Gaming Steve

May 24, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 13 - 05.24.2005

Will Wright and Gaming Steve

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:

  • I wrap up the various games I saw at E3 this year.
  • GameTalk: Who "won" and "lost" at E3?
  • SporeTalk: Part one of my interview with Will Wright (Warning: This is pretty hard to understand, but the transcript is in this post as well).
  • In-depth review of Guild Wars for the PC.
  • RetroReview: Civilization for the PC.
  • “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week and a new clip.
  • Plus some more random thoughts on E3 and a small preview of part two of my interview with Will Wright.
Get the podcast from this page (79 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 13.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast. To view the transcript of my interview with Will Wright select "continue reading" below.

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.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 PM | Comments (41) | Posted to Interview | Podcast | Review | Spore | Add this story to

It's up!
Ahhh, Going to listen right this second!

Posted by Silver_Kiwi at May 24, 2005 11:09 PM

Whoa, Steve...You stood next to Will Wright...I want to buy that shirt...Second of all, do you have any more pics of the Spore room?

Posted by Tal at May 24, 2005 11:14 PM

great pic Steve....finally we see your face! Can't wait to listen to the podcast! downloading.....

Posted by Areku at May 24, 2005 11:20 PM

wow, your logo looks exactly like your face .... and yet nothing like what I imagined based on the logo

Posted by Jon D at May 25, 2005 01:06 AM

Podcast is down? Won't me download...

Posted by Sepharo at May 25, 2005 02:17 AM

I retract my statement... I am now downloading.

Shows you firefox! Pssh... "must've changed the site name.."

Posted by Sepharo at May 25, 2005 02:24 AM

Will has the sort of face that you can't imagine ever being serious.

Posted by Jayce at May 25, 2005 02:25 AM

I feel happy! I'm in NH so we had as tri city poweroutge yesterday from 7-11 pm so I had to wait to now!
*gleeful dance*

Posted by jujubee at May 25, 2005 06:02 AM

My audio equipment is quite crappy, and with the quality of the interview this has as a result that I can't understand the biggest part of it, and that's with my headset and speakers on full volume. So I'm kind of wondering if and when a transcript will be up.

Posted by Space Ace at May 25, 2005 08:05 AM

Gaming Steve looks like Greg Brady! Nice blue eyes.

Posted by popeye2600 at May 25, 2005 08:57 AM

I just wanted to say thanks for being so accomidating with the transcript. I have dial-up and the thought of redownloading that was unpleasant. I appreciate your hard work and congrats on meeting will wright.

Posted by happydan20 at May 25, 2005 12:45 PM

That was great! Can't wait for next week.

I think I am gonna be coming here for quite some time!

Posted by PatMan33 at May 25, 2005 04:00 PM

Best podcast yet steve! Nice job geting Will there =D

Posted by jack at May 26, 2005 03:09 PM

Wow! Thanks steve! Really cool and great job. Just Curious, Does anyone on the maxis team have any idea who i am? you know, after a few years on the fourms for the sims games i would assume they had some idea who i was. They don't, do they. lol. oh well. Again, Great job!

Posted by Sgore at May 26, 2005 09:54 PM

> Gaming Steve looks like Greg Brady!

*spits out drink*

Posted by Mike Shapiro at May 27, 2005 12:32 AM

GREAT JOB! I'm SO glad that you put up a transcript, though. The interview itself was unintelligable to me.

Still, nice job, Steve. And Will, if you're reading this, you are my hero. Have any job openings? :D

Posted by True Vox at May 27, 2005 07:11 AM

Wow, Will Wright is cool, but what's that funky business card hanging on your lanyard? Doesn't look like you name on there....but I can't quite make it out.....

Posted by GamePolitics at May 27, 2005 07:22 AM

Haven't yet went through the interview, but have a few comments.. I guess they recognized you by what you wear in the picture? :-) Nice shirt. And about the audio, yeah I guess you wanted to leave it up to the listeners to use audio processing on it to make the speech legible :-)

Now to Spore!

Posted by ac at May 28, 2005 01:04 PM

sweet man !!

Posted by Pk at May 30, 2005 06:49 AM

I can't wait til the second part comes. I want to know all that there is to know about this game.

Posted by Tom at June 2, 2005 12:24 AM

I'm still very excited about P..Spore even after this..


What Spore could possibly use is a good tablet pen/touch screen playability.. Mouse or xbox pad isn't designed for creating those wonderful creatures.

Posted by ac at June 2, 2005 04:38 PM

I believe this game could work with a pen/touch tablet no problem. The interface I saw was quite simple to use, all mouse driven.

