Chatting with Alan, part 1

The following is a short discussion with Alan Michaels, a Motion Capture Operator at Rockstar Games, regarding Project Spark.

Me: What’s your opinion of Project Spark?

Alan: I’ve seen that; I think the integration with Windows 7 will help. I LOVED the custom levels and creativity of LBP so this is the next logical step: create your own MMO, or scenario. I wonder how it will handle moving from world to world or if they will all be discreet.

Me: It looks to me like a great step, but I wonder about the implications of allowing it to exist. For example, since anyone can create any game and have people play it through Spark on Xbox One, how do you get gamers to invest in indie titles when an endless list of full games are available?

Alan: It’s simple; quality. i would look at this less as an either or. Good dev’s will see success with their levels and companies like Valve will see them and hire them or they get an itch to do something the engine can’t. Microsoft is notoriously closed source.

Me: Well, considering what they’ve shown, many games will certainly be more appealing than actual retail titles considering the convenience.

Alan: Right. It ups the ante.

Me: This is true, but I mean from a casual gamer perspective.

Alan: You will see a flooding of the games market, but the innovative stuff will rise and then get further developed, like the Warcraft mod that Valve rocks now, DoTA.

Me: Yeah, but F2P and RTS/MOBA games definitely have their niche.

Alan: And honestly, there will have to be some kind of in-game currency. Pay walls for certain features or something.

Me: Well, I’m glad you don’t see it in the negative light that I do, at least, lol.

Alan: Open is great but has NEVER been the style of MS. As far as Project Spark is concerned, it is the equivalent of a tuna shooting out thousands of fertilized eggs; with so many people innovating and tweaking about, new things we can not conceive of or better ways of doing things we are already doing will be discovered all for basically nothing, as far as cost goes. so the upshot is that something will stick and a revolution in gaming will occur because someone someplace had an idea, which may have cost millions to develop in a traditional model. It will be interesting, too, to see the EULA on that an if people own any of the things they innovate or it all belongs part and parcels to MS.

Me: Indeed, I can’t find an answer on the web as of yet.

Alan: Plus, think about it this way: as opposed to steam distributed games, this is MS only and ONLY for people that are a part of Spark, which will be a much smaller subset of the market. People who make mods and indie games, from what i have seen, build more broadly or will endeavour to port to all parts of the market. Like Limbo, dev’ed for original release on XBLA i think then ported to PSN, then to steam for broad PC use. Spark by virtue of being Spark will not allow for that portability. It will be in Spark, for Spark, on PC and Xbox. Much like LBP, but that was PS only. However, the innovations and strong arming that people do in LBP1 with the engine lead to all kinds of new and interesting level types and expansions for LBP2 and LBP racing, which would have cost SO much more to innovate and test if they were on their own. it takes the developer base from a few hundred peeps to hundreds of thousands, and all control is still owned in that case by MM just like spark will be by MS. so it will be an amazing world to dive into AND may be a neat jumping off point for students and kids looking to start game design, but i don’t think it will bottom out the indie market. it may devalue the 12 bejeweled clones out there, but innovation will carry on.

Me: Word; originally I thought of it in that way, but lately I’d been wondering if that was truly positive or negative.

Alan: What changed your mind?

Me: I guess the recent video they posted got me worried, is all. If the full experience of a great game could be within Spark, what will get Xbox One gamers caring about buying and dl-ing indie titles? Who knows, I guess. We’ll have to see. Maybe it will make indie devs stop looking to the Xbox One for their publishing and go straight to Steam/Android/PS4? Idk, I’m obviously just speculating at this point. Thanks for the chatting with me!

Alan: Np. 🙂

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One comment

  1. […] links we mention in this episode: -Joe’s chat with Alan on Project Spark -GDC: Infographic about the flow of information today -GDC: SOE working to protect devs from […]

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