Gamers have been waiting with bated breath for the past seven years, but our wait will soon be over. In the second half of 2007, we'll finally get our hands on Spore, the latest game from Will Wright, famed creator of Sim City and The Sims. Judging from the media hype surrounding Spore, it's bound to be a huge hit.

Since beginning development in 2000, Wright has occasionally given demos and lectures about Spore, which is the first mass-market game based on generative systems. What's a generative system, you ask? In short, rather than creating a set of canned content -- creatures, environments, etc. -- the content is all user-generated, and it follows simple mathematical rules to create interesting and unique gameplay possibilities. In the game, you design a simple multi-cellular and guide it through its adventures an ever-evolving world, populated by creatures and environments from other players.

Composer Brian Eno described generative systems by saying: "You make seeds, rather than forests." In Spore, your seed (well, your "spore") is a dynamic entity that grows and changes in response to the environment -- and to your tinkering, as its creator. In the last stage of the game, your spore creates a spacecraft and flies through the universe, meeting other civilizations...and sometimes destroying them.

It's fascinating stuff both for gamers and for math geeks (and yes, we're aware of the overlap there!). Recommended viewing:

UPDATE: corrected the spelling of "bated," having learned something from commenter Larriann. Thanks!