"Saturday night at the movies, who cares what picture you see?" Peter Molyneux does, as making movies is the core concept of his latest title. Do you picture yourself as a studio mogul, an award winning director or even a super agent and star maker? What about writing and directing your own mini feature for all the world to see?
Well apparently The Movies is going to make all of these things possible, so we recently made the long pilgrimage down to sunny Guildford, home to Lionhead HQ, to catch up with Peter Molyneux and The Movies' team to see how work is progressing on the game.
Here's what we learned in this, the director's cut.
The Movies sounds like a great concept for a game but how will it actually work in practice?
Peter Molyneux: Well people can sort of experiment and play around with the way they want to play the game. We don't drive the game through challenges, we don't say, 'you must make a movie by 1940.' We drive the game by saying: "Make the movie studio of your choice and create the stars of your choice."
What we've tried to do is make it really accessible and simple through balancing and refining. Just the idea that in design terms you can come in and take over someone's game is really, really important to us. If this game was just all about making movies I don't think it would be successful, but because it's about making movies, running a studio and looking after stars and each of those being very unique to your game; that's the really important part. It is your studio and it's like no-one else's studio, they're your films and they're like nobody else's films and your stars are like no-one else's stars.
But won't some people just want to ignore the simulation and make their own mini movies - is that possible?
Peter Molyneux: Well there's something about money in the game which is a bit surprising. If you look at the screen, there's no money on it all. The realisation is that you can go totally into debt if you want to. What I found when playing the game is that I wanted to run my studio and make just one film and it would be a huge film in the nature of Star Wars. That means I want to spend as much as I want to spend. You can go into the red, into debt as much as you like, when you go into debt you move down the movie studios' league table, but you can spend as much as you like on your movie and you can make fortunes on that side.
That's one part of playing the game, the other thing is in the main menu you can just click on any year and go in there, the simulation will be turned off and you can make your movie. So if you just want to make movies, you can just make movies. If this game was just all about making movies though I don't think it would be successful. We are still thinking that you have to play a bit of the game to unlock that, so that you get used to it, there's no real tutorial. Essentially though if you just want to make movies, you can.
There have been some recent changes to the interface and scoring systems though?
Peter Molyneux: The biggest thing has been taking away all the icons, putting in those little bubbles that popped up with information. These are what we're calling tool tips albeit very intelligent tool tips so they'll give you the information you need to know, because what we found was that in a classic sense in games like Theme Park and Theme Hospital, you had the screen up top and you had your information and menu bars down the bottom.
What you found was you didn't ever look up into the game world. Our interface doesn't sound very revolutionary but it is, it means you do constantly look into the game world. We're using that exact same system in Black & White 2. In B&W 2 you just get the screen, there's not even one single icon at the start of the game, it's all set inside the world and I think that actually makes a big big difference to how you play.