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Scenario: Spore 2

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Spore 2 is a multi-genre single-player god game developed by Maxis and designed by Will Wright. The game was released for the Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, and Android operating systems in November 2015 as the sequal to the 2008 game Spore.

Covering many genres including action, real-time strategy, and RPG, Spore allows a player to control the development of a species from its beginnings as a single celled organism, through development as an intelligent and social creature, to interstellar exploration as a spacefaring culture. It has drawn wide attention for expanding on its predecessor's massive scope, and its use of open-ended gameplay and next-gen procedural and reactive generation. Throughout each stage, players are able to use various creators to produce content for their games. These can then be uploaded to the online Sporepedia and downloaded by other players.

Spore 2 was released after several delays to very favourable reviews. Praise was given for the fact that the game allowed players to create practically any creature, vehicle and building; but what pushed the game over and beyond the success of the original was its inclusion of reactive generation, a process where the game creates content based on content the player creates. Unlike Procedural Generation which is completely random, Reactive generation (in context to the evolutionary nature of the game) responds to what the player creates to provide continually challenging gameplay. Praise was also levied for its more detailed nature, a fact that many felt Spore was lacking.

Gameplay

Spore 2 allows the player to develop a species from a single-celled organism to its evolution into an intelligent lifeform, its emergence as a social, intelligent being, to its mastery of the planet and then finally to its ascension into space, where it interacts with alien species across the galaxy. Throughout the game, the player's perspective and species change dramatically.

The game is broken up into distinct yet consistent, dependent "phases". The outcome of one phase affects the initial conditions and leveling facing the player in the next. Each phase exhibits its own style of play, and is more complicated than its preceding phase. While players are able to spend as much time as they would want in each, it is possible to accelerate or skip phases altogether. Each of the phases feature defined missions; when the player completes a mission, they are granted a bonus, such as a new ability or money. If all of a player's creations are completely destroyed at some point, the species will be respawned at its nearest colony or at the beginning of the phase.

Like many other Maxis games, save for the original Spore, Spore 2 has no primary win condition, the game is completely open ended. A number of achievements exist in the game through killing or befriending different species and civilizations throughout the many stages of the game. There is a difficulty selector for all of the stages, allowing players to choose the difficulty for each part of the game (this is done by delaying the time it takes for the game to react to a player's moves). The first seven phases of the game, on average, will take up to 70 hours to complete, but can take as little as 20 to 30 hours. Note that there is no time limit for any stage: the player may stay in a single stage as long as he wishes, and progress to the next stage when ready. At the end of each phase, the player's actions cause his creature to be assigned a number of characteristics that will influence what skills and parts the player will have access to at the start of the next phase.

Stages

Spore 2 is a game that is separated into stages, each stage presenting a different type of experience with different goals to obtain. The eight stages are the Cell stage, the Sea stage, the Creature stage, the Sentience stage, the Tribal stage, the Civilization stage, the Solar System Stage, and the Interstellar stage. In order to advance to the next stage of the game, players must complete the objective for each stage. Once completed, the player has the option to advance to the next stage, or to continue playing.

Origin

The Origin Stage is the very first stage of the game, though not considered a full phase in its own right. It opens with the player being shown a swirling gas cloud at some unknown point in the galaxy at some unknown time. The player can randomly generate new clouds with different chemical compositions and mass to produce new systems. Using your mouse the player is able to position one or more gravity wells at the center of the cloud and use the scroll wheel to increase or decrease the density of the well, and pulling the gasses in forming a star(s). If the system is unstable the game will alert the player of this, but under most conditions it will adapt the initial conditions to make the most sense.

Once a star(s) is formed the game will highlight two bands orbiting the newly formed star(s) indicating them to be the Goldilocks zones, one for a terrestrial planet, and another for a potential moon of a Gas Giant. Through a similar process as forming the stars, the player may use the scroll wheel to form a single home planet/moon. After confirming that they are finihsed the debris from the edge of the gas gloud will begin to form a molten body where around the gravity well, and the game will then indicate that it is time to form the planet's satellites. The player can place as many gravity wells as they wish, but if they do not make them large enough the game will indicate that the remaining debris will be used to form a ring.

Once the player is satisfied with their world the game will go to a cutscene where a flash of light goes across the screen while the camera is still focused on the newly formed planet/moon; the player formed star(s) will dance across the sky as time speeds up revealing a world bombarded by comets, eventually forming into a rocky world with a large ocean. If the player chose to leave excess debris the rings will appear to be complete.

