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Posts Tagged ‘Spore’

What I’ve Been Doing

February 24th, 2009 No comments

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.

And Still More Spore

February 12th, 2009 No comments

I’m having entirely too much fun recreating the classic Dungeons & Dragons canon in Spore. Unfortunately, it looks as if a gelatinous cube may be out of the question for now. But here’s a carrion crawler doing a little dance!

More Spore

February 10th, 2009 No comments

Here are two more iconic Dungeons & Dragons critters recreated in Spore. In both cases, I went back to the original Chinese plastic toys that Gary Gygax appropriated for the game.

The bulette was a burrowing beast that probably owed a great deal to Chevy Chase as the “Land Shark,” as well as to the classic Outer Limits episode “The Invisible Enemy,” in which Mars was infested by fin-headed monsters that swam beneath its sandy surface.

The dreaded rust monster, whose sole purpose in the game was to screw over players that had acquired too much loot. Its tendrils caused metal (e.g. magic swords, magic armor) to rust instantly.

Gaming The System

February 9th, 2009 No comments

One of the first things I did after getting my new laptop up and running was to load onto it pretty much every piece of computer game software I’ve bought in the past five years. Some were ones I’d just never finished, others were ones that I’d had to uninstall because of lack of hard drive space on my old desktop, and still others were ones that required a much more powerful processor than I had available. So it was that for the last week of January I played through the remainder of Doom 3…approximately five years after it came out.

I’ve also bought several new(ish) games, a couple of which came courtesy the closeout of the rapidly-dissolving Circuit City chain. Right now I’m messing with Spore. After a lot of hassle with its ridiculous digital rights management scheme, I was finally able to access the enormous online library of user-created content. But of course the real fun is rolling your own creations. Here’s a Dungeons & Dragons Beholder that I whipped up, thick in the throes of first love.

As many of the reviews have suggested, Spore the game isn’t half as interesting as Spore the thing maker.  It’s neat to put your creature through the evolutionary process, but the early stages of the game are rather uninvolving, and the Tribal stage in particular isn’t something I think I’d ever seek out a second time. My little guys are just entering the Civilization stage, and then it’s on to outer space, where I’m told the gameplay becomes a lot more fun. Still, the title has charm galore, and the content creators are amazing. I was lucky enough to snag a copy for twenty bucks, and I’ve gotten my money’s worth just fiddling with the editors.

One of the games that I picked up during the death rattle of Circuit City was Soulstorm, the most recent installment of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War series, and I’m psyched about the addition of my beloved Sisters of Battle to the franchise. The other was Fallout 3. I know that certain fans of the older entries in that post-apocalyptic series are annoyed with the switch from pure role-playing game to first-person shooter, but having no exposure to Fallout outside of the Playstation 2 game, I don’t have much invested in it. The reviews have been very encouraging, and I’m looking forward to giving the disc a spin.