Gaming Steve

Review Archives - Page 5

October 24, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 24 - 10.24.2005

Atari Age Swordquest!This week I got a chance to speak with Xbox Live's Major Nelson where we chat about the new Xbox Live, cool new Xbox 360 features, Major's gaming history, German booth babes, and much more. Check it out.

Gaming Steve Episode 24 Program

  • 00:04:22 Game News:
    • GameTap unleashes classic games to the masses.
    • California game restriction law disputed.
    • Big Mac, fries, and Wi-Fi.
    • Xbox 360 controller for sale in stores ... really.
    • Wal-Mart demoing the 360.
    • GameStop receiving 360 kiosks.
    • San Andreas hits retail yet again.
    • 10 million PSPs in 10 months.
    • Dead or Alive 4 ... now with more Spartan.
    • Satin Sliver PS2 buggy?
    • Gizmondo? Bless you.
    • The Main Event: Penny Arcade vs. Thompson.
  • 00:31:10 GameTalk: Interview with Xbox Live's Major Nelson, Larry Hryb.
  • 00:59:46 SporeTalk: I break open some emergency rations.
  • 01:00:40 Game Review: The Warriors for the Xbox and PS2.
  • 01:11:15 RetroReview: Swordquest for the Atari 2600.
  • 01:24:19 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and the cool prize!
  • 01:29:24 Final Thoughts on upcoming interviews, sending me audio questions, Civilization IV and more.
Download the show (96 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 24 (MP3).

Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
Add the Gaming Steve Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator.
Vote for Gaming Steve on Podcast Alley.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 4:00 PM | Posted to Classic | Interview | Podcast | Review | Spore | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 1, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 22 - 10.01.2005

We Love KatamariEveryone has been nice and patient, waiting for the "big podcast surprise". Well the wait is over! Check out the new and improved Gaming Steve Podcast where I cover:

    00:02:42 Game News:
    • Sam & Max Resurrected ... again.
    • Field Commander to deploy on the PSP.
    • Sims 2 preparing to Open For Business.
    • PlayStation 3 controller design not final? Of course!
    • Black & White 2 descending next week.
    • G4 founder vacates his post.
    • Microsoft in legal battle ... again.
    • Advent Children DVD flies off Japanese shelves.
    • EB Games out of Xbox 360s?
    • Game Boy Micro arrives.
    • Guild Wars enlists one million.
    • GTA to release several new versions.
    • Age of Empires III golden.
    • Man sentenced in GTA leak.
    • 25 to Life delayed.
    • NYPD commish rips True Crime.
    • Xbox 360 controller sold on eBay.
    • Xbox lost Microsoft $4 billion (and counting).
    • Perfect Dark Zero loses features.
    • Far Cry Instincts ships out.
    • Ubisoft unveils PSP Prince of Persia.
    • Serious Sam sequel ready for action.
    • Get ready for the HD-DVD/Blu-ray wars.
    • Madden bug makes Michael King feel 7 inches tall.
    • Castlevania to continue haunting next-gen.
    • Half of Xbox 360 users will use Xbox Live?
    • New Metal Gear Acid 2 details emerge.
    • Cyan Worlds lives!
  • 00:44:12 GameTalk: Why is the Nintendo Revolution controller good for gaming?
  • 01:02:58 SporeTalk: I uncover a nice little surprise (look on the Gaming Steve Forums to find it!).
  • 01:05:03 Game Review: We Love Katamari for the PlayStation 2.
  • 01:21:30 RetroReview: Starpath Supercharger for the Atari 2600.
  • 01:32:09 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • 01:35:40 Final Thoughts on finding an Xbox 360 next month and watch out for the upcoming avalanche of games.
Download the Podcast (101 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 22.

You can also subscribe to the Gaming Steve Podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 8:00 PM | Posted to Classic | Podcast | Review | Spore | Wii |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

September 16, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 21 - 09.16.2005

Rebelstar: Tactical CommandWith the fall gaming season right around the corner things are starting to get busy in the world of gaming. So let's jump right into this week's show!

