Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Interactive Dreaming - Barbie Did It First

The other day I was watching my girlfriend play a few old 8-bit Nintendo games. One of which was Barbie. I remembered seeing my sister play that game when I was younger. The main thing I remember about the game was that I found it to be way too hard to be a "little girls game". Another thing I remembered was the strange setting of the game.

 Barbie was a platform game, meaning you walked from side to side while jumping and avoiding obstacles and enemies. Each level was a "dream", and Barbie must collect "Zs" to avoid her dream from ending. If it does, she sits up in bed and has the option of waking up or going back to sleep.

These concepts of the Barbie NES game are nearly identical to ones I am using in my new interactive fiction, Interactive Dreaming. In the case of my game, five levels of "anxiety" are used instead of "Zs". Once your anxiety is filled, you are also then sitting up in your own bed and contemplating the same choice. However, a couple of differences with my game is that you may not always return to the same "stage" as Barbie did, and there's also another factor which may cause your dream to fade; lucidity.

Still, I was amused at the similarities. I've tried thinking of other games that follow a similar model, but I can't really think of any. If anyone reading this thinks of one, let me know. Nightmare on Elm Street (also for NES) came to mind as well, but the point of that games was actually to not fall asleep.

Right now in the development process of Interactive Dreaming, I'm almost through the prototype and planning stage. I've shifted more towards actually producing content for the game (although some of the images used are place-holders for now) while polishing the general design framework of it, including the conversation system. Although I intend for the first installment of this game to be rather short, it will probably end up being a non-competition release unless the timing is right. This way, I will take plenty of time to polish and test things.


  1. hey that sounds awesomystical! i fucks with some lucid dreaming! have u seen Waking Life? Inception? have u had lucid dreams yourself? i had a rash of them for a few months a few years back and then they stopped and never had em since, lol. crazy shit. u should make it so that the player gains more control of the lucid dream the more he does it, cuz thats how it worked for me. pEaCe ~cory

  2. This is the first time I'd heard of Waking Life, I'm going to check that out. Inception I tried to watch twice and (ironically) fell asleep both times. Haha!

    Yes, I myself have lucid dreams and have for some time. I had one a few nights ago where I was on a sand dune and decided to pick up the sand and run it between my fingers just to see if it felt real, because I knew I was dreaming.

    And actually I AM making it so that the player has more control and can make out more detail when at a high lucidity level, but doing so comes with the risk of the dream fading. I find in real life dreaming that high lucidity is reached just before waking up.

    Thanks for your interest, ezfreemann!

  3. no prob, but DEF check out Waking Life. my friend Wiley Wiggins is in it. he was the long-haired freshman in Dazed & Confused. but Waking Life is about this guy trapped in a lucid dream, and he even hears about Oneironauts (people who explore the dream world). but the movie is also very talky (you'll see what i mean) but i really liked it. its a trip.

  4. oh, and do yourself a favor and stay awake thru Inception!!!