Early Look @ MyDream

MyDream is an upcoming voxel exploration and creation sandbox, incorporating elements of RPGs, and aims to encourage players to create worlds and tasks for each other. It successfully reached its Kickstarter funding goals last month, and is currently in a private beta for PC users, with a mac release under development. With a description like the one below, how could I not be eager to try it out?

Realistic sandbox multiplayer with beautiful voxel graphics and a “rocking” RPG system

Exploring was an enjoyable experience, although even basic environments were taking some time to load. The main aim is to wander around vast generated landscapes, within which you can alter anything around you with your… magic future space gauntlet? Although it feels a little bit too convenient to me, I can see the benefit of having one tool no matter what material you’re working with, and it makes interacting with the environment very easy.

While the expansive dunes and towering cliffs are visually impressive, there was something about the combinations of the textures and shadows that at times made it very difficult for me to judge distance and depth - there were situations where I would dig my way underground and then be incapable of figuring out how big the space I’d made was or where I’d come in from, without simply ramming my face into the wall and edging my way around. Despite this issue, the landscapes are varied and impressive, and the skies are lovely and atmospheric. Plus, there’s something very satisfying about carving your way through solid rock with some sort of handheld laser.

a generated hilly environment

A generated hilly environment.

One of the most compelling gameplay elements is the ease of visiting other ‘worlds.’ Just select one from a list (that you can order based off a variety of attributes), and off you go. Unfortunately there’s no way to know what you’re going find when you get there and I ran through 6 or 7 empty worlds before coming across anything of interest, but there were one or two that seemed to be getting into the spirit of things – I died repeatedly testing out a fairly brutal labyrinth and spent a good 20 minutes wandering around an impressive if seemingly functionless desert village.

There is a world rating system in place so hopefully with more players it will be become easier to see at a glance which worlds will be worth visiting. Players can also create quests in their world for visitors to complete, which is a great idea (depending on the malevolence of the quest creator).

One thing that did become apparent to me very quickly once I started build my own world was that although some items are placed voxel style, the vast majority of elements come in cubes or cylinders only. There’s still a lot you can do there, but it feels a little disappointing after the promise of malleable voxel creations.

spawn points are  highlighted which makes them easier to locate

Spawn points are highlighted which makes them easier to locate.

The idea in general is superb – endless exploration, creating your own quests for other players, hopping through worlds to find new lands and new friends. There are plans for a wide variety of biomes to choose for the basis of your world, a solid looking in game social system, and rewards for your creations based on how much others enjoyed them.

Although not all the features described on their Kickstarter are implemented yet, it looks like there are some good additions further along the line. It will be interesting to see how well these ideas are realised and how they effect the adventure experience, as playing can currently feel a little empty. One plan that stood out is the intention to introduce rock based native creatures that you can collect and raise or even harvest and combine (which is vaguely horrifying without any more information). It sounds like a nice side quest addition, like some sort of mineral based familiar system to help enrich your journey, but my enthusiasm for them fell when I encountered the released designs.

rock creatures

Please don’t come near me.

I’m not sure I want to collect those. I’m not sure I even want to be near them, and the Kickstarter ominously mentions that you’ll have to keep them happy or there might be ‘trouble.’ Oh good, because I wanted them to have the potential to be more horrifying. Superb.

When looking at MyDream it’s hard to avoid the glaring, elephant-in-the-room comparison to Minecraft. Player created environments, crafting, levelling up a character by participating in the game, and stretch goals involving a survival mode full of night monsters and a farming and livestock system. MyDream has a lot to compete against, and while its plans are ambitious and engaging they feel slightly unfocused at the moment.

I enjoyed the world hopping and sprawling environments, but the issue I came across quickly was that I didn’t find any compelling reason to keep playing. It’s easy to dig your way through solid rock for 15 minutes and not come across anything interesting, and walking through miles of dunes doesn’t feel hugely fun in terms of sandbox exploration. Hopefully with the continued work, MyDream will pull together into a genuinely dreamlike adventure, but for the moment it has a way to go.

the author

Thryn is a multimedia designer who loves unique artwork, strong narrative and teamwork. Also huge quantities of fancy tea. Find her on twitter @Thairyn