Sporeler Warning: Everything Chris Says In This Episode Is About Sex

By Shamus
on Aug 19, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

  1. The game Will Wright envisioned.
  2. The game Wright pitched to the publisher.
  3. The game the team wanted to make.
  4. The game they hinted at in the GDC demo.
  5. The game we thought they were making.
  6. The game they were able to make.
  7. The game EA marketed.
  8. The game we actually got.

This game isn’t very good at all, but I feel strongly that it deserves another chance. There’s a good game in here somewhere.

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  1. Tuskin says:

    The only part of this game I liked was the Space Part and the part right before that.

    Even then, after a while I just used mods to unlock everything and use the genesis device on everything.

    There used to be a stage between Cell and Land which you became a fish, and the world was 3D movement based. I think it has been recreated in mods.

    • IFS says:

      I remember enjoying the creature stage for the half hour or so it took me to get through it. Once I got to space my efforts at exploring were immediately met with two different groups of assholes declaring war on me and forcing me to fly back to my homeworld every five minutes to fend off an attack that I completely lacked the equipment to fight off. It was so annoying that I quit pretty quickly after reaching that point.

      • Adeon says:

        I enjoyed the creature stage since it was the one part of the game with actual “loot” in a sense. I spent ages running around trying to build a creature with nearly maxxed out skills (you can’t quite max it out since only carnivores get max bite and only herbivores get max sing) following the Red-Red-Green-Blue evolution path (for the best space stage bonuses).

        Then I got annoyed when it turned out that the complexity was so high they had to walk around almost naked during space stage due since there wasn’t enough room on the complexity bar to add more clothes/gear.

        Then I got bored and lost interest.

        Incidentally, the maxxed out creature looked kinda cool, it was basically a four-armed centaur with wings.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Cell stage is also nice,though its definitely more bare bones than what was advertised.If it were longer,with more parts,it couldve been very good.

      But creature,tribe and civ all suck major balls.

      • MrGuy says:

        flOw did all the interesting things the Cell stage of Spore did, only better, more interestingly, and first.

        • Thomas says:

          I feel like that’s true of every individual section of the game. The core idea of a 1x10x100x1000 game might have been flawed from the start, when the concept is jack of all trades it is going to be master of none.

      • Ivan says:

        Cell stage was my favorite part of the game, it was the only stage where (as was mentioned in the video) the shape of your creature affected it’s abilities. I quit at some point in or just after the creature stage, at that point the game completely gave up on trying to simulate actual life and didn’t offer anything interesting to replace it except crappier versions of other games.

        I completely forgot that the fish stage was missing and it really is jarring for me to see Chris just strap legs onto something that didn’t even look like it had proper organs yet, let alone a bone structure.

    • venatus says:

      I played this game only like a year after it initially came out and I don’t remember such a stage between cell and land. there may have been a mod or an expansion, but I’m pretty sure it was never part of the vanilla game.

      • guy says:

        It was in the press conference demos. Never made it to release. Basically it was going to be like the creature phase except as a fish, and they said they were considering maybe letting you develop intelligence without leaving the water.

  2. Gruhunchously says:

    But surely Spore…Spore never changes.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I agree,this game definitely deserves a remake.A more thought out remake where your choices actually matter,and where the gameplay actually is engaging.

  4. Bropocalypse says:

    I think the game’s biggest flaw is that your creative choices in the previous stage had no impact on the next. I mean, the alignment system was there, but… eh.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Heck,your choice doesnt have an impact from one egg to the next.You can go from herbivore to carnivore in the blink of an eye.From a 10 legged armored thing to a 2 legged bird.Its just all so pointless.

      • Thomas says:

        If selling parts back was at a big loss it would have helped. Then you’d feel like there’s some continuity – that you’re slowly building a creature up

  5. Ilseroth says:

    Alright, I am officially pumped for this miniseries.

    I actually enjoyed spore my first time through, but the only hype I had been subjected to was someone hyping the creature creator.

    But I recognize that part of why i liked it, was the fact that the species I was making played to simple strengths. The “Friendly” method of going through the creature and tribal stage are both boring, and I just happened to have murdered my way through all three of the starting stages.

    When I get to Civilization, I became a economic nation and had fun building alliances with everyone and pushing every single other nation to the point of attacking me (due to my sheer size) but overcoming it at just the right moment.

    Finally I got to space where I’d say the game was actually at it’s best, letting you fly about, do what you want and interact with all the different random species.

    but while I think the game was fun, one point in the show is definitely the nail in the coffin of the game regarding it’s quality and that is depth. the only gamemode with even the slightest bit of depth (Space) has severe issues, and it isn’t even that deep. If you want to trade, you have to do so manually, if an event occurs on a planet, you have to take care of it manually. Everything about space requires direct manual control and directly limits your desire to push the edges of your galactic empire outwards as you have to take longer and longer detours .

