And still haven’t seen anything like it
This is a continuation of my break from the multi-article series “Digital Museum”. I just thought maybe one break per article isn’t enough, so I’m trying a week.
Anyways, it was near the end of 2008, a time when video games were more bent on innovation and revolution over petty cash grab gimmicks that define 98% of every app store out there today. Although, to some extent, the same could be said about the AAA games around the same time (especially with the whole loot box controversy). But this one game, in particular, stood out as pretty unique even to this day, as I haven’t yet seen a game that lets you create creatures the way this game did. The game I’m talking about is none other than Spore.
In about 3 years, Spore made a name for itself as yet another title promising to be the next big revolution in gaming. I have explored this concept too many times only to discover how these games always fall short of expectations (at least the ones I reviewed). However, Spore was a special case in that it had an intricate system that allowed you to easily create complex 3d objects (creatures, buildings, etc.) and animate them. Not like character customisation in a 2-cent MMORPG or whatever building system Minecraft has built into it, but something more complex than either of those. More so, the game actually sold well, with the publishers claiming that it sold over 2 million copies, and critical reviews were also good. Despite these accomplishments, most people will know/remember the game “that game that’s bad because it had DRM in it”. Basically, the game was met with harsh criticism by consumers, mainly because of the controversial DRM system implemented and that the early stages of the game were lacklustre. I really enjoyed this (mainly because of the creative expression), so I have no idea what’s anyone talking about.
A lot to say but never enough space (not just outer space)
There’s a lot to say about Spore, how it could’ve been something that would dominate the market in less than a decade. Still, with a controversial launch and an abysmal spinoff that effectively ruined whatever reputation the franchise had left, it’s safe to say that Spore is all but abandoned at this point. But it was fun while it lasted, and although I wish I could’ve seen more of it, its theoretical success is not the issue to talk about (naturally, since these are never the focus of my articles). For a game that spans over aeons, since you start as a microbe swimming in the primordial soup all the way to the first time you blast off into space, it vaguely shows the different communication techniques employed during the various stages.
Microbes devour each other; animals dance and roar; people offer gifts or declare war. These elements are more or less apparent when you consider that the game tells a tale of evolution. Although the game relies on a combination of gibberish and “image bubbles” (speech bubbles that have pretty pictures instead of speech) to tell the characters’ mood, none of these communication elements is used to their fullest potential.
Consumers claimed that gameplay was lacklustre, as I clearly said earlier. Per the theme of this article, I would say that one of the game’s aspects that could’ve been done better would be the communication aspect. The problem isn’t a misunderstanding caused by linguistic differences but a design flaw.
Something that should’ve been solved at the beginning
At this point, I’d probably just say that it needs to be in French or something like that. Of course, aliens don’t speak French. But then again, neither did anyone else in Spore. That’s because the problem this time happened because the developers overlooked a thing or two. I’m just going to come up with what I think could’ve been done better regarding communication. Though it might not be perfect, it doesn’t matter because the franchise is more or less, but I’ll do it for fun anyways.
So I have no problem with the microbe stage since they don’t have many communication techniques. The animals are a bit more complex, but like real animals, their techniques mainly depend on how big or colourful their features are, so I don’t have anything else to say in that regard. If anything, maybe the 4th stage was a bit too streamlined in how it portrayed communication since there probably could’ve been more than forcing others in the world to submit to your religion.
Then again, I can’t really think of anything that’s entirely out of place. If I had to say anything, there should’ve been a feature that included language barriers, as in you wouldn’t be able to communicate with other cultures if you didn’t know their language. This would add some degree of intricacy to the gameplay, further giving you the feeling that you’re talking to a foreign civilisation. It might not be as immersive, but if it did happen, then consumers would probably have one less reason to say that the gameplay is lacklustre. In the end, I suppose the subject was about languages… in a way.
Are there any people that remember this game?
I suppose some people like me out there wish they could’ve seen a sequel, which is unlikely to happen at this point. If you think you have something that could’ve made the game better, be sure to voice it. Also, if you remember playing this game, tell us what your impression of the game was when there was still hope for it. Although you’ll probably realise it in retrospect, that’s good because that’s when you realise that what you liked as a high school senior wasn’t as great as you thought it was. Not Spore specifically… but maybe something else?
If you’re into creative expression and exotic creatures, then you’d probably want to give Spore a chance. Although note that it’s a relatively old game, it might not be in good taste for people who prefer contemporary games. On the other hand, if you’re looking for stimulating gameplay, then maybe this isn’t the game for you.
Again, I wish I could’ve seen more of the game, and it’s sad to see what became of it. The project, as a whole, has a lot of exciting history, and it was pretty ambitious in its approach. But I suppose that mistakes happened along the way that prevented all the relevant parties from achieving whatever they tried to achieve. Maybe they have greater success with a parallel universe, but that’s not something that I’m bound to find out in this life.
I think that we can all agree that EA is a terrible company. I mean, it HAS to be their fault.