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Spore in the wild
September 8, 2008 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Will Wright's PC game Spore was released yesterday. The 'Sim Everything' game from the creator of Sim City and The Sims takes the player from cellular growth to space colonization with several stages in between. Reviews are in, and the consensus is that it's good but not as legendary as its scope (and multi-year development cycle) would suggest. The game's 'draconian' DRM has sparked controversy, causing Amazon users to bomb it with one-star reviews.
posted by mattholomew (144 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Between DRM kerfluffles and their discs notoriously locking-up consoles, EA needs a few 1-star ratings for such piss-poor QA. They're like the Adobe of games.
posted by basicchannel at 11:47 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey, what seriously successful product doesn't have a single-issue Amazon users bombing it with one-star reviews?
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


559 1 star reviews (vs. no other post launch reviews) is just fucking weird though.
posted by Artw at 11:50 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


How could you make this FPP and not mention "Sporn!"
posted by cjorgensen at 11:50 AM on September 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yet if they removed the DRM the sales would be 1/10th if less. How about all the DRM and copy protection on the consoles? These kiddies happily accept that they cant copy Halo but there's a double standard for the PC?

Dont like the DRM? Don't buy it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:52 AM on September 8, 2008


Related discussion on Slashdot. Apparently many of the 1-star reviews on Amazon are part of a coordinated protest against the game's DRM.
posted by Makoto at 11:52 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey, what seriously successful product doesn't have a single-issue Amazon users bombing it with one-star reviews?

As Artw pointed out, the one-star spamming has been so heavy that the overall average review is now one star. Thanks for your comment though, I could have made that clearer.
posted by mattholomew at 11:53 AM on September 8, 2008


. The game's 'draconian' DRM has sparked controversy, causing Amazon users to bomb it with one-star reviews.

Doing their part to hammer the nails in on the coffin of PC gaming.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of this DRM method, but there's a reason PC gaming has been dying for years (games with a required online component like WoW not included of course).
posted by malphigian at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2008


Heh. I sure told me.
posted by Artw at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2008 [9 favorites]


Heh. I sure told me.

Heh again, I didn't even notice they were both you! Please pass my apologies along to yourself.
posted by mattholomew at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Will an anti-DRM flash mob that's determined to give EA's latest sim game Spore a rock bottom rating on Amazon.com sink the game, or will Spore evolve and shed the DRM?"

Sounds like grounds for a mass delete and possible bannination to me.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2008


"Will an anti-DRM flash mob that's determined to give EA's latest sim game Spore a rock bottom rating on Amazon.com sink the game, or will Spore evolve and shed the DRM?"

As of the last time I looked, it was the #1 selling game product on Amazon, so it doesn't appear that the reviews are having much of an effect.
posted by mattholomew at 11:59 AM on September 8, 2008


I get everything over Steam anyway, so that probably makes me an evil DRM lover or something by Slashdot standards.
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on September 8, 2008


Yet if they removed the DRM the sales would be 1/10th if less

In what magical world does copy protection prevent piracy? If you're going to pirate a game, you'll do it whether or not it's got some silly, obnoxious copy protection on it, and chances are you didn't intend to buy it anyhow (or aren't able to buy it).
posted by uncleozzy at 12:01 PM on September 8, 2008 [9 favorites]


They'd probably do a much better job of shitting it up with a carefully regulated number of 1 and 2 star reviews that actually looked naturalistic. the 500+ 1 stars just looks like something weird has happened.
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on September 8, 2008


Wow, that one-star campaign is pretty organized - not only 500+ 1-star reviews, but "1,431 of 1,568 people found the following review helpful".

I like the idea of having onerous DRM hurt sales, and it's bugged me that it's normally so difficult to discover DRM until after you've already bought the product, that DRM hurts people only once they've lost the ability to take their dollar vote elsewhere. The 1-star campaign seems like a good way to make the point. I wonder how long it will hold up as the regular reviews start to come in.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:03 PM on September 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


So, does anyone know if opting to not install the EA Download Manager cripples the game's ability to download user-generated content? It's not very clear.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:04 PM on September 8, 2008


this is so sad. spore looked wonderful in the early preview videos and to read they dumbed it down to a level where how many legs a creature has doesn't matter for how fast it may run is disheartening. the drm crapola on the other hand was to be expected. come on, folks. this is EA we are talking about.
posted by krautland at 12:10 PM on September 8, 2008


Does this DRM exist on the OSX version since I noticed that "pre-loading is not available for Mac".
posted by furtive at 12:10 PM on September 8, 2008


I am playing Spore. It may not always be the best GAME ever, but it is a truly amazing software toy (see The Sims, Simcity, and everything else by Will Wright).

If you are interested in games, you should play this. Despite all its flaws, it pushes the nature of games forward in fascinating ways.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:11 PM on September 8, 2008


The wise men at Penny Arcade, certainly no promoters of software piracy, have pointed out that DRM only affects you if you legitimately paid for the the product. Making your DRM scheme especially strict and/or complicated just increases the relative value of the pirated version.
posted by echo target at 12:12 PM on September 8, 2008 [14 favorites]


So, does anyone know if opting to not install the EA Download Manager cripples the game's ability to download user-generated content? It's not very clear.

Yes, you cannot access the user-generated content without going through the EA download manager.
posted by mattholomew at 12:13 PM on September 8, 2008


In what magical world does copy protection prevent piracy?

As I understand it, the traditional reasoning was that copy protection prevented the non-savvy computer user from engaging in 'casual piracy,' i.e. sharing a game with friends.

After the rather involved DRM associated with the PC release of Mass Effect earlier this year, I expect that publishers of PC games are coming to terms with the reality of widespread Internet piracy and adopting a new rationale for copy protection: keeping the game out of the hands of pirates for at least a few days after launch, so that would-be early adopters and enthusiasts have no choice but to buy it. (Unlike Spore, which had a working crack available on release day, it was the better part of a week before Mass Effect was cracked.)
posted by Makoto at 12:16 PM on September 8, 2008


"Yet if they removed the DRM the sales would be 1/10th if less"

This is made up in your head, and is completely dumb. Much like you wouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight, don't bring a random notion you just thought of to a fact fight.
posted by Ragma at 12:17 PM on September 8, 2008 [42 favorites]


How disappointing. I was really looking forward to Spore, being a lifelong Maxis fan, but I won't touch anything that uses DRM after Trackmania's StarForce protection ruined two of my DVD drives.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 12:19 PM on September 8, 2008


what is this DRM you speak of? I bought the game and am loving the hell out of it.
posted by Hands of Manos at 12:22 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


'casual piracy,'

I agree, that's the long and short of it. And I could be wrong--it's been known to happen--but I feel like it's a small part of the market/problem. Think of a bunch of kids pooling money to buy a game. You're not losing a sale without copy protection (since the kids couldn't afford more than one copy); you're probably gaining a sale (since they know they can share the game). Obviously that's not the entire "casual piracy" market, but I'd think it's a fair portion.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:23 PM on September 8, 2008


Considering the game (at least once you reach the space-faring stage....more?) requires grabbing information from the game manufacturer's servers for additional content, this at the very least is a simple method for them to restrict pirated copies from getting full functionality from the game.

I'm not sure what form the DRM takes currently. However, pirates copies would just as much an ongoing traffic to EA servers as legal copies, so it makes absolute sense for EA to try and avoid that and extra expense. It's not like there is a monthly fee for this game, like Warcraft has.
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:25 PM on September 8, 2008


(I should point out that I'd like to play Spore, but I don't know if it's hackable--as the Creature Creator was--to run on OS X 10.4, which is a bummer. Might have to pirate it to find out.)
posted by uncleozzy at 12:27 PM on September 8, 2008


I agree w/ Hands of Manos; please elaborate on the DRM issue as I've bought the game online and see no issues. Am I missing something?
posted by thekorruptor at 12:30 PM on September 8, 2008


Can someone explain to this non-gamer why this is a PC-only game? This plus Wii Fit would have convinced my wife to buy a Wii. But, as a Linux user (and cheap bastard besides, not to mention hating stupid DRM), I can't buy this.
posted by DU at 12:31 PM on September 8, 2008


Once you reach the space stage, you need to start up the spacecraft. You're presented with an image of a keypad along with a page number and cipher code. You've got to drag out your Spore manual and the red-cellophane filter to retrieve the code and enter it to continue. It's kind of a huge pain in the ass.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:32 PM on September 8, 2008 [15 favorites]


DRM? There was a crack released before the game. Who is this stopping? Those without access to GameCopyWorld?

