Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Darkspore, is it?

When Spore came out I was among the millions of players who was absolutely disappointed buy the game. The concept sounded great, the creature creator was fun, but then the actual game came along with, well, not so much game in it. Spore pretty much tanked, high piracy rates, low sales, even lower review scores. Unless you are trying to make a sequel that does everything better (and fails, I’m looking at you Black & White 2) conventional wisdom would tell you to abandon the name of your failure immediately and put as much distance between the two of you as you possible can. Our friends at EA/Maxis apparently know better though and give us Darkspore.

The sci-fi action RPG is scheduled for spring 2011 and I really wouldn’t mind a good action RPG to bridge the gap to Diablo III (which should hit sometime later in the same year if I’m not mistaken). But why oh why make any connection to Spore at all? The game is set “in the Spore universe” – which means pretty much nothing – and uses a new version of the Spore creature creator for the upgrading of your character.  Yeah, that doesn’t make the game any more attractive to me at all.

This wouldn't look half bad if you hadn't, you know, called it Spore. (image: darkspore.com)

Everyone who has played Spore (or read a review) knows how little actual impact your creature designs had on the game. Certain body parts would give you stat boosts or abilities just like equipment in other games, but the actual design of the creature didn’t matter at all. Putting extra legs on the back of the creature would still give you a speed boost and a horn on the creature’s belly was just as dangerous as one on the head or the tail. For all I can see, Darkspore will be similar. Sure you can make your creature look really cool, but you’d still pick up equipment (body parts) and equip it.

A large amount of customization options is nice to have in an MMO where there are lots of players running around – but in a single player/co-op game? I’d rather have, you know, good gameplay. And if you hadn’t put the Spore tag on the game I might actually have taken a closer look to see if it’s any good. Fool me once…