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Will Wright - The Games Master 40

Posted by Zonk
from the i'm-a-gamemaster-too-roll-for-initiative dept.
The New Yorker has a profile up of Will Wright, referring to the designer as 'The Games Master'. The lengthy article delves into Wright's past, and deals with the enormous venture that Wright has undertaken with the now much-hyped Spore. From the article: "At a certain point in the performance, the crazy ambition of Spore became clear: Wright was proposing to simulate the limitless possibility of life itself. The simulation falls between Darwinism and intelligent design, into new conceptual territory. Wright had worked out the algorithm for life, as described by the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, in 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea.'" Mr. Dennett's book is well worth checking out, if you're interested in evolutionary thought.
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Will Wright - The Games Master

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  • Just a Game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @10:44AM (#16657323) Homepage Journal
    Wright had worked out the algorithm for life, as described by the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, in 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea.'"

    Okay, it's just a game. Props to Will and all, it's a neat idea and so far it looks to be a fun exploration of the concept, but let's not get carried away.

    Many games provide a limited simulacrum of deity simulation: Populous and Black & White come to mind instantly. Someone might even be influenced in thinking about their personal theological views by playing these games, which I find healthy and useful.

    But there's a lot more to "the algorithm of life" than what Spore has to offer. From John Conway to Will Wright, you're not going to find 0.00001% of the algorithm in any one place. Enjoy the game for what it is.

    • But there's a lot more to "the algorithm of life" than what Spore has to offer. From John Conway to Will Wright, you're not going to find 0.00001% of the algorithm in any one place.

      While I agree that Spore is a simplified view on the "algorithm of life", I don't think one needs to exaggerate and start talking about that kind of percentages. Life isn't that complex in all honesty, and we already know how it came to be which surely accounts for more than 0.00001% of the "algorithm of life".
      • by Nataku564 (668188)
        We have possible theories regarding how life might have arisen, but to say we "know" how life came to be is an exaggeration at best. The theories we do have are rather hard to test too (at least the ones I know of), so I wouldn't put too much stock in them just yet.
        • The word "know" was poorly chosen, as we can never know the exact conditions that existed back then, but we already have a good model on how e.g. amino acids can spontaneously appear in the right environment. After the organic matter reaches a sufficient complexity, it starts to operate under the principles of evolution. Theories that life could have come from somewhere outside Earth have no bearing on this, as the same models apply to life from other planets as well.

          Overly simplified? Yes. But good enough
  • I'm tired of the Will Wright hype. I bought into the B&W hype and preordered the game. I was moderately interested in B&W2, but was leery from getting burned by the original. I think I'll just skip it this time around since nothing could live up to the amount of hype that Spore is generating.
    • B&W was Peter Molyneux hype. And I'll agree. That man is all hype about what his games could be. It's too bad they never turn out like that.
    • by daranz (914716)
      I think Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] got it right...
      • I was gonna post a witty comment, but what to say? Bah, piss on it...
      • by beckerist (985855)
        Please stop with the Penny Arcade links! I've never found a single strip funny, and it's now basically one giant cliche.

        Also, what was wrong with Black and White? I loved that game! I played it for months as I had nothing else to do, but didn't need anything else to do, it was that great!

        And as for the hype, I'm psyched for Spore. I can't think of any other game that gives you that much control over building your own character, I have a feeling this will attract a lot more than the hardcore gamer!
  • by rednuhter (516649) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @10:55AM (#16657511) Homepage Journal
    I loved the initial island of black and white, doing what I wanted when I wanted etc, but step through gate and all that is gone you HAVE to build your armies, you HAVE to fight, challenging yes but much less fun (for me anyway) .
    From what I have read about spore the 'freedom' will not be as free as we perhapse envisage, especially the transitions of phases.
    Never the less I wait with baited breath for the WII version.
    • by moongha (179616)
      I agree. Once the dust settles I'm expecting spore to turn out to be another resource management RTS game, something I can do without.
  • There can be only one Game Master [wikipedia.org].

    Ah, the good old days...
  • Game master? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:44AM (#16658393) Journal
    I don't know if "Game Master" is an appropriate title for Will Wright. I'd say "Toy Master" is more appropriate. Most of his games are actually little sandboxes for people to play around in. Sim City, The Sims, and now Spore. Not that there's anything wrong with this approach, but how do you win? Winning seems to be an essential key for games, IMHO.
    • What are you talking about? You "win" by accomplishing goals and trying to improve your performance. All the Will Wright "toys" have goals. And if you don't like the one's they provide, there is nothing stopping from making up your own. That's the main strength of sandbox games over games that mandate your every move. I do agree with you about Wright's games being toy-like, but that does preclude them from being game-like as well.

