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February 12, 2020 2:05 PM   Subscribe

What DREAMS are made of [Launch] [Trailer] [Gameplay: How do you make stuff?] “Dreams is a thing of wonder. The play, create, share vision pioneered by LittleBigPlanet is at the beating heart of everything this software is, and it excels in all three areas. Describing it as a game almost undersells what's been achieved here; Dreams is so much more than that. Effectively, this is an engine for creating almost anything you can think of. It's very possible to make your own levels, of course, but using the set of tools at your disposal, you can create animations, films, sculptures, paintings, music, and more. It's cliché to say stuff like this, but the limit really is your own imagination. Think of this: in Sackboy's original adventure, someone made a functional calculator using hundreds of gadgets and gizmos tethered together. It was, at the time, unbelievably impressive. In Dreams, a calculator is just one of dozens of in-built tools you can plonk into your creation at any moment.” [via: Push Square]

• A Stunning Showcase Of What's Possible In Dreams For PS4 [Gameplay][Kotaku]
““Art’s Dream,” which was created by Media Molecule to demonstrate the versatility of PlayStation 4 creation tool Dreams, is a two-hour point-and-click adventure, platform puzzler, brawler, side-scrolling shooter, vehicle shooter, and more. All that, plus it’s got four musical numbers. Early adopters of Dreams have been putting Media Molecule’s robust set of creation tools to outstanding use since it launched in early access in April of 2019. We’ve seen mouth-watering recreations of food, Final Fantasy and Star Wars games, puppet shows, and more. Now that the game is officially launching, Media Molecule’s “Art’s Dream” is here to show amateur creators how it’s done. Or how it could be done when backed by a team of game developers with intimate knowledge of how Dreams works.”
• ‘Dreams’ turns the PS4 into a charming game development kit [Engadget]
“Dreams is different. Media Molecule is pitching the platform as a way to build art, movies and video games across various genres and visual styles. Imagine a version of Unity that costs less than $30 and can be learned effortlessly with either a DualShock 4 or pair of wand-style Move controllers. That's the goal and vision here. Done correctly, Dreams could liberate game development the same way Minecraft did a decade ago. I've spent the last couple of days rattling through the game's introductory tutorials. They're well designed, with simple scenarios and a picture-in-picture video player that visualizes each instruction. A cheerful and unashamedly British narrator known as the Dream Architect explains every menu, tool and possible button-press in clear, concise terms. There's a lot to learn and, ultimately, memorize, so I found myself using the pause, rewind and restart buttons a lot. If you've ever followed a guide on YouTube, this back-and-forth reference process will be all-too familiar.”
posted by Fizz (30 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
This feels like the same argument that we keep getting pushed, no matter how often it gets disproven - "create it, and they will come." That all that's precluding people from rising up and creating ALL THE CONTENT is a better tool. But that's not the answer, and it will never be.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:29 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I played Dreams during its early access and it's a wonderful engine for creating all sorts of things, from music to games to literal art. However, I'm not sure it'll ever break into the "mainstream" beyond some articles from time to time saying "look what X did on Dreams."

It's a game engine that includes a 3d modeler and a sequencer. The interface may be simple but in the end you still need to know how to think in 3d, music theory and programming to make anything more complex than a simple 3D platformer with community assets. It's incredibly powerful but it requires real time to develop the skills to use, far beyond what games usually require and also far beyond what most people would like to invest in a "game." It's more of a tool than a game in that sense.

I do hope that the developers keep updating it in the long-term (hopefully including a re-release for the PS5 with less engine limitations) though, even if it doesn't end up selling as much as Media Molecule and Sony may have hoped.
posted by simmering octagon at 2:39 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


So it's somewhere between Super Mario Maker and Unity?
posted by acb at 2:40 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Looking forward to 150,000 half finished Mario games and incomplete 3D Sponge Bob models with big dicks.
posted by SoberHighland at 2:44 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure it'll ever break into the "mainstream" beyond some articles from time to time saying "look what X did on Dreams."

Genuine question, isn't that also true of cameras and paintbrushes?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:07 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


unashamedly British narrator

Like he doesn't know about Brexit?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:09 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


Genuine question, isn't that also true of cameras and paintbrushes?

It's the same! Which is why I mentioned it's a tool more than a game.

If you want a hobby and want to take (a lot of time) to develop and release something (in a proprietary, locked-down platform) and learn some skills that may or may not be transferable to the real world, it's great! And I'm not being sarcastic, it really is a wonderful platform and it's probably going to wake up the creativity of a ton of kids and adults.

