As a Project Spark fan I am getting very worried for the longevity of Dreams. Everything I am hearing is ringing alarm bells with me, and I am concerned that lessons have not been learned and Media Molecule will face exactly the same issues that caused Project Spark to get closed down after just short of 2 years (or certainly part of the cause). Also expectations are so high I am worried that some elements will be disappointing and not what we expected. What will cause this game to fail? If we have learnt anything from Project Spark it will be these 3 major issues:
- The learning curve will be so huge and so intimidating that people are put off trying it. Also it will take time for really good things to be made, and people are not patient and willing to see it grow or develop their own skills. Children are apparently put off by anything that looks like they have to work at it, students want a distraction from learning in their down time – not more studying, and adults do not have the free time to dedicate to it. This limits the audience to a very niche set of people. They will be fanatical, dedicated, and often talented, but we are not talking millions of people here.
- Most “dreams” made in the game will be a load of old rubbish and this idea of surfing between dreams might be tedious rather than fun. They must have a really good search facility. Project Spark had the worst search facility ever, and they paid the price. The vast majority of stuff produced in Project Spark was either basic and unimaginative, or copies of other games. Dreams will fill up with Five Nights at Freddys models and Mario and Luigis really fast. It will be fun to start with, and then it will be…”Oh no not another Zelda clone”.
- Limitations. They are selling it on the idea of limitless possibilities where only your own imagination will limit you. Project Spark tried to sell us that too, but there were level size restrictions, asset number restrictions, amount of levels you could share restrictions, level memory restrictions, restrictions on using assets you hadn’t bought or unlocked by levelling characters. It would be a miracle if these are also not in Dreams in some capacity. Servers are not bottomless pits of capacity. People will hit on these limits, and they will moan like hell about it.
The more I see of Dreams, the more complicated it gets. There is a full music synthesizer in there which looks amazing, but despite their insistence that it is simple to use, looks incredibly difficult to me (and will take some time to master on its own). It looks like the best games are going to be made cooperatively, as people will find their skill niche in the game. However, I have read that the multiplayer option will not come with launch. That happened with Project Spark too, and it was a terrible decision. By the time it came out, no one was interested any more. If you do not launch your killer features with your initial launch you might as well forget having a hit game. People DO NOT COME BACK.
I am also pretty nervous about the logic side of this game which they are NOT SHOWING. For two years they have been producing videos showing the modelling. Two weeks ago we get to see the music creation tools. So hopefully we get to see the brain creation parts soon. I am worried that I wont be able to understand it. The chances of there being a manual are miniscule. How pro-active will they be with the tutorials in and outside of the game? Please do not get this wrong. Project Spark got it very wrong, and relied on the community to make their own. That is fine for the small percentage of players that join communities, but most players don’t. If they cant understand it in the game they will not seek help outside it, they JUST STOP PLAYING. I don’t understand that mentality, but I saw it over and over again.
Don’t get me wrong. I am tremendously excited for Dreams. I cant wait to play it. But I have had my heart broken by Project Spark and I do not want to give my heart again for it to take another blow. If it is everything I expect it to be then I am going to be promoting it like crazy. We cannot have another creation game go down the pan, or we will never get anything like this again.