How Dreams Avoided Becoming A Nightmare
Tech demo reveal: Check. Lack of campaign: Check. Lengthy development: Check. Delayed or cancelled demo: Check. Unable to describe and/or define the actual game mechanics: Check, check and check. Dreams has had every reason and every opportunity to fail, and for a good long while it looked like it was going to do just that. But Media Molecule has somehow not only resuscitated this game, not only convinced many who have played it to buy into the creation based title, but has also quietly made it a media darling and under-dog that everyone is rooting for.
At Gamescom 2012, Media Molecule revealed it was working on two games, Tearaway and the other being an otherwise unannounced title. You might remember the reveal for Dreams the following year; more of a tech demo for the PS4 showing a small group of people creating an in-game jazz band. Yet another tease came along in 2014 but it wasn’t until 2015, at Sony’s E3 conference, that Dreams got officially announced. For those counting at home, that is four years from concept to conference and another three years from conference to console. And that is if it comes out this year.
But what is the game? We asked ourselves, and them, repeatedly. It is a creation tool and we understand that, but what is the game? Interview after interview, the question still remained. To help answer this and fend off these concerns, Media Molecule promised to drop a demo in 2016, just before they dropped off into media silence. That was two years ago and still no demo. So the question is begged: how much trouble is Dreams in if the demo gets pulled because not even that can help explain to us what the game is?
It seems that the answer is a surprising, None. Media Molecule was able to create a positive flow of opinion and interest this year, leading right up to E3 2018. Every article I have read or podcast I have listened to that has had any hands-on time with Dreams, fell just shy of raving about it. And every person that had yet to have hands-on, was more than ready to jump in. What is even more surprising is that this renaissance they have been having is only getting bigger the more they stay away from our archaic requirements of what needs to be shown, and focus more on their belief in what the game truly is.
Dreams will feature a campaign but it no longer as focused as it needs to be. Instead it serves as an entertaining tools and UI tutorial. In fact, after watching many hands-on demo’s for it at E3, not a single one was about the campaign. Instead, everyone was amazed at just how easy it was to create a living and beautiful world. Players are gravitating towards the simple yet sophisticated creation tools, whether it be character modeling, level building, or just music editor.
Weathering game play confusion and an early marketing nightmare, Media Molecule stuck to their original dream and it has paid off. It didn’t take Media Molecule all these years to show us what Dreams is, it took us that long to truly see it for what it can be.