I'm just worried it's going to get bought and then abandoned by a lot of people because of its high skill ceiling and time requirements to get anything half-way decent out of it (just like some people and their acoustic guitars)
posted by simmering octagon at 3:29 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


One thing I have heard from many people/reviewers who have been playing the beta/testing is that there are lots of "roles" one can sort of take as you play this game. You can work as someone who tests other creators games, someone who focuses on curation, someone that helps exclusively with music, etc. The community has carved out a good sense of the many ways that people can still participate without feeling like you have to be a "creator". I'll be interested to see how that pans out over time but it's a good thing that this space is being created by the community, it gives me hope that it will be more than just a thing that a handful of people will be good at.
posted by Fizz at 4:06 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


It's a really cool tool though. Who cares if most people abandon their creations?

Yes there's going to be 1000 half finished bad versions of 1-1. And the people who worked on that will learn a ton doing it, and probably had fun doing so. There's also going to be tons of bad art and bad half finished compositions, and sythns and

I've played around with the early access version for a bit and even just messing around with a microphone plus the synth controls was a ton of fun. Not everything needs to be high art.
posted by aspo at 4:07 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


A significant portion of my childhood, before Minecraft became such a big part of it, was spent playing LittleBigPlanet 1 on my PS3. Even if I never gained anything resembling skills at making things in it, and even if my published levels probably had a overall total of a couple hundred plays at most, I still loved toying around in the editor and playing things other people had created.

I moved on to Minecraft shortly after LBP2 came out, and LBP3 was a disaster, so it's been a long time since I've touched anything like this.

Now Dreams might just get me to pick up a PS4 Pro.
posted by zekesonxx at 4:14 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


The trailer makes me think of those subreddits where people post pictures of the expected vs actual results of decorating a cake.
posted by simra at 4:44 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I'm always slightly wary of these commercial-game-as-a-tool things because it's a bit like painting on a rented canvas.
posted by Pyry at 4:44 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Seems cool, but I can't imagine trying to write music or program with a PS4 controller. Keyboard shortcuts exist for a reason.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:51 PM on February 12


The other factor (briefly) mentioned here: All of your creations (I'm guessing, but I know ToS agreements) will belong to Sony, or at least the company that makes the software. So all your efforts are owned by someone else. Which will keep the VERY dedicated away.

I'm sure there will be cool creations, but I've been following this and so far everything I've seen has been "pretty neat" at best, something I'd watch for a minute or two on Youtube. Nothing has screamed "I want to try that." And weirdly, I've seen some great stuff that just screams "huh?" like a 3D walkthrough of the Titanic's ballroom, and the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. Or even weirder: re-creations of existing games. Spiffy, I guess, worth a pat on the head for the creators... but: so what?

I know it's early in its cycle, but I'm just not enthusiastic about this admittedly cool Thing.
...

Now Dreams might just get me to pick up a PS4 Pro.

Do it. They're cheaper now, and you have a great selection of games with the bugs worked out of them for really, really cheap. You can buy used games on Ebay for only a few bucks. And many of the really great games can be downloaded for $20 or less.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:21 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Sure, you can only make Mario levels with Mario Maker, but it's an easy way to build a thing that's approachable and, that has a built-in audience.

I don't know if Dreams is focused enough for people to feel like it's worth them making something.
posted by Merus at 5:32 PM on February 12


All of your creations (I'm guessing, but I know ToS agreements) will belong to Sony, or at least the company that makes the software. So all your efforts are owned by someone else.

Typically EULAs specify that user generated content remains the property of the creator, but that the game company is granted a perpetual, royalty free license to use the content.
posted by Pyry at 6:26 PM on February 12


It's not just ownership. You might (or might not, I've not read Dreams' license) "own" your work, but without any means to transfer your creations off of the platform and use them in other contexts, it's a poor form of ownership. It's a walled garden, and further you can bet that Sony will remove anything from public view they consider even slightly controversial. And that's not even considering that distant yet inevitable day when the server bosses decide, okay, that's as much fun that your $60 entitles you to, time to shut the hosting down and send everyone's hard work spiralling down the electronic commode.

All of these things are true of Mario Maker too, but you spend much less time, relatively, on Mario levels, and since it's just a level editor it doesn't take long to create your ultimately-disposable meepmorp. Dreams, for its virtues, still takes more effort before you can construct a borderline-worthy morp.
posted by JHarris at 7:00 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


without any means to transfer your creations off of the platform and use them in other contexts, it's a poor form of ownership

Back in 1993, the Mario Paint Player's Guide included instructions on how to connect two VCRs and a tape deck to your TV so you could record your animations with dubbed music.

Mario Paint is basically the reason I went to art school and got into digital imaging and web design. It's easy to be snarky about stuff like this, but platforms like this can really get kids engaged in this stuff. And yes, I absolutely learned transferrable skills about digital imaging, animation, new media and interaction design from goofing around in Mario Paint (so did the kids who made Homestar Runner). Dreams looks fun!
posted by oulipian at 8:13 PM on February 12 [9 favorites]


My son was incredibly excited for dreams, was an early-access beta-tester, etc. He's very disappointed by how it turned out.
It's a reaaaaally clunky interface, which just adds a few dozen layers of unnecessary complexity to what is basically a 3D game API. All the demos are just that, demos, I've never seen an actual 'game' that you'd want to play made in it. Or art that you'd want to art.
posted by signal at 5:26 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Seems cool, but I can't imagine trying to write music or program with a PS4 controller. Keyboard shortcuts exist for a reason.

You can apparently create/play with the wand-style Move controllers. I was watching a stream on twitch the other day and the creator was using these, it seems to allow for easier manipulation of the virtual toolkit you have on screen.

But, ideally this is software that would benefit from being available on a PC where you can use a mouse/keyboard. It allows for finer manipulation and editing. Maybe they'll release it some day or it'll be emulated. It is likely a PS exclusive so they're not going to want to make it available to people on Steam.
posted by Fizz at 5:58 AM on February 13


But, ideally this is software that would benefit from being available on a PC where you can use a mouse/keyboard.
There are several PS-only games I've felt this way about. I mean, come on, Devs; the PS4 has USB ports right there!
posted by xedrik at 6:45 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


It can use a keyboard if it's connected but it's mostly used for naming things rather than shortcuts or anything else. Programming in Dreams is... weird, it's more like making a circuit and due to the limitations of the visual programming blocks it can take ages and multiple nested "circuits" to add complex logic to anything.

A mouse would help but not that much, the Move controllers are pretty good at moving things around (and they shine when modeling 3D stuff)
posted by simmering octagon at 7:40 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Back in 1993, the Mario Paint Player's Guide included instructions on how to connect two VCRs and a tape deck to your TV so you could record your animations with dubbed music.

Yes, yes, I know all these things. But you understand that this is very different from that, right? A Mario Paint creation can be saved through a video feed (and considering the cart only has room for two creations at once, that's an important part of the experience). If you videotape a Dreams creation you have only a record of something you made. It doesn't preserve anything! It's a pale shadow of your creation.

It's easy to be snarky about stuff like this, but platforms like this can really get kids engaged in this stuff. And yes, I absolutely learned transferrable skills about digital imaging, animation, new media and interaction design from goofing around in Mario Paint (so did the kids who made Homestar Runner)

I was not snarking, and I mean, at all. Transferable skills are different and nice, but they're not the creations that built those skills. I was talking about art and game preservation, not skill growth.
posted by JHarris at 12:21 PM on February 13




I wonder why Microsoft cancelled Project Spark? Leave it to them to kill a good idea.
posted by JHarris at 1:33 PM on February 13


My impression was that they had a fairly major internal shake up after the face plant that was the launch of the One.

I saw a couple of the devs using Dreams as a performance instrument last GDC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi0-S0BM7tI
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:22 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


JHarris I think I mostly agree with you about not investing too much in proprietary platforms – I definitely wish I could get back some of the time I spent learning Flash! Add yes, certainly something made in Dreams is not as exportable as a Mario Paint drawing.

I just wanted to point out that just because kids are not using professional tools to make things, that doesn't mean that they're wasting their time. I had so much fun and learned so much with fun, accessible digital art tools like Mario Paint and Klik & Play. Also, I'm glad some of the stupid stuff I made when I was kid is not preserved for all time somewhere! A walled garden can be a safe space to make mistakes and goof around.
posted by oulipian at 3:31 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying they're wasting their time. I'm saying it's going to be a tremendous shame in a couple of decades when the servers shut down and all those now-adults, wanting to put something on their portfolios, revisit old projects, maybe remake something they made before, will find all their work has been destroyed. Because corporation.
posted by JHarris at 9:28 PM on February 13




If Sony does make it possible to download, archive and distribute Dreams projects in a way that will survive a server shutdown then I would consider my objections met (probably; there's lots of sneaky ways to wreck something like that, like locking backed up projects to one install of the game or having the software phone home before playing anything), for there are plenty of awesome things about Dreams, yes. But I am not holding my breath.
posted by JHarris at 1:05 AM on February 14


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