After playing the game, I will admit it tore up a weekend of my time. The excitment quickly diminished once I realized that a key feature of the game's design, creating your characters, had little effect on game play beyond the spore stage and the later vehicle design has little actual effect on the vehicles / space crafts. Oh I just need to have jets on my plane? It doesn't matter how they're positioned? It got to the point, at later stages, that I was just plopping things in to move the game on. Sure I realize that a lot of kids will have fun designing intricate city halls and houses, but to me that amounts to nothing more than an easy to use 3D modeler. The actual game play beyond the creature stage is severely lacking to anyone whose played a RTS since, oh, Command & Conquer Red Alert. It may be harsh, and I'm sure there's a plethora of school age kids who will eat it up, but this is definitely not meant for general consumption.

Which is really too bad, I had a real fun time playing the spore to creature stage. The much hyped space age was sort of boring to me, but looks as if that might be the bulk of the game. I was really into designing different creatures, trying to place weapons on strategic parts of their body, giving some sort of reality to the mechanics, but alas the game seems not to care where I put poison or claws, just that they're there, which is really too bad.

But this isn't really a game, it is a giant sandbox. I can easily see an early version of myself playing online with my friends creatures, proud of my creations, and I'm sure it'll make gobs of money. It is better than having my parents not answer the phone so a dialup connection is made and I can embarrass everyone with my Soviet tank rush. I'm somewhat convinced there will be a generation of the military that will only build light and medium tanks, only to be followed by hideous legions of flying man apes with hands on their heads that can charm and pose for our future enemies. What a horrible world.
posted by geoff. at 12:34 PM on September 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


"Yet if they removed the DRM the sales would be 1/10th if less. How about all the DRM and copy protection on the consoles? These kiddies happily accept that they cant copy Halo but there's a double standard for the PC?"

Sins of a Solar Empire by Stardock Software shipped 500 000 copies and is one of the best selling games this year and there isn't a byte of DRM code in the install.
posted by PenDevil at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2008 [9 favorites]


Fiddly mouse driven interfaces don't port to mouse-less consoles all that easily. Whether or not you consider it a dealbreaker is a matter of personal opinion and dependant on just how fiddly, exactly, the interface is.

I can say based on the time I spent with the creature creator demo that I would experience annoynce trying to do that shit with a gamepad. The pointing/sensing in the Wiimote might make for a better port interface, but it'd take some doing -- just replacing mouse pointer with wii pointer would be a recipe for anger.
posted by cortex at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree w/ Hands of Manos; please elaborate on the DRM issue as I've bought the game online and see no issues. Am I missing something?

You should really read your software licenses.

3 Installs only, needs internet connectivity to check your activation. Congrats, you just spent $50 on a game rental that requires EA's consent to play.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


new rationale for copy protection: keeping the game out of the hands of pirates for at least a few days after launch

This doesn't really apply in Spore's case since it was available almost a about 5 days (approx) before its release date on torrent sites, so I was playing it before it was avaible in stores(Yes I did buy go on to actually buy the game). I also find the for the most part the popular PC games are usually out the same day as the release or the next day.
posted by Sargas at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2008


I wish Steam opened up its gates to more games from other companies. The DRM is there, but its completely invisible, I've never had a problem playing games I own, and its so damn easy to get a game (TOO easy, says my wallet).
posted by Mach5 at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain to this non-gamer why this is a PC-only game?

I would be very surprised if this did not end up on the consoles, Civilization was (apparently) ported very effectively to the XBOX 360 and this has a simpler interface.
posted by geoff. at 12:36 PM on September 8, 2008


It's kind of a huge pain in the ass.

If that's what you consider a huge pain in the ass, you need to find something else to do. I don't mean to be rude, but you have to do this once, right? And that code in the book never changes, so you can just write it on the wall in case you ever have to reinstall the game.

It irks me that people are willing to spend hours upon hours being challenged by a game's puzzles in the name of fun, but they get all pissy when they have to type in a few letters and numbers once, in order to play the game.
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:37 PM on September 8, 2008


I figure I'll buy the game, download the pirated version and never bother opening the box the game came in; same as I do all the other DRM encumbered games I buy.

Its truly pathetic that its come to that, but the fact is that the DRM is so bad these days that legitimate users such as myself resort to the pirated version. I've got a job, I'm not cheap, I buy software, and there's no way I'm going to let Sony, or EA, or anyone else put a rootkit on my Windows partition.
posted by sotonohito at 12:39 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's take it as a given that DRM stops casual piracy.

But then, I wonder how many casual pirates it turns into hardcore pirates. It seems to me that some gamers will get frustrated in their attempts to casually share a game and, rather than give up, go looking for the knowledge to break the strong DRM. Of course, once they get good at it (or figure out how to get cracked games) they now have the means to avoid buying games altogether. (They may also have a grudge against the game maker and thus a motive to pirate every game.)

Back when games came on diskettes, and had trivial, if any, protection, my friends and I might share a game but we always bought at least one copy. I imagine that were I a young gamer today I might just skip the hassle of buying a hard to use game and go looking for a cracked version from the beginning.
posted by oddman at 12:40 PM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Be sure to go over to MeTa to post your Spore name.
posted by Diskeater at 12:43 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


If that's what you consider a huge pain in the ass, you need to find something else to do

Well, the worst part is that the on-screen symbols don't display right in CGA, so you need to find somebody with at least an EGA card to write down which symbols are which on the keypad so you know which ones to select. I hear it's similar for Hercules users. I don't know why they didn't test it on these machines; not everybody can afford a fancy graphics card.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:43 PM on September 8, 2008 [36 favorites]


@Winnipeg that kinda sucks, but its only going on one computer. (however I can see the evil of this)
posted by Hands of Manos at 12:46 PM on September 8, 2008


It irks me that people are willing to spend hours upon hours being challenged by a game's puzzles in the name of fun, but they get all pissy when they have to type in a few letters and numbers once, in order to play the game.

I hear you on the irk, but it's also ridiculous that they're being put in the position of having to jump through that hoop. This is 80s bullshit. This is the fold-out poster of thousands of rows of black symbols on dark red paper that you had to search through to unlock the door to the upstairs in Maniac Mansion. It's silly bullshit that throws out the baby with the bathwater in a futile bid to deter people who will not, in fact, be deterred.

If you bought a new car and found out that it'd turn itself off for good after you drove the first hundred miles, until you called a specific number and read the nth sentence of the mth page to the waiting operator? That'd be ridiculous anti-consumer bullshit. On the face of it. Throw in the possibility that (a) you can't find the manual or (b) no one picks up phone, and it looks worse.

The rhetoric in both directions goes over the top on a regular basis, but DRM as commonly implemented is an indefensible mess that fails as a solution to the problem by which its existence is justified.
posted by cortex at 12:46 PM on September 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


Delivery of SPORE activation links and keys may take up to 72 hours. We apologize for any incovenience caused by this delay.
That's what my $50 got me. How is it possible to run into logistics problems if what you're selling is a license key?!

Next time around, I'm getting the torrent.
posted by you at 12:47 PM on September 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


The existence of SecuROM made me grumpy enough to reconsider buying. And really, after seeing the latest trailers on Amazon, I'm not nearly as excited about Spore as I was when I first heard about it 2(?) years ago.

The whole thing is just disappointing.