Posted by Gaming Steve at June 7, 2005 12:04 PM

it totally sucks

Posted by Jay at July 12, 2005 05:04 AM

Now i have see all the things on spore and stuff and it all acctually looks pretty awsome i can't wait for this game. Though i was just wondering wether you ould edit the color in this game. Is there a color palat how exactly does that work

Posted by gk at November 23, 2005 10:01 PM

Xbox Pad? That would be down right impossible, though it doesnt matter since this is gonna be a PC only game...

It will be easy to do it with a mouse, Will Wright does it just fine on the GDCTV Video

Posted by Onthewingsofflies at December 4, 2005 05:34 PM

I was wondering how space battle will work if the have them. he was talking about starwars galactic kind of conquest and u can't have that without space ships to fight in space... did u c ne thing in the vehical editor for this? or was it just the UFO? did u c if u could have the ai control ur UFO's?

Posted by Logan at December 21, 2005 06:07 PM

Wat happens wen your city/tribe/group all die? do u create another speces? do u take control of another group of the same speces? Do u get "game over"?
plese tell me som time.cuz i HAVE to know!!!!!!!!!! its just bugging me for some reason . TELL ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that will be all... I bid u all a farwell!!

Posted by Da' Masta' at February 2, 2006 06:37 PM

omg, this is sooooooo SWEET!!!!! im not much of a vedeo game person usualy, but i will sooooo get this game when it comes out!!!! i just have 1 question. will it work on my brothers gamecube?!!!!

Posted by becca at March 2, 2006 09:04 PM

no it for pc

Posted by phil at March 5, 2006 08:36 PM

can u plz anser my qwestion from befor abouut if ur groop dies wat happens cuz ive bin waitn 1,2or 3 months. im not meenin to bug u but its kinda bugn ME...

Posted by Da'masta' at March 7, 2006 07:15 PM

will this awsome game be available on the Mac platform?

say yes, PLEAAAASE!

Posted by Roland at March 9, 2006 01:40 PM

who has a mac, they're only good for ipods. and for da masta its probaly going to be hard to die like its hard to die on the sims.

Posted by Myshuno at March 16, 2006 03:51 PM

ok this game looks awsome, and i dont say that alot about games. but i have one sugestion...

a forum - i play a game called impossible creatures ( it has a similar concept of combining creature parts to form armys of super creatures) and one of the best things about it is a forum, i believe that the same could be said here. you say that creatures from other peoples worlds will populate your own, wouldnt it be an amazing idea to be able to put a person to that creature? to have the ability to share solutions, ask questions and generaly create a massive comunity to go with what will undoubtibly be a huge game. i know from my experiance with IC that even tho the game is getting old now (3 years) because of the cominity built up over the years, it has gone on long past any expectations. i swear to god, without it, it would have gone ages ago.

i sugest to the game developers to talk to Devlishone who runs Mednick online, a chain of official fan sites including IC and Warhammer.

the mednickonline main site it im sure you can get in contact if you are interested from there

Posted by ben ranson at March 21, 2006 04:33 PM

wen does the game come out

Posted by bob at March 31, 2006 04:05 PM

Sounds nice, at the very least it will possibly encourage my dream strategy game.

a true civilization take over the world game once finished with tribal advancement, in a large world.

advanceing into a true space civilization setup.

haveing each race given morphable tech trees based upon the world and past racial decisions/mental inclinations.

the late game sounds too much like the black&white sandbox mode, lots that can be done but no true challange.

your site just got bookmarked steve, excellent work.

Posted by Legas at May 7, 2006 10:40 PM

Dear mr will wright i have two first is when will there be a sims 3 coming out and my second is where can i buythe sims online in england.please email me soon if possible.
thank you for your time

Posted by Connor at June 26, 2006 03:21 PM

I'm confused, does spore come out february or june of 2006?

Posted by Matthew at July 26, 2006 11:49 AM

i am wondering can you make flying creatures in spore?

Posted by riley at July 27, 2006 01:36 PM

Yes, I think flying creatures are currently planned, though that means adapting your buildings to suit those who move in three dimensions: like you would with all-swimming critters.

I can't wait for this game. One thing I would like to see (though unlikely to be included) is parasitism. A creature that locks on to what passes for the head of other creatures, then controls it... maybe even adapting the host's body to suit its needs.

Remember the legal problems that City of Heroes encountered with Marvel? What problems might Spore have should we find players planets populated by rancors, scrabs and antlions?

Oh, there is a forum called The Spore Zone.

Well done Steve on meeting Will!

Posted by Bullet Magnet at August 27, 2006 12:26 PM

Hi, my name is Wyano, I am Brazilian, and I am waiting SPORE anxiously. by chance Will Wright commented on the date of the game?


Posted by Wyano at October 28, 2006 02:10 AM

I hope spore comes out soon!!!! It looks awsome!!!!!! I hear the first levels going to be like pac man....I love pac man. city levels going to be like sim's city....I love sim's city even more than pac man. It's going to be great!!!!!!

Posted by sporelover at July 30, 2007 09:24 PM
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