    00:00:55 Game News:
    • Nintendo ringtones? Sweet!
    • GameStop-EB merger almost complete.
    • World of Warcraft expansion to debut at BlizzCon.
    • Rockstar serving decaf in September.
    • Age of Empires III demo sets sail.
    • Myst V set for bittersweet farewell.
    • News Corp. absorbs IGN.
    • Key Blizzard departures appear at Red 5 Studios.
    • Guild Wars: Sorrow's Furnace stoked.
    • Girls of gaming strip down for Playboy (again).
    • The first game-movie hybrid UMD to be released.
    • Anarchy Online continues to be free.
    • EverQuest & EverQuest II expanded.
    • WOW patch adds oodles of new content.
    • Sims 2 Nightlife ready to party!
    • It's Sony turn to recall their AC adapters.
    • Retailers react to California games bill.
    • ESRB demands publisher audit for hidden game content.
    • Michigan "violent gaming" bill signed into law.
  • 00:35:56 GameTalk: Welcome to the post-Hot Coffee world.
  • 00:57:48 SporeTalk: Spore, the "dark period".
  • 00:59:34 Game Review: Rebelstar: Tactical Command for the GameBoy Advance.
  • 01:13:15 RetroReview: Chrono Cross for the PlayStation.
  • 01:21:15 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • 01:24:24 Final Thoughts on the iPod Nano, the length of the show, and the huge number of upcoming releases.
Get the podcast from this page (91 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 21.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 1:00 AM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 31, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 20 - 08.31.2005

Xbox 360 Omega SystemThis week is the "extra large news week" edition plus two "reviews" and two "RetroReviews"! Oh yeah, and if you buy the new "super insane crazy Xbox 360 bundle" I'll have you on my show! Enjoy the gaming bounty:

    00:02:30 Game News:
    • Game Boy Micro coming September 19th ... how many more can they make?!
    • Zelda: Twilight Princess delayed, of course.
    • Xbox $399.
    • All hail! Caesar returns to the PC!
    • Madden 2006 tackles sale charts.
    • Star Wars Galaxies causes a great disturbance in the Force.
    • Halo goes Hollywood.
    • China gets serious with online gaming addicts.
    • Come on, buy the Xbox 360 Omega bundle for $2000 ... I dare you!
    • Auto Assault applies the brakes.
    • Asheron's Call 2 goes dark.
    • Nintendo buys itself.
    • We Love Katamari, oh yes we do!
    • Another week, another million people join WOW.
    • Xbox Live 2.0 priced.
  • 00:40:20 GameTalk: What on earth was Microsoft thinking when they priced the Xbox 360?
  • 00:57:30 SporeTalk: No news is good news?
  • 00:59:09 QuickTake: Advance Wars Dual Strike for the Nintendo DS.
  • 01:13:55 QuickTake: Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS.
  • 01:20:33 RetroReview: Military Madness for the TurboGrafx-16.
  • 01:26:49 RetroReview: The Little Computer People Discovery Kit for the PC.
  • 01:32:00 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • 01:34:32 Show mail!
  • 01:39:10 Plus some very quick random thoughts.
Get the podcast from this page (100 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 20.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:45 PM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 14, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 19 - 08.14.2005

Dungeon Siege IIAfter a semi-slow summer the big games are starting to appear. First up is Chris Taylor's new Dungeon Siege II for the PC ... find out if it's a winner or a stinker. Oh yeah, I also cover these stories as well:

    00:01:26 Game News:
    • No more Hot Coffee for you!
    • "Video games made me do it" fails in court.
    • Parents ignore game age ratings.
    • GameTap set for October launch.
    • Madden 2006, the only game in town.
    • Blizzard shuts down their Northern operation.
    • Microsoft wants money from everyone.
    • How many Xbox 360 different bundles will Microsoft release?
    • Sony may release PS3 in 2007.
    • Quake 3 source code to be released.
    • Dirk the Daring return to the Dragon's Lair!
  • 00:37:58 GameTalk: What happens when you try to buy gold for World of Warcraft?
  • 00:58:22 SporeTalk: The calm before the storm.
  • 01:01:03 Game Review: Dungeon Siege II for the PC.
  • 01:24:04 RetroReview: NetHack/Rogue for Unix/PC/everything.
  • 01:29:24 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • 01:32:46 Plus some more random thoughts on the gaming calm before the storm.
Get the podcast from this page (98 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 19.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 7:30 PM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

July 28, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 18 - 07.28.2005

Heroes of Might and Magic IIISo what happens when I try to do a shorter podcast? I end up recording my longest show ever. Nice. Check it out:

  • Hot Coffee news until your head explodes!
  • Every 30 seconds Xbox Live grows by one.
  • World of Warcraft just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
  • Microsoft confirms worldwide Xbox 360 launch.
  • Advertising to invade all video games all the time.
  • Hot Coffee Part 2 -- The Sims 2.
  • GameTalk: Hot Coffee is over -- now what?
  • SporeTalk: How is Spore going to handle controversial downloadable content and the "new, more sensitive" ESRB?
  • In-depth review of Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee for the PSP.
  • RetroReview: Heroes of Might and Magic III for the PC.
  • “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • Plus some more random thoughts on why gaming is good for "the children" and some recommended reading.
Get the podcast from this page (104 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 18.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:30 PM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

