“Huh? Oh, I’m playing with the Spore Creature Creator. It’s a videogame thing, that lets me design little computerized critters.”
“What sort of critters?”
“All kinds of things. I could even make one that looks sort of like you. Here, take a look.”
“Oooh! That’s neat. I should have bigger claws, though.”
“Well, OK, I guess I can do that…”
“And my ears are bigger than that.”
“Fine, here you go.”
“Oooh! Can I have a knocker thingy on the end of my tail?”
“You don’t have a spiked ball at the end of your tail.”
“But I want one….”
“Oh, all right…”
“What? No way…”
“I WANT WINGS!!!!!”
“OK, OK, you can have some wings….”
“That’s nice. I like that. I look a little like a dinosaur. Emmy-saurus!”
“I’m so glad to hear it. Here, I’ll take a few pictures.”
“Yay, dino-me! OK, now have me hunt and kill some demon bunnies…”
“There are no demon bunnies. I can make you do the Happy Dance, though.”
“That’s pretty cute, but get to work on the demon bunnies, will ya?”
“Demon bunnies made of cheese…”
“I’m going to regret showing this to you, aren’t I?”
So, a little while ago, I was contacted by the people behind Spore to see if I wanted an advance look at the Creature Creator, as part of a publicity program they’re running asking a bunch of minor celebrities to make creatures and post them to a site that doesn’t appear to be live yet.
This is sort of hilarious, as I am not any kind of gamer– I sucked at Tecmo Bowl back in the day, and my hand-eye coordination hasn’t improved enough over the last sixteen years to handle modern video games. I don’t even play NetHack.
But, I’m a sucker for free promo stuff, so I said yes, and I’ve been playing around with the demo for a week now. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. it’s really amazing what they can do with computers these days.
The Creature Creator gives you a sort of clay-blob looking body with a spine inside it, and you can customize the creature by adding facial features, legs, arms, hands and feet, and various incidental widgets. There’s also a “Paint” mode in which you can add texture and color effects to make your creature look the way you want.
The commands are pretty intuitive. They had a little tutorial video up on the web, but it really wasn’t necessary– you can figure out all of the basics in a few minutes of poking at the controls, and make really slick looking creatures in no time, and try them out in the “Test Drive” mode which has a bunch of packaged animation effects, including a variety of silly dances.
The one glitch is that a number of features require a mouse wheel to activate, which is kind of a problem for those of us who don’t normally use wheely mice– I installed it on the Tablet PC, which is the most modern machine I have, but there doesn’t appear to be any keyboard or pen way to activate the mouse-wheel effects.I managed to work around that, but it’s annoying.
The Creature Creator is supposed to be one little piece of a gigantic program that is apparently somewhat legendary– in another sign of my not-gamer-ness, I had never heard of it until the promo email. The demo clips they sent look pretty amazing, though. I have to admit, I’m sort of tempted, and I’ll definitely take a closer look when the real product is ready to ship. So their promo has already worked to the extent of getting me to consider buying it.
And the Creature Creator by itself is a wonderful time sink, including as it does the ability to make silly little videos and post them to YouTube:
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to work on a demon bunny. Made of cheese.