'Dreams' Is a "Trojan Horse" for Would-Be Game Developers, Says Studio Director

Dreams-Publicity_H 2019
Courtesy of Media Molecule
Developer Media Molecule's co-founder and studio director Siobhan Reddy wants to "celebrate the playful nature of creativity" with the new creative sandbox game.

Media Molecule's latest offering, Dreams, is aptly named. The game grants players full access to a whole suite of video game development tools, from character creations to sound design to music composition, allowing them to create interactive, realized versions of whatever imaginings they may have running through their minds.

The U.K.-based developer is most widely known for the Little Big Planet franchise, first launched in 2008, which offered a deep creation mode that saw thousands upon thousands of different levels designed by the game's community. 

With Dreams, Media Molecule is taking that wish fulfillment to the next level. Currently available in its early access beta stage, Dreams has already sparked the creativity of players worldwide who have shown off their talents with creations that have gone viral, such as re-creations of iconic games like Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy VII.

Studio director Siobhan Reddy describes the new title as a "spiritual successor" to Little Big Planet and hopes Dreams will inspire a new generation of game developers, as Little Big Planet did ("our design team to this day is mostly made up of people from the LBP community," she says). The sense of community at the heart of the new game is important to Reddy and Media Molecule and, when the game does officially launch later this year, fans can expect expanded social features. 

Below, Reddy provides details on what to expect from the game when it launches, Media Molecule's goals for the title ("it's a Trojan horse in a way") and how the potential of Dreams' creative tools extends far beyond just game design.

Is Dreams a game or a development tool?

Looking at how players are using it is probably the most accurate way to describe it. What I’m seeing is them using it as a tool and as a platform to share their work. That was the dream for us, to create a tool that was powerful enough for people to create work that really matched their own style so when they published it they were really publishing their own work. That was the big step for us from Little Big Planet, because that game had such a strong style that people couldn’t really input themselves really strongly on that and we really wanted Dreams to be the complete other end of that.

This grew from making Little Big Planet?

It’s 100 percent the spiritual successor of Little Big Planet.

Did you create your own engine for this game?

The engine is called Bubble Blast, which was named by a community vote. It’s meta in the sense that we have a game that allows players to make games that people can make games with.

Could it be used to create animated films, music?

Yep. If you think about it, games are all of those things. The great things about games is that they are movies, they are music, they are fashion and sound effects and building. When you take apart all of the tools you need to make a game you end up with the tools to do each of those things differently. The big spin we wanted to add to that was that it was all under one UI (user interface). You could be making music one minute and then be making animation. The idea was blending the experience.

Why market it as just a game if it’s such a powerful development tool?

We love the idea of people using it on their couch and enjoying the play of creating. We’re not a mediaware company. For us, it’s all about the idea of celebrating a child on their couch who is just playing this and learning how to create and it just sparks something. It’s almost a Trojan horse in a way because they start doing this thing and then realize they have an interest in animation or music. It celebrates the playful nature of creativity. That’s why it’s a successor to LBP. So many people went on to jobs in the industry from creating things in Little Big Planet. I’m pretty sure people will get jobs using a Dreams portfolio.

Is that something that Media Molecule looks at to mine talent?

We did that with Little Big Planet. Our community team was from the community and our design team to this day is mostly made up of people from the LBP community.

Do you see Dreams as a social platform?

One of the big areas that we’re really excited to get out to people is adding in more ways to be social, integrating friends lists, finding lots of ways to make it feel like you’re part of a community. In early access there are areas that aren’t quite there yet. It can be a really nice cross-generational family experience as well as being an experience with the community at large.

What can be expected at full launch that we haven’t seen yet in the beta version of the game?

We have lists and lists and lists of different things that we want to add over the full life cycle. You’re going to see a lot of evolution within Dreams. We’re finalizing the bits that will be there for launch and then some really good additions are coming. It’s a service — we will be evolving it.