PDA

View Full Version : My Opinion on Spore




Hydragoon
Oct 9, 2008, 08:59 PM
Hey all,
I saw several threads asking about Spore, so I thought I'd create a thread to consolidate Spore discussion. To begin with, I wrote a review of Spore, which you can read here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1034274/spore_review_was_spore_worth_the_wait.html?cat=19

I also wrote a few other Spore articles that are linked in the article. The basic gist of my opinion is, Spore is more of a novelty than a game. I'm interested to hear if you guys have a similar opinion to the one I expressed in my article. Thanks!

Hydragoon



neilg
Oct 10, 2008, 07:29 AM
I mostly agree with your review.

My take is that Spore still feels like the idea for a game, rather than the finished article.
The animation is superb, the world feels solid and is pretty to look at. The graphics are at their best in the Space stage and it is breathtaking to be able to zoom in from a view of the galaxy right down, passed clusters of stars and then individual suns and finally onto the surface of the planets themselves where there are cities and the creatures that inhabit them.
But it doesn't take long to realise that all of this graphical sophistication overlays a stupidly simple level of gameplay.

I get a sense of EA cutting its losses and getting the thing to market rather than spend any more time developing the game concepts or mechanics. It's a shame.

As I say, it still feels like the idea of a game - the odd thing is how obviously it fails where it does. For example:

At the Creature Stage - the elements you build your creature out of don't stack. So that, once you've achieved a level of any particular skill (e.g. Charm or Spit) adding extra elements that relate to that skill don't enhance it. So, I can't build a mad creature that is covered in charm boosting properties at the expense of everything else and obtain a massive score in the Charm skill.
Everything tends towards the median - you can't get far specialising in one skill, you appear to be forced towards an at least average score in all skills. So, having a massive score in Charm would be pointless anyway.
You are forced towards a social strategy. So, I couldn't get far with a purely aggressive carnivore without making some kind of attempt to ally with other creatures in order to win in fights against other tribes. That means compromising investing in fighting skills for those with a social element.
Likewise, I can't be a fantastically charming creature that uses that skill to ally with more aggressive ones and use them as bodyguards to compensate for its lack of fighting abilities.

Regarding allies - there doesn't appear to be any real mechanism to handle the relative status of the various tribes - so, for instance, I've seen two tribes display aggressive behaviour towards one another but I have been able to ally with both of them independently and when recruited to my pack they don't appear to want to fight one another. Shouldn't the enemy of my friend be my enemy, and vice versa?

At the Civilisation stage - the buildings have no variation in effectiveness except in how they are positioned next to one another. So, adding mechanical bits to a factory doesn't make it more productive but increase its negative effect on the mood of the population. Likewise, you can't make a house that creates a happier mood at the expense of, say, how many people it can hold.

At the Space stage - the trading elements appear to be random so that you can't forecast and therefore benefit from demand and production variations in different parts of the galaxy.

All stages of the game progress regardless of your performance - in other words, you will succeed in finishing each stage no matter how little effort you put into playing it.

You can't die. So, it's not about evolution this game, is it, really - because failing to survive is what drives that process onwards?


My feeling is that there is another version of the game to be released some time in the future using the same graphical concepts which could address all of these failings.
It may be, given the complexity of what we're talking about here - i.e. a complete artificial ecosystem - that what we're seeing in the failings of the current version of Spore are really the limitations of the technology in general. If you really wanted to do what Spore pretends to achieve - make your own Universe in box - you'd need a massive amount of processing power to handle the vast arrays of data that each situation could generate even from a vastly simplified model. Maybe the problems with the game are just the kinds of compromises you have to make if you want the current crop of processors to be able to handle all the graphical flourishes which make the game so accessible.

The interesting thing, I think, is that Spore goes to prove, for me, that what really makes a game worthwhile is not so often what appears on the screen, how many polygons and fps and full screen bloom effects - which are very often technological milestones - but what goes on inside the heart of it - where people have thought about what motivates us as actual human beings - emotional things like fear and pride and love and hate, loyalty and selfishness - when games designers get those elements of a game right then they really create things that are special and engaging.
;)

Huntn
Oct 10, 2008, 07:40 PM
Good review at least as someone who has not played the game (me), it sounds reasonable. :)

When I first read about the concept of Spore I was excited. It sounded like a rich gaming environment with a lot of depth. However when I actually saw the released product something about designing cartoony critters in a RTS environment made me hesitate. Plus the message from several sources says it's a shallow game. At this point I'm holding off.

Hydragoon
Oct 11, 2008, 03:15 AM
Yeah, Huntn, holding off isn't really a terrible idea. I can see most people enjoying the game *some*, it's just not as fantastic as we were led to believe. In my opinion, it might be smart to wait a year or so, see if the price on the game drops precipitously, and maybe get a Gold Edition of the game and the "parts pack" flop that is rumored to come out in November. Am I cynical? No, not at all. :)

Thanks for your opinions guys. Who else has a Spore tale or opinion to share?

Ladybug
Oct 11, 2008, 08:23 AM
Spore just isn't what I was hoping for. To me each stage went way to fast and plays out basically the same no matter what choices you make. I was hoping for something deeper, more open ended, more of a sandbox.

