The Science of Spore

By Alec Meer on May 24th, 2008 at 11:51 am.

“”We want people to think about the world a little differently as a result of having played the game.” Hmm. Mandibley and tentacley, live together in perfect harmony? High Lord Wright talks about the scientific grounding behind his minigame-manic evolve ‘em up…

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43 Comments »

  1. Dan says:

    Can’t wait to this game. First time I’ve seen the new cell phase. (looks damn awesome)…
    Whoah, that bit with the sun ray arcing around the planet is awesome! Will Wright is a god xD

    The game’s performance is looking a lot better in this video (didn’t look that great in my opinion on other videos).

    Damn, though… It sure has changed from 2004 (was it really that long ago?).

  2. Jahkaivah says:

    Was that spaceship vs spaceship combat I saw?

  3. roBurky says:

    Forget that. I saw spaceship vs giant robot.

  4. Zaph says:

    Wow, it looks quite beatiful in motion! I can’t wait to wreak havoc upon the unsuspecting galaxy.
    One thing though; in the original Spore demonstration, (circa 100 years ago) the game was suprisingly violent, and when Will’s Willosaurus killed a small animal, it ‘went ragdoll’ and started bleeding, and the Willosaurus ripped off pieces of the animal when it ate. And he also dropped a creature at a planet with no atmosphere and it exploded into a fine bloody mist. Delightful! What I’m getting at (Except that I take pleasure in the suffering of living things) is that as a result of the more cartoony direction the game went in, I guess we won’t experience that in the game. But of course they can’t make it violent, it’s supposed to be accessible and fun for the whole family, etc.
    Still, it’s a bit of a shame for us gorehounds.
    Though I can’t imagine lack of blood will make the game any less fun. [/rambling]

  5. Riotpoll says:

    I found the way the creatures roll over onto their backs when they die much more amusing then them being torn limb from limb. Also; Spaceships! Blackholes!

  6. Pidesco says:

    I think this game will be highly polarizing with some people loving it, and others hating it with a passion.

    It sounds like a game that will quite an investment in terms of time, to extract all the goodness from it. I can’t wait.

  7. mrkstphnsn says:

    I saw the hitman from No Country For Old Men talking about evolution.

  8. Caiman says:

    I haven’t been so excited about a game since… oh, I think I-War 2. I really hope it doesn’t get lost amidst the generic tedium that the majority of gamers seem to think are what comprise computer and video game experiences.

  9. Okami says:

    @Zaph: I think the game’s main problem and cause for controversy won’t be the blood or gore, but that it promotes the false theory of evolution, a vile and blasphemous teaching, that’s corrupting the youth and that’s anathema to every right thinking and pious christian.

    Seen that way, it’s more dangerous than GTA or other murder simulators. After all, wanton slaughter, rape and murder is something that, under the right circumstances, can be very pleasing to The Lord.

    But this game promotes a vile and false view of the creation of our world and has to be kept away from children, lest they question the absolute truths we teach them and they go and seek answers out of their own accord. We all know, that the earth was created 6000 years ago and every plant and animal was created by Him, there is tons of evidence for this all around us. For example it says so in the old testament and thus it is true.

    Evolution on the other hand is only a theory and so is not true.

    (sorry, spent too much time on fstdt.com today…)

  10. Cigol says:

    Yet, from what little I’ve seen and read the game doesn’t revolve around the theory of evolution but more directly intelligent design – which just plays into the hands of creationists and those religious individuals who also believe in natural evolution. Still I don’t suppose it would be easy to make a game strictly about evolution.

    I’m just hoping this isn’t another Black & White.

  11. D says:

    As you say Cigol, Spore plays well with people who belive in god along with natural evolution. In Denmark (and the rest of Europe I guess) this is a common view, because if you believe in a creator then that creator obviously created the emergent laws (evolution) along with all the matter. This is however not what the cdesign proponentsists believe.

  12. Okami says:

    Hmm.. You make a good point there Cigol. It’s really more about intelligent design, than evolution. Though one might say, that the player’s role in Spore is that of the DNA itself and not that of the Invisible Watchmaker.

    Then again, the player’s role in allmost every strategy game/simulation is that of an all-powerfull god. Even civilization is a god game, the player’s role more that of a tribe’s deity, than that of a human leader. Not even the most iron fisted of despots in the history of mankind ever had the ammount of absolute and total control over his subjects as the player in a strategy game has.

  13. Hypocee says:

    Oh. The EG videos show that the creature posture engine pays no attention to the relative positions of a creature’s feet and centre of gravity. Obviously I can just take care of it on my own creatures, but I’m going to be twitching whenever I encounter a levitating uniped…

    But then, I suppose the user content was always going to require sifting through ambulatory penises and spheres of accessories anyway.

  14. Cooper says:

    I’m waiting for the I.D’ers to latch onto this.

