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Showgoers flock to keynote to hear more on 'Spore'

"The Sims" designer gives Game Developers Conference keynote his next game's origin. Photo: Will Wright on 'Spore' and more

SAN JOSE, Calif.--If any forthcoming video game is more eagerly anticipated than Electronic Arts' "Spore," it's hard to imagine what it could be.

And it's no wonder. "Spore" is the brainchild of Will Wright, creator of "SimCity" and "The Sims," the best-selling PC game of all time.

Will Wright

And the new game's conceit--to let players take a microscopic spore and grow it into a larger organism, which then spawns a colony of small creatures that evolve into the population of a city and a planet before emerging into space colonies--is one of the freshest video game ideas to come along in years.

At the Game Developers Conference here Thursday, Wright gave a keynote address talking about the origins of "Spore." And as he weaved and wound his way through a high-concept talk discussing the science, fantasy and inspirational books and movies that led to the game--currently slated for a 2007 release--at least 3,000 adoring game designers listened for the lessons he imparted about process.

Wright is well-known as one of the smartest designers in the game business and certainly one of the most erudite. And the reasons behind that reputation showed in his keynote. The talk moved adroitly from robots to astrobiology to rocketry and communications between planetary societies to the ways game design teams are built.

And all along, Wright had the crowd laughing as he mixed dry humor with a long series of slides demonstrating his ideas.

In the end, it was hard to pinpoint exactly what lessons a game designer was supposed to take away from Wright's talk. But one thing was clear: If it was possible to bottle what a video game industry superstar like Wright does, thousands of designers would line up to buy it.