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Archive for September, 2008

‘Spore’ hits a million copies sold since launch

Posted by ballightning on September 26, 2008

CNET

Spore, the new evolution game from Electronic Arts, has sold a million units since its September 7 launch, the publisher said Wednesday.

The sales figures are for copies of the game on the PC, the Mac, and the Nintendo DS.

The results are impressive and important for EA, especially given the heavy expectations that awaited the game, which was first announced in 2005 and was first expected in 2006, and also because the game has been beset by some controversy surrounding its DRM (digital rights management) restrictions.

And early indications from retailers around the country showed that the game was selling well in its first few weeks on store shelves.

However, the sales numbers don’t match those delivered by recent hits like Grand Theft Auto IV, from Rockstar Games and Guitar Hero III, from Activision, which sold multiple millions of copies right off the bat.

Still, for a game with what some might see as a wonky or overly intellectual theme–the evolution of species and the colonization of space–a million copies sold in just 17 days is a good sign.

The big question, of course, is whether Spore can continue to sell over time and justify EA’s stated hopes that the game could end up becoming a full-scale franchise along the lines of The Sims.

Written by Daniel Terdiman

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US: Spore dominates PC gaming

Posted by ballightning on September 25, 2008

Spore has dominated the US PC gaming charts taking out both first and second position on the US PC software sales chart for the week ended September 13, Spore sold more copies then the more expensive Spore Galactic Addition. Spore also took out fourth position with many shoppers continuing to buy Spore Creature Creatorr.

Here is the US charts:

The US PC chart follows:

  • 1. Spore
  • 2. Spore Galactic Edition
  • 3. The Sims 2 Apartment Life
  • 4. Spore Creature Creator
  • 5. World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest
  • 6. The Sims 2 Double Deluxe
  • 7. World Of Warcraft
  • 8. World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade
  • 9. Warcraft III Battle Chest
  • 10. Crysis

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Court action against EA

Posted by ballightning on September 25, 2008

With all the vitriol surrounding Spore’s DRM, it was only a matter of time before lawyers got involved. Courthouse News Service reports (via Shacknews) that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Electronic Arts in federal court, which alleges the company defrauds its customers by not disclosing the installation of SecuROM copy protection as part of Spore’s installation.

Interestingly, while the most vocal complaints regarding Spore’s DRM have focused on the ways it limits the use of the game, this lawsuit is concerned with the fact that it exists at all. “Although consumers are told that the game uses access control and copy protection technology, consumers are not told that this technology is actually an entirely separate, stand-alone program which will download, install and operate on their computers along with the Spore download,” the complaint reads (you can read the full PDF document here).

“Consumers are given no control, rights or options over SecuROM,” the complaint continues. “The program is uninstallable. Once installed, it becomes a permanent part of the consumer’s software portfolio. Even if the consumer uninstalls Spore and entirely deletes it from their computer, SecuROM remains a fixture in their computer unless and until the consumer completely wipes their hard drive through reformatting or replacement of the drive.”

The complaint also argues that the copy protection software is “secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernal), and surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation on the computer, preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations.” What these certain circumstances and hardware operations are, however, are not detailed.

The lawsuit was filed by Melissa Thomas “on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated.” Thomas is represented by Alan Himmelfarb, of KamberEdelson of Vernon, California, and New York. The lawsuit is seeking payments for “actual damages, statutory damages, punitive or treble damages, and other such relief as provided by the statutes cited herein,” as well as restitution of legal fees and “relief in the form of restitution and/or disgorgement of all unlawful or illegal profits received by defendant as a result of the unfair, unlawful, and/or deceptive conduct alleged in herein” (you have to love legal writing).

While this lawsuit isn’t very surprising considering the controversy Spore has been under for its DRM, it is a bit odd when you consider Spore is far from the first EA game to use SecuROM copy protection — Mass Effect used the same software before it, and the recently released Crysis: Warhead (as well as the upcoming Red Alert 3) uses it as well.

 

By Kris Pigna

We’re be reporting more on the court action as it happens.

Story Link

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Spore Origins Review

Posted by ballightning on September 24, 2008

Spore Origins has stunned the iPhone market getting a new perfect rating of 5 stars at the Apple Store, I have played it on my phone and will give hours of enjoyment.

Heres a review from iPhone Matters.

Spore Origins was the most highly anticipated iPhone game since the announcement in March of this year. Spore Origins is a beautiful, fun, and I found myself not wanting to put my iPhone down at all. I even turned my phone to Airport mode to not have any distractions. Spore Origins is a high quality game that sets itself apart from the 900+ games in the App Store. How?

First of all, it is the most beautiful game I have played for the iPhone to date. Graphics are amazing. I almost thought I was playing the game on my desktop computer. Spore does not stop here. Audio is top notch as well. The graphical and audible effects as you get attacked or when you eat a smaller organism are very intense. I caught myself yelling and jumping, looking around to see if anyone saw or heard me.

The game is super easy. Of course, unlike the PC version, you can’t squeeze too much into the iPhone version, so the game is super easy, but not too easy to bore you. There are some challenges. Each level can only take a few minutes, and if you fail evolution, you can easily try again where you left off. The game is quick, fun and easily understood.

The evolutionary process makes the game fun, with extra goals of using your well earned evolution points to unlock eyes, spikes, fins, and other things that help you climb the evolutionary ladder. The evolution engine also allows you to customize your spore to look meaner, nastier or in some cases, more like a good friend thanks to the games ability to use a photo from your library or camera to mask over the spore. That is very interesting. If you don’t have much of an imagination, you can also use the one click creature builder that makes a creature for you.

The game is a treat, and if you look in the App Store, you’ll notice their success. The game is just shy of a full 5 stars. With mesmerizing graphics and with captivating gameplay, no wonder it is one of the top apps in the App store…and on the first page of my iPhone.

Posted in Spore Origin | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

UK: Spore continues to go strong

Posted by ballightning on September 23, 2008

Spore has continued to perform strongly in England, dispite falling to seventh place behind Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, it is still selling strong with figures in September for America to come out in the next 2 weeks.

UK charts (multi-platformed)

  • 1. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – Lucasarts
  • 2. Wii Fit – Nintendo
  • 3. Mario Kart Wii – Nintendo
  • 4. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning – EA Mythic
  • 5. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 – EA Sports
  • 6. Mercenaries 2: World in Flames -Pandemic /EAGames
  • 7. Spore – EA Games
  • 8. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock – Activision
  • 9. TNA iMPACT – Midway
  • 10. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games – Sega
  • 11. Lego Indiana Jones: Original Adventures –Traveller’sTales
  • 12. Mario Kart DS – Nintendo
  • 13. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – Activision
  • 14. Rock Band – Harmonix
  • 15. Crysis Warhead – Crytek
  • 16. Too Human – Silicon Knights
  • 17. Guitar Hero: On Tour – Activision
  • 18. Grand Theft Auto IV – Rockstar
  • 19. Battlefield: Bad Company – EA Games
  • 20. Imagine: Teacher – Ubisoft

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Spore strengthens in Europe

Posted by ballightning on September 23, 2008

Spore has maintained its position and gained in the German and Spanish software sales charts respectively for the week ended September 14. The German chart was topped by EA’s Spore, followed by Wii Fit in second place and Mario Kart Wii in third. Spore climbed to fifth in Spain overall, only being beaten by The Sims 2: Apartment Life in the PC category.

 

The German software sales chart follows:

  • 1. Spore (PC)
  • 2. Wii Fit (Wii)
  • 3. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
  • 4. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky (PC)
  • 5. The Sims 2: Apartment Life (PC)
  • 6. Dr Kawashimas Brain Training (DS)
  • 7. The Settlers – Rise of an Empire (PC)
  • 8. Naruto Ultimate Ninja 3 (PS2)
  • 9. Dr Kawashimas More Brain Training (DS)
  • 10. Wii Play (Wii)

The Spanish software sales chart follows:

  • 1. Wii Fit (Wii)
  • 2. Wii Play (Wii)
  • 3. The Sims 2: Apartment Life (PC)
  • 4. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
  • 5. Spore (PC)
  • 6. Cooking Guide: Can’t Decide What to Eat? (DS)
  • 7. Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (PS3)
  • 8. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
  • 9. Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3)
  • 10. Dr Kawashimas Brain Training (DS)

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New program added: SporeEdit

Posted by ballightning on September 22, 2008

A Spore fan by the name of Eradicator designed a new tool to use to edit Spore Files.  It’s still in the early stages but I sense it will have a promising future.  So check out Eradicator’s SporeEdit page and keep an eye for constant updates!

Posted in Spore Modding | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

CBS Interview with Will Wright

Posted by ballightning on September 22, 2008

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Spore installs on five computers

Posted by ballightning on September 21, 2008

EA has decided to once again loosen the DRM which some on Amazon called Draconic in nature. Spore was only allowed to be installed on three computers severely limiting where you could play it. In a dramatic u-turn EA has told MTV that Spore will be able to be installed five times. In a statement, EA Games president Frank Gibeau acknowledges EA’s desire to alter the way it deals with the issue:

… while it’s easy to discount the noise from those who only want to post or transfer thousands of copies of the game on the Internet, I believe we need to adapt our policy to accommodate our legitimate consumers.

Because of that EA has loosened the restrictions, here is their full statement:

Statement from EA Games president Frank Gibeau on “Spore” DRM

Two weeks ago EA launched SPORE – one of the most innovative games in the history of our industry. We’re extremely pleased with the reception SPORE has received from critics and consumers but we’re disappointed by the misunderstanding surrounding the use of DRM software and the limitation on the number of machines that are authorized to play a single a copy of the game.

We felt that limiting the number of machine authorizations to three wouldn’t be a problem.

· We assumed that consumers understand piracy is a huge problem – and that if games that take 1-4 years to develop are effectively stolen the day they launch, developers and publishers will simply stop investing in PC games.

· We have found that 75 percent of our consumers install and play any particular game on only one machine and less than 1 percent every try to play on more than three different machines.

· We assured consumers that if special circumstances warranted more than three machines, they could contact our customer service team and request additional authorizations.

But we’ve received complaints from a lot of customers who we recognize and respect. And while it’s easy to discount the noise from those who only want to post or transfer thousands of copies of the game on the Internet, I believe we need to adapt our policy to accommodate our legitimate consumers.

Going forward, we will amend the DRM policy on Spore to:

· Expand the number of eligible machines from three to five.
· Continue to offer channels to request additional activations where warranted.
· Expedite our development of a system that will allow consumers to de-authorize machines and move authorizations to new machines. When this system goes online, it will effectively give players direct control to manage their authorizations between an unlimited number of machines.

We’re willing to evolve our policy to accommodate our consumers. But we’re hoping that everyone understands that DRM policy is essential to the economic structure we use to fund our games and as well as to the rights of people who create them. Without the ability to protect our work from piracy, developers across the entire game industry will eventually stop investing time and money in PC titles.

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EA stocks rallies after Take Two failure

Posted by ballightning on September 19, 2008

EA’s share price has recovered after falling dramatically over the past few days after it bailed out of its aggressive takeover of Take Two. EA’s stock has risen 2.75 points, up 6.7% over yesterdays close. Its price only increased in the last hour of trade, co-inciding with the relaxing of key Spore’s DRM. EA’s financial position for this year greatly depends on its star game, Spore, which so far has had a rocky road with over 500,000 downloads, unheard of in such a short period.

 

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Spore: Multiple screen name per account

Posted by ballightning on September 19, 2008

EA has stated on the official Spore Forum that for each online account (the one you log in with your email) you will be able to create up to 5 Screen names which will allow you to have different My Creatures and Achievements for each family member.

We are going to add the ability to have multiple Spore Screen Names for any one Spore Online Account. Here’s how this will work: for each copy of Spore that you have purchased, you will be able to have one Spore Online Account, just as it is now. However, we will be adding the ability to have five Spore Screen Names for that account. When you launch Spore, you will be able to log in with any of those Screen Names.

