I didn’t know what to expect when I started up Dreams, the latest upcoming game from LittleBigPlanet creator Media Molecule. I’d seen the game’s trailer, sure, but it didn’t clarify much about what the actual game would be. Was it an avante-garde piece of art? A trippy kaleidoscope of color? A metaphysical VR experience? A 3D platformer?
As it turns out, I was confused because Dreams isn’t so much a game as it is one of the most incredibly robust creation tools I’ve ever seen.
Dreams isn’t a game that exists right out of the box. The content contained within it will rely entirely on what the community creates. Imagine something like Super Mario Maker, or the level editor from the LittleBigPlanet games that served as Media Molecule’s inspiration, but on a much, much bigger scale. Everything needed to create a game from scratch—music software, animation software, modeling software, video software, essentially the entire Unity game development platform—is contained within, and made so that players can use the programs with a simple PlayStation 4 controller or the PlayStation VR’s Move controllers.
Users can create, essentially, anything they want within Dreams. In the demo alone, I saw a trippy game with a walking eyeball synchronized to music that changed based on where you walked, a point-and-click style adventure, both 2D and 3D platforming games, and even an old-school text adventure. Users don’t even need to create games; if they simply want to make an animation, a model, or a piece of music, they can do that too. With each creation, players will slowly begin to accumulate XP and titles marking them for their chosen specialty. Eventually, players can develop a reputation in the community as artists or animators or musicians and can easily find others with different specialties to help round out a project.
Of course, players don’t have to be creators to enjoy Dreams. It’s just as possible to spend hours playing through the content others have already made. Media Molecule compares this to browsing YouTube as opposed to being a YouTube video creator, and it may in fact be more popular for most people to sit back and enjoy rather than create content. Players can filter their searches to find single-player or multiplayer games, and can generate smart “playlists” of content that feed seamlessly from one project to the next based on the first game selected in the list. Players can also set themselves up to be curators of content, becoming known as the page to visit if you want to find all the best tree models or the best selection of music.
My worry, looking at Dreams, is that it will live or die based on its community. Everything in it, apart from the tutorials and a few pre-made demos to give creators ideas, will need to be generated by other players. If that playerbase drops off, so will the content available in the game. If the game becomes popular, however, it has huge potential to let players remix and recreate and improve off of others’ creations, as well as to foster creative relationships between artists in different mediums.
Even if Dreams doesn’t take off, however, it’s still something I’m very interested in getting my hands on. I can’t emphasize enough just how in-depth its creation tools get. Having had some experience with music creation software, I spent time looking at Dreams‘ creator, and it’s just as robust as Pro Tools and other professional software on the market. I would have easily believed that a screenshot of the music creator came from Garage Band or another piece of professional software I wasn’t familiar with. If the tools used for other mediums follow suit—and, as far as I could tell from my brief glimpse, they do—Dreams could potentially stand in for thousands of dollars of expensive software licenses. For any creators with even the slightest interest in modeling, animation, cinematography, music, or, of course, game creation, Dreams seems like it will be very well worth a try.