GDC '08: EA ringmaster of game-creation Carnival

Rod Humble hopes new set of tools aimed at nondevelopers at Simscarnival.com will encourage the hoi polloi to make their own games.

SAN FRANCISCO--User-generated content seem to be the buzzwords of this year's Game Developers Conference, especially after Microsoft's announcement yesterday that it would be launching a new version of game creation toolset XNA.

Now Electronic Arts has decided to get in on the trend, and has launched a new Web site called The Sims Carnival, which comes with a set of tools designed to help nonprogrammers make games.

Rod Humble, head of EA's The Sims Studio, speaking at his talk titled "The Emergent Gamer," said that he hoped that the site would help broaden the types of games available. He pondered, "If your mother could make a game, what kind of game would she make? How about your son?"

The Sims Carnival, which is currently in beta, has a game by genre creator wizard, which allows people to quickly create certain kinds of games--Humble gave the example of a quiz--by choosing from a series of multiple options.

For those who want to get a bit more technical, there will also be a more advanced toolset. Humble explained, "We also have a very complicated tool that allows you to create things from the ground up. You can go as deep as you want without actually having to boot up a compiler."

The Web site was beta tested internally at EA Studios, with the 100 people that had access to it creating over 500 games in a month.

Explaining why the company was making this move, Humble said, "Children take games and change them naturally. But [with video games] ease of creation is a problem. But over time that barrier of entry, whether it be literacy for books or programming skills for games, goes down and down."

He then showed the audience some of the games which had been made using the tools, including Tomb Laser, a Space Invaders-style game, where you could insert the faces of different politicians onto the aliens and rocket sprites. He also showed off a quiz which tested people's trivia knowledge of the history of games, and Meteor Command, where the aim is to keep a meteor from the hitting the earth with a series of explosions to propel it away.

When the game is complete, it can then be published on The Sims Carnival Web site, or elsewhere on the net. It will be free to both upload games and play other people's.

So, what's in it for the creator? Humble said, "We believe in ad-sharing, and we hope to have the most competitive terms."

When asked what EA would do about adult content, Humble responded, "Our preferred method is for people to put things up and then take them down [if they're inappropriate.] I don't really like the system where people have to wait a day for a real person to go through and check it."

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13 comments
reneetruss
reneetruss

Typical EA who thinks decent games can be massed produced. Now we will see a bunch of junk games produced , just like see user made junk for sim games, by fans who don't know what the hell their doing.

greater_bird
greater_bird

Nice idea, and I hope the people who try it out have fun making their own games... but let's face it, virtually none of them will be games that other people will genuinely want to play...

reneetruss
reneetruss

there you go 500 really bad games in the future. There are company that have access to game making and still you have bad games. So now you going to put these tools in the hand of fans and expects them to know how to create a decent and worth while game .

Trashcan_Man
Trashcan_Man

Hats off to EA for putting a little more power in the gamer's hands. =)

jacob-goodlich
jacob-goodlich

thats really cool, but im actually abit dissapointed in EA because of there mediocre ports to the ps3.

drogaz
drogaz

Sounds awesome. My dream is to be a video game developer but I currently no nothing about programming so maybe this would be a good place to start.

grvr316
grvr316

User created content is the way to other users hearts, look at the forge in Halo or the level editor in N+, tools like this bring ideas, creativity, and most importantly added value to the hobby we love most, gaming.

Pete5506
Pete5506

This is nice, I will look at it later

bluemanaston
bluemanaston

I already submitted for the beta, i really think this is a good idea

nintendorocks
nintendorocks

This looks very cool. I'll have to check this out later.

KamuiFei
KamuiFei

EA is making more casual games I see...Somehow this doesn't surprise me.