RPS Verdict: Spore Creature Creator

By RPS on July 1st, 2008 at 12:41 pm.


Jim: Okay, a quick verdict. “The Spore Creature Creator is quite good.” Anyone have anything else to add?
Kieron: I concur.
John: You can make knobs.
Jim: Actually it’s a shame that our penis coverage, so to speak, has eclipsed the other clever creations.
Kieron: Yeah – I actually feel a little guilt on this. There’s a selection of genuinely awesome stuff out there – the ED209s, the planes, the chairs…
Alec: The legs aren’t great.
John: I had a desire to make a sofa, but it never really worked out.

Kieron: I think we should do something about it eventually – especially as people are putting up their own creations as the PNGs you just move in. So we should probably talk a bit about its functionality actually. Having the save file be a picture file is just genius.
Jim: Yeah, let’s talk about the actual act of using it. It reminded me of Eskil Steenberg talking about how to make tools: if they can be fun, productivity goes up.
John: Kieron, you put it right in your EG thing, where you say it doesn’t make you a god. So people are annoyed at its limitations, which is silly bearing in mind its capacity.
Kieron: What do you mean by that?
John: The complaints about the game seem to be what it can’t do. The restrictions in place – size, not being able to use feet without legs, etc.
Jim: But that’s a problem with gamers: their imagination outstrips what developers are able to actually make. It happens with all games
John: But I think with this, it forces creativity to operate within its boundaries.
Jim: Creativity usually benefits from some boundaries, though, doesn’t it?
John: That’s my point. But what I wanted to ask was, what are the valid complaints. Are there things not including is silly?
Kieron: But the complexity limit, I suspect, would be a hard enough limit – or the animation. The ability to not have feet attached to the body, for example, isn’t a real useful limit.

Now he'll take on the world.

Alec: (this stuff should be clip’n'saved for the verdict)
Kieron: (This is the verdict)
Alec: What?
Kieron: (We’re doing a verdict)
Alec: Bollocks, I’m about to go the tip. Hang on, let me go lock the car. Sigh.
Kieron: Heh.
Alec: Let’s not say “okay, we’ll do verdicts next week” minutes before starting a verdict next time
John: My surprise disappointment is the painting. I can’t think of a valid reason why it can’t let me decorate individual body parts. Anyone know why that might be – it’s a fairly standard feature in most character creators.
Jim: The painter is fairly complex though.
Kieron: I honestly don’t know. Maybe they didn’t want people writing I LOVE HITLER on the skin. It wouldn’t surprise me that come the final release that you would be able to make your own textures for ‘em
Jim: Yeah, it’s the Rainbox Six Vegas syndrome. When you could use Digimask to input your face, the first thing internet-dickwads did was stick post-it notes to their foreheard with “I hate black people” on it.
Alec: It’s very much hampered by its own art style. I can’t seem to make anything that doesn’t look immediately like it was made in Spore
Kieron: Some people are getting nastier monsters with it, but they still have the tiny cute edge.
John: I think there’s a middleground. Why can’t I have the head yellow and the ears green? They’re distinct parts, because I put them together myself.
Alec: Which is fair enough – its look is important. But occasionally it makes me a little disinclined to make something elaborate.

John's cute owl.

