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Project Spark will let you 'build whatever you want'

Project Spark's depth

Microsoft Studios' world-building game, Project Spark, will let players build whatever they want and share it with others, according to game designer Claude Jerome.

Project Spark was announced yesterday at Microsoft's E3 press conference, where its developers showed how players can use the Kinect to issue voice commands and Microsoft's SmartGlass to create and build different types of terrain such as rivers, grasslands and mountains. In a demo that was shown to Polygon after the press conference, we saw that the game is capable of much more.

Speaking to Polygon, Jerome said that when players start the game, they can choose to either begin with a blank slate or play through a level that has already been pre-designed. If they choose to go with a blank slate, they will be able to do everything from craft their own terrain, populate it with floral and fauna, and even program any and every object in their world to take on a certain behavior. For example, a player can program a rock to bounce every time the player is in its presence, or it can program a flower to follow it.

If a player chooses to opt for the pre-designed path, they will still be able to affect change to the game world and build as they please.

A player can program a rock to bounce every time the player is in tis presence, or it can program a flower to follow it.

When building terrain, players can push and pull to raise the earth or create trenches. They can also change the angle of their view and dig through surfaces, so they can raise a wall from the ground, view the wall front-on and create holes. Anything the player applies to these surfaces, whether it be grass, desert features or arctic objects, then responds to the shape and purpose of the surface. In the demo we saw, Jerome had created a cave by raising a block of earth and digging through it. When he applied the woodland terrain, the surfaces that the game perceived to be the floor where covered in grass, while the more vertical surfaces were covered in rocks.

Jerome told Polygon the game is all about giving players options. If they want to plant individual flowers or place individual objects, all they have to do is reduce the size of their brush and "paint" the features accordingly. If they increase the size of their brush, they'll paint features on more broadly and the objects themselves will also be much bigger.

Once a player has created a world, they will be able to share it with others. When a player enters someone else's world, they can engage with everything the person has created and, if they want to make any changes to it, that world then gets duplicated and becomes theirs to play with.

Jerome told Polygon that he's heard comparisons made between Spark and other games that strongly support user-generated content, like LittleBigPlanet and Minecraft, but he believes the main difference between Spark and other games is it allows players to customize everything down to the actions of the in-game objects.

"What makes our game special is it allows you to change the behaviors of anything in the world: change the field, tell your own story and share it out to the rich community of other players who are doing the same thing," he said. "Our game is really about sharing and playing with the community."

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