M.U.D. TV Impressions - Programming and Demographics in TV Land
We take a look at this upcoming strategy game that will let you play as a network studio executive.
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We recently had a chance to look at M.U.D. TV ("mad, ugly, dirty television"), the next strategy game from Kalypso Media who brought us Tropico 3 and Grand Ages: Rome. The colorful, tongue-in-cheek game will let you play as a TV network executive who is trying to determine the best, most profitable, and popular programming lineup for season after season of your station.
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There are numerous factors that affect how successful you'll be--you need to get programming (TV shows, movies, and series) that conforms to one of eight demographics (including emos, yuppies, nerds, and senior citizens) with respect to source material (jocks will like action movies with lots of explosions, for instance) and time slots (senior citizens watch in the mornings while nerds stay up late to watch TV). In addition, you'll need to cater to the needs of various advertisers who may want to appeal to 18-to-34-year-old males or to young kiddies. All the advertisers will be hocking fake products, and the actors and directors appearing in the game will also be fictitious.
You'll play as an executive who has the entire floor of a skyscraper office building to yourself but must compete with other ambitious young execs in your building for licensable shows and talent. In order to draft new scripts and create new shows, you take the elevator to the lobby to meet with prospective talent and sign the talent to work for your station. In some cases, you may have to be quick on the draw to do so, otherwise a rival computer-controlled executive (or an opponent in the game's online multiplayer mode) may snatch that talent away from you.
When you start a new game, you'll begin with a blank slate--no programming for the season and a small budget that's barely enough for you to syndicate some reruns and maybe a new show or two. These shows can be purchased in a shopping interface and will vary in cost depending on their quality. Different programs can have a quality rating of between one and five stars, and at the beginning, you'll be able to afford only one- or two-star programming. Once you plug the shows you've purchased into various time slots, you'll start receiving daily reports on your ratings and advertising revenue, as well as start seeing opportunities to improve by reaching out to new demographics or signing on new advertisers.
Later on in the game--once you've got some money in your coffers--you can start producing your own shows. This requires you to hire onscreen acting talent, directors, and writers, all of whom can also have one- to five-star ratings. Exactly how well your programs and movies turn out depends on the quality of talent you have and the amount of time you allow your projects to stay in the cooker (the game will actually let you design and build your TV office and place various facilities, such as a writer's room, here and there). The more time you give your team to work on the script and film the talent, the more money you'll end up spending. But this will also lead to a higher-quality product that will likely make your audiences happy, increasing the ratings and bringing in the advertisers. You may even win the coveted "Semi" award for quality programming.
In addition to having a standard Career mode, M.U.D. TV will have, as mentioned, a multiplayer mode, along with an open-ended Sandbox mode that lets you play through a continuous season of programming. In both cases, you can set various game rules (such as "all players must air programming for nerds only") and different victory conditions to make your experience a bit more open ended.
M.U.D. TV is scheduled for release in February.