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Evolutionary Scientists Test-Drive Spore, Gripe

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the but-not-bitter-about-salaries-in-academia-no-sir dept.

PC Games (Games) 252

ahab_2001 writes "The computer game Spore has been marketed partly as an experience that makes evolutionary biology come alive in a game setting. But does that claim hold water? To find out, John Bohannon, a correspondent for Science Magazine (writing as 'The Gonzo Scientist'), sat four card-carrying scientists, ranging from evolutionary biologist Niles Eldredge to JPL astrophysicist Miles Smith, down in front of a terminal to play the game. The upshot, says Bohannon: Spore flunks basic science, getting 'most of biology badly, needlessly, and often bizarrely wrong.'"

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Um, no duh. (5, Funny)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489285)

I mean, I'd like to finish the game in less time than 1000000000000 years...

Reminds me... (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489307)

Reminds me of some decade ago or so, when someone warned that the stone age wasn't like in The Flintstones. I never would have guessed ;)

Actually, having RTFA, I stand corrected (4, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489509)

Actually, having RTFA, I stand corrected.

I never paid much attention to they hype and went mostly by the criterion that I'd even buy Pee [penny-arcade.com] if it's Will Wright's anyway. Also, that it's just a game anyway.

According to TFA, though, it sounds like EA's bulshitters... err... marketers have been shooting their mouth all over the place about how the game is an accurate representation of evolution, and how there's interest from colleges to use it to teach science. And while the former borders on fraud, the latter makes me cringe. As others have said, it's really an ID game, with some evolution language thrown in. The very idea of selling that as accurate science is ridiculous enough, but hyping it as a way to _teach_ evolution... is irresponsible at best.

*Sigh* It's times like these that I see Bill Hicks's point about marketing...

Re:Actually, having RTFA, I stand corrected (3, Insightful)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489859)

Only too true. Evolution, strictly (and even not so strictly) speaking does not exist in the game. Yes, it is possible to go through "versions" of a creature, but there is no motivation whatsoever--and in fact it makes the game harder, if you alter your beast with its environment in mind.

It feels as you're playing it that it *wants* you to assume intelligent design. You're "designing" it, aren't you? And your designs are utterly unscientific and impractical, though terribly cute. And there's no explanation for why this is anywhere. Summed, it really is very much like any modern religious creation theory.

Re:Actually, having RTFA, I stand corrected (1, Redundant)

Xanius (955737) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490513)

I disagree. 800,000 penis monsters are not cute, we all know that's the first thing nearly everyone that bought and pirated the game made.

Re:Actually, having RTFA, I stand corrected (5, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491531)

Are you serious?

You guys have taken a game ... thats it, nothing more than a game, that no one in their right mind would consider to be based on anything scientific or religous and turned it into an evolution versus intelligent design thing?

For fucks sake, not everything is about advancing some agenda that you don't agree with. Put your damn tin foil hats back on and crawl back into your fucked up world of conspiracies instead of talking to those of us in the normal world.

Its just a damn game, nothing more.

Re:Actually, having RTFA, I stand corrected (5, Funny)

ctaylor (160829) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490439)

it's really an ID game

You mean like Doom or Quake? Wow. I'm a lot more interested in Spore now.

Re:Actually, having RTFA, I stand corrected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490759)

No, no no no. You're thinking of id. ID != id

Sarcasm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25491303)

A cheery "pong" sound preceded the announcement to passengers of the Boeing Sarcasm 767:

"This Sarcastic Joke Airways flight 666 from ctaylor +5 Funny airport to LOLzistan is cruising at an altitude of 30,000 feet, right over Anonymous Coward's head. We expect to reach our destination 30 minutes after Anonymous Coward has had his dinner and is sitting on the toilet, giving him time to contemplate id vs. ID and whatthefuckapunisanyway.

"Cabin crew, please release the chemical toilets."

*WHOOOOOOOOOOOSH*

Re:Actually, having RTFA, I stand corrected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490563)

Just shows that it failed on both counts. It failed to be a good game in its own right, and it failed to live up to the hype of being a game with good science-backing.

