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Topics - kuactet

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Spore: Creation Corner / Worst Creatures EVER
« on: April 21, 2006, 05:52:14 pm »
You're all working hard to make interesting creatures that would be cool or fun or interesting. And I respect that. But what I'm noticing is a lack of crap. Hence, this thread. Post the worst creatures ever here. And I'm not talking about just worst looking, or least original. I'm talking something so hideously bad that, if you saw it, you'd be tempted to kill it as a mercy.

My idea is this: grow something normally, just until it's about to reach sentience. Then, strip it of everything, make it into just a ball with a mouth, and cross the threshhold into self-awareness. The species is born immobile and without senses. They had intelligence... and they knew despair.

Your turn!

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Spore: General / I'm sorry, Will.
« on: April 01, 2006, 02:16:21 pm »
I'm Dan Jankowski, here with my brother Matt, and we'll be your reviewers this evening. Our game today is the next title from the developer behind The Sims and SimCity, Will Wright. I'm talking, of course, about Spore. One of my industry contacts at EA managed to get me an early version of Spore.

Yes, we actually got a build of Spore, a physical CD with the game on it, and we actually played it. My inside man said that all of the gameplay mechanics, the procedural generation scripts, and the graphics were completed, and the only tasks remaining for the development team was bug fixes and tweaking the network so important to the game. So, what we're reviewing today should be, from the player's perspective, identical to the product that will be released by spring of 2007.

Dan: Before we get this review going, do you want to tell us a little bit about the game, Matt?

Matt: Spore's main selling point is that everything is procedurally generated. This means that little or no content, creature models, animations, textures, and so on, actually comes with the game. Rather, everything is created by either the player, or streamed from other players and used, as needed, to fill in the world. This isn't a problem or hassle for the players because of the game's incredible content-creation tools: it streamlines the process, taking out all of the mundane tasks of modeling, such as animation and texturing, and lets the player concentrate on the real meat, the ability to create absolutely unique characters.

D: Could you clarify that a bit for those at home unfamiliar with Spore?

M: No problem. The game has complicated scripts and algorithms that analyze a creature that a player makes, and decides on the best way to make it move. It creates animations for various "verbs," or actions, that the creature could perform, and then the player is allowed to take control of the creature, using those verbs to make it interact with the world. A separate set of scripts takes care of the skin colors and such.

D: You said verbs...?

M: Yeah, things like eating, walking, grabbing, and mating.

D: Ah, I understand--

M: Especially mating.

D: Yes, well--

M: Procedurally generated mating.

D: Right. That's great. We need to--

M: Procedural mating. How the creatures would mate is decided procedurally. By the computer. And animated. For the player to watch. Procedural mating. Procedural. Mating.

D: ...Okay. Anything else you'd like to say before we start the review?

M: Well, I looked up Will Wright's phone number, and I'd like to ask him a few questions; I feel it might help put some of this review in context.

D: Call him, then.

He put the phone on speakerphone, and dialed. It rang a few times, before a tired-sounding voice answered.

M: Will Wright?

Will Wright: Yes...

M: Mr. Wright, I have a question.

WW: Sure. Ask away.

M: Procedural mating?

WW: Well, about that, I, uh... *click*

M: He hung up. I guess we hit a non-disclosure agreement or something.

We tried callin again, but only got voicemail. As of press time, Mr. Wright still hadn't returned our phone calls or replied to our emails. But, now, the review.

Our test rig:

AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 2800 MHz
eVGA GeForce 7800 GTX Black Pearl
ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe nForce4 SLI X16
2x Corsair 1024 MB CMX1024-3500LLPRO
Hitachi 120GB S-ATA (8MB Cache)
Power Supply Enermax 550W (ATX 1.0)

This system, we hope, would allow us to fully experience the miracle that is Spore.

Even this early build installed without a hitch. Matt started it up and was instantly transported to the Pacman-like 2d cell game. The point of this game was to grow your creature by eating things and avoiding being eaten by other things. It's rather simplistic, but serves as a nice tutorial for the editor. After about an hour of keeping his little amoeba-like thing alive, Matt was able to progress to the next stage: large complex multicellular.

There was a water level. It wasn't really that interesting, mostly involving swimming around, still trying to keep from getting eaten. Matt made something that looked like a shark, and it dominated, but we were both focused on getting to the land game.

After he earned enough evolution points, he gave his shark thing legs, and took away its gills. That was all he changed. A land shark. Which, to the credit of the developers, didn't immediately crash the game.

Matt had it eat a bunch of things.

D: Now, in order to advance to the next generation, unlike in the sea game, two creatures have to mate with each other. You should do the mating call, see if you can find one.

M: Gladly.

He found another one nearby, and initiated the procedural mating. Some relaxing jazz music came on, and I zoned out for a few minutes. Matt, on the other hand, was staring intently at the screen, mouth slightly open. Then he started grinning.

M: Whoo! My little fella got some!

D: That's great. Click the egg so we can move on.

M: Wait a minute, I want to try something else.

He started the game over, and played it up to the land game, this time making a biped with a single arm coming out of its chest.

D: Why'd you do that?

M: Don't you want to see how something like this'll move?

D: Well, I guess, but--

M: And mate?

D: What?

M: Yeah! Get it on!

The jazz music again. When the egg appeared, he started a new game. It went on like this for about six more hours.

M: Go, little guy! Go, whoo! Yeah!

I think then we encountered the first of the game's major bugs.

D: Wait, Matt, is that crying?

M: I dunno.

D: Get closer.

He zoomed in on the mating pair. They were still humping frantically, but there were glistening streaks under the male's eyes, and the female was audibly sobbing. An egg appeared, and Matt promptly started a new game.

D: You've been doing this for eight hours. Don't you think it's time to move on to the next phase?

M: But, look, we're putting the procedural verbs through their paces. Don't you want to see how a pair of giant spiders would--

D: Because the procedural mating's really the most important part of the game!

M: Hey, it's a toy to be played with, not a game to be won. Who are you to judge the sort of enjoyment that other people get out of it, just because it's different than what you would?

D: You're right. I'm sorry I yelled at you. But, as reviewers, it's our responsibility to look at the entire game.

M: You have a point. We'll go to the next phase. Right after I test two-headed dogs. Yeah! Whoo! Go, little guy, go!

The crying was considerably louder this time, and had started as soon as Matt initiated the mating call. He clicked the mate button, and the two started going at it, but the animation was a bit screwy: the male ripped two of his own legs off while mounting the female, who was moaning and trying desperately to crawl away, tears flowing freely. When the egg appeared, the two collapsed and did not move again. Matt started a new game.

He played the now-familiar Pacman game, but there seemed to be something wrong with the graphics. Once a second, the screen would flicker, and some text would show up for a few frames. I couldn't read all of it, but I'm pretty sure it contained a few obscene words.

The water level was completely empty. Barren. Nothing. It was as if the game had forgotten the world. It was only by using the console that Matt was able to force the game to advance to the next stage.

He made his two headed dog, and promptly began seeking a mate. He found one, two hours later, curled up and shaking, hiding in a grove.

No matter how many times he clicked the 'mate' button, the creatures refused to get near each other. When he tried to start a new game, it locked up. He reinstalled it, but it locked up on startup. He then formatted the hard disk and tried again, but the Spore CD burst into flames the moment it touched the tray. We hope Will and his team manage to fix some of these bugs, because they really have the potential of ruining an otherwise excellent gaming experience.

Look for our full review when Spore is released.

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