Finally, about seven years after it was first discovered in the 2013 PlayStation Meeting, as it accompanied the presentation of the PlayStation 4, Media Molecule & # 39; s Dreams is here, its long and winding road concludes towards the end of the lifespan of that particular console. Except that it is not the end of Dreams, of course, it is the beginning of a project that will be transformed over time according to the needs and wishes of the community.
Talking about dreams can be confusing, probably because we continue to make the mistake of treating it like a normal video game. However, the more time you spend with him, the more he will realize that it is not that at all: it is a completely new platform, a place to create and share and a dazzling toolkit that has already been used in a fantastic way.
I'm still not quite sure what it is, but I do know that the more time I spend with him, the more I love it. I had the opportunity to sit with Alex Evans and Mark Healey of Media Molecule as they celebrated the launch to talk about what took them so long, what changed along the way and where they think dreams are headed.
So the last time I met you was in the PlayStation experience five years ago, and I think we all thought the game was imminent.
Alex Evans: Yes it was. I mean, it was one of those fun things where we had done something you could do beautiful things, but it was really painful, not very fun to do things and we could bear the pain of using it every day, but it was not what we wanted that was. And, you know, Sony gave us the rope to try again. Basically, I joked that this is Dreams 2. But we have taken the time to do what we wanted it to be.
Did you have to go back and start from scratch?
Alex Evans: I mean, not from scratch: I think all game creators will tell you this, you go through a process of searching for what makes your idea work again, the same idea, the same plan, but then you think, & # 39 ; Oh, this is crap, this particular path we have traveled & # 39 ;. Sometimes you have to go back, we have taken a big step back. We looked at what we had, and I'm very happy to have done it because I watch those old videos and I think the content was great. The levels we were doing were beautiful and everything, but the creation process was not good enough for the community to flourish.
In my eyes, it doesn't look so different from what I saw in 2015: I thought it looked great back then!
Alex Evans: A lot of this is about making it easier. We put a lot of effort into things like tutorials, which sounds very boring and school, but the tools are really fun. There is a joke that says that the last 10% takes 90% of the time, and that was it, it made it good, fun and easy. And that's what we focus on. I'm probably going to decipher this because I'm not exactly sure what he said, I didn't read the original quote, but there was a guy who made this kind of Wipeout clone, and it went viral and Kotaku chose it upstairs. And someone asked him why you didn't use the Unit. Why don't you use Unreal? And he said, because he had no idea what he was going to do this game. I didn't have a plan. I'm not a game maker. I didn't even think of myself as someone who is going to go and make this particular game go viral. I had a lot of fun doing something. And it bloomed and became this. And that is dreams for me. That was a really nice little parable, and I'm proud that Dreams can let someone just crawl and then bloom instead of someone saying I'll be the next Mike Bithell, I'll be the next independent sensation. You can also do it with luck.
I wanted to talk about that, because you've already talked about people who publish before.
Alex Evans: Yes, Mark likes to mention that (see sidebar), and makes Sony's people squeeze.
But it is an interesting point: I wanted to ask you about how people can self-publish, but little by little I am realizing that maybe that is not the point. I make music in my spare time, but I never want anyone to listen to it. It doesn't have to be about financial gains or getting recognition.
Alex Evans: Yes, that is a key point. And then, if you run into something bright, great and you have an exit and you have a platform to launch it. We talk about LittleBigPlanet among us, and there are all these levels with people doing stupid ramps that never posted. And all these tracks you have on your hard drive that you have never released, it doesn't matter, they still mean something to you. They are real and fun, and it was four hours of your life really enjoyable. I love those things
Is there still a perception problem around you? There is the question of why it has taken seven years.
Alex Evans: In general, the people who ask why he has taken so long are the people who are excited about him, strangely: they are the people who don't know about that who don't care about it! Because they did not know. So I hope that now they are like, bright, is out and I can do things. The barriers have gone down. And I think that's the great part. That will be the story that will be remembered.
Mark Healey on making dreams come true
Media Molecule co-founder Mark Healey has had a historic career in games so far, since Codemasters published his first home effort to work at Lionhead and then help create LittleBigPlanet, and it's his idea to open game development for console the players who are in the heart of Dreams.
How far have you come when it comes to discovering how people can self publish in Dreams?
