Spore: Creature Creator
In case you haven't heard, there's an exciting new game on the horizon called Spore, and it is set to release this September. The game is the brainchild of Will Wright, the father of SimCity and the Sims, and judging from what we've seen of this game so far, we're in for one heck of a ride. One of Spore's most touted and talked about features is how it leverages user-created content to populate the countless planets within the Spore universe. The Spore team accomplishes this by putting powerful and easy-to-use tools to create elements of the Spore universe in the hands of the masses. That's you.
One of those tools is being released today, the Spore Creature Creator, and it can be yours for about 10 bucks. There is a demo available that is free, but it comes with only a small subset of what's available in the full version. With the Creature Creator you can, of course, create and edit new creatures, and you can save them and share them with others, too. Creatures are embedded into a 32KB image (PNG) of the creature that contains all of the data necessary to load it back into the editor. Sharing creatures is therefore exceptionally easy, and brilliantly implemented.
You can also take pictures of your creatures within the "Test Drive" portion of the editor (screenshots included here), or take movies and upload your movies directly to YouTube from within the Creature Creator(!) Your creatures are automatically animated based on the spine and appendages you've given it. You can even make them dance, too.
I was fortunate enough to be selected to try out the creature creator ahead of time, and I spent the entire weekend last week making creatures with it (warning: it's highly addictive). Playing with the Creature Creator was one of the most amazing play experiences I have ever had, and I'm looking forward to playing with it some more. It is extremely easy to make something that looks good with the tool, and seeing your creature come to life as you add elements to it is both exciting and immediately rewarding.
The game hasn't even been released yet and we are already seeing the fruits of this thing called user-created content as it applies to Spore. I highly recommend participating in this sensation, and the sooner the better so you don't feel left out. And when Spore finally ships this September after 3 months and millions of creatures later, you'll know where to find me. ;)