Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spore: You control evolution

Everybody is talking about Spore, the new Electronic Arts game that lets you create your own creature - and save the galaxy! Terry Johnson, io9's resident biogeek, has an interesting post on the evolution aspects of the game, which he calls "a good balance between scientific fact and playability."
Your critter's biology - the choices that you made while creating and upgrading your creature - will influence the culture that develops as your creature moves into the civilization phase of the game. Twitchy many-eyed herbivores built by nature to constantly search for and flee from trouble do not easily develop into Klingons. The game is likely to be more forgiving than evolution, but one can imagine a player sighing, "The appendix...what was I thinking?" [. . .] Environment, change, and consequence aren't the whole story, but they are a pretty good introduction. As a teacher I've always been interested in entertainment that manages to educate without being obnoxious. If science is done entirely without a sense of play it ends up being wearisome and fruitless.
PZ Myers agrees that it's fun to play with, but he thinks it's "not going to be about evolution, no matter what their PR says — I've read the blurbs, and it's all non-evolutionary." Hmmm. Since the actual game isn't out yet, I think we'll have to wait and see.

While the game and the full-function version of creature creator aren't free, you can download a free trial version of the creature creator to play with. Unfortunately it won't run on my laptop so I can't give you a first-hand account. You can watch this video to see how it works:


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