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Peter Molyneux Is The Game Development Devil

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It was a dark evening in the late summer of 2013. I sat in a room full of polished high back chairs and relics of an era long gone- boxes for Populus 1, Black and White, and Dungeon Keeper. Across from me sat the beast with a thousand backers, grinning in the ephemeral light of the fireplace. He spoke, his words hissing over the table like an asp:

“My dear friend, I’m making something new. It’s going to be amazing. All the powers of a God in the palm of your hand. A world where you can battle with others to achieve ultimate power over life, the universe and everything.”

“Uh huh,” I replied, nonplussed. I had heard this song and dance before.

“It’s a world of your wildest imaginations. No, wilder, because it comes from MY imagination. It will draw you in. Literally. It’s a persistent alternate realm where you can have dominion over all things! All you must do is back my kickstarter. Just a simple 20 dollar backing and the universe could be your play thing.”

Greed shone in his eyes, but I did not budge. “Not interested.”

“But I have a legio-“

“I’m going to have to stop you right there. Begone demon, I cast thee out with this original unopened copy of your collected works, modified to be delivered exactly as promised!”

“No!” It hissed. “A fully finished and realized product! It burnssssssss!”

…and in a puff of smoke he had vanished, leaving behind nothing but an alpha copy of Godus. The room was tainted forevermore, so I burned that motherfucker to the ground.

This kind of sordid interaction with a beast from the game development underworld happened in many a home and internet cafe that summer. You see: Peter Molyneux, gaming god of old, has fallen. In his place is a strange pretender to the throne that promises the moon and gives you a moon pie, flecked with bits of lint, hair and some unidentifiable sauce from Taco Bell. I sense it was something that began to go awry with Black and White, but really went off the rails with the Fable series.

Peter has, assuredly, always been a visionary. I don’t mean that in the sense that he is able to see something and craft it into a living embodiment of human willpower and creative fortitude though. I mean that the man probably literally sees visions, or perhaps mirages, and chases them with all the fervor of a fat kid on a treadmill at a candy factory entrance. Peter has become a bit of a pariah as a result, mostly due to his own wild ambition dragging along an entire studio of people at a time to their own creative doom. As a result, I imagine working for him is a weird combination of baby sitting and being on death row. You know it will end poorly for you, but in the mean time you have to make sure your ward doesn’t blow himself up in spectacular fashion.

Look at all these promises I didn't deliver!

Look at all these promises I didn’t deliver!

I say all this as a long time Molyneux fan, burned by literally everything he has done in the new millennium. The man hasn’t made a game in 20 years that actually lived up to what he promised. Hell, the technology to do Fable‘s dynamic world design wasn’t even plausible until about two years ago due to processing and engine design constraints. Maybe he’s just far ahead of his time, but that still leaves the inexcusable mismanagement of recent projects.

If you’re unaware, Molyneux has fucked up the Curiosity/Godus/The Trial series of events like a man possessed to fuck all the things that his vision catches and his creative hands touch. He has become a force of corruption within a project, merging truth, grand delusion and an unhealthy dose of whatever the opposite of Nietzschian nihilism is into some kind of terrible development machine. For the uninitiated into Molyneux’s very sketchy antics, see this Eurogamer piece on the guy who “won” Curiosity, and subsequently hasn’t been contacted by 22Cans, Molyneux’s studio, in months (a promise later fulfilled, it seems, by another developer). Unlimited power indeed.

Beyond that, the development has been somewhere between “passenger train wreck” and “nuclear holocaust” in terms of its overall quality. This week, in the same day, Molyneux contradicted himself within mere hours across two videos. The man can’t even keep his story straight over a single goddamn day. What’s more, in an interview published today with ‘The Guardian,’ Molyneux promised that would be his last interview and he would not speak to the press again. He apparently said the same thing to ‘Rock Paper Shotgun,’ showing that he can’t even fulfill his promises of a last interview. He totally thinks we should trust him again though.

The Trial is the important game, it seems. At least, that’s according to him. It will deliver the moon, mars and probably a large chunk of the entire Milky Way, if only we give him our faith once more. He swears it. Ignoring the incomplete and disjointed mess that is Godus, he just doesn’t have the good will to spend any more. People were done after Fable 2, 3 and Curiosity. I think it’s time we sound the seventh trumpet and post guards at that final seal, because we need to send old Pete back to the depths of game development Hell whence he came. He may have been a god in the 90’s, but he has most certainly been dethroned in the intervening years. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

About Whiskey Ginger

Whiskey Ginger is a scientist by day and comedy writer by night. Other than his passions for the nerdier things in life, he also writes for comedy sites dedicated to fraternity and postgrad humor. His parents just wish he’d write less dick jokes.

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  • Ben Eklom

    To be fair, I think Fable 1 and 2 were legitimately good games, even if they didn’t match up to his hype. Fable 2 in particular is one of my favourite Xbox 360 games, it had some really great characters (hammer comes to mind as one of my favourite female npcs ever) and the dog really was emotionally effective. For me, my current stance on his work is that I will only check it out after reviews come in, I don’t pay attention to the man himself and am not paying for any of his shitty games.