The content that is made and the MySpore Page will be associated with the logged in Screen Name for that account. Each Screen Name will be able to view and create content, Buddy Lists and Sporecasts that will be tied to that Screen Name. The Achievements earned will be credited to the Screen Name that is logged in at the time the Achievement is triggered. In the first iteration of this change, all Screen Names will be playing in the same Galaxy and any content downloaded by any Screen Name will be available in the Everything section.

We will be putting the ability to add Screen Names to a Spore Online Account on our website. If you already have the game, and want to add new Screen Names to your account you will be able to do so there.

For the full post head over to Spore’s Official Forum.

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Will Wright: Spore 2 and expansions

Posted by ballightning on September 19, 2008

MTV has released the remainder of their interview with Will Wright, talking about Spore 2, possible expansions including additional stages and other will wright games.

Multiplayer: How do you see “Spore” evolving or developing as a franchise? Should people assume this will follow a “Sims”-like track with expansions followed by significant sequels? Or is this something you feel is more standalone as a platform?

Will Wright: We’re going to be extending “Spore” maybe more horizontally than “The Sims” where the “Sims” was being sold to the same customers over and over who had the game. I think with “Spore” we have a lot of opportunities that are broader where we can create other games around the editors, for instance, or take certain levels in the game and put them on other platforms. With “Spore” we’ll be looking at a wider range of expansion possibilities than “The Sims.” A lot of these may not even be things for people who didn’t buy the PC game, like downloading the creature creator.

Multiplayer: Would you also be injecting, say, a new stage in between the existing stages? Is that what you think this design enables?

Wright: I’m not sure we would add a new stage, but we might add into existing stages things we left out for whatever reason — or flesh out existing stages more thoroughly to make a stage deeper or for more of a gamer audience. I think one thing is, whenever possible, we want to make all these things content-compatible [across multiple platforms].

Multiplayer: I was wondering, while playing “Spore” if “Spore 2″ would be not just me creating my creatures but creating the gameplay of evolution or something like that.

Wright: Yeah, and without getting too specific, it’s easy to give players a parametric system. It’s much trickier to give them an algorithmic system.

For the rest of the article head over to MTV

Posted in Spore News, Will Wright | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Patch 1.01 for Spore

Posted by ballightning on September 19, 2008

Patch 1.01 has been released for Spore, thanks to Maxis and EA games for bringing it out, download it here. This will be the only patch which will be down-loadable, after this patch all patches will be installed by the EA download manager.

Features

  • New Cheat: “evoadvantage”. Enter this cheat when are starting a new Creature game to choose any creature from the Sporepedia. Start a new game with one of your more evolved creatures!
  • Display part statistics when you are in Build mode. Rollover any part and hold down the ‘i’ key.
  • New Cheat: “blocksmode”. Turns creatures into their blocky representations.
  • More style filters. Open the cheat window and type: “stylefilter -microscope” or “stylefilter -norainbows” or “stylefilter -nextgen” to see the new styles
  • Added 70 new planet scripts with a low terraform score, especially of the “hot and high atmosphere” type

Graphics/Aesthetics

  • Animation improvements
  • Improved the planets fogging, blooming and lighting
  • Fixed animation issues with tool handling, hand walking and some of the more oddly shaped creatures

Tuning

  • Creature phase: Improved the pacing towards the end of the game, and increased the challenge in Normal and Hard modes.
  • Tribe phase: Increased the challenge in Normal and Hard difficulty modes.
  • Civilization phase: Increased the challenge in Normal and Hard difficulty modes.
  • Space phase: Made Empires in Easy and Normal modes demand reasonable amounts of money in exchange for peace and adjust the level of punishment if the player doesn’t pay
  • Space phase: Made disasters less likely to occur in Easy and Normal modes and increased the time between each attack from the enemy empire when the player is at war.

