The Wright Stuff: Sims Man Takes Over TV

By Alec Meer on March 30th, 2010 at 11:05 pm.

So this is what Will Wright did next. It seemed highly likely that the mighty-brained chap behind the Sims, Sim City and Spore would be working on some kind of absurdly ambitious game project in the wake of leaving Maxis and EA. And indeed he is – but he’s doing it via television. Remember television? It’s that old thing that’s like a game consisting only of cutscenes.

Anyway, Will Wright + TV = The Creation Project.

IGN’s the source of the story, having established that Wright is working on said show with the help of an ex-Nickleodeon bigwig. ‘The Creation Project’ might sound a bit Songs Of Praise, but it’s also a title which clearly reflects his latter-day creed of user-created content.

In this case, it’s TV viewers creating a TV show – initially by submitting and voting on story ideas, but where it’s of interest to us is that they’ll apparently be doing so via the web, and something called ‘The StoryMaker Engine.’ This enables anyone involved to “quickly make their own storyboards to accompany their ideas using pre-existing images or those uploaded by the users themselves,” says IGN. Ad-hoc Machinima perhaps, or will it simply be Windows Paint doodles and static pictures from webcams? Oy, that could go wrong. Doubtless it’ll be heavily monitored at the TV network’s end to prevent penisogeddon, however.

All very interesting, if it does indeed get off the ground. Perhaps it won’t ultimately be gamey at all, but frankly anything Wright does tends to be conceptually fascinating, regardless of the end product.

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32 Comments »

  1. Metalfish says:

    Well if the disconnect between the hype and end result are anything like that of Spore this will probably be 3 solid hours of bland unimaginative nonsense that tries to be several other tv programs whilst failing to be even slightly as good as any of them.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      That’s unfair, the opening 5 minutes of the show will be great.

    • Clovis says:

      Although the opening 5 minutes will be a blatant rip-off of another show, but with much higher production values.

  2. The Colonel says:

    Afraid I’ve not got a lot of interest in “the public creates the content”-type ventures. Will it work with some kind of consensus of what is good and what is bad quality?

    Can’t see this sort of idea having a long shelf life. But then I suppose Big Brother happened.

  3. Levictus says:

    How about a simcity 5? Simcity 4 was released almost 7 years ago. While all the community mods and content still keep it fresh, it would be nice to see a real Simcity release and not the crap that is Simcity: Societies.

    • cliffski says:

      I agreee, but sim city is by its nature very much a complex high budget singleplayer pc-specific game.
      And we dont get very many of those any more :(

  4. greenB says:

    Gah.
    The “wisdom of the masses” works best with averages. How is Creation Project not going be a mediocre (at best) blend of vastly different tastes?

    • D says:

      You’re right of course that this is maybe somewhat misguided, but to specify it further, the wisdom of masses is in arriving at a correct estimate by averaging the guesses of the mass of individuals, and it can only work in situations where averaging is a suitable solution for arriving at a better estimate. Like, it works on guessing the weight of a cow, but not on determining what is entertaining TV.

      However there is a precedent for usercreated content mashups being succesful. I’d link some but I’ve forgotten them. There was an interesting screensaver at one point. So maybe not hugely successful.

  5. HexagonalBolts says:

    Spore – amazing content creation system, awful game

    I’m predicting this will be amazing content creation system, awful TV show.

  6. Tei says:

    Looks like a awful idea, but most TV ideas are clearly awful. TV is stuck in the early 90′s or something.

  7. jokermatt999 says:

    A game consisting solely of cutscenes?

    Metal Gear Solid 4?

  8. Calabi says:

    I think the delusion of player created content uplifting the world has died on its arse.

    Both Little Big planet and Spore, were supposed to herald the coming of a new age(I read the articles and believed them) of player concentric stuff, didnt quite turn out that way though.

  9. Helm says:

    As long as the suggestions by the public are censured by the TV execs this will be just another TV show in the end because people, when pressured to conform will tend to return to the safe tropes that make up daily television anyway. If there was some sort of binding promise that people could suggest anything and vote on any sort of thing then that’d at least be societally interesting even if the show ended up incoherent or whatever.

  10. kyrieee says:

    I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt

    Spore didn’t turn out well but there were rumours of serious creative conflicts within the studio and that Will didn’t win those arguments. I mean, the game turned out to be intelligent design and not evolution.

    • Severian says:

      Yes, thank you. Just throw in survival of the fittest, mating, modification through descent and all that, and Spore would have been bloody brilliant. Can’t they release an expansion pack for this?

  11. rocketman71 says:

    Hope this goes better than Spore.

  12. Current tv 2.0? says:

    This sounds a bit like current tv, in that theyre relying on independently submitted content. Unfortunately, current tv is a bit crap, and while theres some good stuff, a lot of it just seems to be ‘trendy’ shows and amateurish documentaries by media studies students.

    The execution does sound interesting though, so maybe it’ll fare better.

  13. ohnoabear says:

    When will Will Wright work out that Will Wright is far more interesting than 99.99% of the population? That means a) most people, when given creative tools of incredible flexibility and intuitiveness, will not create anything remotely interesting and b) whatever Will Wright creates is going to be far more interesting than what the other 99.99% create.

    • El Stevo says:

      @ohnoabear:

      It’s lucky there are 300,000,000 in the US then. A small percentage of such a large number means there are still plenty of interesting people who are able to create worthwhile things.

  14. JackShandy says:

    So, it’ll be MS Paint Adventures for TV, then?

  15. Premium User Badge phuzz says:

    I’m sure I remember some kids TV program back in the day (in the UK), where they did one episode, then got kids to write in (or maybe phone, but it was definitely before email) to say where the story should go next.
    Sounds a bit like this.

  16. DaveyJones says:

    I look forward to the day when this show comes out and turns out to be shit, then RPS will have to use “Penisogeddon” as an article title.

  17. Premium User Badge JonWood says:

    This is potentially interesting, but only if a reasonably sensible set of people are curating the submissions.

    The big thing that seems to get forgotten about user generated content is the fact that most people just aren’t that good at creating things, or at least things which are interesting to other people. However there will be a few gems in there that are worth broadcasting on TV.

    Just don’t leave it all up to a public vote, or it’ll be lowest common denominator nonsense.

  18. Christopher Weeks says:

    If you think that fresh, good, creative work can’t come from a properly-structured group, do this: Get Universalis, gather some friends around a table and play for four hours. You will have collaboratively played/told an interesting story that seemingly rose from the chaotic noise that exists between the players’ thoughts. I’ve never seen it fail.

    I don’t know that Wright’s new experiment will work out, but it could. And either way, it’s sure to be interesting and advance the state of the art.

  19. Cunzy1 1 says:

    Loser generated content. Let’s hope the first episode is like the awful awful Mugen.

  20. ezeleolos says:

    What a waste of resources/genius. Most TV is lame even with people who know what they are doing. I wish I could say “who cares”….sigh. At least it will be fun for those who like to make them.

    Even if it ends up being groundbreaking it’s still just….TV.

  21. Eamo says:

    I’m not sure if the skillset required to make great games is the same as the one required to make great TV. Yeah, every now and then someone who just doesn’t quite get the medium can create something new and amazing but more often than not when someone tries to take one skillset and apply it to a new medium you end up with something interesting that just doesn’t quite work.