Hanging With The Project Spark Developers

By Craig Pearson on August 12th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.


A quick eye prod at the Steam Hardware Survey shows me that the stupid, hateful, and barely useable Windows 8 is the second most popular OS on there. 13.34% of those that responded to the survey use it. For you precious few (actually a healthy chunk), I have arranged a treat: a look at Project Spark. Microsoft’s really rather charming attempt to do a Little Big Planet-esque and Gameglobeish build your own game thing, is the only thing I’ve ever seen that made me want to have access to Windows 8. As Adam showed earlier on, the community has already cloned plenty of games and genres to show the platform’s capabilities, and now it’s the developer’s turn. Thirty Imperial Minutes of tools and tips are below.

It mostly shows off the physical manipulation of the world: tools that prettily pluck at the land, drawing out walls, mushing the ground down into into the water table, that sort of thing. There are details, though: doors and water splashes. People will get lot out of the game’s brains: each object has a brain, basically states and reactions you can apply to everything, and what you can do with that turns out to be really nice: they made a rock that acted like a shark.

The best bit is when the demo fails and they run to the mouse for help. Old school PC gaming to the rescue.

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114 Comments »

Top comments

  1. Jazzyboy says:

    I hated Windows 8 at first too, but then I used it for more than 10 minutes and fell in love with it.

    Yes, the Start Screen does look like a piece of shit when you first see it… but when you get used to it, and get OblyTile with custom icons(which is the one thing I do hate about Win8 still, vanilla customisation is terrible), it can look brilliant.
    Alternatively, if you want to set shortcuts for a lot of desktop apps and hate the gradient background MS decided to make default, or just hate the Start Screen in general, Start 8 and Classic Shell are both great and exceptionally easy to install.

  1. gschmidl says:

    1) Install Start8
    2) Never look back, you now have Windows 7 back for the most part.

    • lordcooper says:

      I don’t need to get Windows 7 back, I already have it.

      • BTAxis says:

        Yeah, but you don’t have all the improvements over 7 that he does.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          Saved himself a hundred bucks though.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Not necessarily, I paid more for my copy of Windows 7 than I would have for Windows 8. I haven’t regretted it for a nanosecond.

        • Grey Poupon says:

          There’s actually quite a few of those at it’s core. If only the UI wasn’t as crap as it is. Yeah, there’s a lot of ways to get around it, but it still feels like they’re selling you a car with it’s windshield covered in dog poo. You can easily wash it yourself, but you shouldn’t have to.

        • Contrafibularity says:

          >all the improvements

          That’s only on tablets, if you’re referring to the Metro interface. No reason to upgrade for desktops or laptops, because DirectX 11.2 brings only development tweaks and XNA integration, not new capabilities, and by the time game developers will actually be using it we’ll be at win10.

          • mondomau says:

            That’s only on tablets

            That’s completely untrue.

            For example:

            Faster Boot times

            Better Task Manager

            Faster copying w/ more details (copying in W7 drove me nuts, even when you switched ‘intelligent’ transfer off)

            Storage management

            I’m not saying W8 is amazing – the only truly enjoyable experience I’ve had with it is running on a touchscreen laptop (seriously, try it – it really feels like this is the setup the designers were actually aiming for and they half-assed everything else), but it does feature several outright core functionality improvements over W7, even hampered by it’s bastardised, poorly implemented overlay interface.

        • jrodman says:

          I bought a copy of win8 in some “please use me!!!” sale but never upgraded.

          Is there any reason to bother? Did someone make a nice list?

          Wait, nevermind, I forgot win8 kills off paletted modes. No interest.

    • MartinNr5 says:

      The Modern UI (or whatever it’s called now, formerly known as Metro) is a lot easier to show than talk about – it’s a UI after all – but I’ll try and explain why I see it as an improvement over Windows 7.

      Lets get the basic, “marketing”, parts out of the awy. MS has done tons of researach and case studies on UI design and even if your gut reaction is to hate the new look it has been proven to be more efficient and easier to use during thousands of hours of testing.

      Also, even with Windows 7, you’re not supposed to use the actual menu unless you don’t know what you’re looking for. The preferred and intended way to use the start menu is to call it up, type the first 3 or 4 letters of the name of the application you wanted and then hit enter.

      Windows 8 works exactly the same with the exception that MS for some idiotic reason felt that the search results should be on different panes. This is fixed in Windows 8.1 though and all search results are grouped together more logically in that version.

      The biggest feature of the new start screen is in my opinion live tiles and I use them as often as I can.

      Granted, if all you ever do on your PC is play games then there’s very little use of live tiles – at least for now – but otherwise they’re very useful.

      As I have my Microsoft account connected to Facebook and Twitter I can pin certain contacts to start and at a glance see if they’ve posted something new and I also have my People hub tile pinned so that I quickly can see if anyone has interacted with me.

