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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 - Lobby

Basics - Lobby

Starting Up Spark

After installing Spark, open it by double-clicking the Spark icon. This will automatically update the game, and prompt you with a login box. Log in using the username and password that you picked when you created your account. Once you're in the basic Spark lobby, that's where the fun begins.

Lobby Overview

The Spark lobby is the framework from which all things happen. You can launch games from here, chat with your friends, open new chat rooms, view statistics of current players, change your options, and more.

Navigation Bar

At the top of the Spark Lobby is the navigation bar, with dropdown menus labeled Lobby, Game, and Options. We'll go into these later, in the sections Lobby Rooms, Games, Lobby Options, and Game Options.

Game List

Just under these menus is the Game List area, which lists all games currently in play. This shows the game's name, the map being used, the number of players versus the game's player capacity (i.e. 24/32), the server that the game is hosted on (i.e. US | West Coast, US | Missouri), and the appropriate Mr. Bandwidth icon for the game server's ping.

Mr. Bandwidth

Mr. Bandwidth is a lovable little alien who courteously informs us of each server's or player's respective ping speed. When his eyes are different colors, we can deduce these things about the server or player in question.

  • Green Eyes - Low or very low ping (little or very little lag).
  • Blue Eyes - Medium ping (little to moderate lag).
  • Yellow Eyes - High ping (moderate lag, borderline).
  • Red Eyes - Very high ping (pinging out/crashing may occur).

In-Game Player Info

To the right of this is the In-Game Player Info area, which lists information about the players in the game currently selected, such as their in-game point score (P), number of kills (K), number of deaths, (D), and a player-specific Mr. Bandwidth icon. If you do not remember the Mr. Bandwidth color legend, please visit the Mr. Bandwidth section.

Player List

Below the In-Game Player Info is the Lobby Player List, which lists all players in the room you are currently in. The default room is the Spark room, which invariably has the most players in it at any given time.

Player States

Each of the players in the list will be in one of three states, two of which have a corresponding icon that will appear to the left of their name:

  • Active - There is no icon to the left of their name, and they appear at the top of the list by default.
  • In-Game - There is a small green Spark ship logo next to their name, and they are listed.
  • AFK - The player is inactive or 'away from keyboard.' In this state, a 'zZz' icon appears next to their name.

Chatroom Area

Lastly, the largest area of the lobby is the chat room, which accounts for the majority of the screen. Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) can be posted into the chat room; they will become underlined blue hyperlinks.

At the top of the chat room is a row of tabs that show the rooms you are currently chatting in, and at the bottom of the chat room is the chat box in which you can enter your own chat text.

Icons

Players also may have icons to the right of their name, which can signify many different things.

  • Administrator - A red and white 'A' icon next to a player's name identifies them as an Administrator. Only a few of these exist in Spark. Administrators should be up to date on current Spark events if you need to ask them any questions. This is a global icon, meaning it does not change from room to room. When an Administrator types in the chat box, it appears in red text.

  • Guide - A green and white 'G' icon next to a player's name identifies them as a Guide. These players are hand-picked to ensure order in the Administrators' absence, and should also be up to date on current Spark events should you need to ask any questions. This is a global icon, meaning it does not change from room to room. When a Guide types in the chat box, it appears in green text.

  • Operations Team - A blue and white 'O' icon next to a player's name identifies them as an Ops Team member. These are the players that oversee the operation of Spark, and are also Administrators. They should also be up to date on current Spark events. This is a global icon, meaning it does not change from room to room. When an Ops Team member types in the chat box, it appears in blue text.

  • Developer - A dark gray and white 'D' icon next to a player's name identifies them as a Developer. These players are part of the team developing different aspects of Spark, and should know what the status of updates on Spark is at any given time. This is a global icon, meaning it does not change from room to room.

  • Moderator - A white and blue 'M' icon next to a player's name denotes that they have moderation abilities in whatever room they are in. These 'M' icons apply only to the current room, and do not signify that the player possesses moderation abilities in any other rooms.

  • Other icons denote many different things. Some indicate that a person has been victorious in a tournament, others indicate a donator to the game, and still others are there solely for vanity reasons. If you have a question about what a certain icon means, ask an Administrator, Guide, or Operations Team member.

Chatting

Chatting in Spark is easy and self-explanatory, but there are a few features that may go unnoticed if you don't know about them beforehand.

Using /me

In Spark, you can type using action text. This makes it look like you are performing an action. For instance, you could type: 'I am going to go have a drink of Sunny Delight,' which would show up as:

Reaper Charlie: I am going to go have a drink of Sunny Delight.

