I haven’t written about Spore here yet, because I don’t feel I’ve played enough to write about it. I want to get to the Space stage with at least two creatures before I start thinking about it out loud, and I want to get at least semi-familiar with the Space stage. Since I forgot to back up my savegame before reinstalling my machine over the weekend, it’ll be a while.
But today I gave a presentation about Spore in class. The course is Digital Theory and Analysis, and today’s class was about interactive narratives, specifically hypertext novels (which are boring) and computer games (which make life worth living). In my preparations last night, I’d made a paper full of notes for my presentation, laying out models for explaining game systems (specifically Marc LeBlanc’s MDA model ) and different types of linearity.
As it turns out, my presentation was to be at the end of a 3 hour lecture, and our teacher Kjetil had covered about half of what I wanted to say about linearity. I had originally planned to start out by outlining a rough model of a game system as a circle encompassing various mechanics that interacted with each other and the player, creating dynamics. Then I would use Deus Ex to demonstrate first micro-interactivity (moving around, pulling out a gun, shooting, picking up ammo, using a medkit) and then macro-interactivity (shooting Lebedev, quickloading, shooting Anna Navarre, and demonstrating how the game reacts).
After that, I would proceed to talk about meta-interactivity (using editing tools to change either the circle or the mechanics in it) by showing off UnrealEd and inevitably a bit of TNM. Finally I would use Spore to show how efforts are being made to integrate many of these editing tools into the games themselves and making them user friendly enough for regular players.
But sensing that all of this would take 30-40 minutes at least (I only had 15 minutes) and that the last thing people wanted was more computer game theory, I opted instead to quickly show UnrealEd to give everybody an idea of how complicated and hostile professional editing tools are, and then spend my 10 minutes goofing around in Spore’s creature creator.
Which turned out to be the popular choice. First I showed them the simple creature creator, moulding a shapeless blob into the semblance of a living creature. Then I showed them and explained Sporepedia, by which they seemed impressed, and then I went back to the more complicated creature creator to goof around while I took questions – and there turned out to be a surprising amount of questions about the game. From the amount of smiles among the crowd, I think it’s fair to call the presentation a success, and I was especially pleased at the laughter when I made my improvised monster cower in fear or dance the hippity-hop.
In the end, I had a rather ugly orange thing with no eyes (pictured right). I asked the class what I should call it, and somebody shouted “Kjetil”. Everybody laughed as I typed that in and saved my new creation.