Ever wanted to play the role of the Almighty Himself, shaping a world and its inhabitants, watching up on high as your creations thrive? Or, in many cases, destroy themselves? In development for the better part of a decade, Will Wright’s Spore allows you to do just that and then some. Essentially a mishmash of different gaming ideas that form into something altogether more interesting, Spore, in essence, attempts to simulate evolution.
Starting as a single-cell organism, you must navigate the primordial soup, devouring the weak and avoiding anything higher on the food chain. Soon, you are able to transform your little single-minded blob into a higher form of life by choosing from millions of combinations of body parts that will soon organize and form tribes of similar creatures that can operate in any manner you see fit. Are they peace-loving vegetarians that just want to hang loose? Are they bloodthirsty war-mongering barbarians? Entirely up to you. Your tribe will eventually form into a bona fide planet-ruling society complete with infrastructure, vehicles, industry, and, subsequently, global warming!
Should you survive any inconvenient truths, your civilization has the ability to head into the stars, to explore other planets–of which there are reportedly four billion (!)–and, if you are online, those created by other players.
Instead of creating a traditional game that is, essentially, linear beginning to end, Wright, who also created Sim City and TheSims, has made Spore “generative”; its experience is different for each person that plays it, taking on a life of its own as soon as you touch it.
Music is also a vital part of Spore’s charm, allowing players’ actions and decisions to essentially create the soundtrack procedurally. This means that if you create a creature that is all fangs and claws, for example, your music could end up a bit more aggressive and foreboding. Create fluffy little cuddlebugs and the tunes you hear may be a bit more whimsical. The music will then continue to evolve as your creations do, even leading up to your own “national anthem” once you’ve built a successful society of thingamajiggies.
This idea of a constantly changing soundscape was easier said than done, however, so Wright’s team sought out a man who could help bring this approach to fruition–none other than experimental- and regenerative-music pioneer Brian Eno, who created and oversaw much of the production.
Having spent most of his career creating all manner of ambient tunes, Eno was well equipped to bring this idea of “procedural” sounds into reality, and once he began speaking with the Spore team about the possibilities, it was obvious that the collaboration would not only work, but could possibly set a new precedent in establishing videogames as a legitimate art form while cementing Wright’s idea of crafting a unique experience for every single Spore player.
“Brian brought that experience to Will’s whole objective, which is to give the power of creativity to the player and allow them engage and have tremendous ownership over the game,” says Lucy Bradshaw, Spore’s executive producer.
Describing Spore as an “imagination amplifier,” Wright rewrites the rules of what games–if you can even call this one–can do as a creative medium by blurring the lines between art, social experimentation, and good old-fashioned fun.
But since we’re on the topic of fun, XLR8R decided to come up with our own little Franken-creatures using Spore’s Creature Creator. Check out the frightening results above.