“From bacterium to galactic God.” Will Wright might be hard pressed to come up with a marketing line beyond this summary of his project, but if people get to see it moving then I don’t think any amount of marketing hyperbole is going to matter. You might have read some descriptions of Spore already, but that’s not enough. You need see it moving too. Go and watch this hour long presentation and no skipping: watch the whole thing. I guarantee you will be breathless and amazed.
“One of the rules is to not mix genres. But I’ve always want to break that rule. Really badly.” The delicious hour is packed with Wright’s perceptive intelligence and clear mandate to create something that finally consolidates the ideas that were mapped (if not fulfilled) by Populous, Civilisation and The Sim games. As Gillen points out, it is Spore, and not Doom 3, that really fulfils our youthful imaginings of what games should be like post-2005. Tactical, creative, playful and powered by pollination of ideas, through the web, from the imaginations of other players. Wright’s presentation shows how simple concepts generate incredible complexity. Spore is fluid, modular, to the point of “procedural mating.” It ramps up geometrically, to cuteness and immensity.
Of course it’s easy to say that we could have arrived here sooner, if there were more people who had been lucky enough to gain the financial successes of Wright. He’s had SimCity and The Sims, and now is going on to create something truly impressive only because he is a dead-cert gamble for the suits. It’s easy for him to urge others to do likewise, but when companies like Introversion are only just breaking even after something as neatly inspired as Darwinia, what hope do the lesser creatives really have?
Cynicism aside, Spore is genuinely, breathtakingly wondrous. Wright’s epic vision, coupled with a startlingly pragmatic understanding of how players want and need to make their own content (their creatures, buildings, cities, and vehicles allowed to emerge through modular editing systems and smart procedural mathematics) results in dramatic decompression. Finally, something that exhibits, on all levels, the evolving, terraforming, world-destroying, mad brilliance that all games hint at but few genuinely fulfill. At the current time, no one else can match this. Go and watch it happen.