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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 »

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 »

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 »

SporeDay: SporeGalaxy

Posted by judhudson on July 8, 2009

For today’s (7/7/09) SporeDay, Maxis treats us with a brand new website called SporeGalaxy.  The website, setup very similar to the game’s main screen design will allow users to search for creations by their tags and to view them in a planet setting.

Posted in Spore Apps, Spore Community, SporeDay | Leave a Comment »

SporeDay: New Spore.com site for Galactic Adventures

Posted by ballightning on June 10, 2009

Maxis have updated the Spore official website in preperation for Galactic Adventures. Explore the new MySpore page and Sporepedia features.

 

New site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New site2

Posted in Galactic Adventure, SporeDay | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »

SporeDay – Answers from Chris Hecker

Posted by ballightning on May 27, 2009

Maxis recently got people to ask questions for Chris Hecker to answer about the various areas of spore his has worked on. Maxis choose the top 50 and then users on the official forum voted for their top 10, through Chris has answered many more then that. Here are our two favorites, head over to the Official Forum for more.

 

What do YOU think of the asymmetry campaign? Do you think it may be a good idea? 

Asked by CubeTubeMan, Sgt.Waffles, TexasGamer, ZEE_EXX, poisfig, dinoboy300, nebula27, SPYDR 

I’m really glad this one got the most votes, because it happens to be what I’m working on right now! So, yes, I think it’s a good idea! First, some important caveats: this is research work we’re doing to investigate the feasibility of asymmetry in the creature and vehicle editors. It might not work for any number of reasons, and therefore, there are no guarantees it will ever see the light of day and ship, but please keep your fingers crossed and beam us good bug fixing karma! 

A bit of history about the creature editor and asymmetry to give context: there were actually three generations of the creature editor over the years of Spore’s development, lovingly called CE1, CE2, and CE3. Each successive editor built on the lessons learned from working on and testing the previous one. Obviously, only CE3 ever got to a shippable state, and the others were just prototypes. I think they all supported asymmetry to one degree or another at various points in their development, even CE3. However, as we fixed the bugs, figured out the final user interface paradigms, and polished up CE3 into the creature creator you all know and love, the asymmetry code got less and less attention because resources were limited and it was optional for shipping, while the symmetric editor manipulations were essential to making the editor work intuitively. As we say in the business, the asymmetry code “rotted”. This is a pretty natural process for complex software…the more important features get prioritized, and some cool-but-optional parts sometimes rot and have to get disabled due to time limits and resource constraints. We always hoped to bring it back, but we just couldn’t spend the time to do so before Spore’s release. 

After we shipped last year, Dave Culyba, one of the main editor programmers, and all-around awesome guy, started to resurrect the old asymmetry code and fix the bugs. Let me be clear: the old asymmetry code never actually worked well and it needed to be completely rethought, and so Dave had to do a ton of smart and hard work to get it up and going. He solved a lot of the difficult problems (like “How does the editor economy work when you can delete one of the pair of parts?”, “What do you do if you drag a symmetric part to an asymmetric limb, and then drag it back, without releasing your mouse button?”, etc.). After GDC this year, I decided to take it on, and now Dan Moskowitz, the lead editor programmer, is working with me and we’re giving it a shot. 

We’re really excited by the potential, and we’ll be able to talk more about it later, assuming our confidence in it shipping increases over time. It’s still buggy with lots of edge cases that we need to fix, but we showed it to the Adventure Camp folks last week and they all literally gasped when I did the first asymmetric operation, which was great. If it ever ships, you guys will go crazy with it, and I can’t wait to see what you make! 

Just remember, there are no guarantees this will get released, it’s still a research project at this point, so please be patient and think positive bug-fixing thoughts! 

 

 Why did you get rid of the procedural animation for Spore? Was it a play testing issue? Was it buggy? 

Asked by Bofosho2, Mystfan, TexasGamer 

Also, how did the original, (GDC ’05) Proc. Animation system work? (I know that it wasn’t a working game then, but you did have the editor, according to one of your interns.) It must have been a pain to code. 

Asked by Bofosho2 

First, it’s important to understand that there never was some other version of Spore that got changed at some point, there was only a growing number of technologies that solved problems and a constant learning on our part about what game we were making and how to best use those technologies to make it. To use an biological analogy, it’s not like there was an existing, fully formed species that then went through natural selection yielding other fully formed species over time, and then we finally decided to ship one of them. It’s more like a single creature gestating in utero, starting out as a clump of cells that looks nothing like a game, eventually forming into somewhat familiar shapes (maybe it had a vestigial tail at one point in its development that disappeared, etc.), and finally it develops lungs and a heart and becomes viable and it gets born. Or something like that. 🙂 

As for how the 2005 animation system worked specifically, I talk about it a bit in my GDC 2007 lecture. There’s a screenshot of one of the scripts in the slides at that link if you’re curious, and you can download the mp3 to hear the description. It was basically a scripting language built on top of Lua. There were two main problems with the original system. First, it was very difficult to get expressive motion out of it, because the motions it produced were very linear. In other words, a hand could grab towards a piece of fruit, but it was hard to naturally vary the hand’s speed during the grab, and it was even harder to script movement tangential to the direction of the fruit, both of which are absolutely vital to an animation reading as having anticipation and intent. Second, as I say in the lecture, because it was a programming language, it was unclear who we should hire: programmers who can animate, or animators who could program. Unfortunately, the intersection of those two sets is almost empty, which created a huge production risk because we had thousands of animations to create.

So, to solve these two problems, we redesigned the system to implicitly handle the proceduralism as much as possible, and expose the expressive parts to the animator, as you can read about in the SIGGRAPH paper. The final system has a lot of familiar controls to a character animator, and then it handles the heavy procedural lifting of applying the animations to the different shapes of the creatures. We’re pretty proud of the results, and you can see the animators were able to get a lot of emotional expression that reads even on pretty insanely shaped creatures! 

I also think there’s a misconception about the definition of the word “procedural” when it comes to Spore’s animation system in the first question. There isn’t really a consensus on what “procedural animation” means in the computer graphics community. It’s a pretty blanket term for “non-traditional animation”, so it’s not really very useful to try to label one system procedural and another not. A working definition could be, “is a given animation asset described only by code?”, in which case the old system was procedural and the current one is not, but that ignores how the line between code and data is quite blurry in practice, and so a more useful definition that would better fit the more common graphics usage would be, “is animation data just a recording of joint angles that’s played back, or is heavy processing involved in taking the source data and producing character motion?”, and by that latter definition the current system is highly procedural. 

Rather than labels, I think players are more interested in what the system can do, and although I think we did an amazing job, I also know the GDC 2005 demo showed a couple cool things that really resonated with people that the system we shipped did not do. The two biggest ones are what we callweapons-anywhere, which I discuss below, and drag-carcass, which is something we hope to get back in there at some point. Both were just time/priority issues during development; there’s no inherent reason they would work in one system but not the other. 

I hope that clears up some of the questions around these topics! 

More Questions and Answers

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SporeDay: Polypod Gait Tutorial

Posted by ballightning on April 15, 2009

For today’s SporeDay event, Maxis have created a new tutorial called “Polypod Gait” (a polypod is a creature with 7 or more feet in one leg group).  If you have a polypod creature, you can pick between one of five gaits by changing the number of parts on your creature.  The best way to see the differences is to make a long flat creature with 8 or 10 legs on it, and then put detail parts down the middle of the spine.

By adding or subtracting parts one at a time, you can control how your creature walks. The gait will cycle between five different types, which include caterpillar, camel, etc. The list is below.  It’s easy to play with it in the creature editor once you know it’s there, just remember that symmetry counts as two parts, so add the parts down the middle to do one at a time.

Drop by the Sporums to show off your creation’s animation!

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SporeDay: Sporum Wallpaper Challenge

Posted by ballightning on April 8, 2009

Many of you have already made cool images and posted them on the Sporum. Now’s your chance to battle it out to create the coolest Spore wallpaper. 

Create the best Spore themed wallpaper to win the Sporum Wallpaper Challenge

How to Submit: 
• Make a cool creation in any editor – publish it with the tag mcwallpaperchallenge 
• Create a wallpaper that incorporates an image of this creation (dimensions 1024x678px) 
• Upload your wallpaper to the web and post a link to it on the Official US forum along with the name of the creation used (you may also embed a preview image as long as it doesn’t exceed 670 px wide – larger preview images will be removed) 

Prize 
Glory – as always – and a chance to be featured on Spore.com 

Judge: MaxisCactus* 
*In the event that polling exploits are fixed before the submission deadline, finalists will be posted for the community to vote on. 

Rules
Your creation: 
• must not have any parent authored by a different creator. 
• must not have any offensive creation in its lineage (any parent or child creations). 
• must not have any offensive material, links or references to other sites in the submission’s tags, name, or description 
Your wallpaper: 
• must be an original piece of art created by you 
• must not have any offensive or copyrighted material, 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 to win this challenge. 

Additional Requirements: 
• Your creation may be made in any creator 
• Your wallpaper may be made using any image editing program 
• You can submit as many wallpapers as you’d like 
• All submissions must be in by 11:00 AM PST Friday (04/24/09) 

Resources: 
How to post an image on the Sporum

 

Source: Sporum

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SporeDay: Meet the Captains

Posted by ballightning on March 25, 2009

Maxis have also created a small flash-based application in which it will let you preview the Captains of Galactic Adventures in 3D.  You can only rotate them left and right, and zooming is not an option.  The loading time for each is slow, as it loads 36 images for you to rotate it around. But it is definitely worth it.

In Spore™ Galactic Adventures, now you can get out of your starship and turn your Spore creatures into legendary Space Captains.

Prepare your Captain for infinite adventures across the galaxy, from battling epic monsters in intergalactic arenas to intense planetside races and much more. In each mission, earn experience to rank up your Captain and gain game-changing items and accessories.

Suit up your Captain with over 30 new items, from the Plasma Pulser to the Swarm Magnet. Share your exploits online, as your Creature Card shows your accomplishments, rank, and medals earned.

Every thrilling adventure is just one more opportunity to prove there has never been a greater Captain!

Spore Expansion: Galactic Adventures

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