Re:Reminds me... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490739)

Makes me remember, how I don't understand this "omg it would be like moving back into caves", I live in a cave damnit! Sure it may be made of concrete and have artifical lighting, still a fucking cave.

Re:Reminds me... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490903)

You really should consider moving out of your Mom's basement and getting a place of your own.

Re:Reminds me... (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491527)

So by your broad definition where exactly could we live that wouldn't be a cave?

Re:Um, no duh. (1)

thepotoo (829391) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489675)

You come from a place where the inbreeding coefficient is greater than 1, don't you? (That's a joke, BTW.)

It would have been trivial to run a simplified simulation where you controlled a hundred or so different Mendelian alleles (no need for epistasis or anything), and acted as the force of mutation to guide your civilization as it progressed. You could accelerate the entire process so that you could complete the entire game in about an hour, but you'd lack the "look ma, I built a protozoa with a penis" effect that the game seems to have brought out in people.

Re:Um, no duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490023)

Also, that would be really fucking boring.

Re:Um, no duh. (4, Insightful)

vivin (671928) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489723)

Well, I think the main point is that "Evolution" in spore is not driven by Natural Selection at all, but rather by the whims of the user, or at least changes are made in way that the user perceives will help them be successful in the game.

If anything, Spore gets right (in a very broad definition of the term) the different possible eras of evolution. Cell to pack to tribe to city to space-faring civiliation. And that only parallels advanced intelligent civilizations.

Some species have evolved so well to fit a niche (like Honeybees) that they haven't evolved that much.

If anything, I would say that Spore is part of an experience that makes "Intelligent Design" come alive in a game setting! After all, it's the user who's "designing" the creature! ;)

I wonder how that would be for marketingspeak!

Re:Um, no duh. (0, Redundant)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489983)

Intelligent Design can hardly be used to describe the makers of the Penis-creature.

BTW why did i get marked troll? that was a joke :(

Re:Um, no duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25491175)

But it's not even ID. Doesn't ID stipulate that change CANNOT occur (micro-evolution vs macro-evolution)?

From "Of pandas and people" [youtube.com] :

Creation: Various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact -- fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc.

By the mere fact that Spore allows you to make an aquatic creature change to walk on land seems to totally preclude it from the ID concept.

Of course, maybe I'm reading too much consistency into the ID stance.. :)

We can help with that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490101)

> I mean, I'd like to finish the game in less time than 1000000000000 years...

Would 6,000 years be better for you? I mean, it's hard to do the 6 day thing. We're not God, you know...

ID (3, Funny)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489313)

Its an intelligent design game marketed as a game about evolution. Must be selling like hotcakes in Kansas.

Re:ID (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489387)

Don't the scientists gripe about that as well?

New I.D. requirement? (2, Interesting)

thisisreallymyname (1392621) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489469)

I agree, if the intelligent design folks get a hold of this Spore will become part of the classwork. I can see it now, in classrooms during I.D. class all of the kids will be playing Spore while the teacher talks about why evolution is a lie and dinosaurs didn't exist.

Re:New I.D. requirement? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489909)

And before Spore there was EVO EVO [rpgclassics.com] , which was also about intelligent design but was much more accurate as far as the tradeoffs of the features the player chose to evolve.

It had the added bonus of Gaia [gamespot.com] being a hot naked chick.

SimEarth (1)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490617)

The SimEarth [wikipedia.org] remake is way past due...

Re:SimEarth (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491413)

Mix it with the biological details of SimLife [wikipedia.org] and that would be a game I'd play until OS updates render it inoperable (even then I might keep an old PC around for it).

If you're going to make an insult... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25489573)

Please at least try to get informed about who you are insulting. Not everyone who believes in a higher power (and by extension, that life has value) believes the universe is 6k years old. But even disregarding that, your insult didn't make sense. A game marketed about evolution is popular with people in KS, presumably because you think everyone in KS is a backwards redneck who denies evolution?