      I have a weather app tile that tells me the current forecast, my Nextgen reader tile that shows how many unread articles I have, my email tile that shows me the contents of my latest unread e-mail, tiles for the two stocks I’m currently most interested in, a news tile that scroills through the mornings news, and so on.

      All this I get at a glance and if I’m interested in more information I just click the tile and open the app.

      Steam, where I do 96% of all my gaming, is also there as a tile albeit not a live one (and seeing that Gabe now hates Windows I don’t think it’ll be alive anytime soon) and clicking it takes me to Steam the same way it always has done.

      The biggest sins that the current iteration of the Start screen commit are that it doesn’t give you a good overview of all apps and also that when installing an application it just dumps all icons/tiles into the start screen.

      Both of these flaws will be corrected in 8.1 as well.

      Another interesting feature that’s coming in 8.1 (I’m 99% sure I’ve read this at least) is that sites can update pinned live tile of the site as they see fit. For a news site like RPS the most obvious use would be a number to indicate the number of new articles since I last visited the site if I use a small tile, a ticker for the medium size tile and perhaps article ingresses for the full size tile.

      The new start requires time, I’d say a month of daily use, but I would never ever go back to a “normal” start menu now, as what I have now just gives me so much more.

      So, if you do decide to try out Windows 8, don’t replace start the first thing you do. Embrace the change with an open mind and give it an honest try. There’s a chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    • GankousKhan says:

      Why would you even do that? I have used Windows 8 no differently than I have Windows 7, or Vista. I press the WIndows key and start typing my programs name and then press enter. Never even have to leave my keyboard, and I can promise you it is way quicker than going to your start menu by mouse and selecting your program. Really have no idea what all the fuss is about with people and 8. Even when I do use the start menu mainly to show people the difference between my method and the traditional one it is very simple. I do not feel like it has taken anything away from me. I spent 10 minutes getting acquainted with the new OS appearances and everything was A OK. I even take preference to it now.

  2. Arglebargle says:

    If you don’t have a touchscreen, there are just a few technical reasons to upgrade to W8. Many folks on the survey are there probably due to getting new computers, and thus not really having a choice.

    I always try to avoid these speedy upgrades so that others can beta test things for me…..

  3. Simbosan says:

    I don’t mind W8, less w8ting for my machine to start up (see what I did there?) It’s really VERY much quicker. I use Classic Shell to avoid having to look at Metr..Mod..err. Oh that touch junk whatever it’s called. Apart from that it’s all positives, nothing earthshattering, but it’s solid.

    • Harlander says:

      Has anyone got numbers on how fast W8 starts? I got a SSD when I upgraded to 7 (er, a few months ago) and it takes longer for the BIOS to remember it’s supposed to be a computer than for Windows to go from “weird, faintly unsettling cursor in an otherwise blank screen” to fully responsive

      • MartinNr5 says:

        On a clean installation with Windows 7 on SSD you’d be hard pressed to see any difference from Windows 8.

        The nice thing about Windows 8 is that it’s consistently faster to boot, even on older hardware and a long time after being installed.

        • Harlander says:

          Interesting.

          Though I don’t know if anyone’s had 8 installed for a duration that I’d call a “long time”. I had the same XP install for about six years and it certainly had become slow as molasses by the end of that duration, so it wouldn’t take much to do better.

          • GankousKhan says:

            I noticed a few seconds difference visually, and when I ran utilities to time it (from 7 fresh install and 8 fresh install) I noticed about 3 seconds faster on Windows 8. I do not even get enough time to see the Windows logo before it starts logging me in. Pretty crazy.

  4. Ulaxes says:

    SHARK ROCK!

  5. BTAxis says:

    Windows 8 is perfectly useable, thank you.

    • Thrashie says:

      “perfectly usable” sounds like a great selling point to upgrade to win8.

      • MartinNr5 says:

        Well, if the counterpoint is that “Windows 8 is a steaming pile of horrible crap” then I’d say it’s a great argument. ;)

      • mondomau says:

        Why is everybody getting stroppily indignant about upgrading to win8? No one is expecting you to drop money on upgrading a perfectly good OS, but there are plenty of people out there that either got it for ‘free’ (technet sub, new PC OEM) or just fancied taking a punt on it. For those people, a mild improvement is more than good enough.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          Microsoft has made it readily apparent that they would very much like everyone to drop money on exactly that, which I would wager is the source of a lot of the indignation.

  6. itsbenderingtime says:

    You know that just about every (if not every) new pre-constructed computer comes with Windows 8, right? I know we all build our computers like good children, but most people don’t, and they get Windows 8 as part of the deal.

    As a Windows 8 user, I’d say it’s not worth the money to upgrade if you have Windows 7, but having it isn’t worth wailing and gnashing of teeth. I’m in agreement with gschmidl above: Intsall Start8 (or Classic Shell, that’s what I use), and you’re back to your computer working the way you want.

    On one hand, it’s annoying that you need to do that for your computer to be usable, but on the other hand, I wish ALL of my problems could be so quickly and easily fixed.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      Even if you build your own, Windows 8 is the only digital download offered. Microsoft is doing everything it can to subvert 7′s existence, including changing the links in their own “how to buy Windows 7″ pages to point to “Windows 8″ instead. Bad time to ask me if I found the page helpful, I can tell you that. There are no pre-8 keys for sale either, so you must buy a physical CD to get one.

      That being said, Windows 8 can seriously go fuck itself. I clicked on the calendar icon, why did you assume I wanted a fucking login screen? That just rubs me so the wrong way. And then there’s Windows 8 tricking you into installing a useless Skype version. I wish I was fucking kidding.

      • MartinNr5 says:

        Windows 8 assumes you have a Microsoft account for all the new functionality to be as useful as possible. Calendar, e-mail and SkyDrive all syncs to your online counterparts and therefor requires an account.

        I agree that calendar should be possible to use in an offline mode though.

        It might seem kind of perplexing why you’d need a Microsoft account just to use your OS but the fact is that as long as you don’t require any of the new features – such as automatic backup of your PC settings, sync of browser history between machines, the Store, and much more – then you can use it as you’ve always done, with a local account.

        If you want the most of Windows 8 then I would absolutely recommend you to create an account.

        As for Skype I’m not sure I understand the frustration as you can install the desktop version whenever you want.

        Despite what you think the “Metro” version isn’t there to trick you into getting a Microsoft account but to make it easier for those that are signing into Windows 8 with a Microsoft account to use Skype.

  7. Khrae says:

    I can confirm Win 8 is perfectly useable in desktop mode, metro is stupid though.

  8. Prolar Bear says:

    But can it be used to clone Tekken?

  9. razorramone says:

    I use windows 8 almost exactly the same as I used Windows 7. That’s not a great reason for switching, but also not a good reason to avoid switching.

    Although I disagree with the people above, the start menu was clunky and I prefer the new search method (winkey+f) much more.

  10. Rirath says:

    So, basically I’m taking RPS out of my RSS feed. While you’re welcome to post what you’d like, personally I really don’t appreciate flame-bait opening comments, and they won’t be missed in my feed list. Just my $0.02.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      Whawhawha.

      You call that flame-baiting?
      THIS is flame-baiting: Not just Windows 8 is stupid, every single Windows before that has been stupid and unusable as well. I kicked WIndoze off my HDD and went GNU/Linux-only over ten years ago. My last Windows was 98SE and that was already bullshit. Every version after that has been getting more unusable and stupid.

      :P

    • silentdan says:

      Anyone who thinks those opening comments were flamebait must have set the bar low enough that identifying anything as flamebait, is flamebait.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Bye!

      Windows 8 really is shit, eh? :)

      • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

        Despite wanting to elevate discourse in the gaming community, you people sure love making snarky, entirely dismissive drive-by comments, ranging from being gleeful at the departure of readers who disagree with the tone of articles to ‘ya mum’ jokes over musical selection. But I’m sure it’s okay because it’s only ironically being an asshole.

        • jrodman says:

          I think context is important here.

          Someone tried to say “you guys are awful with your baiting attacks! I’m leaving!” when it was obviously a joke. Maybe a bad joke, but obviously a joke. I mean was he the designer of windows 8?

          It’s a frothy overreaction. A blase response seems like a pretty good option compared to many of the obvious other choices.

          • MartinNr5 says:

            Just to clarify, who’s the joker? I’m certain that Rirath is 100% serious and I’m 89% certain that Jim is serious.

          • jrodman says:

            The joke (possibly ha ha only serious) was in the article.

        • MartinNr5 says:

          Yeah, I can get that Craig just voices his opinion but I can’t see Jims reply as anything but trolling which I think is inappropriate from the owners of the site.

          I’ve seen it on other sites as well and it rubs me the wrong way everytime.

    • Craig Pearson says:

      It’s my opinion. I tried it and couldn’t rush back to W7 quickly enough. I have no reason to be controversial for the sake of it.

      • MartinNr5 says:

        I’m honestly curious; for how long did you test it and did you go into it with an open mind or where you predisposed to disliking it?

        Those I’ve spoken with who reject Windows 8 gave it a couple of hours to a couple of days and on top of that didn’t bother figuring out what the new features are.

        I also find it sad that RPS for some reason have to call Windows 8 horrible, stupid and crap as soon as they get the chance. Why do you feel the need to do that? Been reading the Daily Mail or other hate filled papers to much lately?

