Note: Please don't rate this low just because its long. If there is something you'd like a clarification on just tell me ;p. Consider this the 'Q/A' of my idea.
“If I had been the head figure on the team for Spore.”
I usually don’t get up in arms when a game is bad. Frankly anyone who has been playing games over the years has likely noticed an average decline in quality for the sake of quick profits and limited losses from development. Most storylines are fantastically linear and most characters are infinitely clichéd, it’s a reality we all face but it’s not one that we must face. If I had been on the team for SPORE (I can dream), I would of done the following to the game.
It was somewhat expected by me that creature creation would be pivotal in this game, having a creature encircled by spikes would be better than one made of bread dough and packing a pistol made of cracker jacks. As I began the cell stage I definitely felt like that was the case. I would put a spike on my cells SPORE and he was now able to just run away softly and carelessly as he wanted because a spike down the throat of my celled predatory friends was enough to get them to either back off or die. It seemed as if the truth would set me free.
However even with the simplicity I expected I was surprised by the amount of parts. I don’t have an exact number but it was exceptionally small. You basically had predatory, omnivore, or herbivore mouth pieces. One for each. What I expected was that these parts would adapt with my creature perhaps getting slightly larger or stronger as I became more successful.
What I found was that this was not the case, in the pool of maxis cells (each with many times the maximum limit of DNA parts on) I was a one hit wonder. However I still enjoyed myself because I was able to get about 4 sets (bilateral duplications) of spikes on me turning me basically into a tube shaped sea urchin.
What I would of done here was continued on with the premise, added about a half dozen parts for each ‘basic’ concept, those of defensive herbivores, voracious carnivores, and your adaptive omnivores. This would of allowed player content to be relevant, I would of also had the parts get stronger as the creatures became more successful and larger. A beak would become sharper or longer as the creature devoured more of its delicious kindred.
If a creature kept getting eaten its propellants would get faster because frankly nothing slow that is tasty lives very long without the help of quick breeding or quick movements.
Well frankly I was confused that I didn’t see one. At first I thought it was because I put legs on my guy and the fact that there were still fins in the creature creator I figured that was the case.
For the Sea Stage I would of expanded on the cell stage, considering that was the idea propelled for the project by Will Wright (Great Man, shame to see this happen to his baby). In the Sea Stage creatures would of moved along their paths in the sense that herbivores would of become more successful at ingesting more forms of fauna and they’d gain bonuses for keeping in regions with lots of plant life (areas to hide yaknow).
The deep sea would have been largely propogated by the carnivores, the deeper you go the larger they got with Epics commonly found around the bottom but some in the top. The sea stage would have been a bit more aggressive than the cell stage to keep people on their toes and to hit the first climax of the games evolutionary arcs. The movement from Sea to Land on Earth might of not been one that caused the majority of the Earth to be populated (since most of it is already water) but it opened up a world of new means of life and survival.
You would of gained evolutionary points through surviving (a slow rising cost, I’m unsure of what would have been the rate) as well as consuming the flora around you and since frankly it would be entertaining by forming symbiotic relationships with other creatures around you. Creatures would have an inherent effect they brought to the environment that for AI would be decided by its ratings in its stat areas and for players decided by their characters history. Some creatures for instance would eat lots of a certain plant and reside in an area of another and their presence (to keep a more flattering take on fertilization) would cause that other plant to thrive. If your creature enjoyed that plant (your decision obviously via eating it a lot) your creatures would commonly be found around the plant. Relationships would be based on a ratio of aggressiveness of species, actions and history, and finally a small random element (that would only be added initially, some sort of positive bonus so some creature inherently want to make love to your fins).
Carnivores would function in much the way you expect, I would be wary of there being such a symbiotic relationship but perhaps smaller creatures could form relationships by following larger ones and in turn eating the scraps they leave (like the chunks from the cell stage). A player could decide as they accrued dna if they wanted to go large, slow, but stronger, or more towards a slimmer, sleaker, assassin sort of deal. You’d obviously have the infinite span of options in between (if I am to believe algebra and think there are infinite points on any line). This would promote a freedom to create a story for your creature and it would also lead to some difficult questions of what you want to end up, a hulking mass of destructive yumminess or a cuddly plant eating clown fish.
