March 13, 2007 5:04 PM PDT

For Will Wright, story time is all the time

AUSTIN, Texas--Legendary game designer Will Wright looks at the world as somewhat of a simulation, where many things cascade into the next, creating a causal chain of events.

"Story, really, is following one causal chain and presenting that to the viewer," said Wright, designer of games like The Sims, SimCity and Electronic Arts' forthcoming Spore, in his keynote speech at South by Southwest Interactive here on Tuesday. In his hour onstage, Wright spelled out--in a coffee-fueled frenzy--his personal view of interactive storytelling.

Images: Will Wright talks 'Spore' at SWSX

The talk ended with a new demonstration of Spore, which, while similar to the version EA has shown for about two years, appeared to be much more streamlined, with more developed graphics and slightly more developed gameplay.

Wright led the crowd through his usual demonstration of the Spore creature editor, which allows players to quickly build fantastical little animals in mere moments. He is particularly fond of how fast players can color their new creations.

"We've taken something that would take a texture artist a couple days," Wright said as he automatically filled in the colors on a new Spore creature, "and reduced it to a couple hundred milliseconds."

Wright also explained that to him and his Spore colleagues, the game--which is expected sometime in the second half of 2007--is akin to a very elaborate Montessori toy. He said that because of the scientific theories it is based on--such as Powers of 10 and SETI@home--and because the game is designed, to some extent, to predict what would make the game world more interesting, it is in fact an elaborate philosophy tool.

"You walk away thinking about the meaning of life," he said. "How did we get here?"

Will WrightWill Wright

He also showed how artificial societies in Spore can be quickly turned into representations of human behavior.

For example, he showed how, by dropping a monolith into a populated area, he created a religious icon. The next thing that happened was that the local creatures quickly began worshipping the monolith.

Wright used the rest of the demo to showcase additional features of Spore, some of which had not been seen before. Those included the ability to change climates, quickly raising the temperature of an area on a planet so seas recede or even disappear altogether.

He then joked that Spore could be a sequel to the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, as he melted a planet with his cloud ray.

Essentially, he argued, Spore can give players a toy version of evolution.

Earlier, Wright had started his keynote by showing pictures from the Hubble space telescope, "one of my favorite robots of all time."

CONTINUED: The importance of empathy…
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"Anticipation" doesn't even scratch the surface
I've been following Spore from pretty much the first press release and I've got to say, I think Will may really be on to something. In a sense he's attempting to create the ultimate sandbox, the HMS Dreadnought of the genre. Given his history with creating games that are simply fun to play, I'm inclined to believe that Spore very well may take the cake. I've been playing games, myself, for well over 20 years and it's refreshing to me to see a developer who is so passionate about his creation (and isn't going to call me "his *****" to get the point across). And if Will's excited in all his geeky nerdiness, as a fellow geeky nerd I'm likely to get all giddy inside about it, too.

I can't say whether or not user-created content is necessarily the future, but I do know it's a whole ton of fun to toy around with.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Anticipation" doesn't even scratch the surface
I've been following Spore from pretty much the first press release and I've got to say, I think Will may really be on to something. In a sense he's attempting to create the ultimate sandbox, the HMS Dreadnought of the genre. Given his history with creating games that are simply fun to play, I'm inclined to believe that Spore very well may take the cake. I've been playing games, myself, for well over 20 years and it's refreshing to me to see a developer who is so passionate about his creation (and isn't going to call me "his *****" to get the point across). And if Will's excited in all his geeky nerdiness, as a fellow geeky nerd I'm likely to get all giddy inside about it, too.

I can't say whether or not user-created content is necessarily the future, but I do know it's a whole ton of fun to toy around with.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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