updated 11:10 am EDT, Fri September 5, 2008
Spore iPhone debut Sunday
The iPhone version of Spore is due on Sunday, says Electronic Arts Mobile. Called Spore Origins iPhone, the game will not be a port of the computer or clickwheel iPod versions of Spore, but a reworked title meant to take advantage of the iPhone's graphics, multi-touch interface and accelerometer. It will arrive on the same day the game officially launches on the Mac and PC. EA Producer Mike Pagano tells MacNN his team spent months working with iPhone SDK, and was "surprised at its capabilities."
Unlike the Mac and PC versions -- which begin with microorganisms that evolve into a modern civilization -- the iPhone game is confined to the cellular phase, set in an ancient tidepool. The objective instead becomes staying on top of the food chain, surviving 35 levels of play. An initial port of Spore was among the first games demonstrated on the iPhone SDK back in March. It was created in about two weeks (see video), but since that time, Pagano says EA developers discovered the iPhone SDK could do "a ton of stuff" they had not expected. Programmers were able to use the iPhone's hardware acceleration to create levels of parallax, image meshes and 3D graphics that we previously unavailable on mobile devices.
Spore Origins is said to make extensive use of multi-touch, notably in the Creature Editor, where people rely on finger gestures to add eyeballs, fins, scales and other body parts. Once the game begins, the iPhone's accelerometer controls the creature as it fights to stay alive and/or evolve. Players must tilt, twist and rotate the device to slip across the tidepool. Pagano says the iPhone version was designed for intermittent play -- users can pause the game and resume play in a spare moment. The game likewise has separate Evolution and Survival modes, with various backgrounds including underwater caverns.
"It's intentionally a different experience," says Pagano, "it should provide three to five hours of gameplay depending on skill."
A disappointment for iPhone users may be the inability to download creatures or play online against others. But Pagano says that the game does allow users to import textures or images -- including photos of their own faces -- when designing creatures. Snapshots can also be e-mailed or exported to share with friends on MySpace, and other social networking sites.
The success of games like Sega's Super Monkey Ball have shown the iPhone's potential as a gaming platform, Pagano adds, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. He says the device is "a totally viable platform," and programmers are just beginning to exploit its features. He compares the iPhone to the Sony PlayStation 1, which took time to catch on as developers moved away from cartridge-based games to CD-ROMs.
EA Mobile says it has nine other game titles in development for the iPhone and iPod touch: Yahtzee Adventures, EA Mini Golf, Lemonade Tycoon, Mahjong, Monopoly: Here & Now The World Edition, Sim City, Tiger Woods 09, Need for Speed Undercover, and The Sims 3.
Spore is already available for clickwheel iPods for $5 at the iTunes Store. Spore Origins for the iPhone and iPod Touch is expected to cost $10.