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Will Wright's Next Game: Spore

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the it's-growing! dept.

Games 41

1up.com has a look at Will Wright's newest game, revealed today at the Game Developer's conference. Entitled Spore, the game promises to be (in a word) unique. From the article: "Wright's latest creation spans the rise of a space-faring civilization from its humble beginnings in the primordial soup. 'It's actually a lot like WarioWare...It features a wide variety of game types as a sort of homage to my favorite games.'" PC Magazine has details as well, as does Gamasutra.

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41 comments

def:unique (3, Insightful)

satanami69 (209636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11916994)

"It's actually a lot like WarioWare"

Unique:
1. Being the only one of its kind: the unique existing example of Donne's handwriting.
2. Without an equal or equivalent; unparalleled.
3.
a. Characteristic of a particular category, condition, or locality: a problem unique to coastal areas.
b. Informal. Unusual; extraordinary: spoke with a unique accent.

Unique, but not 100% alien (2, Interesting)

PhoenixOne (674466) | more than 9 years ago | (#11920015)

Excuse the type, I'm using a tablet.

Will Wright said it was like WarioWare, but that was a huge stretch (even for him). It is like WW only in the fact that it is made up of lots of game types. Most of those game types have been done before (RTS, God Games, Risk, etc.) but never combined like this before.

Re:def:unique (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11926367)

It's possible to be a lot like something, and still be 'unique'.

Quoting a dictionary will not help you with your vocabulary, you'll also need to put some thought into it.

The game is a lot like WarioWare, presumably in that it's a mix of many game styles, but it's not going to be exactly like WarioWare, allowing it the potential to be 'unique'.

ESRB rating? (4, Funny)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11917021)

Given the popularity of The Sims and the impressive level of polish and humor customary in Wright's work, Spore clearly has amazing potential to become every bit as huge as its predecessor. (And as entertaining -- when your primitive creature mates, the deed is accompanied by romantic guitar and saxophone music.)

I hope that doesn't mean the more conservative protozoa will try to give it an AO rating.

Re:ESRB rating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11917375)

I hope that doesn't mean the more conservative protozoa will try to give it an AO rating.

You say that as if there's a more evolved species of conservative.

Sounds great, but can Wright deliver? (2, Insightful)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#11917034)

This game sounds like a combination of several types of games that I love. However, what sounds great on paper doesn't necessarily translate into a good final product. Any screenshots anybody? Is this vapor or are we really going to see a unique game on the PC for once, as opposed to yet another tactical first person shooter?

Re:Sounds great, but can Wright deliver? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11917543)

Though I only saw the second half of the presentation (it took a while for them to get video feed for those of us who couldn't get into the room), I can say for sure that it was *not* vaporware. Though parts were scripted for the presentation, it was really working, and it looked to be not only fun and unique in terms of gameplay, but also absolutely beautiful. The HL2 E3 demo defined a new standard for realism. To me, the Spore demo raised the bar for fantasy graphics in the same way.

Amazing. Especially given that the procedural creatures will be serialized for sharing in about 1k of data, giving what Will described as a 5000:1 compression ration.

Re:Sounds great, but can Wright deliver? (1)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#11920172)

5000:1 compression ratio? What did he do, tap the Commodore 64 demo scene?

Re:Sounds great, but can Wright deliver? (1)

MrProgrammer (165021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11920281)

Actually, "Wright has teamed up with European demo coders to assist the game's design, capitalizing on their reputation for putting together amazing amounts of content in the smallest data space possible." So, yeah, more-or-less.

Re:Sounds great, but can Wright deliver? (2, Informative)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 9 years ago | (#11921529)

Absolutely not vapor ware. I believe he can deliver, but it might take a while to finish. Spore deserves all the time and resources required to get it right.

He had several slides about the demo scene in Europe, which he discussed to illustrate his point about algorithmic compression.

From my notes [donhopkins.com]:

Algorithmic compression.

Games consist of a mix of code and data. Computers use code to compress data. The ratio of code to data has changed over time.

Games used to be mostly code and very little content, so compression was important.

CDROM is the medium that was the death knell for the algorithm. Myst was a very elaborate and beautiful slide show, with a vast amount of data. It looked like they had a great time building this world. Building the world is a fun game in itself.

At the other end of the spectrum from CDROMs: The Demo Scene. Algorithmic compression of graphics and music.

-Don

Re:Sounds great, but can Wright deliver? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11921945)

He doesn't need to get in with the demo scene, just console coders. Procedural textures are the order of the day on the PS2.

It's not like the demoscene fellas write the most portable, patchable, or robust code, either...

Re:Sounds great, but can Wright deliver? (1)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#11922749)

Well there was that first person shooter with Doom 3-like graphics with the entire game engine and content in a 95KB file. Textures, models, and levels were all procedural.

