Spore on the Floor at Leipzig

We try our hand at creating new creatures with a hands-on demo of the creature editor in Spore.

by

The focus of the 2006 Leipzig Games Convention is largely on European publishers, but that hasn't stopped American publishing giant Electronic Arts from drawing a substantial crowd with playable demos of games like Crysis, Need for Speed: Carbon, and Spore. As much as we're fans of guns and cars, we decided to check out Spore first. After all, the game is the brainchild of the one and only Will Wright, whose last original project turned out to be one of the best-selling video games of all time.

The only playable portion of Spore at the Games Convention is the creature editor. Without any previous experience with the game, we made an adorable little abomination of nature, using just a mouse, in a matter of minutes. Simplicity is the theme with the Spore interface, making it very easy to create a wide variety of custom creatures.

You begin with a simple, colorless blob with a spine. You can click individual vertebrae on the spine to make each one thicker or thinner, and you can lengthen the spine by pulling on the ends with the cursor. There are constraints on the size of your creature, although it's one of the only limitations we encountered while using the creature editor. Once you have the general shape of the body, you can begin to add appendages and organs.

Working down the list of item categories on the left side of the screen, you'll start by adding a mouth. There are a few dozen mouths to choose from, including mouths with pincers, suckers, sharp teeth, and plain old humanlike lips. Each mouth has a different attribute that will affect the stats of your creature. A large mouth full of teeth, for example, might give your creature plus-10 points to its biting ability. The type of mouth also affects whether your creature will be a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore. You can place as many mouths as you see fit on your creature, and you can place them wherever you want. If you want a four-armed creature with pincers on its elbows and eye stalks on the back of its knees, you can go ahead and create one.

Sensory organs are added next, which are just as varied as the mouths. You can cover your creation with ears, antennae, eyeballs, pig snouts, and so on. The items that are placed in pairs are automatically arranged symmetrically. In fact, you can make a single pig nose split in half so that one nostril is on one side of your creature and the other nostril is on the other side. Just as with all the other items, you can adjust the angle and size of every eye, ear, nose, and mouth you place.

Of course, it doesn't matter how many body parts your creature has if it can't get around to find food and evade predators. This is where the arms and legs come in. This is the most limited of the item categories in the game, with a dozen or so different arms and legs to choose from. Most of the limbs look the same, but each one has unique attributes to consider when building your creature. Once placed, you can click on each joint to arrange its position in relation to the other joints and the rest of the body. The legs and arms affect your creature's movement, attack, and speed--all of which are important factors in determining how your creature will behave and survive in the actual game.

Arms and legs aren't very handy without hands and feet, but Spore has you covered in that department. There are dozens of hands and feet available to choose from. There are hands with five thin, dexterous fingers, hands with stubby bumps that might well be thumbs, and clawed paws that are clearly made for attacking rather than grasping. These items are placed on the end of legs or arms, and if you place a foot on the end of an arm, that foot will automatically become a hand. Oddly enough, the type of hand you choose affects your creature's social skills.

Some of the most interesting creatures you'll find featured in National Geographic or on the Discovery Channel are creatures that possess some sort of extreme defense or hunting mechanism, like the skunk, angler fish, or chameleon. These sorts of evolutionary oddities are commonplace in Spore, because you can give weapons to any creature you make. Among the weapons we saw were a hard clublike appendage, jets capable of squirting out venom or other chemicals, and items with purposes unknown.

The final touch before you slap on the first coat of paint is the special items. These items don't seem to have any affect on your creature's behavior; they're there to add a bit of flair to your creation. There are flowers, leaves, fins, and spikes. The creatures look distinct enough with all the other available customization options, but the special items are one more step in making sure that every creature is one of a kind.

After you've assembled your own personal freak of nature, you can give it some color using the very simple texturing tool in the game. You can choose a base and highlight color, as well as a handful of different patterns, in just about any color you like. There are also about half a dozen preset themes in the game if you can't decide on a color scheme.

Once you have your creature built and ready for action, you can click the play button in the top left corner of the screen to see your creature in a more natural environment. You get a small patch of land to explore, and you can move around at your leisure and issue commands such as attack, defend, and play. Using this tool, you can determine if your creature behaves as you want it to before sending it out into the real game world. If you don't like something, you can tweak it with a quick click or two of the mouse.

From start to finish, it took us less than 10 minutes to create a fully functional creature using the in-game editor. You could certainly spend much more time than that, though, depending on how detailed you want to get. That you can create a creature without ever using anything more than a single mouse button is impressive, and it's fun to experiment with different body parts, configurations, and designs to see how it ends up. We're looking forward to getting some hands-on time with the rest of the game, so be sure to check GameSpot often for updates. Also, don't forget to check out all the new screenshots, previews, trailers, and interviews from this year's Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany.

