Spore is going to see “broader” expansions than The Sims, and Will Wright will increasingly look to players to develop game content in future titles.
Amid digital right management controversy, publisher Electronic Arts is looking into milking its latest Maxis insta-classic Spore into a virtual printing press for money.
Will Wright, the lead mind behind EA’s Spore, already has plans for how he will “horizontally” add onto the game and expand its reach beyond people who purchased another Wright classic, The Sims.
Wright says, “I think with Spore we have a lot of opportunities that are broader where we can create other games around the editors, for instance, or take certain levels in the game and put them on other platforms. With Spore we’ll be looking at a wider range of expansion possibilities than The Sims. A lot of these may not even be things for people who didn’t buy the PC game, like downloading the creature creator.”
Not content to just earn a profit from its games, the company expects to develop future games where the user plays an increasingly crucial role in how the gameplay is developed, a trend that Wright has followed from SimCity, where players managed their own metropolis, to Spore, where the entire universe is under his or her command.
“Well, I can see things going in that direction. It would depend on a lot of advances being made. I’ve been keeping up with advances exactly in that area in the last 20 years. I’m pretty aware of what can be done and can’t be done in that area. It would be a cool path to go down,” explained Wright on the topic of user-created content. “Programming was one of those things where either you give them a complete machine and they can do a lot of stuff or you really dumb it down, in which case, all the stuff looks the same. It’s something I would love to do if we could think of a good way to do it. I spent a lot of time studying people’s attempts to do this, primarily people in the educational community like … Ken Perlin, who has a project in that direction right now. But that’s something that’s a lot harder than it sounds.”
The technical challenges, Wright says, start showing themselves when players are working in a “parametric” environment (within boundaries of the game’s engine), as opposed to the more complex yet largely unexplored “algorithmic” gameplay.
“Parametric means you’re changing weights and variables around an existing behavior engine. When you program the Sim’s personality and then they go off and behave differently because of the way you set the personality modifiers, that’s parametric. That’s different of getting down to the fundamental algorithmic level where you have branching and levels,” says Wright in an attempt to address the programming challenges presented in such games.
He’s a man who that talks a lot gaming shop due to his aggressive approach to game design. His next ideas aren’t ready to be revealed, but promise to be “pretty grandiose.”
Source: MTV Multiplayer