Yep, that’s right, you can download the various beta builds of Spore at www.spore.com/comm/prototypes . We can only hope that more software houses follow the example of EA and release as many betas as possible!
As they say in their site: “Spore has been a huge undertaking. Along the way we ended up exploring countless design directions in gameplay, simulation and user interface. One of the ways in which we explore possible design directions is by
Spore is a video game under development by Maxis and designed by Will Wright. The game has drawn wide attention for its promise to simulate the development of a species on a galactic scope, using its innovation of user-guided evolution via the use of procedural generation for many of the components of the game, providing vast scope and open-ended gameplay. Spore was originally a working title, suggested by developer Ocean Quigley, for the game which was first referred to by the general public as SimEverything. Even though SimEverything was a first choice name for Wright, the title Spore stuck. The gameplay itself had numerous changes during development. The most striking was the shift in realism, from the gritty depiction of cellular and animal life in the GDC 2005 debut, to the current iteration of a more round, softer edged depiction of the creatures. The most visible change was in the cellular phase, which transformed the monocellular organisms into strange insects with cartoonish, human-like eyes, which were
SimMars was a strategy game in development at Maxis around the same time as the release of the wildly popular Maxis game, The Sims. A trailer for the game was included on the SimCity 3000 CD. From the trailer, the premise of the game seemed to be a manned mission to the planet Mars, followed by a terraforming and colonization scenario, typical of the Maxis world-building game style. The game presumed to be an integration of previous Maxis titles presented in 3D, possibly including elements of SimEarth, SimLife, and SimCity.
In The Sims: Vacation, there was an arcade game titled SimMars and it had a detailed description about the game. This may or may not have been the real premise of the game:
“Direct mankind’s first mission to the red planet! Launch rockets and deploy robot probes! Deploy teams to search for alien resources! Establish and run a network of specialized colonies to create a self-sufficient civilization! Provide your colony with food, shelter, and power! Fast, furious, adrenaline-pumping action!”
As of May 12, 2000, Maxis has stated that “SimMars is on hold and we do not have staff at Maxis currently working on the game. With the phenomenal success of The Sims, we’ve decided to move resources to support that franchise as well as other titles that we haven’t even announced yet.”
Some elements of SimMars are used in the upcoming Maxis game Spore. – [Info from Wikipedia]