Friday, September 5, 2008

Despite Its Attempt To Be 'Vaporware', Spore Is Ready To Burst Upon Us All

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Despite Its Attempt To Be 'Vaporware', Spore Is Ready To Burst Upon Us All

Written by
Robert M. Barga
Published September 03, 2008

There is a slight thumping in my chest cavity as I hear the announcement, the great Will Wright, maker of The Sims and SimCity is to make an announcement at 2005 Game Developers Conference. Will it be the anticipated and unprecedented The Sims 3, will it be some new sim-type of game, or will it be something brand new? The beating speeds up as he starts to talk; he talks about a new style of game play, about a game that incorporates everything from Pacman to Civilization. He talks about a game that you are in total control over, with truly open game play. Will Wright, the great Will Wright, has announced the game of the decade: Spore.

The heart rate accelerates like a drag racer at the green light. It is thumping in admiration, thumping in desire, thumping in lust. The game should be out by the end of the year, the greatest game ever available on PCs; well, at least the greatest ever available using Windows XP as an operating system. This game is supposed to have everything one could want in a game; it is to be a MSORPG, a Massive Single-player Online Role Playing Game. No game before, and presumably no game after, will be so simple yet so complex as this astounding game should be. Evolution will be lead by the player, a civilization will form and the galaxy will be conquered. In the space of a few hours or days, you should be able to become God.

The beating skids to a stop; there it is, that dreaded press release. Spore has been delayed, moved into the piles of games that could be but never were. Say it is not so, we all hoped and prayed as we surfed Digg trying to find out more information. There were developer problems, technology problems, and even a lack of a budget (not giving Wright a large budget is like not giving Spielberg a new movie). Murphy had reared his ugly mug to ensure that everything and anything that could go wrong, even those not overlooked, would go wrong. It seemed to be destined to end up in the wish pile with Diablo 3 and Duke Nukem: Forever (both of which are now being worked on). The greatest game of the decade might never be.

The gentle thud reemerges at E3 2007 as Wright announces Spore is to be released later that fiscal year. While I assume it might be an announcement in the vaporware to keep me interested, it does exactly as it should. There is a new trailer released, complete with some comic genus (Robin Williams) playing around with the new game. There are details, like 7 levels, complete customization, and file sizes of about 1Kb! They even release a downloadable trailer and a build-your-own-creature machine. Regardless of how many penis-shaped creatures show up on Web sites, ready to be released into the game worlds soon as it shows up, something happens and it gets delayed again.

The heart, yet again slows its beating to a crawl; the game is to be delayed again, indefinitely. February of 2008 was a bad time for this game, with Wright sounding morbid as he announced the delay. We were all left to ponder if this would ever be. Yet again, it seemed, the game of the decade, nay, of the century (granted, there has only been 8 years this century) was to never be. We hung our heads and cried, threatened to never buy from EA Games again, and threatened to boycott The Sims 3. We all knew that we didn't mean it. We had only one real hope left; that is, we hoped that E3 2008 would show us that we still had our game, sitting there, all ready to go.
The noises emitted from the floorboards in The Telltale Heart is nothing compared to the beating emerging from the chest as September 7, 2008 rolls closer and closer. At E3, Wright showed the game in an almost finished beta version and announced the launch date. The hallowed game was almost here; the crowds were cheering and the stores revving up. Computers were being upgraded and cleaned to make sure that we all had enough room for the 8GB that was needed for this 'small' game. The game was almost here, ready to be played, ready to take over my life just as I was moving into my new apartment for school.

It seems as though all games - well, at least the majorly anticipated ones - go through this 'vaporware' stage; all of these games seem to show up and then disappear, with only a few (roughly 33%) ever showing up again. Most of these games fall to budget cuts, a change of technology, or just idiotic project leaders. But there are some that have to be more than that. When you have games which have a huge following but don't show up, you know it has to be something greater. I might just be being cynical, but I really feel that most of these moves are just made by game companies to keep people interested in them. Take Diablo 3 for instance; it has been floated around for years while Blizzard just kept making other projects. This kept people interested in Blizzard, even when the other projects ended up not being so great, making me think that this 'vaporware' is really just a gigantic publicity stunt. But in the end, at least it didn't happen to Spore.

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