Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and happy Holidays! Enjoy this sneak peek of what's just around the corner. Next chapter 5 will have some Lars von Trier, Tron and Hanzel und Gretchen moments.
See you next year. Love.
-Anders, Erik & the Machine

Friday, November 29, 2013

Autumn Sale

The Dream Machine is currently on sale over at Steam. If you have a special someone you want to impress and delight, then this is the way to do it. If you're all alone and feel that life is devoid of meaning, then consider spending some time with Victor Neff, your new best friend. He doesn't question. He doesn't judge.

And he can be your to control for a mere handful of currency units.

Steam: The Dream Machine

Friday, August 2, 2013

Steam Delay

The Steam version is still some ways off. The delay is mainly due to technical issues. Nothing life threatening, mind you. Just some little niggles. We suck at time estimates so I can't give a hard and fast ETA, but we're working on getting it done as soon as possible.

In the meantime, keep watching and reporting your neighbours' activity to the authorities! It doesn't matter if they're suspicious or not. Just report. And watch. In that order.

It'll feel good. I promise.

Cheers,

 - a

Friday, July 12, 2013

Release Plan

As some of you have already noticed, strange things have started to happen with The Dream Machine lately.

The good news is that we're finally getting ready to release Chapter 4. The final assets are being made as I type this, and testing is going really well. Hopefully we'll have a date very soon.

If you have previous experience doing QA testing and want to help us polish Chapter 4 to perfection, don't hesitate to drop us a line.

The weird news is that we've reshuffled the game a bit, and added a sixth chapter.

Our original plan was that Chapter 4 would contain three small dreams, but once we started working on them they grew in scope and ended up getting very big indeed. This ended up causing some performance problems, so we decided to cut Chapter 4 into two separate chapters, effectively giving the game six chapters.

So, if I bought the bundle back when it was only five chapters do I have to buy the last one separately?
No, you get all of them. This also applies if you bought the bundle on Steam.

We hope you like that piece of news.

Cheers,

 - a

Friday, June 7, 2013

Drag'n'drop Update

We've just released a minor update to the game. Most notably, we added drag'n'drop functionality to some of the close-ups. If you want to rearrange the dream diaries for instance, you don't have to go the long way via the inventory flap any more. You can just drag'n'drop them directly where you want them. It's a minor change, but it really makes rearranging things way faster and more intuitive.

It will become more heavily featured during the coming chapters, but since it's an engine level change it's very easy to retro-fit into the older chapters as well. Which is a sweet perk!

• Engine: Added drag'n'drop functionality during close-ups
• Game: Upgraded some inventory icons to high-res versions
• Chapter 1: Added functionality in Neff's kitchen
• Chapter 1: Fixed the disappearing hole bug on the island
• Chapter 1: Modified mover animations
• Chapter 1: Modified mover dialogue
• Chapter 1: Upgraded some graphical assets to high-res versions
• Chapter 2: Added drag'n'drop functionality to Morton's bookshelf
• Chapter 2: Upgraded some graphical assets to high-res versions
• Chapter 2: Added drag'n'drop functionality to rock puzzle
• Chapter 2: Tweaked blueprint
• Chapter 2: Added control panel
• Chapter 3: Upgraded some graphical assets to high-res versions
• Chapter 3: Fixed minor graphical issue in the maw
• Chapter 3: Added auto save points

We hope you dig these tiny tweaks!

Cheers,

 - a

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dream a Little Dream of Me

This is a sneak peak behind the curtains of the game engine. It's basically how we set up every environment of the game. If the view looks unfamiliar it's because most of these objects are normally hidden from your view, but they affect the way Victor navigates and interacts in every scene regardless.

This – the very first thing you encounter – is unsurprisingly the one scene we've spent most hours tweaking. It's the point of contact for most players and therefore establishes the tone and the interaction rules for the rest of the game.

This first area serves several purposes:

• It establishes the dream theme that will become more important later in the game.
• We always wanted to start the game off in a self-contained area so the player could learn the basics before we started to layer in story and exploration.
• We also wanted to give the player a chance to sample the flavour of our puzzles before ramping up the difficulty.
• The most important purpose, though, is to give the player a sense of who they're going to play for the rest of the game. If you examine everything or try to combine everything with everything else, Victor's personality starts shining through.

On a not very related note, we're participating in the Steam Indie Game Sale. If you're still on the fence or want to purchase the game as a gift for a friend/loved one/respected compatriot/inferior collaborator/dull employee/about-to-be-dumped partner/distant yet strangely compelling relative/bribeable governmental official – now is the time!

