Author Topic: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down  (Read 30908 times)

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Offline Hectonkhyres

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #60 on: October 31, 2008, 10:44:16 pm »
I am severely tempted to ship my Spore installation DVD back to the offices up at EA along with the DVD player and video card I bought for the sole purpose of playing Spore. After having a moment of cathartic release using a sledgehammer and a bottle of lighter fluid. If I had known that this would be what I got out of all the money I spent in its name, I would have just donated it to the maker of Dwarf Fortress and kept a clean conscience. Hell, I would have rather burned the money than let EA get a hold of it.

I jest not.

Offline AlfredO

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #61 on: November 01, 2008, 01:45:34 am »
Haha, I like what Chris Hecker said about the Gamecube. But it has more like the power of a single Gamecube. I just enjoy technology jokes involving duct tape. 
« Last Edit: November 01, 2008, 01:47:19 am by AlfredO »

Offline Snork

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #62 on: November 03, 2008, 06:52:23 am »
MaxisLucy wrote:
Hi all. I wanted to weigh in on this thread. I appreciate the comments and the open discussion about the game, the look and everyoneís expectations. I think that this type of dialog is a healthy exchange of ideas. We get a lot out of it and Iím not interested in shutting that down. However, I do think that the aspersions toward any individual member of the Spore team are unwarranted and are getting out of hand here. The concept of Spore that Will presented at GDC 2005 was the guidepost for the development and execution of the game. Will very much remained the visionary and design leader throughout the development of Spore. He worked collaboratively with the team when opinions differed but decisions were definitely in his domain.

The cute vs. science debate within the team had more to do with the concept of accessibility, character and aesthetic than it had to do with the underlying gameplay. Some of this was driven by the simple reality of a very unique and rather cutting edge approach to animation. Procedural animation is just one of the incredible contributions that Chris Hecker made to this game. It was a huge area of focused work and learning for us as the animation engineering team developed this system. One thing that we learned is that setting an expectation of very realistic looking animations that, for instance, captured the discrete differences of movement of a cat vs. the movement of a dog would be off target. Moving away from an aesthetic that set such expectations was a well considered decision on our part. Iím personally amazed at what the animation team was able to achieve. Will set a goal for the team that we be able to hit a mark, in terms of creative breadth, that reached from Pixar to Geiger. The aesthetic, physical and placement constraint decisions that we made regarding the Creature Creator were held to our tenets of unconstrained creativity and accessibility for the creators.

Chris contributed so much in the way of innovations for Spore and deserves to be recognized for his work. While we have no interest in stifling conversation on the Sporum about Spore from anyone, I request that people show respect for others and refrain from outright defamation and threats.

Thanks,

Lucy
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Offline Tr0n

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #63 on: November 03, 2008, 11:11:02 am »
Sorry I didn't respond in a timely manner to people throwing poo at me, but I'm reading the rebuttals to my original post and, being the pessimist-and-often-realist that I am, I do agree with Blulightning when he says that EA could care less about what the "purist" crowd wants and that the chance we'll see Science Spore is slim.  My "just plain wrong" point was that because of the underlying technology and mass appeal of the game, that chance is slim, not nil.

To those still saying that Spore would have been a runaway success had it been geared towards the scientific approach, I'm afraid that it's just not the case.  No longer can a game appeal to 10,000 people, sell 100,000 copies, and be considered a financial success.  There's no way.  EA doesn't take 5 year gambles for a 5 million dollar turnaround.  It's bad business for them.  It doesn't even pay for the lights and computers to be on much less payroll and a profit.  We'd have loved it... but "Spore omg GDC is teh epic win" would have been the last we'd have seen of the game.  It would have been one of those 9.9 games on IGN that kills a franchise because it's a "sleeper hit".  Look at "Beyond Good and Evil."  Look at all of those games, while freakin' awesome, never got off the ground because the masses didn't buy it. I'm sorry, but it would have been the best game we've ever played and the last game like that for another decade.

Blulightning said it perfectly in the fact that publishers don't screw around with big risks like Spore and if it were not to be accessible to the masses, it would have never been greenlighted.

So I suggest, and am supported by Lucy's previous post in saying that "Spore turned out exactly how it was meant to turn out and it could not have turned out any other way."  Once Spore began to get delayed and screenshots got cuter, I knew they were turning it into a marketable product.  I don't really have a problem with that.  I'm disappointed that I didn't get the last game I'd ever need to play... but it's just a game.  That's all it is.  It's an entertainment venue... not the end of the world.

