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Peter Molyneux On Building The Future

June 27, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

Well, you see that often much more on the tech side with Google and 20 percent time and other companies who are following that lead where you give people some time of their own.

PM: Yeah. Interestingly, I don't actually think that Google's 20 percent time is a reality. I was fascinated in that, and I tried to talk to a few people who'd been in that machine; they said, "Well, actually, it's 20 percent of your time if you've got 20 percent of your time to spare, and not many people have got 20 percent of their time to spare."

What we do, when we thought about that approach, is saying, "Well, just schedule people into it." What we chose to do is say, "Right, this is the defined period of time that you've got. You can ask for more time, but that's going to be the entire focus, rather than saying I've got my day job and this is my night job."

I've already seen some glimpses of what's coming up, and there's some really impressive stuff. Some of it is really cool. I think it'd be lovely to have some people from the press there -- not to do press, so much, although if you did do press it'd be fine; but more to give a press person's perspective on what they're seeing. I think it works best when it's more than just internal people coming.

That was a very clever way of avoiding your very clever question about research!

There's a few things that I think are big-picture questions that you could very much speak to since you've been at Microsoft in the role you've taken on for awhile. I've spoken to different Microsoft people about this, but it very much seems that the 360, particularly -- we're about to enter its sixth holiday season, which would be where we start to say "This is the lifespan of the console," but I don't think that we're even close to that, probably.

PM: I don't think that we're an old enough or mature enough industry to have a regular cycle just yet. This is the second iteration of Xbox. You could look back at the last Xbox and say, "Well, that one lasted five years, so this one must last five years." This is not talking particularly about Microsoft, but I do know, from a developer aspect, it's quite a disturbing thing when you go through a hardware refresh. Part of you is intrinsically excited about it because it's something new to play around with, but you have to take a huge breath; there's an enormous amount of hard work ahead of you.

There's always this bizarre fight around the industry: "Are you going to be a launch title? Oh, you poor soul; you're a launch title," versus "Oh, I'm a launch title; I'm really proud to be a launch title." It's a very upsetting time.

This is me, personally: I don't think we've quite squeezed enough out of our existing tech. I saw Battlefield 3, and it just goes to show that there are still surprises on the visual side; so I don't think there's that pressure yet. It is a big game of bluff, of course: who's going to come first out of the gate will probably be the forcing function for everybody else. The 360 was, of course, the first out of the gate before. It's an exciting time. I agree; five years is quite a long time, but you can see things like Kinect and Move extending the console cycle, just as EyeToy did back in the PlayStation 2 days.

Fable: The Journey

And the teams, as you say, are in the process of refactoring some process-oriented things, and I think very much so, if you look at where people are working. It's still very much a process of learning to work efficiently at the scale.

PM: Yeah! It is, because now the bar you have to reach is so extremely high. It is thousands of pounds a minute, if you think of it that way; if you waste a minute, you've wasted a thousand pounds and wasted an opportunity.

I look at Fable III, and it's hard to be completely honest without offending people; but I know, when I read in the middle of a review that said the quality just wasn't good enough, I actually agree with those reviews.

I think Lionhead can't afford to rest on its laurels of its fans and produce low-quality stuff. We have lots of excuses, as you always do have excuses; but I don't think that's good enough. For consumers, it's very simple: there's a bright light here, and there's an even brighter light there. They're going to go towards the even brighter light -- and why shouldn't they? You just can't sit on your hands and say, "Well, we know how to do it. It's Fable, so that's the way we do it." You just can't do that.

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Kevin Patterson
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I loved Fable 3...... The ending in Fable 3 was so much better than Fable 2, that made it better at least for me.

The thing about Fable 3 that wasn't so good was the real estate. I LOVED having that feature but it was tedious managing upkeep, I felt it took away from the fun.

One of the best things about games like Fable, is being able to go back to the places you have been in the previous games. While the games have had some of that, I wish lionhead would have more of that in the next Fable game.

I also felt the game jumped too far into the future for the 2nd game, I miss the hero's guild, and none of the fable games since Fable 1 has had a villian as interesting or as menacing as Jack.

Great Interview...Thank you Peter for your games, and your idealism.

Andrew Pace
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To me, Molyneux has forever marred his image. He continually apologizes for his marginal games, which would be okay on their own. His position is made worse every time he releases a new Fable, because he comes out and tells the world that the latest installment is going to be the greatest game ever.

Are his games good? Yes. Do they deserve the criticism they get? Yes. Does Mr. M. come across as an arrogant twit? You decide for yourself. Can he recover from this? Maybe, provided he stops building up his games to the point that the world expects nothing short of perfection.

I strongly believe that everyone in the game industry could learn from Molyneux's foot-in-mouth faux pas: There's one thing to be said for a great game that can stand on its own merits. It's a whole different story when you don't deliver on your overly-grandiose promises.

I could say a lot more about my own feelings on Fable 3, but suffice to say that I think the last half of the game was a chore, and lacked any real substance in terms of plot and gameplay.

Mark Venturelli
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The impression that I get from Molyneux when he talks about his games is that he's really the "idea guy". He just shows up and throws ideas at the actual designers, doesn't bother to play the game too much, doesn't bother too much with details, doesn't bother too much with what actually makes games good or bad. I don't know if it's actually the case, but if I was one of the designers it would make me sick to have someone like him taking blame on the not-so-good game *I* designed, as they were *my* mistakes to make, not his. It would be interesting to see what Lionhead could cook up if the designers stepped up and took 100% creative control over a project.

Nathan Verbois
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I've loved the first two, and I've only played the demo of the third, but it already 'felt' like the best. I can usually tell within minutes of playing a game whether I'll like it or love it, and I'm certain I'll love Fable 3 as soon as I can afford to pick it up. For the record, I have never felt disappointed by how any of the games have turned out. They are each wonderful games that I've completely enjoyed, and I expect the same from number 3.

It's important to always shoot for the moon, even if you don't make it. I say, keep it up, Peter!

Joe Webb
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I like Molyneux's ambition and doubt he deserves as much wrath as usual. But from a design POV there were some things in Fable 3 that seemed like they were a result of them trying to build the game around tacked on Kinect (then Natal) capabilities which were taken away at the last minute; the villager interaction stuff would be a prime example. I don't think they simplified that for ease of play, I think the new system was developed around Kinect (as hinted at by Molyneux earlier) and then abandoned. If that's the case it's a shame they didn't go back to the one from Fable 2. Not being able to choose the specific expression aside, you lose the ambient villager interaction that happened before; for example, farting AT one villager and making them hate you while the others around find it funny and like you. There's a lot less stuff going on based on the tastes of the villagers and it just feels like a game that would've come before Fable 2.

Although the "Sanctuary" menu replacement is long winded and a bit annoying (not to mention the Butler's DLC adverts every time you pause) its a valiant effort from a design point of view, to move away from typical menu-heavy RPGness. But I think the point that he's missing is that, for people who don't play RPGs, it's not necessarily because they're too complex, but because that demographic simply isn't interested in Fantasy. I consider myself relatively hardcore but the iconography and setting of a game still dictates my enjoyment quite a lot; probably why Fable 3's interesting, cliche-breaking Arcanum-style swords-and-steampunk setting made up (at least in my mind) for it's retrogressiveness in playability.