July 8, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 16 - 07.08.2005

No One Lives ForeverYou want your podcast? You'll get your podcast! Check out the latest podcast goodness:

  • Help out on the Gaming Steve website, if you dare!
  • Microsoft and Nintendo, strange bedfellows indeed.
  • The Justice League of America ... coming to a console near you.
  • Let the Madden madness begin!
  • Chip an Xbox, pay the man.
  • Gaming addicts get their own clinic.
  • PS3 to sell for $399, cost $494 to make.
  • BlizzCon buzzes into town.
  • GameTalk: The ESRB under fire.
  • SporeTalk: What to expect in the upcoming months.
  • In-depth review of Laser Squad Nemesis for the PC.
  • RetroReview: The Operative: No One Lives Forever for the PC.
  • “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • Upcoming game releases.
  • Plus some more random thoughts on slow gaming summer.
Get the podcast from this page (92 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 16.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:30 AM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

June 23, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 15 - 06.23.2005

Total AnnihilationSo the long, slow, hot days of Summer are upon us, what better time to listen to the latest show, where I cover:

  • Halo the movie ... the Microsoft way or no way!
  • More Resident Evil movies planned.
  • World of Warcraft keeps growing and growing...
  • The Matrix Online ... sold!
  • Don't buy this violent video game, even though it's not out yet and nobody has played it.
  • THQ to publish Supreme Commander, hell yeah!
  • Some interesting game releases this week.
  • GameTalk: How to get a job in the game industry -- Part 2.
  • SporeTalk: So ... now what?
  • Quicktake: Early impressions of Dungeon Siege II for the PC.
  • In-depth review of Kirby: Canvas Curse for the Nintendo DS.
  • RetroReview: Total Annihilation for the PC.
  • “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • Plus some more random thoughts on playing older games.
Get the podcast from this page (87 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 15.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 10:00 AM | Posted to Podcast | Preview | Review | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

June 6, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 14 - 06.06.2005

Spore Oceanworld

Here it is, part two of my interview with gaming legend Will Wright where we talk more about Spore. In addition to the interview I also cover:

  • Sony ships 90 milllllllllion PS2s.
  • Microsoft just loves losing money on the Xbox.
  • Anti-game bill nearly law.
  • Nintendogs causes DS sales to soar.
  • Blizzard keeps on banning.
  • GameTalk: How to get a job in the game industry.
  • SporeTalk: Part two of my interview with Will Wright (Warning: This is pretty hard to understand, but the complete interview transcript is listed as well).
  • In-depth review of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones for the GameBoy Advance.
  • RetroReview: Conker's Bad Fur Day for the Nintendo 64.
  • “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week and a new clip.
  • Plus some more random thoughts on the future of PC gaming.
Get the podcast from this page (87 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 14.

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 part two of my interview with Will Wright as well the members of the Spore development team.

Gaming Steve: So you showed like black holes, quasars, things like that?

Will Wright: Yeah.

GS: Are those there just for fun? How do those affect the game? Or are you not sure yet?

WW: Well, I’m not sure how far we’ve gone down this path but we have already prototyped models for all these things. I can show you the prototypes here … we have a huge numbers of prototypes.

GS: I mean it was cool even when you just “went over them.” [with the mouse-cursor and they animated]

WW: Oh yeah. This is our prototype of a black hole and stuff. This is basically our general gravitational simulator. This is also how we would simulate the formation of new stars and planets. So basically I have this little world where … let’s see … there is actually space-time warpage here, that’s the grid showing. I can actually go in here and sculpt/drag space-time. Notice as I drag my cursor here I am actually gravitational tracking across time to form larger and larger maps and I can actually create a star in here. This is also how we might simulate a black hole. We can actually generate entire planetary systems from these tools right here.

Chris Trottier [Spore Designer]: More questions!

WW: Yeah, we probably shouldn’t dive into this too much. This is also how we would build a nebula. So if I was interacting with nebula and wanted to initiate a gravitational collapse… But again this is stuff we prototyped, but we want a good simulation though. Now how much is actually going to be entered into the game, we’re not sure yet. You know, because there are other areas which have higher priority than this. But I do want these things to be a toy -- you want to grab hold of something. But I’m not sure if it’s going to quite that deep or not.

GS: So how many worlds are there per galaxy? Hundreds? A hundred thousand?

WW: Per galaxy?

GS: Yes, per galaxy.

