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Archive for April 21st, 2009

Sporedum Exclusive: Questions about Galactic Adventures

Posted by ballightning on April 21, 2009

Last week  it was announced that Stone Librande (lead designer of Galactic Adevntures) would be holding lectures at 3 universities: Georgia Institute of Technology (on the April 10), University of Southern California (April 16) and Carnegie Mellon University (May 1). We got in touch with Georgia Insititute of Technology and organized an email interview with one of the attendees, Justin Smith who is a User Experience Designer at Roundbox Global and is doing a Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)


Sporedum: What is your opinion so far on Spore Galactic Adventures?

Justin: I think this is a very interesting solution to what seemed to be Spore’s biggest criticism, the gameplay. The creation part of it was the most fun to me and Maxis seemed to realize this and decided to allow users to create the gameplay. So far, it appears extremely deep and allows for an enormous amount of customization to almost any aspect you can imagine. I really like the fact that I have the choice of either spending the time to create a game myself or I can dive straight in and play games other people have created. I don’t remember seeing this, but I definitely would like a rating system so I can easily tell what games other people created are fun. I thought that the game looked very promising and took the extremely fun creation aspect of Spore to an exponentially higher level.


Sporedum: What do you see that needs to improve?

Justin: One thing I noticed everyone asking was how to ride the vehicles. The vehicle creation is really fun and it would be awesome for the player to be able to travel around in them. Another thing I had an issue with was switching between modes while creating an Act. Apparently, we needed to be in Icon mode for scaling objects and how to switch between modes was not obvious. We also wanted our own custom music, but Stone explained the problems with server storage as well as copyright issues that come along with such a feature. Overall though, the game looked fairly polished and most complaints seemed relatively minor.


 Sporedum: What is the complexity like, how many different items can you place, or did you not reach a complexity limit?

 Justin: We didn’t get to test this a whole lot since we only had a limited time with the game. However, we did have one issue with this. We were trying to create a simple  scenario where the player’s creature was attacked by dozens (~40-50) of little annoying monsters. Whenever we tested the scenario, only some of the little monsters  acted according to the settings we had set up. The rest just stood in place. I would hope issues like this would be resolved before the game’s release.


 Sporedum: What exactly can you change between acts? Can you take out, say, a wall out in act 2 which was in in act 1? Can I make a barren planet in act 3, then in act 4  the planet suddenly is a lush forest?

 Justin: Unfortunately, we didn’t get to get real deep into this but I know there were several things I know you could change. Characters’ actions and motivations can  change. Locations can change as well. Obviously, goals between the acts would be different. From what we were shown, I would assume you can change aspects of the  planet as well (i.e. landscapes, weather, etc), but I can not confirm that.


Sporedum: How complex are the controls in the Adventure creator, what is the advanced creature controls like?

Justin: The controls appeared to get extremely complex. You have control over just about anything you want all the way down to the time of day and individual weather elements. Stone presented the creature controls in terms of three tiers. The first was just setting basic attributes about the character and their nature. The second level was getting down to controlling more specific characteristics of the creature. The third tier was actually almost a scripting language that the user could set up to really control the small details of a creature.


Sporedum:  What was your favorite element of Galactic Adventures?

Justin: I’d have to say it was just the level of detail that you could actually customize. You could seriously sit there for weeks just designing your own game using the engine they have created. I mean I could sit there for days just designing a planet just like I wanted it. It just seemed mind-numbing the level of customization available.


Sporedum: From what you have seen, would you recommended it to the more series gamer genre, considering that they were disappointed with Spore?

Justin: I think it really depends. If you are not the type of gamer who likes to tweak and perfect the minutia then you may not like Galactic Adventures. On the other hand, if some players put out some really fun games then serious gamers could also just dive straight into games created by other players. How good that gameplay is ostensibly dependent upon how good the players make it, but I’m sure that there’ll be, at the very least, a handful of players out there who will create some really stellar adventures for everyone else to play.


For more of Galactic Adventures news, videos and screenshots go to our Galactic Adventures page.


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