Microsoft began the beta test yesterday (Dec. 3) for the Windows 8.1 version of Project Spark, a "game maker" program that will let Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Windows 8 users create their own video-game levels and characters, add gameplay of different kinds, and even include their own story and acting.
Users will be able to make platform games, adventure games, racing games, RPGs or games of other genres. The creations can be shared online through a robust community, and the creations can then be remixed by other players.
The community is designed so that each user gets credit for his or her creations, even if someone else takes one and remixes it into something completely different.
Anyone interested in being part of the beta test on either Windows 8.1 or Xbox One can sign up at ProjectSpark.com. According to Microsoft, the final version of Project Spark will be released in 2014, including for the older Xbox 360 console.
Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor, which comes with Xbox One consoles and is an optional add-on to the Xbox 360, plays a big part in Project Spark. The project was designed with an intuitive interface to allow anyone to create and tweak all the different aspects of a video game, from level design to enemy behavior to character movement.
The Kinect can also enhance Spark by letting players record their bodies' movements and use those movements in the actions of characters. For example, a Spark project could have an army of dancing zombies, or a robot with a penchant for jogging.
Kinect isn't likely to be part of the Windows 8.1 beta of Project Spark, since the Kinect for Windows isn't expected to be released commercially until next summer.
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