Dangerous Ground (3, Interesting)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 9 years ago | (#11917088)

It's a dangerous gambit making a game like was described. Not that it's not intreaguing and has great potential, but rather it will be far to easy for this game to come short in it's attempt to appeal to all people. All the phases of the game have all been successful games in their own right: a diablo style kill-spree type game, a civilation style game, a space-colonization game, etc. I fear that they're going to have to cheap out on all these "mini" games because it's simply not possible to develop 6 good games in the development schedule that'll be given for one game, unless of course it becomes the next DNF. Thus it will be a crappy pac-man game strung to a crappy diablo game strung to a crappy civ game strung to a crappy sim city game, and so on.

Re:Dangerous Ground (2, Informative)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 9 years ago | (#11921601)

I woudn't call the levels "mini" games, in the conventional sense of games like in Grand Theft Auto that have very little effect on the overall gameplay.

The evolutionary ladder from bacteria to galactic god is not a bunch of "mini games", it's actually a goal-oriented TUTORIAL and SANDBOX that trains you to play the real game that you start once you achieve interstellar travel. The meta-game is a collection of science fiction story genras, a storytelling game, where the player can surf back down to the lower levels to achieve their higher level goals and act out the stories of the meta level game.

From my notes [donhopkins.com]:

Meta Games

Meta games around different genras of science fiction.

Invasion (war of the worlds). Adult supervision (Day the earth stood still. Uplift (2001). First contact (Close Encounters). Abduction cross breeding (X-Files). Diplomacy (Star Trek).

Most of the narritive will come into the game through the space game.

Broad variety of different worlds to visit.

Cross-pollination of content created by different players.

Going to another player's planet.

You can abduct creatures, and go back to populate zoo planet.

T shaped game.

The base of the T is a goal oriented gaming.

The player first goes through a tutorial and sandbox to learn editing tools and game play at each level.

Player can eventually surf down to the lower levels.

Goal oriented game trains you to use all the editors and teaches you the simulation dynamics at every level, from bottom to top.

Once you get to the top you can surf vertically down into the other games, that you've learned to use on the way up.

At the top of the T is a collection of science fiction story genras, that take place on top of all of the lower levels.

Once you make your way all the way up from unicellular life to intergalactic civilization, the storytelling begins.

-Don

Summary: (5, Informative)

Suddenly_Dead (656421) | more than 9 years ago | (#11917267)

The game goes in phases:

1) Freeform Pac-man (with E.V.O. and Cubivore leanings, with consuming other things to change the abilities of your own creature)
2) Diablo-like
3) RTS-like (think Populous)
4) City Phase (think Sim City)
5) Civilization Phase (think Civilization *)
6) Invasion Phase (go forth into the universe, colonizing, invading, and terraforming)

At that:

"The Invasion section of the game is enormous, potentially endless. After hunting for other populated worlds, players can venture into the universe in the manner they think best fits their personality: Whether using the diplomacy of Star Trek or the destructive fury of War of the Worlds. Some races will welcome players, while others will greet instellar visitors with hostility.

Ultimately, the goal is to help players' comfort with and understanding of the gameplay and tools scale up and evolve in tandem with their virtual progeny. "This is very much contrary to the usual game design," Wright says. "Usually you get the sandbox gameplay as training wheels for the goal-oriented content. Here, the goal-oriented game is training you for the open-ended sandbox." By the time players are ready to conquer the galaxy, they'll have mastered every element of the game interface and will be ready to tackle the rest of the universe on their own terms."

Re:Summary: (1)

naoursla (99850) | more than 9 years ago | (#11924370)

Can you choose to invade other worlds with micro-organisms thus starting the game over on a larger scale?

Look of the game at GDC + legal shuts it down (3, Interesting)

projection (201655) | more than 9 years ago | (#11917374)

No screen shots (sorry!)

Game had a toon feel to it, but not completely toon rendered - sort of a mix.

Seemless, though slow in places, with Wright interacting with the character as he talked. From this, think it was playing in real time, and hence a fairly polished pre-alpha.

Presentation was at 10:30. At 12pm, it was due to be reshown at a theater open to Expo attendees. This was CANCELLED at the last minute, after some people had been packed in for half an hour. An official stood up and said it had been pulled, as EA said it contained confidential info. Kinda dumb, as 90 minutes before they'd shown it in a room with at least 500 people, cameras flashing all the time!!

Re:Look of the game at GDC + legal shuts it down (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11917998)

Explaination: Mr. Probst phoned down "Willy, what the fuck are you doing??? You're giving these people ideas, if you continue they might demand innovation in their games! Can you imagine how disastrous that would be for the whole company???"