Omnivores would of course reach a balance in between depending on the players decisions. They would either be primarily a carnivore and lead that realm or primarily an herbivore. Not necessarily by a huge margin as I said they’d have the entirety of the line, 59,61 events could happen just as well as 90,10. Their habitat being decided by the area they reside in most and the actions they take most. (If you eat a certain creature constantly your AI controlled partners will set up shop within range of there and go there to hunt…super simple to script).
Landfall and the Creature Stage
When the time to reach land comes obviously we’d have an issue with size. Whales (as far as I know) don’t usually go walking onto land full girth. I realize there is evidence that they once walked on land but I don’t recall that evidence saying they did so at full girth (I think it would crush their internals). Larger carnivores would obviously slim down (IE their limits of height in the creature creator would be lessened) but at the same time their overall effectiveness with damage would be greater than their small counterparts who would likely hunt in packs instead to compensate.
Herbivores would of acted in a similar manner that they do now. You would gain DNA over time just as before (this being true in all sects). Your decisions of where you eat would dictate the area that your ‘creature collective’ would move to. If you eat a lot of those snorgletorgleberries that gimmy91 made last week (yes there would be a berry and floral editor) your creatures would inherently live in range of there to feed. Carnivorous species would then be loaded within range of animals that are easiest for them. This sort of algorithm would take into account speed of the creature and its strength so that slow but hulking herbivores that could one hit a certain carnivore would not be hunted by it, I realize the idea that in real life this isn’t always so but in a game you can have dynamic combat easily and frankly nobody wants to die so that their buddies can eat the titan gogettaroth that merrymerryquitecontrary made when the creature creator came out.
With these simple little tweaks you’d have a dynamic environment. Creatures that could fly could even have the good fortune of setting up shop on trees (it would be simple to set magnet points for non AI controlled players feet to grab when they flew towards a branch). This way the berries out of reach of those SPORE legless pigs would be all theirs. Long necks would also help with dietary options and maximizing profit over space.
Omnivores would again fall in the middle, either moving near creatures they eat, plants they eat, or somewhere within range of both. It pays to discover
The Tribal Phase
RTS games have become pretty streamlined and frankly I hate most of it since about Command and Conquer Generals (I like it enough to play it, could care less for CnC3). There are some things we can steal from them to make this phase so entertaining that people can’t help but get erections from thinking about playing it more.
Firstly your tribe would set up shop in its primary living area if the fruit or animals it ate still were there. You would have a hut and a small collection of creatures. You would be able to create your hut (adding on as it gets bigger) and you would create (sounds silly I know) your altar for your fire pit and place it wherever you wanted. The ‘walkway’ would generate automatically between the hut and the pit and the creatures would ‘generally’ prefer to walk on this walkway from point a to point b when talking about the tribe homebase.
New buildings would be designed and designated their function (like musical instruments, tools, or storage). These would be placed wherever and they would have an automatic path formed all the way to the fire (the central point in the hut area). Players would have the option of adding roads from any building to any other building also since this would add little to no more code and gives people another option, people love options, this is what made the premise of spore so arousing.
Other tribes would pop up using a similar algorithm to that of the players, their average hunting/gathering zone would be their tribes home base. Their feelings towards you would be based on interactions in the past, relative distance compared to resources available (in case of contesting land or food/water which leads to conflict, look at Darfur
). Players would have multiple functions they could give their creatures.
Water gathering would store water in a hut small building that would (through magic maxis powers) keep the water clean and drinkable. Creatures would need to drink once ever quarter of an hour or so or they would begin to function slow (after an hour they’d begin to lose life) this much like eating would be automated and would be relative to the creatures size and evolutionary characteristics (having a hump or other water storing adaptation from creature stage for instance).
Food gatherers could gather and store fish, other animals, berries, and would if all food was gathered begin automatically ‘processing’ any foods that could be into smaller items such as jerky or dried fish. These ‘upgraded’ items would allow tribe members to leave the hut and eat on the go and would essentially up the amount of food that is available. One fish would produce 4 dried fish strips or something of that fashion.
Hunters would do what it sounds like they would do, hunting either what you target them towards or if left to their own devices the favored/easiest prey within their hunting range.
