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Thursday, June 18, 2009
Will Wright Discusses Future Of Spore
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

IndustryGamers has posted a new interview with veteran game developer Will Wright. The interview covers Wright's new Stupid Fun Club think tank, his continued involvement with the Spore franchise, and his views on the future of artificial intelligence in game design.

IG: Concerning the future of Spore, obviously there are a lot of talented folks at Maxis still working on it, but are you planning on any return to that franchise or your other franchises even though you're not with EA now?
WW: I don't think it was widely reported, but alongside this whole [Stupid Fun Club] thing, I also entered into a consulting agreement with EA. I'm spending a certain amount of time every month actually working with the Spore team on future versions of Spore and expansions. So I will [still] be involved with EA on developing the Spore franchise as well.

IG: Well, fans will be happy to hear that. With that in mind, considering a theoretical Spore 2, what about the first Spore would you like to change or improve upon for a sequel?
WW: As soon as we released it, because we're giving so much involvement to the players, we ended up learning a lot from seeing what the players do; we've already seen a lot of unexpected stuff happening in the player community that we're learning from. We're finding out cool areas the fans want to bring the game in, what direction they want the tools to go, what experiences they're enjoying in the game the most, which levels they enjoy the most. So I think now we're at a maximum learning where the fans are going to be steering the franchise as much as we will they have their hands on the steering wheel too. We're listening to criticisms of parts of the game, we're looking at parts that were unexpected successes and we're going to go in other directions with Spore.
I think part of it is stuff we wish we had done, but it's more what we see the fans wanting us to do. We're going to probably add more depth to different areas of the game and we're certainly already doing that with the Galactic Adventures expansion pack and we're also taking output from the tools in different directions, so you can take your creatures you made in the creature creator and bring them into different experiences.

IG: Working with games like Sims and Spore, AI is obviously a very important part of the design, but AI in general seems to perhaps lag behind others areas in gaming (graphics, sound, etc.). What kind of advancement do you think we'll see when it comes to AI in video games?
WW: Well AI is a funny term because it means so many different things to different people. For some people it's route planning, for some people it's conversational ability, for others it's strategic goal planning. AI is really just a bunch of tricks... One thing I think we've found in general, especially with the net and things like Google, is that computers are much, much better at kind of collecting and distilling human intelligence than they are at fundamentally recreating it. If you think about Google's search results, that's what they are a distillation of thousands of people's decisions of what pages they've decided to link to. But it gives this impression of this search engine that's very smart at figuring out places you might find useful.
And in Spore it's almost a distillation of human creativity. Spore as a program is not creative at all, but it does a very good job of distilling the creativity of millions of individuals and presenting them back to you. I think you can get a lot more traction using that approach, and I think reversing that we're also starting to look at how we can analyze human metrics inside of a game or any kind of computer experience, and then change that experience to customize it to that person. Using the intelligence of other people is kind of the base data set for that. So I think we're going to see a lot more progress in what we think of as AI from that approach. For the future, there are still people out there fundamentally trying to recreate human intelligence... but they're still on this very slow, linear slope, whereas the other approach is really taking off exponentially.
Click over to the link below to read more.

Gamedaily: Will Wright Interview
Electronic Arts
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