February 13, 2008 |
Gamers have been waiting for more than two years for Spore, the release from Sims creator Will Wright that has been rumored to be vaporware. With a final release date given as September 7, 2008, the wait finally has an end date. But what does Spore have to do with Web 2.0?
Spore will be the first game released that not only has social networking capabilities, but also takes advantage of existing Web 2.0 technologies from outside the EA umbrella. There's been an enormous explosion in social technologies since Wright's last release (The Sims 2), and Spore promises to take advantage of many of them.
Designed for PC and Mac platforms, Spore will also have mobile and Nintendo DS versions, with future releases planned for game systems like the Nintendo Wii. The premise seems fairly simple: starting off with a single cell, you progress through five different stages of game play, evolving your cell into a creature, then your creature into a tribe, tribes into cities, and then finally, space exploration. Some facets of the game sound much the same as other games, but where it differs is in its use of online technology without turning it into the rat's nest of Sims Online.
The planet that players start with at the beginning of each game is partially populated by “Sporecast,” an overlay of a behind-the-scenes social network that populates your planet with various creations from other players' planets. Your creations are also shared with them, and everything is shared through the Sporepedia, which functions as a content repository for sharing, a help feature, and social network.
“That at any time in the game they can hit a button, bring up their browser and browse the entire universe of content. They can look at what their friends have made; they can subscribe to Sporecasts, they can make buddy lists; they can tag content. We took a lot of the dynamics we saw going on the Web–especially social networking sites–and tried use that language to convey to the players how this all works.”
It's obvious that Wright and the Spore team at EA took the concept of user-generated content that has always surrounded the Sims franchise and built it into the game. Besides the obvious tagged and “pedia” (which I can only assume in an homage to Wikipedia), you can create buddy lists of friends who area also playing, and can even create videos of your characters, posting them directly to YouTube from the interface. Additional features include a sort of playlist, much like an MP3 player, that allows you to group your favorite items and assign a name for others to search it as well.
Besides my obvious fangirl obsession with all things Will Wright, I'm excited to get my hands on Spore to see if it really is what it appears to be. Spore may be one of those breakout games that changes the whole industry. Rather than creating another MMOG like WoW, Spore leverages social technology to improve gameplay and allow interaction and sharing of creations without forcing users into a multi-player experience to get the features.