However, by using action text, or /me text, you can simulate that you are actually performing this action. For instance, if you type: '/me sips his Sunny Delight slowly, while kickin' it on the beach…' it will show up as:

Reaper Charlie sips his Sunny Delight slowly, while kickin' it on the beach... ;)

Private Messages

If at any juncture you should wish to talk to just one person instead of the entire lobby, a private message feature is available in Spark. There are two methods of using it.

The first method is to find that player's name in the player list (make sure to check the In-Game and AFK lists as well!), click on their name, and select 'Private Message' from the dropdown menu.

Using /pm

The second method can be done without using the mouse at all. It is accomplished by typing certain syntax into the chat box. First you type '/pm', then you type the user's name, and then you type the message you wish to convey privately to said user. For example, typing '/pm otacon hello' will send the message 'hello' to the player oTaCon in a private message that nobody else can see.

(to oTaCon) hello

Private messages show up in the player's chat box in orange text by default, which is quite distinctive from the other colors of chat appearing at any given time. If you try to send a message to a player that is not currently online, you will receive an error message.

Though it is possible to private message yourself, nobody else can see it besides you. In the past, when trying to private message yourself, an 'error' message would appear, reading as follows:

Talking to yourself is a sign of impending mental collapse.

Conveniently, when private messaging someone, you can get away with not typing the entire player's name, for instance, typing '/pm pata good morning!' instead of the full '/pm patabugen good morning!' However, depending on which players are online, this may not work as you intend. This is because if you only partially type a player's name when private messaging them, the game will fill in the rest of the name alphabetically. For example, typing '/pm pata good morning!' would result in:

(to Patabugen) good morning!

But in another example, if you were to type: '/pm tig yo', intending your message to go to Tigerbite, you might be surprised to see that your message has gone to the player Tiger instead, as it comes before Tigerbite alphabetically.

However, if the player Tiger were not online, your private message would have gone to Tigerbite as you intended. Note: If this confuses you, stick with typing out the whole name, or just use the first method to private message others. They all work the same way.

Using /r

Replying to messages is even easier. Instead of trying to find the player's name in the player list, or typing out a return private message in full '/pm Patabugen yeah, I know!' syntax, replying is as simple as typing '/r yeah, I know!'

As soon as you hit the space bar after typing '/r', the '/r' will turn into a private message to the person who private messaged you most recently. This is a very convenient way to reply to someone without having to type or click very much more than normal.

Going /afk

Should you be required to step away from your computer for a time, there is a nifty feature to let people know that you won't be around for a while. By typing '/afk' into the chat box, and pressing enter, your name will be removed from the list of active players, and placed into the AFK list (denoted by a 'zZz' icon to the left of your name) at the bottom of the player list. As soon as you start chatting again, you'll automatically be moved into the active list again.

Using /find

Should you wish to find a player, and can't seem to spot their name at once in the Player List, just type '/find' followed by their player name. Spark will tell you which game the player is in, or conversely, whether they are in the lobby.

Lobby Rooms

From the Spark lobby, you can join a new chat room by going to Lobby > Join Room in the top navigation bar. You can also create a new chat room by going to Lobby > Create Room. Once you create or join a new room, you will see it appear in the row of tabs just above the chat room and just below the Game list. To select which room is shown, click on the corresponding tab. To leave a room you are in, select that room's tab in the tab bar, and select Lobby > Leave Room.

Changing the /topic

When you join a new lobby room, the topic will be displayed in boldface right at the top of the chat room area. If you are the owner of the room or have moderation abilities, you can change the topic by typing '/topic' followed by the text of the new topic. For example, typing '/topic BMB | http://spark.bombhq.com' will set the topic as:

  • BMB | http://spark.bombhq.com – set by [you] on 06/24/2010 at 06:25 PDT

So as you can see, the topic you chose will appear, along with your name and the time that you set the topic (in the time zone of the viewer). When you type a valid Uniform Resource Locator (URL) into the topic, even though the topic does not highlight blue or underline, it is still a valid link and will deliver the URL when clicked.

Moderation Abilities

As mentioned before in the icons section, a player possesses moderation abilities in whichever rooms the 'M' appears next to their name. As moderators, players have the ability to change the topic of a room (as mentioned in the previous subsection). They also have the power to grant or deny another person's moderation abilities. To 'mod' or 'de-mod' another player, simply click their name, and click the option in the menu to add or subtract them from the current room moderators.



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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