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Chris Hecker and 23 other spore developers laid off.

Posted by ballightning on August 30, 2009

Chris Hecker has revealed that 24 members of the spore team have been laid off, including himself.

I would like to personally give tribute to Chris who not only creating the procedural animation, various prototypes many years ago and successfully developed assymetry, he also has helped the modding community with various problems on many occasions.

Chris and the other 23 members of the spore team will be missed, and here at sporedum, we wish them all the best in the future! Watch this space for news on Chris Hecker’s new indie game SpyParty.

I just got laid off from Maxis!

I can’t say that it was a shock, but it was still somewhat surprising. It’s funny, you occasionally hear about people who were laid off, and from the safety of your job you can’t help but think, “Even though it’s not supposed to be merit based, that’s gotta be in the mix; they wouldn’t actually let the good people go.” Then it happens to you, and you’re like, “Hey, wait a second…”  🙂

I had a truly great time working on Spore. I was lucky to get to contribute to some really amazing stuff over the past six years. In the past few months, I chose to work on smaller things that generated lots of goodwill but no revenue, which tends to be a problem when you’re expensive and the economy is down! Still, we got asymmetry into a patch, which has enabled some really incredibly insanecreatures and vehicles. Next I was going to do some research on improving searching and browsing assets in the incredible resource that is the Sporepedia. I think there are some amazing opportunities to mine the user created assets if the browsing and tagging facilities can be improved. Will and I used to debate the best way to classify the assets, and hopefully we’ll see some neat stuff going forward there.

I also got to work with some excellent game developers, many of whom have become my good friends. I hope the others who got laid off (there were 24 in all, I think) will land on their feet and do great work, and I hope the folks who are left will try to carry the Maxis torch and keep making games that are different and expand the boundaries of our art form.

What’s Next?

As for me and my future, if you attended the always-interesting Experimental Gameplay Workshop this year at the Game Developers Conference, you may have seen the indie game I’ve been working on in my spare time. I believe the idea is quite strong, so I was thinking about quitting to work on it more seriously in January. Now I guess the choice has been made for me, so assuming I can get the financial numbers to add up, I will start cranking on it.

Continue Reading


Posted in EA News, Maxis News | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

EA Maxis-Spore Hit with Layoffs

Posted by ballightning on August 27, 2009

The Maxis headquarters in Redwood, California have been the host of the latest job cuts as the gaming industry faces the global recession. In the home place of spore today, Maxis have confirmed that members of the spore team have been layed off.

“Often in the video game industry, the size of a studio fluctuates in response to business conditions. In this case, EA has taken action to reduce the workforce at Maxis as we focus the business and focus Maxis,” an EA spokesperson told IGN.

EA is still fully backing Spore, mentioning some of its upcoming titles.

“EA remains fully committed to SPORE and other IP within Maxis, with games planned for launch in the next few months, including Spore Hero, coming to the Wii for the first time, and Spore Hero Arena on the DS. All eligible employees will receive severance and outplacement assistance.” 

EA wouldn’t comment on how many employees were let go, however.

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

SporeDay: Interview with artists Kate Compton and John Cimino – Answers

Posted by ballightning on August 5, 2009

MaxisCactus has posted the answers from the Interview with Kate Compton and John Cimino, enjoy!

Thanks for submitting and voting on your top questions! John and Kate sat down to share their thoughts on the questions you came up with. Read their answers below.

Q: What was your motivation for working as videogame designers? – Cartoonworks, Irlydontknow, Perryplatypus
John: Well, when I first decided to go to art school to become an animator my motivation was all about storytelling. I had always really enjoyed drawing and I loved the thought of making my own short animated films. After working in the industry for a few years as a more traditional 2-D animator I wanted to make the leap into 3-D. An opportunity came up to work with one of my good friends Bob King who was the art director for the Sims games at the time so I jumped on it. When I started at Maxis I was on the Sims for a few months when the opportunity to work on Spore was presented to me. The team was very small and the game had barely even started, but when Will and Ocean described it to me I was blown away by the scope and ambition. I was especially intrigued by the ability to design my own avatar and have him take over a planet. This game has been so much fun to work on that I’ve been here ever since and I’m very happy that Galactic Adventures has given me the chance to help design something that enables people to create both games and make little short films!

Q: Could you describe a typical day in your job? – CrazyShyness
John: Hmmm, A typical day for me at spore? One of the things I love about working on this game is that my job constantly changes. One day I’ll be animating a creature swinging an axe, the next I’ll be designing icons in flash, and then the next I’ll be creating some concept art or animation for a future project. On especially awesome days my job is to simply to make cool content for the game. Typically though, I come to work, sit at my desk, and churn out animation files. Once I’ve finished one of them I’ll test it on multiple creatures to see how it generalizes, test it in game and then check it into our pipeline to be hooked up. Our office is a pretty fun place to work, on Fridays for instance we all stop work at 4:30, head down to the common area to mingle, eat pizza and play video games. Not a bad gig.

