LOL, when I first read this I thought you were totally bashing me so I typed up a defensive response, but then realized you were helping me out a bit.
Yeah, I haven't completely thought it through but basically what I imagined was that solar flares and such from the red dwarf caused reactions in the brown dwarf that would make it periodically sprout up just enough heat to keep the planet okay. During the periods when Cataphon is in extreme cold, which last about fifty days a year, they do indeed hibernate. As for tides, Cataphon has no oceans but does have many, many small lakes which are kind of holes in the land mass. Since they are not large enough to create real tides, the brown dwarf causes the lakes to flood constantly, which is something Cataphans use to their advantage. Haven't thought about the volcano thing, any ideas?
Sporific, it was not my intention to attack your idea, it was just a very fascinating example that I wanted to investigate and discus.
It would indeed be very interesting to have a planet who's heat comes from another star of it's binary system and not from the star it orbits around. I already posted why I thought it isn't likely, but it seems the difference in mass between brown dwarfs and red dwarfs is much bigger then I thought. So the distance between the bary center(the gravity center around which both stars orbit) and the red dwarf could be much smaller then I thought, resulting in a much more constant distance between the red dwarf and the brown dwarf(making stable temperatures and thus live on it's moons/planets much more likely). To be sure must I calculate it:
Wiki says that red dwarf are between 0.3 and 0.8 times the sun it's mass, so the max mass of them is 0.8* 2 * 10^30 kg(^ this symbol means to the power) = 1.6 * 10^30kg
Wiki also says that a deuterium fusing brown dwarf has to have at least 13 times the mass of Jupiter. Their mass is thus 13*1.9*10^27=24.7*10^27=0.0247*10^30
We want to know the relative position of the bary center. Wiki claims(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barycenter
) that the formula is
r1(distance from bary center of first mass) = 1(I want the relative distance so I use 1 or 100% for the total distance) * m2/(m1+m2)
I use the heaviest mass as m1, so r1 is the relative distance between the red dwarf and the bary center
r1=1*0.0247*10^30/(1.6 * 10^30kg+0.0247*10^30)=0.0152=1.52%
1.52% isn't that much. This would result in a max distance variation of 2*1.52%=3.04%, which is not that much, and wouldn't heavily change the climate I think.
For comparison if I calculate the same for the sun/Jupiter system:
Much smaller, but even a Max distance variation of 3.04% doesn't seems me enough to cause gigantic climate changes. The bary center math seems to be on the Cataphant's their side
Will Wright his games are also aimed at kids and casual gamers, so it shall off course be much easier and less complex to have live on a brown dwarf planet/moon in spore then in reality(just like cooling down Venus was much easier in Sim Earth then it would be in reality).
EDIT: I also found a site with the formula required to calculate the habitable zone around a planet(where water is liquid and live is possible) for a red dwarf of around 0.8 sun masses is it around 0.648 times the distance between the sun and the earth, also called 0.648 AU. At that distance would your planet have slightly more gravity from the red dwarf then earth has from the sun, but because the red dwarf also has only 80% of the sun it's mass shall it not be that much more and certainly not enough to turn your planet in a second IO, it is the brown dwarf his gravity and magnetism I worry about, but because your planet get it's heat from the red dwarf can it be far away from the brown dwarf.