Re:If you're going to make an insult... (-1, Troll)

philspear (1142299) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489773)

presumably because you think everyone in KS is a backwards redneck who denies evolution?

Ever since I moved away from there, yeah, I'd say that's correct.

Re:If you're going to make an insult... (4, Insightful)

Peaker (72084) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490259)

Not everyone who believes in a higher power (and by extension, that life has value)

Huh?
Why does NOT having a higher power deprive life of value?
And if life has no value intrinsically, then why does a higher power "give" it any value at all?

Re:If you're going to make an insult... (4, Informative)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490559)

Please at least try to get informed about who you are insulting. Not everyone who believes in a higher power (and by extension, that life has value) believes the universe is 6k years old. But even disregarding that, your insult didn't make sense. A game marketed about evolution is popular with people in KS, presumably because you think everyone in KS is a backwards redneck who denies evolution?

I think it would help if you read this [wikipedia.org]

Re:If you're going to make an insult... (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491337)

Not everyone who believes in a higher power (and by extension, that life has value)

Umm, I [wikipedia.org] think [wikipedia.org] you [wikipedia.org] have [wikipedia.org] that [wikipedia.org] precisely [wikipedia.org] backwards. [wikipedia.org]

Re:ID (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489583)

Fun questions for your false dichotomy...

Which view uses the term "toolkit genes"? Which one validly can, logically?

Re:ID (2, Informative)

systemeng (998953) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489591)

Nope! TFA says that they sent it to an intelligent design expert at Lehigh University who also didn't think it bore any resemblance to either intelligent design or evolution. Suckage from all accounts.

Re:ID (5, Informative)

ianare (1132971) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489661)

Not even. FTFA :

In the spirit of fairness, I had a copy of Spore sent to Michael Behe, an intelligent design advocate based at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. After playing Spore, he concluded that it "has nothing to do with real science or real evolution--neither Darwinian nor intelligent design."

Re:ID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25489719)

This is just the kind of comment that drives me nuts. What is obviously a half hearted joke about a controversial topic gets modded up as +3 insightful? What kind of bleeding heart no brain liberals without a sense of humor are moderating slashdot these days?

zv78tfnc@spaminspector.net

Re:ID (1)

Codex_of_Wisdom (1222836) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490347)

Hey! I live in Kansas, and I take offense to that!
*looks at his classmates* oh, wait... you're right!

Evolution or Creation? (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489329)

Doesn't spore teach much much more about the idea of creationism (under the form of 'guided evolution') than it does about true evolution?

If you want to teach about evolution, make an RTS where everyone starts out with the same units, but depending on how you use them (and which units come back alive) they change over time. Still guided evolution I guess, since you could put your units in situations that would produce traits that you desire, but at least a few steps up the ladder of scientific validity.

Re:Evolution or Creation? (4, Insightful)

euxneks (516538) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489687)

The problem with an evolution game is that it's completely non-interactive. At most you might be able to design the environment and maybe tweak a couple of universal constants but I doubt that there is really any game that could make evolution an engaging experience.

Re:Evolution or Creation? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25489941)

SimLife did a pretty good job on that score. It doesn't have to be completely non-interactive; SimLife allowed you to tweak a huge number of universal variables, but also intervene directly and modify a creature's phenotype or genotype by hand.

The way SimLife implemented it was by allowing creatures to undergo randomized minor mutations when breeding. If a subset of a creature's population got sufficiently different from the rest, it would be designated a new species (assuming there was an open slot for species---it was designed for the 386, I believe, so system resources were limited.)

One particularly memorable game I played ended up with a thriving ecosystem with around 40 different animal species---all derived from a common ancestor without my intervention. Tiny nectivorous fliers; great hulking warm-blooded sea beasts. All the plant life was derived ultimately from either bamboo or kelp.

Of course, it all came crashing down when a forest fire took out the plant-life, causing a cascade failure of the food web.

Spore's failure to do a decent job on evolution is irking to me not least because there's at least one game out there that did it right---and it was made by the same guy.

