all by clicking and dragging the mouse. You could scale stuff up and down by rolling the mousewheel. It looked very intuitive: Creating an 8-legged flying creature with a forked tail that grasps weapons is just as easy as creating a four-wheeled tank with multiple turrets and angry eyeballs on the front.

The final game will have a procedural texture creator that will "skin" new monsters or buildings as you create them. So, you could use a selector to say that your creature will have purple and green fur with spots, and the game will be able to figure out (by analyzing the critter you build) where its back is and where its stomach is, etc. Then it'll put the spots in the right place and color the belly correctly and so on. Unfortunately this particular feature isn't quite working yet, which limited the creatures that Wright was able to build as we watched.

One nice thing about the way the game figures out how creatures will move and walk is that it looks incredibly smooth. These little guys look real. They have their own weight and mass that waddles as they shuffle along, and the animations flow seamlessly from one behavior to the next, no matter how strange the creature is.

We learned more about the gameplay during the city/conquest part of the game, where apparently you can dominate the planet either culturally, economically, or militarily. What that means, we don't know. Military conquest was pretty self-explanatory, as evidenced by the big cartoony tanks rumbling from one city to the next. Vehicle design looked to be tremendously fun (you can add wheels and guns, etc, with ease). Gameplay at this stage of the game is still a mystery: it was clear that players would be able to buy and spawn vehicles, but how much control you exerted over actual combat is probably still being determined.

We discovered that you can evolve your entire species underwater. If you have hyper-intelligent dolphins, they can build whole cities under the sea. Interestingly, when these creatures colonize other planets, they can build domes around their cities filled with water.

As we explored the galaxy during the demo, I took time to note that every planet was very different. Some were cratered balls of ice, some were lifeless chucks of rock, and even among the habitable planets there was a lot of variety. Our starting planet was a humid jungle with a dense atmosphere. But another world we visited was dry and arid, with very little water and lots of reddish-yellow sand.

Naturally we blew the other planet up with our doomsday weapon.

As the alien world exploded into a splendid sphere of debris and a glorious ring of flaming wreckage, Wright elaborated one of the central points of his game design. "I want players to be able to do this without ruining the game for each other," he explained. You get to share content with other players, and interact with it in godlike ways, but nobody can spoil one another's fun.

Speaking of sharing content, we learned more about how people will get to interact with each other's stuff. Whenever you create something, assuming you're connected to the 'net, it'll be uploaded for the world to enjoy. But it doesn't just disappear. You'll be able to track how your creations are faring around the universe. You'll get regular "Multiverse Reports" that tell you how many people met your species and how they reacted. Is everyone killing your creatures on sight? Are they using the different buildings you've created? You'll get to see!

Spore looks to be a unique product. From what we can see it'll feel more like a toy than a game. It's less about achieving your goals and more about playing around and creating cool things. That might not hold the attention of hardcore gamers, but it'll definitely find a huge audience. Stick around for more details!

Ultra Peanut
12-26-2005, 09:34 PM
Every planet we reach is dead.

Spore is something I've eagerly anticipated.

SithCeNtZ
06-17-2008, 11:48 AM
The creature demo is finally out today. It is pretty fun to play around with.