One of the more ambitious looking games that Microsoft had on display as part of its press conference and showcase event was Project Spark. Serving as an obvious attempt to capture the sect of the audience that loves Minecraft, Project Spark has some very impressive terraformation tools in its arsenal that expertly allow the player to create worlds on a whim. Once those worlds are created, the game finds ways to try to make them fun.
There's no question in my mind that the method is sound. During my 15 minutes with the game, Project Spark showed off an astounding attention to detail that was hard to wrap my head around. Paying particular care to fine-tune everything down to the tiniest of metrics, players can either form new environments in sweeping broad strokes or pixel by pixel on both an X and Y axis. Watching the game create vibrant-looking lands right under your brush is...well, it's kind of magical.
The only suspect aspect of Project Spark is what you actually do with these worlds. There's some sort of quick adventure mode that allows the player to jump into a pre-made setting where only minimal choices need to be made. It looked like you could use your custom worlds to create gameplay for, but I didn't get to see that.
Community seems like it'll serve as one of the most crucial facets for Project Spark. The install base will be able to upload whatever they create, such as minigames, for everyone else to play. Once players have these, they can make any sort of changes to their version of it in order to optimize fun. It sounds like the developers are kind of banking on routinely interacting with the community to achieve this. Whether the plan has long-term legs remains to be seen.
It may not be a triple-A type of endeavor for Microsoft, but Project Spark looks like it has a lot of creative potential. I'm not necessarily the audience-base that it's looking to serve, but it should definitely strike a resounding chord with some people. I know that it has the tools to accomplish it; it just needs to guide players to use them in the right way.