Saturday, September 06, 2008


Spore, the world's most eagerly anticipated video game ever, releases this weekend.

I wrote it.

Or rather, I wrote all the dialog and some of the situations in the space game, which is the last--- the ultimate, if you will--- of five interlinked games that make up Spore. (There's not a lot of call for dialog in most of the games, since characters won't yet have evolved language.)

When you encounter some fifteen-eyed, twenty-tentacled Purple People Eater lecturing you from the command center of its UFO, you're talking to me, baby!

Faithful readers may recall, earlier in the year, my mention of a Mystery Project. Spore was it.

Spore was designed by Will Wright, who had earlier created The Sims, which is the world's most popular computer game ever. Spore is a game about evolution, vetted by actual scientists, in which you start as a single-celled animal in a droplet of water. You then progress through the stages of being a rather more efficient single-celled organism, after which you crawl out on land, become the dominant species, evolve intelligence, become a tribal society, develop civilization, and eventually space travel, after which you roar out into the galaxy.

And by galaxy, I mean galaxy. You get an entire galaxy, every star and its planets and orbiting body, as your sandbox.

I have to say that Will, Lucy, Kip, Jenna, Eric, and the other folks at Maxis were pretty darn smart to get themselves a science fiction writer to write the science fiction parts.

The original name for the game was "Sim Everything." Which it is.

I'm really proud to be a part of it.

Buy it! Then write to Will Wright and tell him how wonderful the dialog was.



Blogger John Joseph Adams said...

Walter, that's awesome!

11:52 PM  
Blogger dubjay said...

Yeah, it =is= kinda awesome, isn't it?

12:48 AM  
Blogger Thai said...

My 13 and 11 year old sons were telling me about this game last night.

It seems the game has generated quite a buzz

3:34 AM  
Blogger Michael Grosberg said...

Man! all I can say is "Respect".

6:13 AM  
Blogger Paul Weimer said...

I was moderately interested in the game, tempered by the realization that the game is probably going to be too ambitious and fall on its face.

The revelation that your talents are a part of the space portion of the game increases my interest by an order of magnitude. Awesome!

6:25 AM  
Blogger Matt Forbeck said...

Congratulations, Walter. That's a very cool gig!

6:56 AM  
Blogger halojones-fan said...

The sad part is going to be seeing your dialog recited by entire universes of Penis Monsters.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At last the Mystery Project is revealed! Totally cool. I've been reading about Spore (and its inevitable bastard offshoot, Sporn) for a while now, but nowhere was your contribution trumpeted as it should have been. Very cool indeed!

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great. My obsessions are cross pollinating. Congratulations, Walter!

9:24 AM  
Blogger dubjay said...

Justin, I played a pre-Beta release version and it played extremely well (until it crashed completely and wouldn't work any longer).

Presumably they've fixed the crashing part, so what's left should be an extremely amusing, playable game.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Dave Bishop said...

Could I just ask why the voiceover has a British accent (well, English, actually)? In Hollywood movies we Brits are usually cast as villains. Are we viewed more sympathetically in computer games?

3:40 PM  
Blogger Laurie Mann said...

Leslie had the game on order, bought it today, and has hardly left her apartment since about noon. She LOVES it!

5:36 PM  
Blogger Foxessa said...

There were at least 3 reviews of Spore in the NY Times since Sept. 2's Science Times' one -- three screens about it, that one.

The Times' Arts secton one was Sept. 4.

And a paragraph in the 'new video games' listing in the Times' Television section.

There was also an article about Spore back in October, 2006.

Love, C.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Lance Larka said...

Unfortunately it seams that EA has done it again. The DRM for Spore is pretty restrictive and most reviews on Amazon are negative and mention the DRM as the reason:

As wonderful a game it might be, but treating your customers as if they are thieves by default isn't a very viable business plan.

I really, REALLY want to buy this game but I won't until the DRM is removed.

Sorry Walter.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Lance Larka said...

Sorry, wrong link:

Evilavatar link

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's completely awesome. I was getting into galactic mode last night before I finally called it quits -- 11 hours in one sitting!

Congrats and it's a remarkable game.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Ralf the Dog said...

Congrats! Just ran out to get the game. I will play it this weekend.

@ Dave Bishop.

The Brits (or English) make great villains . They talk funny so everyone thinks they are smart or something. Everyone knows smart people are Evil!

PS. The Master in Dr. Who speaks British and he is evil.


11:42 AM  
Blogger Ray Radlein said...

