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A brief chat with Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw on Spore Creature Creator


In 2005, in what was supposed to be an interesting but un-extraordinary panel at the Game Developers Conference, Will Wright, the near-legendary creator of Sim City and The Sims titles, revealed to a shocked audience his next full blown creation in playable form. That creation was Spore, a kind of evolution sim game where players could help make a complete space-faring civilization out of a single cell organism.

That GDC demo and the behind-closed doors demos at E3 and other press events that followed over the years got game journalists excited, so much so that many named Spore as the E3 game of the year in both 2005 and 2006. However the development time to finish the game at Electronic Arts' Maxis office took a bit longer than first anticipated. Now we are less than three months away from the game's full release on September 7. But before then, Maxis and EA decided to release a small portion of the game ahead of time. The Spore Creature Creator isn't really a demo of the game itself but rather a stand alone application designed to give players a chance to get used to the creature building tools in the full game.

In a brief phone interview on Monday, Big Download chatted with Lucy Bradshaw, the vice-president of development at Maxis and the executive producer of Spore. In our chat Bradshaw was extremely enthusiastic as she explained their thoughts about the creature editor, if they plan to give a discount for the full game for people who purchase the editor and if even more demos of the Spore game are in the works.


Bradshaw told us that the creature editor will offer more than just building a cute animal. "There will be a test drive mode," she told us, "where you can move your creature in a small stage arena and try out different animations." There will also be ways to create movies featuring your Spore creature and the ability to take pictures and send them to friends, according to Bradshaw. The official Spore web site will also allow people to show off their creations and put them in the creature editor as well.

As far as building the creature, Bradshaw told us that the free demo version will have about 25 percent of the eyes, hands, feet and other objects that are in the full version of the editor. There's also a paint mode with three options; face, coat, and detail. That should allow most every creation to look as different as the player's imagination will allow. "We always felt that Spore was such a unique game," Bradshaw told us, "By getting the Spore Creature Creator out there we are giving players a taste of what Spore is all about."

And the full game will allow people to edit and create even more, according to Bradshaw. There's the initial cell editor at the start of the game and later there's the tribal stage editor which Bradshaw said will allow people to dress their creatures up in various accessories. As the evolution of your character grows there will be even more editing to be done in Spore from making their own buildings and vehicles to finally creating a spaceship to explore the galaxy and see what other creatures are out there.

Of course, one of the big features of the full game of Spore is the ability to import creatures and civilizations into your game universe. However there's already some concern that some players might create objects and creatures that might be considered offensive to some. Bradshaw told us there are several controls the player will be able to do to keep such content out of their game. "You can play the game offline," she told us, adding that the team at Maxis has created enough content in the released version to keep players busy. She also told us,"You can elect only to have your buddies offer their content into your game." She also revealed that players will be able to subscribe to a forecast and elect not to allow certain content to be allowed in the game. Finally, she said they do plan to ban any content uploaded into the game servers or on their web site that they feel is not suitable.

For those of you who might be wondering if you can get a discount on the full game if you buy the $9.99 version of Spore Creature Creator, Bradshaw gave us a tentative "yes" to that question. "We are working with certain retailers that will provide some kind of discount or trade in for people who pay for the full version," she told us. She didn't have anything else to say about this plan, stating that the specific details are still in the works. And what about those folks who just want to play with the Creature Creator and not purchase the full game? Bradshaw confirmed that they do plan to add content to the full version of the Creator Creator in addition to the full version of Spore at some point in the future.

The Spore Creature Creator could be one of the best selling PC games of the year all by itself without the Spore game. We asked Bradshaw if any more demos of Spore showing off the actual gameplay would be released but she told us that there are no plans for any more demos beyond the free version of the creature creator. We will soon see if this first taste of the game will be worth the long wait.

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