Design Gaming Science


Steggy, my first Spore creationA few years ago, I wrote a post detailing my personal gaming history, wherein I also looked ahead to the future at a computer game that was shaping up to be extremely interesting. That game was Spore (you should really go to their site and watch the introductory video). Under development for half a decade, it was finally released a little over a week ago. Of course, I went out and bought it immediately, and have spent way too much time enjoying it recently.

Basically, Spore delivers. From the purely creative elements involved in putting together your very own creatures, vehicles, buildings, or spaceships, to the very strategic ones involved in maintaining a galactic empire in a quest for the Ultimate Answer, to the delight and wonder that spark the imagination upon seeing a coherent, procedurally-generated universe, replete with stars and supernovae and black holes and UFOs and alien creatures and planets and… the list goes on.

I have to admit that there was some initial disappointment with the depth of gameplay at earlier levels (Spore is divided into Cell, Creature, Tribal, Civilization, and Space stages). The first three stages in particular felt too easy, and went by very quickly without much in the way of challenge. Once I hit the Space stage, however, all that changed. It seemed everything I’d learned about using Spore in the earlier stages was now a set of essential skills I needed to use with strategy and alacrity if I was to stay on the board. It took me probably 6 hours to get from the Cell stage to the Space stage, and I’ve spent at least that long in this last stage, without progressing that much closer to the center of the galaxy (which is the goal of Spore). Part of my challenge at the Space stage may be due to choices I made in earlier stages, though – I chose to be a very warlike civilization, which gave me certain benefits, but also made it much more likely that I would be attacked in the Space stage.

Well, there’s much more to say about a game that has innovated so greatly on technical and conceptual levels, but that’s all for now. You should check out the game yourself! It should run on any computer (Windows or Mac) with a decent graphics card. I’ll leave you with a set of creations from my current Spore game. Clearly, only a very special game could allow me to create such cool and unique models! And, if you’re a Spore player yourself, I believe you can download these images and import them directly into Spore to use them in your own games.

Tyraxin, my creature for this game (from planet Teraxius)

The city hall for the Civilization stage on Teraxius

The ground vehicle for the Tyraxin

The Tyraxin air vehicle

My spaceship!

By Jonathan Lipps

Jonathan worked as a programmer in tech startups for several decades, but is also passionate about all kinds of creative pursuits and academic discussion. Jonathan has master’s degrees in philosophy and linguistics, from Stanford and Oxford respectively, and is working on another in theology. An American-Canadian, he lives in Vancouver, BC and has way too many hobbies.

1 reply on “Spore”

very cool. i have only been recently introduced to the gaming world…as i don’t think the oregon trail counts! i look forward to playing the game at some point. thanks for the broad brush strokes of the stages so far!

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