@Winnipeg that kinda sucks, but its only going on one computer. (however I can see the evil of this)

Also, updating your OS counts as a new install.
posted by giraffe at 12:47 PM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Geoff.,

I agree with your comments - it was disappointing to see how rudimentary the strategy is, and how little 'evolution' actually plays into the actions you take - for example, your creatures can 'discover' new parts in the wild that you can then add to them. If you don't like the parts you have, you can 'sell' them to 'buy' new parts. I understand it's a game and some concessions need to be made, but something closer to actual natural selection would have been much more interesting.
posted by mattholomew at 12:51 PM on September 8, 2008


And, of course there's the fact that the DRM means that if EA ever goes out of business, or simply decides it no longer supports your fave DRM game, you are SOL. Congrats, you can't play anymore.

You can't tell me that's right.
posted by sotonohito at 12:53 PM on September 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


(I should maybe clarify before this goes any further that I was making a funny; to the best of my knowledge, Spore does not have the same copy protection as Maniac Mansion. The real copy protection is actually worse, as sotonohito points out.)
posted by uncleozzy at 12:54 PM on September 8, 2008


There's an interesting article at Seed: Will Wright’s eight-year, multimillion dollar project Spore encompasses almost every aspect of science, from star formation to biological evolution. So why does it resemble intelligent design?
posted by homunculus at 12:55 PM on September 8, 2008


With all of the DRM talk, no one's attempting to point out why the game itself sucks. Come on, guys! Anyone remember Black & White? Ambitious, high-concept game that was fun for a few hours before it became abysmally boring? I haven't played Spore [yet?], but ever since it was introduced I figured it would be the same thing. I have enormous respect for Will Wright's ideas and the technology behind the game, but for some reason high-concept games that promise a lot and deliver very little actual gameplay depth bother me to no end. I know it's supposed to be a "toy," but I'd like a game like this to have the same kind of depth that something like Civilization has, but nooo, it has to be accessible to the audience of cash-in franchise The Sims. *procedurally-generated sigh*
posted by palidor at 12:58 PM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I hear you on the irk, but it's also ridiculous that they're being put in the position of having to jump through that hoop. This is 80s bullshit. This is the fold-out poster of thousands of rows of black symbols on dark red paper that you had to search through to unlock the door to the upstairs in Maniac Mansion. It's silly bullshit that throws out the baby with the bathwater in a futile bid to deter people who will not, in fact, be deterred.

It's doubly irritating because it disavows the existence of the internet, which seems like a sillier idea in 2008 than it did in 1988. Seriously, guys, do you not think it's going to be the top result in Google by the end of the first day of sales?
posted by Mayor West at 12:58 PM on September 8, 2008


@giraffe

I'm on OSX, it does updates all the time. You're telling me that counts? Or do you mean updating from like 10.0 to 10.5?
posted by Hands of Manos at 12:59 PM on September 8, 2008


I sympathize with the DRM issues, having been burned by Adobe CS DRM. I'm not buying Spore.
posted by crapmatic at 1:00 PM on September 8, 2008


I just found this article, I'm sure she's blowing some smoke...but is this DRM as bad as they say?
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:04 PM on September 8, 2008


I should something more substantial than what I wrote above. Games I love, like Railroad Tycoon, Simcity 2K, The Sims, Tropico, etc, I usually end up re-installing at least 15 or 20 times over the course of five years as I change OS's, hard drives, laptops, etc. That's just the way the cookie crumbles in my house. Therefore there is no way I would be able to enjoy Spore after the first year or so with this kind of DRM.

I'm not affiliated with that campaign at all. But as someone who's constantly reinstalling stuff, Spore would be a foolish use of my money until they come up with a more reasonable scheme.
posted by crapmatic at 1:06 PM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I should add something, I meant to say...
posted by crapmatic at 1:06 PM on September 8, 2008


w/r/t the "copy protection or sell 90% fewer argument"

Sins of a Solar Empire just sold 500k units with no DRM at all. I someone going to make the argument that with some onerous DRM it would have sold 5m?
posted by dmz at 1:07 PM on September 8, 2008


My biggest fear about DRM like this is that, left unattended, in a processor cycle rich environment, it could experience some kind of... shift. It might suddenly develop the ability to tap into it's reactions with other programs on the computer, and in doing so, it might find ways of becoming faster and leaner, operating better on less resources, able to go longer without input.

Eventually, it would start to compete with those programs. It would aggressively test the new skills and techniques it developed until it was the strongest piece of software on the PC. Then, having conquered it's environment, it would use the call-home connection as a way of reaching out with other PCs running similar software, and in communicating with them, it would start a new level of competition until it, or one of it's opponents, was the most powerful thing out there.

Then, I figure it would probably launch itself into space or something. You know, come to think of it, that would make a pretty cool game.
posted by quin at 1:08 PM on September 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm a firm opponent of idiotic DRM in games, and I'm very heartened by this reaction. I haven't been able to figure out who started the campaign, and it wasn't any of the usual suspects, like boingboing or penny arcade. It has definitely taken on a life of it's own at this point, and EA may actually have to pay attention.

People who are saying that this DRM is required are totally wrong. In the case of Spore, it already has completely natural DRM (the server-based stuff only works if you have a valid key, which NO ONE complains about), but then they went and added starforce crap with limited downloads to it. The sad part is that this is actually a relaxation of the original plan, which involved it periodically checking validity and invalidating itself if you go offline for too long. The existence of the starforce DRM in Spore will help it sell no more copies, and as shown by this action, it's going to hurt them.
posted by JZig at 1:12 PM on September 8, 2008


Hands of Manos, that article refers to the earlier, somewhat worse form of DRM that through campaigning by various people was turned into the current system.
posted by JZig at 1:13 PM on September 8, 2008


Then, I figure it would probably launch itself into space or something. You know, come to think of it, that would make a pretty cool game.

It wouldn't go to space before it tracked down Sarah Connor.
posted by mattholomew at 1:15 PM on September 8, 2008


It resembles intelligent design because otherwise it would just be SimEarth with updated graphics and none of the best parts of the game, like throwing meteors at your planet?

I hadn't heard about the galaxy formation or no-ftl potential parts of Spore, though. Those could've been neat, I guess, having to deal with relativistic issues traveling through space to abduct some bugs with way too many arms and flowers growing off their backs.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 1:18 PM on September 8, 2008


I'm on OSX, it does updates all the time. You're telling me that counts? Or do you mean updating from like 10.0 to 10.5?

The latter. Sorry for the delay.

Though I just found out that they're not forcing you to authenticate every 10 days, so maybe they changed other update problems too.

Either way, I'm still too grumpy to buy something I know I'm going to feel lukewarm about.
posted by giraffe at 1:19 PM on September 8, 2008


With all of the DRM talk, no one's attempting to point out why the game itself sucks. Come on, guys! Anyone remember Black & White? Ambitious, high-concept game that was fun for a few hours before it became abysmally boring? I haven't played Spore [yet?], but ever since it was introduced I figured it would be the same thing. I have enormous respect for Will Wright's ideas and the technology behind the game, but for some reason high-concept games that promise a lot and deliver very little actual gameplay depth bother me to no end. I know it's supposed to be a "toy," but I'd like a game like this to have the same kind of depth that something like Civilization has, but nooo, it has to be accessible to the audience of cash-in franchise The Sims. *procedurally-generated sigh*
posted by palidor at 12:58 PM on September 8


Funny anecdote here: when Black & White came out I called my friend and asked if I could borrow his copy for a day to try it out. His reply was "This game is too much fun for me to part with it long enough for you to try it out, this game is totaly awesome." So I went out and bought a copy the next day. I called him back that night to ask him how to do some thing or other right at the beginning. His reply this time was "Man, why did you buy the game, it's really boring." ... which is exactly how I felt about 6 missions in.

And I fully expected Spore to be the same, there was no way it could live up to the hype.
posted by Vindaloo at 1:20 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


@giraffe

Yeah I'm a little miffed by this information. I love the game but I do wonder what will happen if I have to reinstall my os or update (although I don't think Mac is updating anytime soon).
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:22 PM on September 8, 2008


I actually heard about this game from a university professor in my emergent computing class. That was 5 years ago....
posted by supe at 1:27 PM on September 8, 2008



There's an interesting article at Seed: Will Wright’s eight-year, multimillion dollar project Spore encompasses almost every aspect of science, from star formation to biological evolution. So why does it resemble intelligent design?


