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May 27, 2012 / milesandhisfavorites

Sporeality: Beginner’s Luck

Author’s Note: I’m betting that you guys won’t understand much of the jargon here.  To help you out, here’s the link to the Spore Wiki’s article on Spore itself.  Hope you have a good time, and may Spode be with you!

I suppose that you could call me a Spore wizard.  You could call me the savior of modern communication.  Or you could just call me your average guy-next-door computer geek.  All of those things are real, but nobody knows it.  Well, nobody knows the whole savior thing.  Until now, that is.  My real name was Jonathan Willough, but most people in the Spore community knew me as IAmSteve.  I had several featured creations, and had made three Sporecasts.  I was like that race car from Cars, the champion rookie that everyone loved.  But one summer afternoon, everything would change…

I walked over over to the computer like I always did, and began scrolling through my Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace accounts.  Then, I looked at my email.  The usual ads and junk popped up, but one caught my eye.  Maxis.  Just the word sent chills down my spine.  Maxis was the company that created Spore, and they were emailing me!  I opened it up.  It read:

Dear Mr. Willough,

Us here at Maxis have been studying your recent activities in Spore, and we were impressed by your creative capabilities.  Therefore, we invite you to be one of the first beta testers for our new Spore game, Spore: Dimensions.  You are one of only two other people in the country to receive this offer.  Please reply, a simple yes or no will do.

Sincerely,

Wrighthandman

It was all I could do to keep from shrieking out loud.  Maxis inviting me to beta test for them?  Of all the honors, this was the greatest.  I quickly replied “Yes, of course”.

A few days later, I got a package in the mail.  I managed to beat my little brother Alec to it, and went to my room.  I ripped it open, only to find a Ziploc baggie containing a pair of headphones.  They were blue, bulky, and had weird transparent red rectangles that protruded from either earpiece, so that I would see red if I put them on.  The ears were decorated with the Spore logo and a bunch of computer-generated creatures that I recognized as Maxis creations.  The company made lots of those, either as props for adventures or just fun things to see while in game.  The baggie came with a note.  It read:

Just plug these in, and get ready for the greatest adventure of your life.

-Wrighthandman

So I ran downstairs and plugged the the headphones into my Mac’s headphone port.  I put them on.  For a few seconds, nothing happened.  Then, the red eyepieces started to glow, until it was almost blinding to look at them.  The light dimmed, but then, I was someplace entirely different than my house’s study.  I was standing in the middle of a thick jungle.  The trees were at least as tall as skyscrapers, and the ground was thick with vines.  The weird thing was, though, that I didn’t recognize any of the plants.  Some had orange leaves, and others looked like frozen sea anemones.  There were even a few that had what looked like eyes!  Okay, I told myself.  You are standing in the middle of an alien rainforest.  You do not know if this is all a hallucination, or if you are really on another planet.  My thought process was interrupted by an enormous monster crashing through the foliage-heading straight for me.

The beast was about three stories tall, and reminded me of a cartoon T-rex, with an unbelievably large set of jaws, and a miniscule tail.  And it was seriously angry.  Just as it was about to turn me into a light snack, I felt something slam into me, knocking me to the side.  The monster charged right past me, and stumbled on some purple roots.  It went down hard, crashing against a tree and undoubtedly breaking a few bones.  I looked to see what had pushed me to the side, and saw a man wearing a black jumpsuit.  He was probably in his late thirties, with salt-and-pepper hair and nearly invisible freckles.  But that wasn’t what was weird.  What was weird was that attached to his wrists were small gray boxes with a single blinking green light on top.  They were undeniably Plasma Pulsers.  Which were weapons from Spore: Galactic Adventures.

“Who… who are you?” I gasped.  The man didn’t answer, watching the giant monster to see if it would get up.  It did, hesitantly getting to its feet.  The man looked at me, and said: “Call me Don.”  Then, he shrugged, and a rifle-sized gun appeared on his left shoulder.  It was streamlined, and looked kind of like something on an old Corvette.  If Corvettes were superweapons, that is.  Another Spore weapon: the Missile Flinger.  Don pushed a button on his Plasma Pulser, and a toy rocket-sized missile shot out of his Missile Flinger.  It spiraled through the air and hit the monster in the thigh, exploding and killing the creature.  It gave off an unearthly shriek and collapsed, causing a small tremor.  Don grabbed my hand, and pressed another button on the wrist blasters.  This one shot us into the air.  We landed in a tree.  I gathered the courage to look down, and what I saw shocked me.

You ever seen those shots of New York City taken from the Empire State Building?  Imagine looking down from that height, only instead of a cityscape, you saw an unbelievably thick rainforest.  The trees were every possible color, and flocks of birds soared through the air.  Don muttered something under his breath.  “Looks like Cal is controlling Jalga for now.”  I looked at him, eyes wide open.  “So,” I said.  “Mind telling me what the heck is going on, and who you exactly are?”

All of a sudden, there was a faint buzzing noise, and two kids about my age materialized on the branch beside me.  Both were wearing black jumpsuits, only they didn’t have any weapons on them.  One, a girl, had long sandy blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail.  The other, a boy, had jet-black curly hair, with some reasonably sized muscles.  Both looked as confused as could be.  Simultaneously, the two said “Where the heck am I?”.  Okay, actually they said something that I won’t repeat, but I got the idea that that’s what they meant.

