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Sims creator's long-awaited "playing god" game hits stores

Creatures can be made to have scales, fins, wings, claws, extra appendages, additional eyes, or body parts in unexpected places. The online game's programming gives characters artificial intelligence and creatures can pass on virtual genes to their progeny and build civilisations with cities, governments and economies.
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Sept 5, 2008
"Spore", the eagerly-awaited computer game five years in the making allowing people to play God by re-creating the universe, hits stores worldwide this week.

The latest brainchild of game legend Will Wright, maker of the world's top-selling computer game "The Sims", "Spore" is being released in Europe and Asia on Friday ahead of its September 7 debut in the United States.

"We are hoping to build a community as big as that of the Sims," Wright said during a Paris stopover this week ahead of the launch of the game by Electronic Arts.

"You are given this God-like power," Wright told AFP in a recent interview in California. "You can create ecosystems, biospheres ... We try to make it real science."

Players start as microscopic life forms competing for survival in primordial ooze and work their way onto land, where they evolve into creatures that build civilisations and rocket into space.

"It is still probably the most interesting question for scientists and five-year-olds: What is life?" Wright said.

"It starts out as single-cell organisms and then you are eventually flying around the galaxy exploring new worlds, meeting other creatures and creating federations."

Creatures can be made to have scales, fins, wings, claws, extra appendages, additional eyes, or body parts in unexpected places.

The online game's programming gives characters artificial intelligence and creatures can pass on virtual genes to their progeny and build civilisations with cities, governments and economies.

And in a computer game first, "Spore" worlds will be inhabited by aliens made by players instead of professional video game programmers.

In June, ahead of the launch, Wright's Electronic Arts-owned Maxis Studio released "creature creator" software to allow aspiring "Spore" players to bring a population to life in time for the game's premiere.

The response astounded even Wright, with by July the number of creatures in the "Spore" database exceeding the number of known species on Earth.

"It took them 18 days to reach the number of creatures on Earth and, by some accounts, it took God six days," Wright joked during a US presentation.

Determined players can go from being an amoeba to exploring space in about six hours, according to Wright. The self-described science fiction fan wove cliches from the genre's popular films and stories into the game.

Players can add their creations to an online "Sporepedia" to share with others and record videos of their aliens in action and upload them to YouTube.

With the release of the original "Sims" title in early 2000, Wright lured women and other "casual gamers" into a video game market long considered a bastion of "hardcore gamers", mainly young men.

Electronic Arts announced in April it had sold more than 100 million copies of "The Sims", the world's best selling computer game.

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Eyes turn to dawn of 'visual computing'
San Jose, California (AFP) Aug 28, 2008
Lifelike graphics are breaking free of elite computer games and spreading throughout society in what industry insiders proclaim is the dawning of a "visual computing era."







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