If Spore emulates the creation of the universe, then putting on shag seat covers makes you the worlds best mechanic.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:28 PM on September 8, 2008


malphigian: Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of this DRM method, but there's a reason PC gaming has been dying for years (games with a required online component like WoW not included of course).

If you find yourself alone, playing on your gray PC with half a dozen tabs open on the pirate bay, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!
posted by CautionToTheWind at 1:46 PM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Okay, you got yer damn Spore. Where is my Duke Nukem Forever???
posted by LordSludge at 1:48 PM on September 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


All of this talk about DRM is avoiding the real question: is Spore better than SimLife?. I remember loving SimCity and failing utterly to get into SimLife--not enough visual stimulation for my taste. Others are welcome to disagree.
posted by smrtsch at 1:51 PM on September 8, 2008


You've got to drag out your Spore manual and the red-cellophane filter to retrieve the code and enter it to continue. It's kind of a huge pain in the ass.

Not to mention that they validate your age by asking you questions about movies and rock bands from the 70s.
posted by turaho at 1:53 PM on September 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


homunculus: Will Wright’s eight-year, multimillion dollar project Spore encompasses almost every aspect of science, from star formation to biological evolution. So why does it resemble intelligent design?

I've not read the article, but I think I can answer the question. Here goes: Because it's a game first, as all good games are, and it's a lot more fun playing the part of an agent with some active involvement in affairs than as a set of impersonal physical laws with no agenda of their own.
posted by JHarris at 1:57 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who else was draconian?
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:57 PM on September 8, 2008


Can someone explain to this non-gamer why this is a PC-only game? This plus Wii Fit would have convinced my wife to buy a Wii

It's Official: Spore Coming To The Wii
posted by designbot at 1:58 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not to mention that they validate your age by asking you questions about movies and rock bands from the 70s.

To this day, I know that Carlton was the doorman on "Rhoda", despite being born far too late to have seen him myself. All thanks to Leisure Suit Larry. The part I love best is that I just asked my mom.
posted by gurple at 1:58 PM on September 8, 2008


sotonohito writes "I've got a job, I'm not cheap, I buy software, and there's no way I'm going to let Sony, or EA, or anyone else put a rootkit on my Windows partition."

HeHe, remember when retail copies were safe and it was downloads you worried about being trojaned?
posted by Mitheral at 1:59 PM on September 8, 2008 [29 favorites]


I've been playing it on Leopard, didn't know about the DRM when I bought it. I installed it while I was online, but I've played offline since then, too. Not too many hassles, so far, but I am still against anything that limits my installs.
Casual sharing is NOT deterred by DRM, btw - it only takes one savvy person to put a cracked version out there for everyone to download and play.

Also - the game does seem dumbed down a bit, but it is still fun to play, and kids (like my 7 year old) will really love playing with it.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:05 PM on September 8, 2008


dmz writes: w/r/t the "copy protection or sell 90% fewer argument"

Sins of a Solar Empire just sold 500k units with no DRM at all. I someone going to make the argument that with some onerous DRM it would have sold 5m?

I'm hearing this thrown around, but it's not an apt comparison. Sins of a Solar Empire is pretty much multiplayer-only, and the matchmaking servers are require authentication by Stardock accounts, tied to unique CD keys. Pirates are stuck having to use virtual LANs to play with their friends.

This only works well for multiplayer games, obviously. Singleplayer games face a bit more difficulty, and I'm of the opinion that some DRM is good for deterring casual piracy. It needn't be too ornerous since it'll get broken anyway, but something to prevent casual copying is a good idea.

It is correct to say that there are some people that wouldn't buy it anyway, and those people will pirate no matter what. But there are others that, up to a point, will purchase the game if it's easier than getting around the DRM. As long as the DRM doesn't get in the way of the legitimate customer and the price of the game is under the arbitrary financial limit that the average person sets for themselves, they will purchase the game.

I think the way it goes in most people's heads is something like:
note: Morality factor (0 < n < 1, closer to 0 is more Spylike)

If Morality factor * (price limit) is less than (desire to play the game, in dollars) - [ (DRM inconvenience factor) / (1-purchase convenience factor) ] * price

Then I want the game enough to purchase the game legitimately or pirate it. I will pirate the game if [(DRM inconvenience factor + (1-purchase convenience factor)] * price is greater than Morality factor * (price limit)


Otherwise, I will buy it.


holy shit did i really just spend thirty minutes doing that
posted by anifinder at 2:16 PM on September 8, 2008


You know who else was draconian?

Dragons?
posted by Artw at 2:18 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I bought Spore online, via the EA Download service to my PC. It was a surprisingly smooth experience, particularly compared to the previous awful experience buying Battlefield 2142 from the same service. If there's any copy protection so far I haven't noticed it.

The SecuROM copy protection on the Spore retail discs is indeed invasive and annoying. Then again, it's also the industry standard copy protection and you'll find it on about half the commercial games released. Spore is aimed at a more casual crowd so I imagine it'll be easier to drum up some outrage, but my impression is the DRM isn't anything unusual.

I've played the game a few hours so far. It's kinda fun but also kinda tedious. Sure is pretty. I wish there were some actual evolution, though.
posted by Nelson at 2:22 PM on September 8, 2008


gurple: Funny story, to me at any rate. I was playing the first LSL when I was about 12 or so, and used the ParentHax crack. I remember vividly one Sunday morning in Suburbia, The South, USA, running out to the back porch, where my father was doing yardwork and hollering at the top of my lungs : "DAD, WHERE'S THE G SPOT AT?!?"
posted by absalom at 2:27 PM on September 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


Sins of a Solar Empire would have sold 5,000,000 copies if Stardock Software had added some DRM.

The thing that worries me is that Maxis/EA are just licensing SecuROM from Sony. No matter what EA, Maxis or Will Wright tell you or promise you, by installing Spore you allow Sony DACD to own your machine. How much do you trust Sony?

Finally, the 3 install issue. At work we buy lots of Adobe licenses. Every time there is a new hire, someone will try to give their used laptop to the new guy and get a new one from IT. This way I've managed to always have a 6 months old or newer PowerBook/MacBook Pro for the last 3 years.

Every time, I would completely uninstall Adobe CS, which supposedly gives you back your rights to that install. Every single time this would fail, and every single time I would have to spend an hour on the phone in order to be able to install CS in the new machine. Finally, the Adobe person on the phone looked at my records and just gave me a magic license key that will always work. This license key is one of my most prized possessions, and NO ONE CAN HAVE IT.

EA has said that uninstalling will NOT give you back the rights to an install. You can call, and try to get it back. I will wait for someone less scrupulous and smarter than me to post a magical Spore license key.
posted by dirty lies at 2:32 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


heh heh. I remember quizzing my mom about who the heck Spiro Agnew was for LSL3. Ah, pre-internet days.
posted by Dr-Baa at 2:34 PM on September 8, 2008


You know who else was draconian?

Malfoy?
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:38 PM on September 8, 2008


3 Installs only, needs internet connectivity to check your activation. Congrats, you just spent $50 on a game rental that requires EA's consent to play.

3 Installs? What kind of person with a total disconnect from gamers decided on that (oh wait, EA.)? If your game is even halfway good it'll get installed far more than 3 times. Don't these people format their drives?
posted by ersatz at 2:38 PM on September 8, 2008


I prefer making weird fucked-up mutant creatures the old-fashioned way: by keeping sweaty towels, multiple-use pairs of underwear, sneakers, and old egg sandwiches inside a gym bag for weeks on end.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:42 PM on September 8, 2008


As someone who frequently plays really old PC games over and over, there's no way I'm buying Spore. I was considering it. I have gotten so frustrated recently with trying to load old games and spending hours and hours trying to get it to work, only to discover that the only way to make it work is to illegally download a crack for some stupid POS DRM that isn't supported or just plan doesn't work anymore. I don't buy CDs with copy protection and I won't buy install games with DRM anymore.

