Peter Molyneux, part one

The influential games developer talks life with Microsoft, Nintendo's Wii and the trials of being an independent developer

Peter Molyneux has undoubtedly played a huge part in shaping the UK games industry, starting way back with his early innovative PC tiles Theme Park and Dungeon Keeper, way up to his latest, highly ambitious Lionhead work The Movies and Fable.

Now under the Microsoft umbrella, Molyneux is refocusing Lionhead to create an Xbox 360 sequel to Fable and title kept strictly under wraps. You can checkout the second part our interview right here, where Molyneux talks about Fable 2, his secret project The Movies' "lady flower" incident that almost got it canned. But in the meantime, here's part one...

What's the atmosphere like at Lionhead at the moment? Has everything calmed down since your big releases last year?

Molyneux: Well we're obviously part of Microsoft now and we've been part of Microsoft now for over six months unbelievably. Nothing's really changed, other than there's a lot more workmen around because we're getting a nice... we're all in one office, and we're just focusing on doing two titles.

This is part of the thing that, when you become part of a bigger entity, sometimes things don't change and sometimes things change a lot. So at the moment nothing's different, we're just going through the usual struggles of making a game. But the thing that has changed from last year is this time last year we were right in the centre of the nightmare of having to finish three games simultaneously, because if we didn't the company would've really, really of had some big financial problems.

I'm going to remain really disappointed that we had to release some of those titles - especially Black & White 2 and The Movies.


Molyneux: Well, they really did need some more work on them actually, and this is why in the end we chose not to be an independent anymore because the sacrifices we had to make to quality were so high because simply we had to finish the games - otherwise we wouldn't have had enough money to pay people.

We loved The Movies - which particular areas were you disappointed with in that?

Molyneux: The team did an amazing job and we got really good reviews with it, but what it needed was that extra few months of just playing it and just saying 'is it too hard? Is it too easy?' It was too rushed for me - it was too manic. That's just a personal thing. Now I think if we actually had the time to polish it and play it a bit I think we would've softened that down a bit. It's not that it didn't have all of the features coming out of its ears, it's just that the way that those features were played out wasn't the best it could possibly be.

Black & White 2 was just much smaller than it was originally designed to be and a lot of the features had to be watered down to finish the game off.

Is your Movies disappointment something you'd like to correct in a sequel?

Molyneux: At the moment Lionhead is focusing - and this is what it's got to do - is just focus on a few things. We're focusing on Fable 2 and we're focusing on another new title that we can't talk about at all. That means a lot of the sort of little threads we're definitely not talking about at the moment.

So going back to the Microsoft deal for a moment - what kind of benefits did that have for you as a developer?

Molyneux: Well, the most important thing is that someone like Microsoft came to us and said "look, we just want you to create amazing games," and the reason we went through all the pain of setting up Lionhead is that we felt that we could create innovative games and we could push the boundaries of what people thought of games. We'd always put quality first, and we were finding when we set up Lionhead that being an independent developer was a place that you could do that, but now we've found that actually having someone like Microsoft as our partner is the only way of doing that - it's much, much harder with independent studios - especially if you're going to do a triple-A game.

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