Saturday, October 4, 2008

Spore: Jung’s playground.

I love playing God. I think, in some respects, we all do. God made us in our image, and I think, as children, we always try to imitate our parents. Take a look back at the toys we played with as children. In Kindergarten, we coveted the chance to play in the "Kitchen" that Mrs. Ravencraft had set up. Boys or girls, it didn't matter... it was cool to do that... And girls have doll houses and boys have GI Joes (and sometimes the reverse), but all in all, we are imitating life.

Video games have made this even more possible. Sim City has been around forever (well, late 80's), and games like Actraiser for the SNES made creating whole civilizations (I never played Sid Meier's games, so I don't know that much about them.) so much fun. I want to make special reference to Actraiser, because of the unique themes that it carried with it in the Sim part of it. In the end, it said that the goal of a god was to ultimately not be needed, much like a parent would. Of course, much like a parent, it is almost impossible to see a world where nothing bad ever happened, where divine intervention would not be needed. But it was an ending that stuck with me, because the idea of a clock-maker God, one that was popular back in the 1800's, is an interesting one (a god that winds the clock, and lets it run, with minor manipulations to keep everything in check...see the Ancients on Stargate.)

But Spore lets you play God, and then it allows you to truly make something in your own image. And it does it more than Sim-City or Civilization or even Sims would, because you get to create an entire civilization from the cellular level. The choices you make effect the whole path that the civilization takes. The most interesting part of this is that if you let it happen naturally, the creature that is created truly comes from within you. It reflects who you are, and what you believe in.

It starts by asking you if you want to be a Herbivore or Carnivore. This is much like asking you what alignment you wanted to be on most RPG games done by Wizards of the Coast. I was always Chaotic good, in other words, just a little this side of neutral, but with a rebellious streak. For Spore, I immediately picked Herbivore. Don't sit and think, what would be easier in the game, or what would make a kick-butt creature (unless that is your personality, then by all means), but make the creature completely out of the sub-conscious part of your mind.

Jung would have a field day, looking at what people would have created. The interesting thing is to ask, "Why?" you created the species the way you did. Now, some parts of the game are dictated by items, cost of parts, strength of skills associated with those parts, but as long as they're attached in some way, you can hide unwanted items fairly easily.

My Tophian is a negotiator, a socializer, and detests killing. She's (the way I have her made makes her look most assuredly female, which is interesting in itself) a herbivore, and in making the species I adapted it for Speed, Intelligence, and Beauty above weapons and killing. Although I have enough offensive parts to keep myself alive if I need to, if socializing breaks down. I've seen the creatures in the game guides, and I find them repulsive looking. Aesthetics was most important. I wanted something I could care about, not a creature that could mow down others like some Rambo three headed spiked creature.

I've only played the first two parts, and so far I've highly enjoyed it. It's the first game of this type that I've actually found a purpose in, above buying sofas and placing residential blocks around a statue. In my opinion, Actrasier was way beyond its time, and Spore is a full realization of the ideas behind it. And there's room enough for infinite expansion. The universe is a big place.

[I want to put a picture of my species here, but since photobucket is being a pain right now (in other words, I don't remember my password), I'll put it in my pictures here. (shrug)]

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