Outer Limits

Speaking to a full house for his GDC keynote, Will Wright spoke about the basic principles of game design and his current passion for extra-terrestrial life theories

Wright's overt passion for his work and infectious curiosity were apparent as he showed off how designs for his upcoming bio-sim Spore were driven by his own obsession with intergalactic life-forms. He stressed the importance of spending as much time as possible on research in the early stages of game development.

He advised, "Take time to reflect on your ideas. Cast as wide a research net as possible. Don't commit to any individual ideas too early. Discover the 90 percent of research material that is irrelevant and the 10 percent that is important. enjoy being obsessive. It helps a lot. Cultivate that obsession in your team."

Wright wisely addressed the powerful position that game creators have on those who play games, as he said "Games have an influence on players. We must not take that responsibility lightly or squander that."

He revealed the inspiration behind Spore, which came from a multitude of sources including Hubble, comic books, Stanley Kubrick, mid-1900 alien and space theorists and what he called "game archaeology". He said that he had "spent time playing a lot of old games", such as Microsoft Space Simulator, Celestia and Homeworld.

Wright noted the differences between his new project Spore and the difficult experience he had with The Sims Online. He likened his experiences with the two games with the analogy of switching from a large piece of industrial machinery to a Ferrari.

Later in the speech, he talked about the importance of getting the right people on a team. "A small number of very smart people is always better than a large group of quite smart people," he said.

Although he didn't show any Spore gameplay, he scrolled through an astounding variety of visual concepts from single-celled organisms to imaginary planetary systems as well as taxonomies of creature types and their anatomies.

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