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Will Wright Talks Research, Astrobiology 44

Posted by Zonk
from the long-talk dept.
Yesterday saw Will Wright give a keynote ostensibly called 'The Future of Game Design'. The creator of the Sims took the opportunity to address two of the topics that went heavily into the background work on his current title: Spore. Mr Wright was attempting to make the point that lots of research in the pre-production phase of the project is one of the best ways of knowing what it is you're setting out to do. Folks at Kotaku, The Game Chair, and Game Girl Advance have some notes from the talk. Read on for my own brief impressions from the event.
The key idea I took away from the event is the level of intelligence Wright possesses. I always knew he was *smart*, but the man went almost a full hour, racing from topic to topic, at a speed that was almost breathtaking to behold. I initially started taking notes but the man just moves so dang fast, I eventually gave up and enjoyed the experience. He went from the Fermi Paradox, to Drake's Equation, to Panspermia to the Rare Earth theory in a series of four slides, only pausing very briefly to explain what he was talking about. Rather than confusing the audience, lots of the elements he brought up were totally understandable just within the context of his talk. He really hit his stride after the thirty minute mark, and actually managed to talk even faster than he'd started off. It was sort of like watching a manic college prof teach an entire semester-long class in an hour.

He did talk about Spore a good deal in there, detailing how all of the Astrobiology and research were distilled down into usable ideas for game environments and creatures. This was a talk, though, less about games and more about the joy of learning. Will Wright's gift as a speaker is to make his audience excited about something they may never have considered before, simply by the sheer amount of enthusiasm he exudes. I heard some shifting in chairs towards the end of the talk, but despite the highly technical nature of the presentation the Civic Auditorium was still packed when the event ended. Like the Battlestar event, Wright's talk only peripherally talked about games, but it managed to be all the more valuable (I think) to the audience as a result.

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Will Wright Talks Research, Astrobiology

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  • by Eightyford (893696) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:07PM (#14988238) Homepage
    The man's a genius. Lets see you come up with some of the things that he has. He's done more for the videogame industry than pretty much anyone out there and he continues to innovate. Now personally I don't care for the Sims, but SimCity was always awesome and I just can't wait for Spore.

    Oh, I can't wait for Spore either, and I agree that Will Wright is one of the greatest game developers of all time. There are only a few that I would put ahead of him, even. Lord British, John Carmack, Sid Meier, and David Crane come to mind. My point is that most people here haven't even heard of Will Wright, but now we have 15 slashdot articles on him that all say the same damn thing.
  • by aldheorte (162967) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:49PM (#14988643)
    Maybe he should talk less and get his game finished. Spore's been getting hyped for quite awhile now, with multiple talks and demonstrations. Although a neat idea, it's not as revolutionary as people think. The central wow factor in the magnitudes of scale, zooming out from the very small (spore) to the very big (galaxy), is very old news and comes from an original short by Charles and Ray Eames called "The Power of 10" (it may precede them, but that's as far as I have traced it back), and a similar short plays or has played at the Smithsonian in Washington at the Air & Space Museum). The other wow factor, the procedurally generated mechanics of the critters, is impressive, but other than that it's nothing more than a Civ/Sim game with multiple levels of zoom. So, although interesting, chill folks. Sliced bread reigns supreme. My speculation is that the above makes for good demonstrations, but lousy game play, and that's what is taking time to figure out, as well as the very nebulous MMOG elements mentioned in one of the demonstrations.
  • by Lobo42 (723131) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:25PM (#14989468) Journal
    Right, because having the player design (in a physical sense) their own species and then procedurally extrapolating from that the behavior and attributes of said species, the civilization it would create, and the planets that civilization would terraform and launch colonies on is sooooo 2005. Gosh, there's so many games that have implemented this already I can't even think of them all or take the time to list them at this particular moment. Let's face it - compared to "sandbox" games like GTA, where I can shoot any hooker I want IN THE ENTIRE CITY, Spore is practically linear.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.

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