I recently had the pleasure to discuss the details of Wake the Dreamer, an upcoming mobile game about dream-land, real world, and trying piece your life together, with Ali Sakhapour. Ali was kind enough to fill in some lingering questions we have about the game. You can get more information Wake The Dreamer by checking out our recent preview, or heading over to the Kickstarter.
Cliqist : Firstly, could you tell me a little bit about Wake The Dreamer for our readers who are unfamiliar with the game?
Ali Sakhapour : ‘Wake the Dreamer‘ is a game about a character, that the players create at the start of the game, that is unhappy about his life. He’s single, living in a rundown apartment and is jobless. So at the very beginning their character doesn’t have a very positive outlook on life. It’s up to the players to guide their character through life while interacting with them (similar to virtual pets but more in depth) while actively making choices with real repercussions. All the while, a mysterious character by the name of Sand is beginning to show some interest in not just the players’ character, but the players themselves as well. In order to figure out what’s really going on, players must explore their characters real life as well as their dreams. This includes finding a better job, exploring romance options, and all around trying to help their character improve his life.
Cliqist : Where did the idea for Wake the Dreamer come from?
Ali Sakhapour : I had the idea actually while in class. I was about to graduate from Art Center College of Design with the fear of not finding a job looming over me. I think a lot of people have that fear, and for me exploring a story that explores some of the issues that I’m going through really helps to get through them. I was also at a point in my life, and arguably still am, that I was beginning to get tired of being told that dreams are just that; dreams. That I needed to live ‘in the real world’ and get a normal job so I can live a normal life and be able to support myself. Although some part of that is true, we all need to survive, I think it’s an incredibly disappointing thing to be told that you can’t do what you want to do in life. So that’s where I based the underlining premise of the game, though it began to take a more mysterious turn as I continued to work on the idea. It then became more about exploring dreams, both literally and figuratively, and overcoming hardships in order to achieve what you want.
Ali Sakhapour : Although the game runs in real time, again like a virtual pet sim, it’s going to be designed to be played in short spurts of 20-40 minute intervals. If the player wants that is. But by having it run in real time, it allows players to live their lives in conjunction with their character. Since the character they create doesn’t represent an avatar of the player, it actually is a 2 dimensional being that exists in what we call the ‘Microverse’, players can send their character to work before they themselves go to work. Then on their lunch break or any other point in their day that they’ve got some free time, they can either explore the real world of their character or their characters’ dream world. Or, they can simply check in to see what their character is up to. Are they talking to colleagues? Or are they busy slaving away at work? Either way, if the character is at their job, he’s earning some form of income that the players can then use to purchase in game equipment or other goodies.
Ali Sakhapour : I guess what inspired us the most is life. Once players have helped their character, or not since it’s their choice, we’re hoping people will begin to question their lives. Are they happy with where they’re at? Do they have some dreams or anything at all that they’ve always wanted to do but either weren’t able to before (hey, life happens) or were too scared to pursue? Is there anything they could do to push through the obstacles? In a way, we want people to live vicariously through their character while being able to take something meaningful away from the experience. At least, that’s the hope.
Ali Sakhapour : We’re developing the game for mobile platforms currently, iOS and Android, because we want players to be able to take their character with them wherever they go. I think allowing people to do that will help to solidify the idea that they’re living with their character as opposed to playing a bit at home, turning the game off and having the game world pause. Though, we are considering other platforms but haven’t committed to them yet. It largely depends on the support we get from the community and what other platforms people really want to see the game on.
Cliqist : It’s an interesting balance: the gameplay of the real world is a bit more tranquil and slow-paced by the dream world is completely action packed and unpredictable. Why create practically separate genres for each world?
Ali Sakhapour : We wanted to have an even balance between sim game and action game. So what we’re trying to do is fuse both together so that it flows naturally. It will, hopefully, feel fresh to the players to be able to get a break from fighting and be able to relax a bit and explore/customize things in the ‘real world’, but when they get bored of that they can easily jump into the ‘dream world’ and explore side quests and other story related content. We believe that this will offer a fun and dynamic experience to players, depending on the sort of mood they’re in at the time.
Ali Sakhapour : Absolutely! Both worlds will be interrelated. What players are going to find is that the choices you make in either the real world or the dream world will have direct outcomes in its counterpart. For example, in the trailer when the player gets to make a choice on who to save after the hull breach on the ship, the reason the girl, Farah, is even in the dream is because in the characters’ real world she lives in his apartment building. He doesn’t know her directly, at first, but has a small crush on her. Should the players pursue that romance option, they’ll begin to see references in the dream world because of it. Why is this happening you might wonder? How can something in your dreams begin to influence the real world? Or is the character just crazy? Maybe there’s something unusual going on? That’s something the players will have to find out as they continue the main storyline.
Cliqist : In the “real world,” the player interacts with the main character in almost a simulation setting where they have complete control over his actions, where he goes, etc. In the dream state, can players expect just as much freedom on their part or is every dream organized and set ahead of time?
Ali Sakhapour : Yes, we’re shooting to have both the real world and the dream world fully explorable whenever the player chooses to do so.
Cliqist : I’m a real sucker for pixel art, but I’m curious, why was pixel art the style you went with? Most mobile games go with a bit of a hand-drawn vectorized or 3D appearance, so a mobile game with pixel art stands out quite a bit.
Ali Sakhapour : Haha. I also love pixel art. That’s partly why we decided to go with pixel art. Super Brothers: Sword and Sworcery also really influenced. It almost feels like you’re looking at a painting with that game, and that’s a similar feeling we want to try to capture with our game. I was never really a fan of vector based images and animations. I’m not sure why, I guess it’s just an aesthetic thing that varies from person to person.
Cliqist : If you had to pick 5 words to sum up Wake The Dreamer, what would they be?
Ali Sakhapour : If I had to pick 5 words to sum up Wake the Dreamer, I guess they’d be:
Exploration, Personalization, Choices, Emotion, and of course Epic.
Thanks to Ali for taking the time to answer my questions! If you’d like to learn more about Wake The Dreamer head over to its Kickstarter campaign.
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