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Players can create the story, or play those made by family, friends, or complete strangers in this classic example of a “game maker.” Using a variety of tools, pre-loaded AIs, and their own imaginations, gamers can make and play the videogames they’ve always wanted with this Cliffsnotes version of Game Design 101.
It’s never easy to judge “game maker” games, as they typically are limited to the desire and creativity of the player and to how much value they can get from them. Although personally not my favorite type of game, I can understand how some wish to have the power in their hands to create or destroy their own worlds—or, you know, share them with others.
Using a controller, Kinect, or Smartglass, players can create a world either from pre-determined templates in Project Spark, or start completely from scratch. From being able to design every little detail of a world down to the placement of the rocks, trees, or birds, to being able to plan out a variety of popular quest archetypes and create enemies for you and your friends to fight against along the way, the power is in your hands.
And this is where Project Spark’s strengths lie, because I do not think there has ever been a more comprehensive game creation tool put out there. You can even change the cameras to make them more or less cinematic-feeling, or change the personality of characters to have them act differently from what we might expect. In the end, it felt like Team Dakota found a way to make a dumbed down version of the Havok engine—one of the most popular game design engines out there today—available to the masses. And while this is amazing, I can’t help but wonder how Microsoft plans on monetizing this supposedly free download. Could it cost something to download a friend’s content and play their levels? Does Microsoft hold certain rights over created content? Time will tell, and the answers to these questions may determine the true fate of Project Spark and its viability down the road.