Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spore infection

As a game, Spore kicks butt -- mine in particular. A peacenik pacifist approach to conquering the galaxy is doomed to failure and I am watching my empire crumble to dust against a hostile alien intruder and learning that sometimes the best defence is indeed a good offence.

Time to rebuild anew, perhaps with a better strategy that balances diplomacy and trade with self-defence and a mind bent on colonial expansion. Doing favours for other galactic civilizations does no good at all when an implacable foe arrives at the back door guns a-bristlin'.

Spore, first and foremost, is a creative tool for designing creatures and their accoutrements; their buildings and vehicles that they will use to explore and influence their environment as they climb the evolutionary ladder. There are so many shapes to play with. Each part allows its dimensions to be further toyed with, and they all snap together in so many different ways, in perfect symmetry too if desired. With a tool this simple to use, any Philistine now has the power to be an artist. You can check out my designs, for example.

But it's no fun just designing stuff. Our designs have to be tested to see how they respond to some form of context -- in this case, the game environment -- and to see if our creations live up to our expectations. The fun thing is, everything we create goes on the "Sporepedia" to be shared with other Spore players around the world. So apart from stock designs, the creatures and things that populate my game environment have been created by other players, while my creations might show up in theirs. How cool is that?

As for the game itself, the first four stages of evolution are quite easy to achieve. Just gather enough resources, tools and population to bludgeon all competition into submission. "Bludgeon" in this case could mean either overwhelm them with violence leading to extinction or with such a degree of love and warmth that they capitulate out of sheer weariness and agree to become your BFF... forever.

The game truly begins when your creatures evolve to the spacefaring stage. Compared to the tiny tidal pool from which your first single-celled organism eventually outgrew, the galactic map is huge, with a near limitless number of places to explore, missions to accomplish, colonies to establish, friends to make and enemies to destroy; and all the time growing and evolving the capacity to dominate everything. Or be dominated. It's an equal opportunity universe.

No comments: