Spore Origins Interview
Spore Origins' producer invites us to swim in the primordial soup. Yup, we bonded.
This Sunday, Electronic Arts will unleash Sims creator Will Wright's Spore on PCs and Macs across the world. Years in the making, the game has a lot to live up to. On a lesser note, the company also plans to roll out Spore Origins for iPhone, a game that focuses squarely on creating an organism and becoming king of the food chain. Mike Pagano, the game's producer, fielded our probing questions.
Why did you focus on the "primordial soup" aspect of Spore and not the other evolutionary stages?
When we saw the Cell Stage of Spore, we knew it would be perfect for the iPhone. Its intuitive casual gameplay and simple control scheme would adapt extremely well to the platform's mobile/casual nature and unique touch and tilt controls. It also contained a simpler version of the Creature Creator, which we saw as a must have. How could you not want to stretch, squeeze and shape your creature? It gives the player a great canvas to interact with their creature to make it their own. I love giving the game to my coworkers to see the crazy variations they can create with their vivid imaginations.
Since you did go with the most basic stage, does that leave room for future Spore sequels? A space exploration stage? A civilization stage? How would you adjust these sections of the game to work on a mobile platform, most notably the iPhone?
What games were your inspiration and why? Obviously Spore, but what do you think of flOw on PS3? How does Spore Origins differ from it?
For inspiration, I pulled from an exorbitant amount of games ranging from simple web-based games to a plethora of heavy-weight console games. But the main inspiration is the Cell Stage of the Spore PC game, of course.
FlOw for the PS3 is a great game and an extremely fun play. I highly recommend it. We do have a lot of similarities, but we greatly differ in almost all areas. Give Spore Origins a whirl and see for yourself.
Why the decision to go motion controlled, instead of just dragging our critters with our fingers?
We implemented an early version of the game with touch as the main mechanic. The creature followed your finger, but we found that your hand got in the way entirely too much. At one second you were alive, the next second your hand got in the way and a creature came to gobble you up; no good. Next we tried using tilt and found that we had a greater fidelity of movement, which made it easier and more intuitive to control.
How does customizing our creature better our survival? Do multiple eyes really help?
Customizing your creature actually does help better your survival to the Sandy Coast. Take for instance, the tail. It will help you swim faster, the fins will help you turn faster, while the eyes help you see into bubbles for those precious food creatures that help you grow bigger. Without customizing your creature, you'll find the battle for survival will be much, much harder.
Adding multiple parts as opposed to one will vary depending on the part selected. We balanced the game so that adding 20 eyes as opposed to one would have a marginal effect, while adding multiple spikes would protect your creature depending on placement.
Any plans for Wi-Fi multiplayer? If so, how does it work?
A lot of these iPhone games aren't so hot. What are developers doing wrong?
Do you think iPhone can compete with DS and PSP? If not, what does it need in order to?
You're very secretive, but thank you.
Our take: Although we cannot confirm or deny multiple versions of Spore for iPhone, our years of sleuthing taught us that whenever someone says "No Comment", that probably means the concept is on the table, so to speak. By that logic, don't rule out announcements about new Spore games and Wi-Fi multiplayer.