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Nilson CARROLL discusses Spore. Oh, the humanity!

Game Developer, Staff

November 4, 2010

2 Min Read

I finally decided to buy Spore the other day. It was funny because I ordered it on Amazon and then five hours later I panic because I did not pay attention to which version I bought, Mac or PC. Luckily, the disc can be used with both systems. And that was probably the most redeemable feature about the game. 

I'm sure you've read all about the Spore criticism, maybe even felt it firsthand. The game plays like five very mediocre games (my favorite was the cell stage). But I didn't bring up Spore to talk about game mechanics. 

Has anyone ever read Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon? You know, that science fiction classic about the creation of the universe that's really not that fun to read? Well, after reading that great work of fiction a few months ago, I thought it'd make a great video game. Players would be god-like figures that create a planet, help nurture the beginnings of life, watch as that life becomes diverse and evolves, aid in the process of eventually life's "tribal" and "civilization" stages. The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it. Until I saw Spore in a Game Stop one day. Of course the game I imagined was already made (two years ago!). In Spore, you're not a god, but take the role of a particular species, from its earliest stage to its eventual space age. Not quite the same, but close. The idea is immense and fantastically refreshing compared to a lot of other dry ideas being thrown around. It's too bad the game isn't very deep or fun, in my opinion. I guess this relates to the comments I got last time about good story needs to be backed by good gameplay; otherwise, it's still not a good game. 

Spore has a great narrative (if you want to call it that). You don't hear that often, but it does. And so does Star Maker. Let's pretend that Spore was in fact based on Star Maker for a second. Spore would have been a really creative way of incorporating literary ideas into a game. There's really no dialogue in the game, and yet the narrative is incredibly strong. I like words (lots of them), but people don't always like a lot of words in games, so Spore is a good example for me to study.

"Wow, this kid really likes to ramble on and on forever."

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