May 24, 2005
Gaming Steve Episode 13 - 05.24.2005
Here it is, the podcast where I sit down with gaming legend Will Wright and talk to him about Spore. In addition to the interview with Will I also cover:
Here is the transcript of my interview with Will Wright as well the members of the Spore development team. Before the interview began Will Wright and myself began to build a new creature in the Spore creature editor… Gaming Steve: So can you actually create a creature without a spine? Will Wright: No no… GS: Cause some people [on the Forums] are like "can you create an octopus or a squid"? WW: Oh, you will have tentacles. GS: But you have to have a spine? It has to be a vertebrate? WW: You can actually … see I can take the spine, and if I grab the ends of it, I can actually shorten it, extremely short so I can make [makes the spine just one backbone in size] like this can be my entire spine here. So if I was going do an octopus I would probably be something like this [makes a very small round body]. I would shorten these quite a bit so, and right now we don't have the tools for it, so I would basically have the head of an octopus and under the arms and legs palette it would be something like tentacles which have many, many bones. You know they drag out here and kind of rotate into whatever positions we wanted. So yeah, you should be able to do something that looks kind of looks like an octopus. So if we roughly cheat right now, what should I do with those [places arms on the body] what should I do is shorten the bones. If I shorten them ya know I get artificial network, so in fact with tentacles you get something that could live in the water. [Works on the legs] So we’re trying to make some that looks like a hexapod. GS: So do they have to be meat eaters? Can they be meat eaters or can they be herbivores? Or do they have to hunt and kill? WW: Oh no, no, depending upon the mouth that you buy you are making them either herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore. GS: Oh really? WW: And also actually how you play them … you're kind of programming how social they are, you can develop very social behavior in which case they'll start living in herds, and they'll all protect each other. So ummm … [looks back at octopus] you can put feet on this ... WW: I think I attempted an octopus. Before we have tentacles... ummm... let’s give him a... Chris Trottier [Spore Designer]: How’s he going to eat? WW: Well, where would … his mouth is actually on the bottom, right? CT: Oh, you're making my creature! WW: Where'd all my parts go? All my parts disappeared. GS: So you said, I think I read, you could have water-based creatures, and so they're completely water-based, so when they go to other planets you have to build domes with water in them. WW: Yeah, or they would probably terraform a planet by building an ocean, so they're looking for ocean planets. GS: Oh, right. WW: So we're going to have distributions of planets that are ocean or land based. So we're actually looking at creatures, that if you build a land-based creature the planets you come across are typically more land-based. It will actually bias the planets you come across to fit your species. GS: So what about … are there weather conditions that in the game? WW: We're going to have some weather, I'm not sure how much a part of the gameplay its going to really play. So here's my octopus … It’s not a very good octopus. GS: Still it’s pretty good, for like, five minutes. WW: Yeah. CT: Now make him swim! WW: Oh you're right, I should have him swim. CT: You should put fins on there instead of feet. WW: Okay, yeah, except all the parts are all invisible for some reason. GS: So how does the skin texture work? WW: Oh yeah. GS: I know you didn't show that at the GDC. WW: Oh yeah, we have that working in an external app, what happens is we have scripts, that actually analyze the creatures body, much like animation scripts do, and they paint the picture, they know where the backbone is they know where the belly is, and if you put like stripes, spots, fur, feathers, you can pick geometry as well. [To CT] We don't have any screenshots of like painted creatures? CT: Screen shots of what? GS: Cause people are wondering, like, if you get a feathery creature does it have different effects than one that has leathery skin? As opposed, is it just… WW: We might have screenshots of this guy… GS: Is it something that just looks pretty, like clothing, or does it actually effect the creature? Is it like the bone structure? CT: We've gone back and forth on the skin, for a while we're thinking of having environmental effects so something allows you to… WW: I think I showed this at GDC but this is another script along the same line. And so, and you can combine these scripts, so most of these are combinations of two or three scripts piled on top of each other and some of them can have really dense variety, we don't have any dense ones but normally, but you can have really furry looking hair, or you can have bird feathers all across it, it