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At last year's Game Developers Conference, Will Wright presented Spore, his latest creation. I finally got around to watching the video a few days ago, and it's simply amazing.

I've done a few stints as a game designer during my career, and for the most part, I'm proud to say that the designs I worked on broke new ground in some way. Tom Clancy SSN (I was the original designer) was a straightforward submarine combat title, but the innovation was in using visualization to give the player a view of the world around him -- a view specifically derived from the sensor and chart data he would have available to him as captain. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (I was one of the original co-designers) was a straightforward first-person shooter title, but the innovation was in using realistic tactics and effects -- "one shot kills" was a mantra of ours. But Spore is at least an order of magnitude more innovative than anything I've worked on -- it defies existing categories and creates an entirely new game genre.

Spore Screenshot 1

In Spore, the player progresses from guiding cellular evolution...

Spore Screenshot 2

...to working with creatures...

Spore Screenshot 3

...then tribes...

Spore Screenshot 4

...then cities...

Spore Screenshot 5

...and finally civilizations.

What might not be obvious from the screenshots, but is the focus of the video, is that Spore is astonishingly flexible and open-ended. No two players' creatures or civilizations need look alike -- in fact, I would guess that no two will ever look alike. I imagine that Will and his team are incredibly anxious to release their game into the world and see what people create. My hunch is that he wants to create a massively multiplayer world where players can go exploring to look at and interact with each others' creations.

As it turns out, Will is giving another keynote -- undoubtedly a Spore update -- at this year's Game Developers Conference, which I'll be attending in a week's time. I can't wait to see what he has to show... and hopefully we'll all be playing Spore this year.

(Spore coverage from Wired, GameSpot, and GameSpy.)


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Man, I wish I was able to hit GDC this year. Damn you budget gods!

Thanks for the heads up on this game. I think I remember seeing it in SanFran last year.

/shakes tiny fist at the sky

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