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Nuthen


MouthBreather

Joined: 03/08/2009 07:05:02
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Grox Empire

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It's not very good, but I made a dedication to everyone who got to go out to Maxis to try out GA.

http://www.spore.com/sporepedia#qry=sast-500340690890

Party like a

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dananddna


Microbe

Joined: 09/30/2008 19:06:19
Messages: 72
Location:
Massachusetts

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Taking it to the Max…is: Thoughts about Galactic Adventures
by dananddna

I just came back from Maxis studios in Emeryville, California. It was a truly amazing trip. Not only was it my first time on the west coast, it was my first time flying period. In spite of having no flying experience whatsoever, everything went pretty smoothly. The people at Maxis are really great people. They treated us so well and always made sure that we were comfortable. The other creators who were invited were also very cool. Unfortunately, by the time I was getting to know some of them, the trip was over.

I’m not sure how much I can actually disclose about the new Galactic Adventures expansion, so I will refer to it in somewhat broad strokes (haha, fail). First of all, it will change everything. Though it will operate within the standard Spore game, it really shines on its own. There was a general consensus that the game packed far more than any of us had anticipated.

One of the concerns about the pack revolved around the learning curve. Yes, it can be a bit steep, especially when compared to the standard Spore game. Yes, it can be a little intimidating. There is just so much you can do, and there is no easy way to explain every detail all at once. Learning the options and commands takes time. Hopefully online tutorials will alleviate these issues on release.

In spite of that, I think that the developers did a good job of layering the AI editor difficulty, to accommodate different players. There were three levels of complexity that could be worked with. When a character is placed in the editor, it starts off with a part-based-basic AI. The next level allows you to make it generally aggressive, friendly, etc. The advanced AI editor (that I only really scratched the surface of) allows you to add conditions to AI behavior (Run away when attacked, or drop banana when befriended). I can’t wait to see how people put these options to use.

Unlike the days of the creature creator (with its insanely exponential rise in content), I suspect that the rise of published missions will be a little more logarithmic…in other words, not so rapid. With all the tweaking required to perfect a mission, it may take some time for there to be a sizable collection of missions available. A lot of people from our group feared the related problem of poorly made or unwinnable missions overwhelming the few decent ones. Honestly, I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out, but I think it will reach some sort of equilibrium.

During my two days, I managed to semi-finish two missions. The first one was called Mesocity, which took place in this very ancient-looking-Aztec-like desert city. Building the actual city was surprisingly intuitive, especially if you are used to the building editor. The Ctrl and Shift buttons are your friends (especially since you are working on a sphere). With just a few basic buildings, you can make all sorts of interesting large-scale architecture (city walls, massive platforms, etc). My city ended up quite large and filled with lots of characters milling about it, but the complexity meter never rose above orange (a planet-wide city would probably hit the limit though). I don’t think complexity will be much of an issue.

One issue that initially confused me while working on this mission involved making objects visible at the appropriate act. As a default, objects and characters have locked properties. Whenever you change a property, it automatically changes it for every act, which may or may not be what you want. It took me awhile to figure out how get out of the default mode (honestly, it was a rather large, somewhat obvious button that I didn’t think of pressing), so that different properties can occur at different acts (Visible in one act, invisible in another, etc).

My next mission, To Zombie or Not to Be, was a little more action packed. You can’t go wrong with zombie generating portals and the subsequent destruction thereof. Also with this mission, I took advantage of the screen filters, which you can actually incorporate into your mission. This is going to open up all sorts of interesting opportunities (Western-themed, Film Noir themed missions).

There were several aspects of the game that really took me totally by surprise, even after reading the reviews and Q&A’s online. First of all, the “effects” that you can put in the game are amazing. They really help make the mission your mission. Pretty much anything you might need (lightning, lasers, flames, fog, clouds, etc) is available. In a similar vein, the music and sound effects are quite extensive. There are looping tunes, single shot tunes, sound effects, crowd effects, etc. For my Mesocity mission, I put an outdoor crowd sound effect inside the market area, and it really makes you think that a lot of activity is going on.

The terraform editor is a gem by itself. I especially enjoyed manipulating the colors at different elevations to create strange marbled, grand-canyon-esque planets. There are also plenty of terrain stamps to customize your surface (mountains, hills, craters, more geometric shapes, etc). It’s a huge step up from the terraforming/planet sculpting tools currently in the game. There are several different types of roads, all of which are flat textures that are stamped right onto the terrain. My only minor complaint about the roads is that you have to place each section individually (you can’t draw a path). It’s a little bit tedious, but one gets used to it.

