Interview: Molyneux In The Moment, Pt 1

By Nathan Grayson on June 11th, 2012 at 3:00 pm.

Peter Molyneux is excited. It’s early in the morning of E3’s notoriously draining day two, but it certainly doesn’t show. The god of god games seems energized and animated – reinvigorated, even. Admittedly, this is a man who – in the past – has been known to become lightheaded at the prospect of hyper-realistic videogame acorns, but there’s substance behind the passion this time around. After years of being caught up in triple-A content churn, Molyneux’s finally doing everything his way. His team, his project, and – perhaps most importantly – his wildest ideas.

Will they even stick, though? Can his 22 seemingly abstract experiments be fun? Should they be? Will this gigantic cannonball into the deep end of gaming’s least charted waters even make any money? For now, these questions couldn’t be further from Molyneux’s mind. In his own words, he’s “just experimenting,” and – while many of his former colleagues continue to stick to game development’s straight-and-narrow – he has no idea what he’ll find. So, near the ruins of what appeared to be a truly formidable breakfast, he and I chatted about that.

 RPS: This is your first E3 disconnected from Microsoft and the whole big-budget console scene in ages. How’s it been?

Peter Molyneux: It’s been unusual for me. Normally, I’m in this room and I do my demos, and it’s just one rotation after another. Now, let’s see, I’ve been on the Spike TV host panel, and I’ve been a journalist for two days. It’s been a real eye-opener. I think every designer should be a journalist for a while. What’s enlightening is most of the journalists I spend time with are just fanatical gamers. And I thought they’d just be slightly tired, but no, they get genuinely excited about games, and that’s been quite refreshing.

RPS: So what sort of stuff have you been doing on the Spike show?

Peter Molyneux: I’ve just been commenting on the press conferences and doing a couple of interviews and looking at some games and saying what I thought and trying to be diplomatic. But still honest.

RPS: And so, aside from that, what are you doing at E3?

Peter Molyneux: Well, I left Microsoft in March, and I’ve set up this new company. I’ve been spending a lot of time with the team. I’m not here to show anything off right now. We are doing this thing called the Curiosity Experiment, which is coming out in a few weeks’ time. But I’m not really doing press on that, there’s no demo, it’s all something fresh and new and different. So I’m waving my arms and I’m excited about the new company.

RPS: What is the Curiosity Experiment, exactly?

Peter Molyneux: Well, the big reveal of what it is and exactly what it looks like and how it works will come in an Edge article which we’ve already done. So I want to keep a few things back from that. But it’s this idea where we’re working on this amazing game, it’s going to take us a long time to do this amazing game, and we need to experiment with some of the technology we’re going to invent for the game. You can’t just lock yourself away anymore – especially if you’re talking about this connected world and you’re talking about connecting people together and you’re talking about dynamically balancing a game.

So what we’ve chosen to do are these experiments. We’re going to release these experiments, and each experiment we release, there’s going to be something fascinating about it, something intriguing about it. These experiments are more questions to people and to gamers in the community.

Our first experiment is called Curiosity. It’s this simple idea: If I said to you, “There’s a box here in front of us, and it has a big question mark on it. There’s something amazing in that box.” Then my thought is that you would say, “Ah, I wonder what’s in that box?” That’s what this whole experiment is fuelled by. We present you with this beautiful white room, and in the corner of this white room is going to be this black cube. And you can tap and chip on this black cube with your finger, chip away at it, and slowly bits will fall off, and then you realize that actually everybody is chipping away at this one black cube together. It’s only one black cube, and thousands of people are all chipping away trying to find out what’s in the middle.

That experiment is fascinating to us. It allows us to test out this idea of how you can connect possibly tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people together. Plus, it’s a fascinating experiment with just the power of mystery and curiosity. [Apparently it will also include £50,000 DLC. Molyneux, sadly, neglected to tell me about that part.]

RPS: How freeing has this been for you creatively? What was the genesis of this idea versus, like, how you would normally come up with a game at Microsoft?

Peter Molyneux: Well, I think Microsoft is a fantastic company, amazing people, all the things you’d expect me to say. But I want to be playful and experimental, and I don’t think you can be fully playful and experimental when an organization’s got lots of agenda items, and it’s all about understandably keeping things secret and keeping things in here where nobody can see.

Being outside of Microsoft allows me to do these crazy things like this experiment with the cube, and then the next experiment’s called Cooperation. I think it would be very hard to do that within Microsoft. And the reason for doing that is, I’m being very honest, is because I want to make this game which is going to hopefully be the best game I’ve ever worked on. It’s going to need some unbelievable experimenting with what motivates people and how technology works and how I can use technology – which would be very frightening for someone like Microsoft, to publicly say, “Oh, we’re experimenting on the iPad or experimenting on the PC,” without it being some kind of public statement about their plans for the future.

RPS: Yeah, that’s what Day Z creator Rocket was telling me. He didn’t think he could’ve done this if he hadn’t launched it as a mod first, because he apparently pitched it to some publishers and they said, “Hmm, people don’t want that. It’s too hard.”

Peter Molyneux: No, I know. That’s a problem. A lot of publishers, a lot of bigger companies, they have to be risk-averse. They have to be safe. The very first game I did, Populous, it was very hard to find a publisher, because you go to them and say, “Oh, you play the role of God and you raise and lower this land.” They look at you and say, “We don’t want to take a risk on that.” It feels like those days are being repeated at the moment.

RPS: You’re releasing these experiments as apps, but they’re coming to PC as well, right?

Peter Molyneux: We’re going to release them on every single format that is not too much work to do. So we’re releasing them as apps, we’re releasing them on PC. The trouble is, if you want to release it on console, the amount of time it takes to get something approved for release on console [is prohibitive].