Stilll nope (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489813)

Actually, that would be the discredited idea of Lamarckian evolution: in which body parts change to match the environment, and the children inherit the slightly improved body parts. E.g., that basically because Schwarzenegger had big muscles, his kids would automatically start with bigger muscles too.

In TFA they claimed that that's the kind of evolution that Spore has, but you just made the point that, yeah, it's not even that. A creature in Spore may never use its +1 wings, and then get the +5 wings out of a sudden anyway.

Re:Evolution or Creation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25489835)

Finally, someone who can see that it is CLEARLY CREATIONISM.

Losing perspective here? (4, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490273)

My impression is that it's a freaking videogame and doesn't attempt to teach anything other than how to use sandbox editors to make spaceships and stuff. I'm surprised at all this discussion over what is merely a collection of clay editors.

Well, yea - its way off (5, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489337)

But it is a user driven game, and natural selection takes too long. Its more fun to let the user make a creature which is not even remotely adapted to its environment and just pretend that selection pressures don't exist. Otherwise the likelyhood of getting a creature to the "tribe" level, or even just past the "cell" level aren't very good.

Re:Well, yea - its way off (1)

thepotoo (829391) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489617)

Sure, but it would have been nice (to me, as an evolutionary biology student and a gamer) if you'd had an increase in fitness with certain traits.

The idea being that if you place flagella on the front and back of your creature, you have the same fitness as if you put the same two flagella on the front. It makes no sense.

I would have liked this game a whole bunch more if it had been nothing but a bunch of quantitative genetics equations, and you'd had submissions like maximizing net effective population size or gotten an achievement for trying to keep an overdominant advantageous allele out of your population.

As a simulation and an RTS it was wildly dumbed down, and really not to my taste. Then again, next year I'll be getting paid money to do this sort of thing for real next year, so I'm probably way outside this game's demographic.

Re:Well, yea - its way off (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491093)

I think that the problem of having a "game" with anything like an objective parametric solution is that it'll be discovered within a day or two by some hardcore player with the right skill-set; and then propagated over the internet. And then, *poof* it's not a game anymore; it's homework with an answer key.

Of course you can challenge yourself to find it, but knowing full well that the answer is out there already? Not so appealing.

Re:Well, yea - its way off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25491223)

Spore models evolution in the same way that most space combat games model physics. They ignore it completely and just do what they think looks fun.

I agree that a game that actually models something like real evolution could be fun (especially compared to Spore), but then, I'd also like to see a space combat game that even attempts to use newtonian physics, so I'm a weirdo.

Way I understand the point, though... (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489705)

Well, the way I understand the point, though, it's not that the game _should_ be an accurate represetation of unguided evolution. It's that EA has marketed it as an accurate representation of evolution, and as a way to teach evolution. Clearly that claim doesn't match the game's content.

And normally I'd have said the said you did. But if they made some very clear claims about the game, I think it's fair to judge it by those claims.

I mean, for example, if UT claimed to be (among other things) an accurate flight simulator, it would be entirely fair to expect it to match that claim. After all, that's what their own marketers are telling you to use as your buying criterion.

Way I can tell, that's what they do in TFA. They didn't just come out of nowhere with the idea that a game must be like evolution. (Which would be a silly expectation indeed.) But once EA claimed that it _is_ an accurate representation of evolution, and good enough to be used in colleges, well, the game is on. Let's see how true that statement is.

Re:Well, yea - its way off (1)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489783)

The whole game is far too short and easy for natural selection to even be relevant. Once you get X amount of DNA points or whatever, building the perfect creature is a trivial task.
There's only a handful of stats and abilities anyway. The level of customization possible, even in the creature stage, is practically nothing. All you ever do is design their looks, which add nothing to the gameplay.

dude, it's a friggen game (2, Insightful)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489345)

what do you expect?

Re:dude, it's a friggen game (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489423)

what do you expect?

Obviously what they expected was better evolutionary biology principles. Was that an unreasonable expectation? Well, yeah, and I bet they feel stupid for expecting that now, but hindsight is 20-20.

