Spore’s Playable Procedural Content Generation

Gillian Smith. Spore’s Playable Procedural Content Generation. Well-Played, vol. 4, iss. 1, ETC Press, 2015.


To understand Spore—in both its successes and failures—is to understand procedural content generation (PCG), user-created content, and how the game fosters a relationship between them. The much-acclaimed design tools lean heavily on PCG to enable users to create content for the game, and its use to support player creativity fed both the excitement and controversy around Spore. However, the mismatch between how the player interfaces with this procedural support and the generator’s actual design leads to a shallower model of evolution, resulting not only in criticism of the game’s failed scientific underpinnings but also too much freedom for players to change their creatures to address gameplay challenges. This article explores the ways in which PCG is deeply integrated into Spore.

full article is available open-access at ETC press

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