Spore's next evolution is taking place on Facebook as Spore Islands launched today. The game, which officially launched today, strips down the PC/Mac game and sticks to the basics: evolve to survive.
How's that done? Players create a creature of their own design, then place it on an island to see how it fares against other wild creatures. These survival of the fittest scenarios, called Observations, test the evolutionary advantages and disadvantages of the creature. If the creature outlives the others during the 150 turn Observation (during which, you cannot control your creature), then its well-evolved to that island. If your creature dies, Spore Islands will offer up suggestions on how to use each day's 12 DNA points to alter its attributes. These changes also change the look of your creature. For instance, increasing the creature's "threat-detect" gives it multiple eyes as "food-detect" makes a single eye.
Oddly, each block of attributes (metabolism, senses, strength and life) are a game within itself as the player has to balance out a maximum of 12 points between each attribute's three categories (for instance, food has reproduction, lifespan and weight categories). Trial and error with Observations definitely adds a level of challenge and while new players get several Observations to start with, they'll only get a single new one every four hours. Thankfully, there's also a social challenge as friends can test their creatures on your island and an easy option to island hop over to theirs.
We did have questions and Caryl Shaw (Senior Producer at Maxis) and Frank Lantz (Creative Director at Area/Code) were more than happy to answer our pressing Spore Island questions.
Spore Islands is drastically different from other Spore-inspired efforts that we've seen on Facebook. Why the change?
Caryl Shaw: In the past, Spore has focused on using Facebook to educate people about our PC game. With Spore Islands we actually wanted to create a social game based on Spore that was fun and used the opportunities for connecting with your friends that Facebook offers.
Frank Lantz : We wanted to take the essence of Spore – creating and evolving your own creature – and find an expression of it that was "native" to the social setting of Facebook.