On the App Store, it takes five days. You submit something, and five days later, it’s released. Meanwhile, something like the consoles, on the PSN and on Xbox Live Arcade, it can take months. And that’s a big problem. I think that is a testament to how I think that consoles especially have to realize that they’re entering this instant world. People don’t want to wait for six weeks, six months or something, they want to get it the moment they read about it.

RPS: So your plan is to eventually combine all these experiments into a larger game? Are all of them intended to be deliberately linked together?

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, every single one of these experiments are really steps on the way to making this bigger game. We’re making the bigger game at the moment. One of the things I really want to do is connect people together, which is what this final game is. All the games I’ve ever worked on the past are about connecting just two or three people together – or, at most, 16 people. I don’t want to do that again, I want to go on and make something that puts thousands of people together. World of Warcraft kind of does that.

But we’re just experimenting. So each one of these experiments is definitely a step on the path to making that final game. It’s going to take a bit more time to make that.

RPS: How much are you hoping to grow 22 Cans? Is the “22” bit literal?

Peter Molyneux: 22 people. 22 experiments. Everything’s 22. [chuckles]

RPS: How do you keep those experiments engaging on the basis of releasing them one at a time if they’re going to be part of a greater whole as well?

Peter Molyneux: Well, you know, the great thing about these devices is, once you put an app on your phone [or PC], I can update that app with another experiment. You don’t have to do anything. It’s just there. And each one of those experiments are very different. This cube in a white room, there’s nothing like it. It looks different, and everything else we’re doing is different. I want each one of these experiments to be intriguing in that way. To find out what happens is going to be interesting. Analyzing how many people tap on the cube, whether or not they’re motivated to go on. As you tap away it will reveal something on each one of these surfaces that make up the cube. What happens on each particular surface is a fascinating thing. And I hope people are going to share that information.

RPS : So far, what is your favorite thing to come out of the 22 Cans ideas? What’s the thing that creatively motivated you the most?

Peter Molyneux: Ah, it would be just working with people who really enjoy getting lost in experimentation and inventing stuff that’s completely new and not being burdened by the fact that you did it that way before and that’s the way you’ll do it again. We’ve got 14 people now, and a lot of those people haven’t really been in the games industry before. So they don’t know what you can’t do, and they don’t know exactly the way it works. That sort of new approach there, I think it’s very refreshing. For me, creatively, it’s very refreshing.

RPS: How did you select most of these people? Where did you get them from?

Peter Molyneux: It was this amazing thing that happened. I sent some tweets out, I put a message on my Facebook page, I just did one interview for Gamesindustry.biz. And then this huge number of e-mails came in. Almost 1,700 people applied for jobs. And a lot of those people [weren't game developers by trade]. I mean, there has been everything from a 15-year-old kid in New York who wanted to run away from home and get on the plane and fly out, to someone who used to be a peace envoy to the UN.

It’s an amazing range of people, people I’ve worked with before, people from the games industry, people from the film industry. It’s just an incredible collection of people fascinated, and hopefully wanting to help invent stuff. We have 14 people now. We’ll have to get another eight people before we’re up to strength, and then we’ll have to close the doors. But it’s been an amazing experience to have gone through all those emails.

RPS: That idea really fascinates me – that a lot of your people don’t come from traditional game development. This industry’s overflowing with genre barriers and “You should do this” or “It has to be done this way” statements. Also, I can’t help but think of The Wire – which was principally written and created by a number of people outside the television industry – and look how that turned out. What sorts of ideas and stories has this process yielded for you so far?

Peter Molyneux: It’s hard to talk about those ideas, because those ideas are so refreshing, they end up being part of what we build. But, just sitting in the office, one of the programmers had never done a game before. And his approach to one particular problem that we had… You’d say, “Oh, I know how to do that” if you’d done a game before. His approach led us to change one aspect of what we’re making, just because he hadn’t done it before. It’s hard to talk about those specific examples, but there’s definitely something there.

Check back tomorrow for part two, in which Molyneux gets angry at social gaming but then uses the word “amazing” 400 more times.

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134 Comments »

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  1. Claidheamh says:

    “Peter Molyneux is excited.” Oh, you…

  2. zaphod42 says:

    I’m sorry, but I’m sick of giving Peter Molyneux all this credit. The games industry media all panders to him like he’s some god of design, like he’s Miyamoto or Will Wright, excuse me, what has he done?
    Populous? That’s what he keep going back to? His major claim to fame? Meeeeeh. It was pretty boring, and pretty much just an obvious incremental update on the kinds of things other games were trying.
    Black & White? It was pretty much just a tech demo. Got everybody excited, but no gameplay there.
    Fable? He promised all kinds of features that he couldn’t deliver on, and lied about them being in the game up until release. Then Fable 2 wasn’t even what Fable 1 promised, and by Fable 3 he was making an entirely different game and forgot what he set out to do.

    The guy is a loon. He hasn’t made anything of note, anything fun. He makes flashy tech demos and promises the world, he knows how to get the media excited by saying the right words, but at the end of the day its just words. Oooh, Fable Kinekt! Oooh, Milo!

    Molyneux thinks he can charge $30,000 for DLC? And boring, pointless DLC at that, for a non-game?

    This guy is completely disconnected from reality. Boring. Pointless. Stupid. Go away.

    I mean, how can this possibly end?

    Somebody pays $30,000 and they break the block. They get whatever is inside, which is not possibly worth $30,000. Either they go “lame, I got ripped off”, or they get some whatsit they put on ebay.