      The press call him a "master" in the sense that he's a vocal, somewhat inscrut
      • What are you talking about? You "win" by accomplishing goals and trying to improve your performance. All the Will Wright "toys" have goals. And if you don't like the one's they provide, there is nothing stopping from making up your own. That's the main strength of sandbox games over games that mandate your every move. I do agree with you about Wright's games being toy-like, but that does preclude them from being game-like as well.

        I'm not slamming Wright, because I think he does some pretty interesting st
      • by starwed (735423)
        Actually, Wright has claimed himself that his creations are not games, but toys.
      • who has repeatedly reached a large level of success not producing cookie-cutter games

        Ahem:
        * The Sims
        * The Sims: Livin' Large
        * The Sims: House Party
        * The Sims: Hot Date
        * The Sims: Vacation
        * The Sims: Unleashed
        * The Sims: Superstar
        * The Sims: Makin' Magic
        • Good point, except for the fact that each one of those expansion sets actually added entire consistent and novel things to the Sims and Sims 2 franchises. Except for Holiday Edition and Family Fun and Glamor Life, which are just clothes and things.

          For example, Open for Business added elevators, running businesses (with sales, time rentals, restaurants, and robot/toy/flower making), and more. Nightlife introduced restaurants and vampires. University added a fairly realistic 4 year college experience (even
          • Good point, except for the fact that each one of those expansion sets actually added entire consistent and novel things to the Sims and Sims 2 franchises.

            Sure they added things, but they aren't new games. They're the same game in a different setting. Like decorating the same cookie differently.

            Obviously this interpretation depends on your viewpoint. Someone who likes The Sims type games will probably see the expansions as novel and entertaining. I don't really like those games, so I see the expansions as co
        • by 10Neon (932006)
          Wright himself was only directly involved in developing two of those: The Sims and The Sims 2.
    • How do you win at tag?
    • They said the same about "The Sims", which as far as I know is still the best selling PC 'game' in history. They probably said the same about the original SimCity so you'd think they would have learned by now that a game doesn't need to be won to have fun. Perhaps if you can destroy all the planets in the Milky Way Galaxy, you can declare yourself the winner? Or maybe go for a galactic cultural domination, or total univeral annihilation. Or maybe just getting off earth is the big win. You can decide, a
      • When I play those I'm left wondering why didn't they just make it into a movie since it plays the same every time.

        Ever tried Deus Ex? [wikipedia.org]
        • by Flentil (765056)
          Yes I loved Deus Ex and even liked Deus Ex2...I'm talking about more modern shooters like Doom3, Quake4, Prey (these are all pretty much the same game) and most any other shooter released in the past 10 years that isn't Deus Ex or System Shock 2. Even Half-Life 1 & 2 are basically long corridors to the end with no real divergent paths.
  • Dennet Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrCopilot (871878) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:01PM (#16658669) Homepage Journal
    Wright had worked out the algorithm for life, as described by the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, in 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea.'" Mr. Dennett's book is well worth checking out, if you're interested in evolutionary thought.

    For your perusal: (Guessing the editors couldn't pick just one)

    Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin's_Dangerous_Id ea [wikipedia.org]

    Video Pesentation at TED
    http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key =d_dennett&gclid=CJvOo4LXo4gCFR4IUAodOhKBVQ&flashE nabled=1 [ted.com]

    Book
    http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-Dangerous-Idea-Evolu tion-Meanings/dp/068482471X [amazon.com]

    HomePage
    http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/~ddennett.htm [tufts.edu]

  • Captain N? (Score:4, Funny)

    by HAKdragon (193605) <hakdragon.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:34PM (#16659311)
    I thought Captain N [wikipedia.org] was the game master? Maybe I just watched too many cartoons as a kid.
  • Wright also had an essay in Wired magazine [wired.com] in April explaining why he felt they were important and help to spur our imagination.

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:54PM (#16662085) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, he's been sending Will emails - and apparently getting responses - trying to convince him to release Spore on the Wii sooner rather than later. Amazingly, he says that Will is going along with it.

    Mind you, when he was 11, he took on a powerful city councilmember for the district endorsement and won, embarrasing him.
  • I've been excited to see Spore, but at this point, it's been so long coming, I'm really concerned that this game is not going to live up to its hype. The early phases look interesting for about 45 seconds, then it seems to be heavily repetitive and boring for extended periods of time. The game shifts across genres, which might seem interesting at first, but could also turn off a lot of people who may enjoy games like Pac Man and Tetris and then suddenly realize they're playing Warcraft or Unreal.

    I am susp

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