    Thing is, though, it’s a ‘god game’ – The role is surely of an imaginary watchmaker, as to be expected.

    Except, I see it as potentially undermining the ID argument. Surely, if there was a creator out there, we’d be full of a world of loop-spined, triple mouthed, 20 hooves and no hands creatures? It’s gotta be a pretty dull god who creates things which look just like they’ve evolved to fit so well in the world they live…

  15. Okami says:

    Cooper: I guess the watchmaker’s creativity just ran out after he created all those different beetles…

    Intelligent Design proponents allways struck me as people who did religion, but didn’t inhale.

  16. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Surely, if there was a creator out there, we’d be full of a world of loop-spined, triple mouthed, 20 hooves and no hands creatures?

    I’d have thought a world of waddling penises and flying vaginas would be more likely.

    Also, what’s that matter/anti-matter slogan supposed to mean?

  17. Okami says:

    @Man Raised By Puffins: Have you ever considered, that in the Creator’s world penises look ecaxtly like humans do in ours? Maybe we all look like penises to some sort of extradimensional thirteen year old, playing their version of Spore?

    As for the slogan, I’d bet that if you asked them, they’d say “Doesn’t matter.”.

  18. Razor says:

    Did I just hear music from SimCity 4?

  19. Jahkaivah says:

    “Have you ever considered, that in the Creator’s world penises look ecaxtly like humans do in ours? Maybe we all look like penises to some sort of extradimensional thirteen year old, playing their version of Spore?”

    Deep

  20. Lukasz says:

    Freud would be proud Okami.

    I
    WANT
    THIS
    GAME
    NOW!

    Fallout 3 and Spore. 2008 is a good year.

  21. Athiest says:

    Okami: You truly believe that the earth was created 6000 years ago? Even though there are fossils dated millions of years ago. Why do you put all your faith into a book that was written ages ago when people still thought the world was flat?

  22. Jamie says:

    I totally agree with Atheist. Also Okami, you said “Evolution on the other hand is only a theory and so is not true.” Does that mean you think all theories are wrong? A theory is just unproven. Here’s a ton of evidence for the age of the earth being roughly 4.5 billion years old: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_the_Earth

  23. simbo says:

    @Athiest… I think Okami was using that wonderful “irony” device that I’ve been hearing so much about. Or maybe you are too. That’s the irony of it.

  24. K says:

    I propose mandatory signatures for all web-denizens which read “It was a joke”.

    Also, I want a race of mantis shrimp.

  25. John O'Kane says:

    Whats the bets on the 3 titted whore from Total Recall become the favorite Spore creature? And how many variations of Alien and Predator are we going to see?

    Regardless of the irony detection lapses I’ll have to point out something that people seem to miss when they talk about “theory” and theories being useless. Who cares if the theory is fact or not, what matters is it’s effective and evolution has been used repeatedly in an effective manner in medicine, biology and even generic dna/nano-technologies. Effectiveness is science after all. It’s still an unproven theory, but it’s a damn sight more useful than creationism as a theory. Keep that thought for your next pointless Internet flame war on some inappropriate website (where actually everyone is agreement, it’s just 3 trolls having a laugh watching the rest get wound up, who actually gets to meet real live creationists on the internet really?).

  26. Rob says:

    Intelligent Design proponents allways struck me as people who did religion, but didn’t inhale.

    And therein lies the danger; they’re insidious in that they don’t appear to be thoroughly religious.

    Oh, and on topic I think this might be the first game I preorder without reviews since Half Life 2.

  27. RichPowers says:

    The origin of life is beyond the scope of the theory of evolution. Abiogenesis, not evolution, deals with life’s origin on earth. Evolution is supported by observational data, the obvious example being antibiotic resistant bacteria. ID proponents not only confuse subjects (evolution proper doesn’t seek to answer where life came from), but advance an idea that isn’t falsifiable, thereby excluding it from scientific discussion. Evolution is a process that is readily observed; denying it represents a serious detachment from physical reality.

    That being said, if the best thing ID proponents can use to advance their “theory” is a silly videogame with cartoon graphics and penis-shaped creatures made by users, then they deserve further ridicule.

    In the video, Wright says that Spore uses panspermia to model the origin of life (notice the comet streaking through a planetary atmosphere as he says this).

    On a side not: I think too much focus is given to the words “theory” and “law” as applied to the sciences. Even Newton’s Universal Law of gravitation isn’t accurate when dealing with objects approaching c or supermassive bodies. Still, it’s an excellent approximation in most cases. And someday, no doubt, Einsteinian relativity will be superseded by models that better approximate the observable universe.

