The Cinema Has given us some truly great works: Casablanca, Dr Zhivago, Poultrygeist: Attack Of The Chicken Zombies! (starring Pavel Barter)... The list is endless. But it's also brought us what we rate as the best game of 2005, Lionhead's The Movies. We caught up with Sir Peter Molyneux (right) and Mark Webley, executive designer and executive lead designer of the Guildford opus, and put them in the Developer's Commentary limelight...
Molyneux: "I'd love to tell you that it came about from sitting down and saying, 'How can we make a successful title?', but it didn't. It was an idea that came to me one night - I woke up and thought, 'Why don't we make a game about the movie industry?' Run a studio, look after stars and create your own movies - that was the idea from the start. What happened next is that I came into Lionhead - and you have to remember we were already doing loads and nobody wanted to start another game! I just said to Mark: 'No. We have to do this.' And his first reaction, before he heard the idea, was, 'What the hell are you talking about?' But when we spoke about the idea together we both saw it had enormous potential. We both saw what we should do with the simulation side, having stars and the like, but the real issue was the movie-making side." Webley: ''Our history is Theme Park and Theme Hospital and we saw that bit but the movie-making was the interesting challenge.'
- Roll Camera:
Molyneux: "For me, the first mmw real crack of light in the movie-making was something called the twig - the little bar that let you decide what you wanted to happen. That was the first thing we really got implemented. We had one prototype that was two cowboys outside a bar; one extreme was they slapped each other like women and the other was one cowboy broke the other's arm and then kicked him. That then lead on to the idea that we would have lots of different scenes and allow people to change loads of different elements within them."
- The Dilemma Of The Interface:
Molyneux: "Tlie big challenge wasn't thinking up good ideas - that's really piss-easy compared to everything else. The big problem with The Movies was always the interface. When we first started on it, everything was driven through menus and windows; so if you wanted to put a star in a movie, you'd select the movie, then click on the star and go through this big list. We realised about 18 months ago that we had this game set up, but that we just weren't involved in the movie world at all - there was no feeling that it was your own studio." Webley: "We wanted to get you close to your stars and have you care about them. You were spending so much time in a 'football manager' kind of mode and this just took you away from the studio too much.
When we sat down and watched other people play it, we realised that something wasn't right." Molyneux: "If we were creating an action game then it would have been much easier to think, 'Right, now we need a monster to come out'. But it's much harder to nail down what the real compulsive elements of something like The Movies are."
- Warts And All:
Molyneux: "At one point in the game, there was drug addiction and sex addiction; our inspiration was the stories we'd heard from Hollywood. You don't hear them so much these days, but in the 70s, '80s and the Marilyn Monroe era, it was all about these famous people just living the most extreme lifestyle imaginable. There's lots of things we talked about that didn't make it to the game - we talked about different locations, having your movie lot in different places and having more of a town around the movie studio so that your star's entourage meant something. I'd say the endgame only implemented a quarter of what we talked about."
- Burn Hollywood, Burn:
Molyneux: "We didn't want The Movies to mmr be an exact simulation of what the movie industry is - we wanted it to be what you and I think the movie industry is about We did do some research and I spent some time with people in Hollywood, and I came away realising that it's an incredibly complicated, amazingly mixed-up industry, and how any film gets launched is amazing. It's about who you know, who knows you, where you have a cappuccino and whether you're successful that sees which films get made." Webley: "It's not a true simulation of what Hollywood is like - there's no stuff like gaffers or Best Boys. People don't know what these things are and don't really care, so we had to pull back on a lot of things just to get the game done." Molyneux: "Yes, we decided that this would be more of a simulation of what the movies were like in the '30s and '40s, which was much more about, "Hey, let's make a movie about this book. You go write the script, I'll think about who should star in it, we'll meet next week and shoot it the week after."
- Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich:
Molyneux: "We've had some feedback from people like John Malkovich - he played the game and really enjoyed it He liked it so much that he wanted his clothing line Mrs Mud in The Movies, and that's exactly what we've done. So as an additional download you can now have his clothing label - it's product placement, but it does show that there's interest in the game from Hollywood. Also, there's the Sundance competition being set up. That's a really big deal - there will be a panel of very famous judges viewing movies on the website, and then the top ten movies from that will get their movies made into real movie shorts and they can win a Chrysler Crossfire. They're proper budgeted movies and there's hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on them. In that respect, I suppose we've had a lot of Hollywood respect."
- Oscar Contenders:
Molyneux: "Every day a new movie comes up that amazes me. Do you remember the Paris riots? Somebody made a movie which was a commentary on why the riots happened, and it was called The French Democracy. It was really well made and it had a political punch to it. It was picked up by Newsweek, Time, The New York Times and MTV -this guy had created a really big story.'' Webley: "The remake of King Kong was impressive too. He did some really clever things - like with the backdrops actually being the ape's hand and the woman walking out as if the ape had put her down, and having a guy in an ape suit walking so that he looked like he was towering above the trees. It's clever ft stuff that people are doing."
- Long-Lasting Appeal
Molyneux: "I just don't know how long The Movies is going to last It's interesting that it stayed in the charts well past Christmas - I think it's a slow-burning thing. We're doing lots of downloads and an add-on disk - we're trying to support it." Webley: "The downloadable content is giving stuff to the movie-makers, but we're also trying to expand the gameplay aspect We're not just talking more sets and more scenes - we're really going to be concentrating on the gameplay and looking after your studio."
- Quiet Times At Lionhead High?
Molyneux: "The days of having a studio which would have a year of insanity and then months of peace are long gone: we've moved on to what's going to come next in The Movies, we're working on a new title and another that will be announced reasonably soon. There's about 220 people at Lionhead - we may have finished three games all at once, but you can't just have 220 people sit around doing nothing for three months because it costs millions of pounds. Everyone's working hard on new stuff at the moment - we've actually just come out of a design meeting to do with a game which I'd love to tell you about - but I can't...
Download The Movies
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP