October 1st, 2008


The Spore diaries

Last night I played Spore for a couple hours again. I intend to do so again, probably repeatedly, but I am not sure for how long.

I am still early in the Space Age, with only 3 star systems. I am also lucky enough (or is it karma?) to be almost surrounded by a very friendly empire. After having accepted some trade routes with them, they are all smiley faces. (But they are too good businessmen to trade with.) The next neighbor however is asking for tribute every some minutes unless I have recently done a quest for them, then they shut up for an hour or two. Now that the game is patched, the amount is reasonable enough, but add the random pirate attacks and the fact that my single space ship is evidently all the fleet that I and my allies have to pitch against pirates and random Grox attacks. Exploring the galaxy is obviously a bad idea because a) I will run into more religious fascist who will also demand tribute every few minutes, and b) while I am far away, pirates will attack my home systems.

Terraforming seems - at this point at least - only possible with planets of a certain size and distance from the sun. I tried to heat up a small cold planet where I had found a rare color of spice, but it cooled again before I had time to do anything about it. Which is kind of realistic, of course, but also means there are precious few habitable planets that are not already in use.

I keep playing more out of curiosity than fun. Not curiosity about what new creatures I will meet - I can see them all on Spore.com and they play the same no matter how they look - and not curiosity about the badges. No, my curiosity is about whether the game magically becomes better after some random event that I should be waiting for. The answer is a tentative yes: I already got a longer jump radius after making 150 (or was it 200?) small star jumps. I also got a slightly larger storage capacity after some trading or something. I even got a better weapon to use against the pirates. So S/S Songneedle is somewhat less pathetic than at the start, and this pleases me.

Overall, though, my impression is still that the game is more a "proof of concept" that I want to study than something I'll play for years just for fun. It reminds me more of my kanji studies than of The Sims 2. It is interesting, but not quite fun. I really doubt the 5 installations limit is going to be a problem, unless I have overlooked something important.
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