A Guide to Playing Spore

If you want to play Spore, you will need to understand what kind of game it really is, and there is no single genre or category will properly explain it. Simply put, Spore, is Spore. But that's just semantics, the reason why it is hard to categorize this game is because it makes use of several various gameplay systems in a procedural flow. This basically means that aside from being a highly ambitious game (in terms of size and scope), Spore is also designed to get players acquainted with a wide series of game types as well. This is a good thing both for long time gamers and those who are new to the concept of interactive digital games.

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What is Spore?

Spore is a game developed by the now-defunct Maxis (the same developers who created the Sims and SimCity), and was published by Electronic Arts. Spore itself is pretty old, but the gameplay is unique after so many years. And this is because it is a highly ambitious game that sets out to deliver a gaming experience like no other.

The goal of the game is to create a single living species, make it grow, evolve, give it culture, bring it to the stars, and have it reign supreme in the galaxy. This is not a simple task, you start from the very beginning, literally. The game starts without you picking a starting planet then customizing your very first simple, multicellular organism. From there, it is a very long road to the stars. And quick and handy guide will walk you through each step of the process.

The Creator System

Getting familiarized with the game's creator secret will take more than hour, but it is worth it. You learn the controls, how to scale parts, how to attach them in specific angles, the colors, and of course, what the creature will look like at every stage of development. Aside from being used to create your own character, this system will also be used to design your own vehicles, buildings, and eventually, your very own spaceship. The good part is, this is actually fun to tinker around with so there's really not much to worry about. Also, there is no wrong way to create, so feel free to explore this.

Cellular Stage

The game starts you off in a literal genetic pool –there you must manually control your creature (who is, at this point, nothing more than a bacteria) and must survive against other species in a game style reminiscent of Flow. The creature swims about looking for food while avoiding larger species that might eat it. The key here is to watch what you eat. Strictly eating greens makes you a herbivore, going for red meats turns you into a dedicated meat eater. The herbivores have it a little rough in combat, but staying well fed is not hard as food is easily sourced. Going for meat allows you to eat smaller creatures, but you also have to constantly be on the hunt. Note that this choice will affect the next part of the game. Also, try to stay away from creatures of the same or larger size than you are. Always err on the side of caution and you will evolve without much trouble.

Terrestrial Stage

Eventually, you consume enough to show that you are a capable species and are able to evolve –and you finally grow some legs. We mean this literally, and you head back to the creation bit to modify your creature and then get to the business of survival. In this mode, you play the game like a 3D action adventure where you are a wild animal trying to get food while avoiding being eaten by larger monsters. It is a lot like the concept of the cellular stage, except that this one is on a 3D environment, and you will be facing lots of different species. Evolution here comes in several phases, but soon you will be able to become a dominant enough species to establish a pack that is able to gather food, defeat larger species (like epic ones), and is able to live together.

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Tribal Stage

Once your species is living together, they will build a very primitive village. This is where you first come across housing and tools. There is a bit of resource management here as you build your village, secure some food, and even tame a few of the less evolved wildlife. This part of the game is all about dealing with the other species in the planet that have also developed villages. You can ally with the neutral or friendly ones, and you will have to wage war with the hostile ones.

Quickly establishing food sources is important here as it will allow you to progress fast –also, make allies. Alliances with other races makes you stronger by keeping you out of combat and also by earning you tributes. When dealing with enemy villages, use a simple tactic of luring their fighters out of their village and back into your own. From there, aggressively exploit the health regeneration bonus of being in your own turf and defeat the enemy units. With their attackers dead, their village will be open for the taking.

Once you have allied or razed all the other villages, your own species will create its own city.

City Stage

In this part of the game, your species would be the dominant force in the entire planet –now you have to unite all these creatures together by capturing all cities. The general idea of the village stage holds true here (and even for later parts): some cities are hostile and will require combat to win over, while the neutral and friendly ones are worth befriending. Focus your early efforts in making allies before taking on the hostile cities. This way, you can build up a strong offensive force.

Sheer numbers is the key to winning –a large group of airborne units will do well against enemy fighters while your ships are perfect for laying siege on the cities. For those targets that cannot be reached by ships, simply bring a lot of flyers and concentrate on taking out the turrets. Each city you conquer becomes yours and they will provide you to fix and heal your units, do this every time you have a large scale encounter to keep your troops fresh and ready for combat.

Space Stage

Once all the cities are yours, you can build a spaceship and take to the stars. The idea here is that is a large scale version of the city theme, only with more complex economies that center around spice, and with larger scale enemies that can take from minutes to hours to defeat.

Each race, including your own, will have its own boundaries. Once your boundaries cross without another species, or if you just decide to fly into their circle, then you will have to interact. The same formula applies: for friendly and neutral folks, be friends with them. For the aggressive ones, fight them off.

Not that jumping into combat is not recommended. Wait for a few pirate attacks so that you can get a hang of the new controls. This will also help you by getting you some better weapons –stronger lasers and more powerful missiles will always be a good thing. While building up offensive strength, harvest spice and see if any nearby allies can be traded with (trades are also the fastest way to earn in the game). Try to see the various city-setups to get ones that are efficient in gathering spice.

Once you start waging war against other species, take them down one planet at a time. This is helpful for your units too as you get to repair and regenerate. Cities will be hard to destroy, but focus all attacks on the main city instead of its defenses. When the enemy forces call for a cease-fire, accept it. Then fix up your army, maintain your home base, then continue assaulting the unsuspecting foe. There are no penalties for ignoring a cease-fire so make good use of the opportunity to launch a surprise counter attack.

The Center of the Galaxy

The end game here is the quest to charge towards the center of the galaxy and doing so will be very hard as it means waging war against the most powerful race in the game, the Grox. Their power comes from their high technology and huge fleet volumes. Wining against the Grox is going to take forever, so we suggest that before you head for the center make sure you are fully upgraded for a very long trip.

This is a race, with you constantly moving from one system to another while searching for the fastest way to get to the center. Wormholes are always going to be a welcome treat as it helps you stay ahead of the Grox. Healing items will also be important, the enemy ships are fast and plenty, and you should expect to take some serious hits.

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Badge Outta Heck

If you do decide to take the Grox head on in combat, be prepared to have a whole galaxy-wide confrontation. They have hundreds (maybe thousands of systems) under them, so this will be a war on all fronts. Your allies and all your territories will be marked as targets, and even the “cheap” tactic of increasing a planet's T-rating is actually an expensive ploy against the Grox (alternatively, volcanoes help, cheaper, but still gonna need some megabucks to fund).

One key tactic is to build false targets for Grox –terraform one of their worlds and set up shop in it. Uber turrets and the works will be perfect, this is more than just a forward base of operations, it is also your queen's gambit: a distracting bait. Instead of the Grox attacking your allies and homeworld, they will prefer to target the planet you have taken from them. Sure, your allies and some of your other territories will still be in danger, but this lessens the number of times they are put in the crosshairs. If you have the Staff of Life and a good number of Planet Busters, consider using these to clear out the most troublesome Grox systems.

Expect the progress to be slow and move against them one small step at a time –be sure to maintain all your territories and try to help out any allies in distress. Most important of all, be patient, as rushing will not get you anywhere against this enemy and its 2,400 planets (yes, this will be a very long, but not impossible, fight). Be smart, persevere, and you will eventually triumph.

There is one tactic that is even slower than waging war against the Grox and it requires buying them out. This is actually cheaper than buying a Planet Buster for every Grox world, but it takes time. First, ally with them. Then once you have trade routes, offer to purchase their planets from anywhere between half to a million Sporebucks.