If the phenomenal success of Minecraft has taught us anything, it's that gamers love to create as much as they love to play. And Project Spark, a unique open-world digital canvas, is promising to let Xbox One gamers bring their imaginations to life.
Project Spark is a flexible and simple creation tool that allows players to sculpt virtually any kind of landscape they can imagine, from snaking rivers to marshy grasslands to peaceful mountain ranges. Your imagination can take your ideas anywhere - you can build lifelike towns populating otherworldly planets, or gargantuan dark caves with walls shimmering from the reflections of luminous swamps. The magic is in the endless possibilities.
From a blank canvas, players can decide on what kind of terrain should blanket the earth, and then personalise it with their choices of flora and fauna. Perfectionists should note that every single object in the game can be given its own behaviours and rules, should the player wish to create them. Giant boulders can bounce like beach balls and squirrels can follow you into battle against giant trolls.
To sculpt the world, players can push, pull, raise or dig the earth into different three-dimensional shapes, with a flexible camera allowing for precise adjustments. You can poke secret holes in gargantuan walls, dig a circular moat around a castle, or just create a beautiful garden for others to stroll around in.
Lighting can be adjusted, not just from day to night, but any specific time of the day if players want to create a moody setting sun or crisp winter morning. For more granular adjustments to the landscape, players can shrink the size of their brush and paint new skins, surfaces or items. Conversely, to make sweeping changes across major parts of the world, brush sizes can be enlarged accordingly.
Players can not only build landscapes, but also bring them to life with animated AI characters. These can be enemies in a game, or a princess held in a castle, or digital actors starring in your own movie.
All this can be sculpted, rearranged, tweaked and edited with either an Xbox controller, keyboard and mouse, touch-devices, Kinect or Xbox SmartGlass. Creating landscapes with your fingers on a tablet has its obvious advantages, and shows how versatile Project Spark has become during its development. Amazingly, Kinect can even be used to motion-capture your own movements to help animate other characters, while its microphone can record dialogue to give your creations more personality and character.
Simplicity and depth - these are the key ingredients that make Project Spark so promising. But on top of this, there is a social integration element powered by Xbox Live. Users can upload their creations to a community hub and share their ideas around the world. Meanwhile, players can download others' creations to play, or even open up their editing tools and create their own adaptation (the original copy, or course, will remain unedited).
Creation is a major part of Project Spark, and the ability to play user-created levels could be where the game truly shines. Gamers can spend weeks building intricate set-pieces, such as a fleet of flying orcs against a platoon of AI controlled soldiers that could prove to be as gripping and fun as any other game you play on your Xbox One. And with Project Spark being free-to-download, it's likely that there will be many high quality levels and worlds vying for your attention.
Gamers love to be creative and with Xbox One, this new open-world digital canvas could spark your own ideas to life. However it's not just Xbox One owners who'll be able to satisfy their creative urges with Project Spark, Xbox 360 and Windows 8.1 users will also be able to join in the fun with versions also appearing on their platforms. Looks like everyone's going to be a potential world builder or game maker in the very near future.