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What is Spark?

What is Spark?

Spark is a 2D top-down team-based internet-multiplayer capture-the-flag game, with compelling gameplay that is simple to learn for beginners but offers years of depth for the committed player. Spark has a loyal and dedicated community, where players group together into like-minded 'clans' to compete in a variety of community-run leagues, ladders and tournaments for ultimate bragging rights. It has a rich history, a wealth of subtle strategy, and best of all, it's 100% free! Download it here or Learn to play!

Basics - In-Game

Basics - In-Game

In-Game HUD Overview

Once you're in-game, you'll notice that while playing Spark, you have quite a few informational indicators on the right of your screen, which will be acting as your Heads-Up Display (HUD) while you play Spark.

Sidebar Window

At the top of the sidebar is a window, with four icons next to it. These four icons denote four separate screens displayable in the window, and they share space within it. Click each icon to see its respective screen:

Energy Bars

There are two energy bars in Spark, one dealing with your health amount; the other with your weapon recharging.

Health Bar

The Health Bar (red in color) displays how much health you have remaining in your current ship life. The fuller your red bar is, the more health you possess. A full red bar is equal to a full life, and once your life bar runs out, you will explode. You can gain back health back once it has been lost, but the only way to do this is to destroy enemy ships. You receive a health bonus for every enemy ship you manage to dispatch.

'Blue' Bar

The weapon recharge bar, better known the 'blue' bar for its color, shows how much weapon charge you have at any given time. With a full blue bar, you can shoot many weapons, and at the same time, if you're so inclined. With a low blue bar, you'll have to wait for it to recharge before you can fire again. This can be debilitating or even deadly in a league match.

Special Weapon Selector

Below your energy bars is your Special Weapon selector. To change your current Special Weapon to missiles, click the missile icon, and so on with grenades and bouncy lasers (Special Weapons are covered in greater depth in the Special Weapons section). In your selector, you can see how many of each Special Weapon you have charged already. There is a tiny loading bar displayed below each special weapon's icon. This is the time that it takes to charge another full Special Weapon.

Team Scores

Denotes how many objective points have been scored by each team since the start of the game server.

Basic Movement

Once you've joined a game, you'll find that the game is both much easier and much harder than you originally expected. For instance, moving around is simple. Basic movements are accomplished with the Up, Down, Left, and Right keys, by default. There are also Cruise Up, Cruise Down, Cruise Left, and Cruise Right keys that you can set in your In-Game Options, which are used when cruising back to battles when you don't want to hold down a single arrow key for 30 seconds.

If you are looking for more advanced movements, such as Dodging, please refer to the Dodging section.

Shooting Lasers

Even easier than basic movements is shooting lasers. All you have to do is point with your cursor and click. Don't worry about the shape or color of your cursor; this has to do with your Special Weapons, which we will cover in the next section.

If you are looking for advanced types of shooting, such as Spreading, please refer to the Spreading section. If you are looking for how to use lasers in conjunction with Special Weapons, visit the Combos section.

Special Weapons

You have three types of Special Weapons in Spark, all of which have different properties and are useful in different types of situations:

Team Scores

The different colored numbers denote how many objective points have been scored by each team since the start of the game server.

  • Missiles - Missiles are short-range weapons that deliver a devastating amount of damage in a very short period of time. Useful for tight situations in which a burst of lasers just won't cut it. Beware, however, using missiles takes up a large percentage of your blue bar, and may leave you vulnerable to attack. You may (re)charge and carry up to three missiles at any one time. See also Missiles.
  • Grenades/Bombs - Colloquially known as 'nades,' grenades are short-to-long range weapons that can be used in quite a variety of situations. Nades deal more damage with a direct hit than any other weapon in the game, and utilized as an indirect weapon, they are worth their weight in gold. You may (re)charge and carry up to two grenades at any one time.
  • Bouncies - Bouncies are both the most loved and feared weapon in the game of Spark. They are just like normal lasers, but appear thicker on screen by default, travel faster, and do more damage. They can be aimed at you from a great distance, even if you are off-screen or hidden behind obstacles, and this is their greatest asset. You may (re)charge and carry up to three bouncies at any one time.

Each of these Special Weapons has its own advantages and disadvantages, and used skillfully, can inflict maximum damage on your opponents.

If you are looking for advanced ways in which to use Special Weapons, please refer to the Weapons Guide section. If you are looking for how to use Special Weapons in conjunction with each other or with lasers, please visit the Combos section.

Pens and Spawning

Immediately upon joining a game, you will find yourself in an area with a flashing grid for a floor. This is a spawning pen. This is where you'll be sent every time your ship is destroyed. To prevent a flood of players spawning immediately after they are destroyed, most maps have a spawning pen timer, so that spawners have to wait until a certain period of time elapses before they are allowed to rejoin the game. To exit the spawning pen, wait until the countdown timer reaches zero (0), and then move your ship with the arrow keys. Your ship will automatically 'spawn,' or be transported into the playing area.

