Sometimes it takes sitting in your living room at 1 AM in the morning looking over your steam games library to realize something. It's the realization that time stops for no one, and things you might have enjoyed a long time ago can no longer be enjoyed in the present no matter how hard you try.
If this introduction seems overly pessimistic; it is because this particular enjoyment in question is a game called "Darkspore", something I used to play a lot that you can read all about here.
A brief history lesson, Darkspore was the by-product of the highly criticized game Spore developed by Maxis Software and in my opinion undeservedly ignored at launch due to its association with the previous game.
Even after going silent for 3 years and salvaging what they could with the franchise, Maxis couldn't shake off the huge letdown that Spore ultimately was - a very close parallel to a more recent game No Man's Sky where an overly extended development time lead to a hype train with increasingly unrealistic expectations on the final product. Darkspore was meant to be a spin-off that salvaged the creature editing tool that took so many years to develop, and was one of the main selling points of the original Spore touting "almost endless customization options".
To be frank, those who never actually dove into the Darkspore creature editor don't know what customization can feel like. It's amazing that a game made many years ago can still have a character editor that rivals if not surpasses many modern games in the same area. The complete freedom to modify a body part or piece of armor to your liking and appearance has somehow become a relic of a lost era; hidden and buried by the greed of modern publishers and development teams wishing to piece-meal out customization on a paid micro-transaction platform.
Customization aside, Darkspore was a squad based ARPG similar to the highly popularized Diablo series, but more dynamic with the ability to swap between 3 characters of your choosing during gameplay. The mechanics were done well, the classes varied, and the game play was exceptionally smooth. What let Darkspore down in terms of being a good ARPG was its overwhelmingly tentative development team - a team that was too afraid of its own creation. Limited maps, repetitive enemies and barely serviceable lobby were the hallmarks of a development team working on a shoestring budget to try to turn water into wine.
Darkspore became a gamble for Maxis; a gamble that ultimately failed. With a whole generation of fans permanently scarred and bitter with the original Spore, Darkspore was dead on arrival in the public's eye - a cash grab from a development team which had lost all its credibility. For that sin one of the more underrated games released in the last decade died a death undeserving for what it really was; a good game. A game I put a lot of hours in with my wife, and a game we both had fond memories of playing even to this day.
If there's any lasting stain on a game so tarnished by its parent's reputation, it's the fact that Darkspore used a DRM system pushed upon by its cruel masters over at EA. The "always on" requirement meant that once the game's public servers went down, the game would become dead permanently. As of this article's writing the game's servers have been officially offline for about a year - March 1st being the anniversary.
I'm not sure what really drove me to write this piece about the game now looking back at the words on my screen in my somewhat hazy state of mind... but I guess it's a strange nerd eulogy to something that brought me a lot of fun.
For what its worth to Darkspore fans, developers and random internet people who may read this blog one day, let it be known that a couple of people out there really enjoyed the hell out of this game. I miss it a lot, and I remember how great it was even more.