Web 2.0 Expo Preview: Will Wright, Sims and Simulations
Posted by ballightning on March 27, 2009
Head on over to O’Reilly Radar, and you will see that editor Kurt Cagle caught up with Will Wright for a short interview.
Kurt Cagle: The other game that you released last year was Spore. I find it interesting because you’re now modeling evolutionary processes as well as societal ones, sometimes in a very amusing manner. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing what I’ve seen coming out of Spore. How was the game received? What were you hoping to achieve with it besides selling lots and lots of copies?
Will Wright: Well, it’s a game that I would say is still very much in development. You know a game like Spore where it’s kind of leveraging off of what we saw happening with Sims and user generated content except going to the next level with it where much higher level tools for customizing content within the game is part of the game play.
So our only thought when we released Spore, the game, was that it was about halfway through development. The next step was to see what the fans do with it. And this is kind of what happened with the Sims. When we did the first version of the Sims, we watched what the fans did. And then we started doing the expansion packs relative to what we saw the players wanting. And we’re starting to develop other experiences and expansions for Spore right now based upon what we’ve seen players do.
The amount of content that we’ve created totally blew us away. It was much more than we expected. I was hoping to see maybe around a million player-generated assets by the end of the past year. Instead, we were surpassing — I haven’t even looked in a while, but the last time I looked, we were passed 70 million. We have 30 million unique creatures in our database and there are only 7 million unique species on earth. So we out-populated Earth in a matter of a few months.
And what’s really amazing is the quality of the assets. I mean some of these are far better than any of our internal artists were able to make even when they tried to use the tools for several years. It shows you kind of the value of having parallel exploration of a solution space.
So in some sense, the game is not just about biology, but the very mechanisms through which we’re kind of generating these worlds for players is very much like a biological process where you have millions of people exploring this solution space in parallel. Now we’re looking at ways to make better use of all the huge data in the worlds the players are creating and give them new experiences with that data. So I’d say Spore is still very much a work in progress.