Where the F**K is the alpha?!?!

62 comments

The burning question that all 15K of you, who’ve signed up for our beta or our newsletter, are asking us.  The quick answer is: It’s coming, and soon!  But here are more details…

First off, I wanna say, calm down.  It’s happening, we’re working our asses off and we’re keeping in touch with our little Skype community to get feedback and using (in a very good and positive way) our initial Sparkans to learn more about your experiences as game developers, to better understand what problems you’re having so that when we release this long awaited Alpha, it will be well worth the wait, at least as an initial MVP (Minimum Viable Product) release.  

In our last email, we gave you an update on our progress.  We have progressed plenty since then, but we still don’t have a release date for the alpha.  What we do know is that it’s so close, you can almost touch it.  Now, it’s time to talk about a bit of the background on the project and on us and what our goals are and how we got to these goals.

Our Hunt for Funding

As many of you know we are a very small team with this really huge project – Aris, developer; Athina, UI/UX Designer; and myself doing everything in the background (including writing the blog posts :P).  As many startups do, we started looking for investment opportunities from the very beginning, starting with startup accelerators.  I’m not going to bore you with the details, but we submitted two applications to two different accelerators and were accepted in both; the first, we refused the deal because it simply wasn’t good, and the second was Startup Chile.  The experience at Startup Chile was amazing and very useful, as you will see in our blog post about it.

While in Chile, we started connecting with investors back home (Greece) and began keeping them up-to-date on our progress.  Progress was unbelievable in Chile so we had lots to show.  We went there with this as a prototype:

And came home seven months later with this:

Startups look for investments as, truth be told, money makes things go faster. You can hire a few people to help speed up development; buy a few programs/services that you need to help with marketing, etc.  When a startup gets an investment, it’s considered ‘successful’. So, for us to be ‘successful’ we needed an investment, too…right?  Well, no.  We realized early this year (too late in the game? Meh, that’s subjective…and a whole other topic.) that this opinion is so wrong in general, and more importantly, wrong for us.  

The process we went through meeting with the executives at the accelerator here in Greece and two Greek investors, along with all the investor events we went to, turned out to be very time-consuming and we lost very valuable time on development.  For the accelerator, it was a five-month period of preparing presentations, documentation, videos, presenting, discussing.  We went through a similar process with the investors, but not over such a long period.  Don’t get me wrong, we learned A LOT about pitching, investments, term sheets, investors and this has been invaluable.

Would you support Spark in a crowdfunder campaign?

If I were to add up all this time up, it equals 10 months!  Ten MONTHS of Spark Game Engine development not being the priority.  Crazy, crazy, super fu**in’ crazy!  And considering that we only have one developer (poor guy 🙁 ) that’s a sh**load of time.  So, the decision is no more looking for an investment at this point.  We want to get users first, gather our metrics and our numbers and then…MAYBE then we’ll look into an investment…

Our Goals

Our PRIMARY goal is to release an MVP / alpha version that people will love as a first release.  As you know, Spark Game Engine will have a lot of cool features, which will provide you with a lot of versatility.  BUT as you can understand, so that we do things right, we need to choose features that Aris can ‘easily’ implement, ones that you will love, that will be perfect (well, I’m sure you can forgive a bug or two :P), and that will provide you with the flexibility you need from within this particular feature set.  

We started researching from the very beginning, talking to the gamedev community here in Greece, in Chile, and of course via email and social media with many of you who have touched base.  We are gamedevs ourselves, so we know a thing or two, too 😉  What came of this research is that you want something easy to use, easier than what’s out there; you want flexibility; you want 3D with no coding, you want a strong community and many more.  Unfortunately, for a first release, 3D with no coding would delay things far longer than both you and we want.

So, what did we do?

Spark-Game-Engine-piece-of-cake

Implementing the UI for Spark is a piece of cake compared to what we’ve done so far.

