How to get the best out of your Project Spark experience

By LadylexUK

So, you have bought a copy of Project Spark, and now what? My first bit of advice is think small. Too many people think they are going to create an amazing Skyrim style open world that is going to be ready in a week. You are not going to be able to do that, even if you have the skills, Project Spark just cant do that. There are limitations in memory capacity, prop count and terrain size. Also, it takes time to learn and build in Project Spark, and often even what seems like the easiest of tasks can take hours of trial and error to get it right. Having said that there is a lot you can do. In fact you can do most things. You just need a bit of patience. Now then, what style of Sparker are you?

The game developer
Some Sparkers specialise in a style of game, such as RPG or platformer. Each game type has its own challenges. Or like me, you might like to experiment with lots of game types and see if you can meet the challenges of making games in all sorts of genres. Whatever you decide to do, start with a simple goal. An arena brawler is the easiest style of game to make using the available brains, or a 3D platformer where the skill is in landscaping platforms you can jump to. PS is designed primarily to make fantasy realm RPGs, but the inventory and skill tree systems you need for that take some time to develop, so be sure you understand that a good RPG game is going to take months to make. Games that do not look like Project Spark at all, but more like old Atari games were made, but its not for beginners and require a lot of lateral thinking. Whatever you decide to make, check out the tutorials on this site before you start. No need to reinvent the wheel if you don’t need to. However, learning is often better if you practice and fail a few times. I also find it is better to make things separate from your game world, then save them as brains and assemblies. That way you can mess up and not completely destroy hours of work on the main game.

The landscaper
You may not be interested in learning to kode at all. You can still build amazing things in Project Spark. The biome tools are straightforward to use, but it takes skill to design a landscape that looks good. There are very few tutorial videos of landscape design to get you started however I recommend viewing the How to Design Good Looking Levels by Team Dakota and How to Build a desert by WertAndrew for some interesting tips at creating some realism into your designs.

You could try recreating a landscape from something else. There are some amazing illustrations of fantasy landscapes all over the internet to give you inspiration, as well as computer games, films, tv shows and animation. However, creating your own world is very rewarding. I recommend viewing videos of the work of Pauly January who only ever made landscape designs from both the fantasy and sci-fi packs.

The monster maker
There are a few ready made enemies in Project Spark, goblins, void creatures, kodians, tediz, but there is nothing like creating your own baddie. Learning how to use attachments to create character models will unleash the Dr Frankenstein in you, and really the skys the limit in what you can create, from robots to fluffy sheep with fangs. A good tutorial to start you off is the Rock Man from Seris Taclys. Many Sparkers chose to specialise in creating character models from their favourite shows and movies. The community had really good Transformers, Marvel characters, Star Wars figures …you name it. However, creating your own unique character is just as rewarding and can lead you to creating whole games around them.

The mechanic
You could be the sort of Sparker who wants to make contraptions and vehicles. There are many Sparkers out there who made airships, spaceships, trains, cars that were either working driveable models or just nice to look at sculptures. Others made amazing machinery or steam punk contraptions. There was a gamejam devoted to Rude Goldburg style contraptions, and also a design with limited props gamejam where people made blenders, and carousels, and robots.

The film maker
Project Spark is a great tool for making short movies. Check out Project Spark’s 3 Sparkisodes to see how you could make an animated show for YouTube. In fact, with the sharing servers no longer available, using Project Spark as an animation studio could be the perfect way to optimise its use. Check out NieNie Chu’s Remembrance for an example of how Project Spark can create animation art.

The DLC maker
I had a lot of fun creating pretend new DLC packs from the props already available and so did many others. I used to run competitions and there were some great showcases made on a theme such as pirates or the wild west. Pick a theme and create your own DLC pack. It could contain characters, props, buildings, plants, sound files…whatever you want. Outside of my competitions people made themed levels of Call of Cthulhu, Ancient Egypt, a showcase of tree designs, urban warfare, ghosts etc. No game exactly, but a showcase similar to those made by Team Dakota where the player got to interact with the new props ( a good example being the Haunted Cornfield).

The brain maker
If design is not your thing then maybe the intellectual exercise of koding might be appealing. Try to recreate game mechanics from other games to challenge yourself. Create inventory systems, compasses, radar, guns with sights, work on vectors and mathematical formulas. I am always happy to publish brain kode on this website for others to use, so it would not be a wasted effort even if you don’t use in a game. I enjoy working out brain kode, and after all Project Spark is the only place you can use it.

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