Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Monday, December 17, 2012

Art of Gaming: The Dream Machine

Since I've started this little adventure of looking at various Indie games, I have found some that just made me wonder why someone thought it was a good idea and others that I thought was an interesting concept. In most cases however, I come across games that I have never heard of be it from my friends or those I've come to listen to online. One such game that captured my attention strictly from the unconventional way the developers decided to make their game is The Dream Machine.

Created by Cockroach Inc., a game studio in Sweden run by Anders Gustafsson and Erik Zaring, The Dream Machine game has been a labor of love for the men. The game itself (chapters 1 & 2) was released towards the end of 2011 and the pair have announced that chapter 3 has just been released with 4 and 5 currently in the making. Why in installments? The answer is that the entire environment and everything in the game is handmade. Advertised as “An award winning point and click adventure game made by hand using materials such as clay and cardboard”, the blog that they have for the game (dreammachinegame.blogspot.com) shows and explains parts of the process that they take in order to create the game. The first images I saw captured my attention and made me want to see the trailer. 

Beautiful, dark and rather unsettling, when I watched the trailer for the game I have to say that I was impressed. Stop-motion claymation isn't exactly the easiest way to create something, in fact it is one of the most time consuming form of art that crosses over from studio and sculpture to performance art. To make a movie is one thing but the fact the gentlemen at Cockroach Inc. decided to create a game from it is impressive. Saying it as an interactive claymation on the lines of Wallace & Gromit, Tim Burtan's Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), or even the more recent Henry Selick's Coraline (2009) would be incorrect and rather unfair in a way. I'm not saying that those movies are bad, but the game seems to be in a category of its own. The style itself seems to have elements of older claymations such as those from Clash of the Titans (1981) but there was imagery that reminded me of Mirror Mask (2005) and Immortal (2004). There was some things about the game that I just couldn't put my finger on. There must be something else that was used as inspiration for this game. I sent my question to them and waited patiently, being thrilled at finding a response this morning:

Hi Dawn!
Here´s a brief list of inspiration for our game:
Director Roman Polanski (the Tenant)
Director David Cronenberg (Videodrome)
Jan Švankmajer (experimental animation)
Zdzisław Beksiński (polish filmposter art)
The Secret of Monkey Island (1990, adventure game )
... that´s at least a start for you. I hope that you´re not entierly familiar with all mentioned above:)
Bye for now and take care

I have to say that looking at the list, I was impressed. I had heard of TheSecret of Monkey Island in passing at least once or twice and have seen Zdzislaw Beksinski's (1929-2005) work several years ago but the others I'm not familiar with. Director Roman Polanski (1933 - ) is perhaps more well known among cult horror movie enthusiasts for the movie Rosemary's Baby (1968) and seems like a rather interesting through perhaps slightly odd source of inspiration until I took into consideration his directing style of keeping the audience on the edge of their seats and keeping their minds engaged with the story. Director David Paul Cronenberg (1943 - ) is known for his movies Videodrome (1983) and M. Butterfly (1993) along with a string of other horror and scifi genre films. The fact that his directing style is paired up with Polanski's strangely seemed like a good match. Jan Švankmajer (1934 - ) is perhaps the most interesting individual in this line up with his films Faust (1994), Dinner for Adele (1977), and Jabberwocky (1971).  With such a combination of inspirational sources, it makes more sense when I re-watch the trailer. 

If you're interested in playing The Dream Machine, you can find it here: 
store.steampowered.com - The Dream Machine (Chapter 1 and 2 ) $4.99
The Dream Machine Bundle (All 5 Chapters) $14.99
The Dream Machine: Chapter 3 $4.99

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