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Topics - TFGoose

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Spore: General / Why should I expand? ... seriously
« on: September 10, 2008, 03:24:16 pm »
Okay, after a few solid days of playing Spore (mostly in the space stage with my Shrublings), I have a serious question.  Why oh why should I attempt to expand beyond 10 or so star systems? 

Does the size of my empire influence how much I'm attacked?   Yes, but in the wrong direction. 

Do I get more ships from expanding?  Nope.  

Do I get more spice?   Not really.  Once you have a couple planets churning out record numbers of pink and purple spice you really don't need anything else.  Additional planets and colonies become superfluous.

So why do I do it?  It seems to me that the only reward I get for actively expanding beyond the point where I have a self-sustaining, profitable economy is more frequent pirate attacks and bio-disasters.  It would be different if by arming my colonies to the teeth with fully defended cities, uber turrents and both bio protection devices that I could fend off these nuisances without my personal attention.  But as we all know, even the most heavily-defended colony in your empire will lose the fight if you don't personally show up to supervise the action.  All expansions seems to do is make sure that I will definitely, positively be called back to one of those colonies all the more often, even if only to watch my uber turret take them all down while I make another pepperoni and cheese cracker.

So again, where's the motivation?  At this point, the only reason I'm doing it is because that's what I envisioned I would do from the day I heard about this game at GDC '05.  Part of the fun lies in taking over planet after planet, system after system, on my way to the center of the galaxy.  Indeed, the game seems somewhat built on the idea that you should try to expand (there are a number of 'story' missions to that effect after all), yet at the same time I feel as though I'm being punished for traveling that path.

Does anyone else understand what I mean here or am I just way off base?

--TFGoose

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Spore: General / My day at Maxis....
« on: February 07, 2008, 09:11:07 pm »
Well, I have to admit that a couple weeks ago I thought I might be writing a very different version of this post.  But, after a lot of thought, this is the one I ended up composing.  I really wasnít sure  I was going to say anything at all, but I think thereís some value in letting this particular cat out of the bag.  So, at the risk of being inundated with barrels of questions that I canít possibly answer, here goes nothingÖ.

I was recently fortunate enough to get a peek inside the Spore development studio.  I was there interviewing for the Community Manager position, and wanted to share a bit of my experience with you all.  Sadly, I wonít be able to accept the position as I discovered throughout the process that Iím just not willing to leave my family, friends, and an already promising career behind to pack up and move to California.  Not to mention the positively atrocious cost of living would detriment my lifestyle to a degree Iím not willing to instill on myself.  Even though working with the team on creating Spore, and what Iím sure will be many add-ons and expansions, would pretty much be a dream come true, this Ohio-grown boy just canít stomach everything Iíd have to give up to make it happen.  Yes, yes, I know some of you are no doubt saying that youíd saw off an arm to have such an opportunity, but let me just say that thinking you can do it and actually taking the leap are very different things indeed.  Needless to say though, I am eternally grateful that I had the chance to go through the process as far as I did before needing to bow out this week, and I sincerely hope that I didnít cause any further delays or anything by doing so.  If I did, then I apologize to the team at Maxis, and indeed to the community at large.

Anyway, before anyone gets too post happy, let me cover the upcoming details with a couple disclaimers.  One, I am not now nor have I ever been speaking in any official capacity for EA.  My interpretations of the things I share with you are my own, and should be considered nothing more than the opinion of an enthusiast.  Two, before anyone asks, yes I did get to play the game for an hour or so.  However, as Iím sure you can understand, I am legally bound from providing any details about it that arenít already public knowledge.  So if Carol, April, Lucy or anyone else is reading this, please be at ease as I donít intend to say anything that I shouldnít.  :)  That being said, I can certainly say that the game looks quite polished, and was generally a blast to play (as I fully expected it to be).  I played through the entire cell stage, about 15 minutes in the creature section of the game, and then skipped ahead to play for a little while in the space section.  To put it bluntly, I clearly didnít even scratch the surface of what the game has to offer, but the experience has left me yearning for the full release now more than ever.  And to those who have surmised that the game is actually vaporware, well, if it is theyíve sure gone through an awful lot of trouble to create what I saw.