    This could have been solved by allowing you to say, have multiple ships, or set up systems for some small charge to take care of these issue but, as mentioned, no proper depth to the systems.

    I understand why it was hard to create systems to actually properly show off commensalism, because showing how two creatures adapt to each other to benefit each other would be… challenging. But if you can’t make a decent system, why make a game around it?

  6. Rory Porteous says:

    There are two things I found most frustrating about Spore.

    The first is that it insists on panspermia as the origin of life, rather than randomise it to demonstrate that it isn’t something we know yet, but have a few good hypothesis about. Granted this was likely so they could tie it into the eventual space exploration stages but if you are going to make a game based on evolution there’s no reason to only tell the one story, particularly if you are trying to make everyone’s experience different via the procedural generation.

    The second and biggest problem is that it is a game about evolution but only represents animal evolution. You can’t study how life has evolved on Earth without studying the interactions between the different kingdoms of life. Granted it’s difficult to represent protists/fungi/archaea/bacteria in a video game, but to not take into account how plants evolved alongside animals show’s they missed the point. Roses don’t have thorns for the sake of it, it’s a defensive adaptation inherited because it improved survival rates by helping prevent those with thorns from being eaten. Surely if you want to create a responsive sandbox about how life adapts over time you would show that it’s not just the exciting stuff that walks around which evolves.

    I don’t even think it would be that difficult to model. Using Spore’s simple systems you’d just have to cause damage to the creature if it eats certain plants or animals that cause harm to the predator. The player would instinctively avoid them in favor of those that don’t hurt them, eventually only harmful would be left, voila a new species.

    Instead we have a game that essentially portrays the whole thing as magic and people in science such as myself end up banging our heads off the wall when people think it’s made up. And when popular culture is incapable of presenting anything complicated in a way that doesn’t seem like it’s magic it’s no wonder that the world struggles to accept it. And yes I am blaming Will Wright and Spore for scientific illiteracy in the greater public, because people don’t want to listen to a scientific lecture, they want to sit at home with whatever source of entertainment they desire, and when you produce what might be the only contact with a complex subject that someone might encounter, for god’s sake don’t fuck it up like this.

    I think the most damning thing about it all is that when you look at the creature design systems, it’s a game about Intelligent Design.

    Apologies for the rant, but that’s been bubbling for a long time.

    • MrGuy says:

      The second and biggest problem is that it is a game about evolution but only represents animal evolution. You can’t study how life has evolved on Earth without studying the interactions between the different kingdoms of life.

      I feel like even this is way too narrow a rant.

      It’s not like the game has a reasonable depiction of how animals evolve, and simply ignores the corresponding way plants evolve.

      It’s that the game doesn’t depict evolving AT ALL. Evolving is changing to adapt to the environment. I’d embrace the game if it demonstrated and rewarded adapting to the world you inhabit in ANY way. In the era of lumbering behemoths, be fast and agile. In the era of small predators, develop armor. When the ground is overrun, go to the trees.

      If you at LEAST had to evolve to the threat of other animals, it would be something.

      • AileTheAlien says:

        I’d play a game like this. Of course, I’d want it to be a more focused game, instead of trying to be 5 games at once, like Spore did. Just focus on the “creature” stage from Spore, and beef up the mechanics:
        – Add incentives to adapt to other creatures/plants/environments.
        – Improve the land-movement mechanics, make the air-movement not suck balls, and add in the missing swimming mechanics.
        – Make structure placement, size, etc actually matter.
        There’s definitely lots of room to experiment, since Spore did so little mechanically, and was focused basically just on the aesthetics. :)

        • Fists says:

          I don’t think it would even need those mechanics, if it just used the tree system of games like civilization and you have to work your way through developing a digestive system, defense mechanism or physical traits. Then apply selection pressure through the environment and make it possible for your chosen path to fail miserably maybe showing people how the megalodon, while badass, was ultimately a dead end as it was overly specialised.

          Rather than simply being able to say I’m sick of playing a herbivore and just swapping over in one generation make it so your herbivore can start eating some meat or insects but is very inefficient or has some trade off for a few generations before you put points into getting some bonuses either through improved gut enzymes or some tech advancement like cooking or fermenting. It would be a bigger game but it wouldn’t have to be that much more work than civilization is to produce.

          • Ivan says:

            On top of that you could add a simple energy system too. Every part of your body costs energy to run, because of this it is not always to your advantage to be able to digest poisonous plants. It’s going to cost you significantly more energy to break down those harmful chemicals to the point where it might not actually be worth it to do so.

            Without also simulating fitness though the system still lacks a great deal, but maybe that could just be a series of dice rolls with simpler creatures getting bonuses (and being able to reproduce more often) and complicated creatures getting penalties.