    Or, the person with the $30,000 DLC pickaxe still doesn’t win it, and some random player just happens to poke the box at the right moment, takes everything, and the person/people who paid $30,000 feel rightfully pissed off.

    THIS ISN’T A GAME, MOLYNEUX. This is a damn lottery. Its a gamble. And a very expensive gamble, and you don’t know what the payoff is.

    In other words, a sucker’s bet.

    Peter Molyneux thinks the world is full of suckers.

    • N says:

      The first B&W was fucking amazing you peasant.

      • Lemming says:

        Really? Which part was amazing? The micromanagement of village idiots while at the same time having to keep both eyes on your sociopathic creature or the fact there are only 4 levels?

        Black and White is what it is: A bunch of ideas incoherently assembled into something that forgets there should be a game in there somewhere.

        • HexagonalBolts says:

          There was a great article I once read about gaming needing a ‘shawshank redemption’ for it to become widely recognised as art – not some ethereal indie game that relies on gimmicky mechanics or some of Molyneux’s more wacky ideas, but something with a real richness of atmosphere, narrative (linear or otherwise), detail and tone. The abstract technicalities of Black and White’s gameplay were a failure, but it oozed charm, and I think that element was a step in the right direction.

          Almost all art has incredible quantities of atmosphere, narrative, tone and detail – but the vast majority of games are still stuck at ‘go here, shoot this, generic WW2 props, generic plotline twist’. We’re stuck in a rut of producing something things that are either commercially safe or as quirky and obscure as possible – imagine the state cinema would be in if it produced nothing but Tarkovsky and chick-flicks. More video games need to have a granary where when you zoom as close as possible you can see a tiny apple, within which is a miniscule worm wiggling up at you. That kind of detail did more for me than all the WW2 FPS games put together.

          • Lemming says:

            I agree with the sentiment, but I’d argue we aren’t that short of good artistic games. More is always better, obviously and yes the derivative WW2 shooter trope does tend to steal the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, but the games are out there, and more do get made. They just aren’t coming from Molyneux any more.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Cargo! – The Quest for Gravity had more oddball charm in its tiny malformed-Richard’O’Brian-clone pinky fingers than B&W had in its entire oversized monkey.

            Obligatory nod to Bastion for beautiful presentation of setting, too.

          • Torgen says:

            Ooo, Cargo is one game I keep meaning to get, but forget its name. So many freaking games…

      • rocketman71 says:

        No, it wasn’t. It was all smoke and mirrors, and it was also buggy as hell. If I remember correctly, if something (quite easy) happened, you’d lose your pet and never be able to finish a level in the 4th campaign. And that was when very few people could go and get patches from the net.

        I adored Populous. I LOVED it. It’s one of my favourite games ever. I loved Syndicate, Magic Carpet, Dungeon Keeper. Many of the games he designed in the late 80s/90s are fucking fantastic, but let’s be real: he hasn’t done shit in the last 15 years, other than open his big mouth and vomit tons of empty promises.

        It’s time the gaming press stops covering whatever he says like it’s the fucking word of god, at the very least until he can release something, ANYTHING, of what he promises. Until then, he is as big a joke as DNF. And I’m not exaggerating.

        • zaphod42 says:

          I forgot he did Dungeon Keeper. That one was good.

          Still, its been awhile since he’s done anything but make noise.

          • FunkyBadger3 says:

            Did Fable not happen? I’m sure Fable happened.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            Yes and no. Fable happened but it was nothing like he had said it was going to be in the years beforehand. I do wonder how hampered he was by publishers though. Especially with Fable which took off with the masses in a big way despite being a massive let down for those of us who had been following its development from the start

        • LionsPhil says:

          Even when your pet wasn’t bugged out (or locked away from you by design—great work there crippling your stand-out feature, guys), it had all the smarts of a badly-trained neural net, which is to say [REDACTED BY BADLY-TRAINED SPAM FILTER]

          • LionsPhil says:

            And now, part 2! Isn’t trying to comment on RPS just the funnest little game sometimes.

            —that it would [GOODNESS!] in your grain stocks, throw your villagers into the sea, and never learn to catch no matter how much you beat it.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            That was the joy in B&W though – having your little beastie doing all sorts of crazy because you weren’t in control of it.

    • Mctittles says:

      I had a great time playing and creating stuff in “The Movies” game.

      • Al Ewing says:

        The Movies was phenomenal – pretty much my favourite game of all time. It’s tragic that it didn’t catch on with a wider audience, and nobody’s tried anything similar since.

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          Lacero says:

          You are all mad. The gameplay was manually dragging people next to each other so they could talk.

          Just talking wasn’t enough, just working on the same film and meeting wasn’t enough. No you have to manually drag them together.

          It’s a game for SC players who think it has too little micro.

          (I mean yeah making movies was kinda fun, but that’s not a game right? No real game design in that.)

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      stahlwerk says:

      While I will recognise that Magic Carpet 2 was a really good game (when it didn’t crash), you are kind of right. He may not be the naked emperor we all choose to fail to see, but many of his games have been caught with their pants down, with mostly everyone turning a blind eye in the end.

    • Salt says:

      It’s worth mentioning that Molyneux himself has frequently commented that he doesn’t think he deserves the accolades that he gets, especially after getting the BAFTA fellowship.

      He sees 22 Cans as his chance to earn the respect and awards he’s already got.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      A lot of the games Peter and the rest of Bullfrog made were sublime, making and defining a genre which few have explored since. Even some of the Lionhead post 2001 was genius – Black & White, Fable, and yes even The Movies (you wouldn’t understand unless you were part of it, the community was like LittleBigPlanet’s, only five years earlier).

      Show some respect, jizzrag.

