Dreams Hands-On Preview – Mega Creation Station (PS4)
The E3 hype is rising. With under a month until the annual video game insanity kicks off, it seems Sony couldn’t wait to not only show us some of their big upcoming releases, but to give us plenty of hands-on time ahead of the big show. Last week in perpetually sunny Santa Monica, California, we managed to go hands-on with Media Molecule’s upcoming creation platform. You’ll want to read our thoughts in this Dreams PS4 preview below.
Meet Your Scribble
The demo started by simply choosing a character from one of many presets. Characters consisted of differently-colored scribbles, with various “outfits” in the form of drawn-on mustaches, horns, beards, etc. Every character has an antenna, which is used as a cursor in-game to select everything from menu items to objects in the current scene. These scribbles were controlled by using the DualShock 4’s oft-unused SIXAXIS functionality, likely because the rest of the controller is utilized already.
Ever had a dream that was so cool, you wanted to share it with others? After playing Media Molecule’s latest creation, I feel it’s now completely possible to do exactly that. This eclectic development team seems to have taken the lessons they learned from LittleBigPlanet, and applied deep thought into how those tools could be utilized in full 3D space, while adding plenty of new tools and options to boot.
Everything and the Kitchen Sink
Why do I say this? Well, in the short hour that I played, I either directly used or was told about a character creator, character animation engine, AI scripter, object editor, level sculptor, audio generator, music synthesizer, global effects manager, state logic gates, and all the inputs and outputs between any and all of these components. It’s over-the-top creation power, but not overdone. If you can think about it, it’s more than likely possible to build in Dreams.
Despite the engine being more powerful than ever before, things have somehow been simplified. For starters, when creating a new object, Dreams doesn’t assume you only want to make a new game. You can create a new asset of many different types, including characters, textures, objects, AI, games, and audio components, to name but a few things. While we were creating a new level, we were able to quickly jump into the music synthesizer, generate two new instruments, place them onto a timeline, and give our level background music within a span of just a few minutes. I was shown a demo of one of the campaign’s actual audio tracks, and it looked like something out of Pro Tools or Garage Band. Naturally, you can remix others’ creations (with their permission, it’s assumed), or just not even bother with any of that creation stuff and simply play/browse campaign and/or community things.
Yes, there is going to be a more traditional campaign in Dreams, but it’ll consist of more than just clearing levels to unlock items to use in the creative modes. This wasn’t really shown off during the demo, though a few levels were played through. The goal of the campaign appears to be to show off the capabilities of the engine, and also to get the creative juices flowing and getting players to think about non-traditional ways to tell stories.
An Incredibly Bright Future
How long until someone recreates all three LittleBigPlanet games within Dreams? I giddily await the day that this happens. I’m positive that people will make plenty of copies of copyrighted works within Dreams. I’m not so sure how Media Molecule will handle such creations, except to delete them when requested by the intellectual property owner, much like sites such as YouTube handle the issue today.
Dreams has the potential to be so much larger than LittleBigPlanet in every conceivable way. There is a learning curve for creators, as is usually the case. But as with most things, practice makes perfect. Once a creator has a handle on all the different options available, the sky will be the limit when it comes to creating whatever it is they desire. As for those who only want to play creations, a constant stream of levels on autoplay ensures there will hardly be a dull moment in a session of Dreams. I’m still not sure Dreams’ main characters, floating scribbles, are as easily (and instantly!) marketable as Sackboy was for LittleBigPlanet. But that’s a problem for Sony’s marketing department to solve. Dreams is amazing, of that there is not doubt.