Indie game developers are constantly proving that the AAA formula for making games is not always the best. Good games are about a challenging experience that rewards players with a fun time, not about flashy cut scenes, giant explosions, over-the-top violence, or female characters with breasts that defy the laws of physics.
Myrtilus Entertainment, the indie developer of Showtime! has produced a game without the standard components of a AAA blockbuster, but they’ve still made a quality, rewarding, and pretty fun game.
Showtime! is a management simulation game that lets the player control their own movie studio. Players create movies, maintain their studio lots, keep their technology upgraded, manage directors, hire actors, and set budgets in order to bring their studio to the top of the rankings. Goals include winning as many awards as possible, making the highest grossing film of all time, having multiple movies make the hall of fame, earning a ton of money, or simple becoming the number one studio in the world.
While players manage every aspect of the movie from the screenplay to the marketing budget, players never actually get to see their movies. Players don’t see much of anything in Showtime!, as most of the game is just selecting menu options. There are hardly any graphics to speak of at all.
“I’m part of a team that used to focus on old school text-based management sims,” says Myrtilus Entertainment designer Damien Russell. “Growing up playing Chart Wars and GameBiz inspired me to create Bestseller and Insider and to keep going with making interesting management sims. It’s all about making rich and deep gaming experiences without flashy visuals. I always enjoyed playing these types of games so I figured I’d keep making them.”
While there aren’t any flashy visuals, Showtime! is still surprisingly fun to play. The game has an addictive quality to it as players create new movies in order to earn more money to keep their lots upgraded and technology on the cutting edge. Players have to balance staff salaries, determine how many times to re-write a script, and make decisions on how much extra money to put into budgets for a movie’s special effects, marketing, or general fund. Winning awards, topping the charts, and producing a high-grossing summer blockbuster are all goals that tug at the players, but not all of them are possible at the same time.
Normally an indie game from a small developer wouldn’t get much attention from the gaming world, but Steam has become a lot more generous to the gaming community by offering more and more quality indie games like Showtime!.
“I always thought the only people that would play Showtime! would be the people that follow my games to begin with or are hardcore text-based sim addicts,” Russell admits. “With the launch on Steam and seeing how successful it’s been throughout its launch it has really opened my eyes. I’m not delusional either; I know it’s not for everyone, in fact it might not even be for most people, but if it snags one person and hooks them in then I’ve done my job! There are so many great management sims out there and they never get the attention they deserve in my opinion.”
Russell is being truthful when he says his game isn’t for everyone. Showtime! is a tough sell for gamers who prefer their flashy AAA blockbusters, even for the value-packed price of $7.99. This is a game for people who like to be challenged and can appreciate a game for the depth of play, not the presentation.
Showtime! is an in-depth, highly-detailed simulation that is more than worth its purchase price. If you have ever wanted to control your own movie studio and make all the decisions on your own, this is your game. You’ll just have to be ok with not seeing any the big explosions or gravity-defying body parts.