For those of you who don’t know, Will Wright is arguably of one the greatest game designers in the world today, He is best known for his ‘Sims’ games. And as one of the co-founders of Maxis which is now part of Electronic Arts.
But it is his newest creation, that is looking to become, quite possibly one of the best games ever! Spore is a massively single player online game. So why am I writing about it here? Have I gone mad? Well not yet, But Spore does have me waiting in excitement for its release! You can find Spore’s homepage here http://www.spore.com/
Spore is a massive God simulation game, due for release in September 2008, in which players control the evolution of a species, from its very beginning as a single cell organism, through to a sapient land walking creature. Right up to the development of interstellar travel, I mean how cool is that? One of the things that have always let me down in simulation games, is the lack of repetitive game-play, you can only evolve so far, for example in Age of Empires: Gold Edition. You can only evolve your race from the Stone age to the Iron age, which limits the playability of the game.
But in Spore the game play is completely open-ended and it uses “procedural generation” meaning that you can create within the game world, which provides a seemingly endless scope for game-play, and character creation.
Wright has been quoted as saying that the “Game will consist of several long phases” with game-play styles ranging from strategy to life simulation. But unlike other Sim style games, the player is not forced to finish one phase before moving to the next. But rather can choose how long they play each phase.
The game opens with a comet crashing into a planet, leaving the seeds for life to begin. Which opens up into the first phase of existence, the Tide pool stage. Within which your little microbe swims, once you have looked after your microbe (prevented it from being eaten) And have managed to get it to eat several other microbes. You can edit it, by changing its appearance and giving it new abilities and defensive strengths.
Eventually you have the option of moving on to land, and this is where it gets interesting! Well more interesting. As your creature evolves, its evolution depends entirely on what you do with it, its strengths and weaknesses will be characterized by how you choose to evolve it, and the personalities of user created species are dependent entirely on how the user plays them.
In the creature editor, players are also able to create their own species, And this is where the multi-player part comes into its own, Because everything that a player creates, creatures, vehicles etc. are all automatically uploaded into Spore’s online database. And from this database other players of Spore can choose to play as your creature, and use your vehicles. Wright has also been stated as saying “that users will be given statistics on how their creatures fare in other peoples games, so for example stats on how many times a user created species has been played by another gamer.” How often a user created civilization has been destroyed or had an alliance made with it. And it is this right here that revolutionizes the god simulation. For the first time you can create a species and send it out into an online gaming universe, and see just how good you are at creating life. And lets face it, who doesn’t like to play God on occasion? All the content you see in the game is user created. The game will create a sound ecology in your game, by importing what it thinks your world needs from other players content.
The genius of this game is that Wright has created a game where almost everything is created by the players! From the simple stages in the ‘Tide pool’ to the more advanced civilization stages. Wright has effectively created a multiplayer game world, using a single player game. And its a bold experiment in gaming. One that looks as if it will be a huge success! Hopefully more game designers will take a page out of Wright’s book, and experiment more with creating games, and game worlds that incorporate things we have not see before. Instead on just creating carbon copies of other game styles. As any gamer will tell you, we all want to play something we never have before.
In my mind Will Wright is a genius, and I can’t wait for this game to come out, so I can create and share my Spore universe. And become God (did I say that out loud)?
You can find heaps of information about Will Wright here at Moby Games.
And its worth checking out this video of Spore too! Check it out here.