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16th March 2005

Sometimes there is a creative confluence of thinking and events that just link together. We are in one of those times right now. It seems that there is an atmosphere for creativity that channels people into the same general direction.  You don’t even know that you are caught in the flow until one person declares what they are doing and 1000 people around the world silently say, ’Oh crap Maxis got there first’.


For those of you who don't know, Will Wright talked about his next project at GDC this year. His goal is to make a space for people to play in how they want to play. To do this he intends to let the player make whatever they want to make, from single celled organisms up to galaxies (spot a weird similarity to the opening words of this rant?). He intends to use procedurally generated content and right now is working with a very small team (for EA standards) on prototyping his game. Expect to see more at E3 this year. When I say make anything, I really mean that you can make any creature you can think of, and the engine works out the walking speed and animation how it balances and all the other physical characteristics that you would expect and it behaves properly.


The other key point is that ALL the content of the game is created by other players. The reason that the Universe is so vast is to accomodate the creations of other people. As animals, planets, solar systems etc. are created they are automatically uploaded to a central server, categorised and then distributed out to all the user's games which means that the vastness of this artificial Universe won't feel completely empty (nor will it become too full for new player content).


The entire prospect is reminiscent of Charles and Ray Eames Powers of Ten (wait for the java applet to load)


Meanwhile here are some screenshots, from Jesper Juul, The Ludologist


But the best place to look is Gaming Steve who has a larger selection and even a rambling mp3 'podcast' that discusses Will's demo in huge detail (eventually).



Floaty floaty little amoeba

Amoeba stage on the left

Evolved to a land animal on the right



Run hand tailed thing

City stage on the left

Planet stage on the right




Lots of craters

Purdy solar system

Solar System stage on the left

Galaxy stage on the right




Cream whipped galaxy

It's the in game editors that will make or break the game and how easy they are to use will only be seen when you get to play with it yourself. Steve Glicker has some shots of the editor on his site too.

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