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It has now been 2 months since the release of the popular first expansion to spore, Galactic Adventures, and in this time, plenty has been said on its merits, and where it failed. Spore Galactic Adventures was built to revive the dream that was partially lost in Spore, by not only enhancing the space stage through the addition of adventures, but allowing players to create their own missions for thousands of others to play.
The lead up to Spore Galactic Adventures was rather large for an expansion, with Maxis teaming up with Robot Chicken to create some exclusive adventures which have become very popular. Another key factor in the run up to the release was the Adventure Camp, which helped, along with the Robot Chicken adventures, to hype Galactic Adventures up to being a game making engine, one which could rejuvenate Spore, and give it the much needed kick it needed.
Yet although the editor in Galactic Adventures was a breakthrough for the fact that it provided a simple yet effective way of creating missions, it did not fix the main concerns people had with the original Spore game. Galactic Adventures was more of a separate game which was occasionally intertwined with the core Spore gameplay, this does not make it bad, but it does not address the problems with Spore.
Spore was a game which had too much to fill. You can always argue that it was made to be ‘cute’, and to a degree this was true, however the real problem with Spore was that it was trying to do so many different things that no game had done before, and put them all together. This is never a good strategy to go with, and led to the different elements in the game feeling like they didn’t fit in. Spore also had the problem of lacking actual connecting content, yes there was hours of gameplay, and endless creations to make, yet the gameplay in each minigame was quick, painful and in all but a few instances boring. For example in the tribal stage, you win in about 15 minutes on the hardest setting. The lack of connecting also detracts from the more positive elements of the game, and in addition the limited choices you have in each stage hardly effect what happens in the next stage.
The space stage was considered the most fleshed out part of Spore, with a whole galaxy waiting to be conquered, however these tasks quickly became boring, with missions which became extremely repetitive and battles rather boring. Since space stage was the most talked about, Maxis decided after light consultation with the Spore community to start creating an expansion where players could create their own missions to beam down to a planet for others to play. The idea for Galactic Adventures was born.
Galactic Adventure Ideas
The main idea behind the expansion is to allow more interesting missions for people to play as they explore the Spore galaxy, and the ability to create these missions for others to play. One of the most trumpeted aspects of Galactic Adventures was the adventure creator, and in all respects it is one of the best simple game making tool. However for many members of the Spore community, the adventure creation tool was not enough, and did not allow many of the adventures that they envisaged.
Many users had planned on creating epic sagas, with character dependant storylines similar to what can be done in editors like Oblivion and NeverwinterNights. However many critical elements were missing from Galactic Adventures. One feature which was sorely missing was mission and conversation trees, which is a standard part to creating any interactive RPG. Without this, it left the adventures lacking the crucial element of interaction. The main other feature which was missing was scripts, or the ability to have at least simple interactions between characters in the story.
Nonetheless the ability to create adventures which are engaging and interactive is within Galactic Adventures grasp. As shown by some amazing adventures (Whom God Destroys), Galactic Adventures does have the capacity to entertain.
Yet wasn’t Galactic Adventures built to improve the space stage gameplay, and remove the repetitiveness of missions? Maxis made it so that while playing you could get any mission which did not have a locked captain. That means any mission, no matter how bad. If you had a perfect world and everyone put their time into making their missions, most of the missions would be enjoyable and worth playing.
Yet this is not the case. Often you come across adventures which can’t be won or have no plot and have a simple goal. These can be very frustrating, and the only way to fix this is to make Spore only download buddy adventures, however this will often mean you have access to only hundreds of adventures, in contrast to the hundreds of thousands of adventures out there.
Maxis could have provided a few simple steps to fix these problems. The most basic one would have been to make all creators ‘play’ there adventure beforehand with a basic captain for adventures where you choose your captain. Also they could have allowed players to choose what sort of adventures they can download by choosing how complex they can be, for example i could choose to not have missions which had fewer than 2 goals in them download automatically.
While there are many faults in Galactic Adventures, it can be agreed that Maxis have gone out of their way to create a vast and expansive game which allows the creation of player made gameplay.
Did it fail or succeed?
I’ll leave that up to you, except to say that in the eyes of Maxis, a top 10 ranking last month has made sure that Spore will continue for many years to come.