Spore Comes To Life With Creature Sculptor

The partnership with Z Corp. allows for on-demand 3-D resin models derived from in-game graphics files.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

December 18, 2008

2 Min Read

Spore 3-D Sculptures (click for larger image)

Just in time for the holidays, Spore players can turn their digital creations into real 3-D figures.

Maxis, the Electronic Arts studio that developed Spore, on Thursday announced a deal with 3-D printer maker Z Corp. to create on-demand "Spore Sculptures" -- 3-D resin models derived from in-game graphics files.

Spore Sculptures are available now for $49 from www.sporesculptor.com. A menu-driven purchase process provides customers with the opportunity select any locally accessible Spore creature file, typically stored as .png files in My Documents\My Spore Creations\Creatures (on Windows machines).

"At its heart, Spore is a tool for creativity," said Patrick Buechner, VP of marketing at Maxis, in a statement. "Since launch, fans have made more than 40 million Spore creatures, vehicles, and buildings. We wanted to give players a way to extend their in-game creativity to the real world. The flexibility of the in-game creation tools allows an almost limitless variety of Spore Sculptures."

While the creatures created in Spore may be limited only by players' imaginations, their real-world counterparts are also limited by physics. As a consequence, not all creature designs will be printable.

Body parts that are too thin, long, or feathery can't be reproduced, and body designs that support heavy parts with frail ones won't work either. The Web site covers the various limitations in more detail.

The site lists several other limitations: "Spore Sculptures are collectible items. They are not toys, and they are not intended for sale to children." It also says: "Spore Sculptures are for the use and enjoyment of those purchasing them. They are not to be resold." Also, files from other 3-D applications aren't allowed.

The current terms of service do not explicitly forbid the creation of "Sporn" models -- a term that has emerged to describe sexualized Spore creatures. But they do appear to have anticipated the possibility: "Spore Sculptor reserves the right to refuse to produce Spore Sculptures deemed to be inappropriate."

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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