Friday, May 12, 2006


I can't take my eyes off this demo. Basically, the guy who created The Sims, Will Wright, has made a new game called Spore. I think it'll be out next year. It will do for evolution what The Sims did for suburban life.

Wright originally explained Spore in an hour-long talk at the Game Developer's Conference. There's a one-minute blurb at the beginning of the video, but the high concept is pretty amazing.

The basic idea is that you begin life as a single-celled organism, then evolve to become a multi-celled creature, then an intelligent life form, then a tool user, then a city builder, then a world conqueror, and finally a star-hopping extraterrestrial wandering the planets in search of new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no one has gone before. Your evolution is not random or arbitrary: at each step of the game, you have access to an editor which changes the shape and capabilities of your creature's body. In fact, when you become a tool user and start living in a hut, you design the hut. When you make cities, you design the buildings. When you make war, you design the vehicles. Not only that, but to populate your little universe, the same way that you create content, your universe is populated with content created by other players that the game downloads from the Internet.

These other creatures evolve independently on their own little planets. There will be half a million individual stars, millions of worlds to explore, alien races to interact with and impress, or make war on. It would be virtually impossible to explore it all.

My brother and I once came up with the idea to have a game that worked on these various levels of abstraction. Say, the top level was a wargame, then the next level down was a real-time strategy, then the next down was a first-person shooter, as you take on various roles in the game, like soldier, commander, fleet admiral. But we were teenagers, not game designers, so it was sort of a fantasy idea.

Until now.

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