      • zaphod42 says:

        jizzrag? ouch, how about you show some respect! I was just voicing my opinion.

        • mrjackspade says:

          You deserve that imo because you didn’t just ‘voice your opinion’, you shouted it out in an unnecessarily rude and inflammatory way. Let’s just say I wouldn’t like to be friends with someone who randomly ‘voices his opinion’ like you did in the OP.

          • hilltop says:

            Since you’ve weighed in, I will too. I thought the OP was entertaining and didn’t go out of its way to insult anyone here.

            Probably didn’t warrant being called a jizzrag.

            Seems fair to label this a lottery. I’m actually more curious to see if someone pays that absurd price for the diamond chisel, rather than finding out what’s in the black cube.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            It was very very rude to Peter Molyneux though, who is also a human being and should probably be treated as such even in the third person

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            sonofsanta says:

            @hilltop: you know it’ll be Notch that buys it.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I just take it based on his actual products. He does over-do his talk, but even though Fable didn’t have a growable tree, I still enjoyed it.

      I might change my mind if he does a CoD-clone, but I doubt he’ll ever go that mad.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Populous is rightly considered one of the most amazing games ever made, and started its very own genre.

      Black and White was awesome. Period.

      Syndicate is an absolute classic among tactical RTS games.

      Dungeon Keeper 1 and 2 created a whole sub-genre and still remain the by far best games of said genre.

      Magic Carpet was an absolutely unique and amazing game, unlike anything I had played before or have played since. Really, there is just nothing to compare it to.

      Theme Park is still one of the best Construction and management simulation games out there.

      Theme Hospital is even better.

      In conclusion – keep on trollin’ buddy. Very few developers out there can boast to have created such an amazing array of games.

      Also, technically he hasn’t really made a game since leaving EA. When he left Bullfrog behind he set up a network of satelite studios working on different projects. Only one of those studios became truly successful and that was the one doing Fable. How much of the game comes from Molyneux only he knows, but one thing is certain – not much. He even mentioned himself in an interview recently that he hasn’t really designed anything since the first Black and White.

      • Squirrelfanatic says:

        Syndicate wasn’t tactial. It was practically an esometric shooter where you frantically tried to shoot faster than the opposition. It may have been a nice experience, maybe even a good game, but it surely wasn’t tactical.

        • DrGonzo says:

          It was tactical. It wasn’t strategic at all. But it very much was tactical.

          • Squirrelfanatic says:

            No, I don’t think so. Look at the gameplay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6oO-_3ib2gk#t=263s This really doesn’t look like anything involving tactics to me.

          • Paul B says:

            I remember playing it – the video you’ve linked to is an early mission where you only have basic weapons. Later on you could have all sorts of upgrades like better armour, gauss and laser guns, disguises, auto-turrets etc. Then it became a matter of using the best weapons for the situation, and your squad management. You could split your squad up or keep them together and each member had different drugs you could inject into them to vary their attributes. Not forgetting you had to do research between missions, and that added a strategic element.

            Ok, it wasn’t on the scale of UFO, but it seemed tactical to me at the time, when I was just a young teenager. Plus the missions weren’t all just kill the enemy – there were escort missions, ones where you had to seek out and persuade individuals and I’m sure other types too. Of course, your criticism was at least right about the final mission – Atlantic Accelerator – which was just one big gun-fest.

      • sirdavies says:

        Well, I don’t know what he did or didn’t design, but he sure talked a lot about the infinite possibilities that Fable 2 and later Fable 3 offered, when in reality they kind of sucked.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          And Fable 1 as well, that’s true and it’s something that most definitely tarnished his rep. But saying that he has done nothing and doesn’t deserve the fame he’s got is just trolling in its purest form.

    • db1331 says:

      So much this. He’s a damn hack. I don’t know how he has the industry under his spell, but everyone humors him and sucks down everything he has to say like it’s so profound. I saw an interview on g4tv I think, after the Fable Kinect reveal. Peter told the interviewer that players would form a bond with their horse in the game unlike anything else that’s ever been achieved in video games. That’s the on-rails horse that pulls your cart. He’s like the Emperor with his new clothes. Everyone tells him his clothes are so fine, when in reality he’s completely naked.

    • byteCrunch says:

      Um, Bullfrog, or as I like to call it my childhood. That is why Molyneux gets a free pass.

      • Jimbo says:

        Pretty much. It’s a shame about the lost Fable decade though.

    • Frye2k11 says:

      Well, if nothing else, you just proved that by offering an unknown reward and asking a ridiculous amount for an increased chance to get it, will make some people write angry posts.

      I think this experiment is getting more interesting by the minute.

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      Not a huge fan of his games, but you have to give him credit for being creative. Black and White was a one of a kind game when it came out, and still is in some respects. I can’t say I liked it very much, but it’s definitely not a reharsh success a la Blizzard.

      • zaphod42 says:

        I dunno man. I do like when people try new things, and try to walk off the beaten path, but you can’t just be like Romero and sit around in your fancy studio going “I made quake I’m so awesome everybody’s gonna be my bitch” and then you release Daikatana…

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Basic maths: 50000 * 1.55 = ? Hint: the answer is not 30000.

      Molyneux’s propensity to get over-excited about things aside, this is exactly the sort of thing the games industry needs – a high-profile games person with a pedigree who is willing to actually push the envelope. This is great news.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Spot on. I’m tired of seeing how much ass-kissery takes place here at RPS when it comes to Molyneux. Is it because he’s British? National pride is one thing, but you don’t see me praising George W. Bush as a model human simply because he’s a fucking American.

