Spore Galactic Adventures Q&A - New Improvements and the Adventure Editor

Lead producer Kip Katsarelis and software engineer Shalin Shodhan go in-depth on what to expect from this space-adventure expansion pack to Spore.

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Last year's highly anticipated Spore was released with much ado to fans who may not have found everything they wanted from the multistage evolution of a microscopic entity to a spacefaring tribe. But many players, particularly younger ones, dived into the creature creator editor, which lets you build a customized critter with as many arms, legs, and eyeballs as you care to graft onto it. And the huge universe of Spore is going to get huger with Galactic Adventures, a new expansion that will add role-playing-like "adventures," which are custom missions that resemble a single-player role-playing game. You can build these adventures yourself to explore and conquer them with RPG-character-like "captain" critters. For more details, we spoke with lead producer Kip Katsarelis and with software engineer Shalin Shodhan, who has devised a clever way to capture Flash-based "360" screenshots, which we have to share with you on the second page of this very story.

GameSpot: Give us an update on the progress of the game's development. What is the team working on now?

Kip Katsarelis: The last month has been really exciting. We've locked down and tuned all of our shipping missions and have really been focused on bug fixes, polish, and usability improvements. People have been busy building their own adventures and sharing them with the team. Every day there is a long chain of "Check out my adventure" e-mails. I can't believe what people are making. It's so much fun.

Galactic Adventures will let you make your own multipart missions.

GS: Tell us a bit about the captain system in Spore. This seems like a departure from the original game's focus on building up a race of critters. Now, with captains, players build up individual characters. What are these captains' abilities and attributes? How can they develop?

KK: Captains start out as regular creatures. By taking them into Space Game or starting them through Quick Play Adventures, they will set on the captain path. There are 10 levels for captains to go through, and they gain experience and rank by completing adventures. Their primary titles are based on their archetype, which are determined by playing the core game. Their secondary titles are based on the parts you equip them with. Captains earn new accessories and abilities each time they gain rank, so they can have at most 10 captain parts. There are 32 new accessories and abilities, so the idea is that players will have fun building lots of captains and trying different combinations of parts. We've also introduced a few new stats for captains. These include energy and shields. Many of the parts, like jump packs, require energy to use. Some of the new abilities include holo charm, stealth field, freeze blast, and summon swarm. Get ready to build your captain, gather your crew, and beam down to strange alien worlds.

GS: We understand that the adventures system will let players create, upload, and then play through different adventures with their captain characters. Is the idea that this will basically be a huge repository of episodic role-playing game adventures for people to play?

GS: We do role-playing really well, so I do expect a good number of them. The adventure creator is extremely robust and will allow creators to make a wide variety of adventures. We've been able to create action games, platformers, puzzles, and exciting racing games. We added leaderboards to every published adventure for a reason. We fully expect creators to make challenging games that do have replay value and push players to compete on the leaderboards. Earning a top-three score on an adventure will earn that player a trophy that will appear on their My Spore page. On the flip side, we think creators will make adventures that are simple galleries showing off all of their cool creations. Sort of like an interactive Sporecast. Then of course there are going to be the totally unexpected adventures that none of us could have predicted.

You can create adventures that require you to fight enemies, collect items, or just interact with other characters.

GS: We understand that adventures can have up to eight "acts." But just how huge can an adventure be? How much virtual real estate can be contained in an entire adventure?

GS: Yes, a single adventure can be up to eight acts, and they have an entire planet to play with. We do have a complexity limit for both planet editing and adventure building that will limit the amount of cast members that can be placed in an adventure. We've been pretty lenient with the complexity. It's amazing the amount of stuff one can cram onto a planet. If you haven't played it yet, you must check out Mother Ship Down. It's huge!

GS: How do these adventures lend themselves to capturing media? We understand that the team has come up with a way to capture 360-degree screenshots. How does this work?

Shalin Shodhan: The adventures made by the studio are really impressive. There's a lot of action, beautiful art and effects, so we came up with a way to showcase them by taking panoramic screens.


(Left-click and drag around the image to view this Flash 360 screenshot.)

