Gamasutra took the time to interview Soren Johnson, one of the guys responsible for the AI in Spore. A ton of questions were asked in this 7 page interview.
BS: What have been the challenges for you? You’ve touched on some of it, but just moving from a project that was so explicitly hardcore gamer-focused to something that is less about a focus on an audience and more about trying out new ideas. Or has it not been more challenging and more freeing?
SJ: It’s definitely been more freeing. I think it would be harder to go in the other direction. Because I kind of went into it at the very beginning and said, “Okay, this is not about making the most balanced game in the world. This is not about giving people a challenge that’s going to take them years to work through all the different levels.” I decided right off the bat to not worry about that too much.
But there have been many times where I would put stuff in the game that I had to take out because it’s made the game frustrating for people – things that I probably would not have taken out if we were aiming for a classic gamer audience.
There isn’t a lot of space in the game for instruction. For a game like Civ, it’s taken for granted that when you decide what to build in the city, you’re going to have ten choices, and we’re going to have fairly detailed pop-up help to help you understand that, and there will be a place to go to, to explain all the different concepts.
In Spore, there are three different building types, and there are three different vehicle types. There’s not necessarily a lot of room for maneuverability there. So yeah, I think for the most part, I haven’t worried about that too much.