Find out more here.

Cheers,

 - a

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chapter 4 & 5 progress report

It's tricky giving progress reports without spoiling content, but through years of hard research and development we found the perfect format: awkward squiggles drawn on an index card.

This is exactly how far we've come with Chapters 4 and 5. The orange represents our progress and the white fields are things still left to do.

We hope you like this little insight. Take it for what it is.

Squiggles.

Cheers,

 - a

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mr Morton Exit Left

[Chapter 2 SPOILER warning!]

First draft: Just trying to nail the general composition. We're going for a simple, sombre moment: Mr Morton dying at the foot of a tree. The lines in the image should lead the viewer's eyes towards Mr Morton's face, since this is his moment in the limelight.

Second draft: Combining the elements resulted in a flat image with low contrast range. Everything looks even and brown. Mr Morton is unfortunately lit. His face and body blends with the background, making the image a bit hard to read. It's also a bit claustrophobic. It feels as if we're invading Mr Morton's personal space, rather than kneeling down beside him to listen to his pained last words.

Third draft: Trying to address these problems. Opening the image up to give a sense of depth, making it feel less claustrophobic. Injecting some variety to colour and texture. Trying to establish more of a sense of the location by showing more gnarly roots and background.

We're still not 100% happy with this scene, but the problems now mainly lie with the dialogue (which is too long). Bumping the visual quality up helped, but I'm pretty sure we'll revisit this once the last chapters have been completed.

Do you like the improvements? What would you have done differently?

Cheers,

 - a

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Delicious Update

We've just released a small update to the game. Some minor gameplay bugs have been addressed, some graphics have been upgraded, and some new content has been added. I'll upload a new Steam version as soon as I can. The Steam version of the game has been updated as well.

• Engine: Prevented music from starting during loads
• Engine: Fixed bug that caused music to pause every other load
• Game: Upgraded some inventory icons to high-res versions
• Chapter 1: Added functionality to letterbox
• Chapter 1: Added water effects to Victor's dream
• Chapter 1: Tweaked Victor's dream
• Chapter 1: Upgraded letterbox background to high-res version
• Chapter 1: Upgraded lobby background to high-res version
• Chapter 1: Tweaked dialogue (breakfast scene)
• Chapter 1: Fixed spelling error (breakfast scene)
• Chapter 1: Fixed shower interaction
• Chapter 2: Upgraded dream tree background to high-res version
• Chapter 2: Upgraded Morton close-up to high-res version
• Chapter 2: Upgraded glasses close-up to high-res version
• Chapter 2: Upgraded statue eye close-ups to high-res versions
• Chapter 2: Upgraded stone hatch close-up to high-res version
• Chapter 2: Added will-o'-the-wisps to all dream close-ups
• Chapter 2: Fixed stirrup stone examination bug
• Chapter 2: Fixed basement defragmentation animation
• Chapter 2: Tweaked close-up of monitors
• Chapter 2: Tweaked gas machine close-up
• Chapter 3: Fixed badge graphic showing wrong number
• Chapter 3: Fixed behaviour on backmost deck chair

We hope you go nuts over all these delicious tweaks!

Oh, and enjoy the weekend!

Cheers,

 - a

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pixels or Death Feature

This feature goes into some of the reasons why Chapter 4 & 5 are taking so long. It makes for a great read! We recommend it!

Cheers,

 - a

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Chapter 4 Teaser

Progress on Chapter 4 has been quite good recently. So good in fact that we decided to bestow a little morsel upon you, our beloved players.

What's going on in the picture? Well, I guess you have to wait and see...

Cheers,

 - a

Friday, January 4, 2013

Steam Beta Patch

[UPDATE: The patch is now live for all to enjoy. Thank you to all who participated! We really appreciate if you report any problems you've been having.]

We're currently running a beta of the latest Steam patch. We've been hearing about some problems with the Mac version of the game, but we're hoping most of the issues have been solved by now. But in order to test this out, we're running a beta.

If you want to opt in and try it out, simply right click on The Dream Machine in your Steam games library, select Properties > Betas and then select "Public Beta - Jan 2013" in the drop down menu. The game should start to update immediately.

Aside from addressing Mac stability issues, this update contains the musical overhaul that we've rolled out during these past months.

Full patch notes:

• Engine: Rebuilt Mac version to address stability issues
• Engine: Changed how the save system works on Mac
• Engine: Added a save converter to update old saves on Mac
• Engine: Removed text-to-speech function on Mac
• Engine: Made it possible to click outside the walkable areas
• Engine: Removed the feet cursor indicating walkable areas
• Engine: Fixed Victor's dialogue being drawn too high on screen

• Engine: Musical system totally overhauled
• Game: Next chapter teaser texts now displays correctly
• Game: Music volume reduced by 60% when viewing menus
• Game: Displays overlay if helmet is worn when viewing a close-up

• Game: Added breathing sound when the helmet is worn
• Game: Swapped more graphical assets to high resolution
• Game: UI tweaked

• Chapter 1, 2 & 3: Reworked background tracks
• Chapter 2: Added telephone interactions

• Chapter 2: Fixed Victor's placement after visiting the dead blacksmith
• Chapter 2: Fixed navigation problem in Morton's basement
• Chapter 2: Fixed graphical bug during the machine's attack
• Chapter 3: Removed 'invisible' book in cabin 1
• Chapter 3: Fixed faucet related bugs
• Chapter 3: Autosave points added


As always, we really appreciate if you report any problems you're having.

Cheers,

 - a

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry X-mas Everyone!

Take it easy folks and see you next year. We're taking a few days off. And remember, if it feels like you're going slightly bonkers with all the Ho ho ho etc... You are not alone. We've begun testing (small scale) of our upcoming Chapter 4.

And no, we don't have a release date yet.

 Bye for now.

- E

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mac version on Steam

The latest Steam update caused some problems with the Mac version of the game. We're trying to fix it ASAP. But for now you can launch the game straight from the Finder.

Basically, right click the game in the Steam library. Select "Properites" and then the
"Browse local files" button under the "Local files" tab.

Our next Steam patch is done, but the Mac version is too unstable. We're working on that right now.

No date on the Chapter 4 release yet. Stay tuned.

Cheers,

 - a

Friday, October 19, 2012

Erik's Work Space

Erik just sent me this gorgeous photo of his workspace. I thought it was so lovely I needed to share it with you. If you've ever wondered how the game is made, this will give you an idea.

We hope you like it.

Cheers,

 - a

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Musical Update

We've been sitting on this update for a while now, ironing out the last few bugs. It contains some small changes and one big one: In order to facilitate the upcoming chapters we threw out the old music system and replaced it with a shiny brand new one.

With the new system, the music will just keep on playing when you transition between rooms (provided they play the same background tracks), seamlessly modulating the volume and pan of the track. The annoying dip into silence is a thing of the past! Adding background tracks has been made LOT easier – so a room can now have up to 99 simultaneous background drones, unnoticeably blending in and out while you walk around in the world. We also included functionality to make a sound source "wearable" so it tracks Victor (or whomever's wearing it) on-screen. This is used in Chapter 2 and 3, but will hopefully become more important during later chapters.

In a game so dependent on atmosphere and mood, making it easier to finesse the sound makes a huge difference. We really hope you'll like it!

Full patch notes:

• Engine: Musical system totally overhauled
• Chapter 1, 2 & 3: Reworked background tracks
• Chapter 2: Added telephone interactions
• Chapter 2: Fixed navigation problem in Morton's basement
• Chapter 2: Fixed graphical bug during the machine's attack
• Chapter 3: Removed 'invisible' book in cabin 1
• Chapter 3: Fixed faucet related bugs
• Chapter 3: Autosave points added
• Game: Next chapter teaser texts now displays correctly
• Game: Music volume reduced by 50% when viewing menus
• Game: Displays overlay if helmet is worn when viewing a close-up
• Game: UI tweaked

Cheers,

 - a

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Upcoming Patch

In the upcoming patch we decided to get slightly more ambitious with the way we handle sound in the game. More specifically, with how we handle the background drone tracks.

While working on the climax of Chapter 3, it became painfully apparent that the current music system was hopelessly lacking. Since the game will only become more and more dependent on music and sound in Chapter 4 & 5 we decided the time was ripe to chuck the old system and begin from scratch.

The old system could only handle one track and would fade that track out while transitioning from one room to the next. This was done so the music wouldn't become grating during a long load. The code was obviously written some time ago, when speedy connections were still pretty rare.

Nowadays, loading a room takes a few seconds or less, so the music never really becomes a problem.


With the new system, the music will just keep on playing when you transition between rooms (provided they play the same background track), seamlessly modulating the volume and pan of the track.

