We only have one warning for the thousands of custom Spore creatures that will begin showing up on YouTube on June 17: Leave Britney alone. Will Wright's upcoming creation features direct integration with the online video/social networking site, and you will be able to seamlessly upload videos from the game to the Web with the touch of a button. Broadcast yourself, broadcast your creature.
The Creature Creator is just one of many creation tools you'll find in Spore throughout the five main stages: cell, creature, tribe, civilization, and space. EA decided to showcase the Creature Creator instead of a custom planet or spacecraft builder because players seemed to care most about their personalized monsters. So EA will release the Creature Creator on June 17, allowing players to queue up several creatures in anticipation of Spore's release on September 7. In addition to YouTube, Spore will feature several other community-building features, such as the ability to snap postcards and e-mail them to friends. All creatures will be added to the Sporepedia, a user-generated encyclopedia of all things Spore. What's more, other players' creatures will be automatically downloaded and inserted into your game so you'll see how your beast fares against other community creations.
We stopped by Maxis this week to create a creature of our own. The interface is surprisingly intuitive, a combination of dragging and dropping body parts on a spinal column then tweaking and turning them just so until your creation looks like a brainstorming session straight out of Monsters Inc. We're lovers not fighters, so we set out to create a social beast. We added the whalephant mouth that features a strong singing bonus (great for mating calls) and has small tusks for a minor attack bonus. We added two sets of arms (for hugging) and croak masseuse hands (for late night massages). Our beast was sensual, so we added two more senses: a pair of ears (connected to its knees) and a nose on its chest. Finally, we added a shark fin, a pair of fairy wings for a glide bonus, and four eyes for our viewing pleasure.
By now, our creature had filled up the complexity meter--you're only allocated a set amount of DNA points to purchase these evolutionary upgrades. But it paid off because our creature had strong eyesight, hearing, sense of smell, and a decent speed rating. While its attack was only ranked at a seven, its social rating was a staggering 20, so it should be a hit at any party. There's also an extensive paint feature if you want to spend time with the Photoshop-like tool, but we opted instead to go with a preset green paint job, helping our creature to blend in with the leaves it will surely be eating.
Finally, our creature needed a name. It was sociable, had a great mating call, and was clearly a crooner--a monstrous version of Frank Sinatra. In honor of Ol' Blue Eyes, we called our creature Cumflywithme. Now complete, we decided to see it in action in the test-drive stage of the Creature Creator. Here, you can direct your creature to sing, dance, flex its muscles, or any number of cute activities worth uploading to YouTube. Once saved, Cumflywithme was added to the Sporepedia where it will remain, ready to invade your PCs with love, affection, and song.
We had our doubts when we learned that the full version of the Creature Creator would cost $10 (a free trial version will be packaged with the upcoming SimCity Box or be available for download at Spore.com.) Why not just offer the creator for free to get more gamers excited about Spore? The good news is that the Creature Creator is packed with content. Also, both Target and Amazon.com will offer a $5 rebate toward your purchase of Spore. Of course, the Creature Creator will be included in the retail game if you can hold out until September, but those looking to get into Spore sooner will find a feature-rich starting point with the Creature Creator on June 17.