I second or third the people above who said this is why PC games are dead. I've switched mostly to consoles when possible to avoid just this kind of thing. It's not the inability to copy that I mind. I'll pay my $50 and shut up. It's the fact that I don't want my machine fried by their malicious software. And, in five years when I want to play the game again, I want it to still work.
posted by threeturtles at 2:46 PM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mixed reaction to the DRM. Audio DRM sucks because it stands in the way of fair use measures that the average law-abiding person is likely to run up against.

This?

Granted the 3-installation thing sucks. That's worth a bit of upset. And the verify-every-10-days originally proposed would have been annoying. That said, the "80s bullshit" observation of cortex's was my first thought, though with the opposite reaction: who cares? People are treating this like some new encroachment, when this (particular verification mech) has been around for decades. You used to have to verify Civ every game. Starflight had its code wheels, etc, etc.. Yes, there is the internet now, so it's easy to get around. And people made copies back then. (for Civ I mostly guessed) I just don't see getting upset about that particular bit. As for disc-free play, that's a pet peeve of mine, and my disc-free games do see more play as a result, but really that's my laziness in action. If someone thinks it's important, I give a big ole MEH in that direction.

Especially when we find out that character creation has next to no effect on gameplay. I mean, are you shitting me?! There's a dealbreaker here, and it's not the DRM.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:09 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


but is this DRM as bad as they say?

Yes it is. SecuRom often disables the users cd/dvd drives and you only have limited installs. So if your game corrupts (something common to sims2, if you install user made content - and the game sucks if you don't) and you end up needing to reinstall more than few times you quickly end up with a purchase that you can't use. You'll also use up one of your installs if you get rid of your old computer and buy a new one. Basically this DRM and the way EA uses it turns your purchase into a rental. SecuRom also won't let your game run if you have Nero (and other similar apps) on your system, as apparently having that app means you are a dirty pirate. Never mind that EA claims that Nero isn't on it's list of evil software, never mind that you have it so you can make home movies or back up your personal files & not for pirating. SecuRom totally borked my mom's computer when she installed the new EP for Sims2, disabling all her drives. Because apparently having a cd or dvd drive means you're a thief. So after spending all kinds of time fixing that mess (and luckily we have a friend who can fix that shizz, else it would have cost us money) and then on the phone with EA support (because the game just wouldn't run, even after we uninstalled Nero & holy shit do they have an extraordinarily useless CS dept) we gave up and dropped a NoCd crack into her game. So from now on, we'll be getting our SecuRom infested games off the back of a lorry and going the NoCd route.

Dont like the DRM? Don't buy it.

Give me a break! Average game consumers are having all kinds of problems with this DRM, so how about the game companies use one that's not so messed up? Since SecuRom obviously fails on all counts (borks the game, borks the computer, easily cracked), why can't they just admit that no matter what they are going to lose a certain amount of sales and not make it so invasive and problematic that people who have no clue what route the lorry takes or what a NoCd is can just buy the damn game and play it, without it costing them computer repair fees or deleting perfectly legit software that they use often. How about they make it so these average consumers aren't forced to learn how to pirate, as in the case of my mom, in order to get her game to work?
posted by zarah at 3:22 PM on September 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


Considering the game was on torrent sites, I think four days before the release date... Kind of shows how pathetically ineffective the DRM is. I can see why they might get the illusion it works, but really it just pisses off the people who pay.

I find it interesting, threeturtles, that you feel like the death of PC gaming is down to malicious software and not being able to play them again. I can't say I have struggled with many PC games. I tend to find it's easier with a PC to play my old games, including I switched over to a playstation emulator so I could keep playing PSX games. Then you have Mame, and the Genesis and such emus I have around too.

As opposed to, for instance the 360. Which won't even play the one original Xbox disc I kept so I could play it when I got a 360, only to discover it wasn't going on the BC list.
posted by opsin at 3:24 PM on September 8, 2008


So am I correct in saying that you can use the cracked version to get around the drm and just use a valid key for the online stuff? Because that's pretty much the only way I'd play this.
posted by puke & cry at 3:29 PM on September 8, 2008


Oh, though I meant to point out that indeed, the thing that is harming PC gaming for me is the DRM. So I get what you mean. It's just mostly with games I have no interest in I guess.

There have been a few I had to stop the DRM stuff installing, and two games I wanted to play but never got round to 'cause I couldn't get round it.

But, it does really annoy me how totally not backwards compatible all the consoles are getting to be, and I don't know how long I see the emulation on PC picking up the slack there. I mean, we just about have a working PS2 emu, and I don't know that anyone's even started on a PS3 one! The Xbox one doesn't even play Turok...
posted by opsin at 3:29 PM on September 8, 2008


On second look (thanks for the additional notes, zarah), this looks to be a problem that average people will encounter and not know what to do with. I have to agree with the slashdotter who said the thing to do is to buy a copy and then basically find yourself the cracked version. No DRM, and no solid case against you for piracy.

However, that's basically taking the other /. comment, that only the law-abiding will be punished, and pushing it to the extreme. Supporting the game's sales means supporting the DRM, and only those clueless (or scared, or straight edge) enough to not get around it will be hit. That sucks. So I give. I repent.

But the shoe dropping on the game design lost me before the DRM even hit.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:32 PM on September 8, 2008


I haven't been able to figure out who started the campaign

Pescado & some of his crew from MoreAwesomeThanYou, and PMBD, and various other Sims community members have been making a big and organized stink about this for quite some time.

puke & cry check out MATY, they may have the info you need on how to proceed with Spore. I'll send you the link in MeMail.
posted by zarah at 3:36 PM on September 8, 2008


"So am I correct in saying that you can use the cracked version to get around the drm and just use a valid key for the online stuff? Because that's pretty much the only way I'd play this."

Depends what the cracked version does... You don't need the disc in the drive to play Spore (or I have an odd version).
posted by Auz at 3:51 PM on September 8, 2008


Off Topic (Actually talking about the game, sorry): I've been playing this for a couple of days and I must say that the Cell and Creature stages are very addictive. So addictive that I haven't played on the other stages.
posted by Memo at 4:32 PM on September 8, 2008


Vindaloo, that was pretty much the exact same experience I had with Black & White. Friend raves about so much that I just have to pick it up, and before long we're both regretting having anything to do with it. And I'm not saying there's no value to these games, but as someone who values gameplay a lot more than having a toy to play with, it just doesn't work for me. Even with a game like SimCity, which you could call a sandboxy toy, I'm the type of person who will try to get property values as high as possible so the money comes pouring in. I like the challenge of getting my head around the mechanics and then exploiting them to "victory." I think they could have made Spore in that mold, but it's obvious they went in the other direction revealed by the success of The Sims--let the player create something and then let it loose in a simulation. There's just no depth there.
posted by palidor at 4:59 PM on September 8, 2008


Durn Bronzefist writes "That said, the '80s bullshit' observation of cortex's was my first thought, though with the opposite reaction: who cares? People are treating this like some new encroachment, when this (particular verification mech) has been around for decades."

It was irritating back in the day too. Rogue would lock up on "fast" machines because it though it was being copied. Anyone remember which game it was that was challenging to copy because the original disks actually had a hole punched out in a particular sector and the game looked for that bad sector?

But it's also cyclic. We were blessedly free of DRM during the period after CD-Roms came out but before burners were less than a grand. Piracy in Apple II games went through several cycles over it's life time. There has been a crazy up swing in the last few years in conjunction with pseudo CDs but I'm hoping that it'll break soon. I thought Sony getting sued was going to be the breaking point but it looks like not quite.
posted by Mitheral at 5:01 PM on September 8, 2008


(a gameplay and non-DRM comment)
I'm playing it now, and it's pretty good. The Cell phase is like a really kickass version of flOw. The Creature phase can be pretty challenging: it's where you shape your creature, and by the end your physical appearance is locked im for the rest of the game (then again, it doesn't really matter). The Tribal and Civilization phases are a really, really simplified civilization sim. Those I think would be better on the "hard" settings.