Agreed about the DRM. I've been buying Will Wright games since SimCity first hit the Amiga, and I've been eagerly awaiting Spore for ages now — but that DRM has completely stopped me from buying it.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Ralf the Dog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Ralf the Dog said...

From what I understand, the DRM is not that bad. You get to install on three computers and not feel guilty. 1 for your laptop, one for your desktop and one to grow on. I don't know if you can deregeseter a copy.

My question about spore is about the cell level. How do you regulate adenosine triphosphate levels. Do you just turn off Mitochondria? What about other organelles? Are you strictly limited to the DNA RNA protein cycle or can you play with retro virus tricks?

It would also be cool if you could see things going on outside of the cell. Cells are quite complex. I wonder if most gamers would get board with a cell simulation?

Cant wait to play!

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super cool! They should really share this type of information more freely. Quality writing in gaming is pretty sparse.

I'll have to bump up Spore in my gaming queue a bit. I was planning on checking it out, but now I'll get to it sooner :D

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I understand, the DRM is not that bad. You get to install on three computers and not feel guilty. 1 for your laptop, one for your desktop and one to grow on. I don't know if you can deregeseter a copy.

And what happens if my computer crashes during install? Or if I have to de-install the game because of a conflict? Or if an hour after my 3rd attempt at installing it my hard disk dies?

3, 30, or 300 installs it doesn't matter. If the number of times you can install the product is limited it means you don't actually own it. It would be akin to buying a book and after the 3rd time reading it the ink on the pages disappear.

I STILL play games that were put out in the 80's and early 90's that I purchased legally. I would like to think that any game I buy today would likewise be playable in 20 years.

DRM has been a lively topic of debate for games and literature for some time. I nod my head towards publishers like Baen Books and Stardock for releasing digital product with NO restrictions. I sincerely hope that other publishers follow their example.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Chris Meadows said...

Well, it's neat they had enough sense to get a SF writer for the most SFnal section. Reminds me of how Valve got Marc Laidlaw to write Half-Life for them.

Although it would be completely asinine for anyone to blame you for the situation with the hyper-restrictive DRM, I'm curious what your take on the DRM situation is. It's interesting that Amazon is up to 2,133 reviews of the game so far, of which 1,961 are 1-star largely due to the DRM situation.

I can't say I'm terribly fond of the DRM myself (I don't like the idea of having to call and ask for permission to play the game I bought and paid for if I need to install it more than three times—or that I might lose the ability to play the game altogether if EA goes belly-up, or decides to turn off its authentication servers the way Yahoo Music did), but I think I might pick Spore up if Best Buy marks it half-off on Black Friday the way they did the Orange Box last year.

P.S. Is the third Metropolitan book ever going to come out? :)

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, Walter, your most recent book 'Implied Spaces' was released with an EXTREMELY restrictive form of DRM. I must have the physical copy of the work IN MY POSSESSION in order to read it. I refuse to pay to support a product with such a restrictive license.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Paul Weimer said...


Copies of Walter's new book, however, do not make it more difficult for me to read other books in my possession and do not "crash" other books by its existence.

I do not have to call or email Walter on a regular basis to continue to enjoy the prvilege of reading the book.

I do not need Walter's permission to gift the book to someone I want to introduce to his work, either.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Ralf the Dog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Ralf the Dog said...

I did break Walter's TOS by loaning a copy of the book to a friend. I hope I am not banned from these forums or from reading any more of his books.


Anonymous said...

"Also, Walter, your most recent book 'Implied Spaces' was released with an EXTREMELY restrictive form of DRM. I must have the physical copy of the work IN MY POSSESSION in order to read it. I refuse to pay to support a product with such a restrictive license."

Last time I checked you and Walter were married. If you asked nicely he would probably loan you his copy.

12:17 PM  
Blogger dubjay said...

The Anonymous who just posted was =not= my spouse. Doubtless whoever-it-was was =very= confused by Rslf's last statement.

I'll make a separate topic for DRM, so y'all can discuss it to your heart's content.

FWIW, my guess is that EA will soon shift to a less drastic form of DRM. They were trying really hard to prevent massive piracy during the game's initial release, and will probably get less uptight about all that as the millions start rolling in.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Ralf the Dog said...

Sorry, Because I am profoundly dyslexic, I have a hard time with the difference between Anonymous and Anonymous. It might be somewhat less confusing if she spelled her name Anonymous.

On a separate topic, anyone playing Spore running into an Octo Dog Fish, that is me.

8:02 AM  

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