Community Service: Project Spark’s Alpha

By Adam Smith on June 13th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Good morning. I’ve just returned from the humble pie and hat emporium with a couple of items I picked up for lunch. You may recall that in between all the XBone exclusives and cars, Microsoft announced a game called Project Spark, which is coming to Windows 8 as well as the Kinected console. It’s a flexible game creation suite, similar to Gameglobe, Little Big Planet and my personal favourite in the genre, Klik & Play. The game will rely heavily on community contributions, making it possible to download anything from entire worlds to individual AI routines, but I queried the apparent use of community downloads during the onstage presentation and in the video below. I was wrong!

Project Spark’s team have been gathering community contributions for some time now, as Henry Sterchi, the game’s creative director explained to me:

“We have been running a closed alpha for a few months with Project Spark, and have also opened our doors to several High School programs. Even with this relatively small initial effort, we have been completely amazed at what our community has been able to make.”

That actually makes the montage video far more intriguing. For those who don’t remember or didn’t see it, take a look.

A piano! A Limbo-like sidescroller! Irritated Avians! There’s even a card game in there and the idea of having such a broad collection of toys to play with is far more appealing knowing that they’re more than mock-ups. The game will be free-to-play although paid DLC is expected.

And now I shall tuck into this ten gallon hat.

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45 Comments »

  1. The Laughing Owl says:

    Wait, I thought this site didn’t report on console exclusive games…

  2. kidfarthing says:

    It’s right there in the first paragraph, bud…

    “Microsoft announced a game called Project Spark, which is coming to Windows 8 as well as the Kinected console.”

    • 2Ben says:

      Woosh ? It’s Windows 8 man, that’s tablet OS :)

      • Tridae says:

        Seriously. . stop with this Win8 hate. Have any of you even tried it? seems it’s just ‘cool’ to hate win8.

        I installed it for the lulz the other day and it’s pretty great. No I don’t use metro but a 4mb iobit startmenu download and you’re back to everything win7 had and more.

        Just give it a go with a modded start menu and you’ll see.

        • BTAxis says:

          Same here. I used a hack that installs Win7′s explorer, which means my Win8 *is* a slightly faster Win7. Haven’t found any reason to go back to 7.

        • razgon says:

          Windows 8 means I’m out as well – Hopefully they will change it like they have with pretty much every other Windows 8 exclusive that I know about to be able to use on windows 7.

          Looks faintly interesting though, but like most of such stuff, not something I’ll use after the novelty fades I’m sure.

        • S Jay says:

          Agreed. Windows 8 is ok (metro sucks supreme, but I don’t use it). The quick time to boot is really impressive.

        • Ragnar says:

          Windows 8 with a proper start menu is just fine. I’m still not buying it just for this game.

          But let’s face it, exclusives sell consoles, so maybe if they get enough exclusives it’ll sell Windows 8 too?

  3. Seafort says:

    The point stands. Why are RPS reporting on platforms we don’t own?? :P

    I don’t regard Windows 8 as part of Windows OS. It’s a tablet OS primarily :) It’s just Vista all over again with MS making their games exclusive to a certain OS and hoping people will buy it.

    It doesn’t make sound business sense to relegate a game to their least % of market share OS. Unless MS are just using gamers on win 8 for beta testing for their proper platform, the Xbone.

    It was just like Skulls of the Shogun. They left that to rot on Windows 8 and XBLA. I haven’t heard anything about it since.

    • Jazzyboy says:

      @Seafort
      I have Windows 8 on PC.

      Don’t be so biased. Windows 8 is a perfectly good OS and a lot of people do use it.

      • dE says:

        Windows 8 is a perfectly shitty OS you have to constantly work around. I have it on my PC because it was bundled with the hardware. It works fair enough from a technical standpoint but the UI is an unbelievable mess of insufferable bullshit.

        • marach says:

          really? When do you even see metro? for like 2 seconds when you reboot before you click the desktop tile? after that it’s win 7 with a few extra features and much better file transfer…

        • TormDK says:

          Pressing WinKey+D, or the Desktop title is hard work, amirite?

        • S Jay says:

          “Constantly work around it” = pressing win+d.

          Spoiled generation.

          • Bloodoflamb says:

            “Spoiled generation.”

            Says every generation ever about every younger generation.

      • Dan says:

        The “bias” comes from Win8 being an unusable mess. If you haven’t noticed this, it might be that you’re not a terribly efficient user of Windows, which is fine. For those of us who are, however, the loss of that efficiency is unpleasant to say the least.

        • derbefrier says:

          no the bias you see in the comments of gaming sites comes from idiot kids just following suit and parroting what big name PC devs like notch and gabe are saying without actually experiencing it.
          And what specifically are you talking about that’s so horrible it warrants labeling the whole OS a failure?
          your a bit vague and I’d bet there’s a reason for that..