  28. simbo says:

    if the best thing ID proponents can use to advance their “theory” is a silly videogame with cartoon graphics and penis-shaped creatures made by users, then they deserve further ridicule

    I was thinking the same thing, however I don’t think the ID brigade would be so naïve as to attempt a direct association.
    I think this game has the potential to stir up a mini hornets’ nest in the evolution vs. ID argument, in much the same way as GTA-IV, Manhunt and even Night of Bush Capturing have in their own areas. That is to say, a poignant journalist (possibly working for the Daily Mail) could use the game to write a lengthy editorial on the subject. This can only work in ID’s favour, raising awareness and promoting discussion where, quite frankly, no more is needed. Time will tell if I’m right.

  29. unclebulgaria says:

    Do

    Not

    Feed

    The

    Troll.

    [edit: or add to the creationism / evolutionism debate - Thou Shalt Not Win]

  30. Saflo says:

    @Razor (and anyone else interested)

    The songs are “Deserted” and “Arctica” from SimCity 4.

  31. Okami says:

    I bow my head in shame. As I’ve stated in one of my eariler posts, I’ve been surfing Fundies say the Darndest Things before reading this article and I just couldn’t resist drawing the connection between the whole creationism, evolution, id debate and I might have been overdoing the whole irony thing a bit.

    unclebulgaria : I guess you’re right, I was kinda trolling with this post. I’ll behave from now on.

  32. Ginger Yellow says:

    I can’t wait to play this, but I’m still worried that each of the sections isn’t going to be very deep in itself. Hopefully the connections between the phases will make up for it, but we won’t know till people play it through.

  33. Aidan says:

    My worry is that there is still no game, it seems like every successful cell creature progresses through various forced stages of increasing complexity with the user being able to add the odd extra foot or spike. None of the procedures that the user has control over seem to be based on any real world science, certainly the biology seems horribly broken (I am not really qualified to comment on the space science).
    I am not saying it won’t be fun, but I get the massive smell of Black and White whenever I read anything about the game!

  34. Dominic White says:

    Aidan.. I think you’re horribly missing the point. Of course the biology and science seem broken, because this isn’t a sim. Cmon, the single-celled phase has creatures floating around with huge cartoony googly eyes.

    People have the most bizarre expectations of this game. It’s like every time they show something concrete, everyone is up in arms about how it’s not what they were personally dreaming of.

    And the ‘I don’t see a game YAH YAH NOT LISTENING NO GAME HERE’ stuff is just ridiculous. So, was Sim City not a game? Was The Sims not a game? Sure, there’s no high scores, and no bosses, no levels, no winning, but it’s still a game. And still fun.

  35. will says:

    How much does the microscopic aspect of the game, with all the little single-celled organisms, remind you of pretty much exactly the game FLOW with tricked-up graphics? even down to the ‘larger, more advanced creatures seen out of focus on the next evolutionary plane’ thing? I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I freakin’ love FLOW, and found it to be a beautifully accurate way of showing the progressive evolutionary cycle through the interchange of energy between organisms, so the exact same game idea being used in Spore is fantastic.

  36. rb_lestr says:

    From Wiki:

    “Spore’s development began in 2000″

    “[fl0w] was released on April 14, 2006″

    Spore had these ideas down a long time ago.

  37. Cigol says:

    One of the developers of Spore was responsible for creating flow so I guess that might be some indication of why there are similarities.

    @Aiden; I am also getting the Black and White vibe and am disappointed by what I’ve seen thus far. It seems rooted in traditional gameplay mechanics which on the face of it just don’t see either deep enough or fun enough to stand on their own.

    I will obviously reserve judgement until playing it of course (and Black and White was still an immensely enjoyable game despite it’s ‘failures’) but I can’t say I don’t view Spore with some level of scepticism.

  38. mrkstphnsn says:

    Yeah Evolution Yeah Blah Yeah but you’re all avoiding the big question! Does he or does he not look like that Bloke From No Country For Old men?

  39. Erlam says:

    “I’m just hoping this isn’t another Black & White.”

    I had exactly the same … worry. I see a lot of promises, but what gets delivered may be very different.

    Also, it seems a huge amount of resources are going into uploading/downloading other peoples creatures; while that’s cool, I really don’t care, personally, what other people have done. I want to make my own crap, wreck my oen universe, and so on.

  40. RichPowers says:

    Exploring a virtually unlimited universe of content created by other players is what I’m most looking forward to. Fly half way across a HUGE galaxy and find some new species to conquer, destroy, enslave, whatever.

  41. Ginger Yellow says:

    “I freakin’ love FLOW, and found it to be a beautifully accurate way of showing the progressive evolutionary cycle through the interchange of energy between organisms, so the exact same game idea being used in Spore is fantastic.”

    I wouldn’t exactly say it’s an accurate represenatation of evolution. There’s no reproduction, no selection pressure, more or less linear development, pseudo-Lamarckian acquisition of characteristics and so on.

  42. Kommissar Nicko says:

    Panspermia…

    LOOK OUT FOR THE OLD ONES!

  43. unclebulgaria says:

    Good point! Is R’yleh modelled in any detail? :)