Saturday, June 15, 2013

Project Spark - On Opportunities and Waste

While I was writing up a general E3-ender post, I took a proper look at Project Spark and, as I tried to continue the post, I found myself coming back to it over and over again.  Which seems like a good thing!  Except I found that I was coming back for all of the wrong reasons.  Instead of finding interest in the game itself, I find myself simply poking at this and that, going 'hrm' and grunting in annoyance as I move on to the next thing to whinge about.  That is frustrating in and of itself, of course, which just leads to even more frustration over the whole thing and it's just a vicious circle.  All of it is very unfortunate, of course, given the context of it.

I want to like Project Spark, much as it might not seem it.  I have gone on record several times, I'm sure, stating that I'm honestly fine with people cribbing ideas wholesale and adding their own touch to it, which is clearly what's gone on here.  Project Spark isn't "Let's make a game where players can make all sorts of things!", it's "People really like LittleBigPlanet and make some amazing things in it - we gotta get in on that".  Which is fine.  Encouraged, even!  Challenges help everyone grow since one party is always aiming to make a better product than 'the other one' that's out there.  If this means a fully 3D LittleBigPlanet for the next iteration (Which practically writes itself:  "LittleBigPlanet 3:  Now with a 3rd Dimension!") then I'm -all for it- since that's really the one big limitation it has, which has even been circumvented in a sense, in some ways.

I have plenty of issues with what I'm -seeing- of Project Spark, however.  Which, I will admit might be a lot of ado about nothing, considering my (and most people, I would think) only exposure is the above two videos of a game that's clearly not in its finishing stages or anywhere near close yet.  I hope this isn't meant to be a launch title (and nothing says that it is) because it certainly won't be ready for that - in reality, it might not have been ready to show off just yet.  Why not, you might think.  There's videos of it and everything!  Videos showing 'games' that people made using the game itself!  Games that look suspiciously like Limbo and Fez and Geometry Wars and Space Invaders and Fruit Ninja!  Games that are clearly games!

It has to do with the Intro Video, mostly, to be honest.  I got to the part where it was showing off how easy it is to 'make' things in a 3D environment with Kinect, and interact with them and I could not shake my head hard enough, yelling "NOPE".  Once upon a time, you see, I got to play around with 3D software in which you can actually create, you know, 3D renditions of things.  Things that you can rotate and look at and see all the little details and the like.  While this was a few years ago and technology has sure changed, I don't think the real philosophy has, and the philosophy, basically, is that "this shit is fucking hard" because the 3D space begs for feedback, and it's only when you've created the perfect looking rubber ducky that you turn it and realize everything is clipping through it in the wrong way and it looks terrifying and horrible.  So you're going to have to excuse me if I call bullshit on just waving your hand and making a little snow-covered cliff and putting a house right on top of it and not slightly inside of it or completely in the wrong spot because you can only look at it from one angle at a time.

Perhaps it's tool-assisted or something, but all that tells me, then, is that you're working within certain limitations that you don't honestly need in a 3D environment.  Limitations that you don't want in a game that is supposed to task you with creating everything and anything you want.  Limitations that, from what I've seen unfortunately seem to be there if only because of the over-stylized Fable-esque look surrounding every facet of the game, preventing some sort of identity separation from happening even with the games that we are so obviously supposed to see as X and Y existing titles.  Everything, even Limbo, looks like "X, but with Fable".  At least with LittleBigPlanet, despite everything about the look and feel of the game, you -could- establish a striking visual identity if you worked at it enough.  And perhaps that technically is the case with Project Spark as well - I'm just not seeing it yet.

As it is, I'm not impressed with Project Spark, but I suspect it will take a little actual information on the game before I am.  When it's in a proper state, release a "This is how you make a game" fast video like LittleBigPlanet has done numerous times (because, I mean, come on) and let us understand just how 'easy' it actually is.  While also showing off just how much is something you make from scratch (since you can literally build block by block in LBP) versus how much is canned, you-can't-do-anything-but-change-its-color, like that monster shown in the video.  Assuming you can't actually edit it for....some terrible reason.  I cannot stress enough, however, that I want to be impressed with Project Spark.  I want it to be released and be popular so that it helps spur more games of its type.  I long for a world where LittleBigPlanet is not the 'only' big game where you can make literally anything in it.  Because that is a world wherein I will actually make something wonderful eventually.  Maybe.

seriously, again, I say it looks like friggin' Fable and I will continue to say that

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