Playing Spore: A Lesson in Teabagging

Late last month I got a chance to sit down with Will Wright and a few other game writers to check out the full Spore. Having spent a week or so creating meatspace Fruit Fuckers, Spiders and a TickleMeKotaku, I was already pretty versed on the game's Creature Creator.

The full Spore, as we've talked about in detail before, is broken down into five phases which allow you to take a single-cell organism and run it all the way up the evolutionary ladder to a space-exploring civilization.

My concern, after watching the Spore demonstration in Leipzig last year, was that the game wouldn't live up to the spectacular creation tools that are so integral to Spore. I worried that it may be more of a series of toys strung together than a full-blown game.

My time with the game managed to ease some of those concerns.

Playing Spore: A Lesson in Teabagging

I decided to start Spore as you should, at the cellular level, controlling an organism floating aimlessly in a sea of life.

This stage of the game, which took me about 20 minutes to play through, felt an awful lot like flow. In it I moved my organism around avoiding larger critters and eating smaller ones. I also tried to find bits of meteorites to gobble up which would give me evolutionary abilities.

After enough attacks or gathering enough bits of rock I earned the DNA I needed to add on new bits to me creature. Initially I gave him a set of pincers for attacking, later I added a bulb that produced poison when he was attacked and extra limbs for faster swimming.

The game, like flow, took place among layers of a 2D environment in an almost through-the-microscope point of view. As I grew I floated up the layers towards the surface of the pool. Eventually, I was able to evolve and make it to land.

This initially cell level, while short, was quite fun to play.

Playing Spore: A Lesson in Teabagging

Once I made it to land, I was asked to modify my creature with a set of legs. Oblivious to the placement of his mouth, which pointed straight down, and his eyes, which pointed straight out, I accidentally misplaced my unfortunate creature's legs. When he took to land, I saw that his mouth jutted out straight down from his rounded torso. Imagine my surprise when my little mistake attacked his first creature with a series of short, angry squats... That's right, my new lifeform had to teabag people to kill them. Oh the humanity.

After getting over the initial shock of what I had just created, I spent an inordinate amount of time running around teabagging other unsuspecting creatures to death. You'd be surprised just how much time you can burn playing a game that allows you to kill things in that particular manner. I tried my best to get Wright's attention, to show him my creature, but I suspect he wanted nothing to do with it.

In this second phase you spend most of you time hunting for smaller creatures to complete quests of a sort and earn DNA and body parts. Again, fun to play, though a bit short lived.

Playing Spore: A Lesson in Teabagging

The next stage, which I didn't test out, is the Tribe stage which has you controlling an entire tribe of your creatures, issuing commands to them and evolving their technology. It's in this stage that you can create some pretty amazing buildings. I saw a collection of them and was blown away with what you can do. For instance, a factory made to look like a turn-of-the-century detective in an alley with trashcans nearby, the building's smoke coming out of the detective's pipe. Or a city building made to look like a young couple sitting on a park bench. It was pretty spectacular stuff.

Playing Spore: A Lesson in Teabagging







The game's final phase is space exploration, which I managed to tinker with for a few minutes. Long enough, at least, to see that space ships can also take any form, like a jumping Mario.

My time with the game was painfully shorty, enough to tantalize and perhaps put some fears to rest. Is it worth the price, likely, will it be the next Sims? Too early to tell.

Earlier in the day Wright told us that Spore was a way for him to "convey interesting concepts in fun ways" a game of an entire universe, something that makes a game editor a toy and becomes a "creativity amplifier."

With more than 1 million creatures already created with Spore's Creature Creator, and Wright expecting the number of creatures to exceed the population of Earth by launch time, I think it's fair to say Wright nailed what he was going for.