Be a god in Spore
After reaching the space phase, players can visit other players' planets, and interact with other players' species, tribes and civilizations.
Via the in-game "MySpore Page", players receive statistics of how their creatures are faring in other players' games, which has been referred to as the "alternate realities of the Spore metaverse." The game reports to the player on how other players interacted with them (for example, how many times other players allied with their species). The personalities of user-created species are dependent on how the user played them.
The Sporepedia is a major part of the game. It keeps track of nearly every gameplay experience, including the evolution of a creature by graphically displaying a timeline, showing how the creature incrementally changed over the eons; it also keeps track of the creature's achievements, both noteworthy and dubious, as a species. The Sporepedia also keeps track of all the creatures, planets, vehicles and other content the player encounters over the course of a game. Players can also upload their creations to Spore.com to be viewed by the public at the Sporepedia website.
There is a difficulty selector to each stage, allowing players to choose the difficulty for each part of the game. Spore defaults to the easiest level. The first four phases of the game, if the player minimally uses the editors, will take 6-15 hours to complete. Note that there is no time limit for any stage: the player may stay in a single stage as long as they wish, and progress to the next stage when ready.
The game opens using the scientific concept of panspermia. A meteor plummets toward a planet and into an ocean. One meteor fragment, now a geode, splits open, revealing a tiny organism.
The Cell phase. The monstrously large creatures in the background will come to the foreground as the player's organism slowly grows and evolves.
The first phase of existence, the cell phase, is sometimes referred to as the tide pool, cellular, or microbial phase. The player guides simple microbes around in a 3D environment on a single 2D plane, reminiscent of flow, where it must deal with fluid dynamics and predators, while eating weaker microbes or plants. The player may choose whether the creature is a herbivore or a carnivore prior to starting the phase. Once the microbe has eaten several pieces of food, the player can enter an editor in which they can modify the appearance, shape, and abilities of the microbe by spending "DNA points". A player may choose to remove a part, which will refund the full price. Parts are aquired by seeking out out special "golden shields" from meteor fragments and other organisms, which provide new parts to use in the editor, such as spikes, mouths or propulsory mechanisms. If the creature dies, the player restarts from wherever it died.
The phase consists of five stages, which are halved themselves; every half-stage, the creature grows larger. As the microbe grows, objects that are in the background move to the foreground, which can mean being eaten by a microbe that had previously been swimming in the background.
The cell's eating habits in the Cell Stage directly influence its diet in the Creature stage, and only mouths appropriate to the diet established in the Cell stage will become available in the Creature stage (However, it is possible to keep the cell-stage mouth opposite what is available in the creature stage, thus allowing a player to truely be omnivorous even if the game gives him/her herbaceous or carnivorous staus. If that cell-stage mouth is removed, though, it cannot be regained). The ocean floor becomes more prominent as the player progresses, and once the player decides to progress to the next stage, the creature editor appears, prompting the user to add legs before the shift to land.
The player's creature encounters an "epic creature"–a giant-sized version of another user's content.
The creature phase is similar to the cell phase, but with several important differences. Principally, the environment is now truly 3D. Other creatures will inhabit the world, and most of them will have been created by other players. Creatures will automatically be introduced into the environment to maintain a balanced ecosystem. If the player creates a bigger, tougher creature, the predators that are downloaded will likewise be stronger than average.
In this stage, the basic goal is the same: earn DNA points, reproduce, and avoid being eaten by predators. One main difference is that, instead of being found mixed throughout the environment, members of a species - including the player's species - congregate at 'nests'.
Another difference introduced is the social aspect, allowing a player to earn DNA points through peaceful interraction. Socialization is the nonviolent alternative to consuming creatures for DNA, as befriending other creatures earns DNA points, allows access to their nests for resting, and allows a member of that species to join a pack headed by the player.
Every time the player interacts with a creature, the game will create a quest depending on what stance is used. If the player is in a social stance, it will give them the goal of befriending a certain number of that species. If they are in combat stance, the goal will be to kill a certain number of that species, and therefore, render that species extinct. If the player's creature kills off or befriends a species, the creature will be able to heal at their nest.
