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SporeDay: New mission plus contest

Posted by ballightning on September 10, 2009

Sorry about the late post, i have been working very hard on my portfolio website for school, please check it out! For this weeks SporeDay, Maxis released a new mission called The Metamorphosis. Give MaxisKate, the creator, feedback over at the official forums.

Maxis have also created a Metamorphosis challange for creators. Head over to the official forums for more.

Challenge Details
If you played the latest Maxis adventure, The Metamorphosis, you may have noticed that a disturbing transformation has taken place.

In the Metamorphosis Challenge, make your own transformation with at least three creations that illustrate three stages of a creature’s life!

Not sure what to make? Your creations can represent a realistic earthly creature’s metamorphosis, such as a caterpillar/pupa/butterfly, or you can invent your own twisted alien metamorphosis.

Example Creations:


What will the challenge winner get?

A chance to be featured on Spore.com!

We’ll post our favorite submissions here, then YOU get to vote for which one is your top pick! The winner may be featured if it meets our criteria for featured creations.

• It must not have any parent authored by a different creator.
• It must not have any offensive creation in its lineage (any parent or child creations).
• It must not have any links or references to other sites in the submission’s tags, name, or description

Submissions that do not meet the above criteria will not be considered for the poll

How to Enter:
• Create three or more creatures in the creature editor. Publish these with the tag MCMorphChallenge.
• Add all creations in your metamorphosis series to a SporeCast tagged with MCMorphChallenge.
• Optional: Post screenshots and links here on the forum

Rules:
• All creations in your Sporecast entry must be made by you.
• Your creations must be made in the creature/accessory editors.
• You can submit as many Sporecasts as you like with as many creations as you like. Remember that each Sporecast should only contain representations of one species.
• All submissions must be in by 11:00am PDT 10/8

Challenge FAQ

Q: Does it have to fit into the bizarre bug-like stages of larva-pupa-adult, or could it be more of a child-adult-weakened adult? I’ve already made a few evolutionary creations that go through the insect cycle, and I kinda want to do something different than the obvious. – jwmd2
A: As with most of these challenges, we aren’t strict with how you interpret the challenge prompt. As long as you explain your more off-kilter entries in the description, they will be considered.

Q: Are finalists chosen based on looks or description? – Westonro
A: Maxis looks at all elements of the creation when choosing finalists. Obviously, the overall aesthetic weighs heavily, but a clever name and description can tip the scales in your favor. Keep in mind that when we post finalists, we do not include the description, however a link will direct others to the Sporepedia where they can view it. It’s up to other players to click the link when they are voting to read the complete description.

Q: Can entries be made in the accessory editors? – Westonro
A: Yes. The accessory editors can be used to enhance your creatures.

Posted in Spore Contests, SporeDay | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Maxis Contest: Traps and Lures Challenge

Posted by ballightning on September 2, 2009

Yet another challange has been posted by MaxisCactus, to check it out and participate head over to the official forums.

Challenge Details
If you played the latest Robot Chicken adventure, you may have noticed how game objects were disguised to look like candy! These were used to lure the cuddly creatures to their doom.

In the Traps and Lures Challenge, create a clever lure or trap to entice your prey!

Not sure what to make? Your trap, trick or lure can be traditional like a mousetrap, legendary like a Trojan horse, or completely fantastic, created to trick a creature you’ve invented in your own ingenious way! It can be biologically evolved or technologically masterminded.

Check out some of the amazing tricks, traps, and lures other players have already made:

What will the challenge winner get?

A chance to be featured on Spore.com!

We’ll post our favorite submissions here, then YOU get to vote for which one is your top pick! The winner may be featured if it meets our criteria for featured creations.

• It must not have any parent authored by a different creator.
• It must not have any offensive creation in its lineage (any parent or child creations).
• It must not have any links or references to other sites in the submission’s tags, name, or description

Submissions that do not meet the above criteria will not be considered for the poll

Rules:
• Your creation must look like a trap or lure.
• Your creation can be made in any editor
• To submit a creation, just publish tag it with: mctrapchallenge
• You can submit as many creations as you’d like
• Your creation can be made with any editor you choose
• All submissions must be in by 11:00am PDT 10/1
• Don’t forget that if your creation is an inanimate object, tag it with GAprop!
• Optional: Post screenshots of your creation on the forum
• Optional: Create a description explaining the mechanics or design of your trap or lure

Challenge FAQ
Q: Can the entry creation be an adventure?
A: No. Your entry should be a Spore creation (creature, vehicle, building, UFO), but you are welcome to also show it off in an adventure.

Posted in Spore Contests | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Arthropod Adventure: Team Challenge: Vote now

Posted by ballightning on August 26, 2009

The finalist for the Maxis Arthropod Adventure Challange have been posted, vote over at the official forums.

Finalist Adventures Announced!

Click the thumbnail to download and play the adventure. Click here to subscribe to the Challenge Sporecast to easily download all the adventures. Play them, then come back here to vote on your favorite by 11:00 am PDT September 1st!

Posted in Spore Contests | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Spore Screenshot Challenge

Posted by ballightning on August 22, 2009

MaxisCactus has posted the latest Spore challenge, this time its a screenshot adventure challange! If you have any questions, head over to the official thread and post in there.

Shutterbugs get ready. Load up your Galactic Adventures game and take a screenshot of an incredible scene you’ve created in the Spore Screenshot Challenge!

Post your screenshot, along with a link to the adventure here to enter.

What will the challenge winner get?

A chance to be featured on Spore.com!

We’ll post our favorite submissions here, then YOU get to vote for which one is your top pick! The winner may be featured if it meets our criteria for featured creations.

• The adventure must be originally created by you. No other authors are allowed in the lineage.
• It must not contain any creation with an offensive creation in its lineage (any parent or child creations).
• It must not contain any creation with any links or references to other sites in the submission’s tags, name, or description

Submissions that do not meet the above criteria will not be considered for the poll.

Rules:
• Your image should show off a cool scene you’ve created with Galactic Adventures
• To submit, publish and tag your adventure with mcscreenshotchallenge, and post a link to it here along with your screenshot
• You can submit as many screenshots of as many of your own adventures as you like
• Adventures can contain creations by other players
• All submissions must be in by 11:00am PDT Sept 17th 2009

Resources:
How to post an image on the Sporum
Check out this thread for some gorgeous screenshot inspiration.
How to use the adventureLook filters

Tips:
• If you normally run your game at low or mid range graphics settings, consider maxing them temporarily while you take your screenshot.

FAQ:
Q: Can it be an old adventure? Something I’ve already made?
A: Yes. Don’t forget to add the tag mcscreenshotchallenge to it, though.

Q: Does the screenshot have to be from a published adventure?
A: Yes, part of the rules state that you must publish and post a link to the adventure.

Q: Can the adventure just be built for the screenshot, or should it also be fun to play?
A: While the focus of this challenge is to create an amazing screenshot, we will pay some attention to how fun the adventures are when narrowing down the finalists, so put some fun gameplay in there, too.

Also, don’t forget that you can always revise your entry up until the contest deadline. For example, you can build your scene and even publish your adventure now, but then go back and revise the gameplay so that it’s more fun later. You have a whole month for this challenge. Just don’t forget to update your link post if you publish a revised version later down the line.

Q: What happens if the adventure I use is already featured?
A: Adventures that are already featured won’t be featured again… so use a fresh adventure!

Q: Can we use stylefilters/adventurelook/a combination of the two?
You’re encouraged to use the adventureLook cheat in your adventure.
See this guide for adventureLook info.

The styleFilter cheat is not recommended for use in adventures. Use it at your own risk, but this cheat was not created for adventures and may cause publishing issues. If you must use it, I recommend that you back up and publish a version of your adventure before using this cheat.