In the end, we hope adding background tracks will be a lot easier – so a room can have two (or more) background drones, unnoticeably blending while you walk around in the world. In a game so dependent on atmosphere and mood, these small system changes makes a huge impact and we really hope you'll like it.

We're also working on a system that broadcasts interactive hot spots if you press the space bar. Searching for what you can and can't interact with (pixel hunting) is one of the most tedious tropes of adventure gaming, and we're glad to see it alleviated.

Is there another feature you'd like to see in the game? More auto save points? More interactive objects? Just write a comment and we'll take your suggestion into account.

Cheers,

 - a

Monday, July 23, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Small Update

We've updated the game slightly. The biggest change is that the auto save now saves data to the cloud. This is done to make sure you don't loose any progress while playing the game and is done automatically. Hopefully you won't notice any change at all.

We've also gotten rid of the little foot cursor indicating where you can and can't go. Instead, if you click on an unwalkable area, Victor tries to walk as close as possible. The algorithm that guesses where you want to go is admittedly still a bit rough.

Here's the full run-down:

• Engine: Autosave now saves to the cloud
• Engine: Fullscreen mode is prohibited during log in
• Engine: Made it possible to click outside the walkable area
• Engine: Removed the feet cursor indicating walkable areas
• Engine: Fixed bug that occasionally caused Victor's dialogue to be drawn too high on screen
• Web: Minor UI tweaks added

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Dream Machine Patched

Our first major patch just went live on Steam!

Aside from various bug fixes it also upgrades most of the graphical assets from 900 x 600 resolution to 1800 x 1200. The bump in graphical fidelity makes a big difference, especially if you're on a high resolution display. We really hope you'll like it!

Here's the full content rundown:

Additions:

• Engine: Doubled the resolution of most graphical assets
• Engine: Tweaked UI to scale and perform better on high-res displays
• Engine: Game now boots in windowed mode if Fullscreen has been set to off (PC only)
• Chapter 1: Added tool tips during the first environment
• Chapter 1: Added 50 new interaction options

Bug fixes:

• Engine: Fixed crash on launch that happened on OSX 10.7
• Engine: Game now correctly saves settings when using keyboard short-cut to toggle Fullscreen mode
• Chapter 1: Fixed a bug that would cause the game to freeze when talking to the old lady twice
• Chapter 1: Fixed bug that would cause dialogue related to the torn note to show up too early
• Chapter 1: Fixed interactivity on floorboard showing up too early
• Chapter 3: Fixed rare occurrence of all letters in the blackmail puzzle showing up as 'A'
• Chapter 3: Fixed various typos

Cheers,

 - a

Monday, May 14, 2012

Steam Launch!

As you may have noticed already, The Dream Machine has been launched on Steam! Go to the page below to check it out in all its glory:

Steam Store: The Dream Machine

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Steam Launch Trailer

In celebration of the upcoming Steam release, we decided to release a launch trailer for the game.

We hope you like it!

Check it out here!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The "Secret" Feature

The new "secret" Steam feature we've hinted at is an accessibility aide that reads all dialogue aloud through your computer's text-to-speech converter.

It's mainly intended as a help for people who have problems reading tiny text, but it's also a really fun/strange way to experience the game a-new if you're already familiar with it. I wouldn't recommend it on a first playthrough though, since it tends to skew the tone of the game towards the comical...

Cheers,

 - a

Friday, May 4, 2012

Victor speaks...


The Dream Machine is coming to Steam!

We're thrilled to announce that The Dream Machine is coming to Steam! The launch day is set for May 11th, so the wait is almost over. Expect more announcements with details etc. before out strange little baby goes buck wild on the Steam network!

Cheers,

 - a

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Leisure Suit Larry

I thought we were being pretty edgy and experimental keeping track of what players do in The Dream Machine, but I just found out Sierra On-Line used a similar data-driven development model for Leisure Suit Larry waaay back in 1987.

Ouch!

Here's a quote from Al Lowe himself, who's doing an AMA over at Reddit right now:

"It was the first game we beta tested at Sierra. I wrote a module that recorded what you were doing when you asked a question the game didn't understand. The beta testers collected the text file created and mailed them to me on a floppy disk by horse back. I then sorted them and made sure the game had some sort of answer for everything they asked. So the games owes its intelligence to the beta testers."

I highly recommend the rest of the AMA if you're interested in old-school adventure games. It makes for a great read!

