August 04, 2011

Spore -- worth getting?

I'm beginning to get played out on Master of Magic. Considering how much time I've put into it, it's a testimony to the rich game play that it hasn't happened long since.

So I'm thinking it's time to try something new. I got onto the Microsoft PC Games site, wondering if they might have an updated version of "Pandora's Box" which doesn't run full-screen at 800*600 resolution. (On my 16:9 display, the aspect ratio is so wrong that the game is almost unplayable.)

Please note that I'm not looking for suggestions for games I "might want to consider". Just don't go there, OK?

The one thing that looked interesting to me was Spore. The Microsoft games site lists the fact that games have DRM, and this one didn't mention it. But I just looked at the Wikipedia article about the game, and it said that when the game was first released back in 2008, there was a big controversy about the fact that it used SecuRom.

It also said that there was a non-DRM release of the game. The version on the MS Games site says its release date is June 14, 2011, which makes me think it's a special version created for the MS Games site, which I gather is DTO. (True?)

So does anyone know anything about it? Just how much did they include in it? The description mentions "Spore's unique Creator tools". Does that mean they bundled things like Spore Creature Creator into this version of it?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Gaming at 08:43 AM | Comments (18) | Add Comment
Post contains 254 words, total size 2 kb.

1 Hmm.  I didn't play much Spore, but my wife did for a while.  I think her summary was "interesting but not nearly as deep or balanced as hyped."

Posted by: metaphysician at August 04, 2011 08:54 AM (hD30M)

2 My friends that tried it also became bored quickly. Apparently it just doesn't have much depth or strategy.  And if you just want do design 3D creatures, I seem to recall that you already have some 3D design software.

Posted by: Boviate at August 04, 2011 10:22 AM (RPpft)

3 Spore is boring.  Don't get it.

To quote the previous: "Apparently it just doesn't have much depth or strategy.".

It has cute/great graphics, no real strategy.

Posted by: Mixie at August 04, 2011 10:58 AM (PZbQA)

4 Spore has extremely invasive DRM - Shamus had a great post on this:
where the key point is:
"You get three total "activations”. This means the game can be placed onto three computers. This can be three different computers, or the same computer upgraded three times. Every time you try to run the game on what the server thinks of as a "new” system, one of your three activations is consumed. This means your relationship with the game is directly affected by how often you upgrade."

Posted by: azizhp at August 04, 2011 11:43 AM (wOzPT)

5 Also, I haven't played Spore, but many other people have told me not to bother as it's basically a "free style" game with no real narrative. 
I'd like to take the opportunity to mention that World of Warcraft still deserves your attention. It's lightweight, it's got no invasive DRM (since you have to be online to play to communicate with the game servers), and the game is basically three to five diferent games in one, depending on your preferences:
- you can Quest, which follows very detailed storylines about teh world and the major events, you get to be a major player. This is "solo" game play - you can go into Dungeons - these are for casual group gaming (3-5 people), and the software allows you to find a group automatically so theres minimal social outreach involved - you can go Raiding - this is a more active social group thing where you join Guilds and go on large 10 or even 25 person missions - you can fight other players in Battlegrounds (large group) and Arenas (one on one) - you can do your own thing, which is any combination of the above
Personally I am a solo player with some dabbling in dungeons as needed to advance quest storylines. I play anywhere from a few hours a week, to a few hours a month depending on real life etc. Some of the people I know just log on to go "farming" for minerals and other consumables that they then sell on the auction house, gaining gold that they can then spend on vanity stuff like cooler weapons and mounts. 
at any rate, if this is something you'd like to explore, I (like everyone else) have a few codes for you to play teh game for free for a couple of weeks or until level 20, which should be more than enough for anyone to decide if its something that works for them. The free trial makes it pretty painless. 

Posted by: azizhp at August 04, 2011 11:54 AM (wOzPT)

6 There's always one...

Master of Magic just does a darned good job in being a lot like the old Civ games, but with a bunch of variety (especially in the interaction of different elements - X might not seem like a good idea, but in Y situation with Z spell cast on it?) Others have tried to mine the same lode, but generally they're spectacular failures.

I have trouble with the game just because, well, it's -really- old and the interface gets to me. Cutting-edge for fifteen years ago (maybe not even that, heh...) I can live with crap graphics - even Dwarf Fortress! - but the interface is king (...Dwarf Fortress... ;_

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at August 04, 2011 12:23 PM (j42B4)

7 Curse you, smiley!

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at August 04, 2011 12:23 PM (j42B4)


What I was thinking is that it was a lot like some of the world-builder games I used to love so much, like Sim-City, Sim-World, Sim-Life.

Having no narrative is fine. I don't want one. Being free-form is nice, too.

I am aware that Spore had dreadful DRM when it was released. But I see a couple of hints that the version Microsoft is offering (3 years later) is not so encumbered. It looks like a compilation of a lot of earlier releases, hoping to milk a game for more sales after the initial feeding frenzy has ended.

