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What I’ve Been Doing

February 24th, 2009

It’s been pointed out to me that I haven’t blogged in some time. Indeed, when I logged into this site this morning, I was surprised to find that it had been longer than even I’d thought: twelve days since the last post. So, to the dozen of people who stroll by here on occasion, my apologies.

I attribute the silence to a combination of work-related issues, a massive amount of cleaning necessitated by the aftermath of Basement 2.1, and the visit of my good friend Dave Lartigue, who has been staying with us since last Friday while handling his own work-related issues here in Champaign.

Oh, and an awful lot of Spore. Once I hit the Space Stage of the game, I found the experience very addictive. The Spore galaxy is made up of what appears to be thousands of star systems. And unlike a lot of space exploration games, you are by no means expected to visit them all. I have perhaps a dozen or so planets in my little empire, and they’re about all I can effectively manage. It seems as if I’m always being called home to handle some sort of environmental disaster or fend off yet another attack by the Grox.

Ah, the Grox. The constant thorn in the side of every Spore player. A thoroughly belligerent alien species that starts the game pissed off at the player and generally grows in anger with each successive contact. I understand that it’s possible to come to terms, and even to ally with the Grox, but at the cost of every other species in the game hating you. 

When one isn’t defending colonies from the Grox, there’s a lot to do. I particularly enjoy terraforming planets to support my type of life form. Over time, the player acquires tools that allow one to coax the atmosphere and temperature into the habitable range, and then to transport various species abducted from other planets to form a “food web.” I like watching the planetary conditions change in response to my ministrations, and love the planetary sculpting and painting functions. The latter make me feel like I’m one of the custom planet-designers from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

While I may have found some of the earlier stages of Spore a bit lacking, what I do like about them is the way that they inform this final section of the game. A player will find planets at every level of development. Back in the Creature Stage, one would experience mysterious circumstances such as meteor showers or hovering spacecraft abducting fellow nestmates. In the Space Stage, the player is the one calling down those meteors and snatching the locals.

In addition, the online aspect of Spore means that your personal galaxy is filled with a potentially infinite number of life forms and structures designed by other players. There’s always something new to find.

This weekend, while Dave L. was asleep fighting off a bad cold, I decided to make the perilous journey to the galactic core. Which, unfortunately, is surrounded by thousands of star systems…all inhabitated by angry Grox. After a dozen or so tries, I finally reached it. And met Steve, of whom I will speak no more.

And then I buzzed the Grox world closest to the core, and dropped a Planet Buster bomb on it. It felt good.

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