Media Molecule gives us a real hymn to creativity, where the video game is only one of the many possibilities available to us. Here is our review of Dreams.
After all, what are video games made of? Certainly of machine language, of many ones and as many zero, of human fatigue. Yet, despite the many elements at stake, the most important ingredient of all is the metaphysical one: as we are mainly made of water but our essence is the soul, that of the video game is, net of technicalities, the dream. Video games are made up of human dreams which, thanks to a digital cure, acquire colors, shapes, and gameplay. Who do you want to be today? A spotless warrior or the treacherous pirate, a spaceship commander or a soldier at the front, a transport tycoon or a Japanese leader? Choose and you will be satisfied. Do you want to fly in the clouds like a superhero, to be Spider-Man and to fly around New York, to visit places never seen through virtual reality? No problem my friend, there is definitely the software for you, ready to fulfill your every wish, ready to make your every dream come true.
With Dreams, Media Molecule strips the video game of its shell to show us the dreamlike magma that bubbles inside, and this is a flow composed of numerous filaments, each associated with different fields of art. Like cinema, more than cinema, the video game in fact encompasses every artistic form: polygons must be sculpted, textures are painting, music is composed, direct actors and gameplay imagined and built. For this, while in LittleBigPlanetthe video game is almost always the ultimate goal, of those who create and those who simply enjoy the creations of others, in Dreams, it is only one of the possible results of the final calculation. Here everyone is free to use all or only part of this iridescent raw material made available, making it possible to give shape to ideas of all kinds, from the most complex video game to the most elementary two-dimensional drawing, to then index each work so that interested parties can find it easily.
You can get Beethoven’s head out of a polygon like a sculptor would from marble, use a virtual canvas for an improvised self-portrait, compose a piece of music or create a tyrannosaurus puppet, and all through the powerful and intuitive tools of Dreams. Media Molecule has practically applied the concept of gamification to art, moreover by building around it an extraordinary free trade platform: each creation can be made available to other users so that it becomes part of the scenario of an artistic installation, as in the case of a particularly well-made backdrop, or the protagonist of an all-round action, and the first tyrannosaurus would be an excellent candidate. There is not even the risk of not being thanked: if the creation of a user within a work of others, Dreams will automatically insert his name/nick in the credits of the same.
But the most interesting thing is to be able to form a real development team so that several people can work simultaneously on the same project, for example, a particularly complex video game. After all, few know how to do everything, and given the potential of Dreams it is also legitimate to aim high, to games with such dignity that they do not disfigure for sale on the PlayStation Network (Let’s not forget that To The Moon is made with RPG Maker!), But for to go that far it is necessary that there is a group with different specializations.
Step by step
As powerful as it is easy, this is the strength of this latest work by Media Molecule. Dreams cannot limit itself to being the classic as well as boring working environment, otherwise, it would not be different from the Unreal Engine or from Unity, the classic engines used in the professional field. The strength of Dreams is to have found an almost perfect point of contact between ease of use and complexity, and the credit goes to the attempt to simulate every creative impetus so that the execution is as similar as possible to the real one. The Dualshock and more effectively the PlayStation Movethus turns into a hammer and chisel, into virtual hands capable of giving shape to this sort of magic plasticine that exists only beyond the screen, but with the power of a digital environment that allows you to copy and paste mountains, rotate them and resize them at will. The rest is entrusted to a myriad of menus that will manage the most advanced effects, all accompanied by a pop-up text that describes their functions.
Of course, we will not be totally left to ourselves: to teach us to work with Dreams, Media Molecule has set up a series of tutorials very entertaining, perfected and enriched during the beta phase, where you learn by putting theory into practice immediately, then in all respects by playing. However, we don’t want to delude you, finishing the tutorials is sometimes not enough: Dreams is easy, very easy, but not so much as to turn a motor hoe into Shigeru Miyamoto in just one week. As intuitive and stratified as they are, in order to access their more complex functions only if necessary, the colorful menus of Dreams require a certain training to be exploited properly. In addition, some of these menus are simpler than others: transforming a parallelepiped into a skyscraper, raising the classic house on the hill with the smoking chimney is surprisingly easy, but the same cannot be said of the logic that allows you to build the gameplay,
The dream of Art
To give us a concrete idea of what it is possible to do using Dreams, in this final version Media Molecule has added a small but very effective adventure lasting about three hours. The title of the work is The Dream of Art, a depressed musician who suddenly decides to abandon the jazz band in which he has been playing for a lifetime. A perfect pretext for a surreal, existential journey, between dream and reality, for an interactive experience that makes its way into many different genres: at times it will advance as a platform, then as a point and click adventure that spares no moments in which the action is predominant. The Media Molecule touch is seen in the graphic style, you read in the funny texts, you listen in the mammoth soundtrack and above all you play, through dozens of inventions and reinventions. Be careful though, Art’s dream is absolutely not comparable to the main adventures included in the previous Media Molecule games: the Little Big Planet were in fact sold as a platform with the editor included, at full price by the way, in this case, it is Dreams himself the editor, while Il Sogno di Art represents the high-class option. Not that you lack to play: everything that has been done by users in this first year spent in beta is still available to anyone with a copy of Dreams.
Use it however you want
Currently, there are hundreds of more or less complete games of every imaginable genre, among them there are also multiplayer games, with global leaderboards and records to beat. Most are extremely simple, imperfect products, but among this inconclusive bedlam of clones and prototypes there are a lot of gems, to be honest, they are also quite numerous if we consider that Dreams has only officially been released now. Once again we must underline the fact that Dreams is not only this, and that consequently, its use changes according to the moment: in this past year in his company, we loaded Dreams as if we were opening the drawer of the bends and the colors, in full creative blow or to relax seeing our creations come to life, but we also did it for a little healthy zapping which in the company of some friends and a bottle has always proved to be extremely pleasant (jumping between
We also come back willingly to check the answer to what has been published: there is nothing better than seeing alike tick or even a positive comment under one’s own work. And then there are the contests organized by Media Molecule: every two weeks users are offered a specific theme to work on (at the moment it is “Medieval Dream”, the previous one was “Food”). Once a job has been entered in a contest, it can be voted on by the other users until the winners are announced; note that it is possible to register any type of project, from a piece of music to an animated logo, the important thing is that it is in line with the proposed theme.
Many, few, none
Compared to the beta, in addition to the addition of The dream of Art and other small challenges that will allow us to unlock new assets to use in our creations, the final version of Dreams brings with it softer graphics and new and more explanatory tutorials. Also added support for PlayStation Move and Dualshock without the use of motion sensors, for those who get confused about using the gyroscope inside the PlayStation pad. Of course, using the Move is totally different from using the pad, but the two different types of controllers are not mutually exclusive, for this reason, it is possible to keep them all accessible and close at hand in order to change them on the fly without having to enter a menu or pause. This is how much, and it is not at all little.
The problem, as already said after our first contacts with Dreams, is that to convince users to do something truly amazing, therefore to take full advantage of what this software is capable of, it is necessary to offer them much more than a handful of likes, or the first place in a competition without prizes. Why learn to use Dreams so as not to come up with anything concrete, when with a little more effort you can learn to use an engine to put on your resume? Also with products like RPG Maker you can distribute your games, hope to earn on it, while with Dreams this is not (yet) possible. Of course, no one makes it as fun to create as Dreams, but our fear is that the power of this software has exceeded and as much as the average user is willing to do in exchange for … nothing. Then it is true that particularly brilliant work, an author who is constantly selected among the best, could still attract the attention of some software house,