        You gain nothing from it other than the ire from those of us that find Windows 8 to be a very good and very useful upgrade from Windows 7.

        I know it’s your site and you have the right to state your opinion but calling Windows 8 crap is at the best only remotely related to gaming.

        I game like I’ve always done even on Windows 8 so there’s no gaming related issues with Windows 8 and no matter whate GabeN wants us to think there won’t be a ban on what games or applications you can install on your PC.

        Microsoft enjoys the largest installed base of OS installations for the very reason that it’s not a locked down console, the last thing they’d do is remove that possibility and force everyone to use LInux or OS X.

        • Jim Rossignol says:

          I’ve been using it daily for three months. Conclusion: awful.

          I can see that the interface might make sense on a touch device, but for it to be forced on standard PC setups is bizarre.

          • MartinNr5 says:

            Ok, glad to see that you’ve given it a fair go.

            Would you care to elaborate why you find the new interface useless?

            Please see my above post on why I think that the new Start is an improvement.

          • yhancik says:

            Jim, with all respect due (because damnit aren’t you – and all the RPS guys/girls – among my favourite bloggers of the whole interwebs), I just don’t get you here. This talk about Windows 8 interface doesn’t make sense except if your use of Win8 was limited to this oversized start menu called Metro whatever, and the useless Microsoft apps. So as soon as you start a real, actual, desktop software, you’re back in Windows. I believe you installed a decent browser like Chrome or Firefox, some text editor, a mail program and god knows what else, so I seriously doubt you spend much time on that start screen.

            I find it incredible and actually so depressing if not worrying that so many otherwise very intelligent people seem to get stuck on that. It’s like suddenly your favourite restaurant put a sliding door instead of a revolving door and you find the food awful. You can hate that door with all the rage of a thousand Newells, but calling the food crap because of that is a bit ludicrous, isn’t it? :(

            And you know why it also worries me so much? When I hear people-who-don’t-know-shit-about-computers talk about it, they’re like “oh yes, Windows 8, I heard it was terrible.. full of bugs or something right, eheheh?”. And are those people going to install Linux instead? Nope, they’ll buy a Mac to avoid “this awful Windows 8″. And I’m not sure that’s world I want.

          • jrodman says:

            MAC PANIC!

          • yhancik says:

            Macophobia!

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @yhancik – You’re not necessarily wrong but to take your scenario in a slightly different direction, the following is an entirely true story:

            My favourite shopping centre used to have sliding doors, but they recently installed a rotating door. As a wheelchair user, while the building was still accessible to me, it is so much of a pain in the ass that honestly, I go over the road to a shopping centre where the food isn’t quite as good.

            Those little things really can be that annoying that even though the contents are great, we would rather use a different product.

          • jrodman says:

            A poisoned apple? (stretching here)

          • yhancik says:

            @Sheng-ji I see your point, and that’s why from the start, Win8 should have asked you “would you rather start up to this weird modern screen, or to the desktop”, and this small change would have changed entirely Win8 reviews.
            Is “this start thing with tiles” actually so problematic that it makes the use/access to the computer more “difficult”? I don’t think so. Before I’d boot to desktop and start, say, Thunderbird or Chrome, either using a desktop shortcut (double-click, go) or the pinned applications (click, go!). Now even if I boot to metro/modern/tiles-thing, well, I click on Chrome or Thunderbird (click, go) and that’s all? So what’s the real, real change in user experience? It looks different? I suppose we’re all intelligent enough to deal with that fact, aren’t we?
            I have this feeling that bash this “interface that’s meant for tablets, not for desktop” has become the de rigueur thing to do as a perceptive and intelligent computer user. It deserves critics, but my goodness can’t we do a bit better than following MS-bashing trends? That’s so 90s.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            It’s not that one tiny thing, it’s an accumulation of additional tiny little problems which make the user experience frustrating when compared to windows 7 – and in this instance it is marginal, I for example am using windows 8 because the UI issues aren’t enough to put me off but peoples tolerances are different to these things. I guess what I’m saying is that I do understand why some people would find it so frustrating they go further than complaining about it but actively don’t upgrade/look for alternatives.

          • Prime says:

            To extend the restaurant metaphor further (perhaps to breaking point, hear it squeal!) if you install Classic Shell, it kindly knocks a hole in the wall every time you want to enter so you don’t even have to deal with the door. You just get tasty food. :)

            I agree with yhancik entirely. Fair enough you don’t like it but don’t traduce the OS based on your own prejudices. There’s a lot to love in Windows 8 if you can only see past the things that make you want to scream (and there are things that make you want to scream in EVERY OS, not just Win8).

    • zachforrest says:

      I can work myself up into a tizz as well as the next man, but you’re really pushing the boat out here.

