Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spore arrives

So, I've been on about this for a while. Spore is a game coming out in September that will unleash unparalleled creativity on an unsuspecting gaming populace. It's the game of life, where you pass through successive generations designing yourself, from bacteria to creature, from sentient being to civilization. You model animals, cities, buildings, vehicles, flora in amazing detail, and then, through the magic of Will Wright and his team, your creations come to life. Then, through the magic of Will Wright, they will populate the galaxies of other players, a galaxy with millions of worlds that you can visit, eventually, in your species' spaceship. It is an unfinishable game.

Today a demo of just the creature creator went online. It is completely free to try, and you can construct the crazy animals that will fill the game. Get it here. Repeat, GET IT. Your jaw will hit the floor. Your kids will love it. You will love it. Your dog will love it.

It is a little nerfed; there is a $10 version with all parts and options enabled, which I am certainly buying as soon as they make it to stores (Thursday, I think). You need a halfway decent computer to run the software, but if you've bought in the last couple of years you should be fine (the specs for Vista are pretty fricking ugly though).

If you'd like to see some of my ridiculous creations, they will start filling in here. So far, only ballicus curius has made it to the internet. But I've done a couple more that should be on the way. And let me say, before you even start playing, you can spend hours just making animals.

This is one of the more amazing pieces of software I have ever seen. The technical challenges involved in turning J. Random Player, with help from the computer, into a successful 3D modeler were apparently astounding. I've been getting chills.

Sorry I've been out of the picture. It has not been for the best, but it's that kind of season in life. My software should be done with main development this week, though, so I may be able to take my foot off the gas pedal by next week.

Sarah is in Utah visiting friends and family, with Alex, so I have been all alone in the house. It is very strange. But I have been studying computers and doing whatnot.

My high school's ten year reunion is in a couple of weeks. In some ways, I am sorry not to be able to go. I haven't seen some friends in ages. I don't know why, but lately I keep thinking I will meet some friends to read books with. There is a guy at work who has been interested in my dive into Charles Stross lately, but it's not the same.

So, for the record, Charles Stross is an amazing speculative fiction writer. I read Singularity Sky, which is about as good an introduction as you could get to the Singularity (disparagingly, "the nerd rapture", when we create an AI that can bootstrap itself into godlike intelligence, or alternatively when we create nanomachines that can convert base materials into the stuff of our wildest dreams). Whether you believe all the theories or not (and I am inclined not to), it makes for a great story.

He also wrote a great near future story called Halting State, essentially about a world where the internet is very closely intertwined with real life, as in virtual reality layers that are based on the place on earth you are standing right now. So you could put on your VR goggles and be in a whole new world, essentially. So the story goes, what amounts to a bank in World of Warcraft 3.0 is robbed by a band of orcs. Then a group of hackers and forensic investigators is brought in to figure out what happened, on behalf of the country running the bank. It's hilarious, and I can't give away the terrific story. You should read it right away.

I had another book by Stross about a tech journalist who falls into a brave new world, like a curious shadow of Earth, called The Hidden Family, first in a series. It is great so far, as is Iron Sunrise, the sequel to Singularity Sky.

Sometimes I get like this with an author and I want to read all their stuff, as much as I can find. So far I've done it with William Gibson, Lois McMaster Bujold, Neal Stephenson, and Shusaku Endo. Stross is another one of those.

I'm also trying to get further in Godel, Escher, Bach. Every time I check it out, though, someone reserves it right behind me. I am going to break down and just buy it soon.