            So maybe your creature survives really well but has a very small population size because it takes so long to mature.

            IDK the more I think about it the more I realize how complicated it is and how many systems are interacting with each other, but this really is the game I want to play and I think that if each system is given even a simple representation in the game, well it will be complicated, but I think it would be passable as a “life simulation”.

            • Fists says:

              It would still basically be a civilization re-skin with third person, since civ uses maintenance costs and the likes to make a trade off for expansion, so I don’t think its too complicated, probably high expectations for the first version but its not off the charts. Food sources can basically be broken down into four or five groups, meat, cereal, fruit/veg, pasture/foliage and maybe fungi although that could probably be ignored, then you just add a couple of specialisations (toxins/spoilage, efficiency)within those and that’s the digestive system for this stage. Your choices for digestion combined with physical attributes and the environment then effect how hard the food gathering component is.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The most damning thing for spore,for me at least,is that its just so boring.No matter what you choose,no matter what you create,you will repeat the same small set of actions over and over and over and over and over again.And then your bar fills enough,and you get to repeat that same process,only with slightly altered animations.

    Everything else,the scientific inaccuracies,the short stages,the stupid morality,all of it I couldve overlooked if only the game was interesting.

    • Trix2000 says:

      This was mostly my issue with it. It felt too much like there wasn’t actual ‘gameplay’ so much as manually filling progress bars. I think there was too much incentive on trying to fill the bar instead of more interesting things, like aforementioned adapting to the environment and developing your space/niche on the world (and managing its growth and change as time goes by). There’s no real strategy or thought to put into it – just keep doing whatever repetitive task it is that makes you ‘better’ and move on.

      Now, I can’t speak of the space stuff so much (and it sounds like it was, at least, a little better) since I got so bored from my all of 4 hours of play getting there (shouldn’t it be longer???) that I gave up. Part of it was the lack of depth, but I also think part of it was that it just didn’t… feel right. It felt too… basic, like I was playing a simple game for kids rather than something more ambitious (not that I would fault the game if that was its target market… but pretty sure it was not billed that way). I think the UI/art style didn’t help that feeling that all the edges had been rounded off and all the blood an death hidden away like I’m 8 or something…

      Disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I felt about my experience with the game.

  8. rofltehcat says:

    So how would one go about designing an evolution system in the animal stage without taking away too much control from the player?

    Maybe add a limitation that you can’t remove stuff, just move it around and morph it into slightly different things? So e.g. you could move your fins a bit up and forward, then morph them into hands?

    Add environmental effects that the player needs to cope with? So for example suddenly fruit no longer falls from trees and the player needs to adapt to get to enough fruit? (e.g. being tall, having long arms, switching to omnivore)
    Or some areas get toxic (don’t they have those geyser things?) and you need to develop a resistance/immunity/way to bypass/sprint through?
    Or suddenly it is super hot and all the species are forced to gather around a few sources of water, testing your offense/defense/singing?

    • PossiblyInsane says:

      Well, admittedly in the real world lose features all the time. If something stops being useful, evolution drops it like a hot potato and it quickly (in evolutionary terms) becomes vestigial. But still, even something like that would have been better.

      In the game that we got, the environment has almost no effect on the gameplay. Almost the only difference another species makes is it’s presence or absence. Your evolutionary past doesn’t matter, save for granting you special abilities. Almost any element they could introduce in which the external world affects your actions and changes the basic formula you interact with the game would have been a good one.

    • Thomas says:

      If say, combat between creatures was physics based, or the main portion of the animal stage was about collecting food in the environment before other animals took it (a more advanced version of the single cell stage), and the environment was dynamic with actual trees and rocks and valleys etc – then you’d have to design your creature to be good at walking over rocks or flying in trees etc.

      And that at least would feel like something evolutionay, especially as you unlock new parts with time that you could use to optimise your design

    • Retsam says:

      > So how would one go about designing an evolution system in the animal stage without taking away too much control from the player?

      Difficulty, mostly. Survival is hard (actually… impossible so far; but I guess it’s really “survival until procreation” evolutionarily speaking). If you make a system that’s hard to survive, but give the player the tools to become better at surviving by modifying their creature, then eventually the player will “evolve” their creature and make it more survivable through successive modifications.

      If the conditions (e.g. lots of flying predators, lots of vegetation, very little vegetation, slow moving predators, etc) were randomized, it could be framed as a bit of a puzzle: what traits do I need to give my creature to survive against these conditions.

      There really needed to be fail states (and from what I can gather from the video so far; didn’t play the game myself) there aren’t. Maybe not a global “you lose, time to start over” fail state (though that’d be interesting for some people), but at least localized “the creature is dead” fail states.