      Molyneux’s games are boring, buggy, and always disappointing. Populous? That game is 23 years old now; let’s not allow the man to slide on the laurels of something he did over two decades ago. It’s silly that he gets this much attention from anyone.

      • hilltop says:

        I do see how an international pariah responsible for one of the least popular acts of aggression in living memory is comparable to a man who made some exquisite games years ago but has failed to produce much of similar quality since.

        • shizamon says:

          You’ve fallen victim to your own criticism. One of the least popular acts of aggression in living history? I really really dislike Bush, but please, Hitler, any of those fuckers from Africa over the past 30 years, and a slew of others come to mind. Definitely not the least popular act of aggression.

          But yeah, they don’t compare, Bush and Molyneux.

    • Farsearcher says:

      His work is certainly important. The level of heated debate it generates is proof enough of that.

    • Baines says:

      Don’t buy the DLC then.

      I’m pretty sure that is part of the point. Curiosity’s DLC is priced at a completely ludicrous point so that everyone *knows* it is ludicrous. No one with that much to spend is going to believe that the results are worth it, much less that you are taking a gamble to win. And if they do believe the results are worth it, then more power to them if they are right, and they only got what they deserved if they are wrong.

      The saddest thing may be that Molyneux has to go for such a high price to even seem “ludicrous”. But we already see people spending hundreds just so they can spend less time playing a game (Smurfberries anyone?), or spending hundreds on virtual items (with EVE’s monocle being the extreme push of that idea), spending real money for just a chance to win a special virtual item (various free-to-play games), or even spending real money for a chance to win a *temporary* special virtual item (various free-to-play games). Then there was the app experiment where the price went up with every sale, wasn’t that somewhere in the thousands when it was pulled? There was Chainworld. There are some of the extreme pledges on some Kickstarters.

      Or maybe the saddest thing is that the DLC has to be limited to a single person, because otherwise you might have several people buying it despite its ludicrous price.

    • Bhazor says:

      … sorry you lost me when you said Populous was derivative.

      But speaking of Will Wright and Miyamoto.
      Will Wright hasn’t made a good game since Sims 2 which was 8 years ago and Miyamoto has been rehashing the same handful of franchises for nigh on 20 years. Don’t even get me started on the Wii games he’s made.

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        Oozo says:

        That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? Saying that Miyamoto has been riffing on the same franchises for more than 20 years now is at least a tad reductionist, I think.

        While there are, obviously, common elements in all of the Super Mario-platformers, you can’t ignore the fact that they basically defined the 2D jump ‘n’ run, and, once the pinnacle was reached (either with Super Mario Bros. 3 or Yoshi’s Island), they went on to define the 3D jump ‘n’ run with “Mario 64″. And while they were not that ground-breaking (or ground-refining, if you will), for all I know the Galaxy-games were alright.

        To a lesser degree, similar things could be said about the Zelda-franchise: Up to “Majora’s Mask”, all of the Zelda-games are more or less drastically different from the games that came before.
        Just saying that “it’s the same IP” is really not saying that much, IMHO.

        (You could argue that Miyamoto platformed or stalled at around the N64, or the Game Cube, but that’s another story…)

        Edit: And even though it’s maybe not your kind of game, you can’t deny the fact that Wii Sports and Wii Fit were a stellar success in their own right.

        Edit 2: Hope it doesn’t sound to fanboyish; I haven’t even owned a Nintendo console since the days of N64, but I still think that Myiamoto was a lot less hot air than Molyneux. He has been delivering, big way, for quite a long time now.

  3. ZIGS says:

    What do you think is inside the black cube? My money’s on that Russian trolololo video (RIP Eduard Khil)

    • roryok says:

      it’s obviously the solution to the global economic crisis. A reset button for money.

    • Maldomel says:

      Probably…another black cube!

    • serioussgtstu says:

      It’s going to be Alan Partridge playing the air bass, there’s no other way it could end.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      A minecraft voucher.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It will be a picture of an ass… which you will want to tap

      or it’s another one of David Blaine’s stupid not-magics

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      The same as whatever it was that was in the Pulp Fiction suitcase.

    • zaphod42 says:

      No clue, but I especially can’t imagine it being worth anywhere near $30,000. I mean, think about it, for $30,000, what would it have to be for you?

      I mean, you can get a car for $30,000, so that has to be pretty damn nice. It has to last. It has to have real value. It could just be a car, and they ship it to you after you “win”, but I doubt it.

      More likely, its something virtual. So what would possibly be worth $30,000??

  4. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    Call me grumpy Mr. McGrumpystone, but all I see coming from the curiosity experiment is people feeling a lot like the tools they bought.

    Truly amazing, unique, mon derrière!

  5. Mctittles says:

    Gambling is not original. It’s by far one of the easiest ways to make money out there, which is why there are so many laws governing it.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Yeah, this box thing just seems like one of the worst kinds of F2P MMOs where you pay cash to get keys to open chests with there being as many chests are you’re willing to spend money to open. The box game merely removes the excusing cover of the rest of the MMO.

      • Apples says:

        You mean it’s Cow Clicker for MMOs? I don’t think that’s entirely true.

        I guess the difference I see between F2Ps/MMOs and this is that this is not really a “pay me money to click” thing. F2Ps are that phrase dressed up nicely. This is something else that uses certain mechanics of F2Ps, but I think the main goal is not compulsive clicking for the sake of clicking (and extracting money) but instead to explore concepts social vs antisocial, and money is used as a barrier that forces real-world social investment (as one person is unlikely to afford the high-end DLCs). Some of it is similar to what Day Z explores – will players band together to win as a group even though they sacrifice the glory of getting the last click (i.e. loot/kills) individually, or will they each try individually and try to maximise their chances of winning, or will individuals try and screw each other over (possibly out of real world money!)? What will the motivations of trying to get the last click be – greed, spite, real curiosity, community spirit? It’s not a game as such, sure, but it’s a kind of internet ‘event’ and I’ll follow it even though I won’t participate, like ARGs. Maybe I’m overthinking it and Molyneux really wants people to be enthused to the point of payment about clicking a black square, but come on, do you really think that?