Q: What makes a good Technical Artist? – Rulycar
Kate: A good sense of timing, being able to look at a real-world effect and break it down into its components. Take a look at any explosion (I find youtube is a good source). What color is the smoke? Does it fade from black to white as it rises? Does it throw out flaming shrapnel or just sparks? Is there a fireball and how long does it last. Every type of explosion is different, so if you’re making an exploding oil barrel, it should look different than a grenade explosion. I love going to pyrotechnic festivals like Burning Man or the Oakland fire festival, because I get new ideas every time (next time, more green fire!).

Q: What makes a good Animator? – Rulycar
John: A very good question with no easy answer. I recommend you read “The Illusion of Life” by Disney masters Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas which is probably the greatest book ever written about animation. It says that to become great you need to incorporate the 12 principles of animation. If you can master the 12 principles below and incorporate them into all of your animation you will definitely be very, very, good.

1. Squash and Stretch – the ability to give a sense of weight and flexibility to objects.
2. Anticipation – the ability to prepare the audience for an action, and to make the action appear more realistic.
3. Staging – the ability to direct the audience’s attention, and make it clear what is of greatest importance in a scene; what is happening, and what is about to happen.
4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose – “Straight ahead action” means drawing out a scene frame by frame from beginning to end, while “pose to pose” involves starting with drawing a few, key frames, and then filling in the intervals later.
5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action – These closely related techniques help render movement more realistic, and give the impression that characters follow the laws of physics. “Follow through” means that separate parts of a body will continue moving after the character has stopped. “Overlapping action” is when a character changes direction, and parts of the body continue in the direction he was previously going.
6. Slow In and Slow Out – The movement of the human body, and most other objects, needs time to accelerate and slow down. For this reason, an animation looks more realistic if it has more frames near the beginning and end of a movement, and fewer in the middle.
7. Arcs – Most human and animal actions occur along an arched trajectory and animation should reproduce these movements for greater realism
8. Secondary Action – Adding secondary actions to the main action gives a scene more life, and can help to support the main action. A person walking can simultaneously swing his arms or keep them in his pockets, he can speak or whistle, or he can express emotions through facial expressions. The important thing about secondary actions is that they emphasize, rather than take attention away from the main action.
9. Timing – in reality refers to two different concepts: physical timing and theatrical timing. It is essential both to the physical realism, as well as to the storytelling of the animation, that the timing is right.
10. Exaggeration – is an effect especially useful for animation, as perfect imitation of reality can look static and dull in cartoons.
11. Solid Drawing – The principle of solid — or good — drawing, really means that the same principles apply to an animator as to an academic artist. The drawer has to understand the basics of anatomy, composition, weight, balance, light and shadow etc.
12. Appeal – in an animated character corresponds to what would be called charisma in an actor. A character who is appealing is not necessarily sympathetic — villains or monsters can also be appealing — the important thing is that the viewer feels the character is real and interesting.

As far as I am concerned the best way to master these principles is to practice, practice, practice. I recommend drawing all the time. Another great way to learn is to film yourself acting out a scene and then watch it frame by frame to see how the motion is broken down.

Q: Do you have any tips for manipulating animations based on body shape / parts positioning in the creature editor? (We already know about the centipede /camel type animations) – GoodGame
John: No, as far as I know there are no other hidden animation quirks like the poly-pod technique. For those of you who don’t know if you have a creature with 7 legs or more you can change its gait by adding and subtracting detail parts. When you do this the characters will choose from one of 5 different walks including the camel and centipede as was mentioned. Whenever I make a creature I tend to try and build something that will animate the smoothest. I find a normal biped creature who is slightly lurched forward with a bit of a hunched back works the best. I also encourage people to make sure that their creature appears well balanced in order to get the most bang for your buck. One way to check this is to look at your creature from the side and try to imagine him holding that pose for an hour. If it looks like he’d be uncomfortable doing so it might be a good idea to readjust his feet so that they are centered under the bulk of the character’s weight.

Q: Do you have any tips for getting more precision out of the shapes in the creature creator? Do you use special scripts/computer accessories when you ‘draw’ into the creator? – GoodGame
Kate: Nope! No special magic! We use the same tools as you guys. I do have one tip that I like to use, especially for humans and equine shapes. When I attach legs, I’ll scroll down the vertebra that they’re attached to until it’s as small as possible. This helps the legs sink into the body, rather than looking pasted on, and it creates a more natural looking hip.

Q: Kate, your creations in the building editor are amazing. I have not figured out how to rotate the base pieces and I believe it would be a lot easier to make props, buildings, and eggplants if I knew how. How do you do this? – cHoKo
Kate: It takes a little bit of effort to work around the system. I have to place a connector block, and then place a base piece on top of it. Then you can rotate the connector block and the base will rotate with it. If you drag the base piece off, it’ll keep its new tilt. Make sure it has the orientation you want before you drag it off: after it’s off the connector piece, you can’t tilt it anymore.

Q: When creating your Adventures, what are the steps and processes that worked best for you to put your storyboards into action? – (Example: Did you create the Acts, Goals and creature AI first, then build the environments around it or environment first
John: When it’s my own adventure that I’m making from scratch I prefer to get the basic story sorted out in my head then flush out the details as I’m building the environment. I find as I’m setting the landscape of the adventure, designing buildings, and creating characters, ideas start to present themselves and influence the story. I try not to get too detailed with all the polish items until I like the game play. That way it’s easier to change everything if need be. Once the adventure is working and fun, I do a polish pass where I add lots of visual effects, shrubbery, waterfalls, sound effects, and music. For the Robot Chicken adventures I was working off of a script so the process was a little different. A level designer would build in all the Acts and AI with very basic placeholder creatures and environments. Once it was working well they’d hand it over to us artists and we’d do an art pass to make everything a bit prettier.

Q: When you made the adventures with the producers of Robot Chicken what were your opinions on their ideas? – Cartoonworks
Kate: I realized that a lot of their humor was about the use of profanity, violence of some sort and puns. We couldn’t let them use profanity, so they doubled down on the other two. After we finished the first version of each adventure, we asked them to give us some more “inspect” text for all of the objects, and they really went crazy with the punning. I love puns, so I was happy. My favorite is the “Apes of Wrath” line at the end of Bloody Sundae.

Q: How exactly was the cube planet made? Do you have a planet editor that’s separate from the adventure editor where one day you made a cube? – 20147024
Kate: The cube planet was made in the original terrain editor which was used for the space planet. It was made like the Earth, moon, and Mars planets, in that I had to make a special cube-map (one big texture), rather than making it out of individual stamps like most of the planets. I had to do a bit of geometry to get the exact right shape.

Q: Would you be supportive of Glass Paints? – E25dusk
Kate: I think it’s a really neat idea and would make some really neat buildings. Unfortunately, it’s just not something that most computers could support in real-time. Graphics cards can render a scene really fast when they can ignore any geometry that’s behind some other part of a scene, like a tree behind a house. If any part of that house can be transparent or translucent, it has to draw the tree as well. That’s an oversimplified answer, but it really does make a difference, and it’s one of the reasons that you see transparency so sparingly used in games. When you’re rendering in Maya or Blender, taking that extra time doesn’t matter, so when you render the Collada exports, you can give them really nice crystalline rendering.

A: Kate, will dungeons of spore EVER actually be released?? Please??? – Picarius
Kate: I keep putting in a few hours here and there on it in my scarce spare time at work. Unfortunately, as with most for-fun projects, it’s really hard to get the dedication (and the week of uninterrupted work-time) to get it to a finished state. I’m glad that I had such a hard original deadline because it gave me something to work towards. So the short answer is no, but the long answer is….maybe, but don’t hold your breath.

Q: Have either of you doodled anything recently? If it’s not related to upcoming Spore-goodness, mind giving us a peek? – kaploy9

On the left are two pages of Kate’s meeting notes. On the right are some cards from a cupcake card game she’s developing just for fun.

Q: When you’re practicing drawing you’re supposed to sketch from real life. Or so I was taught. How do you practice making things move realistically? – Coryn
John: Yes, that is very true, drawing from real life is extremely important in learning how to draw more realistically. When I was in college I would go to life drawing sessions as often as possible and now that I’m in the industry I still try and sketch whenever I can to help polish my skills. One break through I had as a student comes to mind. When you’re trying to draw more realistically try not to think of what your drawing as line but as areas of dark and light. I recommend getting some gray drawing paper and some soft black and white colored pencils. Try and recreate what you see by using the gray of the paper as the mid-tone, adding shadows and highlights with your pencils. Sometimes we add lines to our drawings that are more representative of what we see rather than what is actually there. I found that if you avoid abstract lines and instead softly draw in different patches of light and dark it makes it much easier to create more realistic drawings very quickly. I hope that’s helpful!

Q: What inspired you to invent Clark and Stanley? Were you surprised they became the iconic aliens that they are today? Cimino will you make another Clark and Stanley adventure? – wretlind, Coryn
John: Ah yes, the infamous Clark and Stanley. I must say, I was very surprised and flattered to see how popular they became. It never really crossed my mind that players would try to make their own versions of C and S, but now that I look back it makes sense. Those adventures are super easy to make and can be highly satisfying. What inspired me? Hmmm. If I had to think of one source it would have to be the web series “Happy Tree Friends.” Before I worked at Maxis I spent a few years animating those cuddly animals getting slaughtered on a daily basis. I suppose creating cute characters getting killed now comes naturally to me. The original Clark and Stanley was actually one of a handful of test adventures created to show Robot Chicken the types of things they could do with GA. My producer Kip asked a few of us artists and designers to put together some adventures to pitch to Seth Green and the gang down in LA. I thought it would be cool to show them that you can make funny little short comic strip style adventures that have very little game play. So I started brainstorming and then remembered a few weeks before that I had made a test adventure that had a meteor crashing onto a planet. The effect was somewhat amusing so I decided to implement that into a quick and funny sketch. That’s when I came up with the idea of the “Clark and Stanley Go Stargazing” adventure. Everyone at Maxis seemed to enjoy it so I went ahead and created “Clark and Stanley Go Camping” and “Clark and Stanley Go swimming.” If you’re sick of seeing hundreds of Clark and Stanley adventure clones clogging up the Sporepedia, I apologize! Will I make more? Anything is possible.

Q: Have you seen the “famous” (infamous) creatures of the Sporum? (hug monster, Fibea, Susan, etc.) – Zstar20
John: Haha. Yes, I have seen the hug monster. He has a cute and creepiness that reminds me a lot of the infamous Pedo-bear. I think with Galactic Adventures players will have even more opportunities to make their creatures famous or infamous, as the case may be. The ability to frame a story around your character gives you a great chance to make your creature something people can truly identify with. I look forward to seeing many more creatures who, like Clark and Stanley, get so overexposed people start to hate their guts. 

Q: I’ve seen all of the maxis-made creatures, and I certainly don’t mean this in a way to offend. But how come y’all never make creatures that stand out like a body with glowing heycorns or a massive beast covered completely in knurldowns? – Conswella
Kate: I made most of my creatures right before Creature Creator shipped, and so we didn’t know what the creator was capable of. A lot of the most striking creations are made with techniques that you guys invented. Now, when I make creatures, they’re usually to go in a mission, so I need background creatures that don’t stand out. Sometimes, though, I do use techniques I learned from Sporepedia creations. For example, I made the bill in the How a Bill Becomes a Law adventure out of Shellshards, after the 1950s robot show how to use them to make square shapes.
We also tend not to make creatures or buildings that max out the complexity meter. I think this is due to the training that we get as programmers and artists: more polygons is BAD! BAD! BAD! This gets hammered into us over and over, and at least for me, gives me a vague sense of uneasiness whenever I max out the complexity.

Q: Do you two plan to make more Maxis adventures? – VelociBlade
John: I’m somewhat busy working on my next project at Maxis right now but my producer did mention that they might want me to make some more adventures. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to go back to GA and make a few more. They are so much fun to create!

Kate: I do. I really enjoyed making my series of educational adventures, Protein Synthesis and How a Bill Becomes a Law. I have a few ideas for more, like an adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea, and Plato’s Cave.

Q: Where do you see Spore in 5 years? – Domflame
John: I’m not sure I can answer that completely without giving stuff away. But in five years I would expect Spore to still be taking advantage of the massive amount of player creativity that is out there just waiting to be harnessed. Ambiguous enough for you? 

Interview Details:

Kate Compton is an associate technical artist at Maxis. Some of her contributions to the project include creating the effects in Galactic Adventures, sculpting the core Spore and Galactic Adventures planets (including the cube), and designing the original Spoffit.

She also teamed up with Robot Chicken to help create the Bloody Sundae adventure, and made the Dungeons of Spore April Fool’s game.

Some of her other Adventures include How A Bill Becomes a Law and Protein Synthesis. Her notable creations include the Obama and other US Election 08 Candidates, and the Alex Trebek UFO.

John Cimino is a lead animator at Maxis. He’s was responsible for designing and creating all of the animation for the advanced emotional behaviors in Galactic Adventures. He designed the creature parts for Spore and Creepy and Cute, many of the rigblocks in the Building creator, and many of the Spore objects, such as huts, tools, and found objects.

He also designed the achievement icons and the creator play mode animations.

Some of his adventures include the original Clark and Stanley adventures, Welcome to Dancetopia,Robots vs Dragons, and he contributed on The Meaningless Turtle as well as several Robot Chicken adventures.

Posted in Maxis News, SporeDay | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Spore Hero and Spore Hero Arena Fansite Interview

Posted by ballightning on July 31, 2009

Recently Maxis asked for the main Spore fansites to participate in a interview about Spore Hero and Spore Hero Arena. Here are the results from the interview, and 4 exclusive images. Thanks very much to Producers Mathieu Cote and Jason Haber who answered our questions.

Spore Hero

Q: Is the game a sandbox like the PC game or does it have a definite ending and goal? – LadyM (Gaming Steve)

A: Spore Hero is a story-driven action adventure game with a very strong narrative element to it so we do have a very definite ending. Since this is Spore we made sure there are many roads you can chose to get to that ending and different ways for you to overcome the challenges along the way. Also, in this story, you decide what your hero will be, with total customization in the Creature Creator, made just for the Wii.

Q: Are you limited to one creature per game or can you change out to a different one during the game? – LadyM (Gaming Steve)

A: At any time during the game you can go to a nest and access the Creature Creator to change your hero into something different. You will have access to all the parts you unlocked so far, but you might not be able to equip them all right away. You will have to collect shards of the blue meteor scattered throughout the world as they are your currency in the Creature Creator. How many you have will dictate which combination of parts you can have on your hero and therefore which abilities are available to your character.

Q: Will you be able to use the online capability of the Wii to visit other galaxies from other players? – LadyM (Gaming Steve)

A: This is one of the elements where we are different from the PC game. Since Spore Hero is storyline-driven, we quickly realized that sharing wouldn’t make much sense. Whenever you make a game you have to make choices and one of those choices was to put our energies on making sure that the story was compelling and the game was fun.

Q: Is the Creature Editor with Spore Hero Wii the only customization we will have, or did you happen to include say, a plant editor or any other editors? – Judhudson (SporePrograms.com)

A: I have to be careful not to spoil anything from the story here, but I can tell you that you will be editing more than just your hero in Spore Hero. We already showed in some interviews that you would be able to edit some of the NPC’s in the world to help them with their problems, but that is not all. I really shouldn’t say anymore about this here.

Q: Any plans to have either a Wii specific Sporepedia to where we can download other people’s (or our friends’) creations to use them in our game or even share screens or videos? – Ballightning (Sporedum.net)

A: We do have a Sporepedia in the game where you will be able to collect your creations, but we had to restrict this to your very own console for many reasons. This Sporepedia is also where you keep all the characters you want to use in our VS mode where you can battle your friends.

Q: The Paint mode in Spore Hero Wii – can we now paint our creatures bodies in specific areas using the Wii’s motion controls or is it similar to Spore PC’s version where we just pick default skins and adjust the color? – Ballightning (Sporedum.net)

A: It is a lot closer to the PC game where you pick from some skin paint schemes. The fact that you can create any sort of crazy creature made this the solution that was best received by people who tried the game. It’s a simple and efficient way to get your hero to look just the way you want it.

Q: What type of customization is in Spore Hero? – Connor (SporeOperations)

A: We worked really hard to be able to bring the full editor from the PC game to the Wii. We have all the functionality and all the parts from the PC game as well as all the parts from the “Cute and Creepy” expansion pack. That leaves you with over 280 parts to play with. We made some changes to the interface and the controls to make sure that it would be easy and fun to use with the Wii remote and Nunchuk too.

Q: Does Spore Hero require any other Wii stuff? or will we just need the controller? – Connor (SporeOperations)

A: Spore Hero uses the Wii remote and the Nunchuk. For even more fun I suggest you get a second set of controllers and a friend for some frenzied “VS-mode-combat-action”!

Q: Is Spore Hero multiplayer? – Connor (SporeOperations)

A: We had so much fun with our combat system that we decided to add a VS mode that you can access from the main menu. You and a friend can each grab a Wii remote and Nunchuk, create your very own creatures (or use one of the pre-made ones) and battle it out! There are not many things as satisfying as creating a small pink ball with just a little leg and a beak and winning against your friend’s demon-looking predatory beast full of teeth and claws.

Q: Spore Hero for the Wii and Spore Hero Arena for the DS – any plans to link the two together to swap/view content between them? – Judhudson (SporePrograms.com)

A: This was another one of those tough decisions where we had to decide what we wanted to concentrate on. On this subject we decided it was a better investment of our time and energy to go for a deeper, funnier story and well-balanced and exciting gameplay. We did make sure that the story we were creating in the Spore universe would work in both games so that we would both benefit from a rich and interesting storyline.

Q: Please elaborate with the differences between Spore Hero for the Wii and the creature stage of Spore from the PC.  How many more creature customizations are there between the two and are we limited to staying on one planet or can we visit others? – Judhudson (SporePrograms.com)

A: Spore Hero is a big departure from the PC game. On the PC you are slightly detached as you oversee the long evolution process of a species. In Spore Hero you are inhabiting a creature, you are living the life of this one hero out to save the world and you have an amazing ability to evolve and change at any moment. There are no limits to how often you can go back to the Creature Creator and what you can change when you do.

There’s also a fun storyline, which is all about how and why you crashed onto this planet and most importantly about how you go about saving it. I could tell you what happens when you’re done saving it but then it would spoil the fun, wouldn’t it?

Spore Hero Arena

Q: Is the game a sandbox like the PC game or does it have a definite ending and goal? – LadyM (Gaming Steve)

A: The game is an entirely new adventure, set in the Spore universe.  All the galactic arena champions have fallen under the powers of dangerous red meteors.  After your ship is peppered by blue meteors, you find that you are immune to the corrupting power of the red meteors.  Now, only you can save the galaxy!  You will be able to create your creature heroes with the Spore Creature Creator, and it’s in 3D (a first for Spore on the Nintendo DS)!  There are over 150 parts and new Bio-Powers for you to collect and use to evolve your creature.  You will get to jet around the galaxy, exploring new worlds and fighting enemies in your quest to find out who is spreading the red meteors and how to stop them.

There is a great story to experience as you find out more about where the red meteors came from, and how you can stop them from corrupting the whole galaxy!

Q: What type of customization is in Spore Hero Arena? – Connor (SporeOperations)

A: Spore Hero Arena will allow you to create your own creature using the new Nintendo DS 3D Creature Creator! The parts you select for your creature will determine its strengths and abilities, so every creature will fight in its own way. In addition, you can attach over 15 bio-powers to your creature to give it special moves to use during arena battles. These bio-powers are not connected to specific creature parts, so you can look good AND be powerful.

Q: Is Spore Hero Arena multiplayer? – Connor (SporeOperations)

A: Spore Hero Arena was build from the start to include multiplayer arena battles. Players can select from a number of different arena battle types, select their favorite creatures and then compete with up to 4 players over local wireless. You can also connect using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to play against friends or strangers from just about anywhere!

Q: Are you limited to one creature per game or can you change out to a different one during the game? – LadyM (Gaming Steve)

A: You will be able to collect over 150 unique parts and power bio-powers during the game.  You can evolve your creature to overcome new challenges and face off against bigger and fiercer enemies as you jet from planet to planet and explore new worlds. You can save up to 50 creatures in the Sporepedia for use in quick battles or multiplayer matches.