      Basically: it’d be Rogue Legacy, with a heavier focus (and ideally more interesting choices) on the long-term augmentation aspect. You’d play a creature, survive as long as you can, then you’d die and you’d adapt your species to do better next time. I’d play that.

      • Fists says:

        Rather than the Rogue Legacy system of continuous improvement I’d prefer to have death states put you into a choice of either going back to an ancestor and choosing a different set of specialisations or making a lateral move to a relative which the game has chosen other random attributes for starting from a common ancestor so you don’t have to lose progress but you can’t grow from something that failed.

        While Rogue Legacy is fun its basically just a grindy RPG where you iterate through the same level rather than going on a longer journey. Having a world where other organisms are developing alongside you and effect resources and threats while you figure out how to find a niche among them would be more intriguing and more accurate as to how evolution occurs. …or would occur if evolution was intelligently supervised.

        • Ivan says:

          Well the creature you control represents one creature, not the entire species. Giving you a couple extra lives would make a lot of sense in this context. You would only face extinction if you failed multiple times. Also if you did give each extra life a set of randomized characteristics (mutations) then that would mimic evolution much more closely. Maybe your next life is smaller than your first, or larger, that might give you an advantage. Actually, I don’t think extinction even needs to be an option, just fudge it for the player and keep adding random mutations until they survive.

          • Fists says:

            I was thinking the creature you controlled should represent the population but it could probably work either way. I had been thinking you could have a choice of social structure which would effect how much food your population needed to survive and reproduce although that’s adding complexity that may not be needed.

    • NotSteve says:

      I’d make it based on what the player does. If you spend most of your time fighting, you get better at fighting. Spend it running away, you get faster. Jumping a lot lets your next generation jump higher.

      You could accomplish this by taking away the creature screen entirely and just telling people what they get each generation, but that would take away a lot of the interest. You might be able to divide upgrades into different categories (fighting, running, feeding, etc) and award points into each of those based on actions, so your upgrades automatically reflect your playstyle. Maybe with tech trees as mentioned above, or increasing costs for better upgrades.

      I’m not sure if this exactly corresponds to evolution, but it would show your creature getting more adapted to their niche as time goes on. And if you have changing environmental conditions, it would also make your previous history a lot more relevant, making it easier or more difficult to adapt.

      • Syal says:

        I think that’s called soft inheritence. I like the idea of leveling creatures by doing that, and then a time period comes up where you learn that isn’t how evolution works and the upgrade system changes.

        Most accurate setup would probably be having half a dozen children with varying traits to choose from every generation, and it’s assumed the one you pick does better than the others, and the next generation options will mostly all have that trait.

        • Adalore says:

          Yeah the basic abstraction of that choice could be functional. It also allows recursive traits to be presented and show why they are useful.

          And it lets the player go “I keep dying, I’ll try playing one of the sub-species of mine.”

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        That’s actually called “Lamarckian evolution” — it was a reasonably popular hypothesis before Darwin came along, although it doesn’t make a lot of sense in the real world (the children of bodybuilders don’t get born with huge muscles, and if you chop off a rat’s tail its babies will still have tails). The main difference between Lamarck and Darwin is that in Lamarck’s model a creature accumulates change during its lifetime and passes that change on to its offspring, whereas in Darwin all of the change happens at the breeding stage and each individual’s capabilities are basically set during its lifetime.

        That said, Lamarckian evolution is a heck of a lot easier to gamify than Darwinian evolution. It’s basically a cross-generational version of the Morrowind skill system.

  9. James Porter says:

    I just gotta say, the analysis in this video is really well considered! This is going to be a fun miniseries(if it is, I dont see an episode 1)

  10. Thomas says:

    The best version of Spore is the videogame version of BBC’s Robot Wars.

    No seriously, in Robot Wars you could choose your engine, your armour, your body type, place spikes and weapons and flippers and doodads – design a robot that felt like the robot you wanted to make _but_ how you placed those weapons and the type of body you chose was fundamentally important to your robots success in a very physics-based way.

    Sure I can see that Spore was the harder version of Robot Wars because animals are more messy but Robot Wars was made a decade earlier and without a AAA budget and it worked!

    • Thomas says:

      Actually now I think about it, there was a BBC produced game that involved designing your own creature and then putting it through Assault Course style trials which was completely based on how you designed your creature. There was a TV show that went along with it and the people who won were the people who managed to make a creature from scratch that mimicked how real life caterpillars move etc.

      That was also before Spore and worked much better than Spore did (and again not AAA). So I don’t think it would have been impossible to make the kind of game we all wanted from Spore.

      Also if anyone can remember the name of this game and TV show, I’d be super grateful, I just can’t place it.