In some games, the spawning pens are integrated directly into the playing area, and can be seen by any players near enough to the pens to get a view of them. In still other games, the players in the spawning pens are a vital part of the gameplay itself, and there are bunkers facing into or out from the spawning pen. Players inside the spawning pen cannot shoot any Special Weapons, only basic lasers. Their Special Weapons begin to recharge once they wait for their countdown timer to reach zero, and they spawn correctly. For players that have already spawned, and are shooting into the spawning pens, not all of the weapons will damage the players still in the pen. Hits from basic lasers, Missiles, and Bouncies will cause damage to players still inside the spawning pens, but Grenades have no effect on them.

Spectating

Spectators are allowed in Spark, unlike previous incarnations of the game. To spectate, type '/spectate' and press enter. Once your ship has exploded, you are now no longer tied to any ship, and may spectate as you please. You can move your screen's point of view around using the arrow keys (Up, Down, Right, Left), or you can spectate each player directly. To cycle through players one way, click your left mouse button. To reverse the order, click your right mouse button. If you want to re-join the action, choose the Team Select option from the Sidebar Window, or press F4 to choose your team.

Objective Types

There are three different objective types, and the objective type for each map is set during actual creation of the map file, and is hard-coded within the map file. The objective types are as follows:

  • Fragging - In the fragging objective type, each team tries to be the team with the most frags (kills). Though at first glance it may seem the most fun of the objective types, this game also has the least amount of maps made for it. There is no clear ending point at which the map resets and all players are returned to pens, and no team scores (other than the cumulative total of frags all of the players on that team have), so many players don't like these maps.
  • Capture the Flag - Capture the flag (CTF) is the most popular objective type by far, and is used in more leagues, tournaments, and public games than any other objective type. The objective of any capture the flag game is to capture all flags from the opposing team(s), and bring them to your own base. To pick up a flag, you simply run over it with your ship, and to drop it off at your own base, simply run your ship over the flagpole in your base, while holding a flag. If your ship is destroyed while you are holding a flag, the flag drops where your ship exploded. After a flag is dropped, nobody from that team will be able to pick it up for 1 or 2 seconds, though other teams may pick it up immediately. Additionally, there are two sub-types of CTF objective types, with similarities and differences:
  • Using Neutral Flags Playing with neutral (white) flags is the most popular form of CTF, as it is very straightforward, and there are no wild cards in play, and players playing with this objective type are measured more by skill than by happenstance.

    The usual process of a game with neutral flags is to traverse the terrain until you reach some neutral territory, grab a neutral flag or two, and then bring them back to your base, whereas with colored flags, you'd usually have to steal them out of the opposing team's base. However, some neutral flag maps use both ideas, and have one neutral flag in each base, and you must keep your own flag while retrieving the other as well.

    One of the main differences between neutral flags and colored flags is that when dropped, neutral flags do not return to their base after a period of time, whereas colored flags do.

    Using Colored Flags Playing with colored (red, yellow, green, blue) flags is very similar to playing with neutral flags, but there are a few major differences, which can swing events in favor of one team over the other very quickly indeed.

    When Team 1 captures a flag from Team 2's base, and drops it while bringing it back to their own base (due to that player getting killed, or dropping the flag purposely), all a player has to do is touch their flag on the battlefield (by running over it with their ship), and it will immediately return to their base. Also, when colored flags are dropped, they will return to their own base automatically after a certain period of time, without being touched by anyone.

  • Switches - The switch objective type uses multi-flip switches that can be switched to any team's color. The primary mission of each team is to flip each switch to their own color, and then guard them until all switches on the map are flipped to their color as well. Once a team has all switches on the map flipped to their color, the round is over and that team is awarded a point as all players are returned to the spawning pens.
  • Racing - The Racing objective type consists of players racing through a map from start to finish, often using conveyer belts to hasten their racing speed. These races are timed by a referee with a stop-watch and scores are recorded, with the winner being chosen as the player who took the least time to traverse the raceway. Racing is a
  • Mission Impossible - The Mission Impossible objective type consists of players doing their best to get to the end of a path set in front of them, often using conveyer belts set in haphazard multi-directional labyrinths. More often than not, there are also respawn tiles directly surrounding the conveyer belts. If a player loses concentration for a split second, or presses the wrong key, and slips off the pathway, they will hit the respawn tiles, and are immediately teleported back to the beginning of the labyrinth, losing all previous progress. Mission Impossible maps are by far the most frustrating maps to play, but the sense of accomplishment when you reach the end is unmatched. Very few Sparkers are considered to be Mission Impossible masters.
  • Other - There are many other game types in Spark, such as Football, which haven't been coded into the game engine (yet?). These are also fun, and you should ask people about them and check them out.


New Maps

Deadlock - 8-16+
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Madwars-Mini - 12-20+
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Cold - 8-16+
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Backlash - 12-20+
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New Patches

Classic ARC Patch
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Forest Patch
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Wave's Patch
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Bouncy Patch
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