I need to start this with full disclosure: This game is my first “Molyneux Experience”. Meaning, this is the first game where Pete’s hyperbolic excitement got me excited, and reality came crushing around my soul when I played it.
Whether you think Peter Molyneux is an egotistically pathological liar, or a naively optimistic dreamer, I’m sure you’ve been there.
Maybe you’ve traveled up and down Albion looking for acorns. Maybe you kept your OG XBOX in case B.C. ever drops. Maybe you had a Curiosity for Godus. Maybe you bought a Kinect to play with Milo. Whatever it is, you’ve been there. We’ve all been there.
The Movies was mine. I read about it for months. I salivated at the thought of directing on my XBOX. I bought the PC game to give to a friend so I could play. I was Moly-duped.
What is it?
The Movies is a business simulation game, where players run a movie studio lot, created by Lionhead Studios and released in 2005 for PC. Console releases were planned, but cancelled.
The game starts in the 1920s and continues indefinitely.
Why is it great?
Players don’t just run a studio in The Movies, they also take part in every process of making the films themselves.
Hiring staff- This includes assigning actors, writers, producers, and directors- not to mention custodians, PR managers, and various other, essential, “little” people.
Building- Everything from actors trailers and plastic surgeons (actors gotta have appeal), to a script office and new sets. Even individual trees can be placed where players want them (for scenery around the lot, not filming.)
- Script approval- After the writers produce a commissioned script, players can choose to film it or trash it. Particular control freaks can even write their own. Lazy daisies can automate this.
Actors- After hiring actors, players can assign them roles. Particular control freaks can also choose exactly what their actors wear. Lazy daisies can automate this. Actors can also be sent to the bar to relax (at the risk of becoming an alcoholic), or the plastic surgeon- because Hollywood.
Film Production- Once a script has been greenlit, actors and director signed on, and producers hired, the actual filming can commence. After filming, the movie goes to editing, and is then released. Once again, this can be as in depth or simple as you want.
- Sets- Players can choose each set used, and even dress them as they see fit with a myriad of props.
As stated earlier, the game starts in 1920 and progresses. As it does, new technologies and techniques are unlocked. There are also market trends to make note of, and they usually follow world events (comedies are popular during the Great Depression, horror is unwanted during WWII, Sci-Fi booms during the space race, etc.)
One of the best aspects of this game is micromanaging. Players can choose to tweak nearly every last detail, or let staff just do their jobs and focus on big picture stuff (though where’s the fun there?)
Movies made can be exported to a Windows video file and watched, without booting up.
What it needs...
Alot. A sequel to The Movies needs alot.
For one thing, the game only has a set number of “scenes” to choose from, with specific animations in each. Making a legitimate film requires an absurd amount of time, in-game money, and ridiculous skill at editing.
While the Stunts & Effects expansion allows for “custom” camera angles, it is far from robust. Personally, I would like to view my scene in “god-view”, and mark where my camera starts, and where it ends, in order to get a perfect shot. When I choose a crane shot, or dolly, it would be nice to pick exactly where it shoots from- rather than where I’m “allowed”.
There aren’t a whole lot of animations either, and they frequently repeat. It’s repetitive and annoying.
If you plan on making an action movie, don’t expect much (if any) hand-to-hand duels (absolutely no sprawling Kung-Fu scenes) or epics shootouts.
There are no sub-genres. Wanna make a horror movie? Great! Hope you like 80s slasher flicks! At best, players can swap out not-Jason for a generic monster. Don’t expect to make a Saw or Paranormal Activity (not sure why anyone would, but the option to would be great).
However, what the game offers is sufficiently decent and chock full ‘o potential (it is a Molyneux game), and all these things could be fixed with a sequel.
Who should make it?
I think Lionhead (or, Microsoft Game Studios EU) should still make it. I’m pretty sure they retained the IP, and it would be perfect for the XBOX ONE. Kinect support could allow players to act out their scenes, and even record dialogue.
That, along with an XBOX LIVE “theater”, and a great community, this game has potential to be a real event...
Provided they can smooth out all the wrinkles, that is.
That’s all for today. Join me next week when my game will be... I DONT KNOW YET!!!! Yay!
I apologise for a lack of pics, but Kinja doesn’t like anything I find that isn’t from Wikipedia.