Re:dude, it's a friggen game (1)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489599)

Yeah, well I found Hacker [wikipedia.org] to be a bit disappointing too, with regards to real hacking principles.

Re:dude, it's a friggen game (4, Interesting)

thermian (1267986) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489603)

what do you expect?

Obviously what they expected was better evolutionary biology principles. Was that an unreasonable expectation? Well, yeah, and I bet they feel stupid for expecting that now, but hindsight is 20-20.

Speaking as someone who spent three years working in the field of evolutionary biology (from the standpoint of working on same with evolutionary algorithms), I can tell you that the reality of that subject, whilst scientifically fascinating, is about as entertaining as watching paint dry.

You wouldn't want a game to follow scientifically realistic principles. For one thing doing so would involve including the possibility that it would go off on a tangent and fail. You don't want that, not in a game anyway, which means you have to add a lot of constraints, which in turn means a truly scientific approach is pretty much impossible.

That said, I'm sure there is a lot that can be taken from the real science. Just don't ask a scientist to do the extraction, instead, ask an experienced game designer, someone who knows what a game would need.

Re:dude, it's a friggen game (1)

wirelessbuzzers (552513) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491079)

You wouldn't want a game to follow scientifically realistic principles. For one thing doing so would involve including the possibility that it would go off on a tangent and fail.

Actually, I think you could do it in an RTS, though you'd still have the standard RTS "everything but walking and fighting happens a zillion times faster" effect. The game would give randomized characteristics to your new units based on the ones you already have (natural variation with "inheritance"), and the higher a unit's level, the more likely its traits would be to pass on. Then depending on your play style, various traits would be more or less emphasized. For example, if you did a lot of hit-and-run fighting, your guys would get faster on average over time, and if you hold the line your guys would have more hit points, and so on.

You'd have to make interesting trade-offs. Like using guys with characteristics you don't like as cannon fodder. (Hmm, so maybe there would be some political problems with this game...)

Of course, real evolutionary biology doesn't have many RTS-style battles. Also, since you're guiding the game, it would be sort of like ID-style "directed evolution". Still, the principles would be similar.

Re:dude, it's a friggen game (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489747)

I think it was an unreasonable expectation. I don't even know how one can make a game about natural selection / evolution. Once you put interactivity into it, either by changing the environment or changing the creature, it plays right into the hands of the principles of ID.

Re:dude, it's a friggen game (1)

hajus (990255) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491109)

Hindsight 20-20: Especially if you have your head up your ass, like many spore creatures.

Re:dude, it's a friggen game (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490147)

It's not even a terminal game. No wonder he was disappointed.

In other news (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489377)

War veterans said that standing near an exploding grenade in Call of Duty was not at all the same as the real thing.

Re:In other news (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489791)

If you read further down into the article, though, it still gave them nightmares for years afterwards. Sounds similar enough to me.

"four card-carrying scientists" (4, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489397)

Since when do we have club cards?!?

Re:"four card-carrying scientists" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490059)

It's a typo, it's supposed to say "four card-carrying communists" because only a communist would be against SPORE.

Re:"four card-carrying scientists" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490159)

We don't Phil.

*sotto voce* WTF you guys? I said don't talk about the see ell you bee in front of Phil.

Re:"four card-carrying scientists" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490245)

He was referring to their "breast inspector" cards.

Re:"four card-carrying scientists" (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490281)

Since 9/11, of course, and the day we implemented "level 4 security", whatever the hell that means, and mandated anyone to not dare show up without his ID badge.

Re:"four card-carrying scientists" (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490307)

Well, the other side does [about.com] .

Re:"four card-carrying scientists" (1)

bgray54 (1207256) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491485)

What's this "we" business. Come back with your scientist card and then we can talk "we".

Card Carrying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489399)

four card-carrying scientists

I thought it was just a metaphor. Like, leave your scientist card by the door on the way out.

Re:Card Carrying? (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489565)

four card-carrying scientists

I thought it was just a metaphor. Like, leave your scientist card by the door on the way out.

