Handmade Adventure: The Dream Machine

There's... something in my eye.

It turns out there’s a direct channel to my heart. It’s the words, “a Point & Click adventure game made out of clay and cardboard.”


The Dream Machine is looking utterly beautiful. It’s a hand-made game by Cockroach Inc., built in three dimensions, and then photographed. Below are screenshots and a trailer, which you absolutely must see.

The two man team – Anders Gustafsson and Erik Zaring – explain the beginning of the story:

“You play as Victor and Alicia, a couple who’ve just moved into a new apartment. While trying to get settled in, they soon discover that all is not as it seems in the quiet, unassuming apartment building…”

The desire to build the game in the real world came from wanting to stand out, and if you watch the video below you’ll see that they’ve certainly achieved that. It’s quite stunning. (I can’t pretend not to have noticed there’s a torn paper puzzle, but when it looks this pretty my crusty cynical shell begins to crack.)

Just... just look at it.

If you want more details of how the game’s being made, there’s a meticulous development blog here, with lots of lovely behind-the-scenes shots. This is how all games should be made:

The result then runs in Flash in a browser, which makes me want to hug the universe. It does of course mean it’s down to a single mouse button – no “look at” option in Flash’s lunatic no-right-button regime. But it’s not simplified – you can click and drag objects to place them in the world, or manipulate them.

It’s being released in chapters, with the first part coming in a couple of months. I’m currently having a sneak peak at the first chapter, and while I’ll save my impressions for later, I want to say this measured, objective comment: oh good bloody crikey, it’s beautiful.

You can play a demo of the game here, and sign up for the beta to get access to the full first chapter here.


  1. Diziet says:

    Do want, very very much so!

  2. robrob says:

    A clay adventure game? I neverhood have thought it.

    • kyynis says:

      Yeah, next they’ll be making a some kind of clay fighter game.

    • jarvoll says:

      Well played.

    • Huh says:


      This goes on, soon every man and his dog will have their own clay series.

    • Dhatz says:

      there is some classic clay game and it has some duck-human or whatever as protagonist, I forgot it’s name, but there are generations too fresh to hav idea about this game.

  3. fallingmagpie says:

    That’s positively entrancing.

  4. Dan says:

    I remember playing the demo to this a while ago, really liked it, but since then it had disappeared from my consciousness. Until reading this. Great to see such a radically different approach to game development.

  5. lethu says:

    I might fall into its charm and try it out when it comes out. Thanks RPS!

    I haven’t played adventure point and click since the awesomely beautiful and photographic “The X-Files” for PS, but it might be a good year for a coming back.

  6. Thirith says:

    Makes me think that Jan Svankmajer should’ve created an adventure game. Just imagine an Alice game based on his films…

    • Taillefer says:

      Wasn’t there something like that being made? There was some teaser website linked on RPS a while ago… a library… mice… maybe… something.

  7. Laneford says:


  8. JJ says:

    There is a demo available at their site. Very cool!

  9. Mike says:

    Awesome. That’s really lovely. The animation of the characters is presumably done separately and overlaid? So nice though.

  10. Berzee says:

    It’s just another way of doing graphics though, right? An awesome way, but not the entirety of Game Development. (Re: “this is how all games should be made”).

    • Berzee says:


    • Tei says:

      I think most artist cheat. And In my book, is the right thing to do. Artist are not artesans, is not about skill.

    • TeeJay says:

      “this is how all games should be made” …with love, care and attention?

  11. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Um. Wow.

  12. Lars Westergren says:

    Adventure games, RPGs, PC games… all sorts of dead genres seem to be thriving lately.

    • AndrewC says:

      New Deus Ex, New Thief, New X-Com, movie licences being made into Adventure Games, Old Style Bioware RPGs, Reasons to be interested in something with Star Wars in the title, a slew of Space Combat games about to be released – It’s like we’re trying to have another bash at PCs last golden age. Let’s see how it turns out this time, eh?

    • phlebas says:

      Movie licenses being made into adventure games? Have I missed something?

  13. Rich says:

    Love the environments, not so keen on the lead character.
    Machinarium’s Josef had so much more life in him, despite being a fairly simple looking robot.

    • Jad says:

      Machinarium’s robot had a name? That … actually takes some of the charm out of the game for me.

      Of course, it was overflowing with charm from the start, so it’s not a great loss. I’m still going to refer to him as “That Cute Robot”, not “Josef”. (Stalin?)

      BTW, how did we all decide that the main character in Portal was named Chell, anyway? I don’t remember her being named anywhere in the actual game. I kinda liked it that she was entirely nameless, it made her very Everywoman-like. Then I come on the internet and apparently she has a name, and an odd one at that. Did I miss something?

    • Rich says:

      Josef is mentioned in the wiki article, and is apparently named after Josef ńĆapek, the originator of the word robot.

      Don’t know about Chell. I wouldn’t be surprised if the models and textures in Portal make direct references to the name though.

    • aerozol says:

      Not keen on the main character either. Bit of a missed opportunity.

    • TeeJay says:

      “Hey Joe, where you going with that in your hand?”

    • TeeJay says:

      “Hey Joe, where you going with that [useful object] in your hand?”

      [reminder: don’t use triangular brackets in posts unless you want words to randomly disappear]

  14. Ian says:

    You know, chaps. I think Walker might be hiding some enthusiasm under that surly, cynical article.

  15. Chris K. says:

    Aw, I thought for a moment that the stuff was *shot* in 3-d (as in I can wear funny glasses and see it all in 3-d). Now THAT would be keen, and should be fairly easy to do, although surely challenging to get to work in Flash.

  16. Clovis says:

    Is it possible that the same two guys creating the look of this are also so talented that they can create a great story AND gameplay? Maybe …

    It’s like when you find a band you’ve never heard about. And it turns out the lead singer also writes the songs. OK, not surprising. But he also plays the awesome lead guitar? Seriously, can you leave some talent for the rest of us?

  17. Roger Ebert says:

    This is not art!

  18. ken says:

    The Neverhood is my favorite game of all time. (no joking)

    • Armante says:

      I remember Neverhood – cool game, way back in 1996. Bring back claymation!

    • vanarbulax says:

      Neverhood had some of the most awesome characters and soundtrack ever.

  19. toaby says:

    it looks shite, sorry.

  20. humble says:

    This reminds me a lot of the ancient P&C adventure Blackout. Not a brilliant game by any means, but an interesting artistic achievement, and possible the most “mature” game I’ve ever played. Maybe something worthwhile for Mr. Walker to check out?

  21. mihor_fego says:

    No one remembers The Dark Eye? The claymation adventure based on Edgar Allan Poe’s works? I loved it!

  22. mwtb says:

    Is the main character meant to look like Stuart Campbell?

  23. Lloyd says:

    It certainly looks fantastic. I like the whole clay concept because I like the idea of people with real artistic talent making games. The animation looks great, too and I love the simple yet effective highlighting of hot-spots. Unfortunately, none of this really means it’s going to be a great adventure game. Great adventure games are extremely difficult to make, especially if you rely on old puzzle conventions.

  24. TeeJay says:

    other claymation games:

    The Neverhood
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Platypus (Clay animated side-scrolling shooter!)
    link to shinegame.com

    Cletus Clay (forthcoming)
    link to cletusclay.com

  25. Sara Brown says:

    When people think of Africa they also think of a great adventure.