The Movies


posted 12/6/2005 by Dave Gamble
other articles by Dave Gamble
One Page Platforms: PC

Once the film is complete, you can watch it.  It's fun to see how the technology changes through time.  Your first movies are black and white, but if you invest wisely in Research & Design, you can be one of the first studios to release color movies!  As you gain experience and new technology becomes available, you'll notice how the more sophisticated and realistic sets you paid for have improved the quality of your product.  Movie technology has historically been right on the cutting edge of technology, and the studios that could successfully apply ground-breaking technology first reaped huge benefits.  Your investment in, and astute management of, your R&D department will help give you the edge you need to stay ahead of the other studios.

As the chief strategist, you should also be paying attention to events outside of the studio.  To assist you with that, there is a timeline moving across the top of your screen.  You can keep an eye out for historic and epic events on the horizon that my affect your decision making when it comes to what types of movies to make to satisfy contemporary interests and demands.  You will have to decide whether an impending war will drive moviegoers towards the emotional release of a good comedy or the tear-jerking romance.  Your decisions will have a profound effect on your studios success.

After watching your movie, you release it by taking it to your production office, and sit back as the money rolls in.  Well, not really.  You have been hiring more talent, writing more scripts, and casting more films while the first one was going through the various stages of preparation.  In effect, you are now acting in the capacity of an assembly line foreman.  The amount of things you need to worry about increases as you get more and more films into the pipeline.  Fortunately, you're not yet to the era during which you would also have to contend with egotistical stars demanding on-lot trailers and their own entourages, so you can get your processes pretty well refined before those distractions come up.  But rest assured, come up they will.  How you respond to their petty quibbles is up to you, either through firing them to set an example to the others, or kowtowing to their rapacious appetites.  Be careful, though.  An angry star is going to shovel a lot of dirt your way with the help of the rabid Hollywood press.  You may find that you're reduced to promoting janitors to Director of your next film since no one else will want to work for you.  Ask me how I know...

If what I have described thus far is all The Movies did, it would be well worth the purchase price.  The amazing strength of The Movies  is how well it takes the best aspects of the "development planning" SimCity genre and combines it with the "personal relationship" TheSims genre, while also providing a fascinating look inside the world of an equally fascinating industry.  The Movies takes the next step, though.  It goes well beyond providing an entertaining and educational resource management game.  As you progress in the game, your studio becomes successful enough to build a custom scriptwriting faculty.  And when you build it, you will unlock the ability to write your own scripts.  And this is very, very cool.

The custom scriptwriter is a collection of tools that you use to create your movie.  You select the genre and how complex you want the script template to be, or you can choose freeform if you don't want a template.  You assign actors, select costumes and props, and choose sets. As with the rest of the game, there is quite a bit of detail that you can change, or you can just leave things at their default settings.  There is a timeline of your movie upon which you creates scenes.  To create a scene, you select it from a menu.  There are many scenes provided, offering action such as 'Two enter room', 'three argue', and 'drink poison' to choose from.  It’s almost like a Lego set with the scenes being the little plastic pieces that you put together to create your masterpiece. You place and edit the scenes, and before you know it, you have a script.  You can then send your script through the production process and release it.  If you did a good job, you'll make a lot of money.  If not, you'll still make enough to cover your expenses.

I can see how some players would see the custom scriptwriting as the best part of the game, and I can also empathize with those that are more intrigued with the business aspects and would just as soon leave the scriptwriting to the scriptwriters.  Fortunately, the designers seemed to realize that different players might want to concentrate on different modalities.  You are free to take either approach, or even a combination of the two.  Creating your own movies will take a lot more time, but if you're good at it, you'll feel even better about the contributions you make to the success of your studio.  What about the ones I made?  Well, they made Steamboat Willy look like Gone With the Wind. But they still made money!

The Movies is a solid, well designed, and eminently playable game.  The depth and intricacy of the aspects of the movie making industry offered to the player will ensure that this one stays on your hard drive for a long, long time.  And hey, you might even learn a few things about operating a major business as you play.

One of the earliest and longest lasting genres of computer games is the “resource management” style pioneered by early entries such as the venerable Hammurabi. But what would happen if you combined the best aspects of resource management with the personal relationships facet of the ever popular TheSims style of games? Activision has done just that with TheMovies, and as we learned, it’s a winning combination.

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