To that extent, I never thought I'd see the day where people would be asking others what the hell was wrong with them in anything but in jest.  But I'm seeing it more and more here.  The GS forum was the bastion of civilized discussion and intellectual collaboration pre-Spore.  I suppose a lot of people were truly hurt by Spore's release, throwing flames around (not the worst by any means though, thankfully)... but we need to just let it go and understand that as much as we long for the piece of heaven that was GDC 2005, it ain't gonna happen.  We might get close to it if we cry out and the developers and suits listen... but did we ever really know what we wanted in Spore aside from pointing wildly at the GDC 2005 screen and saying "that"?  I saw a demo and my mind made up the rest of what Spore was supposed to be.  Seems like we're just screaming a lot about "I liked that idea in 2005 but I can't really tell you what I want specifically... but NOT what came out in 2007."
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Offline Protoavis

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #64 on: November 03, 2008, 04:34:02 pm »
Seems like we're just screaming a lot about "I liked that idea in 2005 but I can't really tell you what I want specifically... but NOT what came out in 2007."

1. Statless parts, the functions of the creature came down to the design of the creature.

2. Underwater creatures and civilisations

3. A less immature aethestic and interface

etc

I have to question "underlying gameplay" in Lucy's quote also, there isn't any, seems a whole lot of time was wasted on very superficial aspects of the "game".
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Offline Null

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #65 on: November 03, 2008, 04:43:33 pm »
Ignoring the above post, which has nothing in the way of a logical argument, Tr0n and others who have recently posted have very good points. If everything looked more realistic, we would expect them to move more realistically. Something that is apparently well beyond this or any game's procedural animation capabilities. Every animal has a distinct, specific way of moving that is created by so many variables that accurate portrayal of all of them procedurally is impossible with current technology. It looks fine on cartoony ones, but on realistic ones the animations would fail. I wish it was more scientific but there are real, actual development and marketing reasons that we got what we got and no amount of whining will change that.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2008, 05:17:42 pm by Fledgeling »

Offline Grangan

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #66 on: November 03, 2008, 08:20:22 pm »
I say that Chris Hecker has MPD.  Specifically, he has a ridiculous cute personality and a ridiculous realistic personality, and he always employs each one when it would be worst for him.
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Offline DarkPlasma

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #67 on: November 04, 2008, 07:01:36 am »
Ignoring the above post, which has nothing in the way of a logical argument, Tr0n and others who have recently posted have very good points. If everything looked more realistic, we would expect them to move more realistically. Something that is apparently well beyond this or any game's procedural animation capabilities. Every animal has a distinct, specific way of moving that is created by so many variables that accurate portrayal of all of them procedurally is impossible with current technology. It looks fine on cartoony ones, but on realistic ones the animations would fail. I wish it was more scientific but there are real, actual development and marketing reasons that we got what we got and no amount of whining will change that.
Seconded. Heck, just conder all the creatures that are rather off-balance. There's no way they'd be able to be made realistic. And looking through a lot of the really good creations, that number adds up a lot!

The other argument I can see here is that people are complaining about it being too colourful and kid-friendly. That's essentially just like saying Mario games are too colourful and kid-friendly. To which I say "admit this game was not made to suit your tastes, so stop complaining".

2. Underwater creatures and civilisations
That's not an option here. It's fine to say that developers should add or change minor features in a game, but it's just greedy to expect them to add in large sections into a game, even if an in-development version was shown before. (Incidentally, that was three years ago. Maxis already said the water stage was cut long since then)

I have to question "underlying gameplay" in Lucy's quote also, there isn't any, seems a whole lot of time was wasted on very superficial aspects of the "game".
...why are you even here? Why would you go visit a forum about a game that, quite clearly, you don't like?
« Last Edit: November 04, 2008, 07:10:16 am by DarkPlasma »

Offline IamMe

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #68 on: November 04, 2008, 12:21:43 pm »
Hey guys.

Just answer this:

Would you still like Spore if the GDC 2005 Spore was cute and friendly? Or would you say, "Pfft. That looks gay." and blow it off?

No bias here, this is just a neutral question.

Offline SpaceOddity

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #69 on: November 04, 2008, 02:33:56 pm »
Have you read WW's answer in the Sporum?

Quote
Iíve just recently tuned into this thread on the forums. I usually try to keep more up to date but Iíve been traveling way too much lately. Wow, thereís some rather intense discussion here I see about the design decisions we made in Spore. I think itís really important for me to jump in and clarify a few things from my point of view.

First let me say a few things about the ďCuteĒ vs. ďScienceĒ perspectives in Spore. It is true that during most of the design process we had team members on different sides of this debate. While I was officially on the science side at the same time I always saw this as a crucial tension that I wanted to foster, in other words I didnít want the science side to win, I wanted to make sure both sides were represented in the game to some degree.

