it started way back in the mid-70's,
playing a BASIC game called Hammurabi on the Cincinnati Public Schools
mainframe. Hammurabi was one of the
earliest resource management games, and although it was only 50-some lines of
code, it was pretty sophisticated for the time.
As the player, you had to decide how much of your grain to plant each
year, how much to feed to your people, and how much to store. These were life and death decisions as far as
your loyal minions were concerned, and it often only took one bad year to
devastate your tribe.
was the direct ancestor to the multitude of resource management games we've seen over the years. As the capabilities of our hardware have
improved, so has the complexity of the games.
Amongst the latest iterations is Activision's
The Movies. Imagine (or don't - I'm
going to paint the picture for you anyway) a combination of Hammurabi, SimCity,
and The Sims, throw in Hollywood-style egos and ethics, and you will have some
idea of what The Movies is all about.
As with most games of this type, The Movies is essentially an
electronic playground, offering you the freedom to do with it as you want. You can concentrate on the business aspect,
trying to build a financially successful movie studio, or you can concentrate on
the art of movie making. You can rule
your stars with an iron fist, or you can pander to their every avaricious
your playground, and you decide how to play on it.
of The Movies is a far cry from the relatively simplistic world of
Hammurabi. You, as the studio head, are
responsible for the hiring and firing of not only the talent, but of the
hundreds of workers that it takes to run a first-class movie studio. You will be hiring the janitors that keep
your studio lot looking spiffy and clean, thereby attracting more potential
employees, as well as hiring the builders that create the sets, buildings, and
facilities that are required to create the next big box office hit. You will also being hiring actors as leads,
extras, or even directors. You will have
to hire script writers and film crews.
All of these people expect to be paid, so you'll
have to keep an eye on the finances as well.
Of course, in Hollywood
nothing is ever easy, and you will find that giving one unhappy star a raise is
likely to cause resentment in the others.
Damaged egos are a great excuse to deliver sub-par performances on the
set, as well as spending a bit too much time in the bars. It is your job as the Head Dude to keep all
of the workers, from janitor to box office darling, happy and productive.
course, that's just the grunt
work. The real fun is making
movies. After all, that's why you started the studio in the first place,
isn't it? You open your studio in the 1920's, the early years of movie making. Your first movies
will be short, silent films, shot on grainy, scratchy, black and white
film. These are early days for you
financially as well, so you can't
afford a top-notch script writing facility.
You have a simple script writing function to perform: select the film
genre you want written from a list including horror, sci-fi, comedy, romance, and
action. Put your scriptwriters to work
on it, and in just a few days (measured in real-world minutes) you'll have a completed script. By this time you should also have had your
builders create the appropriate sets that you will be filming on. You should also have hired your first few
actors and a director, and spent some time allowing them to practice your
chosen genre on the film sets. An easy
to follow tutorial guides you through the motions required to perform all of
these actions, and the game is pretty verbose with helpful advice balloons as
you progress beyond the tutorial.
script is complete and you have your talent ready, you move your script to
Casting. Here you will assign the lead
and supporting actors, and the director.
The assignments of the film crew and extras are typically done for you
as those roles are for the most part completely fungible. This balance between requiring the player to
decide things that are significant to the game play versus having to render a
decision on banal minutiae is maintained nicely throughout the entire
game. Once you've
finished with casting, the movie can be moved to Production. The crew, actors, and director will meet at
the set and shoot the film. This is all
automatic, but you can zoom down into the 3D set to watch the film being
made. This is worth doing now and then,
simply to see the level of detail rendered by the game. I love watching the guy with the clapper
board thingy lean out in front of the camera and do the clappy thing to start
the scene. Wish I knew what that's called, but...
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