Tuesday, 9 March 2010

My Time With: MUD TV Demo

When I first heard about this I thought: Wow, it's a new simulator game along the lines of Theme-Park/Theme-Hospital, some of the greatest gaming experiences of the late 90's!

It turns out it's not quite as good as those and I'll explain why.

So the premise is that you are trying to build a TV station, attracting viewers of all types and making cash off the advertising. You can buy shows from the "Slave and Film Corp" to schedule on your channel or you can even write and produce your own with the right staff.

Unfortunately the demo features far less building of your studios and managing your staff that it does buying and scheduling programs whilst assigning the right adverts to the demographics that will be watching. This isn't bad in itself but after day 4 or 5 it really starts to drag and feels more like a casual time-management game. A big reason for this is that you control a character (called Matt) who has to travel to each room to perform any kind of buying, selling, scheduling, writing or production tasks that are required. Having a character who is in the game feels out of place and running between the different floors to buy programs and adverts gets dull quite quickly.

The interface really isn't the best and while intuitive some of the time there are too many occurances where I didn't know where to drag and drop items or when I needed to press a particular button to start a task (for example when you want your staff to start writing a script)

But the very worst part is the tutorial text, it's long winded and difficult to read. The UI doesn't get highlighted where you're supposed to click and along with the other issues here makes it one of the worst tutorials ever. As PC Gamers I think we need saving from tutorials like this, I for one haven't got the patience for pages and pages of text based explanation. I'm sure Theme Hostpial wasn't like this!

With all of that said there are some nice touches to MUD TV. Watching the shows get produced is fun, and the staff are all named like celebrities, such as Nuck Chorriss. The room building is standard stuff again but still entertaining to play around with. In fact anything not to do with the film scheduling is fun! Plus the whole thing looks fun which helps. The TV shows being shown are quite soon to repeat but there appears to be quite a few and you generally get different characters in them each time.

Obviously this is only the demo and I don't believe the game has been released yet so who knows what they're going to keep, cut, improve (hopefully not make any worse!) And I'm still keen to play the final product because this kind of game appeals to me on plenty of levels.

I'd highly recommend, as usual, trying the demo out because it's quite a substantial time-drainer in itself and gives you two whole levels of the game which is at least a couple of hours of play time with those tutorials in there!

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