Interview: Few people would have been aware, when they were voting DREAM through the Steam Greenlight process, that the team behind one of Greenlight’s earliest success stories had yet to make it out of university. Dream is their first game. It’s been in creation for three months. When Valve sent the team a congratulatory email, their first response was to send one back: ‘is this a hoax?’
Dream was one of the first ten games to make it through the Steam Greenlight process, you’re here demoing the game at the Eurogamer Expo, but who exactly are you?
Sam Read: We’re Hyper Sloth, three students from Huddersfield university. We’ve done two years of studying and now we’ve taken the year off to start our own company. We’re making our first game, Dream, which we’re hoping to bring out next year.
How did the project come about?
Ashley Sidebottom: We met Lewis [Bibby] at uni. He had the concept for Dream down but it wasn’t quite there, it didn’t feel right. So we got together, formed the company and scrapped just about everything he had.
Sam Read: Lewis really likes exploration games and I really don’t like those type of games, so I saw it as big challenge to make an exploration game that I or a larger audience would enjoy.
You mention LSD (the game) and Yume Nikki on the Dream Greenlight page, what will players recognise from those games in Dream?
Sam Read: Really we just wanted to bring more of the craziness (of LSD). When you start dreaming you go into three main worlds and branching off from them are side dreams which are going to be much smaller but they’re going to be the more trippy dreams.
The more obvious point of reference would appear to be Dear Esther but I heard you refuting that.
Sam Read: When we first started designing the game, because it was a year ago we were in pre-production, we pretty much designed Dear Esther. Then Dear Esther came out which meant we couldn’t make Dream anymore. So we saw what they did and took all that on board but we wanted Dream to play more like a [traditional] game. So we’ve added things like the inventory and the collectible system. There’s the horror element too, so there’s actually something in the world with you. We’ve looked at Dear Esther and we really like that game, but at the same time we want to be our own thing.
Moving onto Greenlight, did you anticipate being one of the first ten games to be green lit when you submitted Dream?
Sam Read: No. We went on and made it to something like five percent in the first week and we were saying to ourselves, ‘Christmas. We’ll be on there by Christmas.’ When Steam emailed us I immediately emailed back and asked ‘is this a hoax?’ But it wasn’t and we’re on. It’s amazing.
Ashley Sidebottom: It’s been really good; getting support and feedback from the community really helps us to build a better game.
Greenlight has been criticised from all angles, but what has the overall experience been like for you, particularly working with Valve?
Ashley Sidebottom: The support has been incredible.
Sam Read: Because we got in on day one we didn’t have to pay the [$100] fee so we weren’t affected by that. Steam have been great and we know a lot of guys there now. When it comes to the fee, I can’t really talk about it because we’ve not been affected, but because it goes to charity I think it’s a good idea. If you’re really serious about a game $100 is not a lot. So I stand by that as a good idea.
Ashley Sidebottom: I think the fee is more than reasonable. The funds go to charity and it filters out all the junk. I saw someone trying to trade a game on there, so with all that gone it helps the serious developers be seen.