No, there's a card for just about everything these days. For example, I'm a card-carrying sysadmin, but I'm also a card-carrying Slashdot geek. I am also a card-carrying American, a card-carrying driver of cars, and a card-carrying member of the Subway Sub Club.

Really, if you don't have a card for everything you do and everything you are, how can we really trust that you are what you say you are? Are you a card-carrying Anonymous Coward? Or a dirty fraud? We can't tell!

My wallet is overflowing with cards proving everything about every aspect of my life (I'm also a card-carrying wallet overstuffer!). Really, I don't know how you can get along in life without the appropriate cards.

Re:Card Carrying? (1)

phedre (1125345) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489987)

four card-carrying scientists

I thought it was just a metaphor. Like, leave your scientist card by the door on the way out.

No, there's a card for just about everything these days. For example, I'm a card-carrying sysadmin, but I'm also a card-carrying Slashdot geek. I am also a card-carrying American, a card-carrying driver of cars, and a card-carrying member of the Subway Sub Club.

Really, if you don't have a card for everything you do and everything you are, how can we really trust that you are what you say you are? Are you a card-carrying Anonymous Coward? Or a dirty fraud? We can't tell!

My wallet is overflowing with cards proving everything about every aspect of my life (I'm also a card-carrying wallet overstuffer!). Really, I don't know how you can get along in life without the appropriate cards.

But does your closet overfloweth with t-shirts?

Re:Card Carrying? (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490061)

Capitol One is the only card i need though!

Biolentology (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489401)

Your doing it wrong.

Goatse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489405)

Any publicity is good publicity (3, Interesting)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489435)

That must be Will Wright's philosophy if he goes around saying stuff like this (from TFA):

Last month in an hour-long show on the National Geographic channel, the game's creator, Will Wright, spoke with biologists about "the breakthrough science that's revealing the secret genetic machinery that shapes all life in the game Spore."

And the author's writing style just hurts. Pretentious twit. And he keeps trying so hard to set up a false dichotomy between scientific and religious-minded players. Give it a rest. Stop trying to stir up controversy where there isn't any.

And "The Gonzo Scientist?" Hunter S. Thompson would shoot himself if he saw that. Oh wait...

Swap (2, Funny)

nlawalker (804108) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489455)

In other news, gamers test-drive careers in evolutionary science and find them to be mind-numbingly boring.

Air Force Missleares ripped Missile Command (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25489579)

If you think this is bad you should read how those Air Force Missleares ripped the Missile Command developers.

Totally unrealistic usage of the trackball for targeting, didn't require the appropriate 2 keys, and had a high score list in a totally different configuration than the actual high-score lists that appeared on official Strategic Air Command consoles.

The may have the science correctness sporadic (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489725)

but they have the income stream correct from Spore Addicts.

Not too surprising. (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489793)

First off, the pithy one liner:

Spore is Lamarkian evolution with hit points.

Seriously, inheritance of acquired characteristics, "the complexifying force", "the adaptive force", it's all there. Compare this to Will Wright's much earlier Simlife, which is substantially oversimplified, for the sake of gameplay on the computers of 1992; but is actually a Darwinian evolution simulator game. Now, that said, that isn't an issue. Spore isn't required to be anything in particular. Some games rely on realism. Spore doesn't. Some rely on verisimilitude, Spore doesn't really do that either. Not a problem. Civilization II is a great game; but anybody who thinks that it is a civics lesson is mistaken. Nothing wrong with that. I just hope that the vague notion that "Spore is about evolution" doesn't give rise to yet more peculiar misunderstandings of the subject.


Incidentally, and maybe this just makes me a bad person; but why does the Spore space stage have no concept of genocide? It keeps track of, and awards medals and stuff for, all kinds of weird things(OMG! painted 5 planets!). Why does neither the game, nor the AI races, react appropriately when I take my ship to their homeworld and suck up all its atmosphere, turning the ancestral home of their race into a barren rock, coated with bones and ashes? Shouldn't that deserve a message less generic than "You hurt our planet."?

