When creative geniuses collide, something of interest usually crops up. This week, ground breaking game developer Will Wright (SimCity, The Sims, Spore) met with music pioneer Brian Eno for a little chinwag. Read on to find out what their massive combined brains made their mouths say to the assembled audience.
The open seminar (entitled "Playing with Time") took place earlier this week at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, where the pair spoke about the joys and techniques of what they refer to as "generative" creation.
Back in the 1970s both speakers got hooked by cellular automata (giving as an example, Conway's "Game of Life") where just a few simple rules could unleash profoundly unpredictable and infinitely varied dynamic patterns.
The idea of cellular automata directly inspired Wright's "SimCity" back in 1989 as well as Eno's "Music for Airports" (way back in 1978), which basically invented the now sprawling genre of "ambient music".
According to Wright: "Science is all about compressing reality to minimal rule sets, but generative creation goes the opposite direction. You look for a combination of the fewest rules that can generate a whole complex world which will always surprise you, yet within a framework that stays recognizable.....It's not engineering and design, so much as it is gardening. You plant seeds."
Eno drew parallels here with ambient music, which unlike "narrative" music (i.e. music with a beginning, middle, and end) is "more like watching a river."
SPOnG agrees with Wright who often uses Eno's music to work to because it gets him in a "productive trance-like state". It certainly beats trying to work with Chris Moyles or Chris Evans blathering away in the background, as SPOnG's research has conclusively proven. Listening to Eno puts one in a fully productive state of mind, whereas listening to Evans or Moyles puts one in a mild state of anxiety, confusion and inspires zilch.
Eno went on to provide live background music, as Wright rolled out the demo of his latest genre-buster, Spore. You can see SPOnG's dedicated Spore page
for more info and all the latest assets on this mind-blowing game.
Spore compresses 3.5 billion years of evolution into a few hours/days of game play, where the levels are Cell, Creature, Tribe, City, Civilization, Space. It is, to put it mildly, an ambitious title.
We've got one of our fellas out in San Fran this very week to interview Will Wright about all things Spore-related, so watch this space for the exclusive SPOnG interview coming your way very soon.
According to Wright's demo: "You encounter civilizations built by other players, but the players don't have to be there for the civilizations to be alive and responsive."
He went on to say: "Oops. I seem to have inadvertently started an interplanetary war here," to which Eno dryly responded "Like America."