Finally, there was one cool aspect to the expansion that I meant to bring up. The game really puts you in the mind of a game developer/tester. A lot of my time was spent squashing bugs within my own mission. If my character ever got stuck between buildings or reached some sort of obstacle in the test drive mode, I instantly jumped back into the editor and fixed the problem. There is a decent amount of problem solving involved. Maybe just maybe, formerly critical players will appreciate the work and decisions that game developers make.

So yeah, that was my experience. It’s going to be a great game and tool. I have no idea what I’m going to do with myself while waiting for GA to finally come out. Perhaps go crazy. We’ll see. If you have any questions, let us know. Thanks Maxis for inviting us.

[MSN]
masscolder


Civilized Sporeon

Joined: 09/18/2008 22:44:00
Messages: 1762
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dananddna wrote:Finally, there was one cool aspect to the expansion that I meant to bring up. The game really puts you in the mind of a game developer/tester. A lot of my time was spent squashing bugs within my own mission. If my character ever got stuck between buildings or reached some sort of obstacle in the test drive mode, I instantly jumped back into the editor and fixed the problem. There is a decent amount of problem solving involved. Maybe just maybe, formerly critical players will appreciate the work and decisions that game developers make.


How very true. A lot of it is ironing that stuff out. For example, I had this huge battle scene going on where creatures and spaceships and vehicles fought. And it took awhile to set them up to where their awareness radius was large enough for them to see each other and their damage and hit points was balanced enough. Not only that but since one army is in a valley and the other on a mountain top, I ran into a lot of problems with pathing. Creatures would be unable to walk up or down, etc. So there is a lot of that going on.

@dan: You might wanna post that in the sticky too, or ask SMLightning to link to it.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 05/17/2009 02:50:19


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Grimbot


Multicellular

Joined: 09/10/2008 21:52:40
Messages: 453
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Did you run into any issues with sizing things? Were the scaling limits what you expected?

Did any of you do interiors?

How did you feel about the camera in general?

Could I make a "disarm the bomb" mission if I wanted to?

I have a million questions! Fortunately I'm too dumb to remember most of them.


masscolder


Civilized Sporeon

Joined: 09/18/2008 22:44:00
Messages: 1762
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Did you run into any issues with sizing things? Were the scaling limits what you expected?
Scaling seemed fine to me.

Did any of you do interiors?
I didn't.

How did you feel about the camera in general?
One of the editors had a tribal stage like camera which I found a bit annoying, but there are a lot of cool shortcuts to get to stuff. Like right clicking on a prop or creature takes u to it on the map. Now if youre asking about the camera in game... it felt alright. Could be better, could be worse.

Could I make a "disarm the bomb" mission if I wanted to?
You should be able to, bombs have timers. And then you can use acts to serve as triggers

I have a million questions! Fortunately I'm too dumb to remember most of them.
Thank God! :-p

Sig by Genji, thanks!

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Grimbot


Multicellular

Joined: 09/10/2008 21:52:40
Messages: 453
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The thought of the tribal Stage camera does make me a bit queasy, but I always get used to it, I guess.

So far I'm pleased with all of the revalations, save maybe the one where we can't overlap outfitter parts. I guess if we're gonna do it, we should do it now.

Can you change the atmosphere/geometry between acts or is that set for the entire adventure?

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 05/17/2009 04:15:49


masscolder


Civilized Sporeon

Joined: 09/18/2008 22:44:00
Messages: 1762
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Grimbot wrote:The thought of the tribal Stage camera does make me a bit queasy, but I always get used to it, I guess.

So far I'm pleased with all of the revalations, save maybe the one where we can't overlap outfitter parts. I guess if we're gonna do it, we should do it now.

Can you change the atmosphere/geometry between acts or is that set for the entire adventure?


Hmm.... I dont think you can. Because acts aren't recorded in the terra editor. What you can do is create a duplicate of you scene and put it in another part of your world and then use higher terrain coloring and effects and music to change the feeling. It really does give it a different feel. And yea... the stacking is really bad, I told them a few times. And MaxisCactus promised to have it brought up in a meeting. I dont see why they went back and changed the parts that didnt stack to stacking. Paterns are sooo important to the outfitter, stacking parts will ruin that. And the benefits are really rather insignificant. But from what I gather GA will ship as such. If they fix it, it will proly be a patch.

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shattari


Microbe

Joined: 10/08/2008 22:27:18
Messages: 100
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Grimbot wrote:The thought of the tribal Stage camera does make me a bit queasy, but I always get used to it, I guess.

So far I'm pleased with all of the revalations, save maybe the one where we can't overlap outfitter parts. I guess if we're gonna do it, we should do it now.