      EDIT: Bamzooki!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbUYyWZ_xK8
      2006, 2 full years before Spore. And in Bamzooki you could even design the walking motions and gaits of your creatures, completely from scratch

      EDIT EDIT: Here’s a video of how the creature creator works
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSBbhwoFAVk

      Obviously that’s too hardcore for Spore (although worth pointing out Bamzooki was a game for kids where kids successfully designed stuff in this creator that could do the high jump), but Spore could easily have been a streamlined version of this set in a persistent environment with an evolution progression system

      • topazwolf says:

        They should really bring this show back. Using an AR headset for the contestants, it would be fantastic. Heck, they could even use a remote control and have people design robot wars style creatures to fight to the death for our amusement. Imagine it, an eight legged lizard with ice breath vs a small ferret creature with fire breath killing each other on stage. We have the technology.

      • Phill says:

        I had fun playing around with bamzooki with my son. But I suspect that any kids the same ages as most of the kids in the program, that actually produced a decent bamzooki creature, were either incredibly patient at trial and error, geniuses, or had an awful lot of help from parents / other adults. The whole business of controlling the motion of limbs for locomotion was very, very technical if you wanted to make something that worked even slightly well. And getting a good [i]look[/i] for your creation without compromising its ability to move was also non-trivial.

        Conversely, if you understood the mechanics, you could make some pretty cool stuff.

        I think I’ve still got it installed somewhere.

        Now we just need a way to combine it with minecraft, so you can have gaint godzilla-esque monsters tramping around your landscape.

      • James says:

        This was 90s kids entertainment in the UK and it was brilliant. i used to watch Bamzooki as a kid.

  11. John says:

    You know, the single-cell (aquatic?) stage was kind of pretty. If I only had a few minutes and wanted something relaxing, I might well play that. The gameplay seems almost self-explanatory. The second stage, on the other hand, had no such charm and made much less sense. Could somebody explain what was going on there?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You are an animal.You go around and try “communicating” with other species by singing with them(there are different types of song you get to unlock with other mouths),or you go around trying to eat everyone.You also dig through dinosaur bones to get new parts you can use to further evolve.

    • Cybron says:

      The ‘eat moving things to grow’ thing has been a common game idea since forever. There are bunches of flash games that followed it before spore ever came around. There are even some full fledged games around just that (and in my personal opinion they’re a heck of a lot better than spore’s version because they didn’t put googly eyes on everything). It’s a simple, relaxing game type that has obvious rewarding progression.

      Meanwhile, the second stage gameplay has all the depth of an MMO with none of the satisfaction, motivation, or even the ‘fun’ gameplay. Let that sink in – this manages to be a less fun version of an MMO fetch quest, which is the poster child for “we didn’t feel like trying” gameplay. And your progression is totally unrewarding since there’s no system to explore/master and upgrades are borderline meaningless.

      Spore sometimes feels like a dissertation on how not to design a game.

  12. topazwolf says:

    What I really want (maybe even to make) is a Rouge-Lite approach to spore. The environment is random as is the ecosystem. You are given random parts everytime you evolve, but only parts that are one step away from you current part in a tree. And every time you evolve you get a random mutation that either increases a stat or gives you a new unexpected feature that is somehow beneficial. Say for instance you are on an oxygen rich world, you might get a mutation that makes your species really big. If you have venom maybe the venom goes from being deadly to gaining a paralysis effect.

    Ultimately though, I want it to just be an open area populated by predators and prey. They don’t have to have a complex system, just this creature hunts this creature. It hunts alone, while these smaller predators hunt in a small pack and will steal food whenever possible.

  13. MrGuy says:

    Ehrmagehrd! Sporeler Worenerg!

  14. Nidokoenig says:

    I remember playing this over and over, going red, red, green, blue for the best passive boosts and the Knight ability that you couldn’t get from other races in the space stage, going with a blind slug to save points, minimising parts I didn’t like the looks of and turning them inwards so I could still use the stats, keeping cell parts so I could use herbivore mouths as decorative frills and generally taking the game far too seriously. It was definitely fun, but should have been a bit more focused. Tribal and Civ definitely seemed very rushed, splitting it into two or three games would have been better for the games and serve corporate greed at the same time.

  15. Paul Spooner says:

    I remember the hype. I believed it, and was disappointed.
    I remember Sim Earth too.

    The downfall of the game for me was that I couldn’t go back and interact with previous scales of game-play. I wanted to go back into the microbe stage and design diseases and organs! I wanted to design custom trees! I wanted to make urban planets, and farm planets, and… yeah, it was all just so shallow and constrained.

  16. Dragmire says:

    Every time I hear about Spore, I’m reminded of E.V.O.: Search for Eden.

    I wish another game like that was made with more options for body parts. Spore’s first two stages just didn’t scratch that itch well enough.

