In some form or another, I’ve been writing for about 16 years.
Whether it was scribbling in a journal, writing a research paper, or fleshing out a review, I’ve been filling empty pages with my thoughts for quite some time. Still to this day, nothing scares me quite like a headful of ideas and a blank canvas.
Dreams is the broadest, boldest, and most fear-inducing canvas I’ve ever gone toe-to-toe with. The fear does not stem from its shortcomings, but from its awe-inspiring scope and freedom. I typically shy away from games that let you create whatever you desire, as long as you stay within their bounds. Maybe, after spending a few days of play time with Dreams, that’s why I keep coming back. You really can do whatever you want. The creative limitation in Dreams is an ever-moving object, completely detached from the game itself: you, the player.
Learning to Dream
One of the most daunting aspects of Dreams is just how much there is to learn. Whether it’s creating sculptures, animating a character you made, or getting those raindrops to look just right, there is a staggering amount of detail to be found here. Alongside all that, comes one of the best parts of Dreams: the tutorials.
It feels a bit awkward to praise the part of a game that simply teaches you how to play, but the extensive work that went into the creation of Dreams‘ tutorial deserves credit on its own. Media Molecule has worked to create an absolutely breathtaking, heart warming, and incredibly informative tutorial system. Not only are the chapters easy to understand and work through, but they are easily accessible and simple to navigate. Did you forget how to stylise that fence you’re painting? No worries. That lesson can be found quickly.
Before opening your mind and diving into your own personal world, deciphering the finer workings of Dreams is a necessity. You may be able to create something without going through the tutorials, but you will most likely struggle to create exactly what sits in your mind.
But, honestly, that’s another great part about Dreams. Even if what you create isn’t the greatest piece of art that’s ever been seen, it’s still yours. You still made it. From the first block, to the last little fleck. Dreams truly succeeds in letting the artist inside you find its way out. Whether you find your outlet to be music, character design, or level creation, your imagination has a home. Share it. Experience others’. Open your mind and let others in.
Shaping Your Own Reality
Though this build of Dreams is technically an early access build, there is very little that seems to be missing in terms of design tools, and there’s still plenty on the horizon that Media Molecule plans to fix and/or add. One thing that has definitely been a bit tough to get used to, though, is the game’s controls. Using the PS Move controllers, in my opinion, is the superior form of control for the game, but the lack of a motion sensor-free way of moving around the game world is a bit of a bummer. It’s great to see that Media Molecule appears to already be working to add that functionality to the game at launch.
I’ve spent a great deal of time in Dreams‘ music creation tool. I’ve played music for a long portion of my life, and having a fully fleshed out music creation system in something as easily accessible as a PlayStation 4 title is absolutely fantastic. Not only can you create a song, but you can create a scene and craft a score to accompany that scene. The length to which you go to see your vision materialise is completely under your control.
I spent hours upon hours in the scene editor, trying over and over again to make something that looked even remotely close to a being a mountain. I know my creation isn’t going to get a million thumbs up in the Dreamiverse. I know people aren’t going to sample it and edit it. But I loved it. I made it. I took what was in my head and I put it on a screen for others to see. I cannot wait to share more music and ideas, and to collaborate with other creators.
When Do We Wake Up?
Dreams is so much more than a game. It’s so much more than a creation tool. It’s a bottomless sandbox. It’s a tool chest that has everything you need, and a whole mess of things you never thought about using. It seems like such a simple idea, but I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of time, effort, creativity, blood, sweat, tears, love, and pure dedication that was poured into making it, and continues to be poured in.
I remember being in Anaheim, at PSX, sitting in the front row of the amphitheatre as Media Molecule came out to discuss what exactly Dreams was. I had heard a bit about it then, but I wasn’t sure what it entailed. I remember being blown away by what I saw. I remember seeing the joy and care on the faces of the people who worked so tirelessly to create this game. I also remember leaving and thinking, “there’s no way they can pull that off.”
I sit here now, after having spent more than a few days with Dreams, with the confidence to say that they pulled it off. The ceiling for what the community can achieve from Dreams is impossibly high. Talented artists, gifted musicians, and amazing storytellers have another outlet through which they can share their visions, their dreams.
If I’ve learned one thing from my time creating in Dreams it’s that your creations and ideas don’t have to be perfect or revolutionary; they just have to be yours. I think Media Molecule really just wanted to share the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes along with creativity and learning. If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t have a place to let your ideas fly, you have one now. Dreams isn’t necessarily revolutionising the artistic world, or the gaming world, but it’s opening up a whole new avenue of limitless potential.