The creature creators are amazing and entertaining but after a few hundred creations that too lost its appeal to me. I think the game has great potential and expansion packs may improve the game somewhat. But I think the basic game needs some work to make it deeper than what it is before they even think about selling us an expansion pack.

Not to say its all bad... The game is amusing and funny at times and many will enjoy it for what it is. I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars in it's current state.

Namnorkimo
Oct 11, 2008, 05:19 PM
Playing Spore means wasting time with doing the same three things again and again, no need to think about what I do or why. I have really no idea what I can do with this game, how I can PLAY it, to have some fun. With Spore, EA made everything right, except of one: They have forgotten to include the GAME. I have 1000 times more fun playing "Startopia" from Muckyfoot.

DavidLeblond
Oct 12, 2008, 11:59 AM
To me the first 4 stages feel tacked on to the last stage. Each of those stages took me about an hour to finish, then the last stage I've been on for a long time. It's the only stage that has some semblance of difficulty.

Chone
Oct 12, 2008, 01:09 PM
It doesn't have good gameplay, it's shallow and uninspired but the concept and the creative tools make it interesting at the very least.

Hydragoon
Oct 12, 2008, 01:14 PM
The gameplay should have been completely engrossing, if they had kept it the way they said it would be. You know, changing different parts and seeing how it behaves in a natural environment. In my opinion, the creature stage could have been the full game, done very well... And then they could do the same with the next four stages.

They tried too hard to make a game that sounds good on paper, but it doesn't work in practice. At least, not yet.

Hydragoon
Oct 16, 2008, 12:50 PM
So they just announced the Spore Cute and Creepy Parts Pack and some sort of Space Exploration expansion. Do you guys think these will do anything for your experience in the game? I'm thinking I'll skip the Parts Pack, but I might look at the space expansion if it's got some worthwhile gameplay additions.

Ladybug
Oct 17, 2008, 10:09 PM
So they just announced the Spore Cute and Creepy Parts Pack and some sort of Space Exploration expansion. Do you guys think these will do anything for your experience in the game? I'm thinking I'll skip the Parts Pack, but I might look at the space expansion if it's got some worthwhile gameplay additions.

The Space Exploration expansion sounds promising with the Adventure Creator, but I still hope they add enough deepness to make this a worthwhile upgrade. I'll likely hold off when it comes out until I see better reviews. Ditto on skipping the cutesy parts.

Vidd
Oct 18, 2008, 08:46 AM
The Collectors Edition is hilarious because the book with all the concept art and beta screenshots shows how much deeper it was meant to be.

I really enjoyed the concept of the cell stage yet the number of parts was terribly limited and it only lasted a fixed number of stages before the game forces you to move on.
Originally, each part was to have 3 upgrades so the carnivore mouth could be replaced by a better one.

Also, the creature stage was similarly disappointing. The game discourages originality in the sense that while you could continue to make your bird-like carnivore, why would you keep the strength 2 bite when you have a fish mouth with strength 4?
It becomes more the case of tacking on the best parts.

It's all terribly superficial. It's not a bad game but obviously the scope was too large for them to handle.


EDIT: In regards to the parts pack, I'm amazed that they can get away with charging $20.

miniConvert
Oct 18, 2008, 08:59 AM
Couldn't get into it. Loved the cell stage but gave up a few times at tribal stage... for me it all goes wrong as soon as you make landfall :(

Hydragoon
Oct 28, 2008, 11:20 PM
Any other thoughts on the announcement of the Cute and Creepy Parts Pack and the Space Exploration expansion? I for one wish they would focus on making the other stages deeper and more engaging... When I heard about the game, I thought that the first four stages would be significant parts of the game, not a bunch of easy and boring tutorials.

kaltsasa
Oct 29, 2008, 08:48 AM
For me I was hoping/expecting sort of a more SimEarth type experience. Modify the the parameters of the world to affect the evolution of the planet. I love the old Sim Games and how open ended they were, They were truly software toys as Maxis called them, not just games. You'd get a huge book about the theories that went into them too. I still break out the ol IIsi every once and a while to play a little SimEarth (I have it in sheepshaver but sometimes I just want to sit in a dark corner and play SimEarth til the wee hours like when I was young.

Spore is fun but in focusing on the casual crowd it's possible they dumbinated it down a bit too much for me. I'd love to see an expanded edition, or expansion pack that adds some more of these theoretical models into the mix.

mahashel
Oct 29, 2008, 11:28 AM
Here's hoping that the Space Exploration expansion alters gameplay a bit so that there is time to actually go mess around in space without your empire crumbling to ashes.
Between the pirates, continuous ecological collapses, and random conflicts with other empires, I hardly have time to fly from one end of my own space to the other without something falling apart. Can't I hire a babysitter or something? :rolleyes:

benpatient
Oct 29, 2008, 04:20 PM
funny, i found the only way i could get ANYTHING done was to just wipe out all the other critters around me, regardless of the stage I was on. Maybe that's why I have a hard time in the space stage, because those Grox aren't as easy to wipe out...

Hydragoon
Nov 1, 2008, 11:16 PM
Personally I'm betting that the more expansions and packs they release, the closer the game will end up being to the original concept... they'll add gameplay depth to each stage, making it a decent simulation. It'll only take like 3 years!