  11. CelticPixel says:

    The only reason I have Win8 is because I bought a new laptop recently and wasn’t given the option of 7. I use a couple of programs to boot straight to desktop and kill metro and the charm bar and all that fluff. Aside from that, it’s fine.

  12. KevinLew says:

    If you look at the charts, 52.4% are using Windows 7 64-bit and another 12.5% are using Windows 7 32-bit (the latter seems surprising).

    A 13.3% usage of Windows 8 64-bit in comparison isn’t very flattering. If anything, it implies that PC gamers aren’t really rushing out to get it, and the adoption rate seems to be the same as new computers with the OS preinstalled.

  13. Jazzyboy says:

    I hated Windows 8 at first too, but then I used it for more than 10 minutes and fell in love with it.

    Yes, the Start Screen does look like a piece of shit when you first see it… but when you get used to it, and get OblyTile with custom icons(which is the one thing I do hate about Win8 still, vanilla customisation is terrible), it can look brilliant.
    Alternatively, if you want to set shortcuts for a lot of desktop apps and hate the gradient background MS decided to make default, or just hate the Start Screen in general, Start 8 and Classic Shell are both great and exceptionally easy to install.

    • Craig Pearson says:

      I do like that my snarky opinion of W8 can generate something useful.

      • MartinNr5 says:

        I’ve been thinking about this comment for a while and I’m sorry but I just don’t understand what you mean.

        I could take the easy route and assume you mean ad impressions but I know that’s not how RPS operates so that’s not it.

      • basilisk says:

        Thanks to that overdramatic opening line, not a single comment out of the 58 present right now is about the game itself. Are you sure that’s a good result?

        • Contrafibularity says:

          Why does that sound like a threat?

          • basilisk says:

            Because the internet doesn’t carry tone of voice, I suppose?

            Seriously, though, one would expect the purpose of the post was to inform about Project Spark, and judging by the comments, it seems to me that it failed pretty miserably at that – and quite unnecessarily, I might add. So all in all, not something the author of the article should be very proud of. In my opinion, obviously.

  14. cdx00 says:

    Windows 8 is fine

  15. Bashmet says:

    Silly old people, adapt already! Virtually everything about Win 8 is an improvement over 7, no argument.

    Project Spark is looking amazing. I imagine it’s going to be one of those games I only dabble with though, I’m just never patient enough to actually build the the things I imagine.

    • wengart says:

      I see the same windows 8 thread all the time, and they all run the same way.

      person 1: “Win 8 can’t do thing Win 7 did and it sucks”

      person 2: Win8 does do that, you just have to do (insert non-intuitive, often complex actions).

      Windows 8 may be better, but if you can’t take advantage of it is it really better?

    • RobF says:

      “Silly old people, adapt already!”

      GOD, I HATE THIS ARGUMENT.

      As I posted below, I’ve adapted from 16k basic through MANY different operating systems over the years, in the past few years I’ve used OSX and different flavours of Linux happily, I’ve used mobile OS also, I never -stop- having to adapt to new ways of doing things.It’s part and parcel of doing anything more than reading my email on a computer, it’s a necessity that I have to adapt to new things all the time.

      It’s not about being willing or able to adapt, I can do that -just- fine, thank you. I have to be able to adapt constantly.

      It’s about an OS that’s more cumbersome, less designed for actual use by real humans and more for the whims of a corporation than any other operating system I’ve had the pleasure of using in decades. It’s fucking insulting beyond words to lay the blame for this on the user when MS sidestepped user friendliness in the main in exchange for their own gimped between two worlds operating system.

      • jrodman says:

        Change is normal.

        Change with no benefit that’s clearly poorly thought out is a bother.

      • Prime says:

        And yet…

        I’ve had very much the same experience as you, starting from BBC Acorn machines and many many OS’ and UIs in the intervening years…and I can handle Win8 fine without using the words “fucking insulting” in relation to any of it. The implementation of Metro is flawed, certainly, but underneath all that a perfectly good evolution of Windows 7. So where does the problem lie, again?

    • MartinNr5 says:

      Although I wouldn’t phrase it the same way as Bashmet I agree in principle.

      wengart and RobF, I’d love to hear a little more in detail what it is you’re thinking of that’s more complex and cumbersome to do in Windows 8 as I honestly can’t recall how I did things back in Windows 7 and therefor don’t have a frame of reference.

      • Barberetti says:

        I suspect you’ve got some sort of memory problem then, because I can remember how I did things in DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.11 for Workgroups.

        • basilisk says:

          I can remember that as well, because it was so different. But W7 and W8 are so similar that it’s just impossible to remember the details.

