The Guardian: Peter Molyneux Interview

By Kieron Gillen on April 30th, 2008 at 3:54 pm.

I do like the white backgrounds. It makes me feel like as pretty as a princess.

I’ve spent the week doing a couple of short, if dense interviews with major gaming figures for the Guardian Online. First one’s up, where I talk to Peter Molyneux about the idea of name-creators, why there hasn’t been a refresh of them for a long time, where they may arise and why he hopes they do arrive. The quote the Guardian chose to open on: “I’ve been credited unduly”.

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29 Comments »

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  1. Chris Evans says:

    Is The Guardian starting to become the bastion for pro-games journalism…I hope so!

    Great read anyway =]

  2. hungSolo says:

    The idea of the “rock star” developer crashed and burned pretty hard with Romero and Daikatana. But I think it’s an ebb and flow.

    The article mentions CliffyB, and Molyneaux contends that more designers will be “sticking up their hands,” which makes me think of Ken Levine. Say what you will about Bioshock, Levine puts himself out there, takes criticism and talks about his profession seriously.

    I’m sure more people like him will emerge as the industry matures. Indies are absorbed, but others crop up to replace them.

  3. Butler` says:

    They’ve got a dedicated games journo, he’s pretty good, too.

  4. Chris Evans says:

    @ Butler` – is that so? Well I think I will have to think about giving up The Times and start looking at The Guardian!

  5. restricted3 says:

    Unduly?. Yeah, for everything after Bullfrog. But he’s not the only one, by far.

  6. nabeel says:

    Anyone got a bugmenot for this site? ¬__¬

    nabeel

    [edit]
    … nm, it’s working.

  7. Will Tomas says:

    That is a very bizarre quote to take out of context.

  8. Ohle says:

    One other reason we don’t see too many individuals acting as “celebrity designers” or whatnot, I think, is that a lot of developers tend to fit the role of stereotypical gamer — these aren’t guys who are going to look great on camera, or who even want to be on camera. They just love making games and don’t care if anyone sees them. There are exceptions to the rule, but even in the case of a Sid Meier, for example, he’s only a draw because, as Kieron alluded to, he has a long history of hits. But still, if you asked 20 gamers to pick Sid Meier out of a photo lineup, I don’t think too many would choose correctly. Developers just don’t have a mainstream public outlet to become well known to anyone other than hardcore gamers who follow gaming blogs, read mags and so on.

  9. Zeno says:

    Bollocks on Molyneux.

  10. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    I just bought an ancient PCG from May 1994 in an attempt to complete my collection, and inside is a lovely picture of Peter with MUCH more hair than that, accompanied by some screenies of Syndicate. Good times.

    (Also within was a preview of System Shock – “it’s clear from these shots that the graphics will be excellent”. Hehe. Also of note is Gary Whitta’s editorial where he says that “in 12 months you’ll be able to buy a pentium-based PC for less than the current price of a 486″ as part of a piece defending PC gaming (which was, apparently, under attack then as much as now). Anyway, slight tangent from this article, sorry!)

  11. Acosta says:

    I think Peter Molyneux kindly forget a third source: gaming press. Yes, it’s true that companies don’t ease that access to the ones who carry the creative leadership of the game and they feel content with letting the producer talk with the press to make him/her drop the key features of the game in carefully planned PR stunts, but I see few gaming journalists pushing for that access (sadly, even being part of press myself, I can’t put myself as example on that, but I consider my influence and “power” minimal for that).

  12. Howard says:

    This man is the anti-christ.

    All true gamers should be issued with or forced to create small statues of him so that, as one, we may burn him in effigy…

  13. Mike says:

    The man is a master of looking smug.

  14. theleif says:

    Every time a game/movie/book author uses the word franchise about their creations, a little knife is twisted in my heart.

  15. Irish Al says:

    Ah Peter. Spoofer without peer.

  16. a-scale says:

    It’s a shame Molyneux isn’t known for the Black and White franchise, particularly because B&W2 sucked.

  17. Kadayi says:

    Despite his occasional miss-hits, the man is passionate about gaming and that to my mind is no bad thing.

  18. RichPowers says:

    So does he even design games any more, or just talk about designing games? Hell, even when he did design games, they were mostly talk anyway…

  19. Jonathan says:

    Reply to RichPowers:

    Because Syndicate, Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper, Populous, Powermonger and Magic Carpet were all infamously bad. I believe there’s still websites dedicated to hating these games.

