Choose a Machinima Engine

Choose the right balance of features and ease of use before filming your own machinima masterpiece.

After exploring the genre ( [Hack #63] ), perhaps you’d like to try your hand at making a movie. It’s not quite as easy as pointing a video camera at a deathmatch screen. You have to know what you want to do and what your engine can do.

How do you know all that? Read on.

What Do You Need?

The simplest way to make machinima is to grab a computer game (or some other software, but I’m concentrating on games here), torture it into producing the proper visuals, and write the end result out as a film in whatever format you prefer.

However, there are a bunch of wrinkles to that. As with any other art form, there are multiple ways to work, and the way you’ll work will be very personal to you. First, you must consider the “people good or bad” argument.

Actors or programs

When you’re making machinima, you have a bunch of virtual actors standing around in a virtual world doing, in the immortal words of the ILL Clan, virtually nothing. You have to inveigle[13] them into doing what you want. You have two choices: control them with machines or with people.

Your first option is to use the game’s own artificial intelligence to control your actors, usually through some form of scripting language. Yes, you too can now control an army of robotic minions. Theoretically, this means you can make an entire film by yourself. The creator of Nehara made an entire three-hour movie this ...

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