As the developers of one of the most highly anticipated games on this year's release calendar, the team at Maxis is currently feeling the crunch when it comes to finishing Spore. Due for release in September on the PC, Mac, and Nintendo DS, the game will let you control various life-forms from the cellular to the galactic level, and then share these creations with other people around the world. Wii and mobile versions are also planned for a later, undisclosed date.
The first part of this grand idea was realised today when Maxis launched the Spore Creature Creator worldwide. Costing £4.99 in the UK and $10 in the US, the toolset lets players begin creating their own creatures before sharing them. A free trial version is also available.
To mark the occasion, GameSpot cornered Maxis executive producer Lucy Bradshaw to find out more about the Creature Creator, as well as the latest developments on the game itself.
GameSpot UK: Why was the decision made to sell the Spore Creature Creator separately?
Lucy Bradshaw: The Spore Creature Creator is an introduction to the world of Spore--your own little universe in a box. By starting with this fun little bite, we are getting a head start at building the Spore community as players share their creations and interact with each other at Spore.com. The Spore Creature Creator is quite literally the beginning of the launch of Spore and introduces the brand in a really fun and easily accessible way. We can't wait to see what people will create starting this week.
GS UK: Most of the ideas in Spore are very ambitious. How are you planning to make the experience accessible for players?
LB: I think once players get their hands on the Spore Creature Creator, they're going to be surprised at how creative they are. I've seen a five-year-old create a creature just as easily as I have my 70-year-old mother. Granted, teaching mom that she had to use the mouse wheel to scale the body took a minute or two, but soon she was off and running, creating creatures with the greatest of ease. This intuitiveness is found throughout the game. While the concept behind Spore may be big and vast in nature, it's actually quite accessible when you give it a shot.
GS UK: You've personally described Spore as "a couple million stars in any one galaxy, and any star can have four or five planets." How can a development team create a game that huge, while also allowing players a sense of ownership over their personal galaxy?
LB: The team has done a tremendous job creating the procedural-animation technology behind Spore. Procedural animation gives players the limitless ability to seamlessly create and customise nearly every aspect of the game. That should definitely give players a sense of ownership over their personal galaxy.
GS UK: Does the issue of user-generated content in Spore present any challenges postrelease? How can we expect to see EA supporting the game once it's out there?
LB: As you know from our work on The Sims franchise, Maxis has always been very supportive of our community. You can expect many updates and support from the team postlaunch. In fact, it is usually by watching the players and what they do with our games that we find new features and areas to enhance.
GS UK: Describe the process of working with Will Wright. Is he quite hands-on with the title?
LB: Most definitely--Will is just as excited as the rest of the team to see this project come to life in September. I think right now he's really into the Civilization stage. And Space of course, that's always been his passion. He's not only actively playing the game every day but working with the team on tuning and with me on how we approach the community features as well.
GS UK: How does the anticipation of Spore affect its development? Are you feeling the pressure?
LB: We definitely feel it. It's exciting to be [working on] one of the most anticipated games--we can't wait to see what players create and see how much they enjoy playing Spore.
GS UK: Have you been influenced by any other games or media during the creation of Spore?
LB: We've taken notice of the social-networking movement, as evidenced by our Web team's hard work in creating the Sporepedia. The Sporepedia is a vast online destination where people worldwide can search for and share Spore creations, comment on other players' designs, check out celebrity creature creations, create their own MySporePage, and much more. The Sporepedia really creates a sense of community around playing Spore.
GS UK: How will the Wii version of the game differ from the PC version?
LB: Right now we're focused on getting the Spore PC, Mac, DS, and Mobile versions out the door.
GS UK: Do you think that Spore will have the popularity and wide audience that The Sims series has?
LB: We sure hope so!