The Movies E3 2005 Preshow Report

This unique title from Lionhead Studios will let you focus on just about any aspect of Hollywood-style moviemaking that you can imagine.

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We've known about The Movies for a long time now, but it's still looking like one of Activision's most promising games at this year's E3. This ambitious strategy title from Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios will let you build and manage your own motion-picture studio, not to mention actually shoot, cut, and edit together your own films. Featuring fully 3D environments and what looks like a lot of clever humor, The Movies may initially resemble a typical tycoon game, but there appears to be a lot more to it than that.

We got to see a lengthy demonstration of The Movies running off a PC, though the game is reportedly headed to consoles as well--possibly next-generation consoles, too. The game will feature all eras of filmmaking, from silent black-and-white movies on through the early days of color, all the way up to current-day blockbusters, and beyond. However, The Movies won't be structured around a campaign game or any kind of story mode--it'll be a pure sandbox for you to play in, allowing you to focus on whichever aspects of the game most appeal to you, whether they be the economic management of the studio and its growth over the years, or the down-and-dirty cutting and editing and even promoting of individual movies, or even keeping track of all the personnel. The scope of the game is obviously ambitious, though Lionhead reps assured us that the game would be designed to be very user-friendly--so you won't need to worry about your actors going on strike if all you want to do is make crazy movies, like Zombie: The Musical, an evocatively titled little film that we were shown as a demonstration.

Zombie: The Musical is pretty much just what you'd imagine it to be. The one thing about this movie that we didn't like was the lack of lip-syncing by all the different characters; as if they'd just read our minds, the Lionhead reps immediately noted that lip-synching should be in effect in the game by E3. The game sounds like it'll feature tons of content, including 45 unique sets, covering all the movie clichés you can possibly think of. A clear (literally!) interface will never take you out of the game's action, meanwhile. To assign a person to a job, you just pick him up with your godlike hand and drop him or her into whichever facility requires attention. Using this method, you can keep your writers churning out good scripts, your actors detoxed and looking good, and so on.

Lionhead's postrelease support for The Movies sounds like it'll be pretty exciting. The company will keep releasing tons of content (which is being worked on now) but will also create an environment in which the community can post its own movies, which the community itself can then review. The cream will rise to the top--and since The Movies will feature such a robust movie-making system (allowing you to add your own audio and subtitles, and make however long or short of a movie you like), the possibilities ought to be pretty limitless. Just think of Zombie: The Musical.

Movies will be structured around what's called "the hero's journey," so they'll involve a protagonist, an antagonist, and a love interest--there will be some degree of focus and structure, but only to make the interface easier to work with. Alternatively, those who don't want to mess with the movie-making stuff too carefully needn't do so and will be treated to some amusing automatically generated stuff based on the elements that are thrown into play.

At this point, we just want to get our hands on The Movies and see how it all plays out, start to finish. Lionhead is known for its ambitious concepts, but the proof's going to be in the pudding. The Movies is scheduled for release this fall for the PC, and what we saw of the game did look like it was coming together into a cohesive experience. We can't wait to see how this one finally turns out, but we'll keep bringing you more updates every step of the way until that time.

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