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September 8th, 2008

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02:13 am - It's Spore time
It's 2 in the morning here and I should've been in bed hours ago, but I'm not because I got Spore.

Now here's the thing about Spore.

The game is buggy. It randomly crashes. It doesn't have an autosave feature (which, combined with the random crashing thing, causes you to get Very Upset if you forgot to save after doing something Really Cool.) Certain stages of the game of the game are too short, too simple, and you feel as if they were intentionally dumbed down so as to push you as quickly as possible to the Space stage, which itself is a 3D version of Star Control 2. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Did I mention the randomly crashing combined with no autosave? Okay.

And yet this is totally one of those Daylight Games. Completely on par with, say, Civilization or Roller Coaster Tycoon or one of the Elder Scrolls series, where you sit down to begin playing and the next thing you know, there's daylight when there wasn't before (or it's now late at night when you began in the afternoon.)

In short, it's just too compelling to put down. And that's the dangerous part.

Oh, wait, you want dangerous?

Your planet is populated with random species as well as Epic versions of a race or two. You really don't want to be around the Epic critters. Here we see my Kadgarian spitter-dude and his two buddies running away from a giant Audrey 2. Remember when I made Audrey 2 a while back in the Spore Creature Creator when it was released? Well, all those critters I made have a chance of popping up on a planet, as well as any others I encounter from people online. I have yet to make it online, though, because I really don't want to spend my time banning a ton of penis beasts from my universe.

If you've got the game and would like to drag-n-drop my critters into your universe, go right ahead:

Here's the Kadgari. He's a scorpion-type model with a single eye and a poison spitter where the stinger should be. He's kinda creepy, but endearing to boot. He's made it to space and is enjoying flying around trading.

Space, by the way, is way harder than it should be, with the diplomacy completely broken. You'll encounter way too many alien races who end up completely hating you for no apparent reason other than the fact that you can't afford their ludicrously high extortion demands, and instead of zooming around the galaxy exploring strange new life and seeking out new places to mine spice, you're forced to go back and defend the same goddamn star systems over and over and over.

And the thing of it is that you can advance through the Space stage in numerous ways -- by conquering, or exploring, or simply trading. If you do not advance the conquering way chances are you won't be unlocking newer and bigger weapons any time soon. But in the meantime, your alien pals are because they're advancing at the same rate as you, so you end up with huge honkin' military forces bearing down on you and your piddly laser cannon ships. You can unlock items and equipment through different means (doing X or Y will earn you Z) so that's nice at least, and maybe if you're lucky you'll get the bigger laser because you ran back and forth between planets 2000 times or whatever.

Oh, maybe diplomacy will work. Maybe cold hard cash will work, eh? Earn enough money and maybe you can bribe those dudes to go away, right? Sure. Except for the fact that they take your money and then determine if it was enough to satisfy them (hint: it's not.) So you're blindly throwing your hard-earned cash at them without knowing if it'll be enough or not (hint: it's not) and no matter what, you're out a couple hundred thousand Sporebucks.

See what I mean about broken?

What I eventually ended up doing was starting a Space stage and, in the course of doing the opening missions (fly to this planet! fly to this star system! learn to make colonies! etc!) I have stopped the main mission at "Seek out new alien life!" I have thus far avoided going out of my way to make contact with any aliens, and instead worked on colonizing the star systems around me, trading various colors of spice among my empire, and terraforming the planets and building up cash.

In short, I'm doing all the fun parts of the Space stage without dealing with any aliens. No idea what'll happen when I eventually give in and talk to someone, but I hope at that point to be rich enough and perhaps have enough advancements to deal with the idiots who'll consistently attack.

Still, Spore is fun enough. Not only can you create and edit creatures, but you can also make buildings and vehicles as well. This is another point where the fun factor overwhelms the bustificated factor, however temporarily, so you don't feel completely crummy when rotten stuff happens because you're having too much fun doing goofy stuff.

One of the ways you can take over cities in the Civilization stage is by converting them to your brand of religion. And what better way to do that then by visiting them in a fleet of Holy Roller vehicles?

You could also float over to 'em with this fine Satellite of Love (dogbone shape not found.)

If you'd rather take over cities the good ol' fashioned capitalist way, by setting up a trade route and then buying the city out once you've got enough money to do so, why not do your trading in this fine Blingmobile?

Or use a Bling Zeppelin?

This ugly sonofabitch is called the Merchant of Venus. I think I like the Blingmobile better.

Once in space, you can make all sorts of fun ships. This fighter is armed to the teeth and appropriately named the Kargathian Friendmaker. I'd like to imagine Lord Draith zooming around in one of these during his early days as an Apprentice Overlord.

I really like this horseshoe-shaped ship. Because of its resemblance to a hoof of some sort, I decided to name it the Ungulate. Currently I've got one of those Kadgari flying around in it. He likes it.

This fine building is the default City Hall for the Kadgari Empire. It's called the Terrordrome because it's so friendly and inviting.

Libbonver is the City Hall for the Mustin race.

The Mustin are a noble brand of dragon-like critters who like wearing armor. Oh yeah, from the Tribal stage on, you can dress your creatures up. It's awesome. I honestly can't remember if this Mustin has the giant clock on his chest or if it's just the industrial thing, but there is a giant clock chestpiece in case you want to make a species which descended from Flava Flav.

