Talking at a special Comic-Con presentation of Spore
attended by Gamasutra, Maxis' Will Wright has been discussing the success of the Creature Creator
for the game, quipping: "At some point, your fans are entertaining you more than you're entertaining them."
Though the talk echoed a number of Wright's comments in the Electronic Arts E3 press conference
last week, the SimCity
and The Sims
creator did expound on more esoteric subjects, from the National Geographic documentary on the game to the German space program.
Most interesting to developers, perhaps, were some of Wright's comments on the underlying concepts underpinning Spore
In particular, he emphasized the change of view common to 'god' games that the designer often uses in his title, explaining: "Most games put you in the role of Luke Skywalker or Frodo Baggins, but I thought it would be more interesting to put them in the role of George Lucas."
Abstractly, Wright's selfless wish to empower average users seems to be one of the things that's made his title so popular. He explained: "Most people, you ask if they're creative, they say they're not. But
everyone can be."
The designer continued: "The power of collective effort, when you apply problem-solving, is immense." Of course, with large groups of undifferentiated people creating things, Wright fully admits that most of the output is "crap," but a small percentage of it is great. Thus, the Spore
development team hypothesized that this percentage could be increased with better creation tools.
Later in the discussion, Wright re-iterated points made at E3 - that Electronic Arts was hoping for 100,000 creature uploads by the time the full game releases later this year - "Instead, what happened was we hit 100k in about 22 hours, and we hit a million within a week," Wright noted at the time.
"The number of creatures we have uploaded to Spore
has now exceeded the number of unique species on Earth," he explained last week. "By some accounts, it took God about seven days to do the same thing. If we take these two numbers and divide them, we found our Spore
fans are abut 38% God."
Finishing off with a demonstration of the various stages of Spore
which notably captivated the Comic-Con audience, Wright explained of some of the delicate high-level goals of the game: "One of the things we wanted to do in this game was simulate things like global warming... it's very much an exaggerated version of what happens on Earth... but playing this game, you get a sense for how fragile an ecosystem can be."
But overall, what's the point of the game? Wright, as ever, emphasizes play: "The idea of having a toy ecology, toy evolution, toy planet, is really what Spore is about".
And then, he was off into a Q&A-substituting aside about seminal German turned American rocket scientist Wernher von Braun
, in a typically Will Wright-ish way. The crowd seemed to enjoy it.