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View Full Version : Spore - What went wrong? Thoughts?



Voon
10-02-2012, 04:50 PM
Well, beyond the ungodly DRM introduced by EA, I'm just curious about why this game was regarded as a disaster. I thought it was decent. Well, until I reached the space age; which was dull after spending an hour wandering aimlessly and getting attacked by pirates. Creature creation was a fun feature, where I'm able to create my own creatures which has an eye for an ass, for example. Then, the few shifts in gameplay as my creatures grew larger brains and started a new era were intriguing.

But, that's just me. I thought it was interesting. Your thoughts on this game?

khaz
10-02-2012, 04:53 PM
There wasn't that much game beyond the creature creation? It felt like a watered down version of the Civ games. Also, too many penis monsters. :)

ZIGS
10-02-2012, 04:56 PM
Spore came out right before PC gaming started seeing a "resurrection". The DRM didn't help (nor the lack of a Steam release)

Drake Sigar
10-02-2012, 05:08 PM
I haven't played it, but from what I heard the general impression was that Spore looked amazing up until release. The game had marketing up the ass, everyone was drooling over the public demonstrations. Then the game actually came out and players were appauled to discover many of the game's most popular features had been violently removed.

Wooly Wugga Wugga
10-02-2012, 05:48 PM
I think it sold ok, it just didn't meet expectations. It was also pirated wholesale.

My main gripe is that it felt like a few seperate minigames that just weren't fully fleshed out. The design of your creature just didn't have a major impact on the way it played. All creatures nested the same way, ate the same way, lived the same way. For a game that took so long to develop it was horribly simple and limited. There was absolutely no complexity and one of Will Wright's skills is taking highly complex simulations and making them accessible and fun.

Alex Bakke
10-02-2012, 05:59 PM
If I remember correctly (I can't remember where I heard this), two camps formed within EA and Maxis - Some, including Will Wright, wanted Spore to be focused heavily on evolution, with a serious reliance on actual science and education. The other camp, however, was in favour of cutesy lovely animals that people who loved the Sims could buy. This camp had support from EA.

Take this with a pinch of salt though, because I have no idea where I read this.

Wooly Wugga Wugga
10-02-2012, 06:07 PM
If I remember correctly (I can't remember where I heard this), two camps formed within EA and Maxis - Some, including Will Wright, wanted Spore to be focused heavily on evolution, with a serious reliance on actual science and education. The other camp, however, was in favour of cutesy lovely animals that people who loved the Sims could buy. This camp had support from EA.

Take this with a pinch of salt though, because I have no idea where I read this.

Some background for anyone interested in this hypothesis : http://forum.spore.com/jforum/posts/list/8555.page

archonsod
10-02-2012, 10:02 PM
My main gripe is that it felt like a few seperate minigames that just weren't fully fleshed out.


Pretty much this. Spore stage was the only one that really worked, it was just long enough to still be entertaining. Creature through to civilisation stages really felt like missed opportunities; you had the possibility of a pretty good RTS and third person adventure, but they were far too shallow to pull it off. Space stage brought the complexity back and, at least in theory, was a great idea. Ruined by some muppet thinking that forcing you to dash off to deal with something every thirty seconds was a good idea. So you were left looking mournfully at what looked like a pretty nice trading and colonisation game because you were forced to go save a planet from ecosystem collapse yet again.

SirKicksalot
10-02-2012, 10:23 PM
The space stage *was* the game. They failed to advertise that. People came for the evolution part when the meat of the game was in space exploration.

buemba
10-02-2012, 10:37 PM
Besides the fact that none of the stages felt particularly engaging to me, I also hated that there wasn't really as much freedom to create you creature (And later, its civilization) as I would like. If you wanted to progress through the game you needed to create something that had eyes, legs and arms, so my dream of creating a blind armless and legless creature that thrived by using its awesome telekinetic powers (Or shriveled and died by the claws of a stronger species) and lived in sprawling underwater societies didn't pan out.