    Also I am glad there’s a Lionhead in existence even if the games have been too damn shallow. Though Movies is growing on me and I’ll be trying B&W2 once my courseworks finished.

  20. Dr.Gash says:

    I don’t see what the problem is with Peter Molyneux. He’s not an inherently bad force for gaming. Fair enough he talks a good line and has on occasion been a bit over zealous with his superlatives but so what? Passion, as Kadayi already said, is really important, and the man has it by the bucketload.

    However, to counter this, I would say I disagree with the idea of the Designer-figurehead role. I think it can be far more damaging than it ever is helpful to a product to have a single person splattering their image all over it. For example, I think all the pre-Bioshock Levine interviews, even the more intellectual ones between him and the devout Objectivists, were unneccessary, and messed with the meaning of the game for me.

    It’s the same with song lyrics to a certain extent. Take what you will from what you hear, but read the lyrics only once your own meaning for the song is cemented in place.

    Jeez, I hope that’s on topic, otherwise I will feel like a douche in the morning.

  21. Kommissar Nicko says:

    All I can think of is:
    Derek Smart!
    DEREK SMART!
    DEREK SMART!!

  22. Aubrey says:

    Industry figureheads become those heroes you shouldn’t meet. They get a lot of the credit, and help drive up the awareness of the game (or have their fame bolstered by it), but do they get to REALLY contribute to the sweet spot of development? Aren’t they too busy getting interviewed? I’m exaggerating, but still… if you’re off schmoozing at trade-shows, where’s your direction, then?

    Given the choice*, I’d avoid stepping into the limelight on a big team project – it’s not worth the internet derision, let alone the fact that it pulls you away from working on the game. I think a lot of devs are similar: they’d rather let the game do the talking.

    *I’m never going to be given the choice. However, we’re all probably nerdy enough to have heard of Doug Church, but he seems fairly good at avoiding press attention after finding he didn’t enjoy it so much, and would rather be making games. I really respect that. And now, I guess he’s got Spielberg as a bit of a deflector shield for press attention.

  23. Geoff says:

    Man, do I really have to be pedantic guy? I hoped someone would beat me to it. Oh well, here goes:

    @Kieron: That’s not what “begs the question” means.

    Back on topic though, I don’t really understand all the hating on Molyneux. He’s done some great games, and he’s had some big overly ambitious games that turned out lousy.

    There’s far too many lousy games out there to waste your time hating all the designers. But more importantly, with all the bitching we do about how gaming isn’t innovative enough and everyone does the same thing over and over, we should be glad someone’s at least trying the big ambitious stuff, even if he fails a lot.

  24. Sam says:

    Powermonger? Bad? Lies! i think i still have the 3 1/2 diskettes n manual around somewhere. I loved that game. Amassing your armies, the maniacal grins that would appear when you struck iron thus meaning your army would become invincible. Awesome fun.

  25. Ravenger says:

    I love this quote from IGN’s preview of Deus Ex – Invisible War. Sums up the whole press fascination with gaming personalities:

    “There’s a tendency among the press to attribute the creation of a game to a single person,” says Warren Spector, creator of Thief and Deus Ex.

  26. Donald Duck says:

    ^ Heh. But those people in many ways drive the industry forward. Not everyone will be the next Picasso, unfortunately.

    BTW good to see this kind of article can be printed side by side with other culture stories in The Guardian.

  27. theleif says:

    What? Do people hate Molyneaux?
    But seriously, we need more game designers like him. Of course, not every game he’s made turned out well, but he’s one of the few designers that always try to think different. He doesn’t always succeed, but at least he is trying to innovate and to create his personal vision.
    You don’t like him? No problem, COD 15 or C&C 42 will be out soon.
    And while those games probably will be good, they will never be innovative.

  28. Jonathan says:

    Actually I’d say Hideo Kojima starting to become a face. He is using his name as his brand afterall.

  29. The Shed says:

    It’s not what Molyneaux does, it’s just the things he says and how he says them. He completely overhypes the games he works on; and I’m not talking Halo 3 or GTA IV levels of hype, no no, at least everybody hypes those games, and are excited about them. Molyman is the ONLY person who talks like his games are the best thing ever, and that’s why people have a problem with him. No one else sees his totally overblown view aside from himself, so he sounds like a tool. If he just talked with a cooler head, I’d have much more respect for him, and his games.

    Kojima is defo a face, although an awesome one. At least he’s a geniune kinda guy.