The man who referred to himself as Don stuck out his hand.  “The name’s Donald Rallin.  I’m a game designer for Maxis.”  The three of us gasped, all of us being Spore geeks.  Don looked at each of us.  “You,” he said, turning to the girl.  “Your name is Kira Bell.  Your Spore name is NeytiriRa, and you live in Cleveland.  Your name,” he said to the muscular boy.  “Is Keith Correl.  Your Spore name is FrolloHades, and you live in Dalemont, Rhode Island  And you,” he turned to me.  “Your name is Johnathan Willough.  Your Spore name is IAmSteve, and you live in Chicago.  I need your help, all three of you.”

Kira looked at him like he was half-insane.  “Where are we, why do you need our help, and how do we get home?”

“Kira, you and the others are some of Spore’s best new talent.  And we need talent to help fight against Cal.”

“And Cal is…?”

“When Spore came out, it pushed the idea of gaming.  Naturally, fans wanted more.  There was originally an idea to make a game where players could create worlds for others to interact with.”

“So, Spore: Galactic Adventures?”

“Not exactly.  This would be more like building your own MMO, with players interacting with each other in the world.  It was called Spore: Dimensions, and was supposed to be virtual reality, but since we didn’t have the technology, the game was scrapped in favor of GA.”

“But who’s Cal?”

“Albert Calunm, or Cal, was a fellow designer.  But he had other ideas.  Instead of helping to build GA, he took the world-building technology that we incorporated into Galactic and sent it to the next level.  He literally built a string of worlds inhabited by creatures with artificial intelligence.  This was for fun, but when his pet project was found, he was fired.  He joined up with Nintendo soon after, but he kept working on the worlds.  Eventually, when the technology became available, he created his own Spore: Dimensions.  But he didn’t do it for fun anymore.  With an army of artificial intelligence programs, he wants to actually shut down the Internet and worldwide communications.  I’ve broken into some of these worlds, and using the virtual reality tech, I’ve been fighting him.  But I need help.”

“And that’s where we come in?”

“Bingo.  I sent you some fake beta promotion for Dimensions, and now you’re here!”

“But how exactly are we going to fight an army of cartoon HALs?”

“You’re all wearing what I call X-Suits.  The suits can summon Spore: Galactic Adventures weaponry and gadgets.  Don’t use too many at once, or you’ll deplete the energy faster than it can recharge, and they won’t work for a while.  Now, if you don’t mind-”

Then he jumped off the tree branch.  We all looked down, both interested and horrified.  For a second, we didn’t see anything.  Then, Don came rocketing out of the jungle.  On the back of his X-Suit was a sleek metal jet pack.  I decided to try out my X-Suit.  I visualized the jet pack, and sure enough, it felt like I had gained five pounds.  I jumped off the branch and did a nose-dive until I reached the canopy.  Then, my jet pack kicked in, and I flew through the air for about a minute.  Then, I started to follow Don.  I looked back and saw that Kira and Keith were doing the same.  For maybe fifteen minutes, we flew over the forest canopy.  I saw about a billion weird animals flying through the air, and crawling on the forest floor.  But my Avatar moment was about to come to an end.

Don shouted back at us: “Incoming!”.  I looked up ahead.  Sure enough, about a hundred yards in front of us was a trio of flying creatures.  They were about the size of condors.  Two were brown, one blue.  They had four huge feathery wings, three eyes, and instead of legs, they had a single grasping arm.  I shouted back to Kira and Keith.

“Tamaranian Flyers!  Closing in fast!”

Some instinct kicked in, and a pair of Missile Flingers appeared on my shoulders.  They fired at the Flyers.  One hit the blue Flyer in the leg, and most of the limb went flying off.  The Flyer shrieked in pain, and fell down into the forest below.  Meanwhile, behind me, Kira and Keith had whipped out a pair of Plasma Pulsers, and were firing at the Flyers.  Neither of them missed.  The remaining two plummeted into the jungle.  But the worst was still to come.

The spaceship that suddenly flew out from the forest about half a mile away was huge.  It was about as big as an aircraft carrier, and looked like a simple chrome silver UFO.  Four or five engines on its underbelly blasted tendrils of green flame, and from a distance, I could see dozens of humanoid figures scuttling around on the craft.  A second after it burst from the trees, Don dove into the forest.  The three of us followed suit.  This section of the forest was more like a swamp, with tiny creeks branching out everywhere.  Don gestured at a huge tree with a large hollow section about the size of a car interior.  We hid in there, and watched as two strange animals sauntered by.  They looked sort of like horses, but were orange with black stripes.  Tiger Horses, another Maxis creation.  Riding the Tiger Horses were a duo of five-foot-tall, lizard-like humanoids with chunky heads.  They had Plasma Pulsers, but they seemed to be their only weapon.  One spoke into his wrist laser.

“This is PRA Patrol Gorgon Alpha, reporting in.”

Over a crackle of radio static I heard a calm voice.

“Report, Gorgon Alpha.”

“Jalga Sector 847C is clear of the intruders.  Shall we move the Spodewind to another world?”

“Negative.  Don’s here somewhere.”

Then, a third voice came over the radio.

“This is PRA Patrol Prometheus Epsilon.  We have found three dead Tamaranian Flyer scouts in Jalga Sector 847A.  Don is here.”

“All patrols, intensify search.  Primary target is confirmed in Jalga.”

Then the four of us burst from the hollow, weapons firing.  The patrols fired back, but they were outnumbered.  In seconds, the Tiger Horses were scampering off into the jungle.  Don looked at the three of us.

“It isn’t safe here.  I’ll deactivate the virtual reality.  If you get a text from me, get back onto Spore: Dimensions-fast.”

With that, a tiny silver box with a single red button appeared on his forearm.  He pushed it.  A second later, I was sitting in my chair.  I checked the time.  I had been on Jalga exactly thirty minutes.  Dinner was ready.  So was I.

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