Make your dreams a reality with this new PS4 software

Blake Prasch, Contributor

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Have you ever wanted to create something, but it was just too much of hassle? Maybe you wanted to chisel a sculpture, but obtaining the materials was too difficult. Maybe you wanted to design a game, but learning code was too daunting. Maybe you wanted to animate something, but drawing by hand took too much time, and the digital alternatives were too basic. If this sounds familiar, then Dreams might be for you! Dreams is both a tool for creating media and platform for sharing it. Developed by Media Molecule (the creators behind Little Big Planet), this platform aims to give PlayStation 4 users a new way to express their creativity. Though it’s still in early access, Dreams feels like a complete product. Whether you want to make music, digital art, games, or animations, the Dreams engine has got you covered!

Chances are, the majority of users who bought Dreams did so because they were interested in Dream Shaping. Dream Shaping is the all-in-one creation tool used for art, music, games, animations, and more. But why would someone choose Dreams instead of some other software? Well, in addition to being cheaper than most game design programs, Dreams doesn’t require any knowledge of coding, making it easy to get started. That being said, new users may find the control scheme and number of tools to be overwhelming. Luckily, the developers provided in-depth tutorials ranging from moving around in a 3D space to creating mechanics and complex animations. You could seriously spend upwards of three to four hours on tutorials alone! Should you forget some of the information learned in these tutorials, there are plenty of tips that can accessed by hovering your cursor over tools, objects, and menu items. Overall, learning how Dream Shaping works is pretty painless. After you’ve created your first “dream,” you’re ready to share it with other users!

But what if you’re not interested in creating dreams? That’s where Dream Surfing comes in. Dream Surfing is the search engine used to find and experience other people’s creations.

Dreams can be sorted by type, genre, rating, and more. If variety is what you want, then try Auto-surfing—a mode that randomly selects dreams and cycles through them. If you find a creation you like, you may give a thumbs-up, or leave a comment. Now, since anyone can upload pretty much whatever they want, you’re bound to run into some pretty low-quality dreams. Never fear! There’s plenty of content that was either created by or complied by Media Molecule themselves. These collections show off the best of what Dreams currently has to offer. Make sure to check out the breathtaking, 3D recreation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and the surreal music video simply titled “Green Guy.” If that’s not enough, see the results of themed contests; The winners are always impressive!

As to be expected of an early access product, there are several issues and bugs in the current version of Dreams. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 4 is not nearly as powerful as higher end gaming PCs. Since Dreams is a PS4 exclusive, all users are going to have to deal with asset limits. The more complex games and animations created in Dreams suffer from framerate drops as well. Additionally, players must use a DualShock controller. The control scheme can feel pretty cluttered when so many tools are connected to relatively few buttons. I think that Dream Shaping would be a whole lot easier on a keyboard. Another major issue is the physics engine. By default, Dreams’ physics are bouncy and cartoony. Characters stumble around as if they’re drunk, and their bodies sometimes contort in strange ways when colliding with objects. Sure, this may be fitting for cartoony, silly games, but developers going for a darker tone may struggle with the physics. The last platform-wide issue is the camera. If a player-controlled character falls too fast, the camera stops following them, forcing the player to restart the dream. Hopefully, these problems will be ironed out later.

I would definitely recommend Dreams to artists and new game developers. It’s also not a bad idea for an experienced developer to brush up on their skills. That being said, Dreams is not a replacement for software like Unity and Unreal. Although they’re more complicated Dreams, other game engines are less limited and allow designers to sell their games. There is currently no way to profit off your creations in Dreams, so those aspiring to sell artwork and games should look elsewhere.

For those who are only interested in checking out other users’ creations, the $30 price tag might seem steep, considering the current amount of good content. Still, I would recommend keeping an eye on Dreams for updates. If you’re interested, visit dreams.mediamolecule.com/, or catch one of Media Molecule’s streams at www.twitch.tv/media_molecule.

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