Dreams for PS4 is hard to explain, but it looks bright


Dreams is one of the next most exciting releases for the PlayStation 4 next year. It is also very difficult to explain what it is about.

It is based on the spirit of "Play, create, share" from the developer Media Molecule, but unlike the previous studio work in the series LittleBigPlanet is not a nice cooperative game that allows you to create the yours own levels. His ambition is much greater. Instead of putting together small levels made with blocks of handcrafted look with charm and shapes and stickers provided by the developer, it allows you to create … well, anything. Nothing at all. A neon city, a desert wasteland, a moving T-Rex skeleton, a solar system where all the planets are cat faces. You can make something as small as a 3D painting of a flower vase, or as big as an adventure game complete with its own characters, dialogues and scores. Then you can upload it for other people to play, or use it in your own Dreams creations.

After spending a day with Dreams and the people who did it in Guildford, England, I have come to think that it is a game of god, although not in the traditional sense of micromanagement: it is about creating things, giving them life and send them to the world.

I like LittleBigPlanet Dreams a single player mode, a series of levels created by Media Molecule that have the dual purpose of entertaining you and showing you what is possible with your creative tools. Here are three stories: a 3D platform game in which a fox and a bear try to save their dragon pet; a noir point-and-click adventure; and a science fiction puzzle platform featuring a cute little robot that looks a bit like one of the PlayStation PlayRoom robots.

These three stories can not be more different tonally or aesthetically. In one scene, you're playing through a fairy tale with big-head characters and high-pitched voices, jumping across platforms and beating non-threatening monsters with a hammer. The next you're helping an ungainly jazz musician get out of a box of cello and find his way through a deserted train station, under a husky voice. In the third, you are on platforms to activate circuits that help a small robot escape from a science fiction cave. These three stories are alternated by the duration of the single-player mode, and although impressive in range, it is difficult to badyze on first impressions. It can be said that these threads will somehow come together, but from the first three levels it is impossible to see how. My badumption is that there is something Inception the dream-in-a-dream narrative stratagem that is underway.

Dreams really does not make sense until you see the creative tools that were used to do it. Those tools are given to each player. Unlike LittleBigPlanet or any other game that invites you to create your own levels, Dreams does not limit you to combining textures, elements, music, characters, etc. created for you by the developer. It allows you to create each of those things yourself, if you wish. Once I realized that every little detail in a player's levels was made with these tools, from the suitcases on the platform of a train to the flying dragon with its emphatic facial expressions, and then I realized that I could Do something like that, too- I began to understand the full scope of Dreams and what you are trying to make possible.

Dreams gives you a way to sketch the things that are in your head and turn them into whatever you want: short game levels, scenes, pieces of music, 3D art. It is a virtual space that allows you to experiment creatively in the way you like. A virtual synthesizer allows you to play music, while a 3D art studio allows you to create characters or environments by pulling and pushing and painting shapes, and a logical system allows you to connect things, trigger events on a level or simply connect a switch to a door. All this is perfect, and you can go from compose to paint to animate to touch with a button. It is more Minecraft than LittleBigPlanet although it goes beyond giving it creative power. Whether you're interested in making music, creating characters, animation, level design, programming or art, Dreams offers you a fun way to do it without having to spend hundreds of hours learning to use a piece of Professional software such as Maya 3D or Unity or GarageBand.

The great idea behind Dreams is to democratize digital creativity so that you or your eight year old son can experiment with creating games as easily as a professional. The results will vary mbadively, of course, but Dreams is designed in such a way that almost everything you do will look good and it will be functional, even if it is a little bit garbage. You can spend half an hour doodling or spend a few weeks with some friends putting together something really complex. Couch co-op and the online cooperative will allow teams of people to come together to do something; Imagine forming a team with an artist or musician from the other side of the world to make a fantasy adventure.

If all that seems exhausting and intimidating, then Dreams can also be enjoyed as a playlist. of the creations of other people (and Media Molecule). Like someone who scribbles on sketchbooks, plays with guitars and loved crafts as a child, but for a long time he could not devote time to creative efforts, and someone who never stepped up in LittleBigPlanet found the appeal of Dreams & # 39; irresistible creation tools.