WW: Oh, well, there will be probably well over a hundred thousand. I mean, far more than a player could ever visit. Which is why there is no point to having another galaxy. If there are going to be thousands of stars in a galaxy there is no way that one person in their lifetime could ever visit them all.

GS: I just wanted to know if you could, like, conquer the galaxy…

WW: Now consider like The Sims/The Sims 2 web site. How many houses or families are uploaded to The Sims 2?

Caryl Shaw [Producer]: A day?

WW: Or just total. How many do we have total?

CS: Uploaded or downloaded?

WW: Uploaded? I mean, how many to be totally have?

CS: We probably have around 70,000 Sims right now.

WW: Okay, so now those are Sims that people went and uploaded from the game. They said “I’m going to upload this”. This game is going to automatically be uploading stuff. The player isn’t going to have to be deciding to do this.

GS: So how is that going to work? A lot of people have been worried about that…

WW: That is an opt-in thing too. You can turn that off.

GS: People are worried that if they don’t have Internet connectivity how is it going to work?

CS: We can manage that, we do that in The Sims now. So that shouldn’t be that difficult to manage.

GS: So are you just going to have a massive library or will the computer going to be start enough that the AI can create new creatures, planets, so that you can keep playing…

WW: Well keep in mind that the content is extremely compressible. One of these creatures compresses down to around 1K. So since these things compress down to like 1K that means on your CD within one megabyte we can store thousands and thousands of creatures even if you’re not connected to the Internet. So we’re going to have a local database solution to everything. So if you have no Net connection you can still play the entire game, it’s just using the local database of content rather than getting off the Web. So it’s not network required.

GS: So that’s a big “no”… So how do you find out about, in other words, if you look at “Okay I know this guy, I’m playing with my friend and I want to see all of ‘Dave’s’ creatures,” is there a way for me to take my friend’s creatures and see his and vice versa?

WW: That’s a Caryl question.

CS: We are interested in being able to offer that, we think that people will really get into pride of ownership of creation and there is a certain amount of notoriety that comes along with participating … so that the good creators keep creating.

Lucy Bradshaw [Executive Producer]: That’s pretty cool.

WW: Yeah, you see my octopus?

GS: So the UFO…

WW: Yeah.

GS: So that is creatable too?

WW: Yes. It’s in the vehicle editor.

GS: Wait, just so that I can write this down once and for all. You can make the creatures?

WW: Yeah.

GS: You can make the buildings?

WW: Yeah.

GS: You can make the vehicles?

WW: Yeah.

GS: You can make the UFO?

WW: Yeah. You can make the cities.

GS: You can make the cities.

WW: You can make the plants.

GS: A lot of people ask about that.

WW: That’s something that will be unlocked later. When you get to the UFO level one of the things you can research is genetic engineering. Once you get that you…

GS: Yeah, people are asking about that, they want to be able to take people and mutate them and change them.

WW: Yeah. Once you research genetic engineering you get the creature editor for free, you can build whatever you want, like this. You can also start engineering the plants, design whatever weird plants you want. One of the advantages of our editor is that is we can take whatever you design and take parametric variations of it So you design one tree and then it will do all the different varieties of that same tree – tall, short, curves…

GS: I was wondering about that because when you were building the cities, the different sections of the cities, it was working real well when you were adding to them.

WW: Yeah.

GS: Diplomacy, how will diplomacy work?

WW: [Will displays a document diagramming the diplomacy matrix] This is still kind of a fairly rough design … basically, depending upon your culture and their culture there is a matrix based upon these sliders… There is a three-dimensional matrix of how emotional or imperialistic social creatures might interact with these separate beings. And between that matrix it will basically come out that they are very arrogant towards you or they are very fearful of you and in fact you’ll need to build in this general region in order to have a stable relationship. You do actions with them before you actually even talk to them by giving them things or just doing things on their planet, but they might interpret these things as hostile. So I might give them a gift to make them less hostile depending upon their culture, I won’t know what these sliders are until I start interacting with them. Then once I establish communication then there is a very kind of bad translation where I get rough sense of what they’re saying that gets better over time.

GS: Oh, so you can’t even understand the language at first?

WW: Until I play the “Close Encounters” game with them successfully, then I invent a basis for a shared language. At that point they can start giving us missions or offering us things or offering us alliances and stuff.

GS: So in the single-player is there actually going to be a point? Is it going to be like … well, I saw what you did in The Sims and then The Sims 2 there were goals and all you did was unhide them in The Sims 2.

WW: Yeah.

GS: Are you going to do something similar in Spore?