Re:Not too surprising. (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490043)

Why does neither the game, nor the AI races, react appropriately when I take my ship to their homeworld and suck up all its atmosphere

They're probably in disbelief that you managed to guess the code to the atmospheric shield.

Re:Not too surprising. (2, Insightful)

complete loony (663508) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491529)

They're probably in disbelief that you managed to guess the code to the atmospheric shield.

I have the same combination on my luggage!

Re:Not too surprising. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490195)

Shouldn't that deserve a message less generic than "You hurt our planet."?

Yeah, at least they should throw in a expletive.

"You hurt our planet. Fucker."

Much better.

Re:Not too surprising. (1)

teh_c0unt (1392683) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490779)

Based on TFA and the nice little accompanying video, this game just seems like an overly complicated release of Katamari Damacy. Now instead of being coated in whatever you roll over you can pick what you look like. evolution != "just get bigger"

Join the Club (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25489837)

Turns out evolutionary scientists don't like DRM any more than the rest of us :)

Yeah it's a game (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489929)

and I found it boring as a game. It felt like a same-old rts which made me stop playing once I got to the civilization stage. It's all so linear, I know you have a choice b/w herbivore/carnivore but the dynamics I thought were going to be involving your choice of what your organism looks like, behaves, etc. would drive your gaming experience. Now that would have appealed to gamers and scientists alike.
I personally don't see what is so wrong with a critique of a game that claimed to give an experience of natural selection and evolution.

Really? (1, Redundant)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 4 years ago | (#25489977)

Wow, a video game isn't scientifically accurate. Who ever would have thought it? Because EA teaches for their gains, and games aren't about fun, they're about rigid adherence to reality.

God forbid those scientists should get a hold of Super Mario Brothers.

Re:Really? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490189)

God forbid those scientists should get a hold of Super Mario Brothers.

That comment would be appropriate if Nintendo's marketers were shooting their mouth off claiming that Super Mario Brothers was an actual plumbing simulator that was being used in plumber courses to teach the students the glorious life of a plumber.

Re:Really? (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490769)

Oh, I see, you listened to EA's marketers. No wonder you're confused about something that's obviously false to everyone who hasn't.

I also recommend not asking Cthulhu about the game, though he'll at least be somewhat more honest.

mod uP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25489995)

have somebody just You don't need to sales and so on, knows that ev3r OF AMERICA irc Since then. More all over AMerica FreeBSD had long CLEAR SHE COULDN'T perspective, the

So? (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490035)

Does tribes display tribal warfare accurately?
Does counterstrike depict an accurate representation of a counter-terrorist offensive?

O NOEZ! (0, Redundant)

genw3st (1373507) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490367)

Soon they'll be trying to tell us life really isn't like GTA3, or Oblivion... and here I was training to be a car-jacking thief in the Dark Brotherhood...

They're right (2, Funny)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490409)

EA needs to make their games more accurate. The game should take a few billion years to play.

Thank you Captain Obvious (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490415)

Next you'll tell me that Hollywood movies and TV shows get history and other facts wrong?

A video game is written to be enjoyed, not scientifically accurate, just as a movie or TV show was written to be enjoyed and not factual.

It is like trying to criticize fiction for not being non-fiction.

Video games have their own set of rules and laws, not necessarily the same as the reality universe laws and rules.

I'm Orion Blastar a Space Pirate Ninja from 4096AD who time traveled back into the past to make a better future. Whomever believes that does not get the joke I am making or that Orion Blastar is a parody of myself based on fiction and not everything I post as Orion should be taken seriously. Some people know that and rate my comments as funny or interesting, because they know I am posting in character. Right now I am posting out of character for informational purposes.

Where are the ads? (2, Insightful)

IronChef (164482) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490447)

The only Spore ads I saw were on TV and I don't remember them saying anything about its accuracy or educational value.

So where exactly are the marketing materials that claim Spore is accurate and educational? If they exist, then yes, shame on EA.

If they don't, then shame on whoever is trying to pick a fight.

