Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (John Walker)

The Dream Machine‘s episodic structure has been… sporadic. Chapters one and two came out in January 2011, with the rest promised soon after. Chapter 3 appeared in November 2011, taking longer than expected. Which was nothing compared to chapter 4, which finally appeared in August 2013. It was quite a wait, and rather a short entry. It’s been slightly over a year since, and now we have Chapter 5 – the biggest part of the game yet. Here’s wot I think.>

… [visit site to read more]

Community Announcements - Cockroach
We did this neat interview with WIRED a while back, but they only had the editorial space to publish a fraction of it. So we thought it might be a good idea to use this space to publish it in its entirety. Because it's a pretty good interview, all things considered. It would be a shame to waste all these delicious answers.

We hope you like it and we hope you have a great weekend! On that order.


- a

What is the most difficult thing about the "hand-made" process you chose for The Dream Machine? And why is it still worth it?

Anders: I haven’t actually built anything in the game, so my perspective is probably different from Erik’s. For me, the hardest part is the amount of planning that goes into making these chapters. Building things by hand is obviously a very linear medium. You have to plan things out ahead. If you change your mind halfway through, you can’t just revert to an older copy of the file. Major changes often means starting over from scratch. So you have to break down the individual scenes and have clear ideas at the start of the process. What type of environments do we need? What moods should they evoke? What are the puzzles? What part of the story will be told? Why items should populate them?

Erik: The handmade process in itself is not the biggest hurdle. Working for many years, keeping focus and energy up is more of an issue. Motivation. Creating something as big and crazy as The Dream Machine has really been worth it, for me at least. It’s the first time I have pushed my limits, really exploring to see what’s on the other side. You’ll never learn anything good if you don't take any risks.

Anders: I second that. It has been totally worth it. It’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted so far. But also the most rewarding. We’ve poured so much time and effort and love into this thing – it truly is an insane effort. I’m confident that will shine through to the player in the end.

Can you describe what happens when the very tactile materials – clay and cardboard – hit the digital realm? In other words: How do these two worlds enhance each other?

Erik: Good question.

Anders: A digital pipeline lets you lock down your assets later on. It’s easier to backtrack and make adjustments late in the process. If you do everything by hand, and then discover you’ve made a mistake, you might be forced to start over entirely. Or at least make creative use of what you’ve got. Surprisingly enough, we found it was often better to change the design to fit the build, rather than rebuilding to fit the design. It was a way for us to allow some whimsy into the design process. If you pre-plan everything down to the finest details, it will eventually feel like you’re just mindlessly executing on someone else's ideas. So we tried to stay open to accidental design opportunities whenever we could.

Quite often Erik would build things that looked far more interesting than my crude sketches called for. And as a player, if something looks interesting, I get disappointed if it doesn’t have some significance attached to it. So I found myself going back, tweaking some objects interactions as I went along. Sometimes just a little. Sometimes a lot. I have to say, some of these objects really took on a life of their own and started demanding all kinds of added importance. For example, the teddy bear late in Chapter 4. He was originally just supposed to sit in the background, as a forlorn toy. Nothing else. But once I saw Erik’s build, I wanted to see him up close, I wanted to see him blink, I started getting ideas for what he might say, what he might sound like. And before I knew it, he had his own little scene in the game. If Erik had built something less interesting looking, that scene probably wouldn’t be in the game at all. And now it’s my favourite thing in Chapter 4. I love being able to let the game itself dictate what it wants to be in this way.

Erik: You know, all that matters is matter. Our physical bodies are made up of stardust. To build stuff by hand, putting it out there for another person to experience, that’s almost a religious experience for me. It’s a way of handling the great questions about the meaning of life and death and how everything is connected. When I dig my hands into dirt and clay, creating the worlds in The Dream Machine, I think of it as my way of creating a ghost in the machine, so to speak. Taking something from the idea world into the real one. It’s some kind of animism in this digital age.
Dec 2, 2014
Community Announcements - Cockroach

We're trying out a new format for these updates. Usually we drop these updates in one big chunk at the end of the month, but during launches it's better to fix problems continuously. So we'll be adding to this list throughout December.

