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Fun, but Half-Baked

  • Healy
  • 11/12/2017 01:54 AM
The Maker of Dreams is a simulation about a down-on-his-luck developer who must make a game in 60 days. In it, you find yourself looking up Youtube tutorials, chatting on forums, doing pre-planning, working on commissions, and doing other activities that make your game design process smoother. If you're unlucky and your game doesn't sell enough, you wind up working at your uncle's software company, but if everything goes well, you have a good career in the game business ahead of you.

Dreams is a well-made simulation, and it's easy to get sucked in and addicted. Although the graphics and sound won't turn any heads, they are well-suited for the game's purposes, and the writing is good enough for some chuckles along the way. But ultimately I felt a little unsatisfied by this game. Maybe it's because the three characters in the game (the PC, the PC's mom, and the girl at the shop) never rise above stereotypes, or maybe it's due to the small, niggling bugs that I found. (For example, the clock display is wrong. The number nine is displayed in the ten spot, and vice versa.) The game feels a little unbalanced in some areas, and I hate that it doesn't tell you that you need to chat on the forums a couple times to unlock commissions.

But I think what's really bugging me about this game is that it doesn't really match up with my game design experiences. It seems the best way to get started in Dreams is to drag things out, at least in the beginning, watching Let's Plays and playing games and chatting online and seeking commissions and doing contests and and and... You get the picture.

By contrast, whenever I work on a game, I usually find it's best to just, you know, work on it. I mean, I still use a lot of (ahem!) motivation boosters (and it is a good idea to take breaks and get some exercise), but usually it turns out I'm doing those things as a way to procrastinate. Finding ways to compare my progress with other people, putting in in-jokes and references to things I love, making little side areas that are full of things I enjoy, those are the things I find really helpful for my productivity. The Maker of Dreams felt ultimately like a game about Yak Shaving. (I also thought it was weird that you work on things like story, mapping, eventing, programming, etc., separately, since I tend to do all those things in big chunks, but then people often have different work processes.)

Still, although Maker of Dreams' depiction of game design felt inauthentic, it is a pretty enjoyable game. If you like sims and don't care as much about this as I do, why not give it a try?