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Spore Is EA's New Ace 406

BusinessWeek reports on EA's Next Big Thing. From the article: "EA is stumbling, and a big part of its time-tested strategy is about to change. The company hopes that its next mega-franchise will revolve not around a football star, a boy wizard, or a dashing British spy, but...a microbe. The game is called Spore. Developed by Will Wright, the creator of SimCity and The Sims, it lets players design an invertebrate in its primordial stages and then guide its evolution until the creature's offspring develop into a thriving civilization with cities, religion, and spaceships. EA's ambitious goal is to create more such innovative, internally developed games while lessening the company's dependence on professional sports and Hollywood movie franchises."
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Spore Is EA's New Ace

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  • Spore video (Score:5, Informative)

    by RonnyJ ( 651856 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:51PM (#14917383)
    • Re:Spore video (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ryvar ( 122400 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:53PM (#14917407) Homepage
      That's the partial video, the full video is here [], free registration - which does not require you to validate your email address so any garbage works - is required.

      • err, registration?? pfff... no need to waste your time. []

        have fun...
      • by idontneedanickname ( 570477 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @04:04PM (#14918579)
        The full video [] including Will Wright's remarks about the demo scene and the procedurally generated games and such is also available on Google Video.
    • by johneee ( 626549 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:02PM (#14917519)
      My wife saw that video, turned to me and said, "we're getting this game, right?"

      I'll give her this, when I told her it would cost us somewhere in the region of $2000 she actually had to consider it for a full second and a half before she said ok.

      So, I'll get a new computer, but I won't be able to use it for six months, and I won't actually see my wife for that time either... Thanks Will Wright.
    • Don't forget the official site [].
    • Spore video on Google: [] 420559198&q=spore

      Um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um um..
  • From what I've seen, Spore looks to be awesome []! Simply huge! I wonder, though, when it will be done - From what I've heard it's been developed on for a LONG time. From the video, it looks fairly complete, though!
  • Old links (Score:3, Informative)

    by moral kiosk ( 532671 ) * on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:51PM (#14917390)
    Video of Will Wright's Spore Demo (~35 min): 420559198&q=spore [] PA's take: []
  • GTA model (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Douglas Simmons ( 628988 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:52PM (#14917392) Homepage
    I'm surprised to see people going in the opposite direction that GTA did insofar as raciness considering they had the most successful game. Perhaps it wasn't just GTA's R-ratedness that made it such a hit but the quality of the game itself, and it appears that EA and other companies agree if they're making games about microbes in lieu of cop/whore/pedestrian killer games.
    • Re:GTA model (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chrismcdirty ( 677039 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:56PM (#14917452) Homepage
      Of course it's the openness of the game that made it so popular, and not the fact that it's outright offensive to a multitude of people. Custer's Revenge had plenty of sex and violence, and a handful of people remember playing it. The Sims, on the other hand, managed to be one of the top selling games of all time by being an open-ended game with no real ending point.
    • Re:GTA model (Score:3, Insightful)

      by misleb ( 129952 )
      What do you mean? It *is* racy. It is about evolution. Hot topic these days. It'll be banned in Churches around the country!

      Or is it Intelligent Design? I can't really tell. ;-)

      • by sehryan ( 412731 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:39PM (#14917877)
        "Or is it Intelligent Design? I can't really tell."

        I guess it depends on who is playing it.
      • Speaking as a full-on, 100% bible-believing Christian, I very very much would like to play this game. It's a game. It's not the real world. In that way, I see no reason to ban it, or whatever. Now, if the game claimed (which it does not) to represent the exact same structure as creation on Earth, then that's something else.

        While I'm sure there will be some idiots out there who will not take a moment to review the game, and condemn it outright, I see no reason for this game to be "bad" or "threatening"
        • by Manmademan ( 952354 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @03:38PM (#14918390)
          Speaking as a full-on, 100% bible-believing Christian, I very very much would like to play this game. It's a game. It's not the real world. In that way, I see no reason to ban it, or whatever. Now, if the game claimed (which it does not) to represent the exact same structure as creation on Earth, then that's something else.

          Why would that be "something else?" As you said this is just a game. Whether or not you agree with what it claims is no reason to ban it. The Bible Game claims that the biblical representation of Genesis is 100% truth and you don't see atheists storming the streets in protest. It's EA's right to make a game that claims whatever they wish, as long as that claim isn't outright slanderous.

    • I'm not surprised by it. Non-violent games like The Sims mean a much wider target audience, as well as appealing more to females.
    • by yppiz ( 574466 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @06:54PM (#14920042) Homepage
      Just wait until someone discovers the Hot Chordate [] mod.

      --Pat "mod +1 Evolutionary Biology / GTA tie-in"
  • Seriously, the game has been in development for quite a while, and there has been no news of late of a potential release date. I'm excited about the game, sure, but until it comes out, I don't care if EA thinks it is going to save them or not.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:52PM (#14917403)
    Or really something new?

    That would be something new for EA.
    • by danpsmith ( 922127 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:22PM (#14917727)
      It's really something new. If you watch the demonstration, this game is basically many games in one. You start off as a microbe basically eating other micro-organisms in order to gain strength or points or whatever and trying not to get killed by other microbes. As you evolve you eventually go from bacteria->sea creature->land creature, then after you are finished that evolution, tribes form allowing you to have control over the tribe. After this cities form and a civ like game goes on. After you have populated the whole world you can leave your home planet and populate others. Magnificent. The most impressive bit had to have been when I saw him drop a creature from one planet onto a moon and the creature simply exploded because the moon had no atmosphere. Then there's the fact that this will use an online database to link up everyone's creatures and try to maintain an eco system. I mean, I honestly think this game is a little bit more than a "sim" something. It's more like a computer incarnation of the living breathing thing, maybe a little sillier looking, but very scaled and nice otherwise.
    • Well, it looks like it would work more like an RTS than a simulation - much cooler than stomping out bots with your delete tool in SimEarth
  • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:53PM (#14917411)
    Reminds me of a "far side" cartoon: Movie Concepts Walt Disney Never Brought to Cinema:
    "Bert the adventurous amoebe"
    "Andy the sandworm"
    etc :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:53PM (#14917416)
    Billy and the Intelligent Design workshop.

    They had to tone it down a little.
  • and then guide its evolution until the creature's offspring develop into a thriving civilization with cities, religion, and spaceships.

    Game sponsored by the Intelligent Design Network.
  • by the grace of R'hllor ( 530051 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:55PM (#14917438)
    "Innovative" and "franchise" are incompatible terms. A franchise, after all, is exploiting an existing idea, and is all about "same". A game like Spore, should it be succesful, will be succesful because it is unique, not because there are a zillion and one Spore-a-likes.

    On whether the game will be succesful; it's essentially a new gametype (or mix thereof) by an industry vet, it's being hyped to hell and back, and it's got the backing of EA. I hear echoes of Black and White, and the echoes do not sound good.
    • Spore is not black and white. Besides, given Will Wright's background, I don't think he will produce a failed game. Everything he has done in the past has been borderline amazing. He's one sharp cookie and although I don't think Spores will have the success of The Sims, it will still be at least as popular as his other Sim-type games.
    • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:34PM (#14917827)
      "Innovative" and "franchise" are incompatible terms. "

      Wrong. See Super Mario Brothers.

  • by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:55PM (#14917439) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if Spore will have an Intelligent Design cheat code that would skip you right to homosapien and win the game.
    • Re:Cheat codes? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by semifamous ( 231316 )
      Homosapien wins?


      What planet do you live on?

      Have you seen what current homosapiens are doing?
      • Re:Cheat codes? (Score:2, Informative)

        by AniamL ( 948455 )
        It's homo sapiens, which is Latin for wise man. Homosapien doesn't even really make sense. (Sorry, I need to make my study of classics useful)...
    • Actually, the whole game is an 'intelligent design' model. (Well, okay, maybe not when you're playing it.)

