AboutSparked Studio

Sparked Studio is a creative-development hobby project, created and lead by Paul Hölscher in 2018. Together with school friends Sparked Studio was a place for innovation and imagination, a catalysator for refreshing and sometimes crazy ideas. The friends always had spontaneous thoughts on what is missing in the digital world, especially the world of gaming. As developing a solution singlehandedly can be a monstrous task, Sparked Studio was founded. Sparked’s goal was to offer centralized solutions for cooperative work, project management and especially distribution to deliver the niche projects to as many people as possible. Sparked set up a set of internally hosted software to unify the workflow of the entire team, enhancing the abilities of every single member, leading to even better implementations. Also, it offered various dedicated hardware for testing and distribution.

My contributions

Sparked was a team project at all times. No one was missed out, everyone worked hard and made Sparked what it was in the end. But as always, everyone had their own areas of work they excelled in.

In the following areas I was the main contributor to the project.

Branding

A creative team has to look creative itself, right?

Learn more about Sparked's looks

Communications

How does a hobby project with partly niche projects reach their audience? I knew how!

Let me show you

Hard- & software

The infrastructure that served the purpose of Sparked in the first place.

Tech-savvys, come here
As Poe Dameron (Star Wars) said:

[The] Spark that will light the fire

Sparked thrives on imagination. From innovation. A range of work areas develops therefrom: Ranging from programming to distribution. Sparked is as diverse as the team behind it. For this reason, a logo must convey just that, starting with the diverse color palette.

Corporate branding is not just a shape, a color, graphics on posters, websites, banners, …
Branding is much more: values, goals, a reflection of the work and mindset of the people behind the so often perceived logo. Once we solidified our idea and launched Sparked, we knew: We need compelling, values-based branding! It should be clear who we are and what our ideas are. Our values and goals: Summarized in a unique logo. This is how The Spark came into being, as we are proud to present it today.

The Spark.

Purposeful, dynamic, fast.

Sporty as well as elegant, the Spark says a lot about the team. A lightning bolt, always a symbol of speed and intelligence, shows the ingenuity of the Studio. The dynamism is represented in the sweeping sketch of the lightning, consisting of a single element. At the same time, the curvilinear way of depiction makes visible the S hidden in the lightning bolt, the initial for Sparked Studio. The shape allows for endless variations and use cases, for example it can be seen purely through the silhouette, especially important on lower resolution devices and smaller screens.

Citrus Peel

Hex: #fdc830
RGB: 253, 200, 48
HSV: 44°, 81%, 99%
HSL: 44°, 98%, 59%

CMYK: 0 16 89 0
Pantone: Pantone 123 C

Jaffa

Hex: #f37335
RGB: 234, 115, 61
HSV: 20°, 78%, 95%
HSL: 20°, 89%, 58%

CMYK: 0 64 80 0
Pantone: Pantone 4012 C

Cinnebar

Hex: #e53935
RGB: 224, 60, 49
HSV: 1°, 77%, 90%
HSL: 1°, 77%, 55%

CMYK: 0 88 85 0
Pantone: Pantone 179 C

Blue Raspberry

Hex: #00b4db
RGB: 0, 180, 219
HSV: 191°, 100%, 86%
HSL: 191°, 100%, 43%

CMYK: 77 0 3 0
Pantone: Pantone 638 C

Cornflower Blue

Hex: #4286f4
RGB: 65, 143, 222
HSV: 217°, 73%, 96%
HSL: 217°, 89%, 61%

CMYK: 69 34 0 0
Pantone: Pantone 279 C

Deep Ocean

Hex: #0083b0
RGB: 0, 133, 173
HSV: 195°, 100%, 69%
HSL: 195°, 100%, 35%

CMYK: 92 14 8 11
Pantone: Pantone 7704 C

And many many more combinations…

Community is Communication.

We knew our projects served niches. We used our own experience to locate problems and solve them. The solutions were then offered by Sparked Studio. Those who shared these problems with us used our products accordingly.

This evolved into a community, a group of like-minded people with similar interests that needed to be served. Our strategy was always based on a close exchange with the community across all platforms. To target specific parts of the community and maximize input/output, we chose specific channels:

Discord

As a development team, GitHub obviously has an essential role. As the world's most widely used platform for collaborative work on development projects, we too used GitHub repositories to involve energetic developers from the community in development. Thanks to pull requests, forks and issues, GitHub offers the appropriate tools for a clear discussion of a project, which is familiar to every developer. In addition, the established tools made moderation of community contributions easy and, above all, effective at all times.

Besides, open source is wonderful. Especially for niche projects, it allows for longevity.

GitHub

As a development team, GitHub obviously has an essential role. As the world's most widely used platform for collaborative work on development projects, we too used GitHub repositories to involve energetic developers from the community in development. Thanks to pull requests, forks and issues, GitHub offers the appropriate tools for a clear discussion of a project, which is familiar to every developer. In addition, the established tools made moderation of community contributions easy and, above all, effective at all times.

Besides, open source is wonderful. Especially for niche projects, it allows for longevity.

Twitter

With the help of Twitter, we were able to create an interface between the acquisition of new community members and the constant contact with the existing community. Driven by community members, our tweets about new announcements, updates, and notices reached more people than other channels ever could. This attracted and converted interested, potential members. In addition, the structure of the network itself makes Twitter ideally suited for general updates to followers. Direct messaging made it possible to establish direct contact at any time. In addition, Twitter made it possible to identify emerging interests early and more precisely, which in turn brought new projects to life.

Website

Of course, Sparked Studio also had its own website. Through this it was possible to receive orders from third parties. In addition, a landing page was offered for each project to present them. Downloads and an own knowledgebase completed the site. Thus, the site developed into the first point of contact for new and returning users. This allowed us to search engine optimize Sparked Studio down to the very back corner and make it omnipresent.

An infrastructure, hand-forged to the last detail.

Self-hosted GitLab + GitHub Mirror

To ensure that internal, untested code stays in the inner circle and to be more independent from GitHub, I setup and hosted an entire own instance of GitLab on a Unix-based system. Additionally to avoid duplicate commits and pushes, we used a mirror so that production-ready branches from GitLab are automatically synchronized with the GitHub repositories. This kept the community up to date while the team could safely tackle internal features without interruption.

Jenkins CI

Using Jenkins CI, I developed our own deployment pipeline and automated the entire process, leaving the team to focus solely on programming. On the server side, Jenkins did all the testing and, if successful, made the respective files available for download. Using the Jenkins REST interface, we were then able to keep the downloads on the website always up-to-date and additionally offer auto-updaters for certain programs.

Nextcloud

Since the team was highly dynamic, work had to be possible at any time and in any place. Programming projects were secured via Git, but brandings, documents, etc. also had to be accessible at any time. We used Nextcloud (formerly Owncloud) for this purpose, in order to be able to implement the internal data exchange without data limitations. Since we already had the server resources available, it was not profitable for our project to use external services such as Google Workspace or Microsoft 365.

Mail Server

To unify and professionalize our external appearance and to ensure a strict separation between Sparked and private matters, I set up an own mail server using Postfix, Dovecot, RSpamD, SpamAssassin and Postfixadmin. The setup met exceptionally high security standards and worked flawlessly with external service providers such as Gmail and Outlook. In addition, integration with our Git and cloud environment was key to providing an internal, all-in-one system for scheduling, project management, and messaging outside of instant messaging.