We released a pre-alpha last December to our Skype group ONLY.  We wanted to keep it small and simple for easy management of the feedback we’d get, essentially, on a first release.  The time and effort put in by many in our group was invaluable (Thanks, guys!).  We realized that, to release this particular version as an MVP, it would not go over well with the majority of indie gamedev community.  It was far too limiting, too buggy, too complicated because we didn’t have any written documentation, among other things.  

We’ve fixed the bugs; we’ve found out how it was limiting and made additions and changes; and now we’re at the stage of implementing the proper UI that we had intended from the very beginning so that it’s not complicated. Compared to what we’ve done, implementing the UI is a piece of cake.  The end is near, there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Now, we’re taking our research to the next step.  Athina has started conducting a handful of one-on-one video interviews with Sparkans from our Skype Group, asking targeted questions that would help us understand you better.  If you’re interested, fill out this survey.  Leaving your email would give Athina the chance to email you to arrange a time for a video call.  

Influence the direction of Spark by filling out this survey and leaving your email address for a chance to have a one-on-one video call with Athina!

Do we not care about money?

Hahahahahahaha!  Well, rhetorical question, right?  We wish we could do it for free because we LOVE what we’re doing, but we’d like to survive by doing what we love.  Isn’t that what everyone’s dream is, after all?

What we don’t care about is getting an investment, at this point.  The three of us are surviving, though, and we’re doing it by making games using Spark for two very good clients.  Don’t get angry…Aris has been coding the game within Spark, except for our more recent game which he created using the editor, an editor that isn’t pretty, wouldn’t you agree? 😛  

Dev-UI-Spark-Game-Engine

This is the UI Aris is working with. Very similar to what you’ll be using, but yet so far from it 🙂

If you’re interested in seeing our progress with the upcoming MVP, we have made our Spark Trello Board public so you can see what we have done, what we’re working on, and what we have left to do for the pre-alpha v2.0 (terrible name, we know, but…).  Our goal with this MVP is to allow you to create simple 2D platform games using behaviors.

Once we have a better idea on the release of the Alpha, we’ll let you know what will be available for it and we’ll start creating a crowdfunding campaign.   This is much better for everyone involved.  

So, why write this blog post?

We feel it’s important to communicate with our community as much as possible.  Your eagerness to use Spark is so obvious, with all the emails and social media posts we receive regularly.  We hope that this post will help you better understand our position so that everyone is on the same page.  

Thank you for all your support!!!  We can already tell that we are going to have an awesome Spark community full of creative and excited Sparkans 🙂

theodora kapsaliWhere the F**K is the alpha?!?!

62 comments

Join the conversation
  • Lestroso - March 3, 2017 reply

    Dear Spark ToolS Team,
    In my opnion, you should release an initial release…also not working well, so we can test and give you feedback to improve your Game Engine….I’m also ready to pay you, so ,you will are more motivated to go on…..with your project….I thank you so much for working with your project…Best regards, Lestroso
    http://www.fasasoftware.com

  • Dan - January 20, 2017 reply

    Is this project dead?

    Nikk - February 18, 2017 reply

    Yes…. Dead project!! Much text and nothing of the Engine.

  • Anastasios Mitropoulos - January 11, 2017 reply

    Hi dear Spark team.
    It’s been a long long time since I’ve started following you. I had really forgotten you!!!!
    Your engine seems to be awesome, but either you never had a project management or the existing is a big failure. So, sorry but I cannot count on your Trello cards.
    If you had entered Kickstarters a long time ago, I’m sure that now thousands of people would enjoy Spa rk engine, because it’s seems to be an amazing and innovating engine.
    One suggestion: At least, keep your people hot with newsletters more often, because I think that most of them have already forgotten you.
    I wish you the best, good luck.

    sam - January 12, 2017 reply

    the year 2020
    halo 8
    half life 4
    Crysis 5
    Far cry extinct
    star wars battlefront 2 remastered
    the legend of Spyro reborn
    Spark alpha released

    spyros - January 21, 2017 reply

    so true…twitter facebook trello are not updated any more. i understand that plan A failed cause the alpha supposed to be out a year ago but at least spark team should show something of the process. i consider the project dead.

    theodora kapsali - February 7, 2017 reply

    Thank you very much for your feedback. We weighed the pros and cons of a kickstarter so early on and this is why we decided against doing a crowdfunder. We would like to release something first before we start asking for money from our future users.