      I think you want a God-mode where you simply go from dirt => to sentient species.


  • by Spiffness ( 941077 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:57PM (#14917466) Homepage
    Its not EA's new ace. I dont give any credit to a company that BUYS good ideas and claims them as their own.

    Will Wright is the mastermind of this one. Its Will Wright's next smash hit.

    Screw EA, if they had their way, we'd all be buying 6 sports games a year, every year, and thats it.

    EA is doing its part to provide slashdot with the weekly 'video games in a slump?' stories.

    Will Wright is like a recently eaten explorer trapped inside a monsters body.
  • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:57PM (#14917468)
    Google video is nice and all, but eats my cpu. So, here some screenshots for the people with underpowered pcs: =1 [] []

  • Sounds like Sim Earth meets Civilization. Could be cool. Here's hoping we see a cameo from the monolith again.
  • by jandrese ( 485 ) * <> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:58PM (#14917475) Homepage Journal
    Hmm, this game sounds like Evolutionay propaganda to me. I demand that the game include a "truth" mode where your civilization simply appears as fully developed humans (minus one rib in the male model) and goes from there. :)

    Actually, that would be a clever little joke on the creator's part. Perhaps include a "-dogma" commandline switch that does just that. If they really wanted to get some reactionary types mad, they could even include various modes for all of the crazy creation myths from various world religions.
  • "EA's ambitious goal is to create more such innovative, internally developed games while lessening the company's dependence on professional sports and Hollywood movie franchises."

    But when questioned about the recent exclusivity rights to NFL teams and the James Bond franchise, the PR rep paused briefly before screaming "Look, behind you!" and bolting out the door.

  • This is complete PR fluff for EA. Nothing in this article suggests EA is actually doing anything differently. Yeah, they're hoping an interesting game like Spore will make them money -- but that's nothing new. They've been milking Will Wright's Sims franchise for years.

    If you look at the other new game they mention, it's yet another Medal of Honor game. Wow, a company like EA is really innovating by changing the way its employees work to churn out the fiftieth iteration of a proven franchise! How wonderfu

  • Videos are old (Score:5, Informative)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:02PM (#14917523)
    The video links people are posting are about a year old. So yeah, they're cool, but they're nothing new, and we haven't heard a peep about the game since then.
  • This feels like some early level of Spore, very fun game. []

    Enjoy :)
  • FUN TIME (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SandMonkey ( 926467 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:03PM (#14917535)
    I know it's a tenuous link at best... but this game really reminds me of "EVO Search for Eden" which was an old game on the SNES with a similar concept... You start out as a fish, and you eat smaller animals to gain points, you then use these points to evolve your character. The game went through several stages (Fish/Dinosaur/Bird etc) and was great fun! Hopefully SPORE will be just as - if not more -fun!
    • Not at all tenuous... when watching that video, the first parts of the game reminded me very much of an Evo with updated graphics. Which is a great thing - Evo was pretty addictive! I'm looking forward to that part of Spore.

      The sandbox mode at the end - with the UFO and all that - seems to be designed to let you replay the parts you enjoyed the most... also great, don't need to start a new game to play around in the single-cell mode, for example.

      The only part I'm not very sure of is the "RTS" mode, and th
  • by coinreturn ( 617535 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:04PM (#14917548)
    I quit playing games awhile back because I was sick of the selection being limited to Hollywood Crap, Sports Crap, and tired FPS. Let's get back to the innovative games that are fun to play instead of just franchising the same old shit.
  • In other word this will be roughly in concept Sim Earth 2, where you would start really low (well maybe not spore but nearly) go up to develop new species, up to one getting sentient and at the very end the city go into space. Also you could turn the sun up, make some experiement in climat etc... Certainly not inovative, but if really well done (GOOD GAMEPLAY without too much accent on big flashy grafrics) then I see it as a hit.
    • Indeed it does sound a bit like a rehash of SimEarth. If that's the case, I hope it is to a T. I hope the include all of the biosphere, atmosphere, etc. controls so we can play around with the many potential outcomes our planet may encounter. I for one learned a truckload from playing SimEarth as a kid.