Below you'll find the contents of each update as we release them.

Update #1 (2014-12-02):
• Engine: Added 'Sound Sequence' task command
• Chapter 2: Fixed anvil placement issues
• Chapter 2: Fixed invisible anvil bug
• Chapter 5: Removed Selma's erroneous mention of home invasion
• Chapter 5: Fixed the northern cube getting stuck with prism rod
• Chapter 5: Made sure the beam bridge draws correctly
• Chapter 5: Fixed re-entery issue from Willard's void space

Update #2 (2014-12-05):
• Chapter 5: Fixed freeze bug when removing prism from northern cube
• Chapter 5: Added failsafe timer to Jerome's stomach

Update #3 (2014-12-09):
• Chapter 5: Fixed prism rod size issue

Update #4 (2014-12-13):
• Chapter 5: Fixed issue with sounds fading in too fast
• Engine: Reworked sound engine, hopefully making the game less crash prone

Update #5 (2014-12-16):
• Chapter 5: Tweaked some text descriptions
• Chapter 5: Added interactions

Update #6 (2014-12-28):
• Chapter 2: Added case for stone placement puzzle
• Chapter 4 & 5: Attempted to fix living room interactions not working properly
• Chapter 5: Fixed typos

Update #7 (2014-12-29):
• Engine: Removed possibility to move during scene changes
• Engine: Reworked sound engine, hopefully making the game less crash prone

Update #8 (2014-12-30):
• Engine: Fixed sound loading issue
• Engine: Fixed rare case were mouse input was being ignored
• Chapter 4: Added hints to sleeping powder puzzle

We hope you like it and shout out in the comments if you encounter anything strange/buggy in the game.


- a
Nov 17, 2014
Community Announcements - Cockroach

The launch of Chapter 5 went really well, all things considered. We're really proud of it and hope you're enjoying it as well. Some of you have been reporting problems however. Most of them were minor, but some of them were more serious.

Here's our first volley of fixes to address the situation:

• Engine: Added 'Place' task command
• Chapter 1, 2, 3 & 4: Tweaked intro
• Chapter 1, 2, 3 & 4: Tweaked credits list
• Chapter 4: Fixed freeze on showing young Edie a photo
• Chapter 5: Made sure staff resizes correctly
• Chapter 5: Stopped player from re-entering already purged dreams
• Chapter 5: Fixed the pumpkin freeze bug
• Chapter 5: Fixed so the north cube only gets stuck while facing south
• Chapter 5: Removed erroneously drawn laser beams
• Chapter 5: Blocked off some unwalkable surfaces
• Chapter 5: Removed twig from bow once the void has been bridged
• Chapter 5: Made sure the staff is large in Selma's dream
• Chapter 5: Tweaked Willard's pre-flight dialog
• Chapter 5: Added dialog if Victor tries to enter squirrel home before getting recipe
• Chapter 5: Added dialog if Victor talks to Selma before getting recipe
• Chapter 5: Fixed void crossing issue
• Chapter 5: Fixed issue while showing magic to the witch
• Chapter 5: Tweaked bow on passage behavior
• Chapter 5: Tweaked center room cube behavior
• Chapter 5: Removed freeze while getting back from Selma's dream
• Chapter 5: Fixed deletion of permanent states on chapter start
• Chapter 5: Added fail-safe duplicate barrel
• Chapter 5: Added fail-safe duplicate ladder
• Chapter 5: Added smoke effect when potion has been brewed
• Chapter 5: Removed candle flames if Animation Effects has been turned off
• Chapter 5: Removed menu access in pumpkin scene
• Chapter 5: Removed option to enlarge in the northern most rooms in Willard's dream
• Chapter 5: Removed freeze on fringe-case path-finding
• Chapter 5: Removed option to give wagon parts to lady without legs prematurely
• Chapter 5: Stopped all interactions while growing or shrinking
• Chapter 5: Hindered the player from entering the derelict mill without the gun
• Chapter 5: Fixed typos

I hope these solves the issues you've been having. If not, shout out in the comments below.


