In your (game of) 'Dreams'....07.06.2020, 11:55
First, what is 'Dreams'? It's a PS4 game about making games from Media Molecule, creators of LittleBigPlanet, and it's making a splash, to say the least. It's been described as much more than a creative tool, with labels like 'the Youtube of interactive entertainment' and 'possibly the most expressive, accessible sketch book ever made'.
They've provided an impressive platform with easy-to-use tools, a creative community and a portal to a veritable 'dream-verse' of user-created content and mini-games. These may be beloved reconstructions of familiar or retro games and platformers, bizarre or surreal first-person adventures to completely new indie-style stories, realms and ideas. You never know where or what you might end up creating or exploring when you start up Dreams.
It's pretty ground-breaking stuff, since game design and development has always been confined to mystical teams working in secretive studios with years of geeky credentials. But thanks to the progress with graphical user interfaces, game engines and drag-and-drop tools, teams like Media Molecule are aiming to break this down and unleash a storm of creative potential. All of it coming from players otherwise pouring hours into arguably overlong titles but who clearly enjoy the creative side to many games, and they can have fun testing and helping others from their homes. It's perfect for a post-lockdown world too where restrictions still prevent many shared activities.
Since launching early this year (and gestating in Early Access some while before this) a huge array of imaginative content has arisen. You could say that Dreams for PS4 marks the continued maturity of a new and powerful sofa-based creative genre, now that the interface, tools and asset libraries are getting so big and so rich. This trend has always been around where users have created 'mods' and custom-based content to expand their favourite games, especially on the PC. It’s the ‘level editor’ all grown up and unleashed from their separated game boxes.
But now they're coming for your console....
Making anything totally from scratch is always going to be harder work but the beauty and addictive quality of the creative suite within Dreams is that you don't have to. You can dive into a rich, community-driven library of ready-made assets to build your own thing. Some aspects such as painting are more intuitive than others, and more fun, but all the possibilities are there, and the tutorials do everything they can to widen your options.
In some ways it’s becoming a realm where people are celebrating or making fresh tributes to older games, or exploring popular or classic fantasy realms, which may even inspire studios to expand them into full-blown, stand-alone worlds. We may yet see such titles (successful like Angry Birds even!) emerge with platforms like Dreams to thank for their conception. There are certainly some great new ideas emerging.
Dreams has its own Story Mode to help inspire users with what's possible called 'Art's Dream', described as a 'genre-crossing campaign' which is engaging, emotional - and musical.
But just how easy is it to build a game from your sofa?!
Well, it's attempting to make game design accessible via controllers and there will be times when things feel less than intuitive. But it's never a serious issue especially when you realise that a lot of work has been done for you when it comes to just making something. As mentioned, perhaps one of the most powerful aspects is how assets can be drawn or shared with the community and become different things in new contexts.
So if you were worried that your kid(s) were playing too many action shooters in lockdown then don’t worry: this more creative, available option could be to ban these for a while and (literally) give them Dreams instead; a creative escape.
Who knows, it might start them on a career-long adventure realising their own worlds, to becoming successful game makers themselves.
Here they can focus on different creative aspects like music or painting, or they can go 'dream-surfing' into safe, curated worlds of play. Not only this, but Dreams wraps all this up in a way that truly celebrates personal creativity and unlocks it with the help of its community.
Resources and Community
If you're thinking of buying 'Dreams' then you should visit the superb companion website and also check out some of the sort of content you can play if you buy Dreams. There's also a free Demo you can now download and try from the PS Store [this is the official PlayStation webpage]. The demo does provide an enchanting, inspiring welcome to the interface that may pull you in deeper to the campaign and to surfing and reviewing some of the top user-generated content.
Ok for sharing, but can you sell your interactive creations?
The answer is no, not at this time. Any content created must remain within the Dreams platform. But there are options for merchandising or streaming footage and getting more indirect forms of support, awareness and following. But it would be nice to see some flexibility considering the time and effort these inherently creative titles - including Minecraft etc. - are extracting from their talented or imaginative young creators.
Here at Prizes Drop, you can save up your points for free PS store codes, free Amazon vouchers etc. and put them towards your own copy of Dreams. Sign up with us today and get your very own dashboard for earning points. Tasks vary but include watching ads and completing simple surveys. Read more about how our site works.