Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

sandbox games and spore

I wrote a new article for bit-tech, you can see it here (courtesy of digg)

It’s about how sandbox games are getting less sandboxy, with a lot more in the way of aggressive hinting and quests to tell you what to do. I consider this to be a slight dumbing down of otherwise good freeform games. I don’t play games to be told what to do, I could get that in a day-job :D

I got thinking today about spore, my slight disappointment with it, and thinking about whether it’s a genre I could tackle in the future. I certainly think the game is too simple and dumbed down, no doubt to appeal to the mass market. The section of the game I enjoy most is the creature stage, but it’s far too predictable, and simplistic. There really isn’t enough in the way of simulation complexity to give me enough of a freeform game there.

So I was wondering about whether I could do a different take on the ‘cell stage’, which is more of a ‘sim fish creature’ game that anything really cellular. I love the ‘look’ of that part of the game, but I thought the gameplay was too simple. There are basically two food types (meat and plants) and you avoid big things and eat little things. Also there are some bits of meteor you need to hoover up. I’m pretty sure there is huge scope to expand on all this and make a better game. It’s certainly the sort of game I enjoy coding, and it would fit nicely in with my general portfolio of stuff whilst being a new game (non sequel).

Just a thought.

Spore. securom again…

My copy of spore isn’t here yet, but a friend has his copy, which he can’t validate on-line because the servers have died apparently. Another huge victory for DRM it seems. Apparently, there are rumoured to be pirate copies already (although that does mean they work, or are easy to get). In any case, it’s yet another example of things going badly in the whole DRM thing.

Unless you are 100% sure your DRM is flawless and convenient, you run the risk of upsetting your customers. How many frustrated spore buyers are currently whining to friends? friends who may be tempted now to warez it instead?

I hate piracy and warez, but if EA want to sell spore online for MORE than the stores, and include DRM not backed up by stable servers, they are only encouraging people to pirate. Madness. When people buy Kudos 2 (please buy it!) in a month or so, it will download, install and run with no fuss. Even I can see that this makes more sense.