Dream:scape follows Wilson, a coma patient relearning his memories through his dreamscape. Along the way, he will learn dark secrets and a decades-old mystery.
How did dream:scape come about?
I downloaded the Unreal Development Kit in January of this year because, with my range of skill-sets, I thought I'd be able to make a fun little iOS game in my spare time. My first test models were a gnarled tree and little run-down cabin. I put them together in a blank game environment and thought, "I could build a story from these". The dream:scape narrative grew out of that, and became, frankly, huge.
Describe the character of Wilson. What makes him an interesting character?
Wilson would never call himself interesting. He's had what he would call an extremely dull life-- he missed out on marrying the love of his life, never achieved his life-long dream of becoming an aviator, and grew old in solitude. The curious thing about Wilson is what happens to him near the end, after the accident that led to his coma. Very little is known about what happens inside the minds of coma patients. Dream:scape offers a theory-- what if, in that limbo between life and death, we are able to see the topology of our lives differently, with a clarity that strips away self deception and the fog of distraction? What if, in that world of memories, we are able to learn secrets we never recognized before, but were always there, just under the surface? What makes Wilson interesting is that, in his dream:scape, he is able to see the patterns under his memories, and these lead him to resolve a decades-old mystery of love, betrayal, and ultimately, revenge.
What are some of the characters that players can interact with?
Dream:scape is a very solitary experience in one sense-- it takes place entirely in the mind of the main character. While we experience memories full of voices and see the traces of the people in Wilson's past via the environments, the only visible character we ever see is the Scarecrow Guide. This character is simultaneously creepy and attractive, giving the player just enough info to keep on until the very end. The villain of dream:scape is confronted in a surreal alternate dream:scape, and while we never see this character, we hear his voice and interact with him intimately.
Will players learn what led to Wilson's coma?
Not really. There is reference at some point to "the accident", which probably means a car accident. Wilson himself doesn't remember it, of course. He simply wakes up in the dream:scape, not entirely sure who he is, learning about himself as he explores his memories. The details of why he landed in the dream:scape are foggy at best, and quickly superseded by much older mysteries.
What led to the decision to use the Unreal Engine?
I downloaded the Unreal example world, Epic Citadel, and was floored by how amazing it looked. When Infinity Blade came out, I bought it immediately, and while I was very happy with the game play, I was (like many others) disappointed that it didn't offer the same sort of open-world experience that Epic Citadel hinted at. I determined to make a huge open-world experience with an embedded narrative storyline.
Nearly 30 acres of space are within the game. What led to that decision? How hard was it to design around so much space?
It wasn't so much a decision as a result. The geography grew out from the point of the cabin and tree, taking shape slowly and populating with all the details that the story required. When I was close to done, I simply looked at an overhead view of the world and did some quick calculations. In fact, if you count the areas of the map that are visible but not quite accessible, the acreage is a bit larger than 30. This was the beauty and the bane of this project, since the display of huge, rolling vistas can take a large toll on the limited rendering potential of iOS devices. I struggled endlessly to keep the proper balance of visual beauty and playability, and in the end I am very pleased. The framerate averages about 25 FPS, with upper and lower ends of 15 and 30, based on how much of the world the player is overlooking at any given time. Of course, on iPad, the framerate is smooth as silk at all times.
You mentioned the game's performance on the iPad. Will the game be a universal app or will there be a version of the game specifically designed for the iPad?
For now, I have decided to release a universal version that runs on everything. This, methinks, is neater and will surely make updates a lot easier. It runs smoothly enough on iPhone while still packing a decent amount of texture resolution (with a few necessary exceptions, mostly seen on the iPad, but not glaringly so). I haven't ruled out releasing an HD version specifically for iPad 2, though.
How will players be able to control Wilson?
The controls are really simple-- virtual joysticks on the lower right and left of the screen control direction and movement. The player can also look around just by swiping.
How much will dream:scape cost?
The intro sale price is 1.99, which is half off the full price. I tried hard to keep the cost low enough for D:S to be an easy choice to check out. Hopefully the graphics alone are worth the price of admission.
Finally, in 10 words or less, explain why dream:scape is worth checking out.
D:S pushes device gaming limits in both visuals and story.
Dream:scape is scheduled to come out on June 9, 2011. It'll be compatible on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Touch 4th gen, iPad and iPad 2. For more information, visit http://www.speedbumpstudios.com/
Written or Contributed by: GLX
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About the Author - GLX
For years, GLX has been writing on-and-off for The Outhousers covering comics, video games and comics - among other things. He currently resides in The South. Yes, that's capitalized, and, no, that doesn't mean it's a place full of sunshine and butterflies.
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