Spore may not have been the next big leap in the gaming's evolution, but you can't fault Will Wright's ambition. The man never simply settles for what works. Some people dream big. Wright dreams larger-than-life. That said, his next game – titled HiveMind – isn't turning you into the omnipotent (if a teensy bit clumsy with natural-disaster-based apocalypses) ruler of a little community, big city, or entire galaxy. This time, the god of god games has his sights set on the real world.
Looks like Spore knows how to take a hint. PC gamers weren’t quite ready to herald the game as the second coming of The Sims, so it’s jumped gaming’s ship and gotten into show business. And fortunately, thanks to a little common sense on EA’s part, someone not named Uwe Boll is walking Spore down the red carpet.
Chris Wedge, who birthed the $1.9 billion-grossing “Ice Age” film franchise, is set to be the intelligent designer behind Spore’s big screen debut. Meanwhile, Greg Erb and Jason Oremland, who recently wrapped up writing Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” are penning the script. Twentieth Century Fox is partnering with EA to produce the whole thing.
"I'm always looking for unique worlds to go to in animation," Wedge said. "From every perspective -- visually, thematically and comedically -- the world of 'Spore' provides the potential to put something truly original on the screen."
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll probably learn a bit about yourself in the process. What’s not to like?
If your parents always told you that wasting away your time with videogames would never make you any money, Adult Swim comedy show Robot Chicken must be quite the wakeup call. Those guys make money by playing with action figures. And now, they’re doing it with videogames too! It’s really not fair; if we try playing with the action figures on our desks while blogging about videogames, we just get thrown in MPC’s patented Pain Room – the horrors of which we aren’t at liberty to speak about.
“The campaign was conceptualized by Robot Chicken co-creators Seth Green and Matt Senreich and executed by the writing team including Matt Beans, Doug Goldstein, Mike Fasolo, Breckin Meyer, Dan Milano, Tom Root, Kevin Shinick, Hugh Sterbakov and Zeb Wells,” according to the press release, and includes such gags as “exploding poo, angry yetis, ruler yielding librarians and more.” Make of that what you will.
The DLC will be free with the upcoming Spore expansion Galactic Adventures, and is meant to show off the versatility of GA’s Adventure Creator tool. Based on some of the monstrosities birthed by Spore’s creature creator and the above description of this Robot Chicken DLC, we actually think this whole thing makes quite a bit of sense. Now whether that’s a good thing or not, well, we’re not so sure.
An employee by any other name… is still pretty much an employee. As it turns out, Will Wright isn’t just giving EA first right to develop anything that emerges from his brand new think tank; he’s also continuing to watch over his most recent brainchild, Spore.
“I don’t think it was widely reported, but alongside this whole [Stupid Fun Club] thing, I also entered into a consulting agreement with EA,” he said. “I’m spending a certain amount of time every month actually working with the Spore team on future versions of Spore and expansions. So I will [still] be involved with EA on developing the Spore franchise as well.”
In addition, the god-game god elaborated on how he’d like to see Spore evolve next. His greatest hope? To give his fans everything they’re looking for in his game about everything ever.
“We're finding out cool areas the fans want to bring the game in, what direction they want the tools to go, what experiences they're enjoying in the game the most, which levels they enjoy the most. So I think now we're at a maximum learning where the fans are going to be steering the franchise as much as we will – they have their hands on the steering wheel too.”
We’re wishing for more varied activities outside the Space phase, the ability to actually interact with other players online, and more wishes. How about you?
After 12 years of printing money working in faithful service to EA, Sims and Spore’s resident genius has decided to call it quits. But just because Wright managed to create a virtual representation of all biological existence doesn’t mean he’s done making most other game designers look silly just yet – far from it.
Wright’s next endeavor, called Stupid Fun Club, is a think tank that has actually been bubbling around for a few years now. However, back when it was merely a side project, the most unfittingly named club ever seemed content to just manufacture cutting-edge robots – whereas now, it’ll develop new intellectual properties across multiple media formats like film, TV, the Internet, and of course, videogames.
Make no mistake, though: EA may have let Wright off the leash, but – much to the chagrin of some, we’re sure – Stupid Fun Club is still very much in the mega-publisher’s lap. As a result, EA owns just as much Stupid Fun Club stock as Wright himself and has the first right to develop anything the thinkin’-est tank in the business comes up with.
