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About the Story
Make the movie of your dreams amid the glamor and romance of 1950s Hollywood!
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best NPCs - 2015 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 2
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"Hollywood Visionary" casts you as a studio head in the 50s, trying to make your first movie to get your studio off the ground. The atmosphere is that of 1950s Hollywood, and is lovingly rendered: everything is period-perfect, and you're surrounded by big names, which really adds to the atmosphere. The NPCs that you encounter are indeed very well written; I have a soft spot for Fish Grundy, but other ones are quite memorable too. (Orson Welles, in particular, is hilarious and a great character.)
Most importantly, the account of the Red Scare and trying to be a studio head in the McCarthy era is just amazing. The character of Creed is great for that purpose : it is well-written enough that you could totally see someone like that existing back in that day, but still manages to say things that from our modern perspective sounds absolutely ridiculous. It's very impressive to manage to portray this aspect that well, while still making it transparent that the whole thing was a travesty of justice and completely, irrationally stupid. I came out of the game reflecting heavily on what is justice, and how politicians sometimes get away with blatant scapegoating that is profoundly unfair; it really resonated with 2016, although I see now in reviews that it also resonates with other events from a few years ago. For that matter, the tense scene near the end is just amazing, as (Spoiler - click to show)the stakes are high (even if you know how ridiculous it is, they could still end you!), and the atmosphere is oppressive; one of the best written scenes I have ever seen and felt in IF.
The meat of the game is trying to get your movie done while managing all sorts of aspects, like money, stress, actors, etc. This was well-done enough, and there are lots of possible choices; it is however mostly linear, and I came out with the impression that some choices always lead to similar conclusions, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I achieved enough variety to get achievements that I wanted to get, but I felt little interest in keeping going; to be honest, the huge number of choices do not actually feel like they're all supported, and sometimes it kind of felt like it was just string substitution. (as in "<your director> loves <your genre>"). Granted, I didn't really explore everything; but I feel like the game wasn't that great at giving me feedback or letting me know that this particular choice was a really good one. Instead, you are given 15 different knobs that you have to monitor, without really knowing how important they are, and it kind of felt (at least for the choices I made, which were mostly careful and not really going to extremes) like it was a zero-sum game, that if I spent more time on something, something else would lose as many points. This may not be true, and maybe you can manage to make a dismal movie or an absolutely great one, but I don't really know how, and I don't even have a good rule of thumb, which doesn't really make me want to try to achieve it. So, it's nice to personalize your movie, basically, but you don't really feel like it has that much weight or importance overall.
In any case, I had a very good time with this game, and the superb writing makes it a 5-star game in my opinion.
This game was nominated for an XYZZY for best game, and for best NPCs.
This is one of the larger Choice of Games, with quite an epic storyline. You conceive of a movie using a large amount of customization (how many leads? what genre? what subgenre? What other subgenera? Highbrow or lowbrow? Who directs? Who writes? Who stars?). The number of possibilities here really unlocks the game's potential as a wish-fulfillment device.
But making your movie comes with its own challenges. Getting a studio running, winning financial support, dealing with deadlines and spotty talent. I spent a large amount of money to get Frank Capra to direct my ensemble western.
Overarching everything is the shadow of repressive anti-communism hunters. You have to choose how you interact with Hollywood black listers, and what to say in communism hearings.
All of this makes the games general goal (making a great movie) very difficult; I found it more rewarding to focus on personal goals.
Finally, this game includes some parts quite unlike the standard choice of games format; for instance, there is a large puzzly section that has a well-developed location and object model as you search for a dog. This part feels a lot more like a parser game or like a twine game with strong world model (like Hallowmoor).
Overall, I believe this game deserves the XYZZY nomination, and stands among the best games of 2015.
|All Hail The King!, by Luke Skytrekker|
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For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible stories of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for suggesting games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Story in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here will...
For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible PCs of 2015 by verityvirtue
This is for suggesting player characters from games released 2015 who you think might be worth considering for Best PC/Best Individual PC in the XYZZY awards. Leave the name (or namelessness) of the PC (or PCs) in the comment on your...
For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible writing of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for suggesting games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Writing in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here...