Why “Dreams” is so important for the future of console
We live in exciting times. Video chat, VR, AR, drones, self driving cars… the future is happening all around us. And yet, for all this progress, little has changed in the world of console gaming. To be fair, games look better then they did in the 70s and 80s and development budgets have grown, but what we do in games has changed very little. Fetch quests, gear grinds, k/d ratios, etc., these things are still at the core of most games and are what cause even the best open world game to have that “on rails” feel.
Over time, we’ve lost the key element that makes games fun: creativity.
Sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it? Well… it is. But, there’s a light on the horizon, a shining beacon of hope that could potentially open the doors to a new era on console. That light you’re seeing is a little project by a company called Media Molecule.
That light is called “Dreams” and if it succeeds, it could be a paradigm changer.
Creativity Opens Doors
This first part mostly applies to artists, music makers, animators, filmmakers, social media stars, hobbyists, pros, wanna be’s and pretty much anyone interested in creating audio visual content. Dreams will give you the tools you need to create art, animation and music on your ps4. The key here is the price point which makes it an option to folks from less generous economic backgrounds. Sure, you can do the same or better on pc, but not everyone has a desktop capable of powering the latest version of Maya, let alone the money to spend on the latest version of Maya nor the time it takes to learn Maya. There are free options out there, like Blender, but the learning curve for a new user can be “steep” to say the least. But, for the cost of a console and a copy of Dreams, a user now has a healthy tool kit to work with. Add in the sharefactory video editor and in theory, entire works could be done using the console only, all for less then a thousand bucks. That is the democratization of information in action, taking tools and information that were traditionally in the hands of an elite Hollywood few and giving them to the masses.
The true beauty of new artists is that they are unconstrained by ritual and tend to break the rules. It is this rule breaking that constantly redefines artistic standards which is absolutely needed for the evolution of any art form. One of you out there might be the next H.R. Giger and not even know it yet.
And we can’t forget “South Park”. What started as a small lo-fi animation project has become an entire franchise with merch, movies and marketing to go along with it. Easily, Dreams is more then capable of rivaling if not exceeding the look of modern animation and with ever increasing high demand for content that sells, Dreams could take someone with the right project from psn to web to the big screen. Imagine your project gets picked up and your PS4 now becomes part of your day job. Stranger things have happened.
Dreams goes a long way to take the “work” that goes into traditional content creation and “gamifies” it, replacing keyframe animation of old with the move controllers. This should remove some of the tedium that comes with old school animation techniques. That should in turn allow for faster creation which results in more output of content. More content leads to happy fans. Happy fans leads to more subscribers and more exposure.
Playstation Network and The Digital Hippy Scene
Put away the incense and lava lamp, it’s not that kind of Hippy Scene. What I’m talking about here is the built in network that comes with Playstation. Dreams without PSN would be a formidable piece of kit. But, the PSN is the meta here and the meta is big!
It’s not just content creation but COLLABORATION that really sets dreams apart from the crowd. Imagine chat rooms overflowing and abuzz with artists from all over the globe connecting and working together, helping each other, inspiring and teaching and pushing each other to create more and better content. It really could be a modern Hippy Scene where stats and gear matter less then ever, where competition spurs greater and greater creative output, where the toxicity of current games simply has no place.
Consider a scene where you might be great at everything but music. You jump in a couple communities and post your need. Hours later you have a dozen friend requests from people who specialize in music and are more then willing to help with your project. It’s a combination of the modern maker movement of today and the free love era of the 60s and 70s. No walls, just bridges.
If ever an IP was created that could bring out the best in an online community, Dreams could be it.
Ok, so… What do I do with it?
Having kept my eye on Dreams for a while now, I’ve noticed a trend when it comes to the user base and the things they post in the comments section or on Reddit about Dreams: The open ended nature of Dreams leaves some users wondering what it is (more on that later) but more importantly what do they DO with it once they have it? Based on what we know so far and at the risk of sounding a little bit crazy, here are just a couple ideas on what “could” be done with Dreams:
1. Stop Motion: Combine Dreams with a 3d printer and in theory one could create 3d prints of animated objects to be used in stop motion filmmaking. For an indie team with a small budget, this should merit a serious look. Facial expressions, props, etc. all could be designed and ported out into the real world for use in making that magnum opus you’ve always wanted to make.
2. 3d printed chocolate: Keeping with the 3d printing theme here, what about chocolate? More specifically, what if one were to use Dreams to create abstract shapes that get exported and used with a 3d printer to make fancy and expensive (looking) choclate treats? Could chefs around the world be on the verge of adding a PS4 to their culinary arsenal?
3. Digital Puppeteering/Live Performance: It’s possible new livestreams will emerge, live performances of “characters” via digital puppeteering with the motion controls and mic. Drama, standup, music… if you can perform it and stream it live, you could be part of a surge of “performance artists”, new faces and voices and points of view all coming from a very unlikely place, the PS4.
4. Music Label: With Dreams music tools and the PSN, how long will it be before a music label emerges that is comprised of ONLY Dreams artsists? Could we see a day where a serious artist drops his song on PSN first before going mainstream with it?
Copycats and Clones
Rarely in gaming are copycats and clones a good thing. Usually it amounts to a rush job, a money grab, trying to get in on the bandwagon before the trend dries up. Full of bugs and glitches, devoid of substance and content. Copy the mechanics that made it successful, scale it down, that’s your game.
Dreams could be different here, too. If successful, we might be lucky and get a whole new market on console: applications. Things like Pro Tools, Photoshop, Zbrush… all could get ported over to the PS4 allowing for users to get more out of their machine then just games. It’s possible that the success of Dreams could lead traditional FPS games to ditch their instanced matches on static maps for systems that allow gamers to make their own maps and game modes.
Maybe, too, traditional game engines like Unity and Unreal will work harder to take the coding out of game design altogether, unleashing game design on a huge group of users who are currently stymied by the coding required to finish a game.
The least we can hope for is that future devs will consider the PS4 for more then just a gaming rig.
A Gentle Request For The Community…
Can Dreams be used to make games? Sure! Can Dreams be used to make music? Probably. What about animation and stills? Definitely! So… what is Dreams?
It’s a Swiss Army Knife. Try not to think of it as any one thing. Some folks might use it to make ring tones, some might do GIFs and short animations for web and yes, a lot will use it to make games.
But it really comes down to us. To you, actually. What are you going to do with Dreams? Because, in the end, that’s what matters. More then any other IP, Dreams is going to live and die with its user base. Make videos for social justice with it, make educational games for kids (a market that is HORRIBLY absent from Playstation) or just drop that musical single you’ve always wanted to put out. The sky is the limit.
Or, maybe the sky is just the beginning….