Kieron: Yeah – the painting is the odd one. But my general take on this is that it’s an enormous, unparalleled achievement. No-one’s done anything like this in the field. Essentially, for this kind of editor, content creator, they’ve climbed Everest. And all the criticism is a case of us going “yeah, really good, but how about a mountain as tall as Everest… plus a couple of hundred feet”.
Alec: Well, Garry’s mod is the obvious reference, but this has a coherence and ease that Garrys can only dream of.
Jim: The thing that struck me was that most people won’t think that though, KG, because it seems so natural. We’re the critical few. Most people are thrilled by it. It’s so easy that it seems like all games should work that fluidly.
Alec: I don’t think it’s disingenuous at all to want more. Especially because the things we want are fairly simple, stuff that could be tweaked for the full game.
Kieron: Anyone care to be cynical and guess they’ll be – say – a tentacle add on pack?
John: It’s that cruel fate of the excellent. If I paint a crude stickman, you’re unlikely to criticise the details. But if I paint something near photorealistic, and the ears are a bit off, you’re more likely to say, “Shame about the ears.”
Kieron: Yeah – things that seem easy are always nightmarishly hard. Like Alec’s Mum. As opposed to Jim’s mum, who seems prudish, but hungers for the taste of flesh.
Jim: YOUR MUM.
Kieron: Sorry. The Sporn has gone to my head.
John: Trunks, hooves, elephant-legs, tails – there’s a bunch of stuff they’ve deliberately left out.
Kieron: I dunno – you can make a decentish trunk out of an arm minus a hand.
Jim: And in the game.
Kieron: Heh.
John: But not a trunk-trunk, segmented. There’s a ton of stuff they easily could have included, that I’m sure they haven’t for add-on pack reasons. I’d guess at there being a Human addon pack. And hair.
John: Spore Teen Style Stuff.
Kieron: Yeah. That’s got to be the business model.

The Muppets make a freakish guest appearance.

Jim: There won’t be a human add on pack, but the tech could end up in The Sims. I don’t think this is going to be The Sims though. There’s still this awful feeling that Spore itself will sink without a trace.
Kieron: It’s funny: I’m increasingly thinking it’ll be fine.
Jim: But “sells enough” fine, or “world-changed forever” fine.
John: Are the million+ creatures uploaded coming from the hardcore, or the mainstream?
Kieron: Both, I suspect. The magic of having the creature creator out there is… well, the second you see yours come to life, it’s yours.
Alec: I’ve said it before, but it’s worth noting that The Sims totally seemed a hardcore affair to start with. There was real PC geekiness to it. It crossed over somewhat unexpectedly, after several months. The same could happen with Spore.
Kieron: For the record, I’ll stress I was the only guy on PC Gamer who thought the Sims would be huge.
Jim: That is because of your ability to see faultlessly into the future, isn’t it?
Alec: The difference is EA is expecting this one to be huge, so it won’t be a natural process.

Just to annoy Alec, here's Brian!

Jim: Actually the real magic for me, with the creature creator, was watching Amanda being totally thrilled at actually being able to make something in a videogame without getting utterly confused.
Kieron: Yeah – that’s it! That’s why it’s going to work.
Jim: Accessibility is the answer.
John: Will the same principle be applied to the rest of the game?
Jim: You have to assume it will be. I think it’s becoming the lesson throughout gaming really: allow people to play, at least the starting bit. Make the game deep, but make the top level super-accessible
Kieron: Yeah. I mean, Spore starts as being Pac-man.
Alec: Me and Mike Channell were talking about it in front of [mad girl we know who doesn't like being named in public], and she was absolutely bored by our talking about videogames again, until she heard about the penis monsters. Sporn may be trashy as hell, but I suspect it’ll drag in a load of people from outside normal PC gaming.
Kieron: It’s kind of a recapitulation of the whole array of gaming – I’m thinking it could even be the Understanding Comics of games. And yeah – I agree totally on the Sporn thing. I mean, the Sex and the Sims. That was pretty much the first thing anyone asked us about the Sims.
John: Here’s modern: I made a bonking couple creature, and was disappointed because it looked too much like all the other ones. Damn! My Sporn isn’t original.
Jim: But the other thing about it, and this ties into my delight at Amanda’s delight, is that it’s almost perfectly cute. It’s not sickenly cute, it’s functionally cute, which is why I think the art direction isn’t hampering it, but enabling it.

Not sure what on earth this is meant to be.

