Spore Exclusive Hands-On: From Civ to Space to the Spore Secret Ending

Entire worlds are your oyster in the final stages of the anticipated strategy game from EA Maxis.

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Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos. These words from American philosopher Will Durant also hold true in the civilization stage of Spore, the upcoming strategy game from Will Wright and EA Maxis. We stopped by EA last week to get hands-on time with the civ stage as well as the final space stage as part of our exclusive coverage leading up to the September 7 release date. Be sure to check out our Spore Launch Center for additional coverage of the cell, creature, and tribal stages, plus a look at the game's innovative community features.

After your tribe conquers rival tribes in the surrounding area via wooden flutes, throwing spears, or a combination of both, the chieftain will see the need to create order among the ragtag group of villages and advance to civilization stage. Depending on the choices made in the cell, creature, and tribal stage, you will develop into an empire with one of three focuses: military, economic, or religious. The main goal of this stage is to convert, conquer, or purchase the other main cities that were established by other tribes on the planet.

The focus of the civ stage is in the city planner. Plan accordingly.

No matter what kind of civilization you are, the name of the game is still money. Spice is the world's most valuable resource, and spice geysers dot the planet's surface. The one who controls the spice geysers controls the world. To gain control of a geyser, simply send over one of your vehicles--created by you or ripped straight from one of the thousands of creations on the Sporepedia--and begin mining. Vehicles are rated in speed, armor, weapon strength, and religious-conversion power. In addition to menacing tanks and land cruisers, coastal cities will be able to develop naval vessels to reach sea-based spice geysers. The more spice geysers you own, the faster your treasury fills.

Early on, you're the only civilization on the planet and almost every geyser is yours for the taking. Soon other tribes will get civilized--some friendly, some hostile--and begin competing for spice. Your treasury will grow as you process the profits from spice trade, which is done automatically. That money can be spent in the city planner. The city planner is a multifaceted creator tool, very similar to the creature creator, with which you design your city hall, houses, factories, entertainment centers, decorative gardens, and statues. Houses let your population grow, factories increase your profits, and entertainment buildings keep your citizens happy after a long workday. Finally, defense turrets can be added to city walls to ward off would-be invaders.

We played as a religious civilization and immediately outfitted our boats and land vehicles with religious-propaganda accessories such as giant loudspeakers and horns. You have three options when you reach a new city: conquer, contact, and convert. By clicking convert, your vehicles will emit a hologram of a high priest who will preach to the city, slowly tipping the religion meter in your favor. Of course, no one likes being preached to, so the enemy city will begin to defend itself and start blowing up your vehicles. But with money from the spice trade continually rolling in, it's an easy process to buy more land vehicles and keep sending them over until the religious conversion is complete.

After half of the cities in the world are conquered, you'll gain access to aerial vehicles, which are also produced in the nifty vehicle-creator tool. Our planet featured three large landmasses, and our rocket-propelled vessels (shaped like dragonflies) were the only means of reaching the distant continents. The jets were not equipped with any religious tools, so we were forced to blast the final cities to smithereens by continually purchasing new jets and sending them into the fray.

Overall, the civ stage plays out like a very simplistic real-time strategy game in which you gather resources (spice), grow your population (build houses), and expand your territory (send vehicles to convert cities). When the final independent city on the planet surrendered unconditionally, the world was ours. But the world is not enough. It's time to advance to the space stage.

After you design your spacecraft (very similar to the vehicle creator, save for the much cooler arsenal of parts), your entire planet will bask in glory as it celebrates its new status as galactic explorer. The budding space travelers on your home planet have several simple missions to complete early on, such as opening up a trade route with an alien race or searching a strange planet for the wreckage of a downed spacecraft. Whereas the previous stages of Spore feature only one or two main goals, the space stage has several: discover the center of the galaxy; become a renowned trader with other races; expand your empire by colonizing and terraforming new planets; or simply explore the vast reaches of the galaxy. To fathom just how big space is, you zoom out from your home planet to the solar system to see your sun. Then scroll all the way out to see the entire galaxy, composed of millions of stars. Orbiting around many of these stars are planets, more than four million in total.

Initially, however, you begin in the neighboring solar systems, trying to open trade routes with new species. Some will agree right away, whereas others will ask that you perform missions to prove your worth as a trading ally. One race asked us to whisk off to a distant planet and retrieve several types of plants known to have healing properties. Using our trusty abduction beam, we quickly filled our cargo hold with trees, bushes, and even a few species for our own personal study. Another race simply asked us to kill five innocent creatures with our onboard lasers. Keep in mind that these missions, unlike space, do not exist in a vacuum. There will be consequences with other species if you encroach on their territory and abduct valuable artifacts or, even worse, innocent pedestrians milling about in their cities.