        Also if we’re gambling I’d like to put some money on a sad group like bronies or tropers banding together to buy an expensive DLC.

        • ReV_VAdAUL says:

          I dunno if I was clear, I meant this game resembles F2P MMOs that ask you to pay to click. Theres one in particular I believe that let you buy as many keys as you liked to unlock as many chests as you like. Just incase I was unclear.

          As to whether I think Molyneux is being that mercenary? Well he is asking for $50k so as to be able to click on a square really hard. I tend to extend very little benefit of the doubt when someone is asking for large amounts of money for nothing very much at all. Sure he can hand wave about social experiments etc but for the experiment to “work” he will recieve $50K for pretty much zero game content.

          Heck, 22 cans is a sort of gimmick startup thing. Imagine if a startup with a famous name on Kickstarter had a reward tier that was ” a very powerful click on a black cube”? For $50k It would be a farce and attract dozens of editorials about how low KS has sunk.

          Of course that couldn’t happen because you can only pledge a maximum of $10k to a KS project, for reasons of fraud. Which makes Molyneux’s comment about how annoying the more diligent certification process of consoles is a little suspect too.

          • Apples says:

            OK I think I’m not being clear. I see that he has a thing you can buy for an exorbitant amount of money and no real point, but I don’t think you’re EXPECTED to buy it, or that buying it is ‘the point’, unlike a F2P. An F2P exists to generate money; if it does not, it fails. I think here the ‘experiment’ would succeed whether every player bought the most expensive chisel or whether nobody did, because in the end it’s about seeing whether someone buys that chisel or not (or what other method they take), not trying to make them buy it by insidious skinner box means. The high money amounts for the bigger chisels is necessary because it provides a barrier that no normal person can surmount on their own and forces cooperation, not because Molyneux wants to lie in a swimming pool filled with gold (probably).

            I guess if you have a view of Molyneux as someone who is willing to scam players out of tons of money then fine – but I think he really has other ideas in mind.

          • hello_mr.Trout says:

            from the new scientist link: “It’s an insane amount of money,” he admits, but the aim is to see whether pure curiosity will drive one player, or a syndicate of players assembled through social media, to buy the chisel. “This is not a money-making exercise; it is a test about the psychology of monetisation.”

            it doesn’t really sound relevant to gaming tho, or to making exciting new types of games.

    • zaphod42 says:

      Yeah, I have to wonder if they thought this through all the way. They could quickly find themselves in trouble for running a $30,000 unlicensed gamble.

  6. Maldomel says:

    It’s a good thing that he is not affiliated with a big company anymore, that he’s doing his own thing with people who are not veterans and experimenting stuff. And planning to test those experiences on regular people.
    It feels fresh, and maybe that’s what the man needs to release all the things he really wants to do but kinda failed to fully deliver in his previous games.

    (feels like I’m starting to worship Molyneux like a video game god, that’s a weird feeling)

  7. roryok says:

    It’s this simple idea: If I said to you, “There’s a box here in front of us, and it has a big question mark on it. There’s something amazing in that box.” Then my thought is that you would say, “Ah, I wonder what’s in that box?” That’s what this whole experiment is fuelled by

    If a guy at a party described this game to you, you’d excuse yourself to get more beer and never come back.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      That is a fucking excellent way to put it.

      I am all for experimentation in games. However, if this was anyone but Molyneux, we would laugh him out of the room upon hearing about this “experiment”. Perhaps he just needs to do a better job of explaining what he hopes to test or what sort of data he wants to gather from this, and how he’ll use it to learn or move forward. Or how it’s a game at all, for that matter.

      As it is, simply saying “I’m not asking ludicrous amounts for this DLC to make an easy money grab, honest!” just doesn’t hold up when there doesn’t seem to be anything of interest to learn from it. What will we say in 5 year? “Thank to Molyneux, we now know for sure that there are rich idiots who like to spend piles of money on digital items in games. Thank you for teaching us this, Peter”.

      • Premium User Badge

        RobF says:

        You two might. I wouldn’t.

        I’d say “heck, why not? Go for it, let’s see what happens”.

      • Evilpigeon says:

        My guess was that the point of the experiment was to test out methods of viably allowing 1000s of people (on multiple platforms no less) affect the same shared object simultaneously. In addition to: To what extent is curiosity sufficient motivation to perform an action.

        It’s not really a game and it isn’t supposed to be fun; he’s running a multiplatform virtual lottery which you can either play for free or pay to increase your chance of winning.

        • Premium User Badge

          RobF says:

          It’s pay to win, in the very literal sense. Whoever buys the magic tool wins the game.

          • Jimbo says:

            Not necessarily, it just gives them a much higher chance of winning.

          • Premium User Badge

            RobF says:

            Ah, so it is. I’d skipped over the “multiple IAP” part when I was reading about it on Gama the other day and just picked up on this bit…

            “One diamond chisel will be made available for £50,000 ($77,400), and will essentially ensure that the purchaser is the person who breaks open the cube, says Molyneux.”

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          “My guess was that the point of the experiment was to test out methods of viably allowing 1000s of people (on multiple platforms no less) affect the same shared object simultaneously. In addition to: To what extent is curiosity sufficient motivation to perform an action.”

