Thursday, July 19, 2007

Next stop: God

I just finished watching this video where Will Wright presents his latest game, Spore. I'd heard a bit about the game over the last six months or so, but I didn't realize how big it would be. This game is about bringing all the science of science fiction and reality into a big big simulation. From what I gather it's totally multiplayer as well, which, when you think about it, will make for some amazing interaction between players.

The even bigger picture is that Will Wright and Spore will help our civilization to understand our perspective in the galaxy and universe a bit better. I hope everyone can get a chance to paly this game.

Next step: God. :)


ignatius loyola said...

I think Spore is too highly hyped and won't live up to its expectations. The ability to "do whatever you want" will be severely limited to a specific set of actions that, while potentially large, are still noticeable finite.

I don't think the disparity between different people's universes will be as vast as he is suggesting. There will be "better" and "worse" modes more than there will simply be "different" modes. I don't think there will be enough randomization in the Universe that you create, such that you will always have the same fundamental aspects to overcome.

For example - one time I play the game, my initial "spore" is born on a water planet, and encounters an abnormally large quantity of heavy elements in the water. This should result in evolution towards lighter, smaller cells with less permeable membranes to avoid contamination. It would also result in radiation hard cells, and cells that divide less frequently. If the cells divide less frequently, this civilization would grow much slower and be at a disadvantage overall.

Alternatively, I can think of situations where asexual reproduction might be beneficial on a world, or the requirement of three genders might occur (tri-strand DNA, for example).

The point is - I doubt these factors are going to be taken into account. Instead there will be "weapons", "defense", "food", "shelter", etc... Also, once you pass the "level" of a tiny organism, I doubt you can create new ones. I would like to be able to create viruses that destroy the civilization on a world and start from a new civilization.

All that being said, I will still play it. :)

centeroftheworld said...

Some good points there.

Of course some of the abilities will be finite, it's limited to common PCs these days. But know that this could be the best, most advanced simulation of life and evolution ever crafted. Beyond that, it will allow a high level of customization and reponse to the user's actions. You liked that Peter Molyneaux game, the one where you're a God... um, oh yeah. Black & White. I would imagine this game will take some of those concepts to the next level.

I like your heavy elemented water example, but the other consequence is that that species would be tougher and at an advantage in the long term. It reminds me of corporate evolution: Cisco (slow and hardened) vs. Google (fast but probably more vulnerable) for example - both will succeed by leveraging their advantages.

Yep, different forms of reproduction might not be taken into account. Then again you can't have a triple helix DNA with the same bonds and molecules. Perhaps it's possible but why haven't we seen an example on earth? That would be incredibly complex.

What did you mean "doubt you can create new ones?" That you can't create new weapons, food, and shelter? I believe you can actually, based on some fundamental components.

That said, I might not play it unless it comes out for mac.

Ignatius Loyola said...

New things almost always are "the best, most advanced (insert noun) ever" by very definition. That is no specific surprise. It will be the best thing since sliced bread until the next best thing since sliced bread comes out, ad infinitum.

With that thought realized, I think the impact of this "simulation" can be brought more into perspective.

Yes, it will be good. But no, it misses the real key issue.

Simulation doesn't even mimic reality yet! At least outside of the particle physics realm... Within a true simulation, the parameters should be set up to follow some base set of rules/principles that govern the SMALLEST feature possible. Everything else must be built up from there from base principles. Changing the scale of the simulation should never change the fundamental rules.

This is not possible with current technology for gaming, as it requires 1000+ server farms for particle physics to do, as it is.

The biggest advances in computing are still coming out of CERN, and I think the gaming industry is missing some major tools in both simulation and collision/interaction physics. Check out GEANT4 (rather, check out how it actually runs, rather than what it does) for such gems as avoiding the whole "time step" concept in computing particle interactions, and check out WHiZard for such gems as arbitrary interaction computing (whereby the actual interaction is built upon from the start, looking at all initial factors, rather than considering a set of preset interaction templates).

I am looking forward to the day when collision detection requires minimal computing time by using PROPER physics within video games (HL2 is a good start) to predict future events and avoid this concept of "step time, check collision, step time, check collision, ad infinitum". And I am looking forward to the day when objects are created from a smaller base object, and are connected by some form of tension that can break when a force is applied. Through this, large objects will be arbitrarily broken depending upon impact parameters.

THAT is more true simulation to me. But I guess each step of the is an improvement by definition, so I guess I shall just wait for holographic data storage and 3D processor architecture to improve computing before suggesting these to the gaming industry. :)

centeroftheworld said...

Do you think PROPER physics is remotely possible on PCs yet?

If the heirarchy of complexity in Science can be roughly stated to be: Biology (top), Chemistry, then Physics, then I think we're only just approaching Biology in videogames.

Collision detection is pretty huge though; I'm hoping the PS3 can be tapped out to break some serious ground there. Gran Turismo and HL and some of the newer engines are making headway. Remember that PS1 game where the walls were destructible? That was a good little experiment. I liked how Spore provides the terraforming tools though.

I'll have to look up WHIZard and GEANT4.