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.
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.
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?
Much has been made in the media over Spore's DRM scheme, which now limits gamers to five activations (recently pushed up from three activations amid an intense internet backlash). By and large, Electronic Arts has caught most of the criticism for saddling Spore with a modified version of SecuROM, arguably the most hated form of DRM in the gaming community. But should some of the ire be directed at Will Wright as well?
"It was something I probably should have tuned into more," Wright told Jim Reilly from Kotaku.com. "It was a corporate decision to go with DRM on Spore. They had a plan and the parameters, but now we're allowing more authentications and working with players to de-authenticate, which makes it more in line with iTunes. I think one of the most valid concerns about it was you could only install it so many times. For most players it's not an issue, it's a pretty small percentage, but some people do like wiping their hard disk and installing it 20 times or they want to play it 10 years later."
Take from that what you will. While it sounds like Wright has been drinking some of John Riccitiello's Kool-Aid, who recently downplayed DRM with claims that it's only an issue for 0.2 percent of gamers, at least Wright acknowledges the other side of the coin, which is that gamers tend to be enthusiasts who frequently change around their system.
Does EA deserve all the blame on this one? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
Just for you, because you're awesome: new screenshots from two of our most highly-anticipated PC games of the year. Spore and Left4Dead look much more polished and graphically improved since we've last seen them. In the case of Left4Dead, all the character models have been revamped as well. The L4D screens don't actually show the new character design. For a peek at those, you'll have to hit up our liveblog of the EA press conference.
We just arrived at the EA press conference at the Orpheum theater. Lots of news being released, including the announcement of Sims 3, coming out in 2009. EA demos Dead Space, Spore, Mirror's Edge, NBA Live 09, Dragon Age: Origins, Left4Dead (characters redesiged), and id's Rage! Click through for our liveblog!