Spore looks to be a truly amazing game in the works from the original creators of Simcity. It seems to combine elements of some other classic simulation strategy games such as Populous and Civilization, crossed with the more modern “god” games such as Impossible Creatures and Black and White. One of my brothers and I played lots of strategy games growing up and while I don’t really make time to play often anymore (my work is enough of a challenge) I do kinda miss ‘em.
I used to play the little known Simlife, released in 1992 by the same folks it was a sort of precursor to Spore and remains a personal sentimental favorite. Since I studied evolutionary genetics for my B.Sc. at McGill’s laboratory for experimental evolution I spent a lot of time at a microscope and in the genetics lab. I was naturally interested in evolutionary models using artificial life, particularly Tierra and Population (if you know where to find “Population” please let me know). What was interesting with Simlife was the way you could inspect and modify genes, the organisms or their environments making it a useful tool for understanding the causes and effects of biological evolution. This also made it entirely inaccessible as a game for most folks without a biology degree who just wanted to have fun. Those interested in giving it a go I’m happy to lend my copy, which can still run fine on windows:
Spore, however, looks like a LOT of FUN for pretty much anyone. My concern with Spore is that it is less about understanding evolutionary processes and more about playing god, and thus may appeal to the intelligent design crowd, possibly even helping their campaign of misinformation. I’ll reserve judgement until I can actually can touch and feel this game.
You can check out the game in detail in the excellent presentation below, I recommend at least watching the opening sequence which reminded me of one of my favorite all-time stories: The Planiverse:
Regardless of whether the game is reasonably educational or downright misleading regarding the process of biological evolution, the first thing I will do in Spore is try to create or “evolve” a Flying Spaghetti Monster.