Two of the Chrisí on our team (Chris Trottier and Chris Hecker) were the most vocal representatives of what I started calling the cute team but they were by no means the only ones, they represented quite a large portion of the team. And their agenda in our design process was most certainly not to dumb-down the gameplay but rather to foster emotional engagement with the players in the game experience. An early example of this was the decision to add eyes to the cell game which in no way changed the gameplay, but we found for certain players made the cell experience more humorous and personal.

I see that many of the criticisms about the depth of play in Spore seem to be personally directed to Chris Hecker in particular. This is both ironic and incorrect. Chris was the leading talent behind the voodoo math of the procedural animation system in Spore, the system that brings the creatures you design to life. As the author of this system Chris was quite aware of how flexible and also how unpredictable it could be. I had many discussions with him in particular about how much of the players design decisions would affect the actual performance of your creature in the game world.

To take a quick tangent let me use the creature design vs. performance as an example. We had competing issues to face. First, we wanted the creatureís design to impact its in-game performance. Second, we wanted the economics of the editor to be simple and understandable and connected to performance. Third, we wanted a high amount of aesthetic diversity. We didnít want there to be one ultimate design direction that the simulator was forcing all the creatures into. In other words if to be fast you had to have long legs that would have met the first goal, conflicted with the third goal and made the second much more complex.

As the lead designer my goal through most of the project was to make sure the gameplay didnít end up too complex, which resulted in simplifying many of the level dynamics and editor consequences. I felt like we were already asking quite a bit from the players as we took them through the various level genres. This was totally my judgment call and not even part of the agenda of the ďcuteĒ team, and certainly not the fault of Chris Hecker. So to make a long story short Iím the one to be blamed for any faults in the gameplay, thatís my job on the team.

Chris is one of the most talented people Iíve ever had the pleasure to work with in the game industry and he takes his craft quite seriously. So itís been very disturbing for me to read how he has been unfairly vilified for what were in fact entirely my design decisions.

A genre-spanning game like Spore is almost by its very nature experimental. Not only do we not have an existing game to learn design lessons from, we also donít initially know what the demographic of our players will be (and hence their expectations for complexity and depth). As we move forward with the franchise we plan to listen closely and learn. Our plans for the first Spore expansions are already revolving heavily around what weíre hearing from our players so far.

I want to personally thank everyone whoís playing Spore, especially for the countless, wonderful creations that have been posted to Sporepedia. And I also want to give thanks and encouragement for the discussions here on our forum that will help us make Spore a cooler experience for everyone.

-Will Wright
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Offline Lippy

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #70 on: November 04, 2008, 04:16:36 pm »
He put that very well.  But all of this was already known by anyone who followed Spore, reading the articles, and watching the videos.  Most of the development was put out there for everyone to see from the get go.  Which is why I find it funny that so many of the veteran GS members would be blind sighted by the game's lack of depth, and ultimately disappointed with it. 

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #71 on: November 04, 2008, 05:05:40 pm »
I hope that quells people's criticism of Spore for a very long time.

Offline Telluric

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #72 on: November 05, 2008, 09:00:34 am »
I hope that quells people's criticism of Spore for a very long time.

It doesn't really address mine.  The game is too easy and too thin.  There is no depth and no replayability.  One space empire is exactly like another space empire... and there is no reason to play a meaningful amount of time in other stages.  Essentially, the game is a series of editors with no reason to actually use any of the things you make to do anything.

This is sad to me.  I was hoping for the ultimate hobby game, a game I could lavish time and attention on to build interesting things through layers of growth, editing, and emergent change.  A simulation, not just an editor.  This has nothing to do with what creatures look like or whether or not real physics are used in creature movement...

Spore fails to me because it has boring, simplistic game play with no emergent behavior or complexity.  And yes, I can admit that perhaps I am not the target market for this game... even though that admission feels hollow since I've loved dozens of other simulation and data growth games.
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Offline Lippy

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #73 on: November 05, 2008, 12:55:41 pm »
I hope that quells people's criticism of Spore for a very long time.

It doesn't really address mine. The game is too easy and too thin.  There is no depth and no replayability.

Quote from: Will Wright from the GDC 2005 demo and several other demos since
The gameplay is very very simple.

Does that quell your criticism? 

Offline Telluric

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Re: One of the reasons why Spore is "cute" and dumbed down
« Reply #74 on: November 05, 2008, 02:40:42 pm »
Does that quell your criticism? 

Not when it was quoted the first time and not now neither.

You may now accuse me of wanting the game to be something it is not.  I stand guilty as charged.  Unrepentantly guilty of wanting an interesting game, not just an editor.  No hero-worship of Will Wright will move me from where I stand.
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