          I’ve been using the W7 Explorer pretty much every day for at least two years, and after that the W8 Explorer for what, 10 months? And I honestly don’t remember whether W7′s used the Ribbon interface or not. I know the current one does, but beyond that, no idea. I genuinely don’t remember which things were introduced in 7 (compared to XP) and which in 8 (compared to 7).

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Windows 7: Click Start, Click Shutdown and Restart, Click Shutdown

        Windows 8: Slide Mouse into top right hand corner & Wait the second it takes for the charm bar to appear, Slide Mouse down to Settings & Click Settings, Click Power, Click Shutdown

        • basilisk says:

          Yeah, we know. Is there anything else apart from this particular heavily publicised thing? Honest question.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Windows 7: Click Start, type what you are searching for, Choose the correct file/program

            Windows 8: Click in the lower left hand corner to open the metro interface, Type your search term, Click on file or app, choose the correct file or program

            -OR-

            Slide your mouse into the upper right hand corner and wait the second for the charm bar to load, click on search, type in your search term, click on file or app, choose the correct file or program,

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Why does the charm bar need to place a giant clock and calender on the opposite side of your screen.

            Because the charm bar covers your clock and calendar.

          • basilisk says:

            Oh hey, it’s you. We’ve had this discussion before. Let me slightly revise what you just wrote:

            Windows 7: Click in the lower left hand corner to open the Start menu, Type your search term, Choose the correct file/program

            Windows 8: Click in the lower left hand corner to open the metro interface, Type your search term, Click on file or app, Choose the correct file/program

            Because your wording was pretty dishonest – more words implies bigger timesink, right? Also, the extra step gets removed in Windows 8.1, released as a free update probably before the end of this month, making this point almost completely irrelevant.

            As for the OR part, yes, I can also make up convoluted ways to do things in W7. You can take the long road to get to the end, but it’s only your fault, considering the shortcut was right in front of you.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Windows 8 photo preview, unlike windows 7 opens in metro, which means I cant have two open at the same time to compare.

            Please apply this criticism to every windows app which has been shifted to metro.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Basilisk – Am I to infer that the search button on the charm bar then is unnecessary? A bloated UI with unnecessary buttons then, add that one to the list.

          • basilisk says:

            I’m not even sure why the time and calendar thing is a criticism. If you don’t want to open the charms bar, then just don’t open it? I see it once a day when I’m turning off the PC.

            As for the Metro apps, well, I’ve never used them. I thought W7′s internal photo viewer was useless, never even touched W8′s. I don’t use almost any of the default stuff, and no one is forcing me to.

            EDIT: No, it’s not unnecessary, it’s just a different way to do the same thing. Pretty much since 95 the Windows UI has been deliberately designed to let you get where you want in at least two, often three different ways. That improves usability, and is a good thing. If someone doesn’t know about type-to-search, chances are they’ll at least find this.

            Also, it is no secret that the charms bar is primarily there for tablet users who can’t type-to-search at all.

          • jrodman says:

            A secret hard-to-find ui element which is eventually required for all users is almost never used by a normal user. …. Hmmmm..

          • basilisk says:

            Dude, in what way is the charms bar a “secret hard-to-find ui element”? The system tells you where it is right after you install it. Also, in this very same comment section, you’ll find RobF saying “[…]even if it’s something as ridiculous as reaching for a scroll bar and the charm bar appearing where I’m trying to scroll”. Some secret, eh?

            Again, of all the features of W8, the charms bar is the one that is intended almost exclusively for tablet users, and is on PCs for the sake of consistency. You may very well think it was a bad idea, but there really isn’t anything arcane or mysterious about it. It’s not there for PC users, so I as a PC user don’t use it. Who would have thought?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            This next one’s a doozie ;)

            Microsoft has implemented a set of protocols for usb flash drives. To conform to these standards, flash drive manufacturers must make their drives unable to be bootable and not recognised by windows as a removable drive. Please check out sandisk extreme series website for a detailed explaination.

            So when you want to boot or install windows 8 from a flash drive, for example if you bought the digital download version, you have to download the installer program first. It will ask you to insert your USB flash drive. You insert your shiny new windows 8 compliant flash drive and the windows 8 installer can’t find it.

            What you have to do is use HP disk manager to make your drive bootable, create a windows 8 recovery drive on it then unpack a windows 8 iso onto it. Next you have to boot to your recovery drive, open the command window which is deep in the options, navigate to the iso you unpacked and install from there.

            All you guys who didn’t order the CD, keep hold of your old flash drives because the next time you need to reinstall or build a new computer, this is what you will have to go through otherwise!

          • Sheng-ji says:

            “Windows UI has been deliberately designed to let you get where you want in at least two, often three different ways. That improves usability, and is a good thing”

            “I can also make up convoluted ways to do things in W7. You can take the long road to get to the end, but it’s only your fault, considering the shortcut was right in front of you.”

