With a a tornado of viral publicity over its pre-released Creature Creator and a hurricane of backlash about walking phalli and borderline copy-right infringement by way of an Elmo with antlers and floating X-wings, “Spore” needs very little press.
What the National Geographic Channel set out to do instead, is inform. With “Spore’s” highly anticipated release September 7, the National Geographic Channel will be releasing a companion documentary called, “How to Build a Better Being.” Which delves deeper into the development of the game’s core mechanics and what they have to do with genetic research and bioengineering.
Will Wright has revolutionized the gaming world once again. A man with big ideas, and in partnership with Electronic Arts, they have made a galaxy-wide impact with his newest multi-genre, massive, single-player game. Users are put forth to evolve their own creature from its origins as a single-celled organism to a space faring civilization, with plenty of room for evolution in between.
“One of my goals for this whole thing has been to give somebody an awe-inspiring global view of reality, almost like a drug-induced epiphany with a computer. The kind of, ‘Oh, man, what if we were a molecule inside of a galaxy?’ type thing,” Will Wright said, explaining the scope of Spore.
A precursor to the full game came out this summer called “Spore: Creature Creator,” which allowed users to custom create a simulated organism and raise it to their every unique specification. Which in turned spawned some of the weirdest, most original creatures ever to grace the Internet, and that’s saying something.
User-created videos began to spring up on video social-networks like YouTube. Some creations looked like dogs and cats, yet others had no discernible mouth or even head. In some cases, the creator of the creature was so skilled as to create accurate representations of a specific piece of male anatomy.
The Creature Creator prompted a backlash from a small group of “militant atheists,” and even garnered a full report pm CNN: “Scrolling through the database — past the three-legged sea horse, past the seven-eyed wildebeest and the half-motorcycle-half-pig — revealed something many users didn’t expect. Buried among the more wholesome attempts were two-legged dancing testicles, a ‘giant breast monster’ and a four-legged ‘phallic fornication machine,’ for starters.”
Yet beyond all the simple menus, cute creations, and potential for graphic beast on beast pornography, lies an even deeper story. The framework for a game about creation, life and ultimately playing host to an entire civilization might seem daunting, but Wright and his team had it all covered. Speaking to ZDNet Asia, he expanded on the foundation of Spore. “A lot of it was science, looking at science as a whole, and around the question of Astrobiology and SETI, and how we turned that into an interesting game experience where you look at the entire universe from a very different perspective.”
The National Geographic Channel then took that grand premise and made a documentary focusing more on the technological/biological side of the game. With the motto of “Think Again,” NGC interviewed Will Wright and leading biology scientists in exploring how genetically, we’re all connected.
Scheduled to appear on September 9, at 10 p.m., “How to Build a Better Bring” was written and directed by Ron Bowan, who produced and directed “National Geographic Explorer” episodes, “Python” and “Violent Volcano,” and is Executive Produced by Howard Swartz. The video will be released stand-alone, or it can be purchased with the “Spore: Galactic Edition.”
“It’s kind of a biologist’s dream to be able to design your own animal,” says marine biologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Tierney Thys, “to pick and choose the traits of animal groups that you most enjoy … Oh my gosh, I love this.”