Re:Look of the game at GDC + legal shuts it down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11921027)

You're giving these people ideas, if you continue they might demand innovation in their games!

Nyeeaaaauuughhh. Why don't you just throw in some All Your Base references, while you're at it?

The Spore design doc was in Wired last year (2, Interesting)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 9 years ago | (#11921680)

No screen shots, but the a diagram showing the design for Spore was published in Wired Magazine more than a year ago.

Wired asked Will for an illustration to print in the magazine, anything he wanted. So he made a diagram of Spore [donhopkins.com] that Wired published, but he didn't tell them what it was. The design docs for Spore have been out in Wired Magazine for a year now. (It's in the Feb 2004 issue of Wired.)

-Don

Re:The Spore design doc was in Wired last year (1)

drekmonger (251210) | more than 9 years ago | (#11925219)

The parent needs to be modded up.

Good find.

Re:The Spore design doc was in Wired last year (1)

Anguirel (58085) | more than 9 years ago | (#11930837)

You'd think so, but Wright actually mentioned it during his talk.

Re:The Spore design doc was in Wired last year (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 9 years ago | (#11935256)

I took those notes at the talk. I asked Will to review the notes and fill in a few details I missed. He suggested some changes and told me which issue of Wired the illustration was in, and I dug it up and scanned it in.

-Don

"The Future of Game Content" (4, Informative)

projection (201655) | more than 9 years ago | (#11917454)

One thing some articles I've read misscharacterized, from being at the conference myself. They say Wrights title of "The Future of Game Content" was a guise under which he presented Spore. I really don't think that is completely true. Wright made good points about game content and time to develop. His solution was demonstrated by Spore. Spore uses user shared content and procesdural content to overcome the current limits.

With other EA divisions claiming 150 person teams, Wright showed their was another way, keeping teams smaller, and allowing user driven and procedural content to fill the gap.

This was a theme at the GDC this year. In his talk a couple of days ago, Tim Sweeny talked about how good tools can also keep team size down, to a max of 50 in his case. 50 is still large, but if it gets a 25 mil $ game down to 10, thats much more profit to the studio and developer.

Re:"The Future of Game Content" (1)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 9 years ago | (#11921638)

Yes, the title and presumed subject of the talk was a guise, but not to fool the game developers attending the conference. There were some very surprized EA suits in the audience, who were not expecting Will to show as much as he did. It's no coincidence that the second showing of his talk was canceled.

-Don

Amazing! (3, Informative)

neoRUR (674398) | more than 9 years ago | (#11917966)

I was there for the talk, he showed a demo of the game. It really was amazing. It's the first universe simulator that I have ever seen. All procedurally generated, I am sure there are some limitations to it. He will be showing it at E3, so execpt a xmas release. This is a game unlike any others, if you like sandbox games.

so......? (1)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11918128)

What is there to talk about with this? The fact that Will Wright came up with a new game idea? I don't find that very shocking since, well, he has a history of them...

There's almost no details here other than Will Wright saying he wants to try to make a very complex game with massive scope--but it is just talk at this point, right? When it comes to talk, I think the game industry is especially well known for it.

Trust us... (1)

PhoenixOne (674466) | more than 9 years ago | (#11920083)

Given EA's media lockdown, you might just have to trust us. It was cool as hell. Not only did he give a good talk (with ninjas!) but he showed an amazing demo. The game looks done. I have a feeling it is already in QA.

Re:Trust us... (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11928212)

The general public has about as much reason to trust politicians and they do game devs :)

And before you blame it on the publishers, you picked them so you share in the blame.

Evolution? (1)

wcspxyx (120207) | more than 9 years ago | (#11918163)

Sounds a lot like the old Apple ][ game called Evolution [mobygames.com]. So, even though it sounds cool and all, I wouldn't call it too revolutionary.

Re:Evolution? (1)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 9 years ago | (#11920223)

It also sounds allot like "E.V.O.:Search for Eden" for the SNES, as well as Sim City, Civilization, etc... the point is that Will Wright plans on seemlessly merging these great fun ideas. That is the revolutionary part.

Re:Evolution? (1)

Anguirel (58085) | more than 9 years ago | (#11930858)

Those games had very limited systems for "creating" creatures. You had a "head" part and a "body" part and so on...

While this has some aspects of that - there are limits to what you can add - the method is much larger in scope. Full skeletal creation, complete virtual-clay interface for modifying sizes of various components, algorithmic ability to determine walking style (he showed off all sorts of bizarre possibilities) and so on...

So yes, it's like those, and yet, very much not like them. The algorithmic basis for all of the content is what's really revolutionary, though, at least for the game devs. ;)

Notes from Will Wright's Spore demo (2, Informative)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 9 years ago | (#11921478)

I took notes at Will Wright's talk about Spore, cleaned them up and filled in some more details from talking with him about it and seeing earlier prototypes over the years it's been in development.

