Dream was one of the first 10 titles to be approved by Steam Greenlight and is being developed by three man studio Hypersloth. We haven’t heard from them in quite some time so I decided to check in one of the developers, Sam Read, to ask a few questions about Dream, an adventure puzzle game set in the subconscious mind of Howard Philips.
1.) Dream has only acquired a publisher quite recently. What were your original plans to publish Dream, if not through Mastertronic?
Originally when we started the game last year we were looking at making a much smaller game, we started by talking to Indie Fund and a few other investors but nothing worked out, so then we went to Kickstarter asking for £20,000 but unfortunately didn’t reach the goal. We felt the game may never happen but after Eurogamer, Mastertronic contacted us about publishing the game and now we can make a bigger and better game than ever before.
2.) Why did you think Dream didn’t manage to make it through indie-fund or Kickstarter?
When it comes to Indie Fund they had to make a judgment call looking at a very early version of the game, sadly this didn’t really have any mechanics or gameplay, also they had just published Dear Esther and I don’t think they wanted to stand on their own toes. Kickstarter was mainly because of the time of year, we went on in December and didn’t really think about people having no money around Christmas.
3.) Dream was one of the very first games to be approved on Steam Greenlight. How did you feel when you saw Dream was approved? Did you expect it?
It was amazing, we didn’t expect it at all. There were a lot of rumours at the time you had to get 100,000 likes and you had to get this bar to 100%, I don’t think anyone really knew what was going on, then one night they emailed us saying we had been greenlit and I had to email back confirming it before I let the excitement get to me, it was unbelievable.
4.) Steam Greenlight has helped Dream become a reality but what do you think about Valve being accused of having a controversial TOS for consumers to the point that they might be taken to the German Supreme Court?
When it comes to those cases I don’t know enough to talk about them, but Valve have been great with us, I think Greenlight needs some work but all in all we would not be making Dream without it, so we owe Steam a lot.
5.) Steam has its ups and downs – what do you think about its enforcing of DRM through the games released on its platform? Will there be a DRM-free version of Dream?
We understand why Steam need to do that stuff and that’s fine with us, we will be selling the game on other services and there will be DRM-free versions to buy.
6.) As a studio of three developers creating a vast non-linear game, how much of the work is divided between you?
We all do a bit of everything really, people may have more skills in one area so they take a lead but we pretty much all do everything.
7.) From what I’ve gathered, and correct me if I’m wrong, Dream is isn’t so much a game as it is an experience in immersion and narrative. What inspired you to develop a game so different from all the other, more conventional and accessible genres?
We definitely want the players to feel immersed in world of Howard and the narrative is a very important part of that as it dictates what is going on in his Dreams. We have actually tried to take what we have learnt from other games in this niche genre and add more conventional elements to it, for example we have an inventory system, collectables, interactive worlds and puzzles.
8.) There is a long-standing argument that video games are not considered a form art. Do you think they should be considered as art? If so, why and do you think people are ready to accept it as a form of art?
We do think videogames are art, you could argue about this all day but the amount of time and expression that goes into some video games trumps a lot of modern art.
9.) Yet some people still view video games as a mind-numbing vice – do you think Dream will change some minds about this?
We hope so, we are trying to make what is seen as an ‘arty’ genre more commercial and hopefully that means afterwards people will go look at other great exploration games.
10.) Dream, arguably, fits in a very niche genre. Would you expect more people in the future to play more games like Dream as much as most would play the standard triple-A action titles today?
Yeah, we definitely see exploration games as a growing genre, not only now do game worlds immerse you more than ever through graphics, physics and storytelling but now you have the Oculus Rift, Razor Hydras and the Omni to make you feel like you’re there.
11.) Dream is centered on Howard Philips, a fresh university graduate exploring the unlimited boundaries of his psyche. Can you tell me a little bit more about his character and what we should expect from exploring his unconscious mind?
Howard doesn’t really have any direction in his life but he has now been given a fresh start and wants to make the most of it. You will be exploring his mind to find out more about him so we don’t want to give too much away but we hope he is a character that players enjoy spending time with.
12.) When I met you at the Eurogamer Expo last year, you compared Dream to the horror title Amnesia in that “there is no combat” and “you sort of have to run away.” Should I be scared?
We do have nightmares in the game, so yes, maybe, but we definitely aren’t a horror game. These sections of the game are to get the player excited about the story and their hearts pumping, horror is a really good way to make turning a corner fun.
13.) So let’s say this nightmarish entity in Howard’s Dream manages to catch him. What happens then?
Wow spoilers, you will have to buy it to find out haha, in different cases different things will happen, that’s all I can say.
14.) It seems like this game is very personal to you three. Have you all contributed the same amount to the narrative or is someone in charge of the writing?
Over the past year we have all contributed the same amount but now we are lucky enough to have a writer onboard who has really filled Howard out as a character.
15.) Dream has several different endings. Will there be an ending where the player would feel like he or she lost the game?
I think it depends on how you look at it, I think there is that ending but after seeing it people may have different opinions.
16.) What are your plans after Dream? Will you Bibby and Sidebottom continue to develop games together as Hypersloth?
It really depends on Dream, at the minute we would all love too but at the end of the day HyperSloth is a business. If we make enough money to fund the next project I think we will do it, looking at Unreal Engine 4 definitely excites us about the future and VR is only going to grow so we would love to be a part of that.