Mark Healey: It is a minefield, even before you start getting involved with the legal side with lawyers and other things, just conceptually, how do you deal with it? You don't spoil the atmosphere of the people who share and collaborate. So we have some different things that we are seeing. I am sure there are ways. Tips are an example, that is an approach we can take. Which means that people can still monetize things, but it won't cut things for people. However, there has to be a way.
When it comes to difficult conversations, and excuse the terrible gear change here, you must have had some difficult conversations with Sony over the years. How did you convince them to give you so much time?
Mark Healey: It is surprising that we have been given so much rope to be honest with you. Obviously we had LittleBigPlanet; if we had not done so, it would not have been possible. Every time we had to try to explain what it was, we could simply point out LittleBigPlanet and say it is about steroids, essentially. We really had no difficulty explaining the ambition, but I don't think we realized how ambitious we were. Maybe Sony did it at that time and gave us the time to move on. They have simply supported me a lot. And there have been many points along the way that we were supposed to have already thrown. But we know that it is not ready yet.
Why did it take seven years?
Mark Healey: So, seven years is a long time, yes … But I would say it is a short time to do what we have done. If you consider that we have a complete package of sculptures, a digital audio workstation, animation scripts, a sharing platform, a social platform. There really are many things to do for a small team at that time. The question should be how you managed to do it at that time!
Sony must have been asking some difficult questions too. Do you have compromising photos of Jim Ryan or something? Can I see them?
Alex Evans: Shu was really great really. You could argue that they gave us too much rope. But I think they just wanted it to be right. And I think sometimes things take longer. I am very happy that we have taken the time to make it accessible. We all benefit from being creatively good. I play with my daughter, mainly, just play and I feel that if we had rushed it, then the creative side could have been just a note or the results could be very limited in scope. But I think what I see and appears this week in Dreamiverse, there are a lot of people that I think we are delaying the launch, now they are like dropping that like these great epics. I am Get excited about these things being published, and none of that would have happened if we had rushed to solve this problem.
We don't want it to be like the crappy edition of Photoshop, or as bad Pro Tools. That was not the plan. It was always about reinventing those in a console. And we are always trying to return to performance. We are not trying to be those tools. We are trying to be something else, all in one. There was a musician, I won't say who he was, since he probably doesn't want to be quoted, he made a song on it. And in the end, he said, the biggest compliment I can give is that it sounds like me. I hope people say they started in the games through Dreams. What makes me sound like a jerk.
Not at all! Hopefully, it will be a gateway: I know that many developers made their way into the games through LittleBigPlanet.
Alex Evans: I received an email from someone at Insomniac who said his CV was primarily LittleBigPlanet. I think Dreams is going to be that.
What is the next step for people who want to enter development? Can you export assets?
Alex Evans: We are not announcing now but we are seeing comments. People want to be able to use Dreams outside of Dreams, so we are looking for ways to make it easier. Even if they are just images, sounds, music and so on. So we are trying some ideas there. So, definitely, we definitely want people to feel they can use Dreams as a creative tool. It was not our starting point, but if that is where people want to go, then we will listen.
You know, we started this as a sketchbook, and that's how most people use it. But if you have done something super amazing, we must make sure there is a next step. Then we will solve it. Dreams is largely a service. I know it's something very modern to say, but it clearly has to be.
The other thing I have seen time and again, sounds like a jerk saying it, but honestly this moved me, many people say that it is one of the prettiest online communities of which they are part. The Dreams community itself, for whatever reason, perhaps the design options, how the user interface drives collaboration, I don't know what it is, but people say it has given them an exit that they might not have before. So how do they take it to the next step? I don't know, we have to respond to the community and listen to them.
The community is lovely. What is the secret behind this?
Alex Evans: What is it his secret! I do not know. I enter the hashtag Made In Dreams just to antidote to get out of the hell of Twitter. When you start, you are a little shy. And then you put something there and get comments. And the feedback is considered and not just flattering: it's like, oh, I really love this, have you considered this? And I think, going back to your previous question, that's what really surprised me.
Have you thought about making other first-hand developers do things here?
Alex Evans: We would love to shout if you want anyone who wants to make a game in Dreams with us! We focus on Art's dream, but now we have this moment of breathing that we can think of, oh, maybe we should do something else. And I think it would be amazing to do some collaborations. And also with education: we also have some collaborations cooking outside the games, which I think is really interesting. It's like, you know, theater. Dreams are not necessarily just games. I would love to see a television show made in Dreams. That is not an advertisement, there is no such thing in the works, but I think it would be great.
Is it hard to talk about something like dreams? This is a problem that I think could have harassed you throughout your career after LittleBigPlanet, where people ask "what is it, what are you doing in it?"
Alex Evans: I think there are different ways in dreams, and dreams will be different things for different people. My YouTube rabbit hole is different from your YouTube, probably. You know, as I said, it will try to lead us to the nightmare of the alternative right, because that's what YouTube does, but you can still find wonderful shit. And I think Dreams is, fortunately without the right alternative nightmare, they can be different things for different people. So yes, it is really difficult to summarize.
While you've been doing this, a lot has happened in the world of YouTube and Twitter. Has that impacted you in any way?
Alex Evans: Unconsciously a little, yes … I think again, it depends on your niche. I started to make synthesizers as a hobby to clean my head and discovered the electronics of Twitter, which was really nice. I think the Internet is the best: it is a kind of niche community. He has always been good at it. It is these niche communities.
I was talking internally about Dreams and I thought, I think it's great to use a Reddit analogy, you have subreddits and each one has its own character. Reddit is no longer something of its own, Reddit is a series of sub-communities. And I love the fact that Dreams will probably be big enough to have sub-communities of people building handles, you know that people will build games, people will build whimsical purple things from Media Molecule esque. But we would not choose to do some of the things that the community has done. And that is the point. I think social networks are difficult to paint with a brush, right? We try all the time, I do it myself, but it isn't, it's really this little rainbow of madness. And I'm totally rambling now.
Wandering is good! What does the next few years hold for Dreams?
Alex Evans: There are some different angles. Virtual reality is in process and in fact it is almost done to be honest. I would love to have multiplayer there, but we don't have a date for that, since that is hardly done, but that is something that really matters to me, since I designed the multiplayer code from the beginning, so I'm sure that & # 39; I will leave, I cannot say when. And we are a game studio, we are not a tool studio, so they will want to put our teeth in a fleshy content. So I think we were going to make more games in Dreams for sure, 100% guaranteed.
And will they be free updates?
Alex Evans: I know there will be free updates, and they will be juicy. I don't know how we are going to package it. But what we are going to do is work in parallel on some things. And VR is the most cooked of them. And then we will release them when we can. I imagine we will have paid for content, maybe if we have Kojima & # 39; s Dreams, you know, if you are reading this, Kojima comes down and we will do Kojima & # 39; s Dreams.
I know you can't talk about other platforms explicitly, but hey, there is one that will come out later this year. In theory, what could you do on other platforms?
Alex Evans: I haven't been asked that question before … obviously I can't say PlayStation 5 is brilliant! Although it has been announced, so I can say the word. I mean, obviously, let's see that, we are a PlayStation studio. Actually, Dreams is already running on PlayStation 5; there you go, that's the scoop. But it's just us being developers and exploring. I would be lying to you if I said that we are not going to explore, but there are literally zero plans at this time. I think I learned my lesson: we met in 2015 and said that (Dreams) is almost ready. And then here we are, four or five years later, and * it's * done. But my new self, I will admit that we are exploring things, but I will not compromise when it comes to light.
I would love to see the dreams used in different contexts. Education is very important to me, I would love to see the dreams used in school, theater and other places.
And that's something you're obviously working on right now.
Alex Evans: We have a secret project that will come out soon. It has nothing to do with games. This is a collaboration with someone. And I need to verify when that is announced. I'm sorry, I'm a mockery, but I'll have to be a mockery. It's like Dreams in a completely different context than what you've seen before. And it's lovely. It's really great to see it there. And I think it would be amazing for children to learn electronics or game creation or storytelling or movie creation or sculpture, or composition, like all kinds of shit you could use at school. If you are a teacher reading this article, consider using Dreams in your curriculum.
Did you ever imagine that it was going to take so long when you first showed it at the PlayStation meeting in 2013? Was it in 2013?
Alex Evans: It was eight years ago and then we did Tearaway in the middle as a palate cleanser. No, I did not do it!
Has the scope changed? Is it true to the original idea?
Alex Evans: It is true to the idea: the quality bar is higher than I could have expected. I didn't know it was going to be pictorial, it took us a while to find out. It took us a while to discover what the gameplay was, the characters. Even Art & # 39; s Dream: we had Crystal & # 39; s Dream, which was the first game we made and then we didn't release it. It took us longer because we were finding what we wanted to show the world. No, I don't think it takes so long. But I am very happy that we have been so late.