The Sailor’s Dream


The Sailor’s Dream


Narrative Experience

Release date:

Nov 6, 2014

A peaceful narrative experience, in which the only objective is to satisfy your curiosity.

Explore an ocean dream world, in which time passes even when you are not there, visit forgotten islands and piece together memories—some even existing beyond the screen of your device.

Gameplay & Development

The Sailor’s Dream is a game in which you explore memories, through swiping on an ocean, and entering structures to find objects and stories. It features elements depending on the real-world clock, such as messages in bottles appearing on specific days of the week, in-game radio transmissions happening on specific times during the day, and printable drawings. The game does not feature any traditional puzzles, but figuring out how to find every memory does have components of observing hints given in various ways in the story, and it is up to the player to piece together the story and destiny of three characters, told through songs, radio transmissions, written stories and drawings. 

When we were making DEVICE 6, we started talking about how it’d be fun to make games in suites of three, in which Kosmo Spin, Bumpy Road and Beat Sneak Bandit would be the first suite and Year Walk, DEVICE 6 and whatever we would make next could also be considered as a unity of sorts. With that in mind, we started to make The Sailor’s Dream in early 2014. We wanted it to be the culmination of ideas and concepts gathered during the last two concepts, while being more about an exploration of how to tell a story in a new and unique way.

Inspired by a song Jonathan Eng had sent Simon years before, ideas started to emerge about a game less focused on suspense, with a warm sense of philanthropy, dreams, memories and nature. These vague ideas led to the concept that the ocean should be at the center of the story. We made a prototype in which you could navigate a little boat on a map, and the story to be about a captain at the end of his life travelling the seas to relive his memories. Jonas Tarestad was, like for Year Walk and DEVICE 6, once again on board to write the story, and as an experiment he started writing short one-paragraph stories for the places the captain would visit. Among these stories was one about a child in some sort of institution. This became a turning-point for the project, as we decided that this type of short stories were what the game should be about. The player should explore an ocean of memories, visit forgotten dream islands, to deduce a story.

As the story changed, so did the gameplay, and we pivoted toward interactions that were closer to those in Year Walk and DEVICE 6 when it came to navigation and the concepts of the players piecing together a bigger story from smaller pieces. We wanted the themes of love, longing and loss to reflect in gameplay, and decided to entirely remove puzzles in favour of playful and dreamlike interactions, (often involving music) inspired by Elektroplankton and the work of Toshi Iwai.

Year Walk and DEVICE 6 both had strong meta-elements, often breaking the fourth wall in different ways. We wanted The Sailor’s Dream to continue this tradition. For the Sailor’s Dream, we decided to focus on the hardware, and use elements of the iPhone which we hadn’t previously: its ability to print documents through AirPrint, the internal clock and its legacy as a device for playing music. We chose to tie these separate ideas to one character each, as drawings, songs and radio transmissions. Drawings made by one of the characters would use AirPrint, songs sung by another would be delivered on specific days of the week in a message in a bottle, and the radio transmissions by the last character would happen on specific times during the day. The Sailor’s Dream became a fractured story about memories, told in different ways, from different perspectives drawing inspirations from both books, radio plays and even musicals, during production.

The game was not as successful as Year Walk, nor DEVICE 6, and coverage for the game focused a lot on if it was actually a game or not. These thoughts led us to make a short interactive story about creativity and the relation between artists, their work and their audience. We released it in the month after The Sailor’s Dream had released, and called it The Sensational December Machine.


One of the first things we needed to figure out was to make a believable ocean. Early on, we had a vision for the ocean feeling endless, and that it should wrap around. We tried many different 3D versions, but in the end we settled for a very effective solution which more or less just wraps a few 2D images on a perspective-skewed rectangle. Coupled with some parallaxing clouds and dust, and faked skewed reflections, the result became what we had strived for: a moving illustration.

Almost all art in and of the islands (which we called “dungeons” during development), are constructed of photographs. A lot of the interiors are mapped on 3D objects modelled after the 2D collages had been made, to create a depth effect, as players swipe through the different environments on pre-defined paths. These “paths” are actually not constructed with curves or paths, but are predetermined camera-animations, created in Maya.

All coordinates displayed by the islands correlates to real places. In 2015, we got an e-mail from a man who had decided to visit all of them.


We created several videos and teaser trailers for The Sailor’s Dream, to try and communicate its appeal. In hindsight, we thought a lot about if we had failed to communicate what the game was, if it even was a game. Perhaps we should not have tried to market it as a game at all? Through these thoughts, we realized that Simogo perhaps didn’t necessarily have to be bound by the medium of games in the first place.

To communicate this new direction, and to draw attention to The Sailor’s Dream, we set out to make a side story, as a radio play in podcast format. It was called The Lighthouse Painting, and was set in the same universe as The Sailor’s Dream.


Music played a large part of the project. A lot of the interactions on the islands are music-based, and the entire genesis of the project came from a song.

Some years before the project started, Jonathan Eng had sent Simon a song he had written in 2010. The acoustic song (at the time called (“Lon Lon”, but renamed to “Slumbering Storm” on the soundtrack), featuring guitars, violin and banjo, had stuck with Simon for many years. We wanted to make a game that would capture the same feeling, not only musically, but for the entire project. We imagined a philanthropic and warm, yet melancholic, story, instead of a feeling of suspense, like our previous two projects. The song had a sense of a “happy place”, and a feeling of nature and dreams. With a very vague idea, Simon asked Jonathan if that song could be the basis for the next game, and if he would be interested in creating more songs in that style. Jonathan agreed, and started writing songs in two different styles: one more melodic, which would be the background music for the ocean (shifting, depending on how many islands the player had visited), and one more ambient, which would be the soundtrack for the islands. At that time, we had not planned for the vocal songs, featuring Stephanie Hladowski.

Quite late into the production, we came up with the idea of making a mini-musical of sorts, with seven songs linked to seven days of the week. We had the idea that each song would represent stages of the story, based on one character’s life, and that players would find these songs in bottles on the ocean. Jonathan spent the summer of 2014 writing songs at breakneck pace. He had a new song ready with lyrics, music and a recorded demo every week for seven weeks. During this time, we also needed to find a female singer for these songs. We asked around, and someone recommended Stephanie Hladowski, who we got in touch with and agreed to help us. We thought Stephanie had such a natural voice, always perfectly on tone, but far removed from a traditional pop voice. Her voice felt like the character we had imagined, a woman living on a cliff somewhere near a harbour town. Jonathan sent Stephanie his demos, and she came back with a suitable key and then he re-recorded the song in the “correct” key for her voice and got back vocal tracks and completed the song.

Jonathan Eng – Monday Demo

The Sailor’s Dream soundtrack by Jonathan Eng, featuring Stephanie Hladowski, is available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.

Game Credits

Art, sound & direction
Simon Flesser

Magnus “Gordon” Gardebäck

Jonas Tarestad

Jonathan Eng

Print illustrations
Johanna Meijer

Songs of the week vocals
Stephanie Hladowski
Peter Smith, Dub Lab Studio

The radio voice
R Bruce Elliott
Voice direction and production
Christopher Sabat, Okratron 5000

Reviews, Press & Awards

Audio Achievement at BAFTA Games Awards 2015 (Nominated)

Music at BAFTA Games Awards 2015 (Nominated)

Excellence in Audio at Independent Games Festival 2015 (Nominated)

Best Artistic Achievement at Nordic Game Awards 2015 (Nominated)

App Store Editors’ Choice (Runner-Up)