Cheers,

 - a

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Footsteps Redux

We've completely reworked the footstep system in the game. It's not the sexiest update so far, but it was in dire need of an overhaul.

Footsteps now propagate dynamically depending on where the characters are on screen, and instead of 4 steps per floor material we now have more than 20 per surface.

It makes a surprising amount of difference.

Cheers,

 - a

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Indie Game Challenge

We're thrilled to announce that The Dream Machine was selected as one of the 10 finalists in this years Indie Game Challenge!

Visit the web page below and vote for The Dream Machine! Please, please, please!

Indie Game Challenge 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In protest of SOPA & PIPA

We quote: "PROTECT-IP is a bill that has been introduced in the US Senate and the House and is moving quickly through Congress. It gives the US government and corporations the ability to censor the net, in the name of protecting 'creativity'. The law would let the government or corporations censor entire sites -- they just have to convince a judge that the site is 'dedicated to copyright infringement.'

The US government has already wrongly shut down sites without any recourse to the site owner. Under this bill, sharing a video with anything copyrighted in it, or what sites like Youtube and Twitter do, would be considered illegal behavior according to this bill."

Learn more here

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Massive Update!

In celebration of the new year, we released another update to the game. This time we added 75 new interactions possibilities to Chapter 1 and 2, and over 130 new interaction possibilities to Chapter 3.

Through the magic of Google Analytics, we can see whenever a player tries to combine objects unsuccessfully. Every so often we add proper responses to the top failed interaction attempts, instead of leaving the boring standard 'That doesn't seem to work'. Our goal is that every single interaction possibility will eventually have a proper response.

At this stage, the things we're adding to Chapter 1 and 2 pretty much fall into the 'strange & rare' category. For instance, attacking the bedroom pillow with the crowbar now has a proper response. In Chapter 3 we're still seeing some confusion during some of the harder puzzles. If a lot of people are trying to use every single inventory object on everything in the scene, it's a pretty good indicator that more tweaks and hints are required.

From a game design point of view, it's also important that the stimulus-response cycle never gets predictable. If you keep getting the same response no matter how you interact with the world, you will get bored very quickly. It's the equivalent of getting exactly the same loot drop every time you kill a monster in Diablo.

We don’t track who did what. All that happens when you attempt an interaction is that a counter increases by 1. So if seven people try to smear baby oil on the radiator in the bed room we just see something like this: "Chapter 1:Bedroom:Use baby oil on radiator:7".

Personally, I'm very fond of this data-driven approach to game design, since it makes the player an active part of the process. I look forward to taking this approach to the next level once The Dream Machine is done and dusted.

Development news on Chapter 4 will follow in the next post. Stay tuned!

Cheers,

 – a

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Million Dollar Question

Question: I don't like that you're spending time writing progress reports/posting things on Facebook. Why don't you just focus on getting Chapter 4 done?

Answer: I'm glad you ask! We like to communicate with people and make sure everyone knows where we're at. During production of Chapter 3, we mainly focused on getting the chapter done, which ended up with us not communicating with those people who were eagerly waiting. It's a mistake we hope not to repeat.

As strange as it sounds, writing these types of updates also save us time. We receive quite a lot of mails various types of reports, and instead of answering individual emails – even though we do that as well – this general approach is a lot more efficient.

We also regard the blog/Twitter/Facebook as ways of chronicling whatever's going on with the game, so we try to update it as often as we can. Hopefully we'll add a lot more to it in the coming weeks.


Stay tuned!

Cheers,

 – a

Developing Chapter 4

Chapter 3 seems to have reached a pretty solid state by now. We're still receiving the odd bug report once in a while, but overall we're pretty happy with where we're at. If you find something you think seems strange, don't hesitate sending a line or two at this address:

tdmfeedback at-sign cockroach.se


Development on Chapter 4 is under way, and has so far produced some stunning looking sets. Chapter 4 will be the longest of all the chapters, but it's also a chapter where we revisit some familiar locations, so hopefully that'll keep production manageable.

Right now, Erik is working on some of the new sets, while I'm doing some much needed engine tweaks. Hopefully these tweaks will allow us to produce and implement content faster than before. I'm not a programmer, but so far I'm pretty chuffed.

We know we're straining your patience with our slightly spaced out release schedule, but judging by what we've seen so far, we think they'll be worth the wait.

We love you.

Cheers,

 – a

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chapter 3 updated!

We just uploaded a massive new update to Chapter 3. More than 200 interaction possibilities were added.

Cheers,

 - a