Got Spore on Saturday and I’ve been playing it more or less non-stop since then. It was very, very fun! A lot more fun than I expected from the reviews. I don’t blame the reviewers since the game had been hyped for the past three years. I think the cell stage sucks and I don’t know if I’ll ever play it again. It’s very boring and there isn’t much to do other than eat red or green dots. The tribal stage was also boring and needs some tweaking – perhaps a la expansion pack. All the other stages have been a lot of fun – especially the creature stage.

One thing Spore has done for me that no other game has been able to do is get me excited about achievements. My brother, as he wrote here, is really into game achievements. I’ve never really been into them and I’ve often resented them. I’ve felt as though sometimes it’s been used by developers with inadequacy issues to make sure you play the game enough to get characters and abilities that should have been there in the first place. With Spore’s space phase, however, I’m digging the achievements and constantly trying to get more of them. They also give some structure and goals to what would otherwise be a pretty boring space phase.

Speaking of the space stage, here’s what’s annoying the heck out of me and what they could do in the next expansion pack to help make it more fun for me. Once you get past about 10 or so star systems, you pretty much just spend all your time flying back and forth picking up spice and dropping it off to make money. This really, really needs to be automated as today it was the last straw for me and made me finally get bored of the game. (This is good because I have some other things I want to do) So, they really need to add trade ships in the next spore game. I need to be able to set the minimum price I’ll accept for spices (say, don’t sell for under $10k) and then be able to buy some ships to go back and forth for me to sell the spices. Because I don’t have any time to go quests anymore, I’m stuck ferrying back and forth.

Speaking of trade – we need to have more than 3 trade routes – that’s just an absurdly small amount. And, what the heck to trade routes do anyway? It’s really not very clear to me what function they serve other than to eventually have the system offered for you to buy. And what good is that? So I can have more planets to go back and forth to? The game has done a very bad job of explaining to me why I want to do this. Perhaps they can fix this in a patch instead of waiting for an expansion pack.

Of course, for the quests, you start to feel like everyone else’s intern. There’s even an award called the Gopher award.

Overall, I really like this game and found it to be very addictive. Key things they need to fix are:

  • overhauling the cell stage to make it more relevant
  • fixing up the tribal stage to be a little less like an annoyingly stripped down version of an RTS – you can’t even properly automate food collection!
  • and fix up trade routes in space.

I kind of sense that my goal is to reach the center of the universe. I finally found the Grox and I feel they’ll probably cause trouble for me as I attempt to reach the center. But I’ve already gotten most of the in-game achievements and I’m getting bored. The spice trade issue isn’t really helping to alleviate my boredom. Also, it’d be nice if I could tell at a glance which of my planets require terraforming to become useful. Right now it’s way too annoying to travel from the edge of the galaxy towards the middle without knowing if I need to bring some animals and plants along.