The rub of it all? Mr. Wright hasn’t exactly given EA his walking papers, but he’ll certainly have more wiggling room, at least in the conceptual phase, from now on. As for his first task as an un-tethered man, we’re hoping he’ll invent a few new words to replace “stupid” on the intelligence hierarchy, since he’s apparently laid claim to it. Really, it’s not even fair. If Will friggin’ Wright calls himself stupid, what’s everyone else?
Spore lets you take an extremely high-concept journey from a single-cell life form swimming through the seas to a continent-spanning superpower to the overlord of a galactic empire. Over the course of about five hours, you shepherd your critter through four introductory stages; then you leave for space.
“Let’s see… I’ll take one copy of Spore – hold the SecuROM DRM, please.”
“Oh, er, sorry. Your order’s already slathered in DRM and, well, we can’t remove it. If you come back in a couple weeks, though, we might be able to scrape off a bit of it. Sound good?”
Has something like this ever happened to you? A pleasant Sunday afternoon installation spoiled by SecuROM’s goon squad? Well, no more. At least, if you ride under Steam’s banner.
“EA is one of the industry’s largest publishers,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “The EA titles coming to Steam this holiday include some this year’s top PC titles.”
He’s not kidding, either. Titles like Spore, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, Mass Effect, Need for Speed Undercover, and FIFA Manager 2009 are already available, with Mirror’s Edge, Red Alert 3, and Dead Space moving in with the Freeman family in the “coming weeks.” And, of course, these games will conform to Steam’s standards; in other words, no SecuROM whatsoever.
So, does this mean we can all finally kiss and make up with EA, and notice that it’s released some damn good games over the past year? C’mon now; it’s Christmas.
So Spore didn’t change the way we looked at games forever, but that doesn’t mean the next link in Will Wright’s evolutionary chain will pop out of the primordial ooze half-baked. Especially not if Wright’s right, and his next project spends the next three years getting dolled-up for its big day.
"I'm working on a big new project that I'm very excited about, but I don't want to talk about it yet because if it takes three years to come out I don't want people saying 'Wow, he's been talking about that for a loooong time,'" Wright told Joystiq at Spike TV’s Videogame Award show.
So then, for those soured by Spore, what will it take to earn back your goodwill? A new SimCity? Something totally un-Sim-like? A game that isn’t hyped to the point that -- even if it were quantifiably better than sex -- it’d be considered a disappointment?
Ubisoft has had a strange, and ugly history with DRM (read: Far Cry 2), but it looks like they’re aiming to change that.
The latest Prince of Persia game will have zero DRM on the PC in the name of an experiment. “You’re right when you say that when people want to pirate the game they will but DRM is there to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to make copies of our games,” stated UbiRazz, a Community Developer for Ubisoft. “A lot of people complain that DRM is what forces people to pirate games but as [Prince of Persia] PC has no DRM we’ll see how truthful people actually are. Not very, I imagine.”
It’s nice that Ubisoft is giving the PC gamer market an honest chance in the world of DRM. This blogger just hopes that it actually helps our cause, and doesn’t end up making things much, much worse.
Yuck. It's one thing to give the spotlight over to piracy and other dirty deeds on a bi-daily basis, but after seeing it all culminate, well, we're going to need to lie down for a little while.
Torrent-tracking blog TorrentFreak recently scoured the undersides of gaming's most illicit tables, putting together a list of piracy's greatest hits. The bottom line: Spore, as expected, took home the golden failboat ticket, while three of EA's other titles made the top five.
Meanwhile, big names like Call of Duty 4, Fallout 3, and Far Cry 2 also felt significant disturbances in their sales. Check out the full list below:
Spore / 1,700,000 / Sept. 2008
The Sims 2 / 1,150,000 / Sept. 2004
Assassins Creed / 1,070,000 / Nov. 2007
Crysis / 940,000 / Nov. 2007
Command & Conquer 3 / 860,000 / Mar. 2007
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare / 830,000 / Nov. 2007
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas / 740,000 / Jun. 2005
Fallout 3 / 645,000 / Oct. 2008
Far Cry 2 / 585,000 / Oct. 2008
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 / 470,000 / Oct. 2008
Remember kids, only you can prevent PC game piracy. Otherwise, we'll light you on fire. Don't mess with us. We're crazy.