LittleBigPlanet’s spiritual successor is going to turn you into a game designer
Little Big Planet’s creators return with the tools to create any game you can… well, dream of.
“Dreams expands on littlebigplanet – different genres can easily be created”
Calling Media Molecule’s latest a game seems disingenuous. Building on the ‘Play, Create, Share’ theme of LittleBigPlanet, this truly astonishing follow-up allows you to conjure up pretty much anything and everything you can think of. It even has an in-engine music creator. And in case you think that’s just big talk, Media Molecule built the entire story mode with the game’s own tools. “There’s absolutely no cheating, we haven’t used external software to produce assets and import it in. We’ve made everything from an atomic level using a DualShock 4 and a PlayStation 4” says creative director Mark Healey about ‘Art’s Dream’, the developer-created story that will ease players into this huge universe.
The demo we’re invited to check out is split between three interconnecting strands, each one offering something a little different. There’s the warm glow of the sci-fi thread, where a small robot called Debug seeks to rid his world of a virus, which sees him jumping around the environment onto pressure pads. Alongside it is a more traditional-looking platformer where you control Francis and Foxy as they attempt to save their chubby-faced flying dragon Lancewing.
What piques our interest the most, though, is a section which is more of a point-and-click adventure. Here, we see a well-suited man (the titular Art, to be precise) as he attempts to board a train. A rude conductor refuses to let him on without a ticket, and you need to solve some light puzzles to nab one. It’s the earliest sign of how Dreams expands on LittleBigPlanet, where
different genres can easily be created with the tools at everyone’s disposal.
Yes, creation is at the heart of this, and the tools Media Molecule shows off are simple enough to grasp, yet eye-widening in scope. Let’s say you want something completely original? Well, the in-game art tools allow you to create environments, characters, and so on using tools such as paint brushes, or sculpting with the DualShock 4 or Move controllers. Once you have a few things for your Dream, you can place these assets into the level designer and build your world from there.
However, if you’re more of a remixer, then you can go into the ‘Dreamverse’ and download assets other users make. You can add and reuse whatever you find in this wonderful library. We see a small, rocky island become a much bigger one as Healey grabs it, quickly copies, and then pastes it to create a much larger area and seamlessly provide a backdrop. Then he takes a platform and shows us how easy it is to create animations for Dreams. All you do is start recording on the animation timeline, move whatever it is in the way you want it to and stop recording. Voila, we now have a floating platform and a tangible sense of how to create a game in Dreams.
This is just the start of what the game can offer. We also get to see how you can create your own soundtrack using in-game instruments or record your own dialogue with the PlayStation Camera’s mic. The potential of what is on offer is staggering.
Mind over matter
Finding levels is a doddle thanks to the in-game search engine’s ability to auto-play player-created content – and, in a sign of just how broad Dreams really is, there’s also a role for people who want to curate their favourite content. You’ll have the option to make playlists of your favourite levels or assets and develop your brand as a tastemaker, with other players, creators, and curators able to give their thumbs up to your lists.
Simply put, there’s nothing like Dreams at the moment. The possibilities of what you can make seem endless, and there’s plenty to satisfy those who don’t quite feel up to creating their own masterpiece just yet. With this biggest glimpse yet into Media Molecule’s mind, we’re already drawing up plans for what we’ll be magicking up later this year.
Francis, Foxy, and Lancewing are giving us a serious Neverending Story-meets-Build-A-Bear vibe. Format PS4 Publisher Sony Developer Media Molecule ETA Autumn
There’ll be a beta launched before the official release, although Media Molecule is keeping quiet on when it’ll launch. The Media Molecule-created story levels give off a much darker vibe than LittleBigPlanet. Although tiny, virus-battling robot Debug looks adorable, this robo-cat-thing is the stuff of nightmares.