Q: Any plans to have either a DS specific Sporepedia to where we can download other people’s (or our friend’s) creations to use them in our game or even share screens or videos? – Ballightning (Sporedum.net)

A: We do have a new Sporepedia where not only can you see creatures you meet (and beat!) in the game, but you can also download your friends creatures.  All creatures that you download will be available to use in quick battles or multiplayer matches too!

Posted in Maxis News, Spore Hero, Spore Hero Arena | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Ocean Quigley: How to export spore creatures to maya

Posted by ballightning on July 23, 2009

Source: Ocean Quigley’s Website

Here’s how to use Spore to export a 3D Collada file of your creature:

First, get a creature. I’m using Jomeaga‘s creature “Recruit“, because it’s cool looking and asymmetrical (that’s the other major new feature in Patch 5)

Load it up in the appropriate editor:

Go to paint mode, so you can see what it’ll look like textured, then open up a cheat window by pressing “control-shift-c

Agree to the EULA, and the cheat window will output something like this:

The exporter will create a collada file (a .dae file), along with the specular, diffuse and normal textures. It will place them in your My documents/My Spore Creations/Creatures/directory

Now you can load it up in any 3D application that supports Collada. The plugins for most standard 3D applications (Maya, Max, Blender, Modo among others) can be found here:

I’m going to load it up in Maya (Spore is Z-Up, so you should probably set Maya accordingly)

And you’ll see that the a basic material is already set up for you:

In addition, the character’s rig and skin weights come through, so you can pose and animate it.

Here’s a render using the basic material:

But nothing’s keeping you from using the textures in more sophisticated ways, and making it as fancy as you want to:

Posted in Maxis News, Spore News | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Ocean Quigley: You can export spore creatures to Maya

Posted by ballightning on July 23, 2009

With the newest Spore Patch, it is now possible to export your spore creatures to Maya, Blender, 3dMax and more through the Collada plugin.

With Spore’s just released patch 5, you can export creatures from Spore into Maya (or any other 3D application that supports the Collada format). All thanks to the brilliant Dan Moskowitz.

The exported creations include normal, diffuse and specular maps, and are fully rigged and weighted. So you can pose them too.

So now everybody (not just me!) can take their creations into Max or Maya, and render them like this or this.

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SporeDay: Ask Maxis

Posted by ballightning on July 15, 2009

For SporeDay, MaxisCactus has published another interview with the devs for the community to ask questions, this time with Kate Compton (MaxisKate) and John Cimino. If you have questions you want to ask, head over to the sporums and post on the forums.

This is your chance to interview two of the artists from Maxis!

Kate Compton is an associate technical artist at Maxis. Some of her contributions to the project include creating the effects in Galactic Adventures, sculpting the core Spore and Galactic Adventures planets (including the cube), and designing the original Spoffit.

She also teamed up with Robot Chicken to help create the Bloody Sundae adventure, and made the Dungeons of Spore April Fool’s game.

Some of her other Adventures include How A Bill Becomes a Law and Protein Synthesis. Her notable creations include the Obama and other US Election 08 Candidates, and the Alex Trebek UFO.

John Cimino is a lead animator at Maxis. He’s was responsible for designing and creating all of the animation for the advanced emotional behaviors in Galactic Adventures. He designed the creature parts for Spore and Creepy and Cute, many of the rigblocks in the Building creator, and many of the Spore objects, such as huts, tools, and found objects.

He also designed the achievement icons and the creator play mode animations.

Some of his adventures include the original Clark and Stanley adventures, Welcome to Dancetopia,Robots vs Dragons, and he contributed on The Meaningless Turtle as well as several Robot Chicken adventures.

About the Interview

Ask them about their art, their jobs, or their adventures just by posting your questions here on the thread.

Submit your questions by 7/20/09 and we’ll choose the finalist questions for you to vote on. The top voted questions will be answered by Kate and John.

Please keep in mind that finalist questions will be chosen based on relevance to John and Kate’s contributions at Maxis.
We will only be choosing questions for the finalists that John and Kate can answer.

Previous interview: Ask Maxis with Chris Hecker

Posted in Maxis News, Spore Community | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

The EA failure: Sims 3 has SecuRom

Posted by ballightning on June 4, 2009

It was only a few weeks ago that EA promised that the Sims 3 will not have SecuRom in an official posting on the Sims boards.

EA has now backflipped, and fluttereyes from Reclaim Your Game has been sent an email stating that the Sims 3 does contain SecuRom.

We will be bringing you all the latest about this, but check out Reclaim your Game (and the Prism forums) for more info.

Here are some screenshots as evidence, and we hope that EA has not taken a doubleback on this and that Sims 3 will not contain SecuRom.

Please note that there is no hard evidence that Sims 3 contains SecuRom.

Posted in DRM Saga, EA News | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Interview: Maxis’ Bradshaw On Freedom In Games, Failure As A Positive

Posted by ballightning on May 30, 2009

Lucy Bradshaw talks to Gamasutra about many aspects in the world of Spore and the Sims. She goes into details about the community and the balance Maxis tried to create in Spore.


