Design Philosophy & The Early Days

Design Philosophy & The Early Days

Summary : One of our greatest goals is to become the most exciting digital world that players can mold to their own design. A core belief of ours is that if we provide the right tools to creative players, they will be able to build what they want better than any design team, and outscale the production volume of any dev team.


[Writing about DreamWorld's Weekly Release #1, on 08/23/2020]

Dreamers! Welcome back! 😄

Remember the 9 assets DreamWorld's denizens could use to build in the prototype launch? The next day we sprinkled a cool 91 more on there to bring the asset arsenal to 100. The effect on artistic expression was drastic. Everything from palaces to collages using every asset were built overnight. We were floored. (Some of the builds were too now!) 

It wasn't until the release of the first Weekly Update on 08/23/2020 where we added object rotation and disabled physics that the community could really take the gloves off and put together truly incredible creations (we felt suddenly that we understood why Minecraft doesn't have physics for many of its blocks).  

Physics just wouldn't do "Future Worm Guy" justice. 

The things people do with individual assets, bringing them together to form complex structures and sometimes what feel like entirely new assets in themselves, never fails to surprise and delight. 

Onions for trees, peppers for bushes, and coral for chimney smoke. Coral for chimney smoke.
There are many digital worlds out there that come to the player pre-made in every regard, almost always crafted in just the developer's aesthetic preference. There are very few existing worlds, and fewer MMOs, that the player can mold to their vision. We're inspired to provide players the most freedom of artistic expression they've ever experienced, set in a world that affords them many other freedoms they can't experience IRL. 
With regards to assets, creations, and events, our posit from the beginning has been that 1) passionate creatives see what they want in their mind's eye, and using simple yet powerful tools, will always be able to outperform any design team on that vision, and 2) multitudes of players with these tools would also always outscale the production volume of any dev team. Knowing the above, when approaching creating a social and creator-centric MMO, we would have to have an exceptionally system-focused over gameplay-focused development roadmap, and try at every turn to provide greater utility to the player without reinventing the wheel. This would allow us to maximally save dev time for systems, and for DreamWorld's players, best bolster creativity, empower social expression, and support massive scale.
With these development pillars in mind, our next goal became to put them in place quickly to test hypotheses week to week, month to month. We're fond of the mostly humorous phrase "MVPs All The Way Down" - which refers to a preference for 'continuously prototyping' new features along our pillars, receiving immediate feedback on them, and iterating quickly. We see this as an attractive alternative to what we've observed as a more traditional flow of 'develop a feature out to polished perfection and hope people like it, then go back to the drawing board if they don't'. This has allowed us to do things like jump from one week where a player identified object rotation as "literal ****", to it being good enough that the same player made an 8-story castle with unique rooms in every level the next week. Tight feedback loop + ASAP iteration = magic. 
 - In the next post, we'll talk more about MVP iteration! -