Kieron: Yeah – my woman was completely enamoured with my little green guy with legs. Completely AWWWW! Meanwhile, Kid-with-knife had a crack, and made a dragon covered in spines. It isn’t game design – it’s autobiography.
Alec: Yeah, the art style is just globular and weird enough that the cuteness doesn’t overwhelm it unless you’re specifically creating something cute.
John: I made the loveliest owl. It’s the simplest thing I’ve made, but it’s by far my favourite.
Alec: I’ve yet to try making a specific thing, actually. I always get too caught up in adding a hundred knees.
Kieron: The knee thing is fascinating. That’s the most skillful thing to the editing. Trying to get a neat walk.
Alec: It’s also the most immediately alien thing. Most of the body parts look fairly like something Earthly, but when you stretch and bend the legs in a certain way, suddenly it’s unquestionably extraterrestrial.
Jim: The creatures emerge randomly for me, I haven’t tried to make a specific thing.
Kieron: Mind if I mention something I said in my review? I want to know what you guys make of it. The idea of some people basically wanted a FUNCTIONAL god thing. The idea of you as a designer, trying to make a perfect speedy leg formation. As oppose dto the game as is, which is basically playing with ready-squished out bits of clay. And if you stick a mouth on, no matter what you do, wherever you place it, it functions the same.
Alec: Yes, anything you make still hangs around conventional ideas of biology, really. You’re modifying more than you are actually inventing.
Jim: Modding is how user-generated content works though, isn’t it. Modding is evolution! Speed-Darwinism.
Alec: I just suspect those add-on packs we’re guessing at really are essential to the game’s future. A lot of the Sims addons seemed cynical and tokenistic, but in this case it really will be about keeping the game fresh and expansive

A frightening gang.

Jim: But they’re only ever going to be more pieces of Lego. Also, how pissed are the Spore people going to be reading this when we’re already talking about expansion packs. Madness! Anyway, it’s not, as KG mentions, going to suddenly deliver some massive in-depth genetic editor that changes the way the creatures are able to function. It’s just more Lego.
Alec: Yeah, but the more pieces of Lego you have, the more imaginative you have to be to picture that whole mass of stuff turning into something specific
Kieron: I admit I agree with Alec on this, I think – more pieces of Lego is fine. People like more pieces of Lego. (You know americans call them Legos?)
Jim: Oh i think it’s fine too – but I was coming back to your point about people wanting More Godness.
John: (Plural noun, entire nation.) A clever thing about the creature creator is the screen where you can see your attacks and other moves. It’s so tantalising! It was very smart to include all that, a proper teaser. I think that implies a bit more Godness. That even though it all functions the same, your combination generates a more individual approach to the world.
Alec: I wonder if anyone will come up with a third-party animation-tweaking tool… so you might give it this type of leg, but you can alter the code to make it move a little differently than what the game auto-generates.
Kieron: Jim – the thing that means for me is… well, there’s a clear room for another game if anyone wanted to do it.
Jim: That’s interesting too, isn’t it: the failure to developer alternative Sims games. It’s possible there won’t ever really be a More Spore.
Kieron: Heh – you know, all this is really interesting… but it’s mainly about what Spore’s creature creator inspires rather than what it is. As in, it makes us think about what *could* be.

Helpful monster.

Jim: Yeah, well from my point of view it was a brilliant glimpse into the game. And what a piece of marketing. It’s not even a demo, just a fun toolkit. Hey, it’s one of the themes of my book! Giving players tools so that the look after the fun for themselves. Also the “games are models” thing: that’s literal here, game as making models of living creatures.
Kieron: Yeah.
Alec: Again, Garry’s Mod – though there’s gamey elements, people didn’t have any purpose when using beyond ‘make a funny thing’. It set quite a precedent for this.
Kieron: I think Gary’s Mod is enormously influential in terms of User-generated content, and the possibilities thereof.
Alec: I suspect the reason EA charge for the Creature Creator is not just because they’re money-grabbing, but because they’ve realised that a vast number of people aren’t interested in fighting and exploring and collecting. They just want to paint in monster. I wonder if there’ll be further options for exporting creatures.
Kieron: Yeah. It’s a casual game.
Alec: It’s a Facebook app. Or making them pets in Sims 3. There’s been talk of rapid prototyping too.
Jim: Okay, I have to go buy vegetables. Continue to chat if you have more…
Kieron: No, I think we should wrap it up. Worth buying?
John: How much is it? Well, it doesn’t matter. Cos you get it deducted from the final game, right?
Alec: $10.
Jim: (I would buy it)
John: It’s a bargain.
Kieron: Yeah. In the UK if you buy it from GAME, Zawii or the EA shop, it gets rebated from Spore. So it’s basically a pre-order , for us. For a fiver it’s entirely worth it. It’s convinced me I want to buy both the creator and spore. So all thumbs up?
John: Yes.
Alec: My thumb is indeed aloft. Oh – we should make a thumb creature, for the verdict pics.
Kieron: Heh.
Jim: “We” should, yeah. Optimus will have to do for now.