          Fair enough. I still wonder that he couldn’t come up with a better game metaphor to test these things, but that wasn’t really the point of my initial question.

          I wonder how he’ll report his data, internally or externally. Will they run multiple cubes with different levels of effort required? Different sizes? Different contents?

      • FunkyBadger3 says:

        Don’t worry, there’s a new version of CODBLOPS out soon!

        • roryok says:

          Good. Maybe they’ll bring in a chisel as a weapon that costs FIFTY THOUSAND FUCKING POUNDS

  8. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    Also, there’s something to be said about keeping mysteries, well, mysterious.

    For reference:
    http://blog.ted.com/2008/01/10/jj_abrams/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_(Lost)

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Abrams and his Magic Box (TM) were old news 3 years ago. We get it, we know it, it’s been done to death and even he is already quietly shifting away from it. It’s a good gimmick, but wears off quickly.

    • roryok says:

      Lost was great until Abrams handed it off to those other two fuckwits, one of whom completely ruined Prometheus just in time for it to be filmed.

      UPDATE: Damon Lindelof is the guys name.
      UPDATE 2: After some research it appears that he was writing from day one on Lost. He still made a royal shite out of Prometheus though

  9. Lemming says:

    I know it’s not fair of me to want to pigeon hole the guy, but is anyone else hoping that after all this experimenting talk he just comes out and says “I’m making a new Dungeon Keeper…2nd one wasn’t too good was it?”

    • LionsPhil says:

      What’s wrong with DK2, then?

      Other than it wasn’t exactly huge evolutionary leaps ahead of DK1.

      • Lemming says:

        It wasn’t terrible, but it just didn’t have the charm the first one did. Gone is the low-lighting glow following your imps to see what the darkness holds in favour of brightly lit rooms and corridors. Gone are spiders, replaced with orange dinosaurs(?!).

        It just felt like they threw more rules at it instead of trying to find ways to make it more open. it was a much tighter RTS, and yeah I understand the reasoning behind the developers to do that, especially as the interface was a lot better. but it just didn’t quite feel like DK any more to me.

        DK2 wasn’t Molyneux either, so that might have something to do with it.

  10. DrazharLn says:

    I, for one, am intrigued. I thought about applying for a job at 22 cans for a bit myself.

    Hopefully he’ll publish the results of the experiments and we’ll all be able to have a look at what people think about these things.

    • zaphod42 says:

      Well, since he’s involving the public, the results should be pretty obvious. Either lots of people pay the $30,000 and something amazing comes out of the box and everybody goes “ooh!” or lots of people pay the $30,000 and something crappy comes out and everybody goes “…. damnit. Was that the expiriment? rip us off?” or nobody pays the $30,000 and we all go “hah, your experiment failed.”

      Its not like they’re doing some real science, something to report back. These “experiments” are just weird one-off projects that they’re doing as tech-demos while they build a game.

      • Soon says:

        Only one person can pay for that level of DLC. It’s more about how those funds will be raised, would shared curiosity create a syndicate and share the wealth? Or would Notch buy it.

        And nobody paying just seems like a result rather than a failure.

      • gwathdring says:

        @ ^ Indeed. That would be interesting to see.

        @OP I think the only difference between your last sentence and the way Molyneux himself described it is that he thought that was a good thing. It really doesn’t seem like a trick or some evil scheme. They just want to see what happens, and it’s related to something they’re keeping under wraps that might or might not be more interesting and worthwhile. It’s not supposed to be real science, they just want to know if the mechanics and ideas effect the reactions, emotions, and interest their expecting and if no whether that’s good or bad.

        Of course, since you already know exactly what’s going to happen and how people will react … I don’t know. Would you like a cookie? Or is your brand of cynicism it’s own reward?

  11. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    RPS: That idea really fascinates me – that a lot of your people don’t come from traditional game development. This industry’s overflowing with genre barriers and “You should do this” or “It has to be done this way” statements. Also, I can’t help but think of The Wire – which was principally written and created by a number of people outside the television industry – and look how that turned out.

    Yeah, when I think of a guy with a long track record of recent failures going off on his own to start a gimmick company I think of the The Wire and the completely different context that lead to its’ creation.

    • zaphod42 says:

      Exactly. He seems completely out of touch, drinking his own kool-aid at this point.

  12. catmorbid says:

    Well, I think it’s an interesting idea. So what if there’s something virtual item that costs 50 000£ – it’s not like there’s anyone dumb enough to buy it… or is there… Anyway, at least it’s something different than games about men shooting men. I’ve no idea what their “big game” could be, and it’ll be probably shit, but at least there’s hope that this 22 step marketing stunt will be fairly interesting.

  13. AltF4 says:

    All Fable games can be described as degrees of rpg garbage, filled with beyond stupid design decisions. That’s all he made for the past decade.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Fable 1 was fun for a bit. Haven’t played 2 or 3, but I would call Fable 1 neither garbage, nor an RPG.

    • roryok says:

      I actually loved the first fable. Loved it. The music and the atmosphere is just all engrossing.

  14. byteCrunch says:

    I hope in the middle of the cube there is a copy of Dungeon Keeper 3.

  15. MOKKA says:

    I bet this Cube Idea is essentially Peter Molyneux in a nutshell: A lot of big expectations but in the end you will be dissapointed about how it turned out. I wouldn’t be suprised if the thing you will actually see at the end would be an early Video of Black & White.

    On the other hand, I like that he actually tries something different.

  16. theimpossibleman says:

    I’m not praising Molyneux for his past games, but I do think his ideas and experimental design choices are the same spirit that you find in the indie gaming scene. Are his games awesome? Maybe not, but thank god someone out there with money is making interesting choices and experimenting with games. It is necessary that the envelope is constantly pushed and I feel like Moly does an alright job of that.

