Here’s the gameplay video. However, I highly suggest you check out the full version,
which you can watch here. In the full version, it’s twice as long, but you hear a lot of important stuff from Will Wright about why he’s doing this, and about the process of “procedural generation”, which plays a huge part in the game. If nothing else, watch the first ten minutes - those are the most important.
Spore, is, at first glance, an evolution game, where you progress from a microbe in a drop of water to a multicellular organism living under the ocean. From there, you can go onto land, or stay in the water, but whatever you do, your creature is yours - each time you pass into the next generation, you get a certain amount of “funds” to evolve your creature, changing part sizes, leg configuration, adding weapons, etc. The game uses procedural generation to figure out how things can walk - you can create some of the most exotic leg designs and the game still figures out how to make them realistic. Your computer finds out how to make things realistic through the use of algorythms - the basis of “procedural generation”. You could make a tripedal creature with two legs in back and one in front (Will actually did this in the video) and the computer will use its algorythms to find out how the creature should walk, move, attack, sound, etc - for walking? One step with the front, asynchronous steps with the hind legs, with prehensile tail waving with every step, due to it’s integration into the rear spine. And the computer figures this all out itself. No help, nothing but algorythms. 'Mazing.
Once you become sentient (after evolving the “brain” pool to a certain level) you enter the tribal stage, and at this point it becomes an RTS. You control your sentient tribe of creatures ( at this point, evolution has finished and the creature is locked in) and eventually progress onto a city, then spacefaring stage, then galactic stage.
What’s interesting is that Will Wright describes the game as a “massively single-player online game”. Your game tries to model an ecosystem on your planet, with carnivores, herbivores, etc. If you have an internet connection, the game can search through a master server for files players have uploaded, find the ones that fit with the overall “style” of the creatures on your world, and then download and populate them. However, it’s asynchronous - as soon as you download them, the computer takes control. Think of it as having a massive gene pool that your computer gets samples from when it needs, then grows entirely new creatures, seperate from their origin point, to populate your planet. What’s amazing is that these files are smaller than a single kilobyte, due to the algorythms that can compress and uncompress them.
Short version? It’s awesome.
By the way, these videos are from 2005 - the creature editor and such have received an overhaul between there and E3, so don’t be surprised when you see the interface looking different than it does in the video. Will Wright was showing us an incomplete game with unfinalized aspects, so a lot of stuff will probably be different. However, if it’s this amazing at this stage, imagine what it’ll be like later.