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Microsoft Graphics XBox (Games) Games

Microsoft Kills Its Game-Building Platform Spark (arstechnica.com) 84

An anonymous reader writes:"Starting 5/13/16, 'Project Spark' will no longer be available for download on the Xbox Marketplace or Windows Store," Microsoft wrote in a blog post, adding that it will go offline for good on August 12th. They thanked fans who have "gone above and beyond supporting 'Project Spark' by uploading hundreds of thousands of creations and dreaming up millions of objects, behaviors, and experiences..."

Ars Technica remembered Spark as the free multi-device, build-your-own game platform that you never knew existed. "Marketing teams never effectively sold the possibilities and power of Spark's make-your-own-game system," reports Ars Technica. "While short teaser videos hinted at the game enabling everything from kart racers to airborne battles, major demonstrations tended to revolve more around generic 3D platformers.

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Microsoft Kills Its Game-Building Platform Spark

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  • Note to self, don't start a long-term indie game project on whatever Microsoft's next game dev platform is.

    • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @02:39PM (#52116499) Homepage

      Don't start a project on anything Microsoft's touting as "next-gen" anything.

      Back in the bad old days, DDE was the best way to do IPC in Windows. Then it was OLE, and COM, with ActiveX thrown in the mix too. For storing data, we had application-specific files, then system-level INI files, then the registry, and now we have a weird mess under the "AppData" tree.

      Of course, DirectX was supposed to be everything game devs needed, until it was neutered to handle just video and audio. XNA was then supposed to handle all of the game-centric functionality under the .NET framework, until it died a quiet death.

      Microsoft's the most indecisive software company I've ever seen, so I'd strongly recommend against taking any of their decisions at face value. Only adopt a Microsoft technology after others have vetted it and raised sufficient complaints about the broken parts.

      • Yeah MSFT has been shitting the bed with regularity as of late, .NET, Silverlight,Playsforsure, if you use a "next gen" MSFT product in your business you are locking yourself into a dead end path that won't be supported for shit and will die sooner rather than later. Google has been doing the same with many of their products but at least with Google nobody was actually trying to build products using the Google services they shitcanned.

        BTW am I the only one starting to smell the stench of death wafting from

        • Hmm... last I checked... .NET is their core platform these days and works pretty nicely. Silverlight is more or less replaced by HTML 5 now, so while Microsoft still supports it, it's kinda on the way out... after all... with no plugin support in browsers, what's the alternative. Plays for sure was kind of a marketing thing with some DRM on top.

          So, I'm a little lost.

          As for lock-in, these days, C# and .NET are practically the only cross platform development toolkit with support. C and C++ for application dev
      • by Xest ( 935314 )

        That's only really half the story though, on the flip side there are things like MFC which are still supported to this very day - that's 24 years, which for a library is a pretty good lifespan.

        It really seems to depend on the department, I agree, their graphics/games APIs have been a mess over the years - you haven't even stated the half of it with DirectX / XNA as you've missed out things like GDI, GDI+, WPF (for rendering), Managed DirectX. I'm not sure deprecating things like DirectInput really mattered

        • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

          whilst WinRT it's replacement seems to be lacking uptake because it's largely crippled by everything that was wrong with Windows 8 (namely trying to fudge a tablet way of doing things onto the desktop).

          The UWP team recently spoke to your point at Build, calling it a mistake to lock down the APIs and committing to move as many Win32-equivalent APIs into UWP as is reasonable (i.e. they are cleaning things up and applying modern application model principles as they copy the APIs).

          • by Xest ( 935314 )

            But does it really matter at this point? I'm not seeing much will for people to put on from things like WPF, wouldn't it make sense to just ditch the failure that is WinRT and just go back to supporting WPF?

            I'm just not seeing any evidence of adoption of WinRT, and I'm not really convinced there is any will to adopt it.

            It always seemed to be a solution seeking a problem.

            • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

              They did ditch WinRT. They replaced it with UWP, which is a broader platform with more capability and a roadmap that diverges from the original intent of WinRT.

