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The Dream Machine gives away its first two chapters for a limited time

The Dream Machine image

Also! New content, Steam achievements, soundtrack & more!

Most of you only came here for the free game tag, and that's cool; The Dream Machine is this stop motion weird surreal point and click that's well worth checking out. And now you can! The first few chapters are free for a while whereas the rest of the chapters are heavily discounted. This is to tie in with the fact it's been ten years since Cockroach Inc. started working on their bizarre little game. So, yeah, feel free to give Steam a visit and give it all a look.

But, for the interested, the developers have also released quite a long statement, talking about the game's history and the improvements they've recently made. I'll include it below:




People of Earth!

It's been four years since we released the final chapter of The Dream Machine, concluding a journey almost ten years in the making. We thought that was worth celebrating, and therefore we decided to make this update a little extra special!

The story of the game

14 years ago Erik and I were working 9 to 5 jobs we didn't really like. We were unhappy and both of us had considered quitting several times. Occasionally we'd call each other to stave off the boredom. During some of these calls, we started talking about that time during childhood when you did things just for the joy of it. Back when you'd start a drawing in one corner of a piece of paper and didn't stop until you'd filled the entire page.

During one of these calls, Erik mentioned that he'd like to attempt making a game using stop-motion animation. I immediately protested since I knew how time-consuming stop-motion animation is to create, but in order to prove me wrong, Erik sat up all night and created five little dioramas just to show me it could be done.

When I woke up the next morning I had an e-mail waiting for me with some tests he'd shot just before crashing to bed.

Sipping on my morning coffee I tried to take in what he'd done.

The sets were rough, sure, but their charm was also undeniable. They were beautiful in a skewed and crude kind of way. He’d obviously done them really quickly because you could see the paint was still running and had some fingerprints here and there. But they just had this evocative and engaging quality to them.

In some shots, he had lined them up to form a bizarre corridor, with a thick vault door hindering your progress. It kind of looked like a game. I wanted to walk around in them, try opening that door, push all the buttons, turn all the knobs.

After that, there was no turning back...

Based on those early tests, we thought we might be able to shake loose some grant money, but the deadline for that was two days away and we didn't yet have an idea for the game. So I went home, thought about what might be a fruitful premise, and remembered something I'd been fascinated by since back at animation school, where Erik and I met.

While at school, I'd read about John C. Lilly’s experiments with Ketamine and LSD. He had had this wonderful notion that he visited an alternative reality when he was tripping. A reality that we share with other people, a collective unconscious, with a coherent geography. He would lie with a notepad next to his bed so he could draw geographical features once he sobered up. He would encourage several of his friends to do the same. They’d draw coastlines and landmarks, noting down topological features, statues, cities, etc. They believed that if they had enough of these drawings, they could start piecing them together in an effort to create a cohesive chart of this shared human subconscious.

I thought that was one of the best ideas I’d ever heard, beautifully and wildly bonkers. I just had to use that for something.

So with that as the game's foundational idea, I wrote a pitch about a young couple, an apartment complex, and exploring your neighbors' dreams against their will.

Believe it or not, that pitch got approved and landed us enough money so we could both resign from our 9 to 5 jobs and start working on The Dream Machine full time for a while. We thought the whole thing would take about a year to create, but as time went on we got more and more captivated by the world we were creating, ambitions grew and before we knew it, we'd been taken hostage by our own project.

The project ran out of money several times during production, but we always managed to somehow persevere and make it to the next release, and then to the one after that – until we had finished the whole game, ten years later.

None of us knew that it would take ten years to make. If we had, we wouldn't have started in the first place. But it was a labor of love, for both of us. It allowed us to get lost in the woods. It occasionally drove us crazy. It's the single most challenging project we've ever undertaken.

We're both immensely proud of what we accomplished.

In order to share it with more players, we've decided to make the first two chapters free for a week.

If this is the first time you get to play The Dream Machine – then welcome! We hope you'll enjoy exploring the dreams within!

If you've already played it and have been waiting for an excuse to revisit, now just might be the time...

Achievements

Since we released Chapter 6, we've continuously updated and improved on the game – fixing bugs, adding features – but in recognition of this anniversary, we thought we'd aim for something slightly more ambitious...

A lot of you have been asking for achievements and although it took us a while – we can now proudly say that we finally implemented achievements into The Dream Machine!

We hope you'll enjoy collecting them!

Soundtrack

Aside from that, we're also releasing the game's soundtrack. That was the second most requested feature, so we're thrilled to be able to cross that off our To-Do list as well!

We hope you'll dig it!

But wait... There's more!

The unsung hero of this update is the slew of improvements and bug fixes that we've implemented over the course of the past months. Read all about them in the list below! Some aren't very glamorous or life-altering but sprinkled in here and there you might find additions that are, eh, surprisingly meaty...

SPOILER WARNING: The descriptions below are purposefully vague, but if you want to avoid anything that might potentially spoil the nature of the new additions – don't read the list.

Change-log
Game: Added achievements to all chapters
Game: Released the soundtrack for the game
Game: Overhauled the UI
Game: Fixed task list bug
Game: Added option to toggle interaction hot-spots on or off in the settings menu
Game: Removed requirement to use the key to access the basement beyond Chapter 2
Game: Added alternative ending
Game: Added dream
Game: Added location
Game: Added character
Game: Added a new quest-line
Game: Fixed typos
Chapter 1: Removed legacy code
Chapter 1: Improved log placement sound effect in Victor's dream
Chapter 1: Added interactions
Chapter 1: Improved navigation
Chapter 1: Tweaked mover dialogue
Chapter 1: Tweaked Alicia dialogue
Chapter 2: Tweaked bookshelf books
Chapter 3: Solved a graphical issue in the fuse box scene
Chapter 4: Tweaked phone behavior in Edie’s dream
Chapter 4: Fixed dialogue bug
Chapter 5: Tweaked mob dialogue
Chapter 5: Tweaked knight dialogue
Chapter 5: Tweaked dream machine dialogue
Chapter 5: Tweaked map descriptors
Chapter 6: Tweaked prayer options
Chapter 6: Fixed Neff kitchen interaction hotspots
Chapter 6: Tweaked rat dialogue

The Mac version doesn't unlock Steam achievements (for technical reasons), but you'll unlock them in-game regardless.

We hope you enjoy the update! Don't be shy if you encounter any problems in the game.


EmP's avatar
Staff article by Gary Hartley (May 16, 2021)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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jerec posted May 16, 2021:

I have the whole series in my Steam library, despite not making it far into the first chapter. If they have improved it, I'll need to give it another go.
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honestgamer posted May 16, 2021:

Looks like I own it too, which I find to be the case as often as not, thanks to all of the Humble Bundle shopping I used to do.
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EmP posted May 17, 2021:

My plan is to continue reporting on Steam giveaways when I see them purely so an excited Jason Venter can run off to his Steam account and then be mildly annoyed to discover he already owns the game on offer.
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honestgamer posted May 17, 2021:

I suspected such a thing might be happening. I bet you load up a game profile when you see it is offered for free, then check to make sure I'm one of the friends listed who already owns the game. If you see my avatar on the list, then reporting it is clearly a go.

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