Will Wright On 25 Years Of Game-Making

By Alec Meer on April 19th, 2009 at 6:15 pm.

Cleverman make cleverthinks! Fresh from the Web 2.0 expo earlier this month is this entertaining and educating half-hour talk with Will Wright about everything including but not limited to his career and games to date, what’s next, lessons learned from Second Life, the intersect between games and reality and -ooh missus – Spore’s controversial DRM and the business considerations around it: “These people have paid money for a game, and you don’t want to be treating them basically as criminals”. On Spore itself, he observes that he wanted it to be almost more of a toy than a game per se – something else for the game’s many critics to chew on, then.

Also especially salient is an observation that gamers are basically narcissitic – “the more you can make the game about that person, the more interested, the more emotionally involved they will get.” A theme which, clearly, has run through a number of his games. LET THE MAN SPEAK.

What big hands he has.

Alternatively, visit the ever-excellent Fora.TV to jump straight to chapters, download the thing or read a transcript.

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20 Comments »

  1. Butler` says:

    On Spore itself, he observes that he wanted it to be almost more of a toy than a game per se – something else for the game’s many critics to chew on, then.

    How convenient.

    I love the guy, but c’mon, Spore…

  2. The Hammer says:

    Just a note that there’s no transcript to this.

    I never played much of Spore, but Wright’s always interesting. Thanks for the link!

  3. Gorgeras says:

    I’m not narcissistic! I’m the most selfless, modest, giving, trusting, generous and forgiving person since Jesus.

    In fact, I’m better than Jesus!

  4. Respectable Gentlemen says:

    I think Will Wirghts a great guy and all but after Spore, and the constant rehashing of the Sims series I have a hard time really caring what he has to say.

  5. DevelopersAreRegularPeopleNotGods says:

    Him and that Molyneux guy. (I have never been smitten by a single Will Wright game…tried to get into them, but just can’t). He seems like a nice, smart guy but I just don’t like your games muthafugga.

  6. psyk says:

    “On Spore itself, he observes that he wanted it to be almost more of a toy than a game per se – something else for the game’s many critics to chew on, then.” Though that was always the case.

  7. Sagan says:

    In some interview he will have to explain what he means when he says, that Spore is supposed to be a toy.

    Because in my opinion Spore is his least toy-like game. It’s so linear. There is very little room for experimentation. All you can affect is how things look. In Sims or Sim City I can see lots of toy like features, but not in Spore.

  8. SirNuke says:

    On Spore itself, he observes that he wanted it to be almost more of a toy than a game per se – something else for the game’s many critics to chew on, then.

    So… like every other Sim game in existence? Spore’s critics by and large grew up on Sim games, so the idea of game that’s more toy than game is hardly beyond them.

    If anything, Spore suffered greatly from the fact that it was more of a game than a toy. Every stage (perhaps minus the space stage, I didn’t get that far) had a very defined goal, with only minor, largely trivial, variations on how you achieved this.

  9. Gap Gen says:

    I think Spore plays more like a potted history of various genres, at least in the first bit. Something like Sim Earth worked very well as a toy – and looking back on it, even if it wasn’t that great a game, Sim Earth was fantastically ambitious and well ahead of its time. It’s disappointing that “physics” meant “toppling crates and realistic dead bodies” for such a long time after Maxis basically did the physics of a whole planet way back in 1990.

  10. mist says:

    The interviewer annoyed me.

    But Will Wright certainly impressed me in this interview. (Relatively?) unprepared non-stop talking at high-speed, while actually making sense and managing to say some interesting stuff.

  11. Sunjammer says:

    He’s an excellent speaker.

  12. lumpi says:

    If anything, Spore suffered greatly from the fact that it was more of a game than a toy. Every stage (perhaps minus the space stage, I didn’t get that far) had a very defined goal, with only minor, largely trivial, variations on how you achieved this.

    pwnd!

    I have never seen a better explanation for what is wrong with Spore.

  13. Stromko says:

    I could go on for about ten-thousand words about the failings I see in Spore, but indeed that one paragraph manages to achieve about 90% of the meaning. My other complaint, or rather disappointment, would be that you can’t go back and forth between the stages, ever, it’s a completely linear experience.

    You can mess around with the lower stages of life as a UFO, sure, but their simulation is no longer running, they’re just static features that can be changed, destroyed, or spread by various tools. I didn’t think it would be like that, going from that first GDC where it was announced to release day we were shown a lot of things that didn’t make it into the end game, and the game showed a dire lack of good design for that matter. Probably because Will Wright had very little to do with the implementation.

  14. Matzerath says:

    That picture looks like he’s reenacting the first time he got to feel-up a girlfriend.

  15. Greatdictator says:

    I always do enjoy these videos with Will Wright…for some reason they are very interesting

  16. Sinnerman says:

    I’m glad that people like Miyamoto and Meier exist. If it was all Will Wright then I would not be interested in games.

  17. piphil says:

    If anything, Spore suffered greatly from the fact that it was more of a game than a toy. Every stage (perhaps minus the space stage, I didn’t get that far) had a very defined goal, with only minor, largely trivial, variations on how you achieved this.

    This is very true. I never really felt I was evolving a single organism in the creature stage, as you could rip everything off and start again every time you mated. Admittedly this made the game more fun for people less interested in Spore as an experiment. However, it did mean you couldn’t paint yourself into a corner – species go extinct all the time, so why shouldn’t yours if you had made bad or unlucky choices?

  18. qrter says:

    Admittedly this made the game more fun for people less interested in Spore as an experiment. However, it did mean you couldn’t paint yourself into a corner – species go extinct all the time, so why shouldn’t yours if you had made bad or unlucky choices?

    That’ll be the difference between a game and a toy, right there.

    I’d much rather have had what you describe, but then I wasn’t looking for a toy, I wanted a game. Apparently.

  19. terry says:

    DevelopersAreRegularPeopleNotGods: Try out Simant. A lot of the basic gameplay of Spore is in that game – also its a lot more fun.

  20. Rich_P says:

    It’s disappointing that “physics” meant “toppling crates and realistic dead bodies” for such a long time after Maxis basically did the physics of a whole planet way back in 1990.

    Excellent, excellent observation. Dwarf Fortress strikes me the same way: Tarn Adams has simulated an entire fantasy world, factoring in weather and rock layers and mythology. It would be nice to see more developers focusing on these elaborate, amazing simulations than the next GOD RAY 5000-powered physics shooter, provided that the simulations have decent interfaces (one of DFs shortcomings)

    If it was all Will Wright then I would not be interested in games.

    To each their own I guess. SimCity 2000 is the reason why I started playing PC games.

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