Miscellaneous

  • Creature phase: Improved the way posse members behave during threatening situations and fights.
  • Space phase: Made finding your home world and colonies easier in the Galactic view.
  • Tribe phase: Made it so that tribe members can travel on steep hills if they need to do so now, but their speed will be reduced a lot.
  • Fixed an issue with attacks not working on some bigger animals and larger animals not dying correctly
  • Fixed collect mission not completing correctly when all parts have been collected
  • Fixed problems with the “Rolling Thunder” and “Déjà Vu” achievements not being awarded as they should
  • Fixed floating parts not being deducted from the budget when loaded into creator
  • Fixed an issue with the rotation rings not resizing correctly when a part was resized and improved their look
  • Fixed an issue where the terraforming score of planet could differ when revisiting a solar system
  • Fixed the keyboard controls for zoom & pitch in the Colony Planner not working properly
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when watching an epic creature attack a city
  • Fixed some issues where the game would freeze when using the Creature Tweaker tool or when capturing a planet in solar view
  • Fixed an issue where not all tribe members would obey the raid order when a large group was ordered to raid
  • Fixed an issue where banning a creation from one of your other saved games would black out the main menu

Posted in Spore News | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The man behind Spores unique music

Posted by ballightning on September 18, 2008

According to a report on Rolling Stone‘s Rock & Roll Daily blog, Eno contributed music for the soundtrack to Spore, here is an extract of their article.

With games like Grand Theft Auto, Rock Band and Guitar Hero tripping over each other to license as much music as possible, at least one eagerly anticipated game is going in the opposite direction. When playing Spore, the latest brainchild of Sim City mastermind Will Wright, gamers won’t hear any songs they know. In fact, they won’t hear the same song twice.

Spore simulates the evolution of creatures from single-cell organisms through the space age, so the changes start at the very beginning: make your creature an aggressive carnivore, and the music will be noticeably different from that of a plant-eating species. The uses procedural music, meaning that the music a player hears will develop and mutate along with their style of play. Iconic producer Brian Eno was brought in to provide much of these tracks.

According to Kent Jolly, audio director for Maxis/Electronic Arts, Eno understood the concept and was on board immediately. “In the first phone conversations with him, he really got the idea that the music was always changing, that it would be procedural, and he was really excited about it,” Jolly said. “Within a week of talking to him, without having set up anything, he sent us a full CD or more of stuff, and some of it was made right then, not just things he found on his computer, which was pretty amazing.”

For the rest of the article head over to Rolling Stone’s Blog.

Posted in Spore News | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Spores DRM put to the test

Posted by ballightning on September 18, 2008

It has been over a week since Spore hit the shelves but already their has been immense criticize for the DRM implemented in the game. Over 1,500 users bombed Amazon with one star reviews, protesting against EA for what some of them called draconian DRM. Later it was revealed that all the installs had to use one account. Then all of the reviews on Amazon for Spore were then deleted, which was blamed on a glitch, thankfully they were recovered. Only two days ago it was revealed that Spore will become the most illegally downloaded game ever. However Ars Technica yesterday decided to test out the DRM and whether it was as bad as it was claimed to be.

Arsused 4 computers, a gaming PC, a laptop, a old PC and a Mac. After installing it on the gaming PC twice and the laptop once, he decided to install it on his gaming PC a third time, forth overall. The installation received an authentication error when they tried to log into the game. A quick call to EA’s customer support brought an oddly-happy voice on the line, and once informed of the issue, they quickly determined that there was a network issue on their side; Spore’sauthentication servers were down. So it was DRM in general that was causing the problem, not an issue specific to EA or Spore.

After trying the game again and were successful, they then installed it on the old PC without any problem. They then attempted to install it on the mac and it finally said that all installations have been used up, showing the following message.

 
They called EA which sent them to the same help person as the first call. Ar informed him of the error message and gave him their Spore account information as well as the product key. A few minutes later the rep determined that they had, in fact, used up all their “key activations.” As friendly as can be, the EA employee inferred that it was probably some kind of printing error on the manual. Here’s the catch: Ar decided to tell him that they had rented the game. He assured Ar he could resolve the situation and did—issuing them another CD key for the game. They wanted to make it clear Ar understood the DRM restrictions and asked about the install limitations and he informed them that “you could install the game all day long on the same machine—it was limited to installations on three separate machines.” The only catch: the game had to be reinstalled after the new key was issued.

 Head over to Ars Technica for more.

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