I’ve played a few “run your own movie theater” simulators in my day, but I have admittedly not touched a “run your own movie studio” simulator before. I was tempted to pick up “The Movies” (released in 2005), but I was afraid of how incompatible it may be with my current system. “Showtime!” popped up on Steam the other day (today being 5/31/2014) and my curiosity got the better of me. What can I say, I love being able to go on a power trip without offending anyone in real life…business sims often allow me to do just that. Along those lines, I’d like to quickly thank Damien from Myrtilus Entertainment for providing me with a free press copy.
Normally I’d place my complaints toward the end, but seeing as how it’s the first thing you’ll see upon booting up the game, I felt it relevant to address here. One of my biggest gripes with the game is the engine it’s using, which won’t allow the user to re-size the window or even go full screen. Being able to see what you’re doing is an important part of playing a game and not having the ability to re-size the window to larger than a postage stamp (I’m exaggerating a bit) is a bit disconcerting. Whatever engine it’s using isn’t very user friendly…it honestly felt like I was playing a flash game. In-game you can turn the sound on or off, but again, your options to customize your experience are limited. Consequently, Fraps would not even recognize the game so recording video wasn’t possible this time around.
That aside, the game has a lot going for it. There’s a lot of meat and potatoes when it comes time to actually start making your movie. The menus and process can be overwhelming to first-time players, though I was able to muddle through and create my first movie without too much difficulty. The game itself is played over a series of turns and when you’re ready to advance time a month, you’ll simply click the appropriate button (like in “Civilization”). The interface displays a number of different menus that allow you to both create a movie and also see how the general market is doing. There’s a box office, for example, that will show you how well your movies are fairing against other AI created movies.
Creating a movie takes time…a number of months and a lot of money, in fact. You’ll begin by hiring a writer who will create a script based on your preset wishes…that is, you can specify the adult language, violence, that kind of thing. After a few months they’ll be finished, allowing you to hire actors, set the location, and begin filming. Each actor, producer, or staff member you hire will have a salary requirement and grade which will in turn affect how well the movie does. There are a lot of other options that factor in too, so you’ll have to play around with the system a bit to see what works and what doesn’t. After it’s all said and done, you can set a marketing plan and a release date. Profit (hopefully) comes shortly after that, along with reviews and the like. This process doesn’t always go exactly this way, but you get the gist of it.
When “Showtime!” launched it was riddled with some game-breaking bugs. Luckily, the developer has been very visible in the Steam forums, posting replies and updates to the game almost daily. I didn’t experience anything too problematic, though the graphics refused to scale correctly on my older ASUS gaming laptop. Once I received my newest acquisition (an iBUYPOWER Gamer Paladin Desktop), the problem went away. I think the game would do very well once the bugs get eliminated and once proper menu options were added. The ability to adjust the screen resolution and go full screen, for example, would be ideal. As it stands, “Showtime!” has a lot of great ideas, but the execution keeps it from reaching its full potential. This is a great example of a game releasing before it’s ready and the reason why “Early Access” exists…it could have certainly benefited from more time in the Beta stages. Its saving grace was the price tag, which is currently $7.99 (as of 5/31/14).
Final Verdict: 4/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Showtime!” by visiting the following websites: