Friday, October 07, 2005

Coming Soon... to Your Desktop

The Movies, Peter Molyneux's insanely ambitious studio sim slash digital backlot, has gone gold on the PC, with a release date in early November.

It's been a-comin' for a while. Somewhere I still have a promotional film-can tin of ossified Tootsie Rolls from the game's E3 2004 booth.

The time to market is understandable, since a bigger game it'd be hard to imagine. The Movies is part Civ/Sim-type game where you build and manage a movie studio from the 1920s to the present, part The Sims where you groom and manage stars through their careers, and part ready-made machinima engine, letting you create digital movies and share them online with other players. Any one of these threads could be a honkin' huge game in and of itself.

The UI implications alone are daunting -- any non-animators out there ever tried to create anything in a 3D animation program? Fun, like sand in your eyes.

The Movies clearly has sophisticated AI, much flexibility in framing scenes and shots, and a grounding in both the contemporary lore and fantasy of Hollywood as well as its scrappy, technology-driven roots.

I'm definitely intrigued. If Lionhead can pull it off, this could be another advance for social media and the democratization of filmmaking.

Players are already filming amazing things in games not at all designed for this, albeit mostly shelvable under Funny, Lewd, or Music Video. The Movies seems poised to offer a sandbox for much more, although I'm betting that the first batch of player films will be overrepresented in the Kick to the Groin and Batman/Alien/Star Wars/Firefly Crossover genres.

Funny how gonad injury and backyard fanboidom have become the ARRIVAL OF A TRAIN AT LA CIOTAT for this new generation of amateur filmmakers. Those Lumiere brothers missed out on a goldmine. Chumps.

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