Unemployment crisis hits science community (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 4 years ago | (#25490671)

Financial crisis and the inevitable increase in unemployment rates not to mention the drops in research investments has forced scientist to pick their backup jobs.

"It's been tough", Niles Eldredge claims after admitting he now has to review games for a living. "At least the pay for an evolution game reviewer is much higher than such of an evolution biologist in America"

"They asked for it!" an anonymous member of the Kansans school board couldn't hide how much he enjoys this. "At least my life will get more interesting as your taxi drier could actually be your idol astrophysicist!" said a slashdot reader that currently lives in his mother's basement.

indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25490991)

The point of most video games is to control it from a 'God' point of view -- the player is omnipotent and omnipresent. Which rather conflicts with the point of evolution.

A 'true' simulation of evolution would simply be a button on the screen which, when pressed, would simply say 'you win' or 'you are extinct' -- the results dictated by a random number generator.

Also EA would charge $50 for this game, and you would only be able to install it once. and installing it would also corrupt your video drivers.

Dan.

indeed not (1)

demonrob (1001871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491331)

a better simulation of evolution would be a world where you change the world rules and see what happens to the lifeforms. i.e. if a meteorite hits how will this set of creatures evolve to cope, or global warming will affect how. i wonder what EA will evolve into?

Disappointing, over-hyped (3, Insightful)

jweller13 (1148823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491095)

This game didn't live up to the years of incredible hype. It is really a very simple-minded game that I finished within a few hours. And it has virtually no replay value. Also it has not much to do with evolution. A decision to add two eyes on my ass or 5 eyes on long stalks on my head have absolutely no ramification on my survivability. And the character creator is interesting for about 5 minutes. Don't bother with this game, well maybe buy it for your 9 year old.

Spore probably was meant to be more (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491151)

I get the feeling that Spore originally was meant to be more but Maxis has always had trouble delivering. SimCity of course were amazing games. For their time. It is the reason the francise died. Because as it aged, the graphics improved but the quality of the simulation didn't and we as players became aware that more was needed. More paths, more options, more choice. Instead SimCity and the likes have always had a rather narrow path to victory and if veered of that path, the game model couldn't cope.

Spore is perhaps the greatest failure. It seems originally to have been a game about evolution or at least to use evolution.

There have been games in this nature before, so it can be done. I remember an ancient game that used clay-motion animation for its creatures that allowed you to breed creatures and cull them to get the ones best suited to their enviroment.

But there is NOTHING of that in this game. As the article mentions, antlers on your back help you charge skill. You charge backwards?

There is just one TINY hint at the slightest possibilty of evolution, fruits. If you are small, you can only reach fallen fruit, if you are tall, you can get the highest fruits. There is no difference in the fruits but it is the one and only time the build of your creature seems to matter.

The rest of the time, it just don't matter. You can't even make a monster eater with a dozen mouths that devours everything in its path, or a super defensive creature because multiple items don't stack their bonusses.

The game just completly failed to live up to its early promises. I get the feeling Will Wright is following in Molyneux's footsteps. Once a person who made innovative and fun game but one who increasingly just can't deliver on his promises.

To bad because a game that uses evolution to judge your creationism could be a lot of fun.

Son, why So Serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25491203)

NT

When an Astro-Physicist comments on Biology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25491299)

The comments of an Expert in Field A -
when they deal with matters in Field B -
should NOT count, ie, any more than
any other "person on the street"

Why then should they arouse any interest
in the media?

Oh, this is SlashDot, not the media. ...nevermind. :-)

Doesn't stop here... (0, Redundant)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491509)

I heard that Star Trek sometimes features unrealistic physics and that Jedi isn't a real religion. What is it with the world these days?

News flash! (-1, Redundant)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 5 years ago | (#25491559)

Special forces report Counter Strike, flunks basic antiterrorist tactics.

Apparently you don't jump about like a fucktard while firing across the room the the enemy, then hump thier corpse afterwards.

Since when has any game ever been realistic?
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