I spent a day at the Media Molecule headquarters in Guildford and saw several studio staff play with Dreams . Kareem Ettouney, the effusive art director of the studio, used two movement controls to move and manipulate and transform shapes into a virtual space, joining them to sketch a mountain range. He made 3D sketches without effort. Pressing a button allows you to combine shapes and play with their appearance, sharpening or smoothing edges, cutting bits to define a crest. In 10 minutes, he created a scene in the desert, placed a sun in the sky, added color and changed the lighting. Then he filled some water, and with another stroke of the controller Move the water brightened, flowing into a pond. He painted on a lawn that then moved like a gentle wind. At any point, by pressing a button, a character fell into this world that created from nothing and let you walk through it. It really is something worth contemplating.

In a half hour, Ettouney had built buildings and created a huge, angular and strange neon city next to the mountains. It is so big that the little character is totally lost in him, so he came to the view of a player to create routes and routes, making it more playable.

I did not understand how the PS4 was not on fire at the moment. I expected a small white flag to come out of the disk tray.

Creative tools are easy to use, but they are also very deep. The musical composition, for example, allows you to play with the controller and your voice to put together something that sounds decent, or submerge yourself directly and edit each individual note in a graphic.

Another impressive demonstration: a Media Molecule level designer started from scratch, this time with a DualShock controller, and put together a simple platform level of resources that other people have created, in the space of about twenty minutes. It was a forest scene, with waterfalls and moving platforms, a cute little animal character, even a boss at the end. It was much more impressive than anything you could do in Unity in 20 minutes.

Everything done in Dreams has an impressionistic aspect, although the idea is that it allows you to create anything. You will never do anything in Dreams that looks as good as Uncharted obviously, but you can make it look professional and completely playable. Or, if you wish, you can make great furniture and upload it for other people to use.

Once Dreams is unleashed on millions of players, it will go in directions that nobody expected. A single well-made object that he worked hard on could end up appearing on hundreds of other people's worlds. You could follow the same piece of music through the network of loaded dreams, and see how different people have used it. Jumping through different loaded creations works like a Spotify playlist; A network of tags, themes and player rankings will chain different levels, which means you could spend an hour surfing dreams three times a week and see completely new things every time.

Dreams is not a conventional game with a start and end point, really. It is definitely a game, with levels and a substantial mode for a player and a potentially infinite selection of content created by players to play. It is also a way of creating and sharing things, of expressing oneself. If you find it difficult to see some watercolors on a Sunday afternoon or play with Plasticine with your children or your nieces, Dreams might be hard to sell. But I think many of us have some latent creativity inside, looking for a way out. And even if you do not feel motivated to create your own dreams, looking at what other people do is going to be fascinating.

There will be some complicated things to navigate Dreams & # 39; creators in the early days of the release which is currently no more specific than "sometime in 2018". Managing creations that are copyrighted and inappropriately badual will be one of them. Although Media Molecule wants players to be able to do what they want, presumably Sony will not want that content to be uploaded to share; Age control is an option, but intensive moderation will have to be involved no matter what.

Can you do something with your Dreams creations out of the game? Not yet, but there are plans. Media Molecule aims to allow people to 3D print their creations, although it is not yet clear how. The VR implementation is planned, but there is no detail about when or in what capacity it could happen. It is theoretically possible that a creation of Dreams exists as a separate game in itself. Creative director Mark Healey, one of the founders of Media Molecule, told me that his personal dream is for a child to do something in Dreams that Sony then releases as a game.

I can say without hyperbole that I have never seen anything remotely like Dreams in the 12 years that I was visiting games studios. It has the potential to inspire millions in the art of game making, in a way that goes way beyond LittleBigPlanet or even Minecraft . On a less grandiose level, but perhaps equally important, it is a way for any player to reconnect with their creativity, on a scale as large or small as they want.

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