Project Spark, Microsoft's game-slash-development-tool, launches in beta on the Xbox One today following a Windows 8.1 launch in December. Wannabe developers can now create games that run across PC, Xbox, and tablet hardware, or edit said games from any of those devices.
In case you've forgotten: Project Spark is in many ways Microsoft's Little Big Planet, albeit more powerful. It's an intuitive level editor, with the ability to create custom characters and missions for others to play. A user-generated content goldmine, in other words.
The Xbox One gives content creators a few more tools, due to Kinect integration. Namely, you can now capture custom animations and audio for every character. This on top of Project Spark's robust toolset, which allows you to customize the behavior of all non-player items and characters in your game.
It's an ambitious piece of software, though as we saw with Little Big Planet, games that rely on user-generated content are often inundated with garbage (especially at the outset). Polygon reports that Project Spark receives 400 new levels per day. Discoverability is one of the key problems as time goes on, and I hope Microsoft has a solution in place.
But what's already out there sounds fascinating. One person has apparently recreated part of Fable, while another has made a fully-functioning pinball machine. That's enough to make me sign up for the beta, at least.
In order to get access to the Xbox One beta you'll have to sign up for the generic Project Spark beta here. Those who already have access to the Windows 8.1 beta will automatically receive access to the Xbox One version. The beta will stay available until the game launches, which Microsoft puts at "later this year."