Author Topic: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore  (Read 6865 times)

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Offline kmr

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Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« on: March 06, 2006, 08:45:09 pm »
Excuse the blatant paraphrasing of Heinlein in the title, but I had to get your attention somehow. ;D

I have been going round and round in recent threads, proselytizing the gospel of imagination and storytelling against the backdrop of heathen demands for specialisation. ;) Since I hate repeating myself time and again, but also hate leaving this particular issue rest as it is somewhat of a pet peeve (no doubt you could tell), I figured it was time for a more general, explanatory post.

As the GDC and E3 draw closer, understandably many thoughts as to the previously unexplored aspects of the game are bandied about. We've seen many great thoughts in our stickified Wishlist (such as the concept of a "creature viewer" outside the game), but there is one thing that keeps popping up as people sit up in their chairs and go, "Hey! It would be so cool if the game included this!"

Now, I want to make perfectly clear to those of you that I have been arguing with that I think your ideas are splendid, and deserve the merit of consideration. We've gone over the pros and cons more than once by now, I'm sure. What I want to express in this thread, however, is the motivation behind my ongoing reservation regarding such additions to the gameplay, and why I am in favour of "imagining crap", as it has been so eloquently put.

The suggestions range from offhand "Wouldn't it be cool?" one-liners to elaborate "The game needs this!" proposals. All of them have one thing in common: they emphasize a particular aspect the poster wishes to strengthen in the game. Way back in the beginnings of the forums there was the debate over including infantry units, and more recently the lively discussions over creature-design-dependent perks for vehicles or the pros and cons of element-based life.

In all of them, but particularly the later ones, I have made a point out of stressing the storytelling aspects of the game. (In that I am no different than any other poster pushing their favourite side of the game.) The underlying motivation to my arguments runs thus:

Spore is supposed to be all about end-user creativity. We are the ones who get to let the artist out of the box, to paraphrase Ocean Quigley. To that end, the game is supposed to give us free reign over the creation process of our creature, vehicles, buildings, and, perhaps, more.

I believe this concept of creative liberty is currently only poorly understood, or perhaps not understood at all. It means essentially, everything is possible so long as you can imagine it. That's the whole point of giving us these editors, right? You can make any shape of creature, as long as you can imagine it. Nothing limits you to four limbs plus head. Nothing limits you to one mouth, one set of eyes, a nose and a pair of ears in creating your very own sentient creature.

I'm getting to my point now, no worries. ;) The lack of limitations when it comes to design is Spore's strongest draw. It hence strikes me as strange that people consider it necessary to lobby for inclusion of hardcoded, specialized aspects such as a distinction of the element the creature is based on, a distinction of building material used in creating houses, or other such issues. While either is a warranted idea on its own, they would be of no benefit to the player in Spore.

Why? Because they limit our creative liberties.

Think about it. In the case of base element, for example. Nevermind the question of implementation, but suppose it popped up a notification to the player saying "In Spore, you can only create creatures that are based on the element Carbon." That is a limitation of creativity right there, is it not? Non-carbon-based life is abundant in science fiction, and even moreso in the pulp scifi of the Fifties, which is one of the best examples of what is possible to create with Spore. If we were to be forced to adopt a chemical element as the limitation what we can design in the editor, we would lose out on all the wacky sentient stone, wood, metal and whatnot creatures out there! What if I wanted to port something like Terry Pratchett's version of Trolls? I would not be able to!

Hence I cannot believe that a hardcoded distinction between elements has any place in Spore. Note that I say 'hardcoded'. I don't think it has a place in the game code, but by all means -- if you decide for yourself that all your creatures are carbon-based, go for it! But please, don't infringe on other people's creativity.

The same holds for the hotly debated issue of organic/hybrid buildings and vehicles in the game. There is nothing stopping you from saying that your non-creature creations are really just specialized evolutions of a basic creature template a la StarCraft's Zerg race. But to demand that all players think in similar distinctions is courting ridicule.

If it limits my creativity, I don't want any part of it.


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Offline xnodas

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2006, 09:02:34 pm »
*Specialization*   

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Offline kmr

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2006, 09:04:54 pm »
*Specialization*   

Not in my English, thank you all the same.  ;D
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Offline xnodas

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2006, 09:06:18 pm »
*Specialization*

Not in my English, thank you all the same. ;D

no problem, and I completely get what you are saying, but just don't agree with it all.  :)
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Offline Vivec

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2006, 09:06:47 pm »
Being a pessimist about Spore is a much better plan.

