Colour-by-buttons World (2020)

Available on Dreams (PS4)

First written: 2020.08.22

Dreams (Media Molecule, 2020) is one of the best games ever created. But to call it a game seems silly, since it defies categorization: it's game creation software, and a social network in which to share, play, and remix games.

Pay attention to the remix word, as this is why the software is ahead of its time: almost everything in Dreams is created by players, and almost everything can be copied, remixed, and used at will. This includes music, sculptures, animations, paintings, sound effects, logic,... if it's in Dreams, you can probably remix it. This means that when you make a game in the software, you don't need to build everything by yourself. You automatically have access to an ever-expanding open source library of content. If you want to share what you've made, you can upload that creation to the cloud and others can use it too.

I started exploring the software in May of 2020. I think the best way to learn any software is to make something with it, so I started making some short games with it. I expected that making 3-5 games would be enough to gain a solid understanding of the software. I made a virtual escape room, a 3D platformer about boats, a 2D platformer about cameras, and then Color-by-buttons World.

I had originally planned to make another 2D platformer based around manipulating gravity and release the 2D platformers as collection, but after releasing Colour-by-buttons World I felt that I had gained a detailed understanding of the software. I had also grown tired of creating new puzzles unrelated to mathematics, and I wanted to think directly about communicating mathematics instead. That lead me to create Symbiosis the following year.

As of September 2022, Colour-by-buttons World has been played by more than 5500 people for a collective time of more than a month — which is nice, considering it took me about a month to make! It was chosen by the developers of Dreams as a "Mm Pick", meaning Media Molecule considers the game one of the best on the platform.