    • SaVi says:

      Team 17 Bit were in the E3 presentation, so I guess they are doing fine.
      And good for us that it doesn’t depend on your personal opinion which makes a valid OS. People use it to play PC games, deal with it. RPS still report on news about Linux and Mac but hell I would only run my games on them if MS really screws up Windows 9. Doesn’t make me spaz around and being all snarky about Steam on Ubuntu and Mac OS. More power to them I say.

    • QualityJeverage says:

      “I don’t regard Windows 8 as part of Windows OS. It’s a tablet OS primarily”

      Well, good for you I suppose. Shame you aren’t in charge of RPS’ content then? It runs on PCs. RPS shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t exist because commenters don’t like it.

  4. cocoleche says:

    What kind of magic ingredient does Windows 8 have, that makes this impossible to run on 7?

    • basilisk says:

      Apart from an entire new OS layer and all the corresponding APIs, you mean?

      But yeah, this probably isn’t a Metro application. Even in that case, however, it’s perfectly normal to release software for your latest platform only, compatibility with previous versions being an “at your own risk” affair. If it weren’t Microsoft, the idea of releasing new games for old OS versions would not even occur to you, because it just makes no damn sense.

      • Harlander says:

        Does it really make sense to describe a behaviour as “perfectly normal” when there’s really only two commercial desktop OS vendors which make systems you’d reasonably play games on, and each of them takes opposite stances on this issue?

        • basilisk says:

          That’s why I put “platform” there instead of “OS” after some thought. You simply wouldn’t expect new Firefox extensions to be released for the 3.x branch. You wouldn’t assume latest Android applications are going to run perfectly smoothly out of the box on a phone you bought two years ago and never updated. Backporting improvements and bugfixes to old software versions just isn’t reasonable practice most of the time, so it’s always assumed you’re using the latest. And that really is normal. Microsoft’s insane eighteen years of backwards compatibility in their OS line are the exception in the software world.

          • wengart says:

            When 66.8% of gamers on Steam use Windows 7, and only 12% use Windows 8 you expect them to port it backwards.

            Windows 8 is only leading Windows XP by 5%.

          • SaVi says:

            The lower user percentage doesn’t invalidate his point about writing only for the newest system.

          • wengart says:

            It means it doesn’t make economic sense, and has he said it is the exception and people expect it.

          • killias2 says:

            Jelly Bean 4.2.x has about ~4% of all Android phones right now.

    • mrmalodor says:

      Nothing. It’s exactly the same OS, but with a new interface and with artificial restrictions added to certain games.

      • w9jds says:

        Wrong. Windows 8 has a whole new boot system that allows for incredibly fast booting. Task Manager and file transfers have been written from the ground up, and basically all UI has been modified to use even less resources than windows 7. This doesn’t even take into account the whole secondary system of metro and the new APIs and multitasking systems.

    • TormDK says:

      Direct X 11.1 likely.

  5. skyturnedred says:

    I personally use Windows 8, since I got it for cheap and and I was previously running XP, so I don’t mind this exclusivity. I can understand why Microsoft is using some of their projects to boost sales for Win8, of course they want people to switch to their new OS. But I don’t think a game that very much depends on having a large and active community will benefit from being exclusive, and I sincerely hope it won’t be crippled by it.

  6. mrmalodor says:

    Not interested in that bullshit operating system. Bring it to W7 and then we’ll see.

  7. S Jay says:

    It is funny how not even a single comment is about the game or its possibilities, but about Windows 8.

    • wengart says:

      From Steam Hardware Survey: 66.8% of gamers on Steam use Windows 7, only 12% use Windows 8.

      88% of Steam users are not using Windows 8.

      Windows 8 is only leading Windows XP by 5%.

      For most people here this is the equivalent of a console release.

      • killias2 says:

        So if a game came out that only worked on XP, that should be considered a console release..?

        • wengart says:

          I didn’t say it should be considered a console release. However, it is equivalent to one for most people.

          • killias2 says:

            I don’t think you know what console means. This is a PC gaming site. Not a Windows 7-but-not-8 gaming site. Jesus Christ, people get upset over the most ridiculous shit.

      • darkChozo says:

        Well, I guess we can’t report on Mac and Linux games anymore. Oh well.

        I’m pretty ambivalent on Windows 8, but seriously, suggesting it’s something RPS shouldn’t report on is just silly.

    • skyturnedred says:

      My comment mentions how the exclusivity might cripple the game since it needs an active community behind it, and right now the game shoots itself in the foot by limiting the potential player base.

      • craigdolphin says:

        Microsoft makes a policy choice that has a counterproductive result on sales of a gaming-related product?

        Seems far-fetched to me.