SPORE: Awesome game, shit biology
Don't you hate it when a great, I mean abso-lutely great, idea you had, but did not really do anything about, gets taken up by an already crazy-rich superstar in that field. I swear i came up with the idea of creature->civ "life" game that is Spore back in high school.
I found this link in Pharyngula comment to a post about boob physics - unlike boob physics, spore doesn't really have any real science behind it. If anything its supports the anti-thesis of science, Intelligent Design. Fuck! I have to boycott this game on principle alone.
My idea was totally unfeasible, because it was to be based on actual science. Which means you have to wait around about 300, 000, 000 hours (with the speed ramped up to cheetah) just before that first non-living self replicating protein forms in a proto-biotic soup. While I'm sure a small clique of maybe under 100 evo-devo scientists might appreciate the algorithms behind that, I doubt it would win as many brownie points as literally "playing god" to the universe. I mean Black and White sucked, yet it sold millions based on the promise of that alone.
Spore has no biology behind it. Biology is undoubtably the most fundamentally simplest of the three core sciences (chemistry and physics) - yet all sorts of media, and computer games the most continually manage to fuck it up big time. Just look at the reality of Spiderman (be sure to watch the directors cut). I mean gene splicing, radioactivity, and killer viruses sound cool and fancy - but it doesn't give you a liscence to just make shit up.
I think the biggest biological blunder I have seen by far (if we sort of allow absolute fantasy like Resident Evil "regenerative anti-ageing cream that just happens to turn you into a zombie" pass by) was Carrie II: The Rage, where the new carrie's telekinesis powers are explained because she shared father's with the original carrie - fair enough - but because it was a recessive trait on the Y chromosome. Hang on. Carrie was a chick, right? What is she doing with a Y chromosome, let alone two of them to allow the expression of a recessive trait?
I think Snakes on a Plane probably had some of the best biology in film going for a long time.
That really says something bad about biologists' role in Hollywood.
anyway, back to spore. It looks good. But amazingly prone to catassing. I just started a free trial of WoW, and while it is awesome and great - it is sufficiently repetitive and tiresome to encourage breaks. And I applaud Blizzard for acheiving this without sapping the sould out of gameplay. There really needs to be legislation against making games to complex or interesting. It's just a Catch 22 of keeping people grounded in reality.
Apart from being too good, having crap biology, Spore also suffers from unfeasibility if it tries to go permanently online to share content. What steps towards n00b protection will there be? I don't want to start a new world, raise a craeture to tribe level, and then have it anhilated because a twelve year old twit who has reached UFO comes over and razes my civilization to dust. Will there be PVP limitations - that sort of impinges on the whole "playing god" pitch. I want to have that right to raze insolent n00bs. I am immature as a twelve year old, razing peons is fun.
This could be solved, by keeping the game offline - or allowing semi-private servers - but then it won't really be massively multiplayer.
Succinctly, SPORE, looks too good to be true, but lets see how it works out. But don't connect it with biology, whatever you do.