Pollinated content is a term used to describe a type of game content that is filtered into a game through certain rules, but is not "hard-coded" into the game itself. In Spore, content is pollinated based on certain qualifications, including style and popularity. Content in this situation includes creatures, buildings and vehicles (including UFOs).
One example of the use of pollinated content in Spore is its creation of realistic ecosystems. Creatures are taken from the database based on what is needed in an environment. If a predator is needed to top off the food chain, one is pulled in for that purpose. If the player's creature is a high-level predator then the game would filter in prey and other creatures to fill in whatever gaps there are in the system.
There are other factors that are taken into account when filling a database. For example, it is known that certain pieces of content will be rated on a kind of popularity scale, where more popular, or higher rated creature designs will inevitably be more likely to show up on other planets, or in some kind of catalogue of content within the game. Also, content is pulled from the database based on your creature and your other objects' "style". Buildings that are of similar style to your current buildings will be more likely to show up for you to pick from and further develop. Vehicles similar to your own that were made by others will be easy to find, purchase, and later alter. This can be seen in the uniformity of the two cities in the GDC 2005 demonstration by Will Wright, and the fact that they were of two distinct styles, even down to their vehicles.
There is also a "buddy list", which enables you to select a group of players whose creations will all end up in your game.
Of course, an automated pollination system introduces several problems that wouldn't exist without such a system. The most obvious problem being the certain creation of inappropriate creatures. The freedom of the creature editor (as well as the other editors) allows people to recreate objects that could turn some potential customers away. But thankfully Wright and Maxis have had the foresight to include a system that lets people report creations as inappropriate. If enough of a players creatures are removed, they will be completely banned from the automated uploading process in order to protect the community.
But phallus-shaped monsters are not the only concern. There is also the "cute vs. giger" style problem. What if you wanted your planet to be populated only by scary looking aliens, things that really make you wonder who thought up those things, and you don't want anything like the Carebear creatures? Because of this, you are allowed to choose a "theme" for your planet. The creations of the person you select as your theme will all be on your planet. This system, however, is still glitchy.
To the right is an image of what appears to be a catalogue of the pollinated content in Spore. It is clearly a prototype model, but we can find some bits of information if we look close enough. There are pictures of each creature, with information directly below each picture"
- ID - This is most likely given by the Spore system to numerically identify every creature. The end-user may never actually see this number in the final game.
- Name - This seems to be given by the player, by the inclusion of names such as "strangegopher" and "plantmonster"
- Type - This is the kind of content it is, such as creatures, buildings or vehicles
- Author - This is a little harder to understand. It is likely that it is a username@computername makeup (because one of them has @garage in the author info)
- Created - This is the date it was created.
- Download - A link to download the creature which is awesome news for SporeWiki because now we are sure that there will be a creature download file that you can pass around and share, and we will be able to share here!