But I digressÖ.  So what am I going to talk about here if not the game?  Well for one, for those who are curious, I can describe the studio itself.  Itís a large suite inside an office building in Emeryville, CA.  An intricate series of cubicles and offices adorn a mostly unfinished floor.  There were posters, staff pictures, and memorabilia of all kinds virtually everywhere, most of which Iíve never seen in any kind of media.  I spent the majority of my time in a large conference room dubbed The Aquarium, likely because its main interior wall is comprised entirely of glass.  Covering that glass was poster after poster showing a different Spore creature and some kind of quip that related to it or the game in general.  They were all fairly detailed, and some of them quite funny.  I assume they are for some sort of upcoming marketing effort.  Outside The Aquarium is a large open area full of enormous flat panel televisions/monitors, all of which were running the game.  An array of chairs and colorful bean bags were present, and I gathered that this was the area reserved for press demonstrations and more casual employee meetings.  This is also the location where I had the fortune of meeting Will Wright.  I was only able to speak with him for a few minutes as I was between interviews and was supposed to be on my way to the bathroom, but I couldnít pass up the opportunity to meet a long-time idol of mine.  He is every bit of the welcoming, humble, intelligent person that he is known as being, and you can see it in his eyes how much he loves this project. 

And that leads me into the other thing I wanted to discuss here, and that is the people working on this game.  Thereís been a lot of posts over the last few months regarding EAís intentions, and frankly about the honor of some of their employees when it comes to releasing (or predicting the release of) information.  I thought I would take the opportunity to relay a bit about my own experiences with these individuals over the past several weeks through numerous phone calls and the 6 hours I was able to hang out with them at the studio.

As some of you have noticed, Iíve been quick to come to the defense of some of the folks at EA, most notably April, whenever they are attacked on these boards.  Iíve been doing that because Iíve actually spoken to several of them at length, and simply donít see any deception in them at all.  This is an insanely dedicated group of people weíre talking about here, and believe me when I say that they want nothing more than to ship this game out to us and have it be a success.  All the posts about certain people lying, or there being some massive EA plot to delay the game continuously in an effort to string us along and continue building hype for as long as possible, are just ridiculous to the point of absurdity.  I saw nor heard anything during my time with these people that would lead me to believe that they have anything but the best of intentions.  They do read these boards, and they do care about what is going on in our community.  If anything, the only thing they could be accused of is perhaps not being vocal enough with the fans to keep us informed of whatís going on.  Believe me, I brought that to their attention.  Part of the reason I even applied for the job was that I believed I could be a great link between the fans and the developers, to keep both sides informed of what the other was thinking.  It is my unwavering hope that whoever does take up the torch as the Community Manager understands the importance of that, and works hard to rebuild the trust that has been lost over the last couple of years.  I only wish I could be a part of that from here.

Anyway, Iím struggling with how much more I can really say, but I at least wanted to let you all know that I really do believe there is reason to have faith in those responsible for making this game.  I know you donít know me from a hole in the wall, but Iím going with the idea that hearing my word is better than hearing nothing at all.  So here it is.  These people know what they are doing, and are genuinely passionate about Spore.  Theyíve made mistakes along the way, and may make even more.  This is a wildly ambitious project after all.  But never doubt their conviction, or their dedication to making the best game that they can for all of us.  When it comes the time for the gameís release, some will be satisfied with what theyíre given, others will be happily surprised at some bonus they didnít expect, and still others will be disappointed that it isnít entirely what they expected it to be.  With a game like this, all of those situations will occur.  But hopefully after reading this, at least some of you will believe me when I say that whatever we get, and whenever we get it, it will be the absolute best work that this team is capable of producing.  And based on how focused, intelligent, and driven the people are that I was able to meet, I believe that work will be something truly awesome to behold.

--TFGoose

P.S.  By the way, I don't think Patrick would mind me confirming this....  For those who recall the discussion, we the community are in fact what they meant by ďthe SporonsĒ.  :)

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Spore: General / AI Creatures - A history of their own?
« on: December 10, 2007, 12:32:12 pm »
Okay, so I was posting in another thread regarding the idea of stats being collected about our creatures as they are populated through other players' universes, and had the following thought:

How much of the universe in your game of Spore is playing out on its own?

To elaborate, I want to know how much of the game world is populated by other AI-controlled creatures from the moment I first pop into the primordial ooze.  Does content start downloading instantly to fill out the whole universe, or does it just worry about my planet?  Maybe even just the ooze for the time being?  At what point does the universe start to fill up with other people's creations?  And once it is populating, do those societies engage in development, exploration, trade, and war with each other regardless of how far they are from us? 

I'm trying to determine how feasible it is that, when I first encounter another species, they will have a well-defined history of their own.  When I discover solar system Beta279, does the game just slap together a bunch of creatures in that area to flesh it out right there and then, or has it been "playing" the creatures living on those planets long before you ever got there?  If the latter, then its conceivable that our creatures could be dropped into someone's universe and develop into a fully functioning society without the player of that universe ever even finding them.  If there then existed some mechanism for gathering data on the accomplishments of such species and reporting it back to the central server, it could be quite interesting to view those statistics and see how your creation is doing "worldwide".

Granted, since no-one's Spore game is a real persistent world, the universe would only be advancing during your actual play sessions.  But still, I think it would be cool if those AI societies were actually playing themselves out whenever you were playing yours. 

--TFGoose

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Spore: General / Stages still under major development?
« on: December 15, 2006, 11:51:50 am »
Disclaimer:† Yes, it's possible (and perhaps even likely) that this subject has been discussed before.† I tried a search for similar topics, but found nothing that really delved into this.† If it has been discussed, I would certainly welcome a link.

Topic:† Given the amount of information presently known on some stages of the game (cell, creature, space), what can we infer about the completion percentage of the stages we haven't been told that much about at all (tribal, city, and civ)?

My basic point here is that we've been given a lot of information about some parts of Spore, and comparatively little on others.† In fact, the lack of information about the tribal, city, and civ portions of the game is a little scary to me, and I'm curious if I'm the only one who is concerned (or if, in my 2 month hiatus from this board, I've somehow missed a ton of updates on this stuff).

For example, in the Civilization stage....† We know that it's possible to win either through military conflict or through some type of cultural unification of the planet.† We know that vehicles are responsible for the interaction between different cities, whether that be peaceful or violent interaction.† However, as far as I know, that's pretty much all we've been told.† I mean, what about resource management?† Is there a unit cap?† How about a point system?† How is victory over another civ determined?† Can there be alliances between your city and others, going to war with opposing factions?† Are certain buildings required to build vehicles, or different types of vehicles?

Or how about in the tribal stage of the game?† What's really the goal here?† As far as I know, the few demos we've seen of this stage shows a developer dropping a fire, some drums, or some spears into the fray and the creatures play around those tools.† But what is the player actually responsible for accomplishing at this point?† What challenges are there to be overcome?† Honestly, I don't even know how to formulate many questions around the gameplay of this particular stage, because I know so little about it.

Anyway, the point is, what do you think the reasons are for the lack of information on these "middle areas" of the game?† I am concerned that part of the delay with Spore is because the developers are struggling to figure these sections out (hence the shortage of public information on them, and their general tendency to skip over them during demos).† They may not be sure what to do with them exactly, or are having trouble making them feel fun.† I only bring this up because we've heard several reports that the game is essentially done, and that they are mainly applying polish at this point, squashing bugs, etc.† If that's really the case though, why the almost total absence of information on nearly half the gameplay?† Are they just holding that much back to discuss in the coming months before release?† Is it part of a marketing plan of some kind?† Or (and I seriously hope this isn't the case), is it because there's still a lot to be done in these areas, and they aren't presenting them because there simply isn't much to present?

--TFGoose

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Spore: General / Spore Chat? And, um, hi. :-)
« on: September 28, 2006, 02:20:14 pm »
Greetings all,

I'm a newbie to the boards here, but am fairly well versed in Spore-loreô.  :)  I've been following the game's development since GDC 2005, and have been gobbling up everything I can about it since then.  This game has so much potential it's almost scary, and that's coming from someone who used to review them for a living.  Frankly, I'm almost upset that I even know about this game given how long it is going to be before release (still roughly a year minimum from what I understand).  However, I'm already infected, so I thought I would join with others of my kind on this board. 

Anyway, I haven't gotten through all of the threads here, so forgive me if this topic has been explored before (I know most topics have).  I was thinking it would be nice to have some kind of in-game chat system that players could opt to use at their discretion.  As we all know, the original designers of every creature we encounter in the game will be viewable inside Sporepedia.  I thought it would be nice to be able to interact with those designers in some fashion, like an instant messenger of some kind.  It should be something non-intrusive to the game interface that could be "minimized" but yet still notify you with a small beep/animation whenever someone sent you a message.  Of course, the feature could be disabled for those who don't want to be bothered, or perhaps there could be an option to only allow certain screennames to interact with you (thereby allowing you to communicate with RL friends, or favorite developers, but no random others).

Again, I'm not sure if this has been discussed, or perhaps even announced in some fashion through a piece of info that I somehow missed.  But, just in case, I wanted to throw it in the mix.

Glad to be here, and I'll see you all around the boards.

--TFGoose

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