Creatures have stats for Abilities, Attack, and Social, using a numeric rating system. Adding specific body parts grants the ability to perform actions, such as "Call" and "Jump". Creatures can be given a name, description and tags. Body parts can be found during gameplay, which add that part to the editor for future use. These come from preying upon/befriending alpha creatures or finding bones of dead creatures. The only body part a creature requires is a mouth (or it will starve to death). If a creature has no feet, it will slide across the ground with the lower section of the torso, in a similar fashion to a slug or worm. Creatures also may have a limited ability to fly: gliding. A creature's ability to stay aloft is dependent on two factors: the jumping ability (how high in the air) and gliding ability (how slow the descent is and how many times the creature can flap its wings). Also, a creature may have the ability to sneak, sprint, charge or spit poison.
This stage will evolve the creature's social behavior, as the creature may make friends and form a herd or pack. Will Wright referred to this as a simplified version of the friend-making mini-game in The Sims. This mini-game is implemented by mimicking the other creature's behavior such as singing or dancing until their level of friendship with the player's creature rises. Creatures may also make friends with other species. The player may also encounter spaceships from other players from this phase onward, which may abduct the player or other creatures. The evolutionary goal of the creature phase is to increase the creature's brain capacity, which is done by gaining DNA points. Once the creature becomes intelligent, the player may progress to the tribal phase.
The creature phase has night and day cycles, with very short nights. There are also weather effects such as short rainstorms. Additionally, meteor showers will randomly take place with comets raining down from the sky and UFOs will sometimes visit the planet and abduct creatures (both of these will frighten the NPCs, making socialization impossible).
After the player's species evolves its brain far enough, it enters the tribal phase. Physical development ceases, as does the player's exclusive control over an individual creature, as the game focuses on the birth of division of labor for the species. The player is given a hut, a group of fully evolved creatures, as well as two of six possible "super powers", unlocked depending on the species' behavior in the previous phases.
This stage begins with a cutscene parodying 2001: A Space Odyssey. In this phase, the game is similar to an RTS (real-time strategy game). The player may give the tribe tools such as weapons, musical instruments, and healing or fishing implements. Food now replaces "DNA points" as the player's currency, which the player can spend on structures and additional tribe members, or use to appease other tribes. Creatures also gain the option to wear clothes, the editing of which replaces the Creature Editor in the 'Tribal Editor'. If creatures of a different species were added to the player's pack in the Creature phase, they are now used as pets. Additional creatures may be domesticated in the Tribal phase, which provide eggs for food. Contact with other tribes of the same species, or even different species, can take place in this phase, and creatures also learn to speak. Their language is dependent on the type of mouth they possess; primate-type mouths, for instance, result in Simlish. Creatures, as with The Sims, also "speak" with icons embedded in word balloons.
Tribe members are assigned roles such as fishing, gathering, or hunting. The creatures' behaviors are affected by the way the player utilizes them. If a player uses them aggressively, their autonomic behavior will reflect that; conversely, if the player uses them peacefully, allying other tribes, their behavior will be more kind. Even their idle behavior will reflect this; warlike tribal members will practice combat while docile members will practice instruments and throw parties.
There are five other tribes along with the player's, which can either be destroyed or befriended. For every tribe befriended or destroyed, a piece of a totem pole is built, which may increase the population limit of the player's tribe. When the totem pole has five pieces, the player may move forward to the Civilization phase.
The Civilization phase focuses on the player developing many cities and colonies.
The goal in the civilization phase is to gain control of the entire planet, and it is left to the player to decide whether to conquer it militarily, economically, or religiously. When entering the phase, the player's tribal camp is now a city. Players now have two new editors: the building and vehicle editors. The player can build four buildings (City Hall, House, Factory, and Entertainment) and up to 9 vehicles (Religious, economic, and military in sea, land and air). To earn income, players can capture spice gysers, conduct trade, or arrange buildings (see below).
