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Will Wright's Sterling Stuff

Increasingly nebulous mega-brain Will Wright has finally revealed what the hell he’s up to next. He’s spent his post-Spore years working at an outfit he calls Stupid Fun Club, which has had all sorts of wild ideas about TV shows and toys, but now he seems to be turning those historically ingenious eyes back to games.

He’s working on adapting a short story about a karmic computer, by sci-fi writer and technology ponderer Bruce Sterling, and he reckons he can get it turned around within a year.

“He [Sterling] describes a karmic computer that’s keeping a balance of payments between different people, and causing them to interact with each other in interesting ways to improve their lives even though they’re strangers,” Wright, who once told me an incomprehensible joke about a duck, revealed to Eurogamer. “”They earn karmic points that are redeemed by having somebody else help them.”

He reckons PC, Facebook, mobile and tablet are the key platforms, which means this is going to come our way. It sounds like it has the ethos of a social game, but whether it has the contentious business model of one remains to be seen.

However, unlike prior Wright opuses, this one should be developed pretty quickly. “I don’t think it makes sense to go through even a three or four year development cycle any more. Unless you can get something to market within a year, at least an initial version within a year, you’re hosed.

“So that’s the new model for development, which has totally changed my thinking. Almost any project I want to work on is going to be something I can at least get some version out there in about a year and then iterate from there.”

Bruce Sterling’s story, Maneki Neko, concerns a possible future of a network-based gift economy – where we pay in favours rather than in cash. Just like me and your mum, eh? Oh no, I actually just wrote that, didn’t I? My God have mercy on my terrible soul.

Anyway: you can read the whole story here, and then muse upon the social gaming connotations.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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