Gamasutra had a chance to chat with Lionhead co-founder and
Populous/Black & White creator Peter Molyneux at GDC London earlier
this month, he’d just completed two major lectures – a lecture on experiments for Fable 2, and an extremely honest history of the company, presented alongside Lionhead’s Mark Webley.
it wasn’t much of a surprise to find Molyneux in free-wheeling,
typically charismatic form as he approached a multitude of topics in an
extremely honest fashion. We present here a selection of the most
interesting answers from our interview with him, from his next-gen
technology choices through his troubles with the press and his
overwhelming drive to succeed.
Some companies seem to take a very technology-oriented approach to next
generation – for example, LucasArts’ use of tools such as Euphoria for
its next-gen Indiana Jones title. What do you think of a technically led approach to next-gen development?
Molyneux: As a designer, there are some things that I absolutely want.
For one, and this is what LucasArts are talking about, I want to have a
character that will truly react with its environment. What this kind of
technology actually means is that when I design a character, I don’t
have to design the 100,000 animations that make it up.
if I could have a piece of technology that will do the simple stuff,
then I can concentrate on the unique parts. Without technology, we
can’t have the realism that people will naturally expect. Surprisingly,
the next generation is going to be all about that technology. It’s
going to be all about the technology behind faces, and behind
animation, and blending. And that’s blending everything – blending the
graphics, blending the music, blending the gameplay.
With apologies to Propaganda Films
GS: Is Lionhead using middleware to help it make next-generation titles, then?
Absolutely – I’m absolutely passionate about that. We’re using quite a
lot of stuff – we’re using Havok for physics, we’re using Kynapse for
navigation. It’s such a mundane task, but we as a developer have been
constrained by navigation for decades. ‘You can’t have the character go
up there because we don’t have a navigation map for it.’
also using things like Anark for our user interface. Being able to be
dynamic with these things is vital. You would think that moving a
health bar from the left hand side of the screen to the right hand
should be a 10-minute piece of work. And it normally takes about a week
to do [laughs]. It helps to use a third-party tool that allows me as a
designer to move things dynamically. We’ll use as much of this stuff as
we possibly can.