Your spaceship is equipped with only standard weapons, radar, and scanning ability, but you'll quickly earn new, more-valuable parts as you complete missions and earn badges. Aside from a repair rating, your ship is powered by energy, and every bit of space travel will drain the gas tank. To refill, simply head to your homeworld or colonies for a free refill, or you can purchase energy and repairs from friendly species. Your ship's energy level will limit you to jumping from system to adjacent system, but later, technology upgrades will let you traverse a much larger portion of space in one warp jump.

This is one planet... of four million.

Colonies can be formed on many planets, but not all of them are suited for life. On one volcanic planet, we planted a colony next to a large, yellow spice geyser, but the colony couldn't expand because the terrain was too hostile and we didn't have enough terraforming points to transform this fiery rock into an Eden. But if you finish enough missions and purchase terraforming tools and parts upgrades, you'll be running your own Genesis Project in no time. Exploring new worlds will also lead to the discovery of extremely rare items, and you can show off these trophies of exploration to your friends who are also playing through the space stage.

Finally, EA did confirm that there is a secret ending to Spore, but the company said that only the most hardcore players will discover it. Does that mean you'll learn the true nature of the universe once you discover the center of the galaxy? Begin seeding new worlds with your own cells to restart the process of evolution? We'll find out when Spore finally hits stores on September 7.

Discussion

285 comments
_I_oblivion_I_
_I_oblivion_I_

i cant wait to play this game ive been waiting for a long time for this.

agustbestur
agustbestur

It gets kinda boring when u get to space stage

agustbestur
agustbestur

It gets kinda boring when u get to space stage

graymic
graymic

ive been to the center in this game all i can say is ARGGGGG :O get this game its a never ending sandbox :D i was at 2nd rank in space stage with 4 mil the trick for anyone who hasnt realised yet is deal spices ie green to those that dont have green zones and you can sell for around 10k instead of something like 300. :P

Brad_jack212
Brad_jack212

I wonder what is at the middle of the universe? Maybe a horde of mosters that look like will wrights head!!

Bigj687
Bigj687

this game looks like a rediculous amount of Fun. Do you win by capturing all 4 million planets? And can your space age nation come upon a more primitive nation and destroy them with technology? That'd be sick, and make the game all the more worth buying.

medic4hire
medic4hire

Surely it will be a new evolution in gaming.

shifty86
shifty86

September 7? I work for a apple reseller company and I just received Spore, i'll be putting it on the retail shelf soon......when I feel like it haha

Dragonclaws1191
Dragonclaws1191

Tinz: There has been controversy about SecuROM already and EA has said that Spore will NOT have SecuROM.

Tinz
Tinz

Spore uses SecuROM that limits the game to 3 activations. SecuROM was charged by the FTC in 2007 for hiding secretive and limiting software on music CDs. The same is happening again with computer games. Shame on them and shame on EA for tricking its customers by avoiding the appropriate labeling. http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/01/sony.shtm

Zennious
Zennious

This game is so much fun I suggest you all pick it up. Talk about an experience like no other, all of these different aspects of all of these different genres all under the hood of this disc.

adupuis
adupuis

I have all realy preoder it. I am looking forword geting it. this game going be great.

Raiden8
Raiden8

Hmmmm, A storyline or sth would have made it more interesting.

uberjannie
uberjannie

they have already shipped it to me.. I will get it tomorrow =o)

brodeek
brodeek

First review is out: yup.lordofdance.com/SPORE-PCPowerPlay.pdf It's from PC PowerPlay one of Australia's best-selling PC games magazines.

rockatanski
rockatanski

Lol thanx Devigod. I really needed to know that ;)

DevigodofRocc
DevigodofRocc

Isn't the secret ending already on the pedia? I think it was something about a robotic race known as the Grob. Not unlike Star Trek's Borg or even Dune's Thinking Machines. Probably go through your own Kralizec at the end.

Ychi
Ychi

Ah that is the perfect Dune reference. I love it! Ok next... "The sleeper must awaken!" Oohhh even better, perhaps after all your manipulation there will be the "the one" the Kwisatz Haderach that will really kick start the whole race. Hmm interesting.

MysticDynamite
MysticDynamite

For all those who are saying that the three-install limit resets if you uninstall it, you can't do that. It doesn't work. Read this. Although it pertains to Mass Effect, Spore uses the same copy protection software. http://consumerist.com/tag/mass-effect-DRM/?i=5016980&t=ea-allows-3-activations-of-mass-effect-and-thats-it-period I'll still get this game nonetheless. Everything so far sounds great, especially the Galactic Stage. I only hope the City Stage isn't too simplistic.

rubs10
rubs10

Ha, I bet by hardcore they mean "He who has a colony on every single damn planet" I'm going all the way. But yet... 4 million? That's like... the rest of the next 2 years. I guess the colonization process may speed up as time goes on.

