Project Spark has been touted by Microsoft as an Xbox exclusive that allows players to make their own experiences with complete creative freedom. While in its beta stage, the title showed glimpses of what kind of creative visions could be achieved with the available tool set and relatively simple triggers for in-world characters and items. Now that the game is out in full, some laud the creativity and options available, which have led to some already created, fairly complex levels. However, some also show a continued worry over the microtransactions that are present within this, and many other, titles.
Project Spark, for those unfamiliar with this release, is a game creation tool for Xbox One , Xbox 360 and PC that Microsoft wanted to make accessible to anyone. Any user that wants to create a level will find a cornucopia of tools to be explained through a light tutorial that only touches on a glimpse of the potential for creative options for the world and created characters. Each character, controllable or just a body in the world, has a scripted list of actions that can be mapped to specific events, such as punching when hitting the B button, that can become quite involved and intricate by the end of a completed character. Missions, collectibles and many other factors can be added into each world, giving other players a sense of purpose when entering a level.
For those that just want to play and not create, Project Spark also has a library of games and levels to choose from created by other users. While these may vary in quality and effort, there is a handy filter that can bring about the top rated creations and a search bar for specifically themed levels such as a platformer or shooter. The title is currently free on Xbox One and PC, and is coming to Xbox 360 at a later date.
That being said, free does not always mean free in the gaming world, and Project Spark has quite a few incentives for those willing to pay. This “freemium” approach, so named because of the free hook of the game with internal premium-labeled content for consumption, is one that many titles, such as Angry Birds and The Simpsons: Tapped Out, have taken across home and mobile gaming platforms. Xbox consumers, though, do have a cheaper option should creators and players want to experience more.
Microsoft has offered a deeply discounted Starter Pack specifically for those looking for more options while creating content. Inside this pack, buyers will find the Sir Haakon the Knight as a playable character, Champions Quest: Void Storm adventure, First Contact science-fiction pack, Massive World Builder’s expansion, Yeti’s Rage content, Arctic Glacier’s Winter landscape tools and a free month’s worth of premium membership with Project Spark. Separately, all of this content would cost $85 but this Starter Pack will only run $40. A premium membership will allow a faster accumulation of in-game tokens, for purchasing other creative pieces, and experience.
Some of the creations inside Project Spark have already shown its unique possibilities to the internet. A creation called Link’s Adventure is a stylistic take on Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda with missions, keys and other staples of the series set within a confined, vertical space. One of the more intricate creations is of Sony’s Little Big Planet under the name Little Big Plan It. The video below shows off the creation in action, and only part of the possibilities available to Project Spark users.
By Myles Gann