            [SIC]

          • basilisk says:

            Would you kindly explain why you think I’ve contradicted myself?

            In both systems, there are long roads and short roads. You were comparing the short road of system A to the long road of system B, and declared system A the winner because the road is shorter. Which is of course a very unexpected and intellectually honest conclusion.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I didn’t say you had contradicted yourself, I was pointing out how you change your language to describe the exact same thing depending on whether you are defending it or feel it was being used against your points.

            You initially described the search function in the charm bar as convoluted, only then to describe it as usable and a good thing. Convoluted things by definition are not good in UI terms nor are they usable. So which is it.

            And you question my integrity.

          • basilisk says:

            Of course the language has changed, because the context has changed as well. I could also theoretically open the start screen on my desktop by calling up the charms bar and clicking the big start button in the middle, but I am very much aware that not even Microsoft’s UI designers expect me to do that, considering I can just click the bottom left corner. Once again: the charms bar is for tablets where it’s actually useful.

            To rephrase, there’s a world of difference between usability and efficiency. Searching through the charms bar is (on the desktop at least) technically usable, but not efficient at all. Two different perspectives, therefore two different descriptions.

            And yes, comparing shortcuts to long paths when both are readily available is dishonest.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            We did skip right over one thing – that you have installed programs to avoid using the default metro apps, like picture viewer – what program do you use if you want to look at an image file may I ask?

          • basilisk says:

            IrfanView.

          • Llewyn says:

            @Sheng-ji: Win8 has the same desktop Windows Photo Viewer installed as Win7, it’s just sadly not the default association.

            I’ve been using it since January and the only ‘Metro’ app I use is Xbox Music (for which there was no direct equivalent in 7 anyway), and occasionally Minesweeper during particularly tedious conference calls. The only desktop alternative I’m aware of having installed is Skype (although I wasn’t aware there was a Metro Skype until a friend got a new Win8 laptop recently, so I might have others).

            In all other regards I use it in the same way as I use my Win7 laptop and the Vista desktop that preceded it. One thing I am conscious of though is that the Win8 experience must be significantly worse on a single-monitor setup than it is with multiple screens. I do wonder to what extent that colours people’s differing experiences of Win8.

          • basilisk says:

            Llewyn, I have just one monitor and apart from some mostly minor issues, I’m perfectly content with W8.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Llewyn – Oooh, thanks, getting that switched over now!!! Thanks Basilisk for your suggestion too, I’ll check it out but honestly, I have not found windows picture viewer to be useless – and I use lightroom/photoshop if I need to edit.

            Regarding my criticism, I am ONLY criticising the UI (and the new way of handling flash drives), the actual OS is fine otherwise I would have rolled back a long time ago. If basilisk wants to check back to the old tread he referred to, he would see that while I heavily criticised the UI there, I was also very positive about many other changes in the kernel particularly and said that I would recommend it to a friend. The UI is inexcusable though.

          • basilisk says:

            Sheng-ji, I mostly use Irfan because I’m used to it, but it’s got some really neat features, such as a very simple way to batch resize a lot of pictures at once or show an overlay with selected exif data in fullscreen mode. It’s got a pretty horrible UI, but the feature set is nice.
            (Yeah, I’m aware of what I’ve just typed :))

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Hehe, I actually went with it after checking it out!

  16. subedii says:

    People keep saying “it’s just the same, but better” so I’ll bite.

    Does Windows 8 have Aero? I like Aero, and from what I understand it’s been completely removed. I’m not just talking about hacking to restore the odd graphical effect, I’d like the whole thing back, things like taskbar preview (very handy, I believe it’s related to “desktop composition”?), Aero Peek and similar.

    And no, to preface another argument before you kick it off again, I’m not going to accept any derping about how Aero was allegedly “slow” and brought systems to their knees under the weight of unnecessary shinies, and that we’re all better off without it. I’ve heard it all before. My system does not run “slow” with Aero active and yours shouldn’t either if it was bought / made any time in the past several years.

    People keep trying to attribute noble intent behind the move of removing Aero, but frankly the only real way I interpret moves like this is largely that MS want to make the standard desktop environment as unappealing as possible again.

    • RobF says:

      It has a very nice, useful and functional task manager and it -can- be pretty nifty to boot. That’s about all I can say nice about it other than “well, it sort of works?”.

      I’ve been using it since the betas and it’s my main day to day OS for various reasons and I can categorically say no, I’ve never “got used to it”, it’s never not got in the way at least once whilst I’m trying to do stuff even if it’s something as ridiculous as reaching for a scroll bar and the charm bar appearing where I’m trying to scroll which is, in the grand scheme of things, a mild irritation but a -needless- one. The need to flit between two entirely different interfaces never ceases to be an irritation to me either.

