"There's nothing out there like it, which was the hardest part about it," Seismic Games CCO Eric Gewirtz admits in telling us about the unique Gigs feature in its debut game, CelebrityMe. "It's a lot easier when you're like, 'Yeah, we're just gonna do that.' But [with] this we had no frame of reference."
In the world of social games, it's an oddity to hear that a designer lacks a frame of reference. Actually, it seems like too many game developers have too strong a frame of reference in creating their games. While Seismic Games seems to have looked to existing games for CelebrityMe's play style and looks, namely It Girl and The Sims Social, it looks to experiment elsewhere.
In CelebrityMe, players create their own celebrity and see him or her through from the streets of Venice Beach to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. But players actually start out on top--you see, most of the game is actually a flashback. When players being CelebrityMe, they're at a movie premiere. This is where Seismic introduces players to both what their characters could be if they keep playing and the nifty Gigs feature.
To make sure the premiere goes swimmingly, players have to successfully choose the right outfits and friends for the movie scene at hand, which is randomly chosen. To choose the right outfit, players must select of combination of clothes that adds up to the perfect value, but also an outfit that fits the scene. Then, would-be celebrities must choose their friends' avatars as co-stars, and they're awarded extra points for picking friends that fit each role. (Later on, movie scenes quickly become TV spots and music videos.)
Then the video plays, a trailer of sorts that features both you and the friends you chose to co-star. It's a chuckle-worthy experience at times, something we're hard-pressed to find in social games much less video games. For instance, the first film your avatar stars in is titled "Hindenburg" ... and hopefully you can already see where that's going. Sometimes, there's nothing like a good old parody.
"The best comment that we've been getting consistently from our testers is, 'Wow, I don't remember the last time I laughed in a game,' which is really sad, because they're games--they're supposed to be fun," Gewirtz says. "You're supposed to have a smile on your face when you're playing them."
Of course, these semi-custom made movie trailers and music videos can be shared to Facebook. Once the movie premiere is through, none other than Whitney Opera (get it, huh?) interviews your avatar and asks about your rise to fame. Cue flashback and you're in the heart of CelebrityMe. Based on the introduction alone, it's clear that CelebrityMe is character-focused, story-driven social game, somewhat of a rarity in Facebook games.
Admittedly, the general play hook of the game is following orders of quests and clicking on objects, but that's merely the filler in between creating those goofy videos to share with your friends. Between this and the game's art style, it's tough to avoid comparisons to games like It Girl even with the option to choose male avatars. While we're told that CelebrityMe shoots for a wide audience, it's clear that fans of CrowdStar's fashion sim could flock to CelebrityMe. But with a game jam-packed with this much character and humor, we're sure the fellas could find something to enjoy.