This Industr-O-Cube is an all-purpose factory. Full of cute little fiddly moving parts!

I made this residential building for planets with pink spice to mine (it's the most valuable spice out there.) Who wouldn't want to live in the Pinkhaus?

And this Ice Mine is for cold worlds. I have an igloo, too, but it's kinda crummy and I may replace it.

The verdict, then? Buggy as all heck, but fun as all heck. Just like real life! And that's how Will Wright nailed it on the head. Ka-POW.

(13 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC)
Indeed, it is a daylight game. Midnight was crossed, I assure you.

I've only got as far as the tribal stage, so far. One of the other problems is that as cool as the interface is, there are a few places I only blundered onto doing the right thing in the interface by sheer luck.

I'm currently stuck at tribal stage, and trying to socialize with another tribe. It says "match the buttons" when playing music for them, but I see no buttons to press in order to match much of anything. Thoughts?

[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 01:42 pm (UTC)
Socializing with another tribe in the tribal stage could've been better documented, but it's pretty much the same "match the action" game as socializing with creatures in Creature Mode (the instrument buttons are in the same spot on the UI as your sing/dance/charm/pose action buttons were in Creature Mode.)

What's not inherent at first is that you need your tribal chieftain to conduct the band. So you have to select your chieftain and all your bandmembers, move them over to the other tribe, and while everyone's selected, right-clicking on a member of the other tribe to begin the concert.

The "social/combat" toggle, which used to be above the action buttons on the UI in Creature Mode, inexplicably moves to the right hand corner of the screen for Tribal Mode. I don't know. But if you want to give gifts and be nice to other tribes, you select social and right-click but if you wanna torch huts, select combat and right-click.

There's a lotta mishmosh in this game, unfortunately.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Much appreciated. I'll check that out.

Of course, this means that now I'll actually end up staying up until all hours again, but that's the price of Progress(tm).
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
Haha! I don't consider myself a gamer, seeing as I've only played RCT2/3 (and a little Rock Band) and yeah, that's happened to me before. Does using NoLimits count as gaming? It's basically a stripped down CAD program. I'm still working on my Cyclone-tribute coaster, I'll try to post a vid of it when I'm done.
Happy sporing!
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
I love NoLimits. I've been playing with that darn program since the first release, when you had to use external apps to build wood supports (though I did actually construct an simple out-and-back and built all the supports by hand and my god it gave me a better appreciation for actual design work.)

Here's a coaster I designed a while back as a "defunct" park ride. I have the nltrack somewhere if you'd like to actually play it, but I enjoyed making a YouTube video (silent) about it as well. Here's the Quabbin Lake Park Wildcat. Probably the best wooden design I've done so far.
[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2008 04:29 am (UTC)
That's awesome! I have to ask how you post your NL vids. I tried recording one with the new version, but the file was 1 gig for 3 minutes, and my little laptop couldn't handle it. I've never used a movie editor either, so that doesn't help.
I've been designing roller coasters way before RCT and NL though, this is my design from 1992, the Timber Flash!
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
I've made it to the tribal stage as well--I took a couple breaks from it yesterday to mow the lawn and watch some football and drink some Fat Tire at the bar.

It was extra cool seeing a CC Critter (Larry) zip in and totally pwn my fledgling just-crawled-out-of-the-murk beastie.

Edited at 2008-09-08 02:12 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
And just wait til you start encountering Pokémon on your planets that other folks have made! I've seen some pretty realistic Bulbasaurs and Mudkips on the Sporepedia, etc.

The best vehicle I saw so far, however, has been a very realistic version of the Winnebago from Spaceballs.
Date:September 8th, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
Space, by the way, is way harder than it should be, with the diplomacy completely broken. You'll encounter way too many alien races who end up completely hating you for no apparent reason other than the fact that you can't afford their ludicrously high extortion demands, and instead of zooming around the galaxy exploring strange new life and seeking out new places to mine spice, you're forced to go back and defend the same goddamn star systems over and over and over.

Sounds pretty much like the universe of Scalzi's Old Man's War.
[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
That was my thought too! Except they wouldn't try to extort you as a galactic-community newcomer, they'd just go "tsk, another one?" and then pop a cap in your homeworld.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 04:49 pm (UTC)

System stats?

What kind of requirements does it have for a system to run on? Are they following the Blizzard model and making it run on average machines?
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)

Re: System stats?

I hope so, but I fear not. I tried to run the spore creature creator on my (fairly new - about 1 year old) laptop. Couldn't get it to work. I was a sad musicat.

Still, the game looks hella fun, I'm sure I could just steal my roommate's computer or something...? >.>
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)

Re: System stats?

Official site sez requirements (not suggestions) involve a 2GHz processor with anywhere from 568 to 7something megs of RAM depending on your choice of Windows operating system (but really, get at least a gig) and you need a big graphics card with cellshading and plenty of onboard memory, too.

Even so, the thing leaks memory like a sieve and will grind to a halt if you play long enough, if it doesn't inexplicably crash to desktop first.

You could steal your roommate's computer, but your roommate may never see it back...

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