Spore And Balance

Finding the right balance was a challenge in Spore, she says, particularly in the area of how much impact and meaning to give people’s visual choices for their creatures. “We thought about that a lot… how penalizing the editing process should be. How much meaning should any one of those parts have? Should we have focused more on the physics, should gravity have played a greater role — should we have allowed players to make unsuccessful creatures?”

Ultimately, though, the team chose a “bias toward creativity and ease of use, rather than having physical attributes being damning of your species.” If it’s so easy to fail because a creature’s the wrong size or incorrectly mobile, Bradshaw theorizes, then players may be stuck going back and forth in the creation loop and missing out on the exploration aspect of the game.

“We’ve gotten some grief for it, because people wanted more meaning behind the editors,” she concedes. “I think there’s more opportunity for us to look at some of those things and give players a little more sense and depth; to ultimately re-examine some of the elements of Spore. With Galactic Adventures, we’re going deeper, allowing players to really invest back in their captain.” 

Continue Reading

Posted in Lucy Bradshaw, Maxis News, Spore Community, Spore News | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Ask Maxis with Chris Hecker – accepting questions

Posted by ballightning on May 13, 2009

For today’s SporeDay, MaxisCactus is collecting questions from the Official Spore Forum community to ask Chris Hecker.





Ask Maxis with Chris Hecker 

Maxoid Chris Hecker is a technology fellow on Spore. A few of his major contributions to the project include development of procedural animation, painting, and skinning of creatures. 

You can find out more about Chris through his Liner Notes for Spore


This week, you’ll have a chance to directly ask him questions by posting them here. We’ll post the top 50 questions for you to vote on. The top 10 you choose will be answered by Checker. 

All questions posted will be considered, but I thank you in advance for keeping your inquiries civil. 

Guidelines for posting questions: 
– You can post as many questions as you like, here on the forum 
– Each question must be under 250 characters (including spaces) in order to be included in the poll 
– Post your questions by 10:00AM PDT 5/18/09 


Posted in Maxis News, Spore News | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Another EA/Maxis job opening – Lead Simulation Engineer

Posted by ballightning on May 11, 2009

Seems Maxis is hiring more people for a new simulation game. If you remembered last month, Maxis was hiring someone for a fast paced MMO. Now the question is, are these related, are we finally getting a Sims/Spore MMO?


Location: California – Emeryville
Role: Software Engineer
Specialty: Gameplay Engineer
Maxis is seeking an experienced engineer to lead the development of the core simulation for an unannounced next-generation simulation game. Maxis offers a fun, creative, and technically challenging environment with excellent compensation and a full range of benefits. 

* 6+ years of game coding experience on at least two shipped titles
* 3+ years of experience writing efficient, shipping simulation code 
* Strong math skills (linear algebra, trigonometry, etc.)
* Fluency in C/C++
* Experience with code and data optimization to improve both memory consumption and performance
* Ability to work productively with other lead engineers and mentor more junior engineers
* Passion for playing games 

* Computer science/mathematics/physics or related degree
* Experience with multi-threaded programming
* Experience working on networked games
* Experience with rapid gameplay prototyping

Posted in EA News, Maxis News | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Sims 3 goes gold

Posted by ballightning on May 9, 2009

The Sims 3 has gone gold, now we probably have to wait another 2 weeks before Galactic Adventures goes gold.



Time to Celebrate and Gear Up for 
The Sims 3 Launch on June 2, 2009


The EA Sims Studio is pleased to announce that The Sims 3, the highly-anticipated flagship game from the best-selling PC franchise The Sims, has gone gold for the PC and Mac, is off to manufacturing and will street in 60 countries June 2, 2009.

In The Sims 3, you have more options than ever before to create and play with unique, life-like Sims. Customize your Sims’ appearances and choose up to five traits to create individual personalities. New goal-oriented game-play enables you to choose which short or long-term objectives you want your Sims to pursue. You can choose to make them happy or not! You can also create and edit your own movies by capturing game-play moments or selecting from a library of clips. Then join The Sims 3 online community where you can show off all your creations, get free bonus content, hear the latest news and more!

The Sims 3 will be available for purchase at retail and online through digital distribution for $49.99 starting June 2 at
http://eastore.ea.com/store/ea/ContentTheme/pbPage.the_sims3/ThemeID.718200. The Sims 3 Collector’s Edition, available at select retailers for $69.99, will include the full game along with an additional collectable 2GB The Sims Plumbob™ USB drive, tips and hints guide and a bonus in-game European-styled sports car unavailable elsewhere.

The Sims 3 was developed by The Sims Studio and is rated T for Teen. To download artwork, including Mother’s Day screens, visit www.info.ea.com. For more information about The Sims 3, go to www.TheSims3.com.

Posted in Maxis News | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

EA’s (Evil?) Master Plan!!

Posted by ballightning on April 18, 2009

Sp-Banega-0re from the official UK forum has made a very interesting, and valid point about what might be going through the minds of the people in power at EA. Note that this is not my opinion.

I went for a walk a few days ago when I realised what EA’s evil plan actually is, and now that Will’s left, nobody can save us!

How many of you don’t have C+C? I don’t, and I can tell you that it is INCREDIBLY annoying that you can’t use, edit or even view creatures that use it. It is so tempting to buy C+C to avoid this problem, but if I buy that, I’ll buy all the others that are bound to come, and waste both money and PC space.

