Norfolk is a long way away from anywhere, and if I were you, I shouldn't start from here. By the time you get to the outskirts of Cromer, any distinctions between science, beachcombing, social commentary, writing and animal husbandry have started to blur. When the process is complete, you know you've arrived at the End Of The Pier Show. So, welcome. Find somewhere to park your unicycle. Pull up a girrafe chair. Make yourself comfortable.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Simulated Evolution at the Maison Des Girrafes

Cromercrox Minor, she of the Unicycling Girrafes and rebellious Daleks, made a reasonable request for her birthday stocking, now some weeks ago - she wanted a PC version of a computer game called Spore. This is a game of evolution in action - you find a planet, crash asteroids in it, and from the star stuff create and evolve creatures from the Urschleim up to Civilization, and beyond. If any game were designed with Cromercrox Minor's peculiarities proclivities in mind, this is it. A copy was duly purchased.

Then the trouble started. Spore has the most demanding system requirements of any computer program I have ever seen. I installed it on Cromercrox Minor's Dell Dimension 2300 desktop - not too long ago, the family's sole computer. Although 7 years old, the 512Mb of RAM have proven up to all tasks I've thrown at it. Spore, though, once installed, wouldn't play - in the (very) small print I read that it required a minimum of 2 Gb of RAM and would support only a small range of apocalyptically powerful graphics drivers. I have need of such things less frequently than a turbot needs a tricycle.

After wondering whether I could stump up the several hundreds required for a new machine, (and, a Mac beyond my means, wondering whether I'd have to succumb to Vista, which I have heard, is something of a chocolate teapot amongst operating systems) just so Cromercrox Minor could play Spore, I had a brainwave. I loaded it into my 2-year-old, 2Gb Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop. This has just enough oomph - but only just enough - to support Spore. And only if you don't run anything else at all at the same time, and restart the machine before loading the game.

So I traded my laptop for my trusty old old desktop (of which I was always very fond) -- and now everyone is happy.

But is Spore any good? Was it worth all that trouble? Let me tell you, brothers and sisters, it's bloody marvellous. I can see me sneaking up to Cromercrox Minor's room when she's not around for a good old-fashioned session of descent with modification.


  1. But .. but surely Spore is based around Intelligent Design!

  2. If you're going to be picky, O'Hara, so was Dawkins' morphing program in Climbing Mount Improbable.

  3. reminds me of when the computer game of "the Little mermaid" (tm disney) came out - took up the whole of prof p's work computer which he had at home. he was not very pleased to find that only half of Ariel had obliterated all his science. At least we all got a new computer out of it, though. Ah, nostalgia! (cannot get anyone interested in Spore, I'm afraid.)

  4. I'm afraid the net result of Spore is that Cromercrox Minor is glued to it, and it has fomented a desire for a new Mac in the breast of her Dad ... so he can play it in his office when he should be doing other things. An iMac, 2.66Ghz, 4Gb RAM, 1Tb HD. That should cover it.