Can you change the atmosphere/geometry between acts or is that set for the entire adventure?


No, Im pretty sure that you cant change the water level, color of planet, hills and such, or the atmosphere mid adventure. Things that can change, change because the tool for them that goes into the pallet has a way to make it "visible" or "invisible" between acts, that is to say that they are always there in some way just not tangible or visible. None of the Tereforming tools had that vis/invis icon. Though that is not to say that there may not be some sort of work around. Finding work around for stuff is whats going to make adventures really stick out.

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shattari


Microbe

Joined: 10/08/2008 22:27:18
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masscolder wrote:
Grimbot wrote:The thought of the tribal Stage camera does make me a bit queasy, but I always get used to it, I guess.

So far I'm pleased with all of the revalations, save maybe the one where we can't overlap outfitter parts. I guess if we're gonna do it, we should do it now.

Can you change the atmosphere/geometry between acts or is that set for the entire adventure?


Hmm.... I dont think you can. Because acts aren't recorded in the terra editor. What you can do is create a duplicate of you scene and put it in another part of your world and then use higher terrain coloring and effects and music to change the feeling. It really does give it a different feel. And yea... the stacking is really bad, I told them a few times. And MaxisCactus promised to have it brought up in a meeting. I dont see why they went back and changed the parts that didnt stack to stacking. Paterns are sooo important to the outfitter, stacking parts will ruin that. And the benefits are really rather insignificant. But from what I gather GA will ship as such. If they fix it, it will proly be a patch.


Im pretty sure I head they guys who were the ones that were in charge of the outfiter say, on Friday, at then end of everything, that the out fitter was like that to stay in pretty certain terms.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 05/17/2009 04:25:06


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masscolder


Civilized Sporeon

Joined: 09/18/2008 22:44:00
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Yea lots of out of the box thinking, making stuff appear like it does something u want it to do seems pretty big.

As for the outfitter, I don't know I hope we can convince them otherwise, at least for them to lay off the old parts and have the stacking only for the new stuff or whatever. I gave MCactus a pretty good example of a creation that would be absolutely impossible with stacking. So... we may be able to convince them to keep things as is without that stacking stuff.

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Grimbot


Multicellular

Joined: 09/10/2008 21:52:40
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Do we get access to tribal spears and stone axes? What's the deal with the hammers/staves I keep seeing in screenshots and the vids?

Thanks for answering all these questions so soon after your return. I'd probably be jet-lagged out!

iceman2


GalacticGod

Joined: 10/18/2008 14:43:17
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Canada

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i dont think i cna wait a month for GA

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masscolder


Civilized Sporeon

Joined: 09/18/2008 22:44:00
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Grimbot wrote:Do we get access to tribal spears and stone axes? What's the deal with the hammers/staves I keep seeing in screenshots and the vids?

Thanks for answering all these questions so soon after your return. I'd probably be jet-lagged out!


I didnt need any but I did see a torch and a scepter in the props. There may be more. And you can always make your own, and have a creature pick it up and carry it. May be trickier to make it fight with it, in fact, it WILL be trickier to make it fight with it.

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Prometheus09


Civilized Sporeon

Joined: 09/10/2008 01:40:23
Messages: 1279
Location:
USA

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Woot!

I have to thank all of you lucky dogs that got to test GA for coming here and posting about the experience, as well as answering so many of our questions. I have long wanted Maxis to reveal more information about GA, but instead, they sent you guys as emissaries to let us know. On behalf of the rest of the community, I once again thank you for posting what you have, and look forward to any additional info/pics/videos you have. R+++++

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 05/17/2009 09:53:19


Galactic Adventures... looks like it's going to be another non-tanned summer!
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GhidoranX


MouthBreather

Joined: 05/10/2009 13:42:17
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2 things.

First off, the time it takes to make a mission. Some said, to make a really good mission, you'll spend weeks on it. While that does make me happy, I didn't think Spore would be like that. If anyone has used the map editors in Age of Empires or other strategy games, how does it compare with Spore, in terms of complexity and how long it takes to make good missions? I remember I could make long campaigns in about 2 weeks, and they were pretty good. I suspect the same will be with GA (not including the creation of the creatures and buildings in the adventure), but I would have expected Maxis to make it a tad bit easier.

Second, most of the responses seem to be about the editor itself. What about the actual game? Did anyone play any Maxis missions or something? What can we expect in terms of actually playing it? Is it fun? Addictive? Diablo-ish? And what about weapons? Social abilities? Regular abilities?


Also, thanks for answering our questions, it's really appreciated.


 
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