Thomas Vu is one of the lead producers on Spore, and his work with Will Wright on a number of projects, including The Sims 2, has given him a strong reputation in the simulation market. So, naturally, when we got a chance to go hands-on with Spore and have a natter with him we leapt at it like a Cardigan.
If you’re confused by that last line then you obviously haven’t read out in-depth hands-on preview of the game on both PC and DS. You should probably sort that out before diving into our interview with Thomas.
Regardless, let’s just say we were all too eager to have a chat with Thomas and to ask him about the female market, DirectX 10, creationism and, um, probing….
bit-tech: Having just played the game one thing that I wasn’t sure of was that, when players start off, is the world always the same?
Thomas Vu: It’s the same every time – the exact same world. It was one of the major challenges in designing the game and it made developing Spore very difficult because we’re not instancing at all. It’s the same world right from when you’re the cell-level creature all the way up – you just see more of it.
BT: OK – so, I’ve played on both the PC and DS versions, and I’ve seen the mobile version, but there are rumours of another console release. Is there going to be a Wii version?
TV: This was one of the things Will talked about early on – we’re thinking about developing a Wii version. It’s still very rudimentary and we haven’t really announced anything yet.
Thomas Vu is one of the lead producers on Spore
BT: But you are officially working on it?
TV: I think so. I’m not sure what the official line is on that though. I should probably ask – but we aren’t announcing anything just yet.
BT: Is there anything else you’re keeping under wraps about the game? It’s been implied that there’s a story or an overall final aim…
TV: Again, I can’t really talk about that. We’re not sure yet and, y’know, the platforms are all very different. Like the DS, the audience is much younger—like 11 to 19—which is why we made that version more arcadey, more mission based.
BT: Do you see the Spore franchise appealing to a specific age group or market?
TV: For the DS, yeah, it’d be a younger market. For the PC though is obviously very deep and sort of like a high concept game. Spore works very well for the PC as opposed to console – whereas the console is fast paced and a lot lighter in terms of the high level concepts, the PC people prefer to take their time.
All life starts as a simple cell and grows from there
BT: You also worked on The Sims 2, which obviously has a massive appeal with girl gamers. Do you think you’ll get the same success with Spore?
TV: Well, we hope so. Evolution is a topic which isn’t really gender-based or relevant in the way The Sims was. If you think about The Sims then it was very relevant in terms of what…well, everyone knows what a bathtub does and what a cooker does. With Spore though, it’s a little harder to make the gameplay relevant to people, but the core ideas behind it would appeal (we think) to female gamers too.
The idea of customisation, sandbox gameplay – the idea of making something, putting something into a world and then just seeing what happens. All the social networking tools in the game, the sharing of content is all very much like The Sims, but taken a lot further.
It’s hard to say though. We hope it’ll do well, but we’re waiting and seeing. We’re definitely taking into consideration things like difficulty levels for different markets. Like for the creator systems – it’s likely that a lot of females will just want to make things and not even play the game. They might enjoy just sharing it with others.