    As for the Trello board and project management, we are doing our best. Things change very quickly and drastically when creating a piece of software. And there are also extenuating circumstances that play a role. We are a small team.

    Newsletters yes more often, but when we have nothing that would merit a newsletter… Why nothing that would merit a newsletter, you may ask…that goes back to extenuating circumstances and the fact that most of the work is backend…

    We are considering writing a dev post which would help explain what it is that our developer, Aris, is thinking about and problems he’s encountering.

  • Amr - December 9, 2016 reply

    I have been subscribed for over a year now, or almost when this whole thing started that I forgot completely about it lol

    Good luck!

    Jacky - December 27, 2016 reply

    Are you Arabic?

    theodora kapsali - January 2, 2017 reply

    No we are not Arabic. We are Greek 🙂

    theodora kapsali - January 2, 2017 reply

    Have you received any of our emails? We send out emails periodically, but sometimes they go into the promotions tab or even spam 🙁 Could you have a look? We sent one back in May and June.

    Dan - January 20, 2017 reply

    Is spark cancelled? Why not just release the 2d version only?

    theodora kapsali - February 7, 2017 reply

    This is what we are working on doing…releasing a basic version for 2D but we need to focus more on what type of game you’ll be able to create for a start.

    combine officer - February 19, 2017

    Ok i just joined and i hope it will not be long till its out.
    Also you said “we need to focus on what type of game you’ll be making” well here’s what iv been planning for, for the last 3 years

    It will be either a WW1 or WW2 shooter (Plz add 3d/first person soon after release if you say it will be 2d at first.) and here’s my idea for the first mission: you spawn on a bout with like 12 other solders about to land on a beach. The officer says somethings then the bout next to you explodes. Then you land soon after and you got to clear out trenches and fox holes so you can punch a clear way up the beach to a rally point. End of mission 1. So if you can add some war related stuff then that would help, also plz make it have no coding and very easy map making tools. Because iv never once made a map or game or anything related before. Also plz add 3d game making mode soon after release Thank you for reading this if you can.

    combine officer - February 19, 2017

    Also sorry for sounding bossy from how i just talked.
    Its late where i am and i get moody when im tired.

    I just hard you dont have the funding and im sorry to hear that, so i hope you can accomplish your goal because i see lots of potential in this. So i wish you and all the developers the best of luck.

    Cya on the other side

  • Lestroso - December 6, 2016 reply

    Dear SparkTools Team, I hope you will share the Spark Engine as soon as possible. I thank you a lot in advance and i send you my best wishes of Merry Christmas. Best regards, Lestroso

  • christian henry - December 3, 2016 reply

    wow i cant believe your close to being done i am a bit young so most game makers are hard to use i hope you finish before 2018 that would be so cool. so please finish fast oh and i am 11

  • Ryuu - December 2, 2016 reply

    This is EXACTLY what I need. Thank you so much, I’ll be waiting patiently.

  • Modeerfwon - November 20, 2016 reply

    Hey Ya First off i want to say that you can take your time Even if it takes forever Ill be patient until th alpha is out

  • zohaib - October 20, 2016 reply

    how to download it i cant find any option please give me link or way to download it

    Anonymous - November 2, 2016 reply

    The post literally talked about the download.
    It’s coming.

