Will Wright wows GDC with new Sim

Will Wright gives a sneak preview of his upcoming game Spore, delighting those present.

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SAN FRANCISCO--On the final day of the Game Developers Conference, Will Wright's "Future of Content" presentation contained a special treat for the bursting-beyond-capacity audience.

The treat was an extended demonstration of his next game, called Spore--a sim that allows the players to control life on all conceivable scales--an emergent and beautiful simulation game that ranges from the cellular level all the way to the galactic level.

The game allows the player to begin with developing a creature as a cellular entity and eventually creating a creature with more sophisticated brain functions, which will change the nature of the game to a more RTS-type game (he cited a particular favorite of his, Populous), where players will control herds of creatures. Once you upgrade the "hut" around which the creatures centralize, the game changes into what he called "a simple version of SimCity" where the player manages technology and interacts with other cities that have sprung up around the world.

He demonstrated how the player can eventually purchase a UFO to travel between planets--and eventually star systems--to populate, conquer, or simply observe. Particularly impressive was the game's emergent gameplay and seemingly infinite possibilities for playing creatively--two qualities that define Will Wright's celebrity status in game design.

His demonstration of Spore was framed through a design lens, as is the custom at GDC. The "hub" of the game, he asserted, was its compression. Since all the creature meshes, textures, animations, and behaviors are procedural (based on a set of algorithmic rules), this allows for an enormous quantity of player-created content, which he emphasized as another key element of the game's design that he has always fought for--the encouragement (in Spore's case, perhaps the necessity) of player creativity.

More so than in other games, he explained, he wanted to create a sense of both ownership (of the unique creatures and civilizations the player creates) as well as mastery (over the interface, which becomes more complex as the game's scale increases). The goal is to give the player simple tools to make them feel like they have tremendous leverage on the nature of the game itself. The game, then, becomes what he called "a creative amplifier for what the player has done."

Because of the compressed nature of the content, he went on, it allows for the generation of enormous content libraries. Moreover, the small content is easily portable. Players can interact with creatures, buildings, societies, planets, and star systems that other players have created.

Wright's presentation indicated that the passion that went into the design of Spore spoke to particularly inspirational television shows and toys from his childhood: Star Trek, Care Bears, War of the Worlds, Kid Pix, Pac-Man, Legos, and erector sets, to name only a few. Seemingly, Spore's emergent editors are the embodiment of the toys, and the content and gameplay the embodiment of the films. It made it seem almost as if he had been waiting his whole life to design this game.

When he fantasized about Spore years ago, Wright admitted, "My own imagination was my biggest bottleneck." He encouraged designers with ideas for games that are far outside the box not to give up on those ideas, but instead to cultivate them and revisit them later, when the time, the team, and the technology might be right. The demonstration of the "stellar zoo" that is Spore might have given hope to a new generation of game designers.

Spore is being developed by EA-owned Maxis Studio and will be published by Electronic Arts.

Discussion

15 comments
semplew
semplew

LOL only 2 and a half weeks now! Even apokilipse's comment seem like a long time ago :D

apokilipse
apokilipse

lol ya its fun to look at these people getting all excited back in '06 when we know its not going to be out till late '08

el_carl
el_carl

DarkBunny100, more like Q3 2008

cybeo
cybeo

Question for gamers,... if this game were to follow darwinism or neo-darwinism what type of gameplay would be employed? Would there be any gameplay at all? Think about it.

DarkBunny100
DarkBunny100

This game looks awesome to bad we have to wait till 2007 Q1

MoFFi
MoFFi

i rly want some info about release xD this game looks pretty Good!! ill buy this one :)

KingSlacker
KingSlacker

Wow, this game has some potential to be the greatest game ever made...can't wait for this.

max_l0gan
max_l0gan

this game Looks Awesome i want it now, looks so good ^__^

tooza
tooza

Go to video.google.com and search spore to watch a 35 minute trailer of this game.

robubie
robubie

it looks beyond awesome to me.

YoppaDo
YoppaDo

Yep, there hasn't been much news recenty though.

SgtSilock
SgtSilock

Is this game still in development? : /