- a
Community Announcements - Cockroach
Brothers & Sisters,

It is our honour and pleasure to announce that the epic fifth chapter of the immortal Dream Machine-saga has just been released. It's big and bold and a little bit difficult. It's dark and sexy in a Keanu Reeves kind of way. We're freakishly proud over it. What more could you ask for?

Go play it. Go nuts.

In that order.


- a
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (John Walker)

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>

Cockroach certainly never intended to take nearly five years to finish hand-made point-n-click The Dream Machine. What was intended to be six chapters over a few months has become essentially one a year. But with each one better than the last, and the fifth chapter due to appear before the end of the year (apparently to be as long as the first four put together), now is the perfect time to play through in preparation.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alice O'Connor)

Who lives in a house like this?

The Dream Machine‘s first chapter was so lovely that, in a fit of something or other, I vowed to wait until the whole thing was out before playing any more. Well. Whatever reason I had for that decision, I hope it was worth it. Four years later, the end is drawing near-ish. The fifth chapter of six will arrive on November 14th, developers Cockroach have announced.

“Why’s it taking so long?” seems a silly question to ask about a game made from clay, cardboard, paint, and odds and ends by two people, but Cockroach’s answer is that this one is “bigger than all the previous chapters put together.” Crumbs.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Even by episodic adventure game standards, The Dream Machine's fifth chapter has been a long time coming. Not quite as long as the wait between chapters 3 and 4 (that took 21 months), but at the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, turns out making a game out of beautifully detailed, stop-motion characters and environments takes a really, really, really long time. Really. As with Kentucky Route Zero, however, I suspect it will be worth the wait, and I'd much rather the developers deliver a belated, quality episode than dial down their ambitions to adhere to a schedule.

Chapter 5 of the surreal adventure game will arrive on the 14th of November, and there's a sneak peek of it above in the accompanying trailer. Blimey—look at the effort that goes into making a single scene. I'm reminded of this brilliant sketch from The Fast Show:

The Dream Machine's first four chapters (along with the bundle of all six) is currently going for 50% off on Steam for the next day or so.

Community Announcements - Cockroach

First of all, thank you for you patience. We know we're slow. Stop-motion takes a ridiculous amount of time. Especially when you're only two sexy Swedish boys. I'm sure you'll think it has been worth the wait once you get to play it. Chapter 5 has been a thrilling ride, but now the time has come for us to step off and let others aboard. Yup. We're finally ready to unleash this beast.

So mark your calendars, folks. 14th of November is the date to save.

Check out the YouTube Date Trailer here


- a
Oct 23, 2014
Community Announcements - Cockroach

We just pushed another update live. This one contains all kinds of spicy greatness. The most significant change is that the player character now pathfinds competently. That was never really an issue before, since he only had to traverse simple geometries. But once we started testing Chapter 5 in earnest, it was obvious the old pathfinding wasn't going to cut the mustard any more.

Another change you'll be happy to hear about is that most of the freeze issues should now be fixed. Particularly those that occurred on a black screen, between room loads.

The rest of the changes are minor, but delicious. You can read all about them in the list below:

• Engine: Rewrote pathfinding code
• Engine: Fixed freeze on black screen
• Engine: Made sure the Game Menu icon appears properly
• Game: Made sure credits music only plays once
• Game: Refactored soundscape code
• Game: Improved performance while on game menus
• Chapter 1: Tweaked soundscape
• Chapter 1: Added fishing sounds
• Chapter 1: Tweaked Alicia's interaction hotspot
• Chapter 2: Fixed temporary freeze bug when putting the helmets on Alicia
• Chapter 3: Fixed depth sorting issue in cabin 1
• Chapter 3: Fixed door issues on the bridge
• Chapter 4: Fixed freeze bug when you put helmet on mover
• Chapter 4: Removed screen shake while manipulating photos
• Chapter 2 & 4: Added information to the dream map
• Chapter 1, 2, 3 & 4: Redesigned intro sequences
• Chapter 1, 2, 3 & 4: Redesigned credits list

Don't be shy if you find something wonky about the game.

Regarding Chapter 5: We're still testing it and it's going very well. Release date announcement will follow shortly...

Stay tuned.

- a

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