The 360-degree screenshot technology works by taking six pictures inside the game where the camera is pointing in the six canonical directions. So, we take a picture of front, back, left, right, top, and bottom views at an interesting point in the adventure. These are then mapped onto the insides of a cube and presented inside a Web browser using Flash. This tool is not available in the shipping game, but we might consider making it available to players in a future patch.

There's a number of other capturing media supported by Spore Galactic Adventures as well. You can capture videos of the gameplay you create and share them to YouTube from within the game itself. You can also take screenshots of up to twice the resolution at which your game is running. Every time you save a Spore creation in any editor, including the Captain Outfitter, a 36 (or less) frame GIF file containing a summary of your edits gets saved in your Animated Avatars directory. You can also capture GIFs in the test-drive mode of the editor.

GS: Aside from hack-and-slash combat adventures, what other kinds of adventures can players build?

KK: The variety of adventures is unbelievable. We are shipping with 16 Maxis-made adventures. These were designed to show off the wide range of possibilities. In Concert in the Park, you must bring a band back together by following clues and finding the missing band members in order to get the show back on the road. Mr. Puzzles requires a sharp mind in order to get through the colored gates by finding the matching keys. Bahaha 500 is a time trial with numerous paths, shortcuts, power-ups, and obstacles--how fast can you get through?

GS: Spore was an outstanding game for younger players to dabble with, especially for the creature creator. What aspects of Galactic Adventures are being made more family-friendly?

KK: Our goal from day one was to make sure the adventure creator was as easy to use as our other creators. One of the things we've found is that the adventure creator is really a fun toy that anyone can use and will have an endless amount of fun with. Its simple drag-and-drop design, direct connection to Sporepedia, and its seamless transition from build to test mode really brings the sandbox back into Spore. It's a common scene around the office these days to see two to three people standing at someone's desk laughing hysterically at something they've built in the creator.

GS: And what aspects of Galactic Adventures are being designed for more-ambitious, serious players willing to commit some time and effort? For instance, how much depth awaits players in the adventure editor?


(Left-click and drag around the image to view this Flash 360 screenshot.)

KK: As I said, our goal was always to make sure the adventure creator was easy to use. However, this is the Spore team we're talking about, and we have to think big and about all types of customers. We know from the Spore creators we have a very active and talented community. They want the advanced features, so they can make the cool stuff for all to enjoy. It starts with our Advanced Panel, where creators can open an advanced UI panel for any cast member, exposing a wide variety of sliders, behaviors, team settings, speech balloons, and more. Here you can set a creature's health to invulnerable, change their speed, or increase their damage. Maybe you want to change a peaceful vehicle to aggressive so it attacks everything in sight or simply set a building to respawn when destroyed. If this isn't advanced enough for you, we have a Super Duper Advanced Behavior UI (working title) that can be accessed off the Advanced Panel. We've exposed our AI behavior system, pumped it up, and wrapped it in an easy-to-use UI, allowing full control of how and when creatures behave. We've been able to re-create capture-the-flag-style games played out by non-player characters.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about Galactic Adventures or the Spore series in general?

KK: The core elements of Spore--create, play, and share--are the foundation of Galactic Adventures. I can't wait to see what people do with this game and what creations they come up with. The possibilities are limitless, and I believe people will be pleasantly surprised by its ease of use. I'm ready to beam down. Are you?

Discussion

49 comments
Mr_Versipellis
Mr_Versipellis

Actually looks okay to me. Maxis are actually adding something interesting to a game post-release! However, I thought the new textures looked like something hailing from a sheep's backside...

Slig0
Slig0

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

LithuanianGamer
LithuanianGamer

I should get this for my little sister on her birthday she really likes spore

theR34p3R
theR34p3R

I just have to wait and see this... I'm not gonna get all excited over this as I was with Spore when it came out.

THA-TODD-BEAST
THA-TODD-BEAST

Spore should be renamed "Bore." Just an awful game. The creature creator was great fun, but the rest of it was not the least bit enjoyable.

Aegyss
Aegyss

To say that Spore is cartoony is silly simply because most of the content in the game is made by players. If it's too cartoony for you, make creatues that are more "realistic" or add friends that do.

nwonknU
nwonknU

Spore is so unique, I love it.