That's what I'm hoping, anyway. Ah, heck. It's only $20; maybe I'll risk it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 04, 2011 12:40 PM (+rSRq)

9 Well, its your call, obviously.  And its not like my wife didn't get enjoyment out of it.  I just wouldn't go in expecting to get as much value as from MoM.

( not that I can think of many games that have. . . )

Posted by: metaphysician at August 04, 2011 01:22 PM (hD30M)

10 Minecraft looks awesome for free-form exploration and engineering... I just haven't had the time to get into it myself.

Posted by: BigD at August 04, 2011 01:52 PM (1VXek)

11 I've played a fair bit of Spore.  Without the Galactic Adventures expansion, it's over pretty quickly; each of the stages is interesting but none of them have any depth.  Galactic Adventures expands the last stage a lot; it pretty much delivers on the original promise of the game as far as that stage goes.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 04, 2011 02:17 PM (PiXy!)

12 I played a little Spore when it first came out. I found the game frustrating because I never had enough DNA to build the creature I wanted, and as soon as I started to get there the game declared a new phase. For example, once you get a certain amount of DNA, your character moves out of the protozoan stage; you can't stay in the protozoan stage to add DNA and fiddle with the bits.

Posted by: Anachronda at August 04, 2011 05:11 PM (6fER6)


I too, never had much luck or fun playing Spore.  Too tedious and like Anachronda above, you'd finally get the DNA you want and the stage would end.  Strange game design.

The only game that ever came close to MoM in my mind was 'Dominions 3'.  (I know, DWL!, I'm sorry.) Now THAT's a grognards game.  In fact- I have an extra copy of the game (manual and CD) and would be willing to send it to you at the cost of postage-

Just sayin.

Posted by: Gothmog at August 05, 2011 07:50 AM (089tw)


Played it myself, and honestly, it's not that great. The closest it comes to a 4X game is the Civilization stage, and it's so dumbed down it's more like Risk than Civilization, with the exception of city management, which is needlessly complicated by its own attempt to be simple, strangely enough. You have only five buildings you can actually add to a city, one of which is the "town center" that essentially counts as the city itself, and another being a gun emplacement that can only be located on the edge of the city. That leaves three buildings that change the city's productivity, morale, and population limits: a factory building, an entertainment building, and a residential building. While this seems simple enough, they went one step further and decided these buildings also need to produce auxiliary functions depending entirely on their exact location with regard to one another and the town center, mostly to keep players from minmaxing. There are also several different city layouts that are randomly chosen when a city is built, so if you were hoping to be able to build a fleet of ships ASAP at your new harbor city, but it gets a layout that's nearly impossible to add factories to without causing the population to riot, you're SOL.

The Space Stage is the deepest one, if only for the fact that you can terraform planets yourself by building a custom ecosystem. Unfortunately, that gets boring pretty fast, and then it becomes nothing more than a MoO3 style "spreadsheets in space" adventure, without the Galactic Adventures expansion pack.

It does have really cute visuals, though, and everything from the critters to the vehicles to the buildings to the planets are actually fully customizable. You can even search online for other players' designs to use yourself, if you don't have time to design your own City Hall, and there are some really nice ones... I found a really amazing building that looks like a grassy green hill floating in the air, with a waterfall cascading off the side of the floating hill and terminating in a lake at the bottom, and downloaded it to make into my entertainment-type building. The game can also be set to use randomly downloaded creatures from online as alien races or competitor species, which pretty much ensures that everything in your game is going to look like some variety of human genitalia and be named  random combinations of four-letter words that only children under the age of ten find entertaining.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at August 05, 2011 08:29 PM (4njWT)

15 Oh yeah, and lest I forget... nothing in Spore is turn-based. It's all "real time with pause." Probably should have mentioned that first. If you're just getting it for the Creature/Building/Vehicle/Spaceship creators, though, that's not a problem.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at August 06, 2011 05:19 PM (4njWT)

16 Real time with pause is not a bad thing, IMO.  I've played many RPGs where it worked fine, and also a couple RTSes ( Sins of a Solar Empire, notably ).  I can't remember the implementation in Spore though; in fact, I may not have even realized it was RTwP.

Posted by: metaphysician at August 06, 2011 07:56 PM (hD30M)


It's pretty much standard issue for all Will Wright games since "The Sims." It works in most Sim* games because there's no serious threats you have to deal with, except the ones you decide to cause yourself. Not so much in Spore, especially in the "Civilization" stage, where most players find themselves getting wiped out repeatedly on Hard mode until they learn to judge the speed their craft can move, and from that which battles they'll be able to affect the outcome of and which ones you're too late to reach anyhow, while the game is paused and nothing is moving. It's got a lot more in common with "Starcraft" than "Civilization" really.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at August 07, 2011 10:26 AM (4njWT)

18 I was curious about the original "The Sims" but I kept waiting until the final "Complete" collection came out, then I waited for it to go on clearance and the price to drop below $40 (I was out of work at the time) and instead, they took it off the shelves rather than marking it down.

Posted by: Mauser at August 07, 2011 11:37 PM (cZPoz)

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