Even if you are not an avid PC gamer, you have probably still heard of Spore, the upcoming “little-bit-of-everything” God sim from master computer and video game designer Will Wright. He was the brains behind all the Sim video games at Maxis: SimCity, SimAnt, SimFarm, and of course, the Sims. Whether you’ve heard of the game or not, you should realize that it represents a huge milestone in gaming and how to approach entertainment. I’ll explain why.
For the most part, interactive video games in the past have still mostly been about what the designer has chosen to let the player do. Even games such as Oblivion, Grand Theft Auto, and the Sims, which have been praised for their freeform natures, pale in comparison to the sheer depth and breadth of customization in Spore.
This is the highest compliment that Spore can get as Grand Theft Auto is one of the best games to have come out in modern times and it does have a Star Wars feel to it that makes it a riveting Pkv QQ experience.
In Spore, instead of being stuck with one character, even one that you can customize with different clothes, hairstyles, and body shapes, you create yours from scratch in a series of different editors or “creators.” If you have been following the game’s progress, you might have heard about the Spore Creature Creator, which gives you the ability to make almost any creature you can picture in your mind using palettes of different creature parts, including mouths, eyes/senses, arms, legs, hands, feet, weapons, and details.
Once you’ve created a creature, you can paint it just by clicking on a color in paint mode. The entire process in Spore’s editors is very accessible, allowing people who don’t consider themselves very creative to have a good time. The full game of Spore includes other editors in addition to the creature editor: a cell editor, a clothing editor, vehicle editors, a music editor, a spaceship editor, and building editors! This means all through the game you can make your own creatures and vehicles, the way you want them to be.
The full game of Spore is divided into 5 stages that represent the progression of evolution over millions of years. You start play as a cell trying to survive among other bigger cells and grow. After you’ve succeeded, you get legs and walk onto land. As a creature, your goal is to survive, mate, and get a smarter brain. Every brain level lets you do better things, but you’re also competing with more advanced creatures as you go. Once your creature gets the smartest brain, you can advance to tribal stage, where you take control of a handful of these creatures you have fully evolved. After you have control of the tribes of various creatures in your area, either by conquering them through brute force or making friends with them through music and dancing, you are now in the civilization stage. The civilization stage lets you choose between an economic, religious, or militaristic style of play. After you have control of your planet, based on one of the three styles I just mentioned, you build a spaceship (alternatively called the UFO), and you’re in space stage. This is the most open-ended stage: although there’s a mission to reach the center of the galaxy, you can ignore it and just concentrate on the wealth of exploration, colonization, terraforming, and unlocking of content options. All of the stages in Spore have editors, and all of them let you be in charge of your own game.
What’s cool is, a lot of these editors aren’t just for show. For example, in Spore’s creature stage, if you find a wing part, it will allow your creature to use the glide ability. If you want to add a lot of wings and no weapons, your creature will be a quick little bugger that can’t defend itself very well. The decisions you make in the editors will change how you play the game and how the game defines your creature’s species (whether you’re social, neutral, or aggressive).
While the editors let you customize your visual experience, the actions you take in-game affect the way you’ll play later on. If you play as a social herbivore in the creature stage and stick to that path, then in space stage, you’ll probably be making alliances and exploring, rather than trying to conquer every alien civilization you meet. This alone varies a lot from most video games, which tend to follow a linear campaign and provide relatively few options for making an experience unique to the player. Will Wright repeatedly emphasized the importance of letting the player choose what he wishes to do in Spore, rather than being dictated to.
To tie it all together, the Spore team implemented a timeline that shows every little thing that ever happened to your creatures, from the first cell in the cell stage to the most recent action you performed in your spaceship in space stage. This also shows whether your creature is leaning toward being a social, neutral, or aggressive one, and affords you bonuses for whichever path you choose. You can change at any point, though it gets harder the longer you wait to change.
All of this means an unprecedented level of customization for the player. In Spore, not only does the player make his own creatures and vehicles, but he also decides how the species should behave and watches them evolve every step of the way, for a game experience like no other. The stories will be numerous with this game. There are groundbreaking social networking details to Spore as well, which I will write about soon. Be sure to check out Spore, an impressive new video game coming to PC and Mac on September 7, courtesy of Will Wright and Maxis.