In constructing vehicles and buildings, as with most real-time strategy games, there is a capacity limit; building houses will increase the cap, and constructing various buildings adjacent to one another will provide a productivity bonus or deficit: for example, building an entertainment centre next to a house will provide happiness, but a factory will decrease happiness and increase production. Like Civilization III and IV, the player's territory is marked with a colored border that increases as the player gains more power through militarism or influence.The main unit of currency is "Sporebucks".
Instead of military conquest, players with a Religious trait construct special missionary units that convert other cities via propaganda. Likewise, Economic players communicate solely by trade and have no weapons. Players also have access to superweapons, each of which have devastating effects on other rival civilizations. Players can also form alliances with a rival civilization, and when the entire world has been conquered by both factions, the rival faction will join the player's.
When the player has conquered or allied with all the civilizations on the planet and decides to move on to the Space Phase, the UFO editor appears. At this point players are allowed to view the planet from space.
In the Space phase, the player has access to a galactic map for interstellar travel.
The space phase provides new goals and paths to follow as the player begins to spread through the galaxy.
The player may now terraform and colonize neighboring uninhabitable planets with special tools (water tool, volcano tool, etc). Although these tools start off limited and very expensive, the player can obtain infinite versions. Terraforming tools include a heat ray which can create more favorable conditions on, for example, an ice planet. Left unchecked this can cause oceans to rise, then eventually to evaporate and transform the world into a desert planet, followed by a molten rock in space. These tools may also be used as weapons, sucking out the atmosphere or altering the temperature of a planet in order to kill the inhabitants without a pitched battle. The ultimate terraforming tool is a technology called the Staff of Life, dubbed the 'Genesis device' prior to the game's release, which instantly transforms a dead world into a habitable one, although it is limited to 42 uses.
The player may cause ice comets to crash into a planet to create water, or force volcanoes to erupt to increase atmosphere. Players may build colonies on the surface of an inhospitable planet once they gain the ability to create bubbled cities, similar in function to self-sustaining arcologies. When establishing colonies on alien worlds, players have to take care of them as they would any other city and keep morale up.
The player may also abduct creatures and transport them to other planets to test a planet's habitability (During earlier phases of the game, it is possible to see other creatures on the planet being abducted for this or other purposes.) The player may utilize various tools such as fireworks to interact with primitive lifeforms, or place a monolith (in the style of 2001: A Space Odyssey) on a planet, triggering evolution of intelligence. On some worlds, the player may also find strange "artifacts" with functions varying from terraform coloring tools to treasures which can be sold for a relatively large price. Artifacts can be present on lifeless worlds and inhabited worlds, although taking them from planets occupied by sentient beings will anger them.
There are more than 50,000 planets in the game's galaxy (including Earth and the Solar System).
Players can make contact with other civilizations, called 'empires', most of which are created by other players. Intelligent species can be found, and when the UFO visits that world, they may impress the beings with fireworks or a 'happy ray', attack them with weapons, or cast crop circles. The player may beam down a holographic image of his/her creature to interact more directly with an alien species. A user-created civilization's AI reacts depending on its behavior and personality, both of which are based on the play-style of its user. The player can unite or conquer the galaxy by creating a federation or sparking an interstellar war. As a show of great force, the player may even completely destroy a planet (similar to the capabilities of the Death Star from Star Wars), which may bring retribution from that species and its allies. The player is sometimes called upon to fight off an invasion of their home planet, colony, or an ally's planet, from space pirates, environmental collapse, or attack from enemies.
EA has stated that there will be a storyline and 'secret ending' which can be found within the Space stage, and that 'only the most hardcore gamers' will get to it, which is the previously mentioned Staff of Life in the middle of the galaxy guarded by a hostile race of Cybernetic aliens known as The Grox, who are extremely difficult to befriend and even harder to defeat.
The space phase is sometimes referred to as a sandbox, because the player eventually gains near-complete control of everything, though in the initial stages of the Space phase, the player inevitably must interact with other civilizations as in previous stages. It has been mentioned that the space phase works on two axes: a horizontal axis (the ability to interact with many planets in a variety of different ways) and a vertical axis (the ability to revisit different phases of gameplay).