"Science Spore?"

I came across this interesting forum on Spore. I hope SpongB6F1 won’t mind if I quote this posting at length, as I think it is very insightful.

“Science Spore” would be ideal.

I think many people will claim that although some kind of abstract commitment to science would have been nice in Spore, what they really want is just some decent, engaging and clever gameplay, instead of a rigid pattern of repetitive, simplistic grinding tasks.

But I think these are two very interrelated issues. The gameplay elements that attracted many of us to the game were precisely the “sciencey” parts. Because by science we’re not talking about the propounding of abstract theorems or doing calculus problems here–the science parts most of us want are basically just the interesting game mechanics everyone is talking about (e.g. functional consequence to parts placement in Creature, or a more realistic Creature ecosystem and behavior system, or any number of sci-fi features we wanted in Space, etc.).

These are science-related not because of any didactic teaching of facts, but in their basic nature and the mental approach you’d have to take to them. Such as trial and error, experimentation, exploration of the world, problem solving, inducing general principles of how the world works, etc. E.g. figuring out what kinds of creature design would be effective. Figuring out what kinds of creature behaviors and strategies are appropriate for which niche, etc.

So in asking for a “Science Spore,” most of us are really asking for a game that actually engages our minds on some level. That’s why we play games in the first place.

I am, of course, pleased to see that many others are interested in a game like Spore that incorporates some actual evolution, and that there is even hope that this will arrive in the form of an expansion or sequel someday. But would there be a market?

4 thoughts on “"Science Spore?"

  1. hi, Professor!
    I’m a Portuguese girl, who entered this year at University, trying to reach a graduation in Biology 😀

    I was searching in the Internet and I’ve found your very interesting blog!

    I am making a research, about “DNA barcoding”, and I think maybe you could help me 😀

    if you do, you can send me an e-mail (send it to a.c.r.ribeiro@hotmail.com)

    thank you, and continue with your good job!

  2. Spore had such a great change of becoming one of the first games to be truly both engaging and educational. Months before even the creature creator was released, I was itching to see how creature shape and ability would be affected by parts placement in cell stages, and to watch my creature evolve and adapt as I made small adjustments to the skeletal structure, muscle bulk, brain complexity, etc… much to my great disappointment.

    Not that I’m saying Spore is a bad game, just that I’m very aggravated at 3 main things about it:
    1. In the last year of development they switched targets from realistic with a basis is science (including creature parts shape and placement affecting movement and ability, and the cell stage looking like a view through a microscope.), to “cute.” It that process they stripped out more than half of the original code and dynamics, redesigned all of the models, and re-skinned everything… all so that their game would be more fun for kids and families… and right after promises to the gaming community for it to be more “science spore.”

    2. Since Spore’s release (and greatly due to the shredding the original code, then rushing their programmers) it has been so full of bugs and critical errors that everyone who bought the game has experience at least couple-weeks of not being able to play it at all. Almost everyone has experienced major bugs which have made the game close to un-playable. Many of the issues today have actually been caused by patches that were supposed to fix the problems, but in each case only served to aggravate them, often times causing game and system crashes, and requiring re-installs.

    3. The DRM. One valid purchase of the game gets you only one valid login, and 3 (or 5) installs. So if you have to re-format, change any hardware, or the DRM fails to recognize a re-install as a re-install, you use the allocated installs, and have to buy the game again. EA has told customers that they can get more installs, but currently that requires about 2-4 hours of talking to Customer Support over a period of 2-3 weeks, and you better know what you’re doing.

    That said, I would be happy to pay $100 for a “Science Spore” like the one the gaming community was promised. As long as that game worked, made me think, and wasn’t full of that DRM nightmare. I’d further be willing to pay another $10 a month if that game came with some community galaxies with a more in-depth and strategy oriented space-stage of tech research, diplomacy, trade, espionage, and warfare.

  3. In addition to computer games, I’m an avid board gamer. I’ve played the board game “Primordial Soup” which is loosely based on evolution. Basically you control single celled organisms which are floating around in the primoridal soup, trying to feed and survive. You can “buy” certain new traits, such as motility, weapons, defenses, reproductive strategies, etc. As you play, it becomes obvious that certain strategies are more successful than others. Chance events also play a large role in the game. It was very fun, even my non-biologist friends seemed to enjoy playing.

    You can check it out at boardgamegeek.com http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/124

    They also have a list of games inspired by biology here:

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