WW: Well we are going to have several meta-goals at the space level that you know, depending upon how you play the game it’s going to actually attempt to steer your towards the powers that your earn. So if I play very altruistically I will find it that much easier to at the space game to conquer the galaxy. If I play very diplomatically at the space game it will be much easier for me to go around meeting new races, establishing relationships and alliances. I might build a federation like “Star Trek”. Or I might go play the “Uplift” game which is where I go to wild planet, drop a monolith, and bring a creature to intelligence and go back and see what they built. I might want to play the “X-Files” game where I abduct alien creatures and collect them and cross-breed them or whatever. I might want to play “War of the Worlds” where I just go around and blow people up for the hell of it.

GS: Yeah, it seems that a lot of people want to play that one.

WW: Well that is why we basically want to keep it a single-player game, or a massively single-player, but because it’s single-player the player can still be the hero … can be the god and blow up things if they want without ruining anybody else’s experience. So we’re trying to get the best of both worlds.

GS: So the city types … you showed a really cool organic city and then there was the technology city, is there an “archetype” for the cities?

WW: We actually have this guy, Christian, who did a huge number of conceptual drawings for us and we are actually deconstructing these and basing the parts that we give the player – these are some world pictures – these are the type of worlds we want the players to be able to make in the editor.

CS: A bunch of them are hanging up on the walls too so you can see…

WW: Yeah, so if you take a look at some of these, these are conceptual drawings of the type of planets that we want players to be able to make.

CS: Like that one over there…

WW: Yeah, that one was the conceptual drawing for the organic city. Over here these are sort of like creatures, plants, and so … we are actually dealing with these things sort of at first conceptually and then deconstructing them and figuring out what kind of parts to give the player to able to build a world like this.

GS: So there is going to be “archetypes” or you’re not sure if there are going to be “archetypes”?

WW: Well, I’m not sure what you mean by “archetypes”.

GS: Well in other words are there going to be like ten “base-types” like maybe a technology, or an old technology, or an organic…

WW: No, we have in the building editor about a hundred blocks that you can mold, stretch out, and then combine in whatever format, you can mix and match them, they’ll adapt.

GS: So it’s freeform?

WW: Yes.

GS: It’s whatever you want it to be?

WW: But the collaborative filtering works like Amazon, so it looks at everything you ever bought or built and it says “what are some things that match your style?” So now it now offers those in the shopping catalog. So even when back at the creature level, once you’re building a creature, and you get to the city level, it will try to pick building with match the style of your creature based upon what other people put together. So in some sense the computer is learning to understand the player and customizing the game specifically for the player.

GS: So can you fly?

WW: Yes. You can build a flying creature but have to have…

GS: But can you have a flying society?

WW: Yes.

GS: Could you? Could you have cities in the sky?

WW: No, the cities … flying creatures still build on the ground. They just fly to move around.

CT: Did you give him a meteorite?

WW: No I didn’t.

GS: Oh is that the surprise?

WW: Here have a meteorite.

GS: I heard there is a surprise.

WW: Meteorite fragments from Arizona.

GS: [Will hands me a small meteorite fragment] Ooh. Very cool. So what about the resource types? What the heck are those little things up there?

WW: Oh those are just stand-ins.

GS: Oh no, on the top [pointing to the various bars on the upper left corner of the Spore screen].

WW: Oh like here?

GS: Yeah.

WW: Those are just stand-ins, but that’s about what the complexity of the interface is going to be. At every level we’re going to like three things that really matter. Like at the creature level it’s going to be your hunger, your energy, and your health. And that’s all the sliders you’ll really need. At the tribal level it will be population and food. So at every level we want to have just a very clear primary feedback which will be three sliders. How we looking at time?

CT: We’re getting there…

GS: So does it work … you become sentient, you have a tribe…

WW: Yeah.

GS: And then are you competing against other creatures that are different species…

WW: No.

GS: Or is your species the dominant species?

WW: Yeah, when you bring a species to intelligence it is now the intelligent species. You are now competing against other cultures of your species. But at that point they start being culturally very diverse, so your guys might be peaceful and they’re warlike and you’re economic and they’re cultural…

GS: Alright, everyone asked it … you don’t have to give me an “official launch date”. Is it coming out this year?

WW: Fall. Fall '06. Thanks for coming by Steve. Sorry it was so rushed.

GS: Yeah, thanks again, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you at GDC as well as other places.

WW: Yeah. We’ll be reading your site.

Thanks again to Will Wright and the entire Spore development team for inviting me to their behind-the-scenes preview of Spore!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:45 PM | Posted to Interview | Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

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 | Posted to Interview | Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!