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Monoliths are socializing tools that have appeared in the Space Stage. They are huge, vertical slabs of dark gray rock.
Monoliths in Spore
Spore uses monoliths as a way to rapidly increase the intelligence of a non-sentient race. This has parallels to SimEarth, a previous Maxis game in which it was possible to speed the cognitive development of creatures by dropping a monolith. The effect is similar to the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, where monoliths from sentient alien beings were used to rapidly develop a species' evolutionary intelligence.
The player places a monolith on an inhabited planet and the planet's species run to it and worship it. On a wild planet, the nearest species of the creature closest to the Monolith will become sentient and will begin their evolution, going through the Tribal, Civilization, and finally into Space phase.
If there is already a tribe or civilization on the planet, the monolith will trigger evolution to the next stage until they reach space. However, not all the members of a species will be uplifted. In these occasions, sentient members will form civilizations while others remain wild and uncivilized.
Uplifting a race will give a +50 Relation Bonus. If the species is a diplomat or trader, they will automatically become allies. The number of cities the new creatures will have upon reaching the space stage greatly depends on the planet type. From 1 on a T1, 2 on a T2, to up to 10 on a T3 planet. Only on a planet without spice, they will just build 1 city no matter the T-Score.
Any planet the player's spaceship places a monolith on will occasionally contact them regarding the evolution of the inhabiting race of the planet, looking much like this:
"The (species name) species on planet (planet's name) has evolved to the (stage) Stage!"
The player can earn the Brain Surgeon badge for promoting a specified number of creatures to Tribal stage. If the player uses a monolith on 20 tribal planets, they will earn the Civil Engineer Achievement.
Although the description states it must be used on tribal or civilized planets, it may also be used on a planet that has wildlife so long as there are no other sentient beings in the system. To control which species will become sentient on a wild planet, make sure that a creature of that species is closest to the monolith when placing it.
- When a civilization is formed, it is very easy to take over and gain a very valuable enemy homeworld. This makes it a good idea to use a monolith on a planet and then take the planet over when the planet reaches the Space Stage. Using this on a purple spice planet will inevitably lead to a purple spice homeworld that you should take over, a great way to get vast amounts of wealth.
- The monolith concept originates from Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which mankind's early ancestors were given intelligence from a mysterious black monolith.
- In a cut scene from the film adaptation, these monoliths were explained to be Von Neumann probes, self-replicating machines which are theorized would be used by advanced civilizations to search for life in the universe. Von Neumann probes would explore the universe in a systematic way and would communicate back to their home civilization upon finding evidence of life.
- It is further speculated that if a Von Neumann probe encountered primitive, non-sentient life it might be programmed to lie dormant on that planet, either silently observing the evolution of that planet's life or actively guiding its evolution or making contact. The Von Neumann probe would then be re-activated when the civilization it was observing reached a certain level of technology, for example, space flight, in order to make contact.
- It is this possible application of the Von Neumann probe which is explored in Stanley Kubrick's ''2001: A Space Odyssey'' in the guise of Monoliths, although the explanation of their use was ultimately removed to add to their mystery, and also in Spore.
- If you place monolith on the planet with no spice and center of the map, the creature will evolve normally, but they won't make any cities. This planet becomes invincible to invasion and can't be taken over unless you buy it.
- To use on planets already occupied by space civilizations you'll have to destroy their cities first.
- One cannot use the monolith on Earth.
- The Monolith can be placed anywhere on the planet, including on water.