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Molyneux vs Molyneux

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When Lionhead Studios' Peter Molyneux talks, people listen. His enthusiasm for games and RPGs is infectious, making it easy to get excited when Molyneux is talking up an upcoming Fable game. However, the designer's zeal for promoting his latest projects has gotten him in trouble at times, earning him a reputation as an exaggerator, a teller of tall tales who makes promises that his games can't keep.

But even though every Fable game developed under his lead has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and was well received, Molyneux always seems more than willing to speak candidly and critically about his titles' shortcomings. That's what we admire about him. And that's why we thought we'd pit Molyneux against his toughest critic of all: himself. So join us on a trip through time as we remember the joys of optimistic pre-release excitement, tempered by sharp post-release apologies and regrets...


Before Fable released

“[Fable] is going to be the best game ever.”

Peter Molyneux, 2003

“Children, your own children, are significant, very much so. But that’s all I’ll say about that for now.”

Peter Molyneux 2003

“Ah yes, the Force Push. It’s one of the first spells we designed actually, and one of the best.

Peter Molyneux, 2003 Responding when asked if it will really be possible to push an opponent’s skeleton right out of their body.

“Everything I have said about Fable is absolutely true. Yes you can get married, yes you will have children, but the whole thing must follow the main story. It’s an RPG.”
Peter Molyneux 2003

Useless Fact: The first Fable was called Project Ego during the early stages of development.


After Fable released

“In Fable we didn't really spend enough time on the story.”

Peter Molyneux, 2006

“If I have mentioned any feature in the past which, for whatever reason, didn't make it as I described into Fable, I apologize. Every feature I have ever talked about WAS in development, but not all made it. Often the reason is that the feature did not make sense. For example, three years ago I talked about trees growing as time past. The team did code this but it took so much processor time (15%) that the feature was not worth leaving in. That 15 % was much better spent on effects and combat. So nothing I said was groundless hype, but people expecting specific features which couldn't be included were of course disappointed. If that's you, I apologize. All I can say is that Fable is the best game we could possibly make, and that people really seem to love it.”

Peter Molyneux, 2007

"I think the first mistake with Fable 1 was that I really mistook the idea of game features as goodness. I just stuffed it full of game features and didn’t think about the mechanics of those features or how to explain them to people or how to exploit them in the story. I can remember going into meetings three months before the game was on the shelves and saying, 'I’ve just had this brilliant idea, why don’t we do this?' That was just insane, man."
Peter Molyneux, 2010

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16 comments

  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - July 3, 2011 9:32 p.m.

    I think you can see in his comments on fable 2, the choices he made that led to fable 3 overly simplistic and incredibly disappointing RPG elements, maybe he's looking too much from the point of view of the mass market, and not enough from the target market, not enough from people who enjoy RPG's...you cant please everyone Peter :/
  • meh - August 22, 2010 1:55 a.m.

    Peter is always really hard on himself. It could be considered a bad trait but he uses this trait to push himself to make a better game.
  • philipshaw - August 13, 2010 11:06 a.m.

    That is why I will never buy any of his games because a year later he will say it's shit. Why should I spend money on a game that creator doesn't even think is great
  • Genericide - August 13, 2010 4:38 a.m.

    I really sympathize with the guy, because it's clear his excitement for his games is earnest and not the type of corporate-generated hype most high profile games suffer from. It's true that the fable games are some where I can see clear flaws, and hopefully the regret looking back will help him change things before the game comes out this time. However, I would never want him to lose that enthusiasm, as its something few other people have, particularly given the tremendous amount of time and effort that it takes to make triple A titles. So long as you take his comments with a grain of salt, he's a breath of fresh air in terms of honest optimism.
  • The_Tingler - August 13, 2010 3:25 a.m.

    Just two Fable games? What about Black & White 1 and 2, and The Movies?
  • MrDuracraft - August 13, 2010 3:19 a.m.

    "...It’s like making a film where people are like, 'that was cool... I don’t know what the hell was going on, but it was quite cool.'" JUST LIKE INCEPTION! And that movie is pretty f**king good.
  • Crabhand - August 13, 2010 2:45 a.m.

    @HereComesTheHypeTrain That's a good point, but it doesn't stop the Fable games from being well rounded and charming experiences. Molyneux is a hype machine that is constantly on overdrive, we all know it and we all ought to have realistic expectations for Fable 3 (read: Excellent, but not without flaws). The flaws of each game only inevitably shape the next iteration that improves in many respects.
  • HereComesTheHypeTrainCHOOCHOO - August 12, 2010 11:50 p.m.

    Tyler Nagata in his opening paragraph: "But even though every Fable game developed under his lead has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and was well received, Molyneux always seems more than willing to speak candidly and critically about his titles' shortcomings." Oh, Peter will finally be honest about his previous deceptions but only when he is currently hyping his upcoming game as the "next revolution in gaming". Promise the world, break that promise, admit you did indeed lie about your previous game then go on to repeat that cycle again. When will the media and gamers learn not to take anything this charming charlatan says seriously? Politicians lie all the time and have that stygma attached to them but somehow Molyneaux still has his supporters who applaud his fanciful lies even while acknowledging that he is a proven habitual liar. Madness I say.
  • Clovin64 - August 12, 2010 11:50 p.m.

    Molyneux is a man who constantly strives to improve his work, and really tries to sort out problems fom his previous games. We need more developers like him.
  • JADENkOTOR - August 12, 2010 11:42 p.m.

    Whats not to love about Molynuex. Hes truly passionate about his games and is always looking to get better at his craft. You can't fault a man for that.
  • pinoklin - August 12, 2010 11:39 p.m.

    molyneux's excitement is one of the coolest parts of fable lmao
  • Not Snake - August 12, 2010 10:56 p.m.

    At least he tries and is excited about the games he's making. And is honest about his mistakes. I'm still going to listen to him, and hope for the best.
  • Dabenguin - August 12, 2010 10:39 p.m.

    Peter Molyneux is a beast
  • k1w1bug - August 12, 2010 10:31 p.m.

    Always nice to see a game designer that can own up to his games having some flaws in them! Am really looking forward to Fable III and I don't mind if Molyneux over-hypes this one either, will still get it 1st day.
  • ZenPhoenix - August 12, 2010 10:30 p.m.

    Well, at least the man is able to look back and criticize himself. Now if he will just learn from it...
  • Tronto13 - August 12, 2010 10:30 p.m.

    Personally ive loved all of the fables so far and have just preordered the fable 3 collectors edition :) I think every developer needs a 'molyneux'-esque character with the ambition and the drive to try things others wouldn't dare to even attempt.

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