Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Backstory of Spore

Yesterday I went to the monthly Atlanta Game Development Meetup, where I met Sean O'Neil, a software engineer who has experience in various game projects, one of them being, very interestingly, Will Wright's Spore, albeit in its very early stage of development.

He had some interesting story to tell, one of them being that Spore was actually going to be a Mars version of Sims. (Well, I guess it wasn't Spore at all then) It would have players build habitable bases on the red planet and deal with Sims living inside them. The project was also funded by NASA. However, Will didn't see the whole lot of point to finish the project--It's not that different from other Sims, presumably--so he scrapped the whole thing and moved on next thing that we know as Spore.

Sean was involved in the project because he made a very efficient atmostphere scattering algorithm on his spare time (what a hobby), which would've been very useful for making those planets look real pretty. He also made a program that generates patterns (that look natural) for planet's surfaces that could create patterns down to smallest detail. However, it was not put to use because Will himself told Sean that they were going with small, sizeable planets, in order to avoid overwhelming players. This all happened during earlier phase of the project, the research-phase, and Sean jumped off the train after that because he did not want to get into game dev as full-time. And rest is history. (Also notable is that Spore team did use his research in the game.)

Since getting out of college, I met several, very interesting people: team lead at my work, who enjoys writing programs and tools at home, or work without getting paid (eh?), and Sean O'Neil, who makes algorithm based CG generating tools that can be measured against Ph.D student's thesis papers. And that's how they enjoy their lives... and here I am here sitting at work complaining about having to write help files and few lines of codes. Oh, boy.

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