      Even their app store equivalent is pure shite both from a trying to sell stuff on it and trying to browse it point of view. The one thing they wanted to make a fairly major land grab on and they made the worst one I’ve seen in over 10 years. CONGRATS.

      And no, it no longer has Aero so…

      It might be the same but better for performance tweaks and a lovely taskmanager but on what matters to me, the usability stakes, it’s not the same and not even close to better.

      This isn’t a case of refusing to adapt either, I’ve adapted from 16k basic to DOS to Workbench to Windows to OSX and to iOS and ‘Droid without a hitch so I do wish people would stop this completely absurd argument. I’m perfectly capable of adapting as are most other people. Win8 just gets in the way and that’s the last thing I want from an OS but worse than that, it wasn’t designed with humans in mind. Like the Xbox1, Win8 is the product of a corporation designing for the wants and needs of a corporation.

      Which is kinda grim really when you think about it.

    • basilisk says:

      W8 does not technically speaking have Aero, but taskbar previews and “Aero Peek” (now called just “Peek”) work exactly the same as they did in W7, so I don’t really see what’s the problem.

      The only real difference in this regard is that in W8, windows have sharp corners and are no longer transparent, because Microsoft has decided that skeuomorphism is bullshit. Which I very much agree with.

      • Harlander says:

        Aero isn’t skeuomorphic.

        Skeuomorphism is stuff like virtual mixing desks controlling their balance and faders with little pictures of a dial. Unless you use sheets of translucent acetate instead of paper where you work, Aero’s not imitating an earlier-existing way of working.

        • basilisk says:

          That’s just a matter of definition of this admittedly weird term. The way I understand it, skeuomorphism in the digital context broadly means imitating the look of real-world things, and Aero mimics glass surfaces. Yes, glass doesn’t look quite like that, but just like Apple went with polished steel or whatever that was, Vista went with glass. “Metro” doesn’t want to imitate anything, and deliberately tries not to. And I suspect Microsoft would very much like to eventually throw away the whole desktop metaphor as well, for pretty much the same reason.

          Hence, “skeuomorphism is bullshit”.

  17. Tei says:

    Microsoft to PC gamers: f**k you, we are going to move decent games behind a extra unnecesary paywall

    Me to Microsoft. NO, F**k YOU.

    • MartinNr5 says:

      What paywall? If you mean the Microsoft Store then that’s just an alternative. You still have Steam, GoG and so on for purchasing your games or – if you’re so inclined – physical media.

  18. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    My friend got Win8 for free from a Microsoft student representative. And when he was first using it, he was scrolling through the stupid touch interface and the rep hired to SELL MS products told him, “Yeah don’t use that. To be honest it’s completely unnecessary… but the base OS (which is basically Win7) is good though”. When the sales rep can’t, in good conscience, lie to you, either the core principles of capitalism have broken down… or it’s just a shitty product…

    • MartinNr5 says:

      I’d rather attribute it to a poor salesperson who didn’t know enough about the product to point out the positive sides.

    • JR says:

      That’s not all that uncommon. My experience with salesmen is that thoose that really sell products, and get returning customers, are thoose who are honest about the cons but push on the pros.

  19. EPICTHEFAIL says:

    New comment thread for people who want to talk about the fucking game. If you start talking about Win8 in here, I will summon Hastur into your house.

    The whole thing looks to be a fun timesink. It reminds me of 3DGamemaker (the DarkBasic one, not the other one), which I used to spend hours upon hours in, even though in retrospect it was absolutely dreadful and impossibly inflexible. The sheer power of the engine means that people will be creating some very fun stuff indeed.

    Assuming MS keep a reasonable price range for the content packs, it could easily remain competitive with “proper” game design tools while being infinitely more noob-friendly and keeping the whole process in a single program so you don`t have to muck about with inporting/exporting everything. For someone whose programming experience is limited to print “hello world” and making Excel explode this is pretty much the best way to get into game design. Barring that, it will still be fun to mess around and see how badly you can break stuff.

    • MartinNr5 says:

      But Hastur is already coming over. For cake. Fair enough, I’ve had my say and I’d actually rather talk about Spark, believe it or not. :)

      I’ve tried to do some stuff in Kodu but felt that it was too limiting and without really checking the next step might be a bit too “far off” (Unity, UDK, etc). If nothing else, I’m hoping that Spark will be a quick way to prototype ideas that might take longer to do in actual code.

      I’m also sure that people will do some amazing stuff in this, just look at what’s been done in RPG Maker and similarliy “limited” frameworks.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      This should be top comment, simply by being the only comment in the thread that’s actually about the game.

  20. Roboburr says:

    im on windows 8, havent seen a metro start for 23940823094 hours..
    Just install Start 8, and voila windows 7+

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