Cell Stage

The cell stage (sometimes referred to as the tide pool, single-cell, or microbial stage) is the first true stage of the game, and begins with a cinematic explanation for how the protagonist's cell got onto the planet through the scientific concept of panspermia, with a meteor crashing into the ocean of a planet and breaking apart, revealing a single-celled organism. At first, the player has very little control over the cell, being able to only partly control where it drifts on a single 2D plane where it must deal with fluid dynamics and predators, while absorbing simple organic pellets for food. Once the microbe has eaten several pieces of food, it will begin to split, taking the player into an editor in which they can modify the looks, shape, and abilities of the microbe by spending "DNA points," though this initial stage will merely familiarize the player with how to shape the creature's form as they wish. At the start of this stage the creature is essentially omnivorous, however eventually the player will choose a part that will define it as either herbivorous or carnivorous, or remain omnivorous allowing them to eat both plant matter and smaller living cells. The balance of what type of food is eaten (plant matter vs. weaker cells) determines whether the creature will be a herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore for the following stages. At this stage, Parts are randomly acquired every time a creature absorbs enough DNA points to divide. The fractal coding of Spore produces many different subspecies off of your creature, simulating random mutations. As your creature grows it eventually evolves to the point of needing to breed rather than reproduce via mitosis. When you breed with another member of your species who has a noticable mutation it provides those new parts to use in the editor, such as spikes, mouths or propulsion mechanisms. If the creature dies, the player restarts from wherever the creature last spawned.

As the microbe grows, new organisms appear adapted to the way it behaved when it was smaller, providing more adapted carnivores to try to eat the player's creature, and creatures adapted to more effectively defend themselves from the player's creature. If the player can eat flesh, then they can kill and consume other cells. Also, much smaller organisms can be swallowed up instantaneously. Larger, carnivorous cells will usually chase the player's cell and can be very dangerous. They can be killed, but only if the player's cell has weapon or defensive parts. If they do die, it will take a considerably amount of time to eat them, and the player will have to compete with scavengers.

The cell's eating habits in the Cell Stage directly influence its diet in the Sea Stage, and only mouths appropriate to the diet (Herbivore, Carnivore, or Omnivore) established in the Cell stage will become available in the Sea Stage (however, diet restrictions can be overcome by swapping the cell's mouthpiece before entering the Sea phase, regardless of what diet is assigned to the creature). The ocean floor becomes more prominent as the player progresses, and once the player decides to progress to the next stage, the creature editor appears, prompting the user to choose between a spine, an exoskeleton or remain an Invertebrate. The first creature editor is very limited, with only cell parts (with new functions) to be had, along with the ability to edit the creature's shape by editing its skeleton or lack thereof. When entering the Sea Stage as a fish/crustacean/jellyfish a cutscene will appear in which the players creature will flee from an approaching fish and then move to the lighter water where the creature stage will start.

Sea Stage

The biosphere contains a variety of aquatic species, which carnivorous and omnivorous player creatures can hunt for food, and a range of bacteria and Phytoplankton. Environmental phenomena, as well as the creature's vital health and hunger meters, are always a concern and sometimes a challenge.

As the player's creature explores the ocean it will encounter other aquatic species, which may be neutral or aggressive towards the player. Creatures either work together in their schools or act as solitary hunters. There are also eggs, which may be destroyed for experience points. How the player interacts with the nest will affect how they think of them. For instance, if the player decides to befriend the creatures, they will act friendly toward them, but if player attacks and kills some of them, the school will either get angry and frequently try to attack the player or develop a fear of the player and run away if the player gets close enough to interact or spends enough time near them.

The player can then decide whether to use social skills to befriend other members of its species and form a school, or combat skills to hunt and remain solitary; these decisions will affect the abilities of the player's species in the subsequent stages of the game. Successful socialization and hunting attempts will gain varying amounts of DNA Points, the 'currency' of this and the next two stages. DNA points may be spent on new body parts, which influence how the creature will perform when attacking or socializing. New body parts are obtained the same way they were in the cell stage, by consuming or befriending enough creatures with the same parts.

To add new parts, the player's creature can mate with another member of its species. Then, the creature creator pops up, and the player can add new parts to his creature, and take off old ones, earning a full refund on the DNA points used to purchase these parts. He can also mold the shape of his creature and color it differently, such that the new creature can look wholly different from the previous version. More expensive parts will upgrade the player's abilities for their method of interaction. After the player is finished editing, a newly evolved generation of creatures will appear with the new parts and form, however due to the reactive generation of the game, some different creatures will be created from previous versions of the player's creature.

At first the player's creature will be little more than a simple darter, but will eventually gain fins to improve speed and manuverability. Eventually the player will have the option to add simple limbs that can be used to reach the shallow waters where untapped food dwells. Once enough DNA points are amassed the player can choose to evolve lungs and waddle their way onto land becoming a land animal; or they can choose to remain in the ocean and move onto the Creature Stage while remaining in the Sea.

