Posts tagged ‘Movies’

Action! (well, sort of)

The Movies is a long awaited arrival from Peter Molyneux, so-called “god game” creator. In it, you are not controlling warring populations or transforming the landscape. Instead you control the destiny of your own movie studio. Granted, its not the micromanaging of The Sims (from which it borrows its look and interface), or the grand sweep of management like Molyneux’s Black and White, but it is fun both as a management/strategy sim, and also as a movie making toolset.

The game can be played either as an open-ended “sandbox”, or as a goal-directed strategy game. The strategy comes from satisfying several aspects of your studio: You have a stable of stars to cater to, maintenance workers to hire, facilites to build, sets to create, and a lot to pretty up and make efficient. The game uses a fairly intuitive click and drag method for selecting items and objects, built on the system designed for Black and White.  Its sometimes touchy, especially trying to select small items, but it is very effective. Stats are shown as icons along the left (your stars and employees) and right (your movies and scripts). Starting at the dawn of the movie industry, you build your lot and decorate it, then hire actors and directors to create your movies (as well as hiring movie crews, extras, maintenance staff, janitors, scriptwriters, and
researchers to unlock new technologies). You direct your scriptwriters to crank out a script in one of five genres, then set the lead roles and director, then they go off to a set to shoot it. Once completed, you release the film and earn your box office.

Sounds easy, but the challenges mount as your stars become temperamental, demanding higher salaries and perks like assistants and trailers. Sets and buildings decay over time, taxing your staff. You constantly find yourself short on help, needing just one more crew member to start shooting. After a while, it does become a frantic management sim as you balance demands and try to win awards. The game does vaciliate between obsessively dragging wandering stars from the bar to the set, to stretches of time waiting for movies or scripts to finish. Since your lot prestige always needs to be high you usually pass the time adding ornaments to your lot during the down time. But I’ve already found myself sitting in the wee hours, saying “I’ll just
get this next film released, then I’ll go to bed!”

So the game is a engrossing strategy game, but it also has the movie maker feature, which sets it apart from other like games. A custom scriptwriting facility lets you select scenes, sets, and camera angles. Some scenes let you set the mood of the actors, or their reactions. The
interface lets you search out a scene, filtering by the number of leads or by props or moods. Once the film has been shot, you can further refine it in the Post-Production facility, where scenes can be rearranged, cut and spliced, and effects like fades added. You can add
a soundtrack (one of the included tracks or one you import), sound effects (likewise), or even record dialogue via your microphone.

There are literally hundreds of scenes to choose from, in a wide variety of styles and combinations. And with the included StarMaker utility you can design your own stars that emulate real-world folks, or just the look your movie needs. Yet it still has it limitations, since
the wide-open freedom of shooting however you want is missing. Also, movies tend to be interior-based, excepting a few “outdoor” sets that can be built, and even these are limited in scope (no long landscape shots). Also limited are effects shots, like spaceships flying or
vehicles driving, so movies tend to be character-based. So could you recreate a classic film like Psycho? Sure. How about Lawrence of Arabia? Well, not so much. If you are really serious, you can export your finished product as a .mpg file and use in conjunction with other movie

The real possibilities come from creating your own scripts. My brother has already looked into adapting books into scripts, which I believe will be a common theme for folks who play the game. Players can post their creations to The Movies‘ website (

The Movies is a game that is fun in its role as a strategy game, but its equally fun as a tool to unleash your filmmaking urges.