Mr. Jones Dream

I'll admit it, I'm a fan of dream logic in games. From Max Payne's drug-induced phone conversations with himself, to Sam and Max's bizarre mishmash of talking heads and office furniture - surreal dream sequences in games can illuminate the character's inner-most thoughts. Characterization is something games have been pretty weak at and dream levels help fill that gap. That's why this week's game appeals to me, it's entirely about one character's crazy dream.

Mr. Jones Dream seems like a standard Atari-level platformer. Jump around and collect items then use those items to unlock new areas. What sets it apart is the content, which is bizarre. After a man is fired from his job he goes to sleep then has an interesting dream. Unleashing a giant money demon, guiding a sperm to an egg, and fighting robots with a laser rifle all fall within the realm of the same dream. The game rarely makes literal sense. The music adds to the ambiance with it's bizarre, dreamlike melody. You're not completely without guidance. Women, babies and flying pigs placed throughout the levels will give cryptic clues to where to go next - though the women inform the player that they will not take their clothes off. “This is not that type of dream; this is not that type of game.”

A few puzzles are to be found in the game and they're very fairly good. Some nonsensical items, some red herrings, plenty of weird twisting passages. Much like a real dream. Some difficult platforming and a long backtracking sequence at the end make this game harder than it really needs to be however. It's still a quick, enjoyable game with plenty of weird dream imagery to make up for the occasionally frustrating sequence.

This game was entered into the TIGSource Adult/Educational competition, which is about games using adult themes. There's several other odd gems in there, if you care to take a look.

Why You Should Check This Out: A surreal experience – a game that's a standard platformer is seen in an entirely different light when you throw in some odd dream imagery and strange yet symbolic events. Mr. Jones has a very common set of fears and wants - this game lays them out for everybody to see.

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Comments

Sorry, (I have to apologize for my rant up front). But I have it enough with games trying to be literature or film. It's like instrumental music is trying to tell you a story (who cares?), or if architecture want's you to tell something about dancing. Story-telling music is dead, it was an experiment in the 19th century... same like realistic painting is pretty much dead.... so let's talk about videogames. The good ones. They don't tell anything relevant ... they are pure interaction like a Mario game, like Bejeweled, like Doom ... they are an valid art form, if they don't confuse themself trying to be something else. [/rant]

Ah I see our weekly "I'm tired of artgames" venting has begun.

edit: To be less pithy, I'd be fine with this conversation if it took place in a forum thread specifically about that topic instead of taking a thread about a game I like and posting about how much you dislike it without playing it or even bothering to comment on this game in particular.

edit 2: I'd also like to take this opportunity to apologize for the Fringe Busters enforcement squad that broke into your house this morning and forced you to play this. The boys get a little enthusiastic sometimes, I'll try to get them to ask first next time before kicking down doors.

Actually an artgame gestapo would probably be the wussiest SWAT team in history.

I, for one, have found these diversions you've come across to be some of the highlights here at the site lately. You and the rest of the Fringe Busters should be rewarded for going outside your comfort zone. With such a fluid and endlessly maleable platform as computer games these pathfinders should be heralded.

Experimental physicists, creative teachers, passionate parents are all examples of people making change and exercising new thinking that is bringing about revolutions in our culture. Let's not be so narrow minded as to piss on the plate of creativity. Not here, not on this site.

I figured all of this was stemming from Pyroman reminiscing about some really good funny mushrooms that he took in a misspent youth.

Edit: My bad, saw the icon on the top right and assumed the wrong author.

Ah I see our weekly "I'm tired of artgames" venting has begun.

hm... I am not tired of artgames (there aren't that many). I wanted to continue the discussion about this game, of course. So... is the only valid discussion some form of praise? Should I go hide in the forum? Okay...

p.s. you did describe the game very eloquent and thorough. So, my thought was: what is the point of playing, if one can describe the game in words so completely and thoroughly... I will check it out now, but I believe, you did a very good job in describing the game... The article did not read like there is some interaction in the game left, which you have to DO to get to the greatness of the game...

These are about the only games I'm interested in any more. Thanks for posting the link and review!

brof wrote:
Ah I see our weekly "I'm tired of artgames" venting has begun.

hm... I am not tired of artgames (there aren't that many). I wanted to continue the discussion about this game, of course. So... is the only valid discussion some form of praise? Should I go hide in the forum? Okay...

p.s. you did describe the game very eloquent and thorough. So, my thought was: what is the point of playing, if one can describe the game in words so completely and thoroughly... I will check it out now, but I believe, you did a very good job in describing the game... The article did not read like there is some interaction in the game left, which you have to DO to get to the greatness of the game...

My complaint wasn't that you didn't like this game, it was that you were complaining that you were tired of this class of game but hadn't played it. Every week someone comes in and says "I don't like whatever this is" without even playing it, and I'm just kind of tired of it.

