We speak to Michael Saxs Persson, studio manager at Team Dakota.
This week we’ve been lucky enough to get a few words in with the guys behind the development of upcoming release, Project Spark. Here’s Studio Manager, Michael Saxs Persson to answer a few of our questions for us.
Cast your minds back, it’s June 10th 2013. Microsoft’s E3 presentation is just about to start and it’s the first time the world will see Project Spark. What’s the mood from the team? Nervous, scared, excited? What thoughts were going through your heads?
First off, the idea behind Project Spark was that we always thought that it would be amazing to give people the gift that we’ve always had as game developers, to make something and see people’s reaction to it. We wanted to give people that feeling you get from sharing, and the feeling you get from seeing people playing your game, by providing them the tools to design and create games that they could share with a community of others.
Were we nervous? I think… sure, we were nervous. But more than that, we were feeling really proud. Two years is a very long time to work on something without being able to tell people about it, and we were excited to finally share the game with the world and see everyone’s reaction to what we’ve built.
How would you describe Project Spark to my elderly grandmother (and she’s really old)?
If you took a coloring book and crayons, modeling clay, paint brushes, a piano, building blocks, and a sewing machine, then mixed them all together, you would have captured the essence of Project Spark. It’s a tool that allows anyone to visually express, in digital form, any form of creative expression they might want to create in the real world. Painting, drawing, writing, narrating, singing, acting, dancing, sculpting, you name it, Project Spark on Xbox One has a way for you to express it.
Project Spark is easily one of the games I’m looking most forward to this year and as a result, I’ve been checking out a tonne of the YouTube live streams. Something I’ve come to notice is the actual complexity of the mechanics. It looks like a difficult game to master. Would you say that there are different levels of engagement in Project Spark for different ages? Do you have to have a degree in 3D Level Design to play Project Spark or could anyone in the family pick up the controller and join in?
No, I wouldn’t say that. We’ve already seen the community create some truly amazing levels, stuff that is already starting to rival games on the market today, after just over a month in beta. Are there still things we can do to make it easier for people to learn, sure, and we’re working on that. But at the fundamental level, people really “get” Project Spark, and are already exceeding our expectations in what they’re creating. The most frequently heard phrase in the office is, “How did they create THAT?”
We’ve seen loads about what you can create, map, game, player and customisation wise within Project Spark but is there a pre-set storyline in which we can just jump into?
Yes, there is a very rich and deep backstory in Project Spark, that we’ve just hinted at so far. In our beta we’ve focused on the core experience of playing, creating, and sharing, and will be rolling out more of the storyline aspects of Project Spark after the launch of the Xbox One closed beta.
Yes, it’s early days but Cody Paris (@Echo_from_XBL) on Twitter asks “Are there any plans for further DLC after launch? More skins, textures and weapons perhaps?“
We look at Project Spark as a game that will never truly be finished. The directions we can take the game are nearly infinite, and we plan on continuing to grow and evolve the game over time, based on input from our community.
David Heslop (@britesparc) also on Twitter asks “When does the Xbox One beta start, and will I be able to make a Monkey Island-style point & click adventure?“
The Xbox One closed beta will begin in February. And we’ve already seen several point and click-style adventures created by the community already, and I’m extremely excited to see what the Xbox One community will create, once beta begins.
I’m a huge fan of co-op play, will my buddy and I be able to work on the same map together at the same time?
The experience of creating with others can be very powerful, I’ve seen it in the past with other games I’ve worked on. We’re not quite ready to release all the details on our multiplayer plans, but it’s something that all of us on the team consider to be very important.
Finally, in one word describe Project Spark.
A big thanks to Michael and the guys at TD for taking the time to answer a few of our questions. I think I speak for the majority of us when I say I can’t wait for launch! Project Spark looks to be a truly revolutionary title!