For June 2008


June 1st, 2008


The Spore Editor

I've been following Will Wright's 'Spore' since the very first talk of it was mentioned, back in 2004. I am keenly interested for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that the game has elements not just a little in common with my original design for Multiverse, back in 1984. In a way, I get to see my designs vindicated, and thus enjoy a kind of vicarious victory over those that told me 'it could not be done' (fuck you, Activision, you bastards).

But the main reason is that it is just plain amazing as hell, and I just plain what to play the hell out of it.

June 17th marks the day that one small part of Spore is released early, to generate interest and to appease the rabid fans, the 'Creature Creator', one of the editors within the game. A major part of Spore is creation, the ability to make one's own, well, everything. Planets, creatures, buildings, tools, vehicles... everything. I have decades of creatures, beings, entities and life forms waiting to be brought to life in Spore's editor, so I cannot wait. I am on edge, just hungering for the damn thing.

My original Multiverse design did not permit the player to make things the way that Spore does. My design was to have infinity generated for the player by the program, and have the player be an adventurer within that infinity. I think that Spore is better than my design, because it provides a creative tool of vast capability. Back in 1984, it was just not part of the zeitgeist to grant players the powers of creation over a game universe.  This is better.

I think that the way Spore makes its creatures function is reminicent of the works of roboticist Rodney Brooks. His solution is to have the parts of a robot function independently, according to what they are supposed to accomplish, rather than having a central brain do everything. Spore seems to work the same way; legs know how to be legs, and eyes know how to be eyes, so that any configuration will function as a whole, however it is constructed.

Actual life is not entirely unlike this; animals have specific, dedicated structures in their brains and spines that serve very specific functions, such as only controlling legs, or only percieving horizontal lines, or only detecting certain frequencies of sound. We are like Brook's robots in that we are a collection of isolated control units functioning as a whole. I think Spore mimics life in some fundamental ways that are just plain interesting.

Only rarely does a game capture my attention to the degree that I utterly lust after it.

Spore is one such game. Damn it is hard, waiting.



By Jennifer Diane Reitz

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