  17. Tohron says:

    This game really just needed a whole lot more meat on its bones.

    Cell stage is ok, because it’s introductory and has a few interesting parts like the poison dropper.

    Creature stage is weaker – abilities like charge & flight add some interesting elements to the combat, but there isn’t really any incentive to vary your tactics for different foes, so the combats end up becoming same-y (and the social variant is just Simon-Says over and over).

    Tribe and City are where things really decline – both are just stripped-down RTS’s with extreme lack of unit variety and no special weapons or abilities – so the gameplay is extremely stagnant.

    Space has interesting exploration elements, but the regular, repetitive emergencies on your worlds are nothing but an annoyance.

    Basically, it feels like they were so focused on getting the phases done that they forgot Will Wright’s definition of a good game: a series of INTERESTING decisions.

  18. Viktor says:

    The thing is, I don’t know how they screwed up the evolution this badly. Maybe it was just lack of focus? Basic rules I’ve written in 5 minutes that would be 10x better than the current setup:
    1: Hostile world. Think Pikmin, Morrowind, or any MMO. There’s resources, many of which require specific skills to reach, herbivores gathered around resource sites, and carnivores hunting the herbivores/you.
    2: Resources must be gathered to allow you to breed. It doesn’t take much time to breed, but most resources should be dangerous enough to require effort or a good creature to reach.
    3: 1 change per breed-cycle(except decorative, see below). By change I mean adding/removing a part(or a number of the same part). Moving parts around is free. The game autosaves here(with multiple slots), so if your new creature is trash, you can reload.
    4: Most body parts have definite benefits/drawbacks. Bipeds have endurance/height, quadrupeds have speed/stability, that sort of thing. Be perfectly willing to have suboptimal parts as long as there is some niche benefit and the suboptimalness is relatively obvious(flippered feet slow you down significantly on land but speed you up in the water, mostly only worth it in ocean or swamp areas).
    5: Decorative parts(frills, colors, markings, etc) cost nothing, can be changed as much as you want, do nothing for you, and are clearly labeled as just as useful as clothing in Saint’s Row. Yes, camouflage is a thing, but it’s too tough to model and not worth the trouble since it’d keep players from being able to look like they want to.
    5: Certain “high-power” parts need to be found in the world and require more resources than a normal breed cycle. Some parts, such as wings, also take multiple steps(long limbs>gliding limbs>bad wings>good wings)
    6: Part locations should have benefits/drawbacks from gameplay rather than programmers trying to define them beforehand. If your mouth is in your butt, you have to walk backwards into a bush to eat. Spikes being useless on your underbelly should be obvious to most players relatively easily.
    7: Procedurally-generated world, with a small randomization applied each time you breed. Some resources vanish, some appear, some become harder to get. Other species gain/lose parts. Basically, the world shouldn’t seem static while you change.

    There. It’s not great, and it would likely be more work, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what we got.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Clothing in Saints Row, specifically value and colour/metal, acted as a modifier to your respect, ie exp, gains, and wearing the wrong colours in other hoods would cause local gangs to use barks about it. This was dropped from 2 onwards, though. It’d be interesting to have parts related to combat(claws, fangs), socialisation(decorations) and movement, and having to gather resources for each instead of having the generic exp bucket.

  19. Mr Compassionate says:

    I can never forgive, never forget. The day when the Traitor King Wright ruined our lives!

    In all seriousness though this is the game that litarally made me cry as a young teen. I had such high hopes that it would be good, I’ve never held out hope for a game since which is good because whenever anybody does it usually ends in disaster.

    It’s kinda fun watching other people going through the same process. Drinking up all the big promises and hype then getting shafted by the results. It’s like an initiation ritual for the industry.

    As for the gameplay? I agree with Viktor (above). All they needed to do is make your creatures design have an important effect on how you play. Instead it turned into WOW because WOW makes money, so surely Spore will make money?

  20. Point of order for Rutz: Berkeley Breathed’s last name is pronounced “BREH-thehd,” not the same way one says a word that means the past tense of having inhaled and exhaled.

  21. MaxieJZeus says:

    I remember being so pumped by “Spore” when I first heard about. I said “Take my money. Now.”

    Then I heard about the DRM, and I read Shamus’s comments. And I said “Erm. I probably won’t be able to stop myself from buying it, but I’m really going to be unhappy.”

    Then it came out and I read the reviews. And I said, “Eesh. That sounds really disappointing.”

    Then I totally forgot about it.

    And then this season of Spoiler Warning started. I got through about 10 minutes of it before I said, “Zzzzzzzzz.” And it wasn’t because of Shamus & Co., who also sound like they need some NoDoz.

    Man, someone said “Sim Earth,” which was such an awesome game. I wish *that* were still out there, playable on a current system. I don’t even want it updated, I want to be able to rip through aeons of speciation at contemporary speeds. Anyone know of an SE equivalent out there?

  22. SlothfulCobra says:

    I don’t remember that much hype for Spore, but there was the sense that it would be much more than what it ended up as. Whatever game it was originally conceived as is irrelevant, because what popped out was a bunch of mostly functional but unrelated games bolted together as if to make the whole different from the sum of its parts.

    I do remember the free demo of the creature creator being really neat though. Goofy googly eyes aside, it seems like that was probably the most impressively developed part of the game.

  23. Daniel England says:

    I must have been 13 when spore came out, and I was super excited for it. All the previews made it sound unbelievable, and I guess it was. Back in 2013, one of the developers on Spore wrote a really interesting retrospective on the games development that illuminated a lot of the reasons why the game we were promised wasn’t the one released. You guys mention a lot of the things he does, in his post, but I do think it’s worth reading. You should be able to read it here, if I made the link correctly.

  24. Charnel Mouse says:

    So, a few people mentioned SimEarth/Life. The one I remember is Evolution: The Game of Intelligent Life, partly for being set up as a competitive game. You and the other players would begin with a basic species,and as they ate and multiplied you’d get evolution points, which could be spent on adapting to the environment, or being better at attacking for carnivores, or having some of them evolve into a new type of creature on a preset evolutionary tree.

    Then your older species would die out as the plates moved and the climate changed, so you had to keep ahead of the curve. Each species could only be owned by one player, so there was also a lot of blocking off other players’ progress on the evolutionary tree. The winner was the last player with some creatures alive, or the first to make a rational species, like humans, or dinosaur men, or elephant men. It was interesting, albeit hard to keep track of once you had a few species going.

    Also, the way I roughly remember the hype for Spore going is:
    -Mass hype over the game
    -Hype over the creature creator
    -Creature creator released as a teaser standalone
    -Hype for the rest of the game almost completely vanishes
    -Game release
    -What was that

  25. Duoae says:

    I was really interested in Spore for the same reasons as everyone in the video stated they were. I was also put off by the DRM but that ended up being just a lucky coincidence because I would have really disliked this shallow game…

    However, there was one prior game that I was hoping Spore would succeed for the SNES (of all platforms!) that I never managed to own/play but would look at the screenshots and the one review I had in a magazine I owned for a few years after I first saw it… dreaming of the possibilities.

    EVO was the game and while it didn’t live up to my dreaming, it was more realistic and your choices did affect all portions of the game. I think it still looks cool! Would love a game that updated this and combined it with Spore-style micro-to-macro environments….’

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyh1WCyIs1M

  26. Daemian Lucifer says:

    People keep suggesting that fixing spore would require you to limit the ways in which you change your creature,but I disagree with that.You can have going from a small blind ball to a four legged beaked bird with 10 eyes and still depict evolution.All you need in order to achieve this is an environment where you would have the need to change your creatures in a certain way in order to adapt.So if the world changes to have a bunch of tall trees be the only source of food,youd have to either develop into a jumping,flying or a tall creature.If the world changes to be infested by predators,youd have to either develop armor,or speed,or something like that.If the world becomes barren,going omnivore would be advantageous.Etc.

    What kills all sense of evolution in this game is that no matter the planet you choose,no matter the stage you are in,no matter the creatures that inhabit it,you will always be able to do anything.There will always be stuff on the ground,you will always be able to make friends with everyone,you will always be able to kill everyone.You never have incentive to prefer one part over the other,which is the key to evolution.Having suboptimal and optimal parts on your creature is what evolution is all about.

    • Vorpal Kitten says:

      Right! We need a game more like Besiege or something, where you feel like you are iterating on designs – the game can show your failed designs as extinct species lineages. You’d have a randomized world like Spore, and instead of just having points to spend to make a creature you’d have to pay to make changes at all – and instead of mating whenever you want you’d have to hit a specific target (proving your species is viable) Instead of evolving right away when you beat that level, you get dumped into the ‘new’ level as is – each new level would have the other creatures procedurally changed to beat the challenges you faced last time, and the world would be changed in a few ways – maybe taller trees, or more water, or you have to worry about cold now. You try to eat enough in your timelimit as your old species, but probably fail and then go into the creature editor and grow fur, or turn cold-blooded – grow a longer neck to get at the tall leaves or evolve into a fish eater since it’s marshy now. Sounds like fun to me.

  27. Grudgeal says:

    Wait, so your first choice for your life form is, literally, ‘carnivore or herbivore’?

    …Single-celled organisms are single-celled organisms. There are no differences between ‘herbivore’ or ‘carnivore’ at that level. That distinction makes no sense at all.

    At that level you either have primary producers, which ‘eat’ molecules and sunlight, predators that have adapted to eat the primary producers, or higher-order predators that have adapted to eat other predators. They’re filling niches that are left to them given the tools they have to work at, they’re not intentionally… Ugh.

    This gives me a headache.

  28. Cybron says:

    Watching this video is allowing me to relive the crushing disappointment all over again. Spore is the game that taught me that nothing I see beyond actual gameplay of the released game matters. It taught me not to believe the hype.

    I still remember visiting the room of a buddy who had a downloaded the leaked version. I hadn’t preordered it myself because I was wary of the DRM, but I was still very much ready to buy it. Then I actually played it, and I couldn’t believe how much they’d missed the mark. Spore was basically THE game everyone was waiting for, but the game I played was so shallow I couldn’t stand it. It felt like a flash game, frankly. I was so disappointed.

  29. Otters34 says:

    What I don’t understand about Spore is why there aren’t ALL THE EXPANSION PACKS for it. This game, as Mr. Young says, cries out for iteration, for addition, for an increase of depth and widening of scope. The Sims has zillions of expansion packs, and its possibilities exploded along with them. Imagine of they were still making new stuff for this game, I think it could easily, with Electronic Arts’ resources and access to exploited and abusable people, have become something truly amazing.

  30. Christopher says:

    It’s a weird game to see so many years later. At the time, I’m pretty sure the first and last I heard of it was Yahtzee’s review which promptly made me interested and immediately made me lose interest again. Seeing gameplay of the cell stage, I think that looks pretty neat. Barebones, sure, but pleasant. Being on land less so.

  31. silver Harloe says:

    I’ve had the “sentient-sapient” debate before, but never with someone who’s watched a bunch of Star Trek, weird.

    Yes, it’s a misuse of the word “sentient” to take it from merely meaning “self-aware and/or conscious” to meaning “possessing a general purpose intelligence of generally human level or above, or at least belong to a species that commonly includes such beings, even if you happen to be damaged at the time.” But, it’s also a misuse of word “sapient” to take it from merely meaning “wise” to meaning that, too. There is no actual word in a regular dictionary for what we want – the closest thing is to use “intelligent,” but common usage of that word implies possession of more than average intelligence, and science-fictional use of the word includes artificial intelligences which do not have general-purpose abilities, but can be extremely expert in their particular fields. Poul Anderson’s response was to use Greek roots to make up a word, “sophont,” for the purpose.

    Whatever way we go, we’re misusing some word or another, and the choice of which word to misuse is not actually decidable by a dictionary. If we examine the bulk of science fiction writing, though, we will find that use of “sentient” is so old, commonplace, and established as to be a full-on genre convention. The deciding factor to me, though, is that while “sentient” only has a majority stock in SF literature, it has like a 99% stock in SF TV shows and movies. If you say “sapient” to someone who has only seen science fiction, but never read it, they may look at you funny (though they’ll probably then be able to figure out what you mean from context, of course).

    I’m not against expanding the use of “sapient” downward from “wise” to “merely general purpose intelligent,” but I am against people arguing against at least seventy years of science fiction and trying to say that “sentient” cannot possibly be expanded upward from “merely conscious” to “general purpose intelligent.”

    And, of course, in Spore I’m generally offended by their implication that evolution works towards sophonts with some kind of purposefulness.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      SFDebris started using sapient instead of sentient,so there you have a star trek fan doing so.

      And no,sapient referring to human like intelligence is not contradictory to it meaning wise.It is considered that many life forms are sentient,some animals are intelligent,few mammals are self aware,and only humans posses wisdom,or are sapient.

      • silver Harloe says:

        It’s not a contradiction, but it’s a stretch, since the pre-SF use of the word was to distinguish wise humans from unwise humans. But, as I said, I’m not against referring to sophonts as sapients. I’m just against adoption of a superior attitude and condescending to people who refer to them as sentients as well – both words have had their meanings stretched by science fiction.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Its not really sf that started using the word.I mean homo sapiens sapiens became a thing long before sf was well established and widely consumed.Sentience on the other hand was promoted just by sf writers that didnt care about the distinction.

          Also,possessing wisdom,meaning using your intelligence,past experience and insight to think about something,is not the same as being wise.Even little children posses wisdom,despite not being very wise.

          Furthermore dont confuse “trying to correct a common mistake” with “adopting a superior attitude”.Its not like Shamus said “You morons dont even know what the difference is”,he commented on how a game that is built primarily about developing a brain should at least do some research about the brain and different ways its development stages are called.

      • MichaelGC says:

        only humans posses wisdom,or are sapient.

        And also certain trees of the genus Pyrus, at least as commonly described. :D

  32. skellie10 says:

    Honestly, bottom-line, I would rather have the good creativity tool that Spore was than the good game that it could have been.

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