Teh Arbiter
10-02-2012, 11:45 PM
pretty much what archonsod and kicksalot said, only the spore and the space stage that really works, and even those aren't more interesting than a some flash game over the internet. for the 3 stage in between, i always felt that the only purpose for those stage as a long bridge, it takes a long time to cross them, the scenery are dull and ultimately, it'll only take you to the other side of the game and i dont like that. its a shame, the game looked very promising in theory, all those possibilities. gone

Prester John
11-02-2012, 12:42 AM
What went wrong was i wasted 30 on a pile of trash.

soldant
11-02-2012, 12:49 AM
For me it was the deviation away from science and the space game being a shadow of what we were expecting. The "cute" part was odd and sort of put me off a bit, but it got infinitely worse because the bulk of the space game (which is THE game, pretty much) was largely neutered. For a decent colony everyone had to live on an Earth-world, whether you intended for it to match your creature's physiology/evolution or not. Your species only ever had one spaceship, everybody else has regenerating fleets. All the vehicles you designed in the city phase are effectively useless after that phase and do nothing. You were forced down a particular path, whether you wanted to follow it or not. Things like nebulae were absolutely pointless and had no gameplay value. Combat was overly simplistic. The previous stages had no real value for the later stages, you might as well just have started at the Space phase for all the difference it would have made. Diplomacy was overly simplistic and involved doing stupid missions over and over again. The pirate attacks were friggin' ridiculous and far too frequent.

Man I could go on and on about it, but the bottom line is: it was too cute, didn't have enough science, and the gameplay was too linear. Yeah it was great that I could design a creature and have it move in a fairly realistic way. That part was awesome. But when we look at what was demonstrated in 2005 or so, and then look at what we ended up with, it's clear that they took a different direction which alienated those of us looking for "Science Spore".

Keep
11-02-2012, 02:07 AM
it was too cute, didn't have enough science, and the gameplay was too linear.

This.

What I expected was a massive sand-box. Design an organism. Guide its evolution. Develop tools, develop society, explore space. Deal with the consequences of your own decisions, try and carve a niche for yourself in this crazy alien universe.

What I got was loads of meaningless aesthetic decisions and no real gameplay ones. It was basically a creative tool. Fun to tinker with, but to actually play? It was shallow, trite, unaffectable, restricted. A bunch of lopsided elements (Goddamn space pirates) and illogical systems (Evolution works in a really stupid way, and even accepting its stupidity it's still boring. Having ten mouths doesn't make you anymore powerful than a creature with one. So...who cares?) and constrained options (From the tribes stage onward, it's weaker than an American beer at a homeopathy party.)


It's a shame because the creature creator was actually really impressive. If someone took that tool and developed more complex creature AIs and set it up with a more realistic evolution model, holy hot momma I'd want that game.

Bobtree
11-02-2012, 05:10 AM
Spore promised explorative gameplay based on science but instead it delivered a stack of minigames.

Wooly Wugga Wugga
11-02-2012, 06:06 AM
I actually didn't mind the cutesyness. They could have delivered a deep gameplay experience and used a cute aesthetic. Afterall, who doesn't remember SimLife's "Ooh, La, La". I wanted different evolutionary adaptations to affect gameplay. I wanted to create burrowing animals that nested underground, or flying creatures that nested in trees to escape predators. I wanted mgration to play a bigger role, I wanted to experiment with different adaptations for different climates and environments, I wanted climate change and iceages to force me to change my playstyle.

thegooseking
11-02-2012, 02:17 PM
Here's a good (if old) article by Ernest Adams called The Perils of Bottom-Up Game Design:-

http://designersnotebook.com/Columns/066_The_Perils_of_Bottom-Up_Ga/066_the_perils_of_bottom-up_ga.htm

While it was written long before Spore was released, I think it's relevant (especially as it uses an older Maxis game as an example). The problem Adams describes is spending a lot of time thinking about a really neat simulation and then not spending enough time thinking about how to turn that simulation into a game (or even whether the simulation can make a good game). And I think this is Spore's problem. They spent a lot of time crafting a really cool simulation (leaving aside whether or not it's scientifically accurate) and then kind of forgot to turn it into a game.