      On another note, the real innovative part of this game (which is clear if you want the video), is that the components of each environment, biome, society, civilization, and planet are all procedurally gene
    • My thought exactly. And it's about time -- Sim Earth was long one of my favorite games. I still have it somewhere -- what I lack is a system capable of playing it (as it was a DOS VCPI game, and I run all Mac and Linux now).

      One comment however -- in Sim earth you could start off without even a spore. You would have to bombard the planet with comets in the hope of eventually evolving a primitive bacteria, and then work your way up from there.

      Sim Earth had some rather fun elements to it that went beyond

  • by dalleboy ( 539331 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:06PM (#14917563) Homepage
    Spore: Hot Date
    Spore: Bustin' Out
    Spore: Nightlife
  • I was an avid fan of Outpost but the game had some serious bugs that were never fixed. Outpost 2 came out and killed the game concept, turnign it into an early Age of Empires like RTS. Maxis had, at the time, a new game under development called Sim Mars whichi looked like what Outpost was supposed to be only better. I was exicted and couldn't wait to play the game then it was quietly killed. Apparently Maxis was developing this new game, the Sims, and Sim Mars got the axe. The Sim franchise had some ve
  • by rayde ( 738949 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:12PM (#14917630) Homepage
    while i dutifully buy an EA football game once a year, i really think EA needs to move away from its dependency on existing franchises and follow Nintendo's lead by innovating into new gameplay ideas. Let's hope it's not just lip service.

    so here is my idea for EA. I think they should change madden releases to bi-yearly, with a $5 or so roster update/patch in the off-years. The huge pool of resources poured into madden every year could be directed into these smaller home-grown projects.

    Will they lose money? I dunno. They'll make money on their roster update, that's for sure. And if they create a few gems with those reallocated resources, they're opening up loads of future franchise possibilities.

    so the choices are to continue to cash-in now, or to plant these seeds for the future.

    • The reason why they won't move to a bi-yearly model is that it would result in a loss in profits. They can keep cranking out the same game each year, having people like yourself shell out the $50 or $60 for it, and all they do is update the graphics engine a little and tweak a game aspect here or there. It doesn't require a whole lot of effort, they aren't really creating something revolutionary, and they already have an adequate demand on the market. Do you think EA bought out the NFL licensing rights so
    • I think most of Slashdot would like to know this.

      Why the fuck do you buy a game series you're unhappy with? At what point in the sale do you think "This is identical to the game I already have 3 versions of. Why am I buying another version?"

      It's like buying Tetris over and over because they change the name of the blocks and add more eye candy for each line being removed.
  • I am one of many who saw the Spore video and nearly wet himself. If this game lives up to the hype (well...if you can call a very in-depth live gameplay demonstration hype) it will be a major blockbuster.

    One of the things I am concerned about is that while it is absolutely fantastic how they plan on integrating the content of other players into your worlds....I want a method to limit the inclusion of that content to just my friends. Which sounds more fun to you....having a little "survival of the fittest"

    • One of the things I am concerned about is that while it is absolutely fantastic how they plan on integrating the content of other players into your worlds....I want a method to limit the inclusion of that content to just my friends. Which sounds more fun to you....having a little "survival of the fittest" contest with random creatures from people you have never met, or having a biological death-match against the creations of your circle of friends?

      I showed the video of Spore from last year's GDC to my

  • > EA's ambitious goal is to create more such innovative, internally developed games while lessening the company's dependence on professional sports and Hollywood movie franchises."