Vasot
Vasot

I do not like the cartoony style

torpedochicken
torpedochicken

plasmapillar have you ever tried... World of Warcraft *QUEUE DRAMATIC MUSIC*

eestiwe
eestiwe

Not the game for me(it doesn't suck, just isn't my type.)

VXLbeast
VXLbeast

Spore was sweet, but it almost rushed you thorough the game. It could have been fuller.

Plasmapillar
Plasmapillar

In Spore I have reached the center of the Galaxy, found Earth, deafeated the Grox, and reached Master Bagde level 10. I know I'm awesome. I know, I have no life.

Karrotjuce
Karrotjuce

I love spore... i always have, my review was a bit harsh, and this looks awesome!

Plasmapillar
Plasmapillar

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

gageagogo
gageagogo

they say you can only put 10 captain parts on the captain, but if you press CTRL+C it opens up a cheat menu. then, type "freedom" and there will no longer be a part limit =D

SonicSuporter
SonicSuporter

@leonsur No, they are saying that to show how much customization you can put into making levels, so they don't all have to be "Go here, kill these guys" or "Go here, find this." It shows it has more depth.

DJ_BRB
DJ_BRB

Wow O_O I want it so bad but it i need to wait till 23 Jun. =/

leonsur
leonsur

"In Concert in the Park, you must bring a band back together by following clues and finding the missing band members in order to get the show back on the road. Mr. Puzzles requires a sharp mind in order to get through the colored gates by finding the matching keys." Spore is dead.It's Ea's money making machine now.

Outer_Raven
Outer_Raven

The final piece to make spore a 5 stars game... I WANT LIGHTSABERS!!! :P

VENOM192
VENOM192

This is going to make me love SPORE all over again :)

humbugdude
humbugdude

So they finally realize the game doesn't live up to its hype and not a lot of hardcore gamers like it past the first week of gameplay. So they get down on their knees and milk the "civilizations" model some more and add more weapons. Read below, people are already reacting by saying they will be interested in the game for more than a few days at a time. Don't mess with RTS.

wswedin
wswedin

I frequently find myself playing spore once a week or more... this, might double or triple that. @Slig0 - In missions you can lead a bunch of troops to victory if you would like, I mean a lot of troops. Looks quite interesting.

ScionofEntropy
ScionofEntropy

It looks fun and all, but that trailer really annoyed me.

Slig0
Slig0

The only thing I would like to add to Spore is more complexity (especially in space stage). I mean, wouldn't it be better when you could land an army and conquer a planet with your forces instead of just flying around in a ship? I hope this expansion will fix that.

sub-raid
sub-raid

never thought i would love spore.

Daekness01
Daekness01

OMG! It comes out on my B'day! I am gonna buy this! Well it is good to see that they added more for spore. Because playing in space just become plain boring. But now it is Going to be Great!

chappy_man
chappy_man

lol why are all the side tabs GS now its making this a bit difficult to determine which side said what if you miss read or skip.

cheeserules5419
cheeserules5419

This will definitely add a LOT to Spore. It was fun for a few days, but it got old. This looks like it's shaping up quite nicely, though. P.S. I love how KK talks like he's in an ad for the game :P

gtfagan
gtfagan

This bites, I can't see the screenshots either and my flash player works fine for other panoramic shots like google street view. WTF? I have latest version of Flash Player 10. Suck.

God-Is-Dead
God-Is-Dead

[QUOTE="Einhanderkiller"]Sounds like what Spore should have been.[/QUOTE] Amen to that.

BLaZe462
BLaZe462

I like how Gamespot features the same 3 games every day.

Shaner258
Shaner258

It just looks like more watered down crap. Just listen to their description of their adventures. "reunite the band members." Knowing Spore, this will suck. You'll be wandering around a barren landscape trying to find these members.

Deadly_Fatalis
Deadly_Fatalis

I think they might have actually done a good job. This might actually get me to dust off my copy of Spore.

jumpy46
jumpy46

Is it just my computer or does the 360 veiws do not work for anyone? I have the latest version of Flash. The space stage was my favorite, and this will just make it better.

circile
circile

i will may be get it

Karrotjuce
Karrotjuce

looks sooooo cool, i cant wait for june 23