Our verdict: SALE!

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48 Comments »

  1. mpk says:

    I get that compulsive just-five-minutes-more feeling with it. It’s amazing how quickly you can ststring some limbs and mouths and eyes and ears together to create a truly horrible little bugger, something entirely unique in the universe (hopefully). As a toy it’s wonderful. I hoped my girlfriend would have a go – I’m eternally trying to get her into gaming, but failing desperately – but since I showed her the Sporn vids featured on this site she just calls it “the cock game”.

    My girlfriend is worried about my sexuality and it’s all RPS’ fault :(

  2. roBurky says:

    You guys are so harsh. You praise the way a creature file fits into a few kilobytes, then want to design textures for individual creature parts?

  3. The Hammer says:

    I’m really enjoying the Creator. It’s a quick five minute thing for when there’s nothing better to do. I just keep grinning when I lay down some eyes, and the creature blinks and looks around, or when I see the offspring. It’s just so wonderful how they react to each other.

    (Oh, and the PNG idea is just…brilliant. I exploded with delight when I found out about it)

  4. mpk says:

    I also like the idea of the creature creator as a personality test. I’m beginning to worry about myself now…

  5. James G says:

    I really don’t want to derail the conversation, but I was wondering if anyone knows whether the Creature Creator gets locked to a particular system? I’m currently visiting parents and don’t have my PC with me. I was tempted to pick up a copy and comandeer my Dad’s laptop with it, however don’t want to have trouble installing it on my PC when I get back home.

  6. John O'Kane says:

    “My surprise disappointment is the painting. I can’t think of a valid reason why it can’t let me decorate individual body parts. Anyone know why that might be – it’s a fairly standard feature in most character creators”

    I suspect it’s down to the compression. The save file stores relatively little data based on what you’ve clicked and does some fairly advanced uv-mapping, colouring and texturing to expand that into real textures and uv’s for the final creature. This way, it’s possible to have the 100,000s of creatures we have at the moment – easily transmitted, stored, whatever on the EA side of things, and easily uploaded/downloaded for the user. There may be other advantages in studying the compressed information, e.g. synthesis of “similar” creatures using algorithms or clustering similar creatures or searching by example.

    Think about it, the save file is stored inside a picture of your creature. That’s tiny. Not sure how it’s embedded (watermarked? or in meta data in the header?), but it’s clearly not storing other textures inside there.

    Question is, is this a good trade off? Maybe they’ll upgrade the texture editing tools and create extra (subscribing) servers for advanced people who want to host and hand texture their creations. I suspect not, unless it’s sometime much further down the line and a final way to get more income.

  7. Aubrey says:

    I dun a cumple gigger aliens
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=jm-J4vTUtS4
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee58xO28SYo

    Any yeah, they definitely have a slight “cute” edge. Feels unavoidable. I don’t mind it though, as it maintains a consistency with the rest of the world. I am a bit sad about the painting, but then, I’m not using the full thing.

  8. Nick says:

    Yeah, I was going to say the painting limitation will be a data size/storage issue, procedural textures can be much, much smaller.

    Overall I loved it, the only issue I had was the fact that the Metaball system – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaball – that I presume is in use made everything a little bit too ’rounded’. It would have been nice to have some slightly more out-there options – robotic life, crystalline life, sharp edges etc. I entirely understand that it’s asking for the moon on a stick, though.

  9. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Yes, we totally do call them Legos.

    Because we don’t wanna confuse them with waffle slogans.

  10. Jim Rossignol says:

    Roburky: I don’t understand their fussing about the painting. It seemed perfectly flexible enough to me.

  11. Jonah says:

    *Warning* *Long Post*

    A game called Graffiti Kingdom (PS2) did procedural animations and an in-depth creature creator years before anyone had ever heard of Spore. Not only that, but that creator allowed for weapons (guns, swords, spears etc.), wheels, and quite a few other things that Spore doesn’t have. Plus you gave your creatures specific and varied attacks based on what types of parts are on it.

    Graffiti Kingdom had a fantastic creature creator, but the game is practically unheard of. The damn thing was so flexible that you actually drew all the parts instead of selecting from a list and then doing minor edits.

    I just don’t want it said that Spore did this first. Graffiti Kingdom did it years ago and it’s system is more flexible than Spore’s.

    I honestly think that Spore is getting a bit more credit then it deserves for the creature creator. The only thing it has over GK is that creatures made in it look nicer. Which isn’t to say that I don’t think Spore will be good. Every other aspect of the game I’m quite impressed by.

  12. Matt N says:

    It seems like a lot of the complaints in the discussion boil down to “why didn’t they include this”. As with most games, I think the developers probably would have included a lot of that stuff, if they had infinite time and an infinite budget. But as it is, Spore is already 2 years overdue and I can only begin to imagine how much EA has sunk into this game over its 6 year development cycle. It’s also important to keep in mind that the final game will ship with not just a creature creator, but a ship creator and a building creator as well (and of course an actual game to go along with them), both likely just as robust as the creature creator.

    Thankfully, those who are missing that stuff can most certainly look forward to expansion packs, which will allot the developers more time and resources to expand upon their original vision. But given the breadth and depth of the Creature Creator, I find it hard to complain about what’s not there.

  13. matt says:

    I suspect the reason EA charge for the Creature Creator is not just because they’re money-grabbing, but because they’ve realised that a vast number of people aren’t interested in fighting and exploring and collecting. They just want to paint in monster. I wonder if there’ll be further options for exporting creatures.

    As soon as i played Sims for the first time, i thought it would have been nice to have just the house editor as a stand alone, because i was spending much more time building me nice houses with pools all over the place, than i was spending actually playing.
    Difference for me with Spore is that i’d actually want to see my creatures in-game, if only to know how they’d manage to hold their own, and possibly get back to make new, better ones.. which should participate in that “God” feeling we’re looking for.

  14. Steven Hutton says:

    I stuck Warhammer Online into youtube yesterday. The entire first page of results was videos of Squigs that people had made in the Spore creature editor. Nice.
    And of course that lead seamlessly to pages and pages of hormagaunts, genestealers and zoanthroapes….. I wonder if there’s a ‘fex?

    Edit – yeah, there’s carnifexes up the wazoo.

  15. Ian says:

    Are we sure it’s not just our hideous twenty-legged beasts we think are cute no matter what? Because we’ve created them? It’s like how people are with babies or puppies or whatever.

    People always think their own babies or their relatives’ babies are the cutest but somebody else might see him or her and say, “Christ, that’s one fuck-ugly baby.”

    I’ve seen creatures created by others and thought, “Oh that’s gross” (in a good way) without finding it cute. Anything I make, however, I think has at least an edge of cuteness because I know what I was thinking.

  16. Riotpoll says:

    @James G: I think it locks the key to your Spore account thing you create, as I used the trial then when I installed the full version it asked me if I wanted to add the key to “abc@email.com”. I should add, I made a creature on my old PC with the trial and uploaded it to the interweb, then when I used the full version (with the same account) I could still access it on my new PC.

  17. Al3xand3r says:

    So, it gets a thumbs up as a design achievement. But there’s not enough talk about how much it’s worth as an actual GAME it’s supposed to be. No talk about if the demo is good enough and it’s not really worth to buy the full, no talk about if it’s novel but gets old fast so people should just wait for the full Spore game instead. And yes, okay, the price of Spore will be reduced if you buy his… If only we just knew that Spore will really be awesome before we’ve actually played it. But we don’t so it’s not justification for buying this.

  18. Jim Rossignol says:

    A: the point is that we think the Creature Creator is good enough to buy on its own. Hence the end of the verdict where we say it’s good enough to buy in its own right.

  19. Ian says:

    I actually wasn’t at all interested in Spore, the full game, until I played with this and decided it was a work of staggering genius — right about the time that I started madly anthropomorphising my first ‘creation’ (‘Ooh look! It’s pleased with its hands!’)

    Now, what I really want (perhaps need would be more correct) is an exporter so I can play Counterstrike as one of my Spore creations (complete with animations).

    Oh, and James G — I’ve got the creature creator installed on both my work and home PCs and I’ve had no problems accessing my creations on either machine using the same account.

  20. Cigol says:

    @Jonah; nice spot, check out the videos of Graffiti Kingdom on youtube, some crazy shit on there;

    Crikey, it looks awesome!

    @Ian; they will only show up on other PC’s if they are successfully shared on sporepedia I believe, just FYI.

  21. meta-k says:

    But what about the comments that plasticine or pencil and paper are better? This isn’t a game, yet all your points of reference are game-based.

  22. MetalCircus says:

    I made a massive bloated cock with horns.

    I also made a human with a comedy sized willy attatched.

  23. grumpy says:

    About Lego bricks: Get it right, people:

    I want you to ask the Lego gang for the definitive answer on the plural for Lego bricks. Is it, as we Brits say, simply Lego, or is it, as some Americans insist, Legos?
    Actually both the Brits and the Americans are wrong—but are all forgiven! “Lego” is an adjective and is not meant to be a standalone name. It should always be Lego bricks, Lego building, Lego products, etc.

    ;)

    About custom painting and custom animations (and custom anything else):
    Not gonna happen. The nifty thing about Spore is that it *doesn’t* rely on ready-made data of any kind. There are no animation files, it figures that out on the fly. There are no textures, it applies simple procedural patterns to the creature’s skin.
    You might have liked to be able to paint on your creature’s forehead, but how should that texture be fitted onto a creature whose shape isn’t fixed? Adult and baby creatures don’t have the same proportions for their bodies, their animations aren’t exactly the same and so on. Even if you stuck a plain texture onto your creature, it wouldn’t work for both young and old creatures at the same time. And of course, textures take up a lot of space, compared to the couple of bytes used to store a creature currently.
    Same with animation. If you wanted to customize animation, you’d have to define every single animation. Walk forwards, sideways, backwards, turn around, bit, punch, punch while walking sideways and so on. Good luck defining 200 animations, *and* making sure they all blend together. And you’re screwed when an expansion adds new animations. They can do that currently, because the animations are all derived from the creature’s physique. So if an expansion adds a swim animation, for example, it will automatically work on all existing creatures as well. Or just if they fix the current animations which can be a bit glitchy on some of the stranger creatures. Same with texturing. Because it’s all procedurally generated, rather than being stored in the creature save file, it can be updated and improved in a patch, and it’ll apply to all existing creatures.

    I’m not sure what the problem would be with the trunk you mentioned either. You can make multi-segmented “arms” after all, so just string 10 segments together, and place them at the front of your creature’s face, and you’ve got a trunk.
    Of course, it’s a pity that it doesn’t seem to animate arms/legs if they don’t have feet or hands at the end of them.

    And that it doesn’t really allow for creatures without vertebrae or without legs. (Well, you can make ones with no legs, but they get a speed rating of 0… Whatever that means). Or that you can’t have extra legs facing upwards.

    There are a lot of limitations, but eh… Can’t get everything. :)

  24. Ben Hazell says:

    meta-k: Sadly I lack the mad plasticine skillz to make something as good as my Spore creatures.
    But it’d probably be more rewarding.

  25. Caiman says:

    I doubt anyone would have criticised the CC had it simply been part of Spore and not released separately. I mean, do you see pages of whinging about how unrealistic the face creation system in Oblivion is? Not much anyway, because it’s simply a tiny component of the game.

    Of course, RPS have seen the light with the CC and realised that its appeal is wider than just those interested in Spore.

  26. Tr00jg says:

    I saw such a silly silly creature in the Spore Creature Creator. It had the bill of a duck, the tail of a beaver and the feet of an otter.

    Haha, and it has such a silly name. Platypus!

  27. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Jim: That’s interesting too, isn’t it: the failure to developer alternative Sims games. It’s possible there won’t ever really be a More Spore.”

    I’d be very surprised if EA don’t come out with a More Spore Creature Creator a year or so after launch. As that interview with the former Firaxis guy made clear, they had to take a lot of options out of the creature creation stage to balance the overall gameplay. If they just made a standalone creator (as they surely will now that the tied-in one has been so successful), they could just concentrate on the creativity rather than worrying about gameplay.

  28. meta-k says:

    Yeah, for most people they wouldn’t look as slick, but I think the infinite flexibilty and ability to do a lot more stuff with the creation (paint it, pose it, light it, display it in your living room or have it snog your transformer action figures ™) mean that other creative outlets are much better.

    Hell, you can even put them into a game right now, instead of waiting for Spore. Make some crazy creatures and play D&D or Warhammer with them. That lets you come up with background and behaviours (original ones, not the handful in Spore that practically all creatures share) and even ecosystems if you like.

  29. Theory says:

    I’m not going to buy the creator, but only because I want some fresh surprises when I buy the full game. I am jealous of the people with all those lovely extra parts already though. :P

    Overall I loved it, the only issue I had was the fact that the Metaball system – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaball – that I presume is in use made everything a little bit too ’rounded’. It would have been nice to have some slightly more out-there options – robotic life, crystalline life, sharp edges etc. I entirely understand that it’s asking for the moon on a stick, though.

    The building and vehicle editors do exactly that. Bringing it into the creature editor will be expansion pack material, I suspect.

    Edit: BTW, I made a Sporepedia search plugin for Firefox/IE7.

  30. Daniel says:

    Well, we can’t do Moties (The Mote in God’s Eye). The question is: can we do Stilties? (On Basilisk Station)

  31. Ian says:

    @Tr00jg: Haha, that’s why I love the CC. As if such a mishappen creature would ever survive in the real world!

  32. Legandir says:

    I made a few creatures in the trial version and I havent really touched it since. I’ll be very interested to see what the actual game is like and if it can get past being “just a creature creator”. If they sell it just off the strength of the creator i cant see it doing very well. On the other hand, ive seen previews showing some very interesting things. They seem to have moved away from being sim-everything and im not sure if thats a good or bad thing yet. I guess ill wait for the spore rps verdict :D

    http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=ekQo5SACNNs

  33. PsyW says:

    Damn it, Daniel, now I’m compelled to re-read On Basilisk Station again… And absolutely try and make a Stilty in the CC…

  34. cyrenic says:

    I’m guessing the rest of Spore will pale in comparison to the Creature Editor. Spore is a big step forward though, it will show the power of good content creation tools. It’s premature for me to write the rest of the game off, but I’m looking forward to a game with equivalent content creation and a more compelling “game” section.

  35. Matthew Craig says:

    So you can’t edit the PNG in a paint-o – lasso/colourise the herman gelmet parts of interest and Save- then transfer it back to Spore?

    Aw.

    //\Oo/\\

  36. Sucram says:

    I’m not sure what I want Spore to be now.

    It seems to be mostly about taking a single creature through various stages of evolution. But now after playing with the creature creator I really do want to play the deity, creating a world, filling it with all my creatures and having them develop different personalities and interact with each other.

    Really, how am I meant to choose just one of my children?

  37. Radiant says:

    Holy shit!
    Graffiti Kingdom looked absolutely amazing!
    The evolution of that robot with the wheels!
    Something hit deep in my heart right there.

  38. RichPowers says:

    Anyone else think EA has done a terrible job of marketing Spore the actual game? How you play, what you do, how you control your creatures…all of this is nebulous at best. Considering the game will be released in a little over two months, EA should really rectify this.

    I wonder how many players will move beyond the content creators and into the actual game, especially since Spore is a RTS/4X more than anything.

  39. phuzz says:

    personally I played with it for a little while, then got bored and haven’t been back (and for some reason I never even thought of making a cock creature).
    Mind you, I only managed to sustain interest in the Sims for about a week.

  40. Radiant says:

    Something this verdict touched on briefly.

    If the core of WoW are all those zillions of people who play rpgs and love fantasy role playing.
    And the core of Sims was all the people in aol chatrooms who wanted a better representation of themselves [whilst still chatting to their online chums].
    Who will the core players of Spore be?

  41. Jamie says:

    That Day of the Tentacle creature is absolutely brilliant, top notch

  42. EyeMessiah says:

    RichPowers says: “Anyone else think EA has done a terrible job of marketing Spore the actual game?”

    Personally I have no idea what sort of game Spore is going to be. I fear that its either going to be the sims, or one of those 6/10 every-stage-is-a-shallow-impersonation-of-a-different-genre games.

    I was stunned by the creature creator for the first few hours. Its certainly a neat toy, but I don’t really feel any desire to go back to it now. Personally I would have swapped some of the gloss and accessibility for something a bit more freeform & mechanical. Hopefully it will be more meaningful once its integrated into the full game.

    I was disappointed to learn that building editor, for instance, won’t have any mechanical impact on the game. I’d rather the bells and whistles were essentially integrated into the game play. I worry that it will be something that I play with a few times and then just bypass after that so you can get on with playing the “real” game.

  43. Frank says:

    some people basically wanted a FUNCTIONAL god thing. The idea of you as a designer, trying to make a perfect speedy leg formation.

    I’m one such person, though optimizing legs is not much fun. I want to recognize a beast’s niche by its sihouette (as in the design philosophy of TF2) and have a lot of niches to choose from, or evolve into (as opposed to all beasts being mid-size lumps). That would probably be like climbing two Everests, so maybe I’ll have to wait.

  44. james b says:

    i like the design toy- aspect of the creature editor and i am sure spore will be an ok fun- lego like thing. but it absolutely does not seem to have anything to do with the whole sandpit procedural paradigm- that mr wright claimed in its early development. The developer went quiet for a year or so because they failed to make a game of this aspect and have decided to make 4 or 5 mini games that interlink based around this theme…. the natural selection- procedural design aspect is all token, the player just gains dna (or whatever)points in one section of the game to spend in another…none of the stages really link up. Anyone care to correct me? mr Wright wanted to make a game of Karl Sims’s work and has not pulled it of. (noble failure) http://www.framsticks.com/ is still one of the best- just not a game.

  45. RichPowers says:

    As if answering my earlier question, Gamespy posted a 5-page preview of Spore.

    But gamers are wondering: Is there any game there?

  46. Paul Moloney says:

    “I’m eternally trying to get her into gaming, but failing desperately”

    Me too, with my wife, but she _does_ like the Creature Creator. Her latest creation, Buttwing, does exactly what it says on the tin.

    P.

  47. Crispy says:

    Nice little read.

    The parts where the discussion talked about the impact of Spore/sandpit games was an interesting diversion.

  48. Herbie says:

    Jonah, thanks for bringing up Graffiti Kingdom! When Magic Pengel (the first installment) came out years ago, I just couldn’t believe how well it worked. The drawing system somehow translated my 2d drawings into the exact 3d shapes I wanted. I was able to model anything I could imagine and then the engine was able to auto rig my drawings with nice, fluid animation that looked better than most premade creatures in other games. I really couldn’t believe it, I thought it was the most technically amazing and creatively empowering game ever made.

    Magic Pengel and Graffiti Kingdom really beat Spore to the punch by a margin of many many years. Beyond that, they offer even more dynamic and open ended character customization. Beyond that, they did it on completely inferior hardware with a microscopic fraction of the processing power and storage capabilities of current gen hardware.

    Spore looks nice, and it looks fun, but it just kills me that while the gaming press simply ignored Graffiti Kingdom and called it a minor novelty, these same people are going nuts championing Spore and calling it innovative. What a world what a world!

    Anyway, Graffiti Kingdom rocks! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.