    This is great news. EA is massive and their focus affects the whole gaming industry. I always hated all those boring EA sports titles and dull titles that just cashed-in on having the same name as the latest movie.
  • I don't see how this is anything new. EA's "time-tested strategy" (if you can somehow call a mere decade time-tested; completely ignoring the previous decade of the company's existance) is going safe for things. Sure, the context might be slightly off, but the gameplay itself isn't exactly new. Further, betting that the designer of the highest selling computer game ever is going to produce a winner (even on name recognition alone) doesn't strike me as a terribly risky call.
  • If you watched the Spore intro at the (developers?) conference (check for google video) you'll notice the lead programmer mention the problem with content, how much it costs, how much people demand etc. etc. He goes on to say that content is not the solution to making a game good. Fast-forward to the end of the talk- all he can talk about is content, how the game will be incredible because of all the user content, content stored in small procedures, content shared instantly, etc. etc. I thought he said c
  • by Deep Fried Geekboy ( 807607 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:24PM (#14917748)
    Spore is going to be a monster hit. The video is from a year ago. Knowing Will Wright, it has probably evolved a long way since then.

    Anyone else play SimLife, which was a kind of very primitive precursor to this? I bought it, along with all of the other Maxis sim-titles way back when, and spent a long while playing it, but found it frustrating in the end because the complexity was not well handled and every scenario seemed to decompose into a monoculture or a mass extinction. If Spore can nail all that, it will be a massive winner. It will also prove WW's point that procedural content is better than created content.

    What I like about WW is that he seems to have thought more deeply about the concept of play than anyone else I can think of in the videogame realm. His are the games you don't feel bad giving to your kids (in fact I don't feel bad about giving most games to my kids).
  • So their new strategy is to actually develop games?

    The mind boggles.

    Expect layoffs.

  • The most interesting aspect I saw during the video was Wright's comment on the fact that traditionally in games you start off with a sandbox mode, or trial run through, which are used to learn the rules, and develop some strategies. In Spore though you work through the creature creation mode, then once you at the city and world management, the building and vehicle modes. Then finally after you have conquered your little world. You can use other planets in your solar system and then galaxy as your sandbox t
  • Weak sauce. I've been doing this with the gunk that falls out of my keyboard for years.
  • To me, this game seems a bit like Sim Earth, a 1990 release by Maxis. In Sim Earth, you controlled a planet to develop various microbes into life forms, and see what life form became the dominant one.

    Sure, this game is going to focus more on the life form than the planet, but it has a certain ring to it.

    Sim Earth was fun, if tedious. The Maxis website has a tiny mention of it being released in 1990, but they don't list the game for sale today, even though it goes to the website.
  • by tukkayoot ( 528280 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @03:16PM (#14918192) Homepage
    I've said it many [] times [], but I'm going to say it again ... Spore looks like it will be a fun game, but what's most exciting to me about it is the heavy emphasis it puts on procedural generation ... the way the game is smart enough to figure out how to animate the virtually endless variety of creatures you're going to be able to create ... and also because of how easy Wil makes it look to create content using the tools included as a part of the game.

    Raph Koster outlines in his presentation titled Moore's Wall [] how, right now, the growing power of computers is making games prohibitively expensive to produce. As the power of the machine grows, there is pressure to utitlize the new power to improve on the presentation (mainly, the graphics) of the game, which makes the game a lot more costly produce without adding much in terms of gameplay, and usually resulting in a reduction in the amount of actual game content.

    One way to break this trend is to utilize the increasing CPU power of PCs to procedurally generate content, or to assist the player in creating his their own content. Of course, our procedural algorithims and software have to improve a lot if it's going to be an important supplement (let alone replacement) to the traditional way of doing things, which is to have professional artists hand-craft everything.

    In this regard, Spore looks to be a huge step in the right direction. We need more projects like Spore to mature the technology. The fact that EA seems to be recognizing Wil's genious and throwing their support behind his project is a good thing, if the suits at top see the promise of this kind of approach, it can only mean good things for the industry. EA was not exactly in love with the idea of The Sims before it was proven an unmitigated success, despite the fact that Will was already an acclaimed game designer well before that game's release. So, even if EA isn't entirely turning over a new leaf, at least they're trusting their golden boy enough to say that they're pinning their hopes on his newest experimental idea.

  • Spore has a good (though not novel) concept and appears to have a reasonable design, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good game or a popular game. Whether a game succeeds or fails, you only know once it's in the market.
  • So are they going to release a Linux version of the game?

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein