This new game has two parts: First is the movie studio sim, where you create a studio, hire actors and directors, keep everybody happy and in the public eye, hire screenwriters to write scripts in various genres, build sets and shoot the films, get reviewed by critics, then release the films and watch the money come rolling in. The "story mode" of the game starts in the 1920s and you can run right up to the present day, though right now I'm in the 50s and the guys on the ever-present in-game radio talk about nothing but commies.
Eventually though you get the ability to actually create the screenplays yourself. This is the other side of the game. You can elect to stay within a genre and set up your scenes and actions within a story framework, or just do whatever the hell you want with the actions given. One of the genres is science fiction and after staying up far too late last night trying my hand at making a science fiction magnum opus, I feel just like Ed Wood now. Or at least Coleman Francis. This is because the experience so far is one big lesson in Work With What You Got.
Even if what you got is bupkis.
My first task was to come up with a stirring name for my film. I rejected the random titles generated by the game, which are exciting enough in their own right, but I wanted to put a personal touch on it all. Thus was born CAPTAIN COSMOS VERSUS THE MARTIAN ROBOTS EPISODE ONE. What a title! What zang! What zowie! This'll be box office boffo for sure!
Relying on star power to drive the film, my studio's biggest star, Tip Rockwell (#2 star in Hollywood!) would play Captain Cosmos. He actually has some sci-fi experience (each actor comes with some genre experience, and you can have 'em practice during their idle time) so I knew he'd do well, especially in the spiffy costume and space helmet. Sam Harley, my erstwhile character actor, was tapped to play the irascible yet wise Dr. Neutonium. Faced with the final choice of boyish sidekick or feminine love interest to round out the cast (you can only have three principals per film) I finally cast the lovely redheaded Darlene McTavish as the ingenue reporter Daisy Parker. I tapped Steven White, an easily-stressed director but experienced in science fiction, to direct the film. He also has good relationships with Tip and Darlene, and making sure everybody gets along is integral to ensuring your finished product is as good as it can be.
Then I realized I had no sets.
I had the interior of Captain Cosmos' spaceship The Defiant, of course. That was one of the first sets you get in the game. But what about the exotic landscape of Mars? Checking my available sets, I realized I didn't have anything I could build that would approximate the spacey locale needed for such a film. So instead I used the War-Torn WWII City set, and wrote a new beginning where The Defiant lands in the town and Dr. Neutonium informs Captain Cosmos that they miscalculated their hyperspeed jump and not only have they missed Mars completely and arrived on Earth, but they've also managed to land on "the Earth of 1943... over five hundred years ago!"
Eventually after scanning for lifeforms and finding nothing, our heroes encounter Martian invaders. Well, they're actually squareheaded robots who don't invade so much as lumber into the shot, but it's enough to provoke startled gasps from our heroes. This is when I discovered my next problem: I only had two extras in my Hollywood stable and four robot roles to fill. So I had to use my stars to stand in as robots, and you never get to see all three heroes and all four robots in the same shot. Ever! Creative editing and camera setup even allow for Tip Rockwell to fire his solar blaster as Captain Cosmos in one shot, and then immediately fall over in a martian robot suit for the next shot. (I gave everybody raises for this. If you give one actor too much of a raise, by the way, everybody else gets jealous.)
Finally there's a fistfight, and Daisy screams and has a kung fu battle with another robot (hey, there were kung fu actions available to me, why not use them?) but she loses and is picked up by the surviving martian robot and carried off... but where?! OH NO IT IS TO BE CONTINUED IN EPISODE TWO!
And mostly because I had no idea where to take them from there. But I think the martian robot will take her to the Old West Saloon, cause that's the only other set I have that I haven't used yet.
Yeah, this game is entertaining. In the "mixing vinegar and baking soda together to make a mess" kind of way. And that's just what I need right about now.
By the way, once finished, the films can be exported to .WMV format so expect a gala opening of CAPTAIN COSMOS VERSUS THE MARTIAN ROBOTS EPISODE ONE sometime in the next decade!