The breathtaking painting above is called “Demon’s Penance.” It was created by artist Tomasz Mrozinski using tools included within Media Molecule’s Dreams, released this week in early access for the PlayStation 4. I’ve been staring at it for hours. It’s one of the dozens of games, musical arrangements, sculptures, paintings and strange contraptions I’ve fallen in love with in the one day I’ve been exploring Dreams’ impressive creative sandbox.
According to the information on its community page, “Demon’s Penance” is a poster for a game Mrozinski plans to work on when Dreams is officially released later this year. Even if the work never evolves beyond its static, electronically painted form, it’s already touched thousands of members of the virtual artistic community flocking to the creative toolset. It’s been “played” by 3,608 “dreamers,” Media Molecule’s name for community members. Since Dreams creations can be shared and modified by others, “Demon’s Penance” has also been used in 26 other projects.
Dreams is not a game. It’s a massive virtual artistic commune. Users are given tools to create video games, visual novels, interactive art installations, sculptures, animated characters, mechanical constructs and even compose original music. Created works can be shared by community members freely. If a game maker wants to use a piece of music for their platformer or puzzle adventure and the composer allows it, they can grab the tune and integrate it into their work. Users viewing the completed game can see where the music and other borrowed work came from. Credit is automatically given. It’s perfect.
What’s in it for those who aren’t inclined to create? Sweet, sweet consumption. Dreams’ Dreamsurfing mode allows users to search creations by type, keywords or specific tags. Search for ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and one finds a recreation of Ocarina of Time’s Kokiri Forest.
Search for ‘toilet’ and up pops a toilet simulator with interactive pissing action. I guess they can’t all be “Demon’s Penance.”
My favorite means of discovery is the Autosurf option. When selected, it cycles through a random taster of Dreams creations. It’s an excellent way to quickly experience the scope and variety the toolset is capable of producing.
One moment I’m exploring a haunted castle.
The next I am playing pinball.
Then I’m downing a shot of absinthe and looking out the window to witness the night sky transform into a famous painting.
I’m discount Mario.
I’m a bunch of grapes.
I’m racing against the clock through an obstacle course.
I may never create anything in Dreams. I am currently working through the game’s extensive collection of tutorials and lessons to see if anything strikes my fancy. Maybe, once I get the hang of things, I’ll create a tune, or recreate one of my twisted hospital dreams from last year. The game’s visual programming interface seems simple enough. There’s just an awful lot of options and features to figure out.
But Dreams isn’t just about creating. It’s the culmination of Sony’s “Play, Create, Share” philosophy that gave birth to PlayStation games like ModNation Racers and LittleBigPlanet. Dreams gives creators a place to create, sharers a platform to share on, and players plenty of bite-sized games to play and other creative content to explore.
I am an explorer of digital worlds, and thanks to Dreams I’ve got plenty of exploring to do.