So if the problem is this bad after just one small parts pack, what about when another gets released? And another? We can probably expect about 7 different parts packs, not including proper expansions that will probably contain some parts. Imagine what a nightmare it will be with 7 different parts packs in the Spore game, and you can’t view the creations unless you have every part that has been used in the creation.

The top creators will undoubtedly buy every single one, and use a lot of different parts in each creation, so what will happen to the people who can’t afford all the expansions, or have other hobbies to buy things for? Their game will be ruined, unless they buy every single expansion. Yet again, EA have proven that all they care about is money.


thanks EA


It seems that this scheme works, here is Redunzgofasta also from the official UK forum about how this is the only reason he bought C&C:

That is the only reason I got C&C and the sole reason why GA will be the last I will buy.

Posted in EA News, Maxis News, Spore News | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Lucy Bradshaw on Will Wright’s Stupid Fun Club and the Future of Spore

Posted by ballightning on April 9, 2009

So now that we all know that Will Wright is leaving Maxis to run the think tank Stupid Fan Club (jointly owned by EA), Lucy Bradshaw has become the new head of Maxis. Gamedaily managed to get a phone interview with her.

For now, Maxis remains entrenched in the Spore universe. The game was one of the most hyped titles of 2008 and continues to be quite successful for EA. In fact, Bradshaw stressed that it’s EA’s most successful new IP launch ever. But how does Wright’s departure affect the future direction of the franchise? It should be business as usual, according to Bradshaw.

“One of the things Maxis has is a wealth of very strong creative individuals. They collaborated with Will on his vision for Spore through its fruition to becoming a product. It is a very interesting platform to continue to evolve,” she stated. “We’re coming out with Galactic Adventures in June and that will just be our first expansion pack in the franchise, and we’re taking the franchise in different directions as well, releasing Spore Hero [on Wii] and Spore: Hero Arena [on DS]. Those are announced for this calendar year and Spore: Creature Keeper [on PC] is aimed at a younger audience… someone who had fun with Creature Creatorbut isn’t a core gamer at this stage. So we’re really poised as we were with The Sims to really evolve this property in different directions, and we’ve got the creative talent here to do so. What Will has developed here along with me is a real interesting culture at Maxis… and that legacy will very much continue to be a force as we move forward.”

Read the full article

Posted in EA News, Maxis News, Will Wright | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Q&A: Will Wright on the rules of Stupid Fun Club

Posted by ballightning on April 9, 2009

After todays shock announcement that Will Wright is leaving Maxis, Gamespot has interviewed Will Wright on why he left, what he is planning on doing, and a bit on Spore.



GS: Why choose now to leave EA and strike out on your own venture?

WW: It’s something that we’ve been in talks with EA for almost a year now, so for me it’s kind of a long-term plan and I was just in no hurry to do it. We’d been developing a lot of these concepts within the Stupid Fun Club and people would come by over the years and say, “That’s great, I would buy that.” It got to the point where venture capitalists were offering us real money to fund these projects.

With Maxis, I’d already been down the whole take VC money, do the IPO, do the acquisition thing.. I saw a lot of dysfunction in that model that was interesting to experience once but I didn’t want to go through it again.

As I started talking to EA about this, we started realizing they were very interested in the game properties coming out of this. We started exploring the idea of them funding the Stupid Fun Club as a VC would, but because their interest is in the game properties coming out, they have no interest in us becoming liquid and doing the IPO and all that. So we basically got EA to come in as our VC without committing to a path to liquidity. So we can keep the group very small and very focused and not deal with that whole business path.

GS: With your last big project for EA, Spore, there was discussion about whether or not it lived up to years and years of expectations. Did it live up to your expectations?

WW: My own expectations were always more on the toy side of Spore and getting fans involved. And we’re still learning about Spore from what the fans are doing with it. In terms of the content, what the fans have done with it vastly exceeded our expectations.

It’s kind of like The Sims 1.0. When it first came out, we learned a huge amount over the first few months about what players wanted and the directions they wanted it to go and The Sims incrementally improved with each expansion pack. We were adding in features the fans were requesting the most, and we’ll be doing the same with Spore as well. So in some sense, this is the point the fans get to come in and vote on the direction of the franchise.

Actually, Spore’s done very well with EA internally, based on their forecasts within a very tight economy. They seem quite pleased with its performance.

GS: Do you think the years and years of people looking forward to it helped or hurt the game ultimately?

WW: I think it was probably over-hyped, like a lot of games end up being, primarily because the development time was so long. From every project you learn and apply those learnings to the next project. I think there were certain things from Spore that were great, like releasing the Creature Creator early was a big win. But the people who are playing Spore, it’s a very different demographic than we were expecting right off the bat, almost like Sim Ant.

We have a lot of young kids playing Spore, as young as 3-years-old sitting on their parent’s lap describing the creature they want made. This is the type of stuff we learn when we release something. Certain levels weren’t deep enough for the hardcore gamers and we’re going back with the expansion pack and addressing that. But then other markets we didn’t expect at all to be picking it up. We never expected a 3-year-old to be playing with their parents.

Read the full Interview



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