Believe it will suck then when if it is good, you get to be pleasantly suprised.
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Offline Greg16

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2006, 09:07:22 pm »
Intresting but nothing is perfect. We will be of course limited by the engine of the game and the abilities of our home computers, unfortunate but thats how the way it is. Even then the player still gets to let their mind roam free, their never has been a computer game so diverse and moldable as this.
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Offline kmr

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2006, 09:07:54 pm »
I completely get what you are saying, but just don't agree with it all.  :)

Actually you'll find we can agree somewhat if you look at my reply in the carbon thread. ;D
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Offline xnodas

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2006, 09:12:39 pm »
I completely get what you are saying, but just don't agree with it all. :)

Actually you'll find we can agree somewhat if you look at my reply in the carbon thread. ;D

Yes just not everything.  Just as long as it changes something in the game.
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Offline Tonjevic

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2006, 10:04:00 pm »
Hear, Hear! I say. I fully get what you are saying, and believe in it as well. I do believe, however, that the earlier levels of the game need defined missions. A complete sandbox is cool, but not as satisfying in some respects, as there is no benchmark for how well you have done.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2006, 11:09:25 pm by Tonjevic »

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Offline huggkruka

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2006, 10:39:00 pm »
There are tons of cool FPSs and RPGs our there. Play them if you want goal-based, controlled, unoriginal gameplay. Spore is for those who doesn't care too much about the interwoven story but more about what they create.

Offline Tonjevic

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2006, 11:12:02 pm »
Spore's gameplay is such that goal-oriented gameplay won't mar it at all. Goals keep a player engaged and interested, and anyway, there is the sandbox that you get to when you research genetic engineering. No, spore will never be unoriginal (unless Will Wright brings out expansion packs. :P), even if there ARE goals and missions.

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Offline Hydromancerx

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2006, 11:30:47 pm »

Think about it. In the case of base element, for example. Nevermind the question of implementation, but suppose it popped up a notification to the player saying "In Spore, you can only create creatures that are based on the element Carbon." That is a limitation of creativity right there, is it not? Non-carbon-based life is abundant in science fiction, and even moreso in the pulp scifi of the Fifties, which is one of the best examples of what is possible to create with Spore. If we were to be forced to adopt a chemical element as the limitation what we can design in the editor, we would lose out on all the wacky sentient stone, wood, metal and whatnot creatures out there! What if I wanted to port something like Terry Pratchett's version of Trolls? I would not be able to!

Hence I cannot believe that a hardcoded distinction between elements has any place in Spore. Note that I say 'hardcoded'. I don't think it has a place in the game code, but by all means -- if you decide for yourself that all your creatures are carbon-based, go for it! But please, don't infringe on other people's creativity.


I am not sure if i am getting what you are saying but i believe that the game is not that specific. Meaning the the stuff is made out of all the same Lego/clay aka "claygo". In short you creature could be "Terry Pratchett's version of Trolls" with the right coloring and texture. In short the game is limitless in that you can make any material by what type of coloring and properties you give it.

I am not sure if thats the point you were trying to make. If it was i am sorry. But i just wanted to make sure people knew that even though there is not going to have say "wood" or "iron" there will be things that simulate the coloring and properties of iron or wood as well as maybe new materials in creatures, buildings, vehicles, tools, plants...

Offline kmr

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2006, 11:34:27 pm »
I am not sure if i am getting what you are saying but i believe that the game is not that specific. Meaning the the stuff is made out of all the same Lego/clay aka "claygo". In short you creature could be "Terry Pratchett's version of Trolls" with the right coloring and texture. In short the game is limitless in that you can make any material by what type of coloring and properties you give it.

I am not sure if thats the point you were trying to make. If it was i am sorry. But i just wanted to make sure people knew that even though there is not going to have say "wood" or "iron" there will be things that simulate the coloring and properties of iron or wood as well as maybe new materials in creatures, buildings, vehicles, tools, plants...

That is exactly what I am saying.  ;D
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Offline Kaze

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2006, 11:46:06 pm »
Intresting but nothing is perfect. We will be of course limited by the engine of the game and the abilities of our home computers, unfortunate but thats how the way it is. Even then the player still gets to let their mind roam free, their never has been a computer game so diverse and moldable as this.

This much is overt. What he's suggesting though, is that the only limitations are our imaginations, and what the hardware/code is capable of. The OP is expressing that additional, arbitrary restrictions have no place in this game, which is about giving the player the tools they require to let their imaginations run wild. Anything they [Spore's development team] code that is restrictive, will go against the inherent concept of this game's design. On that note, I cannot agree more with the OP's thoughts.

Offline Raukodur

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Re: Specialisation: It is for Insects, not for Spore
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2006, 12:20:38 am »
just to ask a hypothetical question or two  ;D :

What if there wasnt a limitation on just being able to build carbon based lifeform, but there were a whole load of elements (every one found in the periodic table ladies and gentlemen?) which you had to choose from when you started your creature? would that be limiting?

And what if every different element gave your creature slightly different properties, wouldnt that add a whole new dimension to the uniqueness of your creature?

I dont think hardcoding necessarily has to be limiting, it might be originally (e.g. they release the game with your creature only being able to be based on 10 different elements) but in future patches etc, these kind of things could be fleshed out plenty along with the totally new obvious content they would be advertising.