I was talking with a friend about another game before when he said, "How can you like it? I'm addicted to it, but I don't like it!" I didn't understand what he was saying until I played "The Movies." Where to begin? This game is one of the most insanely frustrating games I have ever played. It's meant to work as both an RPG simulator game and a movie making tool. I haven't played many RPG sims, but this is a lot of aggravation to go through to make a movie. Let's start with the bugs. Sometimes the actors show up as black blobs instead of actors. Sometimes, when costuming the actors for a scene in the movie, the actors torso will appear as a formless white shape so that you can't see what their costume looks like. Actors will sometime play roles or wear costumes that you didn't assign to them. In the movies, the actors will make annoying mumbling noises unless you insert a microphone and dub over them. The microphone leads to a whole different set of bugs all together.
When the game starts, you have to build a studio from scratch. You also need to hire employees to write scripts, act in the movies, direct the movies, be extras for the movies, build and maintain buildings, clean the lot, and research movie technology. Directors and actors fall under the same category in the game, but you'll probably use them interchangeably. In fact, you'll probably use all of your employees interchangeably, because only a handful of applicants apply for the jobs on your lot. Making movies stars out as a lengthy process of putting screenwriters to work on a script, casting the script, making sure the script has enough employees attached to it, and then filming on the sets you pay the studios budget to put up. Once the movie is finished, it's reviewed. And then the reviews torment you for using a maintenance man as a star and a screenwriter as a director because you didn't have enough actors and directors to commit to making multiple movies at a time, something you'll need to do if you want to make any money at all in the game.
You also need to let your employees have fun without getting drunk, and letting them have fun will stretch out the amount of time it takes to make your movies. You also have to build trailers and nurse relationships between the actors to keep them from quitting. Plus, running the studio is often interrupted by an awards ceremony. It's fun at first, but after a while I ended up fast forwarding through the ceremonies to see if my studio won anything. The game starts in the 20's and continues to move through time until it goes into the future and doesn't stop. Also, movie-making processes evolve faster than they did in real life, and there's no way to choose which technology you want to incorporate into which movie, so don't count of producing a film noir in glorious black and white in the 1940's.
It's possible to attempt making movies without stressing over the strategy element in the game's "sandbox" mode. Unfortunately, options in the sandbox mode must be unlocked by earning certain amounts of money, winning certain awards, garnering good reviews, and babying movie stars in the main game mode. You even have to unlock the ability to write your own "scripts." This process consists of stringing together different animated sequences, ranging from a secretary seducing her boss to a zombie getting stabbed in the head. There are thousands of combinations of animations possible. Still, there aren't enough possibilities. While you get to control certain elements, such as violence level during fight scenes and the raciness of love scenes, it's impossible to control basic elements such as whether an actor is exiting stage left or stage right. Also, each script can be based only around three main actors, and each actor only gets one primary costume. If you want an actor to wear a different costume in certain sequences in the movie, you must change their clothes in each of those individual scenes. The same goes where choosing a custom backdrop for the scenes. And the options for dressing the sets with props are almost impossible to use.
I've restarted the game twice already. The first time I restarted it was because I did so miserably in the strategy portion of the game that my studio spent a century being multi-millions in debt and I only had three tiny sets to film on. The second time I restarted because my brother accidentally saved over my game in the confusing save screen. After that, I was forced to start earning items I had unlocked all over again.
There are several other frustrating elements of the game, such as being unable to change simple mistakes, like an actor being in the wrong costume, during filming or post production but only during the screen writing process. Also, in the main game, custom scripts will take more time and money to produce, meaning that making movies the way you want to make them will actually hurt you in the RPG strategy element.
The game certainly has its moments. And it definitely is addicting. The first week I owned it I lost sleep trying to come up with strategies to save my studio from financial ruin. But it really isn't worth losing sleep over. And while I'm addicted to it, I can't recommend it to others.