In the presentation, Will Wright, creator of SimCity and The Sims, explains that the costs of creating current and next-gen games is going through the roof, primarily due the the cost of content creation - banks of artists and designers required - yet the value to gamers is not increasing at the same rate.
Wright believes he's found a solution for reducing the need for armies of content developers: what he calls "procedural" content development - let the user be the content developer, provide a framework (a set of algorithmic rules) for the user's creations (lifeforms) to be inputted and experience the magic...(Gamespy has more on this here). The user's creations evolve and interact with other gamer's creations. By applying this approach, and from what I've seen in the demo, Wright is creating an astonishing environment for emergent gameplay. The results are amazing...
Spore's evolutionary theme reminds me of William Latham's Evolva. (see William Latham interview on his Darwinian creation). Spore's ambition and scope is staggering - from the microscopic to the galaxian, from the cellular to the societal. I can't wait.
From the Newsweek article:
"Spore starts you off as a single cell inside a tide pool, consuming harmless cells and avoiding hostile ones, accumulating points all the while. Eventually you'll be able to develop your single cell into a stronger multicelled organism, then a complex reptile or mammal—which can mate, create offspring and evolve into an intelligent tribe that must compete and cooperate with other tribes developing independently on other parts of the planet. (Sound familiar?) Once your tribe develops the technology, you can travel to other planets, solar systems and galaxies, colonizing your way through the universe as benevolently or maliciously as you see fit."