Spore: First Impressions

Spore is that game at its conception blew me away. Three years after my father bemoaned the eventual sycophantic siphoning of his sons' creativity, the leeching has finally begun.

Earlier this week EA released what one might call a minuscule portion of Spore to the public. Though the game itself will not be available until September, the editor allowing the creation and sculpting of creatures is available for download. In true EA fashion it costs money, but thankfully there's a version sporting only 25% of the available biology one can try for free.

I spent a meager hour and half with the editor last night in order to give first impressions. Realize that not only have I little experience with this super playdough, but I also was working with only 25% of its potential.

As is my wont I pushed the limits of what the editor allowed me to do. In doing so I made a few interesting creatures I'll have to share later. However, I encountered the following nuisances. It may be that I'm still a novice and haven't found the mystical keys to overcoming these obstacles, but the barriers were present and, as always, vexed me.

1) Forward is forced. There's a pointy end to the disk upon which you play creator, and that is the direction your creature considers forward. Feet will always face that direction, and creature actions will all function based on the assumption that this is their facing. This results in humorous, if frustrating, results when you have a creatures slimy maw on the other side of its body. It will dash in the game's sense of "forward", but fail to turn around for its strike. It also doesn't seem to want to walk backwords, often awkwardly turning in ways that doesn't look natural depending on your creature's design.

2) Multi-pronged limbs are limited. It may be that lacking multi-jointed limbs prevented this form of exploration, but I wasn't able to have limbs branch off one another. Given some of the demonstrated creatures, this was disappointing.

3) Complexity is very abstract. There's a meter indicating the complexity of your creature. When it fills, nothing more may be added. However, some seemingly simple changes can fill the meter much faster than adding dozens of doodads one might consider complex.

Despite these setbacks the editor is a lot of fun. I could easily lose an evening perfecting my mutant races like the Xel'naga. I do hope some of the limiting issues are dealt with before release, though if they're releasing the creature editor at this point I have my doubts there'll be much difference.

No comments: