Seeded: DarkSpore Open Beta On Steam

By Jim Rossignol on March 29th, 2011 at 7:55 am.

I like my insect-people like I like my women: upgraded for melee combat
We’ve talked a bit already about Maxis’ strange action-RPG reworking of the tools and ideas of Spore, which they’re call DarkSpore. But now you can have a look for yourself over on Steam, where there’s an open beta until the game’s launch on 26th April. Probably worth a look if you like to loot the genetic materials of your fallen enemies, and honestly, who doesn’t? There’s a four-pack pre-order bundle up there, too, for encouraging of the co-op. I think you will want to try before you buy.

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45 Comments »

  1. Valvarexart says:

    Hmm, OPEN beta you say? They don’t force you to pre-order it? They don’t force you to buy stuff in-game? Oh, I get it, they force you to bug-test their game!

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It’s been in closed beta forever, it must be reaching playability now.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      …how is offering the possibility for people to playtest the game “forcing” you in any way?

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      Makariel says:

      Since no one from Maxis holds a gun to your head to download a free piece of software to try out a free open beta, I can’t really see where you are “forced” to anything,

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      the game felt pretty polished in closed beta. just have fun with it and let’s not be negative.

    • darthmajor says:

      I heard some of the devs are going around in a van, beating people who don’t want to bugtest it up. If you hear a van stopping in front of your house playing “how many people want to kick some ass” loudly, run. Run like the wind.

      This might be interesting, giving people almost a full month to try it seems very confident.

    • Wulf says:

      @frightlever

      Indeed. There are two different drives there – number lust, and configuration lust. The latter means you get to build and make your character look truly unique, the former meaning that you’ll look pretty damn similar to everyone else, but you’ve got the sword with +100 to all stats. It’s just how different mindsets work.

      The drive in Darkspore for me is to create the most interesting and unique beasties that I can. Every map run gives me a new toy to play with, something I can plonk on them to make them look a little bit more interesting, and offer differentiation. The glorious thing about this is that you can go romping through a map with someone and your beastie can look distinctly different to another person’s, despite being exactly the same beastie. And you’re both there to pick up more configuration stuffs.

      There is a ‘dress up’ element to it, but that’s always been true of Spore and these kinds of games. It’s one of the things that I found alluring about Champions Online. When we’re talking about this kind of non-story focused action RPG thingy, I find that I’m far more invested if I’ve crafted the visual appearance of my character. A sword with +100 to every stat is yawnorama to me, but to get some new curly horns, that’s spiffy! I just can’t get invested if I’m only playing to watch numbers go up.

      That’s why I never really got into the whole Diablo thing. And the only reason I got into Torchlight was pretty much because of the user made dungeons and the pretty things to see. Diablo though… meh. Very meh. I actually prefer Titan Quest to Diablo, since that’s more of a visual feast with far more unusual sights on offer. And I prefer Darkspore over that.

      Darkspore is very unique, visually, and with the power of your own creativity you can make it even more so. That’s the draw.

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    Anthile says:

    Downloaded it some hours ago, will report in later. Also, I think the open beta runs only until next Friday.

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    Keymonk says:

    I’m pretty amazed a title like that doesn’t force you to pre-order to get into the beta. Kudos!

  4. Branthog says:

    I don’t think there is anything that could ever possibly get me interested into anything even remotely vaguely slightly related to Spore. They really burned their bridge(s).

    • NieArch says:

      I was on same side as you, but i gave this game a shot. It was very decent diablo clone with few cool ideas like squads, monster types and changing how your hero looks.

    • mkultra says:

      Asinine comment removed.

    • Tom4J says:

      I played the closed beta,so it could all have changed from a month or so back.

      Changing how your hero looks didn’t give me the same satisfaction the original Spore Game gave me (which i still play from time to time), and “evolution upgrades” are just a new new name for “generic magic sword +4″. Monsters types is a fantastic Idea, keeps you switching your player/party around and the landscapes are beautiful.

      I’m playing Torchlight at the moment and i have to say Darkspore doesn’t seem like it’ll match up to the competition (Diablo III, Torchlight 2), especially if newer games provide good multiplayer support. its middle ground between party micromanagement and loot em up hack n’ slash.

      Its got weird pacing, and only tentatively related to spore. Pretty though.

      Tom j

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      Foosnark says:

      Take the word “Spore” out of the title and pretend the utterly pointless and ineffective visual customization UI isn’t in there, and…. it is not at all related to Spore.

      Compared to Diablo, it’s slow and dull, there are pretty much no important strategic decisions to make while leveling your monsters, you never really care about your monsters, and — at least on the difficulty levels I played before I got bored and reclaimed the disk space — you never really feel threatened.

  5. Wulf says:

    Well, I liked Spore. It was a fun chance for random creativity, and you could encounter some really nutty stuff. I remember on one world I had a giant Amaterasu trotting about, and I couldn’t have been happier with it. I had a spacefaring civilisation of werewolves in top hats and fancy dresswear, myself, and I loved them dearly. Also, finding Earth there was a blast, and colonising it, too.

    I’m actually kind of into this, to be honest, as the trailers looked interesting. If I can do something like my Spore werewolves in it, then I’ll be very happy about that. Really this just looks like a boys club version of Spore, with the more casual play replaced by Diablo-style gameplay, and that doesn’t sound so bad at all, really. So… jumping on this bandwagon.

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      Schaulustiger says:

      Wulf, could you please elaborate?
      I’ve been tempted by Spore for a while now, but bad word of mouth has always stopped me from a purchase. I got the impression that Spore is an incredibly repetitive game with too few interesting mechanics, yet I find the idea utterly fascinating and I’d love to hear some opinions from RPSers.

    • Wulf says:

      Well, the space section with the space adventures pack is really neat, don’t try to play the space section without that though because that’s fairly incomplete. The best parts of it are pretty much the creature stage and the city stage without that. It all comes together as a nifty whole though, and ultimately, if you’re at all invested n your critters, then you just want to see them doing well, on the global stage, and then on the galactic one.

      Whether you’ll like it comes down to whether you like casual games. It’s sort of a bunch of very casual takes on the following, all in one game: flOwer, the old Wolf and Lion games, Settlers, Civilisation, and then a space exploration game which… I… can’t attribute to anything. I also recommend running some mods to give you more resources in the space stage, and to drop the amount of planetary disasters, because that gives you more of a chance to play cosmic gardner with planets, and that works really well.

      If you’re really interested, then I’ll dig out the mods for you, but I can’t make any promises that you’ll like it. It is very specific as to what tastes it applies to, and… well, my tastes aren’t usual, are they? So I honestly can’t make guarantees. I dig it. But I dug it because I became invested in my creatures, and I didn’t expect it to be a hardcore strategy game (which it definitely isn’t).

      The best thing I can advise is watching some videos on Youtube, and if you like what you see, then pick up the game with the space addon pack. And if you want the mods, let me know and I’ll dig them out for you.

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      Schaulustiger says:

      @Wulf: Thanks alot!
      That *does* sound like my cup of tea (I don’t mind some casual-like gameplay every now and then), but a quick glance at Spore’s pricing and I’ve decided to at least wait for a sale. The cheapest offer i’ve found is 40€ for the base game + the Galactic Adventures pack and that is a tad too much for a two-year-old game that I’m not 100% sure about. I’ll definitely get it once it drops to ~20€, though, your description of “playing as a cosmic gardener” sounds great :)

    • Xocrates says:

      @Schaulustiger: Spore hate comes from the fact that the game was hyped to oblivion pre-release and made a bazillion promises it didn’t keep. Judged on its own merits the game is fine.

      While the pre-space ages tend to be a bit shallow, I never found them so dull, repetitive, or long, as to be annoying. The space age is a simplified 4X game and, despite a few problems, can be rather fun. Being able to explore the truly massive galaxy and, perhaps, come across a previous save game, is a nice bonus. (EDIT: Oh, and you can blow up Earth, can’t forget that one)

      I will agree however, that half the fun is in using the editors.

    • Wulf says:

      Okay, so I’m still somehow triggering the spambot. RPS guys, perhaps it’d be best to just have a capcha on that to prove that one is, indeed, a person, rather than just silently eating the post in question?

      Anyway, this one was mildly important, links, mods, and such, so…

      http://pastebin.com/rGCrjyYP

    • DD says:

      I agree with the sentiments about spore and just wanted to put in my 2 cents. I really loved the game and even pre-ordered it (mainly due to the editor) from EA. Had a great time and would usually go through playing it in spurts. Eventually went through installing the game on a few different computers and re-formats and used up the install limit. About a 6 month’s ago I wanted to reinstall it but couldnt cause of the DRM and basically have to buy the game again. The same game I already paid for. I guess my point is doint buy games from EA’s website :(

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      Schaulustiger says:

      Thanks again, Wulf! You actually made me so curious that I bought the complete pack despite the inappropriately high price :)
      I only had an hour to play, but it’s really good so far. After playing a lot of MoW:AS over the last two weeks, it makes for a refreshing change of pace and – dare I say it – it’s pretty cute. I can see myself spending quite some time with the editors and I presume that the lady will love it, too.

  6. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Its a game about collecting items, so you can collect more items. To collect those items, you click things untill they die. You can switch between 3 types of thing killing creatures. You can probably change these creatures by adding the items you found, so thing killing becomes different, but I didn’t need to. By default these creatures have a button for ‘kill things’. Later you also get a kill things faster button, and / or a ‘make sure your creates don’t get killed by the things’ button (healing).

    I found it kind of boring. Not too many bugs though, and the program is actually smart enough to automatically select the correct resolution, which is refreshing.

  7. HexagonalBolts says:

    owwwwwwwwww somebody please make something worthy of the incredible technology and ideas behind spore that failed to come to true fruition.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t think it really failed, at all, it’s just not what people were expecting. It was incredibly casual, and I think that people were wanting something tremendously more hardcore from it. I loved it and thought it was a huge success, personally.

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      P7uen says:

      Was it a triumph?

    • Wulf says:

      Yes!

  8. Dyst says:

    Me and a friend played about 2 hours or so of the closed beta together and we both really liked it. For what it is, it’s pretty fun.

  9. Fwiffo says:

    I’m not sure enough people are going to be willing to shell out 30 quid on this. I think F2P + profit-on-DLC would’ve been a better idea, and considering this is DLC-humpers extraordinaire EA I’m very surprised it’s not that way.

  10. derella says:

    I actually thought the original Spore was a decent distraction. I spent a lot of time just making weird shit with the various creators, though the actual game was a bit of a letdown.

    I don’t really have any interest in Darkspore though.

  11. Oneironaut says:

    I downloaded the open beta last night and I’ve got about 4 hours in the game so far, without having tried multi-player. It’s really fun if you like a good diablo-clone.

  12. Tizoc says:

    Ok, 5 minutes of listening to an annoying voice telling me a story I don’t care about while I stare at a white screen, then the word “Begin” appears and the game crashes.
    Not the best first impression.

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    shoptroll says:

    I’m glad this finally started. I had closed beta access but never got a chance to try the game since I was busy during the weekends the beta ran.

    On a side note, I’m curious as to what made Maxis/EA decide to use Steam as the open beta distribution platform instead of their EADM solution. Seems like they pulled a noticeable 180 here after all the weirdness between Steam and EA earlier this year / late last year. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come?

  14. Navagon says:

    So it’s a little bit like Evolva then?

  15. Calabi says:

    Its not bad I had a quick bash on it and I’m not really a fan of the Diablo clones but I can see it being quite good.

    At least it has a unique setting.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep. Been playing it a bit myself. It’s more fun than I expected it to be, and the whole setting, story, and all that is a bit of fun, and unusual. Mildly rare commodities.

  16. Wulf says:

    …am I the only one getting a heavy Blade Runner vibe from the music that plays when you’re traveling to a location after selecting a campaign zone to travel to?

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      cog says:

      No, you are not alone. My first thought was: “Vangelis?!” followed quickly by “I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe…” Very heavy Bladerunner vibe.

  17. Ringwraith says:

    Huh, seems you need to be connected to the internet even while attempting to play single-player, so lag can cripple you while playing alone.
    Seems I won’t be able to even try this out then, as my internet is being finicky.

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    Petethegoat says:

    I played this for 17 minutes before getting bored and quitting. Most of that was cutscenes, which were actually more interesting than the game bit. Bleh.

  19. jack4cc says:

    I don’t know why anyone would choose this over league of legends – not because LoL is better, but because LoL has no infuriating animation/delay between menu options that were designed by someone who never had to play the game for prolonged amounts of time and no annoying female voice that tells you the same stuff every single time you play a map, which is rather often, since after only 3 hours you’ve seen all the game has to offer.

    • Wulf says:

      The absence of hate? The presence of fun? Good reasons, I say!

      Oh oh oh, and creativity!! Not just your usual medieval fantasy pap, these worlds are actually really alien and interesting. The plasma falls, the bioluminescence world, the asteroids surrounding a singularity… it’s all actually quite inspiring. Someone cared about these locations, I could tell.

    • jack4cc says:

      Yeah ‘cared’ as in bioware ‘cared’ when they copy&pasted their one cave fifteen times for DA2. But DA2 has a story, and characters.

    • Wulf says:

      The difference between trolling and a biased opinion is that one is based upon fact, the other is based upon fiction that one cooks up to make something look bad. In the case of Dragon Age II, many have disparaged the copy-paste nature of the locations, and how 90% of the assets were reused from Origins. It was touched upon in Yahtzee’s latest review.

      However, in Darkspore, the locations are different for each planet you go to. Every planet I’ve visited has been vividly different from the last. So your comment is simply irrelevant, as there’s absolutely no copied content in Drarkspore, they just bump you from one bizarre location to the next, and each of them is distinct and unique. You may be buttsore about Dragon Age II for whatever reason, but your trolling holds no grounds, here. Really. I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t know if you know what you’re talking about.

      And as for a story? Darkspore has one of those, and it’s actually pretty decent, if it’s got nerds arguing over plot points on a forum, then that’s usually the sign of a pretty complex story that people care about. Take a look over at the Darkspore forums and you’ll note just that happening. There is a story there, and people care about it. The only place where it really falters is the player character, but then that’s something that all Diablo-style games suffer from.

      So yeah, I’m going to dismiss this as a very poor trolling effort. If it was an opinion, it would have more of a basis in reality.

      Really, all I take away from this? Someone was buttsore about Dragon Age II not living up to their expectations and decided to go and bash some other game because people weren’t praising and talking up the game they’d lost faith in in order to make theirself feel good about their purchase.

  20. Wulf says:

    Well, I’m absolutely sold on this. I’ve picked it up. It goes from showing me one wonder to the next, and the whole experience has a range of forms of beauty to it, some exotic, some haunting, some just strange. I really appreciate it. This world I’m romping around on as we speak seems to excel at basalt columns. A jungle with basalt columns!

    Right now I’m just playing to see what sort of magnificently realised place they’ll send me to next! This game is going to do so many favours for the whole Diablo-clone scene, if future developers note the creativity on offer, here.