By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), General Manager
Sometimes it’s the simplest concepts that have the most impact in the gaming industry. And go figure the game that made my team smile the most at E3 was one we weren’t even scheduled to see. In the back corner of the private Bandai Namco booth we met with Joe, senior producer of an upcoming free mobile game called CineMagic. Before you read on I have to offer a disclaimer though. This game is addicting, so play at your own discretion.
The concept of CineMagic is pretty plain. Play a match-3 style mobile game in the vein of Bejeweled and all the others that came before it. Doing so will give you the tools to beat a rival producer in creating the #1 film at the box office that weekend. Overall it’s pretty casual friendly and the type of game most people could push at their mom or aunt and expect them to get it. But when you dive into the details, there is some serious humor to be found and fun to be had.
In CineMagic you start off as a bottom of the rung director with a limited repertoire of film plots and ideas. There’s going to be no funds in your war chest so you will be producing one star budget films to get your name out there. No worries though as your competition in the early missions will feel like something straight off the sci-fi channel, such as StarSharks 5 in the case of our demonstration. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the space water…
Now starting with no budget isn’t the end of the world. It just limits the kinds of cards you can acquire and some of the freedom of movie production that you can acquire by putting your money where your movie is. Well we cheated and put up $ 100 million in budget to produce a five star film in our demo, and snagged the Time Travel plot as our initial building block. This goes beyond your start though as you’ll soon find out when acquiring new cards in the match 3 part of the puzzle.
When the game starts, you’re limited to having up to 5 cards in your hand and five placements on your film. New cards are acquired by matching the green question mark mystery boxes in the match 3 game. If you reach a full 5 cards in your hand, you have to choose to discard cards if you want to bring a new one in. Each card in your hand can be put into play in the film in exchange for expending resource points. These are broken into plot points, setting points, actor points, filmography points, and special effect points. Different cards require different points and some cards even require a combination of the two to put into play, and when put into play, a card takes those points out of your pool, forcing you to make some tough decisions as the match plays out.
And by tough decisions I mean to say your decisions are just fun random combinations. Each card actually has synergy with other cards such as certain actors specializing in certain genres of film, or certain settings being ideal for certain plot points. We scored massive multipliers in our film by compiling a futuristic metropolis with our time travel plot, an actor with a super hero skin modifier, and a time paradox plot twist. The system is easy to understand and all based on 1-5 stars so it isn’t too hard to figure out. But in the end comes down to gambling as you only have a set number of turns in the match 3 battle before you’re forced to push your film out to the public as is.
Once in the public view, you will see critics responding to your film as well as get an overall rating via Sour Grapes. Then you can earn some bonus cash as the theatre seats start to fill up with people. If all goes well, they will fill up enough to net you more cash than your opponent’s film and unlock the next level! After beating each mission, you get to roll to acquire some of the cards used by your rival director to utilize in future films as well!
While this game sounds ideal for multiplayer action, there is no head to head mode planned for launch. Though they certainly want to make it happen if their launch is successful enough. In the meantime though you will be able to unlock bomb cards to mess with your friend’s movie attempts by either knocking a star actor out of their line-up or force a certain plot or setting on their film to watch them squirm while they roll with the punches!
The monetization will mostly be around convenience, such as unlocking packs of genre cards to speed up the number of plots you can utilize in the game. Launch will feature 6 to 7 genre packs each containing 50-80 plot cards, along with countless spoof actors and modifier cards. And a Bollywood genre addition is planned as the first content update shortly after launch! There will be plenty of bonus features in the game by launch as well including special sound tracks to add a theme to each type of genre you produce, and even a gallery to review your past movie productions to see how you’ve progressed from simple roots to blockbuster films.
All-in-all the game is incredibly addicting and makes me sad that I’m stuck waiting till Thanksgiving to get my hands on it once more. I look forward to sharing my upcoming Bollywood time travel comedy musical set in ancient Japan in our full review.