Dreams, Media Molecule's impressive creation tool that launched earlier this year on PlayStation 4, hasn't made the same cultural splash as LittleBigPlanet. But its dedicated and talented community is absolutely out there making really spectacular stuff for it, and every so often, I stumble across something that gets me to wonder how the heck they're pulling it off.
Which brings me to Xerxes Shadow.
For a while, I toyed with writing a deliberately cheeky headline about how it gives a game like Star Citizen, a space sim in development for more than 10 years and with the backing of hundreds of millions of dollars, a run for its money. But that's only because Xerxes Shadow, an in-development game to be later published through Dreams, looks legitimately great.
The game's developer, who goes by lv-426b online, promises Xerxes Shadow will eventually have a full campaign, complete with voice acting, 35 missions, crafting, upgrades, and more. It's really lofty and understandable you might think they're full of shit, given how many fan projects with similar aspirations eventually disappear into the Internet's ether, but given how good Xerxes Shadow already looks, I'm willing to Fox Mulder it. I want to believe, you know?
Lv-426b has been working on Xerxes Shadow for the past 14 months, they told VICE Games recently. They are handling the coding and design on their own, but are bouncing ideas off another writer on the project, and regularly ask the Dreams community to beta test.
Everything you see in the trailer was made in Dreams, and lv-426b described the process of making Xerxes Shadow as good as it looks as "trial and error." Remember, people aren't sitting at their computers and making these games with keyboards and mice, but at their PlayStation 4 and using a controller. It's also possible to use the console's Move controllers, but at the time of the day, these are altogether unconventional tools for game development.
"Like any other package the more knowledge you gain the easier it is," said lv-426b.
Despite being made and likely published in Dreams, lv-426b retains the rights to Xerxes Shadow, should they choose to start building the game in something like Unity or Unreal Engine. You can't export a Dreams game to another engine, though earlier in the year the studio launched a program to allow some creators to share their works outside the game.
As for when the broader public might be able to play it, lv-426b said it's "going to be a while yet," with another two acts of campaign missions to be written and recorded for the game.