A fun video game from 2008 that merges several genres
Spore is a life simulation game where you can create a single cell and then guide it through the evolutionary process over the course of thousands of years.
Spore was created by Will Wright, creator of The Sims and SimCity. It was one of the first games to rely heavily on user-based content. Other players have created thousands of items that you can access and implement in the game.
The evolution process is broken into 5 stages. Each stage plays like an entirely different genre of game.
Stage 1 involves base evolution. You control a single cell. Through gameplay similar to Pac Man, you eat or merge with other cells to grow and evolve. In each tiny step of evolution, you can customize everything about your cell from appearance to what types of food it eats.
Stage 2 is a third-person action game. Now that you are on land, you have to grab items that allow you to grow. You can also befriend other species by mimicking their actions with timed button presses. This is the stage where you can access the creature creator, which is one of the most highly-praised aspects of Spore.
Stage 3 is a tribal real time strategy game. The goal is to destroy or ally with other tribes of creatures. This is a somewhat frantic segment of the game where you need to gather resources and fend off attacks from many other types of creatures at once.
Stage 4 is the civilization stage. It plays like Sid Meier's Civilization but it is in real time instead of turn-based.
Stage 5 is the space stage. You design a spaceship and head out to explore. It is at this point that your moral choices start to matter. The game tracks your behavior from the start and labels it good, neutral or evil. That label the philosophy and abilities of your species. There is no real endgame, although you can seek out the center of the universe for a wacky cut scene.
The game has over ten editors that allow you to make custom races, cars, ships and planes. The types of items and materials available to you depend entirely on your choices in earlier stages of the game.
You also have access to the Sporepedia. It has a database of user-made things to use to populate the galaxy you are playing in. It also has a number of social media functions including filters, a friends list and a search engine.
When this game was first released, there was a fan backlash over elements that were promised and not delivered. Over time, expansions were released that resolved most issues and the game has cultivated a loyal online following.