Project Spark was probably one of my most favorite of E3 2013 announcements during the Xbox press conference in June, a "tool" that allows users to create worlds and games that don't look like they're ripped out of the Quake era. Microsoft now states that the closed beta will arrive for Windows 8 devices in October, followed by Xbox One in January 2014.
The latest blog revealing the upcoming beta launch talks about developer Team Dakota demonstrating the voice and motion capture feature using a Kinect sensor. Players can capture facial animations, body motion and voice and sound to create custom character animations, dialog or even cinematic cut scenes, the company says.
"Express yourself with facial capture technology and record dramatic scenes, make your own attacks, and much more. In addition, you can record your own sayings or sounds using the Kinect microphone, bringing the audial customization of your living world to an all new level of fun," the company writes.
Microsoft explained in the blog that users will be able to record their face and have it applied to an in-game character. The company also provides examples of animation recording such as performing a new attack, full body character motions, specific gestures only one NPC will use and more. Builders can also speak a line, sing, and so on, and modulate those sounds in a number of different ways.
"The result is being able to make your own animations or even cinematic cut scenes when you combine all three (face + body + voice)," Microsoft states.
Project Spark brings simple game creation tools to anyone -- no coding knowledge is required. Even more, the creations can be shared with a whole community of gamers, seemingly unleashing an endless universe of worlds built by Windows 8 and Xbox gamers alike. Any genre appears to be possible: turn-based RPGs, air combat battles, puzzle games, even a fully-working piano.
"You'll be able to either use that Crossroads mode to build something really quickly through story choices, you can do the blank slate editor, or you can take games that other people have built and then just edit them for yourself," stated Microsoft Games Studios general manager Dave McCarthy during GFamescom.
VG247 says that during Gamesom, developer Team Dakota quickly created a level using the terrain editor, then dressed the landscape up with detailed biome brushes that planted trees, flowers, grass, and so on. Streams were then added, hills and then a quest-giving NPC. These characters can be modified to react a certain way to characters -- attack on sight, remain passive, etc. -- and perform exactly the way the game creator moved his body during the motion capture mode. Total customization with the simplest of tools.
Registration for the beta began back in June, and all designs will be cross-platform capable, meaning Windows 8 gamers can create an RPG that is playable on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles. The Xbox One version will reportedly include exclusive features such as the motion capture tech.