That said your second post clears up your point a little and I appreciate that. I'd still suggest you play the game before talking about how much you dislike it.

I'd say the gameplay fits in quite a bit with the theme, as the puzzles and random actions do have a certain dream-logic to them. It feels very dream-like trying to piece together the puzzles and actions required to complete the game.

I never play these games (home comp is garbagefest, work comp is... for work. And posting on GWJ, clearly), but I like reading about them just to know what kinda stuff is getting floated around in the indie market.

Hm, it appears that this will not run on Vista 64.

Switchbreak wrote:
Hm, it appears that this will not run on Vista 64.
I ran it on Windows 7 64-bit just fine.

brof wrote:
Ah I see our weekly "I'm tired of artgames" venting has begun.

hm... I am not tired of artgames (there aren't that many). I wanted to continue the discussion about this game, of course. So... is the only valid discussion some form of praise? Should I go hide in the forum? Okay...

p.s. you did describe the game very eloquent and thorough. So, my thought was: what is the point of playing, if one can describe the game in words so completely and thoroughly... I will check it out now, but I believe, you did a very good job in describing the game... The article did not read like there is some interaction in the game left, which you have to DO to get to the greatness of the game...

I'll help:

What do you think this game tries to do differently? Do you think it succeeds?

There are a number of things that differentiate this game from more standard games. Do any of them seem interesting to you as concepts? Might any of them make you look at other games in new ways?

Nobody's making the claim that all games have artistic merit, and nobody's forcing anyone to play games that have artistry in mind. All media have forms and genres that aspire to artistic status, and other forms with different goals. It's a natural spectrum that develops when any medium grows beyond the confines of a defined group of creators, and we're not here to judge which side of the spectrum is superior. We've all probably made up our own minds about what mix we prefer, and it's bootless to argue over preferences, anyway.

You would think a game with dream logic would be easier to play if you were suffering from extreme jet lag, but apparently not. Hmm. Some of the puzzles are a bit...puzzling.

VDOWhoNeedsDD wrote:
You would think a game with dream logic would be easier to play if you were suffering from extreme jet lag, but apparently not. Hmm. Some of the puzzles are a bit...puzzling.
I had a bit of a problem with the
[color=white]Numbers in the cave[/color]
. But it was pretty clever when I finally figured it out.

well, I tried it and i like the style, the music, they are good. I can appreciate them. I don't like the text, too much text, when I dream, I don't dream instructions, or text... ok, this is Mr. Jones dream. He does.

Still, the text as a tool provides too much hand holding, so that we never forget: it is a game. It might be intentional. And besides the music and the graphics, it feels very empty and annoying, because too many times I died at the gears, or the lava or the robots. The checkpoint system is okay, but what ever, ... and then I did something stupid, I pressed "New" instead of "Load" and my save game was gone. I was a king, though.

and I am not going to replay, because it is a very punishing dream... it should be shorter, way shorter, maybe like a dream... but this dream is going on and on and on... unfortunately. These are my impressions, others might get more out of it. Oh, I wish the dream would be more randomized, then it would feel more true to its theme...

I wish it wouldn't be so gamey, so that I could progress more easyly ( I love The Path for that)... so I cannot give any final comments, because I might have seen only a third of the game.

cheerio

I agree completely on the difficulty, it could've stood to be much less punishing in that regard.

I never thought about it but you're completely right, the text does get a little gamey. Especially the monitors above the key doors. Later on, it gets a little more surreal, but it still frequently reads like tutorial text instead of a dream conversation.

I would not go so far as to call this game difficult, more that certain sections were needlessly time consuming.

I think it's a very appropriate game for GWJ. Although I do feel it may be too much a mirror of how adult work life is. Go here. Go there. Pick up number 4. Talk to that girl. Etc... Which makes it ironic that I'm playing this I guess.

ok, after a couple of days, my impressions have settled down... I think, the developer was going in the right direction or he had the right intension, but still I see a problem where gameplay interferes with narrative. At the end of the day we still have a platformer here. This running and jumping in a dream does not fit in my opinion... also, I think it is not efficient in delivering content. The content is too spread out.
(I would compare this games and other serious games to the silent movies era. A lot of techniques have to be discovered to get a really deep game, true to the medium kind of game).

Really, what is in this game, what could not be told completely as a text?

But I think the creator will improve, and I think it is the right direction for games, but we have a lot to learn.

cheers,
George

p.s. often games could be compared to following experiment: think of reading a book and every couple of minutes you have to stand up and play some table tennis. Then go back to read the book, then go back to play table tennis or read and play table tennis at the same time. Well, this is my opinion. Games should be pure, if someone is going to marry game mechanics with narrative, then someone should know why and what he is doing...