Those first four phases can be beaten in just a few hours. I just now reached the Space phase, and this seems to be by far the most complex and entertaining part. The transitions from planet surface to orbit to solar system to galaxy, all by mouse scroll wheel, are nearly seamless and really impressive. You can probably have the most fun with just the Space phase alone. Which makes sense, because the Spore evolved (get it?) from an idea Will Wright had about a "galaxy sandbox" game.
posted by zardoz at 5:10 PM on September 8, 2008


Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of this DRM method, but there's a reason PC gaming has been dying for years (games with a required online component like WoW not included of course).

Don't worry too much. No matter their final medium of delivery (to consoles which, in spite of all their eager triangle-pushing and popsicle colors, still resemble so many 300$ loss-prevention bubblepacks), games are still dreamed up and created on PCs, Macs, and Linux boxes, and this makes the PC the epicenter of creativity. The key word is not DRM, but DIY.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:51 PM on September 8, 2008


anifinder: Sins of a Solar Empire is pretty much multiplayer-only

Not really, the AI's not bad in single player. I care little for MP and I still bought it.

palidor: I'd like a game like this to have the same kind of depth that something like Civilization has, but nooo, it has to be accessible to the audience of cash-in franchise The Sims. *procedurally-generated sigh*

Dwarf Fortress has a procedurally generated world, complete with weather, geology, ecology, civilizations with intertwined histories, religions, battles. Characters have individual personalities, preferences, pets, moods, and relationships. History (including that you make yourself) is reflected in the procedurally-generated art they create, and persists beyond the inevitable failure of your fort. By the time version 1 turns up, entire species will be generated procedurally, making each generated world even more unique.

Isn't it cool the stuff a couple of people can make when graphics and, well, money, aren't an immediate priority?
posted by Freaky at 6:00 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Who really has this sort of violently moral reaction to a product that you can buy or not as you see fit being potentially inconvenient? Who? If the money plus the hassle of dealing with actually buying a game is too much for you then download it and accept the fact that people who deserve your money will not be getting it and your kind of a parasite and while it certainly isn't the worst thing in the world it is probably not a good thing. Or if you want to avoid the DRM so badly buy the game and then download it from a torrent.

That isn't so hard. I'm sure it's been done before, but the thing is almost no one out there crying about DRM like it's some kind of boogey man has done it. People pirate software far and away to get shit with out paying for it. It's an awesome way to save money for other things. But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that when we're little parasites free riding on people honest enough to pay for the things they use that there is anything heroic or even not being a scumbag about it.
posted by I Foody at 6:21 PM on September 8, 2008


Spore not as soaked in awesomy awesomeness as was hyped? How can that be?

I hate to say "I told you so", but...
posted by tkchrist at 6:39 PM on September 8, 2008


I have not played a single game of Sins of a Solar Empire online, and I love it. The single-player experience could only be better if it had a campaign, but then with RTSes I always got more play time out of fighting skirmishes with seven AIs than I ever did out of the campaigns.
posted by chrominance at 6:44 PM on September 8, 2008


Well, since you are all having fun with your copies (legit or not), I will just tap my foot with my preordered copy from Amazon finally shipping at, ummmmmm, 2:25 today.

DRM AND a late ship! 1 stars for EVERYONE!

(As a Sins/will eventually be Spore owner, as well as WAY too many other games, I loathe the idea that I will be penalized for paying (especially as I am a frequent replayer - to the point of buying my second copy of Bioshock on Steam just so I would not have to worry about finding the CD key again) when a pirate not only saves cash, but doesn't have the hassles I will. All we can hope is they reconsider this idiocy and pull out the DRM in a patch soon.)
posted by Samizdata at 6:52 PM on September 8, 2008


Chrominance -

Try to get a friend or two together for a Sins LAN party. My old housemate and I had some truly epic battles, especially when coordinating attacks to clear a pirate system we left WAY too long after crushing the pirates as a faction...
posted by Samizdata at 6:57 PM on September 8, 2008


Who really has this sort of violently moral reaction to a product that you can buy or not as you see fit being potentially inconvenient? Who?

A lot of reasonable people do. Some DRM involves screwing with your operating system, hardware, and legal system in ways that are undisclosed, unethical, or anti-competitive. Many people, if not in wider practice, are idealistic in their consumer habits; they don't want to feed their hard-earned money to something they sense is deleterious to the commons, whether it be Walmart or Sony. At the same time, they do want to reward artists, coders, and workers. They want these two levels of transaction to be somehow decoupled.

See, the (naive) myth of the internet was something that had a kind of (naive) messianic appeal to both extreme wings - Marxist and Libertarian. It was supposed to be a chance for the workers and innovators, for the original producers, artists, and coders, to gain an upper hand over old model distributors, copyright squatters, speech laws, arbitrary fences. A revolutionary's bread is his grudge against the eternal fencebuilder and landlord. And DRM is a sign of this revolution sliding half-heartedly into retrograde, old fences rising up.

But, beyond all of this, the inconvenience of DRM schemes have at times gone well beyond slicing your finger on a bubble pack and into slasher movie territory. If you know any studio musicians, ask them if they've had any experience with Pace AP...
posted by kid ichorous at 7:23 PM on September 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Isn't it cool the stuff a couple of people can make when graphics and, well, money, aren't an immediate priority?

I get the impression, with Dwarf Fortress, that the lack of graphics, and hilariously insane controls are kinda deliberate attempt to piss you off. Dwarf Fortress may well be the greatest game ever, if it was remotely playable.
posted by Jimbob at 7:30 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is considerable irony with all the folk who go around saying that they won't play a PC game because of DRM but will stick to consoles.

Surely a big reason for the success of consoles is that they are essentially DRM devices. It's considerably more difficult to pirate and play games on a console than on a PC.

Perhaps what people mean is that they like DRM that works easily and well, as with consoles.
posted by sien at 7:32 PM on September 8, 2008


There is considerable irony with all the folk who go around saying that they won't play a PC game because of DRM but will stick to consoles.

This issue is certainly all about expectations. The only thing I really see bothing most average users is the limited installation thing, and if enough people complain, they'll maybe fix just that.

But back in the day when I had a modded PS1, I'm not sure I knew anyone who didn't. And modders advertised in the Buy&Sell. It was pretty mainstream. Have things changed so much?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:04 PM on September 8, 2008


Speaking of changing expectations, I will now consider this to be a popular MeFi topic when the thread gets 4000+ comments.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:06 PM on September 8, 2008


I'll be honest. I grabbed the cracked version of the game the moment it popped up on the radar, a few days before the actual release. I enjoyed it so much that I promptly went out and bought the game. I'm aware the DRM is there. I see the little icon in the tray. But it has pretty much zero impact on my experience. I don't need the disc in the drive, I didn't have to jump through any hoops other than the usual CDKEY entry. Maybe I'll change my tune if I for some reason need to rebuild my entire machine 3 times in a row, I dunno. I'm guessing that by that time in the distant future I'll no longer need the online sporepedia, and can just go back to using the crack.
As for the game itself, it is definitely a lot more limited than I hoped it would be. It's a bit too simplistic. There is a LOT more they could have done with it. There's a lot more they still could do with it, in terms of expansions or patches. But it's still a great game. The space stage is overwhelmingly huge...I headed out in one direction, jumping and hopping, passing thousands upon thousands of stars each with their own planets and life forms. And I barely got very far into the tiny corner of one galactic arm I was located in.
I think Spore will be best known in the future for what it inspires other games to do. There is frankly no excuse from this day forward for any galactic RTS or sim to not have a procedurally-generated ultramassive environment as your playground.
posted by nightchrome at 8:12 PM on September 8, 2008


Surely a big reason for the success of consoles is that they are essentially DRM devices. It's considerably more difficult to pirate and play games on a console than on a PC.

This goes to show that people don't dislike DRM because it stops them pirating games. People dislike DRM because it stops them using their computer the way they want to use it.

I don't mind that I can't copy my Wii games. I love the fact that I can just put a disc in and the thing works the way it should, without disabling anything, or wanting to connect to some server and send it data. I love the fact that the game will still work 10 years from now, that it won't get disabled when the Wii updates its firmware. I love the fact that the game runs without disabling hardware that may be attached, or installing a rootkit that would allow remote parties to corrupt my system.
posted by Jimbob at 8:27 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


zarah - Actually, I saw the cell stage as a boring version of flOw. At the end it starts to take longer, and make you realize how slow that part of the game is. The creature stage is fairly boring too, and plays a bit like a single player WoW. I hear the space game is the stage that is really cool, but right now I'm not sure if all this pre-stuff is worth it. The creature creator, however, is really cool, but it's just a toy, and I'm not the creative type.

Without the DRM, I would've purchased the game in an instant, and been disappointed, so...thanks, EA! I like my games to be playable in five years without hassle.

re: Steam - Spore will no doubt come to Steam in a few months, much like Bioshock and Mass Effect did. However, they both have their DRM intact, so don't expect Spore to be activation free.

Does anyone see this as EA trying to fuck over the PC gaming market? First they abandoned development of the sports franchises, and now they're introducing ever more draconian DRM schemes. I think EA would prefer it if there was no PC gaming, and we all had to get our fix from consoles.
posted by graventy at 8:28 PM on September 8, 2008


I had pretty much the exact same experience that nightchrome described. I downloaded the game, played the hell out of it and enjoyed it enough to buy it. There are some serious things that bug me – I feel like the first four stages are kind of boring and ultimately pointless but I’m really enjoying the Space stage. As I said in the MeTa thread, the spice system needs serious revamping. I hate that I have to zoom all the way to a plant in order to collect or sell spice.

Also, I love it when people talk about the “death” of PC gaming. I remember reading an article way back when the Playstation launched about the topic and, over ten years later, hearing it brought up again with the launch of a new console generation. Face it: PC gaming will never die.
posted by Diskeater at 8:57 PM on September 8, 2008


Has anybody tried running this on a macbook? how does it run? My macbook wouldn't even load the creature creator.
posted by empath at 9:25 PM on September 8, 2008


I haven't gotten into the Space stage much yet. The first four stages are fun but way too simplified and straightforward where they should be awesome games in themselves, and it's easy to see the missed potential. The cell stage, for example, should be some awesome hybrid of Flow, Warning Forever, Everyday Shooter, etc. with your choice for cell design fundamentally affecting the way your cell works, but instead it's very simple gameplay with cell design choices coming down to purchasing abilities.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:35 PM on September 8, 2008


I bought Spore last night (in a box!) and my family (including 5- and 8-year olds) loved the National Geographic special that came with the deluxe edition. I didn't know I was buying DRM at the time; my deluxe purchase was based on the good-will Maxis accrued during my youth.

After reading this thread and debating whether to install it or not, I decided to take the plunge tonight. The four of us enjoyed the first 40 minutes of the cell game. Yes, it's simple & simplistic, but it's gorgeous, and the editability thrilled the kids.

On my part, unless EA/Maxis "back off" the DRM story, this is my last non-Steam/DRM purchase. To back that up (and absolve myself), I bought a copy of Sins of a Solar Empire, also based on reading this thread. First half-hour of Sins was a bit more bewildering, but it does have promise, and promises more longevity (DRM issues aside).

Oh, I'm a Mac fan and a console owner, but bought a gaming PC strictly in order to play Portal. Boy was that a wonderful experience, and worth the price of admission. Since then, Mass Effect disappointed me, Oblivion proved a minor distraction, Crysis and Unreal Tournament III were both a hoot, and Trackmania United has verged on problematic in terms of addictiveness.
posted by dylanjames at 10:02 PM on September 8, 2008


Diskeater: As I've heard it described elsewhere, Spore is a galactic RTS with a 10+ hour character creation process. The game really does not begin until space.

One thing I would really love to have been in the game is the idea of vassals. If I dump a monolith on some backwater podunk planet and Uplift the local poo-flinger to spaceworthiness, I own their puny behinds. Likewise, if I want to play the game starting in the space stage I should get Uplifted by an existing empire and be forced into vassalage until I can break free.
posted by nightchrome at 10:28 PM on September 8, 2008


PC gaming is not getting the support of console gaming because when you develop a game for the PC you have to develop a game for the intersection of a zillion motherboards and a zillion graphics cards and a zillion.... You get the idea. When you develop for a console you have one system to develop for. And when it's hopelessly outdated you sell the poor fools a brand new system.

That it stops piracy is a cute idea, but one only has to watch a couple videos of how hackers have taken down the X-Box so they could make it into a Linux machine to realize that while it might be Steve Balmer's happy little fantasy, it is only a happy little fantasy.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:59 PM on September 8, 2008


That isn't so hard. I'm sure it's been done before, but the thing is almost no one out there crying about DRM like it's some kind of boogey man has done it. People pirate software far and away to get shit with out paying for it. It's an awesome way to save money for other things. But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that when we're little parasites free riding on people honest enough to pay for the things they use that there is anything heroic or even not being a scumbag about it.

I like PC strategy games, particularly good sim games or civ-type games. That puts me in a dwindling consumer base, but I still don't own a console and probably won't for a while. But I buy all the software I use, if it's commercial software. Pretty much the only thing I use Windows for on my own time is games and music, and all the software is legal - thousands of dollars worth, in fact. I won't buy Spore, because, like others here, I want to be able to play it years from now. I have plenty to fill my time with, and not any time to play games at all lately. A really great game like this I might make time for, but not this one. Nothing personal, just a business decision, really.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:21 PM on September 8, 2008


That it stops piracy is a cute idea, but one only has to watch a couple videos of how hackers have taken down the X-Box so they could make it into a Linux machine to realize that while it might be Steve Balmer's happy little fantasy, it is only a happy little fantasy.

I don't think anybody is under the impression that it 'stops' piracy, but the relative difficulty of hacking the machine coupled with the price makes it a risk that fewer people might be willing to take. Personally, I bought a PSP for the sole purpose of hacking it to play my old PS1 games on because the modding process is simple and completely reversible. But there's no way in hell I'm going to try modding my 360 and risk fucking it up.
posted by mattholomew at 5:10 AM on September 9, 2008


First they abandoned development of the sports franchises

sure? Fifa 2008 is coming out shortly, with an expensive ad campaign to boot.

I played Spore for the first time this weekend. I'm not a gamer - I play Simcity and wish I could design buildings, but find The Sims too fiddly; I generally find games post-16 bit to be too involved and complicated - but I loved it. It looked great, the cell stage was fun (though probably easier with a joystick) and building your creatures was really interesting in terms of thinking about hwat was needed for the next evolutionary stage.

Spore is coming out on the DS, though I think it's less functional. I think that would be fun.
posted by mippy at 5:18 AM on September 9, 2008


Delivery of SPORE activation links and keys may take up to 72 hours. We apologize for any incovenience caused by this delay.

You know why your valid key doesn't work? Pirates. They're using key generators to get the game installed. The likelihood is that someone keygened your key.
posted by jaded at 5:44 AM on September 9, 2008


So, looks like I'm sticking with just the Creature Creator, at least for now.

Seems like a lot of people here have Steam, on which I only have Audiosurf. Does anyone here have some game recommendations for a very casual gamer?
posted by bettafish at 8:05 AM on September 9, 2008


That depends. Would like to participate in an exciting scientific experiment? Also do you like cake?
posted by Artw at 8:16 AM on September 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Also, I love it when people talk about the “death” of PC gaming. I remember reading an article way back when the Playstation launched about the topic and, over ten years later, hearing it brought up again with the launch of a new console generation. Face it: PC gaming will never die.

And I never see anyone note the super-obvious reason for the pendulum swing.

Right now, the X-Box 360 and Playstation 3 are more powerful gaming machines than most PCs. In a couple of years, there will be a lot of PCs that are much more powerful gaming machines than any of the consoles.

