Aliso Viejo’s Planetwide Games, which started life as a game company, returns to the genre. Somewhat. The company, best known for its Comic Book Creator software, is teaming up with game publisher Electronic Arts to let fans create comic books of the upcoming game, “Spore.”
Spore, a game from the creator of “The Sims,” goes on sale Sept. 7. Planetwide’s “Comic Book Creator for Spore” will be available on the same day.
But unlike past versions sold in stores, the software will be available as a web-based tool so there’s nothing to download and no fussing with computer formats. And it will be FREE!
Planetwide, which went through a major reorganization in the past year (read “Planetwide Games, new CEO, ‘not going to develop’ for desktop“), is now focusing on web products and social networking. A few months ago, it unveiled Mashon.com, where people can share their comics.
As part of the union, Mashon will be at Comic-Con on Thursday with guest Will Wright, the creator of Spore.
“We cut a deal last year with EA for Comic Book Creator. And then we asked, ‘Can we take Will to Comic-Con with us?’ They said, ‘Why? We’re a game, not a comic book.’ I got him the keynote speech,” said Mark Politi, Planetwide’s vice president of media relations.
The comic-book software includes lots of characters, images and art from Spore, plus the usual comic-book fonts and page templates. Users drag-and-drop art on the virtual pages and even add video. Everything can be resized and rearranged.
When done, users can choose to share their creation with Planetwide’s Mashon community, and embed a link into a personal blog, Facebook page or other social-networking site.
The Spore version has a lot more features than when I experimented with it 2 years ago. Planetwide’s CEO Philippe Benoliel offered a personal demonstration when I stopped by Planetwide’s office in Aliso Viejo. (Click images below to get an idea of how the do-it-yourself comic book progresses.)
Here are some PDF samples of the Spore Comic Book Creator in action:
Currently, EA won’t let users upload their own Spore creations to the comic book — they have to use characters that come with the program. But Benoliel expects that restriction to be lifted soon, even, possibly, by the day of launch.
The game’s gallery will be part of Spore.com, with constant updates. With the video feature, you can make primordial life ooze in the background of a comic panel. And then you can place your art and fonts on top of the video. It had a very cool effect.
Twelve comic-book fonts are included. But don’t say anything offensive. Since it’s a web-based tool, it has a built-in bad-word filter.
The software will be on demo at Planetwide’s booth at Comic-Con, which starts Thursday. If you’re at the show and a fan of Spore, catch Will Wright’s speech in room 6CDEF at 11:30 a.m. on July 24.
More Spore on Game Rover: