An Early Sneak Peek at Peter Molyneux's New Screen Gem

It’s ironic that videogame designer Peter Molyneux, the creator of the so-called god game — in which you rule over little people from a heavenly perspective — is now planning to simulate the one place where no one likes to be controlled: Hollywood. Nevertheless, the British designer, known for last year’s Black & White, is hard at work on The Movies, set for release in 2004. Starting in the 1920s and leading up to the present day, players try to run a successful movie studio by bidding on scripts, constructing sets, and hiring talent. Once the cameras start rolling, adjustable content controls let you dictate the amount of violence, action, and romance in each film. ”Basic Instinct wouldn’t have gone over well with the public in the 1920s,” cautions the 43-year-old Molyneux. Players must also contend with virtual movie stars with very real egos — a few inopportune mouse clicks could lead to an actor locking himself in his trailer. If everything works out, the films might win Academy Awards. But what about smear campaigns during awards season? ”Absolutely,” says Molyneux. ”I’m even toying with the idea of an online version where your friends play the rival studios.”