              As for adoption, it's happening at an accelerating pace with several high-profile apps now released or in beta as UWP. Project Centennial is going to make mixed-mode apps possible in order to take advantage of each platform's strengths, but that hasn't been released yet. Between new APIs, more interest in the platform (companies are just now begin

              • by Xest ( 935314 )

                Sure that's a fair point, I'm basing my view on the jobs market and what local companies are doing. There's just no sign of uptake yet whatsoever but you're absolutely right, it is early days still. Having a few high profile projects to name drop is one thing, but it's only really when the real market picks it up that it matters because then it starts being relevant to the broader set of Windows developers rather than just a negligible minority who are working on those handful of name drop projects

                But devel

    • Yep, I agree. Your best bet is to simply use whatever the professionals are using, since you generally know that will be supported for a reasonable length of time. For game developers, that means plain old C++ and DirectX targeted at the desktop (or native console APIs, if you're a console developer). It's easy enough to port to other platforms like Universal Windows Apps as required, but you definitely don't want all your eggs in just one new MS basket. And these days, it makes sense to make sure you'r

      • Your best bet is to simply use whatever the professionals are using

        That depends on what the console maker chooses to make available to developers at any given time. During the Xbox 360 generation, developers in the Xbox Live Indie Games program were required to use a different API from what the established studios were using, namely the C# language and the XNA library. (In theory, any language generating verifiably type-safe CIL targeting the .NET Compact Framework could be used, but in practice, the only usable language was C# because the XNA environment lacked other lang

        • Agreed... besides, I never really was on board with the whole retained graphics mode APIs (abusing the term) from Microsoft themselves. Truth be told, we waited a long time for good cross platform game engines to come around and they have made awesome progress now. The underlying APIs are there for tweaking and stuff. I would say that for the most part, shader languages are more important than anything else. Write your game using a game engine and then make it rock with shaders.

          So, these days, it's far more
  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @01:52PM (#52116309) Homepage
    I guess Spark didn't catch on fire.
  • Now it's lost some of that punch.

    • Fuck, where does that "of" come from? I honestly don't get it, I'm not a native speaker, so maybe someone could clue me in, why do people write rubbish like "would of been"?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        English uses contractions for some words. "would have" can be shortened to "would've", which sounds like "would of". people get confused by this.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        In this case, though, "of" is the correct word.
      • While I have never written "Would of" instead of "Would have". Certainly, I would have never written "Would've"... as it seems just sloppy.

        But my use of the "Would of" in spoken language is definitely clear and excessive. I believe I'll make a genuine effort to correct this in the future. I am an American living in another country and regularly make conscience efforts to refine my speech in order to both improve clarity as well as set a good example for those around me, especially my children's friends.

        At s
      • by narcc ( 412956 )

        Now it's lost some of that punch.

        I'm not seeing the problem here. It looks correct to me. In this case, the 'of' indicates that the 'some' belongs to or originates from 'that punch'.

        We can eliminate the 'of' in most cases, but we often lose some meaning: "Now, he's lost some of his tools." -> "Now, he's lost some tools" (The owner of the tools is lost.) Though, in this case, the meaning can be preserved by writing "Now it's lost some punch."

        • by danaris ( 525051 )

          Oh, for the love of Cthulhu; read the title of the post!

          That's where the error was being propagated, which Opportunist corrected IN ALL CAPS and somehow you still missed it!

          Dan Aris

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Sunday May 15, 2016 @02:01PM (#52116347)

    A lot of VB6 programmers got shafted. And now spark.

    The ability of vendors to "end of life" development languages is a huge risk.

    • oh no, a programmer is expected to learn more than one language now? oh wait, that happens about every couple of years.... seems like that person has bigger problems if they feel they got shafted by VB6 EOL.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        A hundred man-years of VB6 code is no small investment.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Then spend one man-year writing a transpiler that turns VB6 code into something modern.

    • Ok, but you have to admit, they didn't get shafted by removing but by inventing that language.

  • The Spark has gone out.

  • It was inevitable since Microsoft bought Minecraft.

    Minecraft is a pretty horrible basis for further expansion, but maybe they'll fold some of these ideas into a future non-Java MC.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Another nothing product pulled out from under the handful of users who don't know Microsoft's history with this sort of thing. Go Linux!

  • I mean I downloaded Conker when it was free and basically found the game unplayable it was so bad. After that I just figured anything else on it would actually be worse since that was supposed to be a killer app for that project.
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Monday May 16, 2016 @10:50AM (#52120425) Journal

    > failure

    -- Hundreds of thousands of creations
    -- Millions of objects and components

    Someone is a failure here, Microsoft.

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