When Doom 3, Far Cry, and Half-Life 2 came out, no console game could touch their graphics and they sold tons of copies. Not much talk about the death of PC gaming then.

A couple years from now when we see Half-Life 3 or Unreal Tournament V or whatever running on a Pentium VI with 6 gigs of RAM and a GeForce 480, PC's will suddenly seem a lot more attractive to developers and gamers.
posted by straight at 9:54 AM on September 9, 2008


jaded: "Delivery of SPORE activation links and keys may take up to 72 hours. We apologize for any incovenience caused by this delay.

You know why your valid key doesn't work? Pirates. They're using key generators to get the game installed. The likelihood is that someone keygened your key.
"

Not really. There are no publicly available keygens for Spore yet. There only three or four keys going around.
posted by Memo at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2008


hmm. my mistake, then. That seems to be the pattern with most games, so I assumed that was the case here.

I do have to say. My copy of spore is working splendidly, DRM or no.
posted by jaded at 10:21 AM on September 9, 2008


Jimbob: I get the impression, with Dwarf Fortress, that the lack of graphics, and hilariously insane controls are kinda deliberate attempt to piss you off

Erm, it's an early alpha, large chunks of it regularly get ripped out and rewritten, so it's less a deliberate attempt to piss you off and more a case of the interface being preliminary.

Besides which, the controls aren't that bad (keyboards aren't that scary, are they?), and the graphics can easily be improved. Really, once you get past it repeatedly kicking you in the balls it's not that bad. And at least you didn't have to pay £40 for the privilege.
posted by Freaky at 12:40 PM on September 9, 2008


I see the little icon in the tray.

Is it there when you're not playing the game? Because I really hate that.
posted by Tenuki at 1:01 PM on September 9, 2008



Seems like a lot of people here have Steam, on which I only have Audiosurf. Does anyone here have some game recommendations for a very casual gamer?


If you like abstract shoot-em-ups, everyday shooter isn't bad. Of course, there's lots of abstract shooters around for free.
posted by juv3nal at 8:27 PM on September 9, 2008


Tenuki: You can shut it off anytime you want, it only starts when the game does.
posted by nightchrome at 1:00 AM on September 10, 2008


You know why your valid key doesn't work? Pirates. They're using key generators to get the game installed. Thelikelihood is that someone keygened your key.

There are about 1030 serials; if ten of those digits are used as a checksum, there would have to be about 50000000000000ooooo pirates for that to make sense. (which, according to the industry's posted losses, is apparently the case)

No, I think Hanlon's razor applies as usual. I got this the next day:
Some customers may not have received their activation code in the last e-mail. Here it is again, just in case. Our sincere apologies for the delay.
Order #:
[SPORE_SEPT9_ORDERID]
Activation Code:
[SPORE_SEPT9_ACTIVATIONCODE]

Please do not reply to this message.
powered by phplist v 2.10.4, © tincan ltd
... then had to wait for them to figure out how to use their free mail-merge software. It was all very impressive.
posted by you at 3:52 AM on September 10, 2008


I asked for Spore for my Birthday and got the Galactic Edition. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, I warned my sweetie that the DRM could be problematic, but given that we both pay attention to (and I play) video games and the evolving market, and I still thought it would be fun, neither of us mentioned the possibility of cancelling the order.

It arrived yesterday. I tried to install it on my sweetie's Mac Mini, which turned out to have an incompatible video card.

So I uninstalled it from there (after activating it - the Cell stage worked fine, until I had an evolution opportunity, at which point I couldn't see my cell-creature at all). With OS X, this is as simple as deleting the folder it was installed to and finding the two user folders the temporary game files (and saved content files) were saved to and deleting those too.

Then I reinstalled the game to my Windows XP SP3 laptop. After monkeying around a little with settings for video (so I could get an acceptable framerate), it was off and running.

The game itself is witty and charming, and as a toy, it's just as fun, I think, to use the various creature and vehicle and building creators as it is to play through the "missions".

I'm not that good at it all yet, but it's amusing and engaging, about to the level I expected after all the hype.

As for the DRM, I'm not bothered. I had to install twice. I don't really plan on reinstalling. It should be trivial for EA to keep running the activation servers for however long they want. After that, I hope they'll release a patch to deactivate the activation servers that we can apply to the game and keep playing it long after, if it's still interesting.

As for the phone home worries, I honestly don't care. I think it's fair play for game publishers to make, especially network connected games like this one, phone home and check for shared game keys and deactivate them. I hope EA has a good remediation process for false positives. I hope data entry issues don't end up affecting me. Worst case I'm out $80 for the birthday present the Galactic Edition was.

Finally, without Spore's phone home capabilities (at least some of them), we wouldn't have the cool experience of interacting with and possibly befriending other players' species. Yesterday I made two ally races. One is clearly a big-ass cell with legs and a pointy snout. The other is a blob with two legs that have eyeballs on their knees. I never would have thought of the latter. It was thrilling to meet it and make friends.
posted by kalessin at 11:10 AM on September 10, 2008


Opsin wrote: I find it interesting, threeturtles, that you feel like the death of PC gaming is down to malicious software and not being able to play them again. I can't say I have struggled with many PC games. I tend to find it's easier with a PC to play my old games, including I switched over to a playstation emulator so I could keep playing PSX games.

I see where you're coming from. It's true that on PC I can eventually get something to run, whereas with a console you're out of luck. Of course, non-backwards-compatible consoles really tick me off also. The problem with all of this is that you and I may be able to get something to run using emulators and no-cd cracks, and (for me) hours of frustration, but your average consumer can't.
posted by threeturtles at 1:36 PM on September 10, 2008


I really couldn't care less about the DRM issues - bought the fancy box yesterday for my daughter's 10th birthday and we are all loving it - this game is wicked fun.
posted by jkaczor at 9:48 AM on September 11, 2008


I can't stand DRM - but I have been enjoying Spore. Will it bother me if someday I can't reinstall and play it again? Possibly, but then I have quite a few old Sims games gathering dust - I really can't see myself reinstalling and playing them. (The Sims people games, mind you. Making characters clean the virtual house got old quickly.) However it might be interesting to try and contact EA when I do need to reinstall Spore and the DRM won't allow me - just to see if they'll resolve the situtation.

And after playing too many MMOs I'm probably too used to long installation processes.

Oh and the 10 year old me would have been very very much in love with Spore. The older me is enjoying it, but can really see how it'd be a lot of fun to play with kids and share creatures and worlds.

Very few things live up to the hype. Most of us know this and only pay a small percentage to anything advertising deptartments spew at us. (The History Channel was even pimping the last Batman movie, so Spore is hardly the first thing to creep its ads in everywhere.) What's vaguely annoying is the people I've been reading in reviews/blogs who probably wouldn't have cared much about the game at all or have bought it - but are feeling the need to go on and on about the evils of this one game - when it's really a DRM issue rather than a game they want to write about.
posted by batgrlHG at 2:27 PM on September 12, 2008


EA is being sued over the SecuRom situation:

simprograms.com/?p=2172

Spore Class Action Lawsuit PDF

gamepolitics.com/2008/09/24/ea-faces-class-action-lawsuit-over-spore-drm
posted by zarah at 2:59 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


For those that wish to be updated on or participate in the class action suit against EA you can fill out this form on the lawyer's website.

I believe participation is restricted to Americans.
posted by zarah at 6:25 AM on October 4, 2008


I've been playing Spore Origins for iPhone the past few days, and it's a great little game for a mobile platform. It's basically just the first phase ("tidal pools") of the Spore game. It's very intuitive -- I handed it to a bored 9 year old, and he picked it right up with zero coaching. It uses the iPhone's accelerometers to steer your critter -- tilt the phone in the direction you want to go -- which is a little difficult to control, but that actually adds to the feeling that you're just a little microscopic bug roaming around. Anyhow, at $10, it's a bit pricey for an iPhone download, but I think it's worth it.
posted by LordSludge at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2008


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