actually becomes geometry. GS: I'll go quick and fast with the questions because we only have half an hour. I see clothing so are you going to be able to have clothing for your creatures, because you only saw naked creatures in the demo. WW: That’s something we're still debating, in the tribal level, what the tools editors are going be, you're definitely going have a hut editor, umm, there’s a pretty good chance that we’re going have a … basically a dressing editor where you can accessorize your creatures. It’s not going be you know flowing cloth as it is helmets and hats, you know things you're going stick on them, like creature parts. So if we can do it, in the same creature editor, with parts, only where the creature parts work then yeah, I'll do that. CT: What else? GS: Alright, blow up stars. They wanted to know if there are ways to affect planets because you blow up the planet actually play blow up the star and destroy the whole system. WW: I think so. GS: A lot of people want to know about galactic war, “I want to know about galactic war”. WW: Yeah. GS: I think that’s a big question so... WW: That actually is a simple thing for us to do. So that is really more of a game design question. GS: The thing with that is … that’s another thing for game design because what prevents the computer from going around and blowing up your planets left and right? WW: Oh you see, we control the computer so we can tell it not to do that. So we can allow you to eventually earn that weapon but not let the computer ever earn it. Or only if you blow up their star, and it’s a race … now they're really pissed off at you. GS: I don't know if you're going do something like Civ does, where like, with nuclear weapons, it'll only do it at a certain level, they usually won't do a nuke weapon and if they do it affects the whole… WW: I think the player has to opt in to interstellar war. And if they opt into it and they want to play an interstellar war…. GS: And then will the computer… CT: It will have repercussions. Like if you take out a colony on one planet and they're allied with someone else then -- you'll hear from them. GS: Yeah I get a lot … everyone's reading the boards and its like, "oh, I really want to know about"… WW: Here's my octopus. GS: Wow, that is very cool. WW: Ha-ha! GS: So ... stages, how does it handle when you have the stages in between, when it became a water based creature to a land based creature. It seemed to just sort of appear. Is there going be a cutscene or a transition or something? WW: Why would you introduce to these things? CT: Ah! I don't know how accurate these are Mr. Handout! Oh my god… WW: [Presents GS with various design documents for the various stages of Spore] You can't take these. You can just look at them. GS: Oh, that’s fine. WW: This will give you some sense though? GS: “Kidnap/Ransom”? WW: Each level of the game you're setting some kind of aspect of the creature. Like in the creature mode, you're setting whether they're group or solo, so if they're herd creatures or very individual. In the tribal you're setting if whether they're emotional or logical. In the city one we're still kind of playing with and will still probably change. In the civ level you're basically setting diplomatic/imperial you know, diplomatic you're kind doing alliances with people you're fairly peaceful; imperialistic, you're conquering people. When you get to the space level, you're actually first are at … let me see which one is this, this is the overview of the space game where you're terraforming/colonizing and you're actually interacting with other creatures and making alliances. There's a terraforming … as you terraform, this is kind of the rough idea is that every planet has a “T Score” from zero to ten, “B Score”, which is a biosphere score, and a “P Score”, which is the population score of your colony. Depending where the planets are relative to the sun they can have maximum T Scores. So planets that are really far away or really close to the center can have very low T Scores and you can never terraform them, they’re very high. Other ones will be moderately useful, like T6. That’s going cap the B Score so if I actually get an atmosphere up to a T6, which is this range. At this point, plants will live, animals won't, and colonies will be fairly expensive still. And so, this is kind of the terraform/colonization game. GS: Is this something that is shown to the player or is this hidden? WW: Yes. GS: Shown where? So they'll know like, "that’s a really good planet there." But that’s for that culture so if it’s water-based, T10 is a water planet, but for someone else that can be a T0. WW: It’s the real estate value. So I look at a star, I look at a planet and I say, "oh, that’s a really great planet, I want that plane! Only there are already colonies there … I want to eradicate them so I can colonize it." Or it might be there's a really marginal one, and I kind of I end up losing money on it. End of Part One of the Spore Interview with Will Wright. Check back next week for Part Two.