I'm actually almost convinced that SimCity and The Sims are good games by accident. As Adams says:-


You can get away with this if you're Peter Molyneux, and you surround yourself with brilliant talent and you innovate like crazy and work like a dog (and are able to face down - or fake out - the publisher when you're six months late). Lesser mortals are seldom so fortunate. If you start with a simulation and count on turning it into a game later, you run a serious risk that a few months before gold master, you'll suddenly be asking yourself the dreaded question: "Why isn't this more fun?" And then you're in real trouble.

(Although it's notable that while Peter Molyneux got away with it for Populous, Dungeon Keeper and Black & White, even he didn't get away with it for The Movies.)

archonsod
11-02-2012, 02:43 PM
The problem Adams describes is spending a lot of time thinking about a really neat simulation and then not spending enough time thinking about how to turn that simulation into a game (or even whether the simulation can make a good game). And I think this is Spore's problem.

Not really. The problem really was one of scope - you can take any of the minigames in Spore and probably spin it off into a reasonable game (as they did with Darkspore). So it's really a case of them trying to do a bit of everything instead of focusing on a couple of elements and making them work. In effect they had the opposite problem - they had a whole bunch of games they wanted to combine into a single simulation.

The problem with his article however is that it neglects the fact that simulating stuff can be fun in and of itself - see the flight sim market for example - or that some things are going to be dull no matter how great the game you build around it is. Although I think in the case of Sims / SimCity they're abstractions rather than simulations.

Keep
11-02-2012, 02:52 PM
wot he said

Great article/line of thinking.

I kinda disagree though: I think simulations can make for great games. Case in point: your own examples, Sim City/The Sims. Even if it is inadvertently, it's still worth asking what the nature of the lucky accident that suddenly makes them work as games might be.

The key thing, to me, is the extent to which the player's decisions genuinely interfere with the simulated world. To take Black & White as an example of doing it wrong, the only palpable difference between playing as a good god versus a bad one was aesthetic: Your buildings looked pretty/foreboding, your creature looked sweet/savage. It didn't seem to actually matter to the world in itself.

Compare that with, say, Sim City: where you placed industrial zones affected the residential zones near them. It wasn't just an aesthetic difference, it was a decision that actually affected the system.


That's where Spore went wrong. Not because it was a simulation, but because the simulation didn't offer an interferable world to the player. Your ability to interact with the game was limited to a) a very restricted set of unengaging patterns, and b) a wide range of inconsequential aesthetic choices.

Althea
11-02-2012, 03:11 PM
Also, too many penis monsters. :)
Didn't EA/Maxis actually 'censor' the penis monsters, as in remove them from that online repository thing?

I never bought Spore - it interested me, but it was too expensive and the price never really dropped all that much, and I think in gaming circles it quickly built up a reputation as a poor, unfinished/content-lite game, and that really didn't help it, nor did the then-controversial DRM. I highly doubt I'm the only one to be put off by what the community thought of it.

I'd say it was more a question of what went right with Spore? It'd be a quicker discussion.

Jiiiiim
11-02-2012, 03:17 PM
Spore, at least when I played it, had a few major problems but the germ of a very interesting game. Building up your creature was certainly fun, adding on a bit at a time felt organic enough, but then as the scope expanded you found yourself having to design an absolute load of stuff. Cars, Planes, Trains, buildings, more buildings, fancy hatwear....I had immense creativity fatigue as the game asked me to make so much stuff, and consequently the stuff looked like garbage. So you had to do too much to keep it looking fresh.

The other problem (more personal) was it seemed very hard to set up a customised world. I was trying to set up a christmas-themed Spore, picked a list with every single thing I could find on the Sporepedia that looked like it would fit into that, and then when I came to play it I encountered about two of the hundred things I had added in.

Kadayi
11-02-2012, 03:59 PM
What went wrong was i wasted 30 on a pile of trash.

Weirdly enough I don't think anyone was particularly caring about what went wrong with you, but more what was wrong with the game as an experience. That you felt it was bad is meaningless to the thread unless you qualify why in relation to the game itself (it's like posting 'I hate RPGs' in a thread about Fallout 3).

As regards spore. I must admit I never really got into it. The creature creator was great fun, however that there was no real correlation between appearance and experience kind of broke it for me. The whole cycle of evolution is about mutate and survive and when you remove that necessity then you rob it of meaning.