Spore: Galactic Adventures, an expansion pack to Spore, hits shelves this spring on PC (EA still hasn’t announced whether it will support a simultaneous launch on the Mac). And with it comes the chance for players to build whole worlds and missions with the same psychotic drive and reckless abandon that led to 75-million species in the Sporepedia. That’s 20 times the number of real critters running around Earth, even if you don’t count all the Spore critters that look like a walking phallus.
The expansion pack is a direct answer to a gripe of the Spore community -- lack of interaction or activities in the space stage of the game. Galactic Adventures comes loaded with a few prefab missions accessible through the quickplay module, but the real gameplay mileage comes in with the mission creation and editing tools. According to Caryl Shaw, the Maxis producer behind Galactic Adventures who took me through a short demo, the terra-forming tools in the game are fundamentally the same tools developers used in Spore. You can create worlds and play with a vast number of variables, from terrain shading and moisture content to land masses and bodies of water.
Once you’re done laying everything out, you can populate the world with non-player characters and toggle their values like radius of awareness and aggression level, as well as write scripted dialogue for them and assign different goals specific to the mission ranging from collect to destroy. To top it off, you can even edit the music selection. And then, boom, you can share your creation with other gamers through the Sporepedia (Shaw assured me that there will be interoperability between Mac and PC users).
In order to navigate the new missions Maxis threw in new accessories to outfit your Spore creature with items like jump jets and hover units as well as new weapons like pulse blasts, lightning strikes and missiles.
During my demo Shaw ran through one or two simple levels designed by dev team members ranging from navigating a massive labyrinth complete with an angry minotaur to destroying a herd of bipedal chuk-chuks while bluegrass music jammed in the background. In other words, things are going to get frickin’ weird come this spring. “We wanted to let people tell their own stories,” says Shaw. Now players can create the kind of missions that would make Mr. Spock’s ears get all perky and strike fear in the hearts of nameless yeomen, doomed to never return to the mother ship. Just remember Star Trek’s golden rule of planetary exploration according to Shaw, “When you beam down to the planet surface, don’t be the guy wearing the blue shirt.