Creature Stage

If the player chooses to evolve to a land animal they will at first have to remain near the waters' edge and feed on simpler organisms, this is to let the player get used to the new mechanics of being on land. Once the creature evolves (weather still an aquatic or land based lifeform) the player will gain access to new parts available in the creature stage such as more complex limbs that can either allow the player to now travel freely across the land or act as manipulators.

If the player had formed a school in the Sea Stage he will already have access to a nest on land and become a pack hunter, this applies to Sea Creatures as well, however a nest is always located to the shallows or thermal vents. At any point in this stage of the game it is possible to switch food types.

Gameplay is similar to the Sea Stage in that parts are still obtained the same way, with the addition of being able to defeat or befriend an "Epic" creature, they are automatically given access to its parts. If the player remains in the ocean he is no longer limited to a small patch of water, and can freely explore the open ocean which is divided into a number of biospheres based on depth, however to access these depths requires progressively better ear parts, which played almost no purpose in Spore, but are a vital component for flying and sea creatures in Spore 2. Land creatures can also freely explore the range of biospheres on Land, with the only static goal being to secure a single ecosystem and become the dominant species of the area.

Once the player's creature has either killed or befriended (now portrayed more as biologic symbiosis than arbritary "Friendship") every organism in a given area (Highlighted on the map, usually as a valley, forest or an island; for sea creatures it is a trench, a kelp forest, or a reef) the player has the option to evolve to sentience, and start the process to becoming a truely intelligent lifeform.

Sentience Stage

Once arriving at the Sentience Stage the player's continues to evolve, but parts become more expensive, and the game is less about improving a creature's physical capabilities and more about forming social structure and clearing the land or befriending (cross-breeding) all other sentient creatures. The player will continue to access new parts, but most sentient creatures have similar parts to the players, leaving DNA points to be used on improving the creature's muscle mass, eyesight, and posture through a part upgrade system (as a player upgrades their parts they increase in value and can be exchanged for the respective amount of DNA points).

Players spend much of this stage forming the basics for intelligent civilization; and more defined goals appear. Specifically defining the creature as a hunter or a gather or both, making cloths and simple tools from local resources, making fire, and forming many of the social characteristsics that will define the player's creature in the later stages of the game.

Once the player has cleared the land of all other sentient creatures or assimilated them into the player's species, the player is given the choice to evolve one last time and reach the tribal stage. Unlike previous points in the game where the advance triggers a cutscene, the player must first find a suitable site for their first village before moving on. This is done by exploring the known area, and planting a totem stick into the ground; after that a cutscene is activated showing the creatures building a hut together.

Tribal Stage

Now the dominant species the player creature's intelligence increase again officially bringing in the Tribal Stage. Physical development ceases, as does the player's exclusive control over a single creature at a time, as the game focuses on the birth of division of labor for the species. The player is given a hut, a group of fully evolved creatures, as well as two of six possible Creature Nature Abilities, unlocked depending on the species' behavior in the previous phases. This is only possible if the player played the previous stages; if the player started directly from the Galaxy Screen, they are locked.

The tribal stage is largely based around forming a coherent society, and is completed after all other tribes in the area are either killed or befriended, both leave the player with more territory and give him access to the fallen/allied creature's resources and knowlledge. At first the player only has access to the same materials that formed his original cloths and tools for the creature in the Sentience Stage, but as gameplay progresses the player will discover and gather more resources that are able to form more complicated forms of dress. By this point it is also possible to domesticate wild animals, which is done through the successful capture of five of the same species which in turn reactivates the Creature Editor for the purpose of editing some of the livestock's triats with DNA Points. This also applies to plants if the player eventually begin the process of farming by intially gathering and consuming ten of the same kind of plant.

While agrarian actions contribute toward DNA points for improving livestock and farmable plants, a new form of in-game currency forms from gathering resources (meat from livestock, food from agriculture, wood from trees, etc.) These are called Civ Points and allow the player to continue to build more huts to house a growing population in the "Tribal Editor". At first the player will only have access to wood/reed/mud for building material, but can eventually choose to replace their structures materials with stone, brick, or lumber, and develop weapons to hunt and combat neighboring tribes.

The Tribal Editor lets the player build homes for creatures; fires and food cellars that increase the amount of food that can be harvested; weapons forges that produce spears, axes, and eventually swords and bows; fisheries, and simple docks; and town palisades for defense.

Once the player has established his tribe as the dominant one, he has the option of moving onto the Civilization Stage.

Civilization Stage

Now with a large enough area at the player's control the creature advances into a true civilization, and now gains access to more complicated building materials in the "Civ Editor." Civ Points are now the soul currency of the game, and can be used with the editor to build more complicated buildings, vehicles, and weapons.

Civ Points are gained by either conquering/alligning with other civilizations or by building mines, timber mills, farms, and factory buildings. At first the player is given a relatively small patch of land extending to the nearest natural borders (Oceans, Mountains, valleys, rivers, etc) around the area they conquered in the Tribal Stage. After gathering enough resources the player must begin the process of gaining more territory, and therefore more resources, to increase their population and build larger and more complicated cities and vehicles.

By this point the game is a full RTS, and as the player invests more Civ Points into Research which generates new parts that can be used to make new vehicles (for example: Radar, jet engines, rockets, nuclear energy). These new technologies can be used to conquer or ally with neighboring cities which in turn boosts how much Civ Points come in for the player to use.

The goal of this stage, unlike Spore, is not to conquer the world all at once, but rather enough territory to where they can build the most expensive item in the game by this point: a rocket. Theoretically the player doesn't actually have to gain any territory beyond what is intially give to amass enough Civ Points to advance, but it certainly takes more time. Once the player is able use a rocket for construction he will have the option to build a launch tower just ouside one of his cities. The rocket will launch every few minutes and allow the player to to see more of their world at once in real time without having to send a boat or a plane to the area in question.

Spaceflight is the first goal of the civilization stage, the second is to actually conquer or ally with the entire planet. This can be done with conventional warfare, however the game advises the player to invest more in rocket technology which yields missiles and lasers for defense and offense, and eventually the discoveru of manned spaceflight which will let the player leave their planet and explore the moon(s) created in the Origin Stage. It costs a lot of resources at first, but once the player is able to position a mine and another launch pad on the surface of a moon, the player will gain access to more resources than any other civilization. With this the player can form many of his cities into huge Megalopolises (30+ skyscrapers) that generate even more Civ Points.

At this point the player can either chose to destroy all remaining rival civilizations, buy their territory, or declare world peace (or any combination of the three). This leads to the end of the Civilization Stage and the start of the Solar System Stage.

Solar System Stage

Once the player has advanced to the Solar System Stage, the game takes a break from conquest and focuses more on developing the player's civilization into a space faring species. Most civ points can be invested into Research and the Space Editor which lets the player build exploration ships to find new worlds, satalites to increase the player's range of vision, and colony and trading vessels which allow the player to expand their civilization to multiple planets/moons/space stations and trade resources that will contribute to more Civ Points.

As the player discovers more worlds and positions more satelites around them the game zooms out to reveal more of the planetary system as a whole, highlighting any spaceships and colonies. The goal of this stage is to continue to expand the range of spacecraft to eventually fly to another star system; however a number of side goals such as terraforming at least one other planet/moon and placing an outpost on every planet free up gameplay.

Once the player has reached another star system (which can take up to two hours of gameplay time after it is initially launched) the game advances to the Interstellar Stage.

Interstellar Stage

The final stage of the game, the Interstellar Stage begins when the player successfully reaches another star system with one spacecraft. Unlike Spore where the player only had direct control over a single ship that acted as the player's avatar, Spore 2 allows the player to build whole fleets of craft and control as many ships as he chooses.

By this point in the game Civ Points have been replaced once again with Stellar Points, which are good for every editor which the player will slowly gain access to as he continues to research or buy new technologies from other civilizations. The Space Editor remains as the primary editor for spacecraft, however a new set of parts are progressively added to improve the speed and range of a vessel, for gameplay this means more stars become accessable, and travel time goes down. Eventually the player will discover Jump Drive and be able to transport almost instantly to any star within range.

By this point creature characteristics will be completely accessed and will determine what the bonuses to weapons, defense, trading, etc. will be gained. Terraforming technologies will also become accessable allowing the player to eventually design whole planets and star systems from scratch as was done in the Origin Stage.

Researching Genetic Engineering will re-open the Creature Editor and allow the player to change anything they desire about their creature through Stellar Points, and also improve stats (this is usefull for when the player chooses to land on a new world and influence new species). Eventually the player will gain access to robotic parts to improve their creature into cyborgs or full robotic organisms. The creature editor can also be used to create new species for terraformed or already inhabited worlds, even plants will be accessable by this point.

The player's worlds may be periodically attacked by new species, but can be defended by local ships or an orbital defense system which can be upgraded. Individual planets can be edited to whatever degree the player chooses, but a stock colony must be created in the Civ Editor that can be planted at will. Through conquest, purchase or colonization of other systems the player can expand their empire throughout the galaxy of half a million stars.

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