ZacherWol19
ZacherWol19

Something tells me this game is gonna be very good and it's probably cause when diablo 2 came out i would get shivers at the end of the article and i loved that game i still play it and this is what happens when i finish reading a spore article. Or it could just be a coincidence that i would get a chill each time at the end of the article :)

Sir_Hobo
Sir_Hobo

"The one who controls the spice geysers controls the world." Seems to me a lot like, "He who controls the spice, controls the universe." from Dune.

IXIWhistIXI
IXIWhistIXI

The over advertising of this game makes me scared. It could be they decided to advertise... a lot ... because people lost interest in the game...but it could also be that the game its self really isn't much past the creature creation. I"m going to wait till it gets some positive reviews before I consider purchasing it.

kupo313
kupo313

Please don't be newbs. The game is going to be amazing. Thanks.

duanermc
duanermc

Demo coming anytime soon????

samsungx360
samsungx360

bangell99 talks sense. lets all hope it will be a hit..

bangell99
bangell99

I think the game will be good, but in applying itself in so many areas, it doesn't really excel in any one.

Naridar
Naridar

Actually, this may turn out 2 ways. One is a total failure, over-simplified or impossible sequences, messed up controls, etc. The other one (which has more chance of happening) is a all-time-ultrahit Game-of-The-Year Spore. I hope it turns out REALLY good.

Naridar
Naridar

Actually, this may turn out 2 ways. One is a total failure, over-simplified or impossible sequences, messed up controls, etc. The other one (which has more chance of happening) is a all-time-ultrahit Game-of-The-Year Spore. I hope it turns out REALLY good.

TagDaze
TagDaze

I can't help but appreciate the Dune references. The spice must flow.

brodeek
brodeek

"Overall, the civ stage plays out like a very simplistic real-time strategy game in which you gather resources (spice), grow your population (build houses), and expand your territory (send vehicles to convert cities)" I have very high expectations with this game, but I'm a bit worried that its going to be overly simplistic at every stage. Hopefully it wont.

Pomn
Pomn

looks awesome!!!!

xmen1414
xmen1414

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Raphster
Raphster

it doesnt matter what the game industry will do concerning piracy. there are still people out there who can beat the system. and about the part on being caught? i think that only applies to people who live in 1st world countries. woohoo for me!!

typeRseries
typeRseries

jus give em a chance since this game is unique...if you really have major problems with the new security system then don't buy any more EA games in the future

8NP4iN
8NP4iN

hows is gonna be the online play? you just share creatures? or we go agaisnt/together online in the space age?

prototype24red
prototype24red

cant wait preordered a while ago at bestbuy.com Spore Username: bosoxown24 Check it out

seriousturtle
seriousturtle

i'll also be taking off monday. just did a reformat, fresh install of xp sp3, just to have everything squeaky clean.

Squall_gunbl
Squall_gunbl

all I'm gonna say is that once this is installed, my pc is gonna be stiff in regards to any upgrades, changes, or accidents that might happen. No turning back.

arun_pullat
arun_pullat

Let me go into a little greater depth on what EA seems to be doing - they are generating what is known in the anti-piracy industry as a "Machine ID". It enumerates specific machine unique numbers (such as your network adapters physical address, your Windows installation number etc) to generate a final hash of sorts. Every time you install a new registration of Windows, or change some major hardware (which honestly doesn't happen all that often), this value changes - and it effectively looks like a new PC. I believe they're not actually targeting folks with a low number of installs (say less than 5), but actually subscriptions with unusually large numbers - say more than 10 (pirated versions can touch thousands). These users are likely to be "frozen" from accessing online content, though how it'll impact offline play I don't really know. To summarize, if you haven't bought the licenses for the game legally, you'll be caught. A lot of companies actually do this already, they keep this information in their back-end servers, but now it seems EA are beginning to act on the data.

marius068
marius068

think of it this way 90% of the gaming world wouldn't even know EA if it wasn't for free downloading cause lets face it their games are everything but cheap

shaunamus
shaunamus

i would also like to say what about if i want to install the game on two PCs in my house so that if someone else is using one PC for whateer reason i can still go play on the other PC, but this stupid install rule wont allow me to do this is put me of buying the game. f**k EA

shaunamus
shaunamus

i think EA are being stupid with this i no that if they lock my copy im just gonna go and download it if iv bought the game it should be up to me how many times im allowed to uninstall and install it on my PC, and to lock it after hardware changes in my computer is perthetic i dont want to have to go to all the hassle of contacting them and waiting 3 years or whatever for them to reply, its not on.

axokaine
axokaine

Geez, just buy the game, install and play and shut up about it!!!

axokaine
axokaine

Well the sad fact of the matter is guys, a lot of the people on here who are griping about the 3-install limit are also the people who screwed EA into having to do this. I don't blame them. You can't do anything without someone wanting to screw you and take advantage. In a perfect world, everyone would buy their own copy but this is a far from perfect world. EA is the best gaming company in the world and after everything they've brought us I'm behind them 100% and still plan to buy this game. If you're a true gamer and EA supporter, they're gonna help you if you've screwed up your 3x limit. Trust me.