So, I got myself on the full version of Spore for one very long night. I de-installed it right after I got to the civilization stage because I found it very addictive and I’ve decided to buy it. In fact, there is a special edition I fancy. So Spore is defiantly on my “to-buy” list as soon as I get some time.

Here are some quick insights:

  • The game runs amazingly smooth and bug-free, even on my aged machine. This was my biggest concern and I’m floored that it works so well.
  • The game is basically a collection of 5 “mini”-games with harsh cuts in-between including radical (in a bad way) interface changes, loading screens, different rules, different content, etc. I was wondering how Spore would manage the transition between the stages and I’m a bit disappointed that it didn’t.
  • Each one of the “mini”-games is loosly based on a major strategy game genre but much less complex. Although I advocated not to be afraid of simplicity, already in my first play I could see how simplicity is limiting the game. For example, I like the first, rogue-esque amoeba-stage but it just dosen’t involve ANY serious strategic decisions. I have some ideas on making a more sophisticated amoeba-spore stage in flash.
  • Although the creature editor is great in many way, its major flaw is that its impact on gameplay is largely cosmetic. I understand that this is a difficult dilemma in designing this kind of game and I guess it still works this way. In the end however, besides fueling Intelligent Design delusions, it also presents a picture of evolution of being mostly irrelevant with some more profound “god-given” rules directing the development and behavior of life regardless of it. So my creatures can be whatever the color I choose and have mouths on their asses but they can’t live in water, are alway symmetrical, have roughly the same size, reproduce sexually, always lay eggs, have nests, (strangely in completely unprotected areas) and are judged ONLY by how ether “agressive” or “peacefull” they are.
  • There are still some great moments like the point where you get to the tribal stage and suddenly instead of fighting the other creatures in a rogue-like style, you can hunt them down like in Age of Empires.

So Spore features very simplistic (too simplistic?) gameplay with a lot of disappointingly patronizing rules on how your creatures MUST turn out. However, the technical execution is great and I think simply sharing the inventions with other players can be enough to play it once in a while. I can see how user generated content can infuse any kind of game with a layer of fascination. So in the end: Do want!

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

One response to “Spore”

  1. sirleto

    thanks for your view/insights :)


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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