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Spore: the evolution of patches

It’s entirely fitting that a game about evolution should have an evolved form of patching. Since Spore’s idea of evolution is rather screwy, it naturally follows the process of patching the game would be screwy as well.

Spore’s fifth patch was released on July 14. This was a hefty patch with some welcome additions for content creators including the ability to create asymmetric parts. This meant the Spore userbase could finally realise its long-cherished dream of creating walking dong monsters with one testicle lower than the other. So well done there. However, in the grand tradition of the modern game patch, Spore’s Patch 5, aside from fixing some issues and introducing new features, also broke some things. To its credit, Maxis was on the problem quickly and produced a patch for the patch two weeks later.

Unfortunately, Spore users who purchased the game through Steam had to wait an inordinately long time for their version of the game to be patched — 28 days to be precise. This is entirely understandable. Obviously, the digital bits that comprised the patch (and the patch for the patch) had to be delivered all the way from Maxis in California to Valve in Washington, an arduous journey involving perilous sea voyages on creaky old schooners and slow travel on the backs of truculent camels over harsh forbidding lands.

But, thankfully, the patch was finally deployed to Steam users early yesterday morning. As I looked on, the Creepy and Cute Parts pack and Galactic Adventures expansion started patching with the Parts pack concluding the process first. The Galactic Adventures continued patching itself until, oh, about the 90-plus percent mark at which point it mysteriously stopped. At that point, the core Spore game began patching and a short while later Galactic Adventures began patching itself (again). Clearly, Maxis and Valve have taken patching to the next level making the process so inscrutable that it defies comprehension by the ordinary gamer.

I’m not even sure what the total amount of data was; the last I checked it, Steam’s bandwidth monitor claimed over 12GB had been downloaded. This was especially impressive considering I had 11GB of free hard disk space before I started patching and had more or less the same amount of free space after patching.

But that’s not the best part.

The best part is, upon launching Spore, most players discovered there was no change whatsoever. To be entirely fair, one Spore ver. Steam player apparently did manage to get asymmetry working:

Yesterday 5:33 PM It should be working, I was able to get asymmetry to work in my game after it updated.

Yesterday 6:17 PM The patch downloaded fairly quickly for me.

Yesterday 6:42 PM Contact Steam support, I guess. The update is available, so you should have it.

Today 8:03 AM I just ran Steam in online mode now and it’s updating Spore for me again. Not exactly sure why, but now would be a good time to check for people who have not yet received the patch.

Today 8:22 AM It appears the second patch I downloaded just now removed my ability to use Asymmetry. Whaaaaat.

To recap, Spore ver. Steam players had to wait one month for a patch that, after a long convoluted process, did precisely squat.

Welcome to the future of game patches.

Posted in Games, Spore.

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