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Peter Molyneux: The Essence of Interaction
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Peter Molyneux: The Essence of Interaction

May 1, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

MK: That's why I find it so interesting, because you gave the player -- as well as having an overlaid story, you give the player a bunch of simple tools with which to interact with these people of the world. Was that something you prototyped?

PM: I'm going to write this down, I'm sorry. That's really good inspiration. I've never heard that toy sword...

MK: Well, I can give you another story that I specifically wanted to tell you. You know how you come back, after being away from the Spire?

PM: Yeah.

MK: She had her husband and her son, and she'd been away, and it was just a baby when she left, right?

PM: Yeah.

MK: And he goes, "Oh, this is your son," right? And she obviously reacted like, "I don't know what to do with my son because I've never really dealt with children in the game before."

So, she thought, "I'll do a puppet show." And she's all scarred and scaly and everything, and she's like, "I'll do a puppet show for him."

But she got it wrong, and she was like, "Argh," like punching. And the child was scared. And she went, "Oh no!" So she held the buttons, and she cast a bunch of monsters. We remember him going, "Mommy, don't kill me!" and running away. He might not have said that. She built a narrative out of just these simple interactions.

PM: Wow. I can tell you -- and this is not giving you any exclusive or anything like that -- this is the sort of stuff that fascinates me absolutely as a designer.

I think it was a small step towards what is quite a goldmine of emotional gameplay, which is kind of -- as you say -- giving the player the tools to kind of build their own relationships with people in the world. There's one thing missing, though. And I...

MK: You can't say it.

PM: I can't say it because I see [Microsoft PR rep] Carol in the background shaking her head. There is one missing, and we've got that one thing. We've been kind of thinking about that one thing, and it will be powerful. When I show it to you, you will exactly understand...

MK: Just to kind of talk around that, do you think it's maybe that you limit what the player is actually able to do? And it helps them fill in these gaps?

PM: Absolutely. It really does. I mean actually it's not... The things you could do in Fable 2 were slightly less than what you could do in Fable 1. There was no boasting. And what we wanted to is kind of simplify it and make it so...

This is what I think about all the time, how can I make things simple so it's really enjoyable to do, rather than more complicated? It's better to do ten simple things than a 100 complex things, if it's really enjoyable doing those things.

I think, again, there were small steps we're taking on a much, much longer road. And this kind of feeds into other things that we're doing -- trying to make things so simple that you can build up that sort of narrative in your own mind.

CN: That puts me in mind to what Ueda did with Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. A lot of people think those are some of the most emotionally effective games they've ever played, and they barely have any dialogue. His philosophy is subtractive rather than additive.

PM: It is, it is. And I still think with Fable 2, we should have distilled more. I think of it as "distilling", taking a lot of things and kind of refining it down and distilling it down. I think when you do hear about what Lionhead's doing next, you will really, really see that. Wow, I can hardly wait to show you.

If you thought that Fable is in any way approaching that, just a tiny little baby step toward the thing that we're going to show you is a huge leap forward. You and your girlfriend will enjoy this like you've never enjoyed anything else in your life.

MK: She just plays them, and that event attracted my attention. I just really was so interested in the way you managed to make both a narrative you've written, but also allowed the player to experience a narrative that they wrote within that boundary.

PM: That's exactly what we're going to show you.

MK: And going back to the concept of... I think that's how MMOs fail, because you can talk to everyone, right?

PM: Yes.

MK: You can say whatever you like, and then you don't know what to do with that.

PM: That's right. There's no consequence. It's too much freedom. That's such an interesting thing. Gosh, I just realized how I'm going to present something.

You know, freedom... The funny thing is that the concept of freedom is that freedom ultimately leads to bewilderment. If you really were free to do anything in the world, I think you'd end up being confused, and that's a very interesting point, a design point, actually.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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