Q: Can we use Photoshop or other image editing programs to doctor up our screenshots?
No. The screenshot must be an unedited capture straight from the game.

Q: Can we have two screenshots from the same adventure?
Yes. Only one will be chosen as the winner, but post as many as you like.

Q: What are the minimum dimensions of the screenshot?
The screenshot must be 800 x 600 pixels or larger.

Posted in Spore Contests | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Spore.com site update: Sporepedia landing page

Posted by ballightning on August 22, 2009

The main Sporepedia page has been updated!

You may notice that when you visit the Sporepedia now, you will see a new Home tab. The main purpose of this tab is to make it easier to find some of the cooler stuff in the Sporepedia, especially for new visitors.

Check it out to quickly get to the MPN and featured creations, top rated Sporecasts, new challenges, and more!

Posted in Sporepedia | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Galactic Consumer Challenge – Finalists Posted!

Posted by ballightning on August 14, 2009

Want to have your say in the competition? Head over to the official spore forums to vote today!

Finalists Posted!
Attention voters! Please subscribe to the following finalist playlists and take the missions they contain for a test drive!

Vote on which sporecast contains the most original, fun, and exciting adventure collection by 8/18/09.

Posted in Spore Contests | Leave a Comment »

SporeDay: Interview with Audio Recording Engineer Chris Seifert

Posted by ballightning on August 14, 2009

Ask Questions over at the official spore forums!

This is your chance to interview an audio engineer from Maxis!

Chris Seifert has been a member of the Spore Sound Design Team for the past two years. Prior to that, he’s been an audio recording engineer for Maxis projects dating back to the Sims original expansion packs. His primary focus is on VO and Creature sounds, but he also helps with music and SFX. Some of his favorite contributions to Spore include the Alien languages in the space stage and Epic creature voices.

On Galactic Adventures, Chris worked on all of the creature voices, including the Epics, which had to have an entire language created which conveyed a wide range of emotions from happy to sad to angry.

About the Interview

Ask Chris about his job, about what it takes to be an audio engineer in the gaming industry, or about specific technical questions you have about sound art just by posting your questions here on the thread.

Any question you asked will be considered, but finalist questions will be chosen based on relevance to his contributions at Maxis.

Submit your questions by 8/18/09 and we’ll choose the finalist questions for you to vote on. The top voted questions will be answered by Chris.

Previous interviews:
Ask Maxis with Chris Hecker
Ask Maxis with Kate Compton and John Cimino

Posted in Spore Community, SporeDay | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Apollo 11 Adventure Screenshots

Posted by ballightning on August 14, 2009

Check out some of Maxis’s favorite adventures from the Apollo 11 adventure competition!

Apollo 11 Adventure Screenshots
Check out images of some of our favorite moments from playing your adventures!

Click the images below to open the adventure in Sporepedia.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Spore Contests | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Web Sporepedia filter & MPN Top 4 updates!

Posted by ballightning on August 8, 2009

Many people have been complaining about the current MPN system, which showed adventures along with all other creations and due to the large amount of Clark and Stanley adventures appearing in it there was nearly no other creations. Now Maxis has fixed this by introducing a new MPN section on your spore page which only shows adventuers, and leaving the old one to only show stuff creating in the original spore game, they have also added a filter to the main MPN page which means you can now look at only the top rated vehicles, or the top rated adventures.

Sporepedia Filter & MPN Top 4 Updates!

We’ve made a small change to the Sporepedia view that will give you more control over the content you want to view.

You will now also be able to view MPN, featured, and other views of creations sans adventures if you choose by selecting the Spore Creations filter.

Try it out!

We’ve also added a Top 4 MPN Adventures pod to the MySpore page so you can view these seperately from the Spore Creation top 4.

I hope you enjoy these new changes and find that it’s now easier to find top quality creations.

-MaxisCactus

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

Guide to exporting Spore Creatures into Blender

Posted by ballightning on August 6, 2009

Eochaid1701 from the official forums has found a way to use different file formats to create a fully rendered creature into Blender through the use of the Collada exporter from spore.

Trying to get your Spore creatures into Blender? This is where I will put the known Blender methods in one easy spot for your convenience. Thanks to scozdawg, KCDJedi, MaxisEditorDan, MaxisCHecker, and everyone else for helping find all this.

Changing Formats

What:
Blender cannot support Collada 1.4.1 reliably yet, so a different format is needed.* There have been two main methods for doing this, the Wavefront .obj and the 3DS Max .3ds.

.obj format gives you (mostly) working textures, but no rig. Recommended for textured renders, especially where a lot of the body is visible.
.3ds gives you the rig and textures on the parts, but no body textures. Recommended for procedurally-textured renders, where the UV’s don’t matter.
Research is pending to combine the methods and get the best of both worlds.

* Caveman79 was able to modify the base files for the Collada importer to get a successful model. In my experience, this merely broke the importer permanently and it will require reinstallation to fix it. His method is here: http://forum.spore.com/jforum/posts/list/285/37155.page

How:
1. Download the .fbx converter here: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112&id=10775855. There is a different version for each OS, so be sure to pick the right one.
2. Put the .dae file from Spore into the left-hand pane by dragging or using the menus. Don’t change anything on the right-hand pane. Click the convert button in the bottom-right.
3. Put the .fbx file the program just gave you into the left panel in place of the .dae.
4. In the “Destination Format” menu, select either .3ds or .obj.
5. Click the convert button again. Done.

Getting the file into Blender

What:
You can’t just open a file other than a .blend file in Blender. You must import your creature and create a .blend.

How:
1. Open Blender.
2. Select the cube with the right mouse button (RMB) and press X to delete it.
3. Go to the “file” menu and choose “Import.” Then pick whichever file format you chose in the conversion.
4. Navigate to the file and select it. Deselect “Load UI” on the bottom of the pane.
5. Click “Import” and answer the popup window.
For .obj the following options should be selected:
NGons as FGons, Lines as Edges, Keep Vert Order
For .3ds, use defaults.

Fixing the model up

What:
The model is there, but there is still some stuff to do to make it render well. At any time during the following, you may select Render/Render current frame to see why we do what we do.

How:
1. The model is laying face-down, so type ry-90 and hit return. R means “Rotate,” Y specifies which axis to rotate on, and -90 is the number of degrees.
2. All of the polygons are explicitly visible. Look in the lower tab and notice the button with the square on it. Select it if it isn’t selected. This gives you the mesh editing tabs. (You may return here at any time by clicking the aforementioned button) In the “Link and Materials” tab, select “Set Smooth” (the “H” may be cut off so it says “Set Smoot”). Now your model looks like it does in-game. This step made Blender give you four times the number of normals per vertex, making each face round instead of flat.
3. Render the creation to see how you’ve done. It should be facing to the left of the frame and be smooth-looking.
4. Read on to find out how to handle the textures.

Applying the materials

What:
Your model is still a default gray color, because your material didn’t come through. Now we’re going to reassemble the material. This is the most complex step, and will likely get you nowhere with a .3ds file.

How:
1. In the “Editing” pane, look where it says “1 Mat 1” Click “New” underneath that. This gives you a new material.
2. Select the lower-panel button with the gray sphere. This gives you the “materials” tabs.
3. Go to the far right tab. In the vertical row of rectangles, select the top one. This creates a new texture for the material.
4. Select the “Map input” tab. Select “UV.” This tells Blender to apply the texture according to the UV layout the game included with the creature. “Orco” simply drops the texture over the creature like a blanket – not cool.
5. Click the leopard print button to get the textures tabs.
6. Select the newest “Tex” box from the stack of rectangles (like the one from before, but wider). Under the “Texture Type” chooser next to it, select “Image.”
7. In the “Image” tab, click “Load” and pick one of your texture maps. (you should have three per critter: Name_specular.tga, Name_normal.tga, and Name_diffuse.tga) For the diffuse map, look in the “Map Image” tab and deselect “UseAlpha.”
8. Go back to the “Material” pane using the button with the red sphere on it.
9. Select the “Map to” tab. “Col” should be selected. You want different options here for each map . For the diffuse map, leave “Col” selected. For the normal map, deselect “col” (Very important) and select “Nor.” For the specular map, deselect “col” (Very important) and select “Csp.”
10. Repeat steps 3-9 for both of the other maps.
11. Return to the “Editing” tab. Press the “tab” key. This puts the mesh in Edit mode, where you can see and deal with all the vertices. Press “a” to select all.
12. Click the “Assign” button in the lower pane.

You should now be ready for non-posed renders.

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

Spore Galactic Adventures User Upload Challenge 4 – Epic size your Adventure!

Posted by ballightning on August 5, 2009

Spore Galactic Adventures allows you to create any kind of adventure, big or small. But this week, the challenge is to create an adventure that is bigger than big. So big, that its EPIC!

Create your most epic adventure yet in Galactic Adventures. The adventure could be epic in story, scale or scope!

Once you have created your adventure, make an EPIC video trailer for the mission and post it as a video response to show everyone what a cool adventure youve made. Make sure to note the name of the mission in your video so people can find it in Sporepedia!

And dont forget to check out last weeks best user challenge video, LuminarNightblades Galactic Adventure tribute to SimAnt:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p79zu…

Stay tuned for the next YouTube video challenge….


Helpful Technical Information:

To participate in our challenge enter your video as a video response to this one. Here’s how to create a video file to upload manually:

-To capture video in Spore Galactic Adventures, click V to begin video capture and V to end video capture

– Your video will be posted in the “Movies” folder which is located in your “My Spore Creations” directory

– Post your finished video as a video response to this video by clicking “Post a Video Response” in the video response section to the left

Posted in Galactic Adventure, Spore Contests | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

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 »

Maxis Contest: Apollo 11 Adventure Challenge

Posted by ballightning on July 23, 2009

Link to Contest page

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to set foot on the moon. Millions tuned in to watch the historic event on TV as the new frontier was first explored by people. Find out more about the famous voyage here.

40 years later, to celebrate that momentous occasion, we’re opening the Apollo 11 Adventure Challenge! Create an adventure from our lunar template creation: The Moon.

Make it realistic, with goals such as planting scientific equipment on the surface and collecting samples, or create an entirely new version of the events, such as encountering alien life, or trekking to the dark side of the moon.

To edit the template, save this png and drag it into your Sporepedia, or view the adventure on Spore.com and click “Download Adventure”.

We’ll post our favorite adventures here for you to vote on a winner.

What will the challenge winner get?

Glory of course… and a chance to be featured on Spore.com!

Your adventure:
• must be an edited version of this template adventure
• must not contain other authors (aside from MaxisSpore) in the lineage
• must not have any links or references to other sites in the submission’s tags, name, or description

Submissions that do not meet the above criteria will not be considered for a feature

Additional Requirements:

• To submit an adventure: publish it with the tag mcapollochallenge.
• You can submit as many adventures as you’d like
• All submissions must be in by 11:00 AM PST Tuesday (08/07/09)

Optional:
• Post a link to your adventure
• Post screenshots from your adventure
• Post YouTube movies of your adventure

Challenge FAQ
How was the moon template created?
The USGS Astrogeology research program has published various topographic maps of the lunar surface. Spore’s Kate Compton used bump maps created by artist Robert Johnston from the USGS data to recreate a planet that looks like the Earth’s moon! She added a couple extra craters to make the surface more interesting, so you may want to think of this as “the moon, but after an especially heavy Leonid shower”.

Is contact from Earth required, or can we just use the template to create a moon-based adventure? Does the landing need to occur in the adventure?
You do not need to contact earth. Please keep in mind that the spirit of this challenge is to remember Apollo 11, but that is widely open to your interpretation. You don’t need to include the landing in your adventure.

Does the captain have to be the astronaut? Can we use him/her in the adventure?
You can change the captain, and make it locked or unlocked. The template uses a locked astronaught captain, but you’re welcome to change this aspect of the adventure.

Will there be a Sporecast of the entry creations?
If you make one there will be!

Can I terraform the planet?
Yes.

Posted in Spore Contests | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

A guide to the Flora Editor and how to use these plants in GA

Posted by ballightning on July 23, 2009

BenJee9 from the official spore forums has found a way to create flora using the flora editor, and then place it into your game, and use it in Galactic Adventures. You can find the original post on the official forums, and we will also be adding the guide to our flora editor page.

Well, I was messing around with the flora editor this morning, and I decided to come up with a little guide to creating a plant and using it on a GA planet.

First of all, this may only apply to Spore after patch 1.04 and GA. I have not tested it otherwise. Also, certain pieces may cause spore to crash, as of yet though it has never caused any damage to my SPore.

Use the flora editor at your own risk 

FIrst of all, here’s a picture of the flora editor:

The background of the editor is black, thank you GA. 

Also, you will notice that when you move your mouse over the plant’s base, the blue ‘limb’ orbs appear. You can move these about, but do NOT EVER resize them unless you want ‘exception raised – do you wish to debug it?’.

There is one FATAL part that must NEVER be used. See that 3 pronged one? On the bottom row? There’s a ‘hidden’ part next to it. It will become visible once you mouse over it, but don’t be fooled. USe it and Spore’ll die on you.

This is a picture of the detail section.

The only two parts that are usable here are the first two on the second row. They look nothing like the detail images and one’s invisible.

Paint mode is tricky. I haven’t done much research into it, so I’ll post more detail no that later.

Paint mode screenshot:

Special keys:

CTRL click: this works like ctrl click in the building editor, but only user on a part that is not attached to anything and has nothing attached to it. Otherwise you have a crash on your hands.

Shift click: this is a bit of an unknown, because it has crashed Spore a couple of times. I do know that it does something with only one plant segment.

None of the ‘leaves’ or ‘fruits’ parts work.

You can only save with this mod.

When you have saved, Spore loads as normal. For some reason, the plant is always saved under your computer name.

You can use these plants in GA, and you will probably find them in game. Remember, there is no plant tab on ‘my creations’ section, so you have to find the plant in ‘everything’.

My plant in GA:

Up-close view from the ground:

Video (click it) (when the screen goes black at the end I’m in paint mode):

New screenshots:

Posted in Spore Community | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Spore Galactic Adventures User Upload Challenge 3 – Video Game tribute

Posted by ballightning on July 19, 2009

Maxis is kicking off their YouTube User Upload Challenge #3 – this time fans can create adventures based on their favorite video game and upload their movies to YouTube for a chance to win!

User Video Challenge Instructions:

Galactic Adventures allow you to create any game imaginable and even those that have been imagined.

For this challenge, create an adventure as a tribute to your favorite video game of all time. Have the adventure either mimic the game or feature elements from it (plot, props, objectives etc).

Once you have created your adventure, make a trailer for the mission and post it as a video response to show everyone what a cool adventure you’ve made. Make sure to note the name of the mission in your video so people can find it in Sporepedia!

And dont forget to check out last weeks best user challenge video FlyingPigBoys Spore Road Trip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_Xb5XaEjkM

Stay tuned for next weeks YouTube video challenge….

Helpful Technical Information:

To participate in our challenge enter your video as a video response to this one. Here’s how to create a video file to upload manually:

-To capture video in Spore Galactic Adventures, click V to begin video capture and V to end video capture

– Your video will be posted in the “Movies” folder which is located in your “My Spore Creations” directory

– Post your finished video as a video response to this video by clicking “Post a Video Response” in the video response section to the left

Source: SporePrograms

Posted in Galactic Adventure, Spore Contests | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »