The Wild Kingdom of “Spore”

March 20th, 2006 | by ian |

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.

  1. 2 Responses to “The Wild Kingdom of “Spore””

  2. By jay on Jun 23, 2006 | Reply

    totally with you on everything.

    planiverse is a great book, really inspired me as a kid. i love alife, also got into that as a wee lad – sim ant was an early favorite, and it probably led me to make the ridiculous decision to buy the alife conference paper compendium with one of my friends in 5th grade.

    i’m thinking about moving over to wordpress sometime, i may pester you with some questions soon.

    ps is the name a noob saibot reference?

  3. By ian on Jun 23, 2006 | Reply

    Cool, another Planiverse fan! WordPress is fun and very powerful but I haven’t had enough time to work on customizing it. And yes nudecybot is partly derived from noob saibot, as well as previous nick, so good guess!

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