Discussion

104 comments
ninn1000
ninn1000

I heard that the game isn't coming out until the start of the next marketing year. I also can't wait! The annoying thing is there still is no real release date so I can't preorder it at gamestop yet. Grr I'm annoyed!

Santa155
Santa155

The thing is, Spore is most likely about ready to be released at this point in time already, so it's sad there isn't an editor or demo to play around with. Will Wright has said numerous times that they're 'polishing' the game, so that they don't 'drop the ball on it'. When it really comes down to it, I'd be a lot happier if they hadn't announced Spore as early as they did, and the first peek at Spore game a false idea of how much work was still to be done. EA shouldn't have announced Spore till around now, or even begin 2008.

Fyre93
Fyre93

This game is going to be one of the best of all time. the only reason I made a gamespot account was to track this game lol. And this is one of the only games i have actually kept rtrack of for over a year waiting for it. To SPORE! i tip my hat.

gavink
gavink

i wish they would bring out a demo

redfury0101
redfury0101

I am looking forward to this game since its all about user created content

cdodo
cdodo

I don't care what anyone says about this game's graphics...i like it makes the game seem more, simple (for lack of a better word) and i like that. and besides the game play should make up for the graphics (which aren't that bad...kind of a stylistic feel too it). The game play will rock or all of us will be pissed and WW is going to get it, only if the game is not even close to any of our expectations. and it should meet our expectations its taken YEARS!! to make. P.s you think WW would have a demo version or something for all of us obsessed people...even just the creature editor would be nice.

horse_lover101
horse_lover101

So, from what I can see, this game is basically going to be revolutionary. (My only regret is that its coming from someone who's already rich and famous enough) But when you spend so much development time on gameplay styles and expansive-ness, its easy to see why the graphics were/ are going to be over looked. It would've taken much more time trying to make this game realistic, that Mr. Wright probably just decided it wasn't worth the time and effort to get it to appeal to that type of gamer. Perhaps one day he'll make a realistic sequel... which would be awesome... but I doubt it. We'll all just have to enjoy the game for what it is and get off the beaten path a bit, if you catch my drift.

HvyMetlhed
HvyMetlhed

I haven't been this excited for a game in years. I really hope it ends up being as good as it sounds.

sadcow
sadcow

Why do good looking games have to take so long.....well so they can make it better but still the suspense is killing me.

Kebn
Kebn

forget graphics, this looks amazing

Limes20
Limes20

This game is soooo going ta rock the gaming community and maybe even the bio-science community! Even rocket scientists can play it well. The gameplay is one of a kind but kinda like a distant relative of Sims 2 and Black & White. I am definitely gonna get this game when it comes out. Never mind the outdated graphics, the gameplay compensates very well and hey, there's still half a year to develop it so it may get better...........

D-Tyrael
D-Tyrael

I repeat my coment: FORGET STARCRAFT 2!!! (if it ever comes) im making my Zerg/Prottoss hybrids NOW!!!

master7151
master7151

yeah, u know, the graphics may be a bit outdated, but that really just adds to the appeal of the game. There is so much new content that is gonna be in this game, the graphics area small part. And really, they arent that bad, so dont go putting down the game.

dark-zazo
dark-zazo

I've been looking to some cool screenshots lately and, apart from the gameplay wich is truly amazing, I'm a little concerned about the graphics. As it looks like from my first impression they are kind of outdated... well scarce I may say. If my fears are proven true, then this game will lack the 'greatness' in it...

Padillaman
Padillaman

Wow, can't wait this looks amazing. Heard about this on Colbert and now i'm pumped. Also does anyone know if you can make bird/flying creatures with wings or is this water and land creatures only?

Firndeloth
Firndeloth

Here's to a marvelous game in August/September! I'm excited about the scope of the game... and the fact that my creature could end up wondering around other user's plannets terrorising or running from their creations.

