[Robin Williams' Spore creature]
After the Wired event, I was simply blown away by the game's scope and mechanics. The ability to literally evolve a species to the fullest extent that we as humans understand might not sound appealing at first but, once understood, the game's magnitude can't be ignored. I'm not going to spend three more paragraphs explaining how the game works since you can just watch the video, but let me give you a little bit more on how the game actually plays. C.K. Sample and I had a chance to go behind closed doors and get a hands-on session with an alpha version of the game.
While impressive in video demonstrations, the game's creature creation was simply amazing to try. The producers escorting us through the game wanted to show us how to get a creature from a ball of clay to a complete living breathing organism. If you've ever used the simplistic 3d-modeling program Bryce, you know that 3d modeling can be simple and easy, and still come out looking really well done. All actions are controlled by dragging to move the ball of clay or add parts, and then resizing with the mouse-wheel.The process is both very simplistic and amazingly complex.
After we created our characters (they say they'll send us high-res ones, so we'll post them when we see them) the demo was basically done, but we still had about five minutes to take another mode of the game for a spin: space evolution. The producers told me the game would be completely customizable, including creating and controlling your space ship. In Will Wright's presentation, he talks about how the inspiration for the game was in "The Power of Tens" film from the 70s, in which the filmmakers zoomed all the way out of the universe, and all the way in to the molecular level. By the time you hit the space evolution, you can see the scope of the game, and how Will accomplished his goal. Mouse-wheel in, and you can fly back down to a planet; mouse-wheel out, and you can fly all the way out into interstellar space, and then intergalactic space.
With my demo, I flew from my home planet, zoomed out, and that's when my jaw dropped. As I saw the millions of stars and clicked on a few of them, I realized that "Wow... this game is huge." The mere scope doesn't matter so much as what you can do with each individual planet. I flew around to another star system, started terraforming a world by calling a meteor over, then found a civilization on another world, and wiped out their capitol city with an anti-matter bomb. Yes, it's cruel ... and yes, I like.
All in all, the "When it's done in 2007" release date isn't that depressing for me. In the Wired presentation, Williams crashes the game when trying to create some children, so obviously they've still got some work to do to make the game operate properly. The PR reps for the company tell me that EA has taken a hands-off approach, and they're fine with waiting until the game is done. I didn't want to tell them that I'd wait in line, pay $600 for it and even sell any required organs just to play the finished game. It truly has the potential to become Will Wright's masterpiece.