project spark gamescom header

Have you ever wanted to make your very own game but you don’t know how to program and/or you don’t already have LittleBigPlanet on your PS3 and/or you don’t even have a PS3? Well, if you don’t know how to program and/or you have an Xbox 360 and/or you’re planning on buying an Xbox One, then Project Spark might just be your ticket to fame, fortune, and a Tetris clone that uses contortionist velociraptors instead of blocks. Or, you know, whatever game you want to make but I think a Tetris clone that uses contortionist velociraptors instead of blocks is a brilliant idea.

First announced at E3 back in June, Microsoft’s Project Spark is a free, downloadable, cross-platform game/sandbox/thing currently in development at Team Dakota, and will be available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, and devices supporting SmartGlass on an unconfirmed date subsequent to the Xbox One launch later this year. In the meantime, however, a closed beta will be going live for Windows 8 in October and for Xbox One in January 2014 and you can get yourself signed up over on the official website.

During this morning’s press conference at Gamescom, Microsoft also dropped some new information about Kinect integration in Project Spark, including voice and motion capture. Basically, users will be able to record facial and body movement, dialogue, and whatever else with Kinect’s built-in tech wizardry, and plop these onto their own custom content. You want a character with your cat’s face, your mom’s voice, and your most convincing impression of the Hunchback of Notre Dame? You got it, plus the breathless nightmares that will inevitably result. But wait, there’s more – you’ll also be able to share all your custom content with your friends, so they can have nightmares too.

Project Spark‘s toolset will let users create their own entire worlds, or choose from a number of pre-generated levels if you want to go straight to assigning human behaviours to rocks and leave trimming the topography until later. The app features a drag-and-drop interface to quickly attach AI routines, physics, properties, additional assets, and other attributes to in-game objects, as well as character and narrative event management. It’s like the Third Reich experimental science lab you’ve always wanted, but were afraid to ask for because of ethics or something.

In a new trailer released today, you can have a gawk at the sorts of stuff you can put together with Project Spark – from side-scrolling platformers to match-three puzzlers and even sprawling, fully 3D dungeon runners. Much like any other similar, “user-friendly” game builder framework, what you make of it is as simple or complex as you want it to be. Or if you just want to make a huge cluster of genitals, that’s probably cool too.