The Basics: Imagine that someone took equal parts The Sims and Sim City mixed them in a blender named Hollywood. Now picture that game being designed by Peter Molyneux, the man behind such classics as Black & White and Dungeon Keeper, and then give it a classy title like The Movies.
The first thing that will jump out at players is the oddly clever mix of real-time strategy base building (and research) with "Sally loves Bob, but Bob lusts for Jill" interpersonal relationship management. Why does The Movies mix these oil and water elements? Because in Hollywood movies aren’t made by machines (feel free to disagree if you suffered through "Stealth"), but rather human beings. People are complicated, and their involvement exponentially complicates the process of filming, producing, and distributing a movie.
Yes, you will start out with a barren dusty lot and along the way you may have to decide if you want to invest in actors or special effects just like Holly wood does today. Finances will have to be managed, directors kept in line, stars pampered, tabloids bought off, and audiences will have to be kept pleased. If they do it in Hollywood and Lionhead Studios can get it under the ESA’s "T for teen" rating then it will be in The Movies.
Real movies take hundreds of people years to make, but you should toss away any fears that you will have any trouble making movies all by your lonesome. The Movies streamlines the process into easily digestible portions. Need a star for your first big sci-fi movie? Pick someone up from the casting lot and drop them on set. Want to tailor your heroine’s appearance to match your girlfriend? Use the "Star Maker" but remember not to go overboard on certain assets… trust me on this one.
In fact everything from building sets to crafting better special effects is accessible within a few clicks of the left mouse button. However, dedicated gamers will be able to dig deeper into any part of The Movies. For example: Scripts can either be automatically generated, or painstakingly micromanaged from the top (just like in real life).
You should be looking forward to getting away from the current "blame the audience" mentality of today’s Hollywood and getting back to a simpler time in movie making history. When making a great movie was all about hiring a director, picking up some actors with your giant god like hand, putting them all down on a set, and hitting the blinking "ACTION!" button.
What do we think? While the basic single player adventure of building a studio and seeing it from the early days of film (1920s) to the year 2005 sounds entertaining; it is the possibilities of the do-it-yourself short film making sandbox mode that has many of us licking our lips. Inspiring "Red vs. Blue" staff members were sent into a tailspin when they were told that The Movies will let players insert their own voice acting and take control of the camera.
What makes me believe that this game will be the biggest thing since sliced bread and The Sims is my experience in high school making a machinima short film with friends using the Quake II engine. We actually wrote the story based on what user-made player models we could find on the internet.
The result was a wince-inducing tale of murder and revenge involving the "fifth teletubby" and a die-hard gun-carrying John McCain who for some reason sported a British accent. The lesson you should take as you begin preparing your films: don’t write scripts by committee and British people are not always funny