TheMarker
TheMarker

This will be the greatest game ever, so many possibilities =D. I just cant wait to end of summer next year....

games4i
games4i

When the hell is this game going to come out? WTF?

flubagalub
flubagalub

I'm really looking forward to this game!

iamsteve0o0
iamsteve0o0

OMG!!! I CANT WAIT 4 THIS 2 COME OUT!!! its gonna ROCK! also, is there a monthly subscription? cause i dont think so.

deathmonkey13
deathmonkey13

WW is shooting to make the game to the best of his ability and if you speed up the process then things could go awry. I would much rather get it later with more features and better gameplay than to get it early and it be a dud with too many bugs and problems. Probably my guess for the Q3 release would be that WW is trying not to rule out the holidays.

jmaceman
jmaceman

wtf q3 havent they been making this for like years, seriously i think its going to be the best game ever but cmon q3 wtf will wright, speed it up cus people will lose interest

awia
awia

how can you not like this game? I havnt heard one gamer say they dont. I cant wait

Murpheus007
Murpheus007

And the best part of all, it's coming to a console near you. I did not want to have to update my computer just to play this game. Because I would have.

shadowhunter0
shadowhunter0

thats cool i wish i was there 2 use the editor :(

zeroxv3
zeroxv3

Awsome, I can't wait till this game comes out. even though it won't be out for a while....

rangerwcl
rangerwcl

How about snake like movement instead of just legs? Did Will Wright consider that? COBRA!!!!!!!!!!!

Howzer123
Howzer123

Will Wright has said that he wanted an aquatic race possibility, but that it had to be put aside until an expansion, because of time contraints.

anjul
anjul

I like your point Snacky. Speaking of locomotion, what about slithering like a snake?? (Hydralisk!!) I also see no hairy animals on the site, only scaly and naked ones. I know that abundant hair through any means isn't exactly kind to processing speed, but there are ways in which at least SOME fuzzyness can be added. Also, is it required to move to land to begin the tribal phase and continue on?? What if I want to make an aquatic race. I'd also like to see some more advanced options as to modeling the creature, for those of us who have the experience and will to do vertex manipulation and texturing. Then again.... people did some pretty.....'interesting' things with those options in Second Life.... I doubt Will Wright wants to bring that to spore.

snackypixel
snackypixel

So far, I notice that for terrestrial movement there are accomodations for legs as a method for locomotion, but what about wings? or sluglike locomotive movements? What about projectile based defenses? I mean if we are really getting into the evolution of it, lets push it. I am thinking Hawk Men, Flash gordon I am thinking Jabba the Hutt, Star wars I am thinking the Blob, The Blob

mrbass208
mrbass208

Viva Will Wright!!! Viva Spore!!!

FoxmanZEO
FoxmanZEO

The most impressive point is how seemingly effortlessly the game copes with all of the customisation, and can create quite beleivable movements from scratch with such akward and sometimes ridiculous designs. As for the gameplay, I'd like to use a simple quote: "Black and white let you play god, but this lets you play his daddy." -The pib.

Rusty2004
Rusty2004

""This game looks so boring."" Always some1 against the mainstream. guess this game is no exeption , aint it?? :P Personally, i cant wait to have this on my hands, BRING IT ON WILL Rusty_1

mister_mister
mister_mister

This game looks like one that I would play for a long time.

robmuzz
robmuzz

To be honest, just give me the creature editor and I'd be happy! :P

Chaos_KnightX
Chaos_KnightX

This game will be awesome imo. Firstly it already looks so darn good ^_^ Second, It's still a year off T_T, not so good but that means more time to fix any mistakes and problems before the final release. Third - Since Almost all the content is player made (and pollenated into other PC's) that means more people can be allocated for coding and scripting as opposed to models and textures. While the game doesnt have top notch graphics just remember that Maxis inteded this game to be playable by a wide audience; In many of the presentations a laptop with less than beefy specs was being used. Also a deal of processing will already be needed for procedural animation (i.e. animation generated on the fly) As long as they dont push the release date back....again.... YAY! (it went from end of this year, to start of next year, to early next year, to mid next year)

AntoniustheGrey
AntoniustheGrey

Yeah, spore sounds great, it's just so interesting, I wonder how it's going to be...

RonuX
RonuX

i just hope this game will become into something as cool as it is sounding...

MightyCowM
MightyCowM

This game looks so fantastic. I really hope that it doesn't turn into a Black & White, where all the great new ideas just aren't very fun to play or easy to use.

pad69
pad69

My grandma taught me to and I quote her..."don't count your chickens before they hatch" I think I will heed her advice once again. :)

MatchLegacy
MatchLegacy

Trenken is one of those people who cause bad games to be developed. He cares more about graphics than gameplay. :-p

Mox_Firefox
Mox_Firefox

This game is gonna be so cool... It's going to take so long for it to come out and im sure it will be delayed... I just hope they will release a demo real fast :P. Can't wait

the-pib
the-pib

This is everything I've wanted to do with a game. Black and White let you play God but THIS lets you play his daddy :) Blasphemous!

eiru
eiru

can't wait for it!