  • Lestroso - October 17, 2016 reply

    Dear Sparktools Team, when do you think to release your Game Engine?? I/We Need a lot to make new funny games, with your system, with a new concept and easy to build them…I thank you a lot for your effort, hoping to see your Game engine as soon as possible. Best regards, Lestroso

    theodora kapsali - October 30, 2016 reply

    We are working hard on releasing something worthwhile asap. See our progress on our public Trello board (https://trello.com/b/Y5fPqguJ).

    yunuscodes - November 19, 2016 reply

    Hi, I’am one of the pre-alpha testers (yunuscodes) and I just waited for more informations, I know that the alpha and 2D development will be released soon, and I know that you don’t want to tell when 3D development will be released but I just want a answer, will it be released 2017-2018 or will it take longer?

    Thank you for work and I hope the project will be succesful! And BTW if you need a German or Turkish translation than you can ask me.! 😉

  • Andreas - October 15, 2016 reply

    Hey, guys, your game engine seems awesome and I’m very sorry to see that you don’t have so much funding. I really think it’s a great idea to use Kickstarter or Indiegogo to get funding. Many have succeeded so I hope you will too.

    jeffpickel - October 16, 2016 reply

    i have been waiting for a year plz come out soon

    Jack - October 17, 2016 reply

    if only i were rich but when i start doing games i will see how many i cann sell and if i sell enogh half of the money from the games will go to you :>

    theodora kapsali - October 30, 2016 reply

    Thanks for the message. You can see our progress on our public Trello board (https://trello.com/b/Y5fPqguJ)

  • Alethemagno - October 14, 2016 reply

    Please hurry, this seems like the most awesome thing in the world!!! <3

  • Josh - September 19, 2016 reply

    Been here since ages ago! Been subscribed since a longgggg time ago…

    theodora kapsali - October 10, 2016 reply

    Thanks for being with us along the way 🙂

    idk - October 10, 2016 reply

    me too, can you give us a exact date as to when it will come out to the public?

    theodora kapsali - October 30, 2016 reply

    We don’t give exact dates anymore…it’s not possible to know or keep them. You can see our progress on our Trello board. Link is in previous comments.

  • Blackphantomscar - September 19, 2016 reply

    I’ve been here since summer last year and it’s looking to be well worth the wait! This honestly is the best game engine that I’ve seen so far (and believe me, I’ve seen a lot!) and I have big, BIG plans for the first things I’ll make (Hint: Game one is called Vox and game two is called RISE: Elementals!)! Totally hyped for the engine, finally somebody had the bright idea of a game engine that isn’t massively complicated!

    theodora kapsali - October 10, 2016 reply

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and most of all for sticking by us for a while. We are working hard on getting an MVP out for everyone to try. With it you’ll be able to create a simple 2D platformer using behaviors.

  • leo_dzn - September 17, 2016 reply

    ! Hello, I would first like to congratulate the wonderful work you are doing, and I wonder: Do you intend to translate the engine? if you want to be a help honor (I am Brazilian and loved the project), another doubt like me volunteer to be project tester? I await answers, and I wish much success! (Sorry bad english)

    theodora kapsali - October 10, 2016 reply

    Thank you for the message. We have had a lot of interest in translating in Portuguese. When the time comes we will reach out to the community for help in that area. Thanks for offering to give a hand 🙂

  • Mason - September 15, 2016 reply

    Great, super excited for this engine. I’m excited to see its potential in the crowdfunding phase. Thank you for being involved in the community and I’ll make sure to check it out on twitter!

    theodora kapsali - October 30, 2016 reply

    Thank you for leaving a comment and showing your enthusiasm! We are on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SparkGameEngine/) and Pinterest (https://gr.pinterest.com/SparkGameEngine/), too. Whether by email or via our social media channels, you will know when we release something 😀

  • Tigrou83 - September 4, 2016 reply

    A Kickstarter !!!! Please !!!! To hire some more devs !!! No problem !!!! We want to help you !!!! We want a release date, the best day ever !!! What you’re making is just marvellous and we REALLY need this !!!! Now !!! Pleaaaaaaaase !!! Help us !!!!

    theodora kapsali - September 6, 2016 reply

    LOL! Thanks for supporting. We know you need this. Let us first release a 2nd version of the pre-alpha, get some feedback, and we’ll set up a crowdfunder 🙂

    Alec - September 10, 2016 reply

    I cant wait for spark to be released, I always looked for a game engine that was easy and versatile! Keep up the innovation!

    theodora kapsali - October 30, 2016 reply

    Thank you for your support and taking the time to leave a comment 🙂

  • yoboytim - September 4, 2016 reply

    do you think an open world game like gta is possible in spark?

    theodora kapsali - September 6, 2016 reply

    It will be eventually. But for the initial release you’ll only be able to create a 2D platformer.

    Damiayoboytim - September 6, 2016 reply

    okay can’t wait 🙂

  • DogeAnims - September 2, 2016 reply

    Perfect! I’m amazed at the hard work you guys are doing.. I’m an animator, I tried to make games a few times, I failed, but I think that with this Engine.. Everyone that is starting to make games is going to make them succesfully! Thanks for posting and “informing” us. 😀

    theodora kapsali - September 6, 2016 reply

    Thanks for your support! We hope that we can make it easier…

  • Tony - August 30, 2016 reply

    I’ve been extremely curious about Spark and its offerings!!! I’m a web developer by trade, but would love to get into game development and can’t wait to see our approach. There is a lot of competition out there, and I hope Spark shines through all the noise.

    theodora kapsali - September 6, 2016 reply

    Thanks for the support Tony. 🙂

  • Markb323 - August 29, 2016 reply

    looking forward to giving my support, Spark sounds like its going to be amazing but its the people behind it im following i just love the honesty and real-ness (if thats a word) that i read, i understand its hard with a small team im 5 years on a project alone…its understandable just dont take so long that your features seem old……games, apps , their ui, api ect change way too often…we all got to stay up to speed, all the best to the Spark team

    theodora kapsali - August 29, 2016 reply

    Thank you! We appreciate the advice and your support. We want to be as open as HUMANly possible. Trust and communication is essential in every relationship, so it’s great that we’re all on the same page 🙂

  • theodora kapsali - August 28, 2016 reply

    Thanks to everyone for your replies and for your support! I’m not sure where Twitter came into play, but no not only Twitter followers will benefit from the alpha. Everyone who has subscribed will get it 🙂

  • dan - August 28, 2016 reply

    yeah – i dont use twitter, and wont be :/

  • Glerikud - August 27, 2016 reply

    Take all the time you need. 🙂 I’m looking forward to the alpha version and you have my support in your upcoming crowdfunding camapign.

    theodora kapsali - October 30, 2016 reply

    Thank you very much for your support.

  • Elderzz - August 27, 2016 reply

    Just to tell you, your current editor is one of the PRETTIEST ones I have seen in a WHILE.
    A thing that attracts me the most towards your editor is the dark design.
    I don’t know why, dark designs just make soo happy! 😀
    Cant wait for the alpha!

    theodora kapsali - October 30, 2016 reply

    Thank you! Glad that you like it. When we release we look forward to getting some more feedback from you 🙂

  • Damian - August 27, 2016 reply

    great! i can’t wait for release don’t worry guys doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as the alpha has the basic functionalities to make my own game without coding 🙂 btw you can make any type of game with spark right?

    theodora kapsali - October 30, 2016 reply

    Thank you for taking the time to leave us a comment and show us your support. This is something that is really encouraging and we appreciate it. For the upcoming release, you will be limited to making a simple 2D infinite runner/platformer using our drag and drop interface and the behaviors we’ve created for this type of game. The vision is for someone to be able to create any type of game without coding.

  • Andrew - August 27, 2016 reply

    Glad to see you guys are moving forward. Disappointed a bit to see twitter people getting to use it first (I’m not on Twitter much 😢 ) but happy to see some stuff happening. I would be happy to support a Kickstarter when it happens.

    theodora kapsali - October 30, 2016 reply

    Thanks for leaving a comment, Andrew. Just to clarify, not only Twitter followers will have access to the upcoming release. We will have our Skype group do some initial testing for us once we release, and then we will release it to those on our mailing list.

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