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It was one of those ’Oh, wow’ moments,” says IEEE Spectrum Contributing Editor David Kushner [right], recalling his first encounter with the new computer game Spore . Due to be released this month and featured in Kushner’s article in this issue, Spore is the brainchild of legendary game designer Will Wright [left]. Kushner has been a devoted fan of Wright’s ever since 1993, when he began playing SimCity 2000 .

What sets Wright’s work apart, Kushner says, is his ability to conjure up those ”Oh, wow” moments—lots of them. In SimCity , players explore the dynamics of what makes a city thrive, creating uncannily believable and compelling scenarios. ”You wouldn’t think urban planning and laying down pipe would make for a great computer game,” he says. But they did. The game even became part of Kushner’s courtship of his wife, Sue: ”We spent months having fun building this city together as we were building our relationship.” They battled bad plumbing and broken roads, which served as good practice for life in Brooklyn, N.Y. Eventually, their virtual city’s inhabitants got to live in a big space tower, so the two won’t complain if life continues to mimic art.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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