Warriors or Diplomats would do things ‘similar’ to what is in game now. Warriors would gather and be given armaments much like now and would use them as someone would imagine. While it would be unfortunately limited (possibly with more being added via patches and player input) warriors would have stances they could take or strategies they could use, like strafing or stalking or ambushes. Diplomats would gather musical instruments or train vocally to entertain the enemy also using tricks from a list of options. Different kinds of music would be listen and players would be able to even adapt their own beats (the game would follow the beat and tempo of a song and adapt an in game song from it without lyrics, I’ve done it with some cheap music programs). I imagine the music a creature likes would be purely random, the way people would KNOW is by having one of their creatures sneak over to that area (or through other means like just sending a diplomat to interact which could be dangerous) and listen to what their tribe is playing around the fire.
Not only would your decisions of whether to kill or make love would be listed within the history of your cute smackerasaurus, but also the major methods you used in those. Did you diplomatically discuss the issue, did you sing like a bird, did you dance like a star, did you primary throw spears from a hilltop covered in the poisonous goop of a berry, or did you axe the babies of your enemy tribe while listening to death metal and screaming at your mom (ok maybe not the last part). These would fill in a little substory of your creatures culture. Do they interact through dance, song, or warlike warry stuff.
ALL jobs would rise slowly with your continued use of those abilities. On easy a creature who’s exceptional at spears that dies would come back when you birth a new guy as that same level of awesome, on hard you’d lose them completely (if player response was negative we would make it a toggle). So someone who has been fishing for 5 minutes (you know 500 million millennia j/k) they would be better at it and return with more food than someone that was just born and likes to stare directly in the sun (oh morglorg…you silly).
Also as you gained enough food (100 units or something) you could plant another tribe hut somewhere else. This would essentially double the amount of people you could support, its an option ever RTS ever made has had and I think its appropriate here as well. Just remember that more locations means more targets possibly to have to defend.
Once you had unified or liquefied the entirety of the other species on your continent you would be given two
choices. Continue on your conquest of the world (continue playing) or move on to the road of civilization (advance). While not stated before this option would be available in all instances with no penalties either way (a few bonuses for waiting of course).
Your main civilization would reside in the most prosperous location of your tribes (unless there is a dead heat in which case multiples of your civilizations would be rising up to a maximum that would likely be set by your difficulty, game options, or computer specs.
Your buildings would be constructed as they are now, as would turrets and even walls. Again you would place your buildings wherever you wanted and then a road would close the gap. Walls would play an integral part in defense as vehicles would not all shoot over them now. They could be used to block off spaces between mountains or just to be sexy. Turrets would either place on the walls or on their own emplacements for a slightly raised cost.
You would have two forms of currency, spice and sporebucks. Spice would be the major diplomatic tool much like prescription drugs or gold in today’s market. If another party was not agreeing with you and was not interested in your petty cash you could offer them the spice you have refined and they’d get off your thorax. Refineries would also be available for automatically converting a certain amount of spice per hour into sporebucks (it would assume you are using it for improving commerce in your cities).
The majority of your money would come from refining, taxes (which would directly affect happiness like every game with taxes…even sim city…seriously folks MAXIS MADE SIM CITY), and from war because frankly war is obviously profitable for the winning side or the producing side.
Depending on your actions in the past you would have bonuses to certain things, spear chuckers would be better with artillery or ranged warfare, melee would have better times with close range combat, diplomats better abilities charismatically, musicians better abilities by being ignored militaristically (look at Jamaica). The people living in rival nations would either be of your own species or of a rival species that you befriended or ‘failed’ to eradicate in the past. Your previous actions and race relations would tie into the ease of diplomacy or the commonality of war.
The efficiency of the equipment placed on vehicles would be directly proportionate to its main core (power source), this size of its equipment (their weight would be their original weight in proportion to their modified size in the editor), and the location. An artillery cannon pointing at the floor would do GREAT jobs of blowing itself up but not shooting a plane out of the sky. Angles of shot would be decided by the guns position and the range would be decided by the whole efficiency aspect. The AI would take the guesswork of how far to stand back out if you are playing on easy and would do far less of the guesswork on hard . These settings would be available in the user settings so hard players could automate it more if they really wanted (sort of like civilization or any other good civ game…so ugh…civilization).
Also all vehicles would only travel at full speed for the entire distance their vehicle can make on one ‘fill’ to refill you’d either need to have fuel tankers (a new unit that would be added that people can also construct) with the armada or fly to your nearest city to refill in about 30 seconds (a nice buffer for your enemy). The only major penalties to no fuel on easy would be half speed and half shot, on hard it would be the same with a possibility of breaking down or falling out of the sky
This phase would end when you had either united or leveled the entirety of your competition, this could take an hour or it could take the rest of your life if you really wanted to get realistic
. Once you have dominated everyone you would be given the option of further refining and exploring (since you could go to a creature mode at any time as before and forever on) or the build your space shuttle.