The Future of Content [donhopkins.com]:
What I learned about content from the Sims.
...and why it's driven me to procedural methods.
...And what I now plan to do with them.
Will Wright
Game Developers Conference
3/11/2005

Wired asked for an illustration to print in the magazine, anything he wanted. So he made a diagram of Spore [donhopkins.com] that Wired published, but he didn't tell them what it was. The design docs for Spore have been out in Wired Magazine for a year now. (It's in the Feb 2004 issue of Wired.)

Here's a link to the web site where you can find out What Kind of Care Bear Are You? [lavendersea.net]

-Don

Sorta unique (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11927000)

It is a unique game in that no one has really done anything like it before, at least as far as i know, but it's certainly not anything that no one has ever thought of before. I'm sure everyone who has played both series (or games from any two similar series) has wished that once that got the colony on Alpha Centauri started in Civilization that they could then progress to a game of Master of Orion. I've actually had discussions with others about how far you could stretch the process back in time (i believe E.V.O. came up at least once) so the meme is definitely out there.

I do wonder a bit about how play balance will work. In such strategy games a series of small time saving maneuvers early on cascades into a huge advantage in the late game. In this situation you're increasing that process by another order of magnitude. There are crazy-good people who can hit spaceflight in Civ in the BCs or something similarly insane. The space portion would be a cake-walk if they got to start a couple hundred turns before everyone else. There is of course the time honored tradition of having the AI "cheat" and just starting them all going whenever the humans hit space. Or arranging the storyline so that it seems reasonable that the aliens stayed at home until the humans started expanding, but Galactic Civilizations is the only 4x space game i've seen that has had even a semi-reasonable explanation for such a thing.

My Impressions (2, Interesting)

Slyght (784581) | more than 9 years ago | (#11928918)

I was in attendance at the talk, and boy was it good. Jon Hopkins did a very good job above taking notes on both the demo and Will's slides and lecture. OK, so here are some answers to some questions that have come up in the previous comments:

- Will didn't just talk about it, he gave a 45-minute in-game live demo of all aspects of the game, from bacteria to galactic god.

- Although I'm sure Will had practiced what he was going to demonstrate to us at the talk, there were times when things didn't go perfectly (example: he was trying to get ships from his town to attack a neighboring city's tanks, and they didn't attack and flew right by), and Will's an honest guy, so I'm pretty sure he really was playing it live and it they weren't playing any tricks on us like the HL2 E3 2003 demo.

- The game has a nice visual feel to it, but the graphics were about as revolutionary as the graphics in Sims 2 are. People aren't drooling over the graphics, but the gameplay. That's key.

- Will isn't introducing any revolutionary type of gameplay with Spore. Instead he's trying to take the best 10%-20% of exisiting genres/toys/games that he likes, including previous Maxis titles, and successfully combine them into one game. He said that it's a rule not to combine genres, and he wants to break that rule. I guess what's revolutionary is that it looks like he's going to make it work.

Wait till E3, where EA will finally let Will go more public with details. I'm sure that Spore will be winning a lot of "Best of Show" awards come May. Until then, trust us :)

My Detailed Impressions (1)

Gaming Steve (867523) | more than 9 years ago | (#11930244)

For those of you more interested in a larger overview of the game you can listen to my podcast where I go through painstaking detail of every screen, mouse-click, and item I saw during the Spore demo at the GDC this year.

It's almost an hour long and I go over each and every screen and action performed during the demo.

You can listen to my podcast at: http://www.gamingsteve.com/ [gamingsteve.com]

My Detailed Impressions (2, Informative)

Gaming Steve (867523) | more than 9 years ago | (#11935627)

For those of you more interested in a larger overview of the game you can listen to my podcast where I go through painstaking detail of every screen, mouse-click, and item I saw during the Spore demo at the GDC this year.

It's almost an hour long and I go over each and every screen and action performed during the demo.

You can listen to my podcast at: http://www.gamingsteve.com/ [gamingsteve.com]

Will Wright Spore interview (2002) (2, Interesting)

praxis22 (681878) | more than 9 years ago | (#11943011)

This lenghty and complicated interview with Will Wright actually contains many of the memes of spore: http://www.gamestudies.org/0102/pearce/ Interesting reading for those so inclined.

Gamespy is FAR more indepth about this (1)

Suddenly_Dead (656421) | more than 9 years ago | (#11948510)

Check out Gamespy's article [gamespy.com] on this, actually. It is far longer (5 pages!), and talks about how Wright got inspiration from the Demo Scene, and how the animations and such in the game are done cleverly and procedurally. As well there are the consequences of all of this for the video game industry.
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