Stage in Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace.
The quality of the space shuttle would initially be proportionate to the amount of money you have, a culture with a bajillion trillion dollars would make a better initial ship than a group of bums.
This penalty would be wholly and entirely temporary. As the space phase progressed you would be able to afford more and more upgrades physically as well as functionally. You would be able to upgrade the equipment you already have (which would use that fun little painting system they have to paint on new gears or lights to make it look fancier) or you could put on something bigger and better. Certain equipment would only visibly be available once you physically purchased the ability to use it. So attaching rockets would be available after your ship could fire them. A ship without rocket inserts would STILL be able to use rockets but at a reduced amount of damage (so people don’t have to lay out their ship like a white gangsters car just so it can defend itself but so that those who do can get a bonus) RELATIVE to those who do have them on (so I should just say without the bonus).
You’d again have two major currencies, spice, and sporebucks. Spice would again be the universal standard, for the exception of artifacts and perhaps rare materials that only legendary planets produce (like fig newtons)!
Spice would be traded for automatic cash per hour by trade routes, the amount of trade routes you could have would be directly proportionate to the level of mercantilism you have. Oh right…getting ahead of myself.
There would be a few major stats initially (before any expansions or updates) that a player can raise just by having fun in space. The first is combat which is raised by fighting, the next is nature (or some swankier name) that would rise by populating and terraforming planets (and lower by destroying them), diplomacy/charisma which would rise or lower by your practices with other nations, and the final jack-of-all-trades sandbox stat.
The sandbox stat would rise the more you played around and the longer you played so that everyone gets benefits for just enjoying the game and supporting its team. An in game suggestion and bug system would be available that (if your request was taken or bug you reported fixed) you would gain additional points for. Anyone abusing these features would have them revoked on their accounts but I don’t foresee that happening.
Back to what I was saying before. Your trade routes would be limited ONLY by the amount of creatures you meet and by the level of your mercantilism. The genius here is that your mercantilism rises also as your trade routes succeed. So just by having them open you raise you amount you can have. This would help you to expand your horizons and to conquer the entire galaxy fiscally if you wish (also races with successful trade routes will more than likely stay friendly with you).
Your fleet would also only be limited by your war skill (which rises with use either offensively or defensively) and could be comprised of your own ships or others. MOST races in the beginning of space would not be at the space age yet, you would find in this spore version that a neighbor with a spaceship will initially be like a neighbor in real life with lots of money they want to give to you!
You will have the option to make your own new space friends quicky by dropping monoliths, crop circles, or even planting artifacts that lead directly to space ships in their cities. This way you are not alone but also you are not just one of 90,000,000,000,000,000,000 species that have discovered space travel.
Essentially you would have two major goals provided by your people here. Discover what is truly at the center of your universe, and a secondary one decided by your major playstyle. Either conquering the galaxy, making friends, making babies, or eating baskin robbins icecream. These would be entirely optional though as they’d only affect your citizens charisma (and a badge or two).
At this point we are standing in space and wondering…what do I do next? Considering you can leave your ship on any planet and even decide to start back at any stage with your creature (short of single cell) without losing your main empire (reached by a ui function that puts you into one of your many clones that is fully formed) you could relive the fun of the past stuff without starting a new game. Start a new strain of your creature that you could work to make completely different from your other one. You could get yourself worshipped as a god unknowingly by your people on a foreign planet or even enslave the entirety of the galaxy as you destroy their leaders and build nothing but workshops.
This is a major point where player feedback would be received (as my imagination is limited) and used for the first expansion and subsequent patches. Players would think of things they ‘really’ want to do and those functions would be added. Quite simple as that.
So while not complete. This is ‘my’ SPORE. The thing I thought was being made, the game that I expected by someone as incredibly interesting as Will Wright. It’s a shame I’ll only see it on paper, or poorly plagurized by some major industry company (they’ll botch it because I won’t be there to SPORE as the game is made poorly).
Anyone who has questions or wants to know how I'd handle something that I forgot to mention I'd be glad to tell them (just post here or my website I check both).
- Rico -
PS. Copy with correct formatting at: http://islesofscion.net/2008/09/12/if-i-had-been-the-head-figure-on-the-team-for-spore/