    • zaphod42 says:

      I dunno, man, you could say Romero was “trying something new” and “not afraid to use money to be expirimental” with Daikatana.

      Someone making a ton of noise and trying things that don’t really work out isn’t really good for the industry. I agree that we’re too locked into the same genres, because publishers are afraid of trying new things, but its guys like Molyneux that take the developer dollars and make games like Black and White which are exceptionally meh and make publishers even MORE averse to making strange, out there games.

      No, he’s actually a negative influence on the industry. He makes us feel like somebody is trying something new, but all he does is talk about new things. He always underestimates how difficult it would be to fully implement his “ideas”.

      That’s what everybody seems to miss. Those amazing game ideas, “what if you had halo but it was an MMO and it was an RPG and you could level up while you…” that doesn’t work. Its not that nobody had the idea before you, its not that you’re some genius, its just that developing that program is tough. There’s technical limitations. There’s all kinds of special emergent gameplay conditions that you have to account for.

      “Fun” is an extremely difficult thing to design, and guys like Molyneux are better at sounding like they know what they’re talking about than actually delivering playable games.

      I’m all for new experiences, but he doesn’t really give us new experiences. He talks about new experiences, and then releases an old experience.

      Fable is as much a genre rehash as any game that came before it. And then we had fable 2, fable 3, just direct, boring, sequels. Tried almost nothing new. The bits that were new in 3 were a wholly different game that didn’t belong.

      • gwathdring says:

        You seem to be working from the impression that you know his precise motivations in addition to your legitimate concerns with his actual ability to produce this sort of thing. It’s easy to call someone a pretentious hack when you presume pretension in the first place.

        So he wants to muck around and do light, “playful” things? He never really said he’s going to revolutionize gaming. He’s excited. He thinks he’s seeing important things. But he seems like an excitable person. I’m not convinced he’s having a negative impact on gaming. I think plenty of innovation is happening in gaming and it has nothing to do with Peter Molyneux. I haven’t been falsely deluded into seeing innovation where actual, interesting games have yet to appear.

        Good grief, give US some credit, will you? Please? Before accusing people of treating Molyneux as a God maybe you should take a god damn opinion poll.

      • theimpossibleman says:

        Fair enough. I can’t argue against his track record. His games are only ever vestiges of his lofty ideas. But to say hes actually bad for the industry seems a bit presumptuous. B&W wasn’t a stellar game, but it did some new things for its time. Context matters.

        I would argue that his influence and vocalization of unique ideas is absolutely healthy and promotes great discussions in the gaming community. Hell, without him, there would have been no Molyjam. That excellent indie game event was a direct result of the musings of Molydeux, someone who tweets Molyneux-like ideas. That’s a pretty substantial indirect influence.

        Again, I’m not really arguing for his games. But I think his ideas and opinions are still meaningful, especially in this market where publishers are hesitant to fund new IPs. They can’t afford to pay attention to unconventional ideas, but Indies can and are. It seems to me that someone making noise is good for the industry.

        And only time will tell what his experiments may do for gaming. Maybe nothing. But its his money, why shouldn’t he try? And perhaps the community will be able to extract ideas of out these experiments. It could be great research. Let’s think of Molyneux as NASA. A lot of people think its a misappropriation of money, and the success rate certainly varies. However, the by products that came from NASA..all of the wonderful technologies that were developed along the way…that has to be worth something. :-) My 2 (or 3) cents.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      But critically, the indie scene is already doing better work – without the money and the baggage and the bad PR and the questionable discipline that Molyneux seems to bring with him.

      Then again, perhaps he’ll do a better job of following through on his concepts now that he’s out of the AAA industry; I’m sure many of his problems were exacerbated or caused by deadlines, overbearing producers and executives, etc.

  17. Hendar23 says:

    He was brilliant before Microsoft, and he is always entertaining. Good luck to him.

  18. Hoaxfish says:

    When the stars are aligned, and the cube has been broken, molyneux and molydeux will combine, ushering in the new era of polymoly…where illusion will become reality, and space llama will descend and spirit us all up into god-games.

  19. philbot says:

    Catch 22 anyone?

  20. Strange_guy says:

    A lot of the times people joke about Molyneux (stuff like Molydeux and the like) it feels like a ridiculous parody of a parody so distant from the real thing it loses all context. But now I have learned of a mysterious black box you can spend £50,000 to chip away at faster. Dreamspangle on you crazy diamond.

  21. ukpanik says:

    I wish him well…I doubt I will be chipping away at his amazing box tho.

  22. wodin says:

    I don’t want to “connect” with people when I’m playing games. Surrounded by the buggers already. Jesus when are people going to drop this social connection multiplayer shite. Phones are bad enough already.

    Sorry Pete but you can stick your experiments where the Sun don’t shine.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I think it’s telling that so many designers basically try to recreate phenomena that already grew organically out of The Internets, and call it a game experiment:

      Designer: “Well, I’m going to design a game where thousands of people are connected and socialize!”
      Non-gamer: “You mean like Twitter/Facebook/everything?”
      Designer: “Yes, but I WILL DESIGN IT, ME. AND IT WILL BE A GAME. There will be a box in a corner with something inside!”
      Non-gamer: “How is that a game?”
      Designer: “BECAUSE YES.”

      It’s almost as hilarious as when artists try to make “games” to put in galleries.

      • Premium User Badge

        Llewyn says:

        He hasn’t said anything about this being a game; it’s supposed to be research into how elements of his ideal game might play out independently.

    • gwathdring says:

      I like socializing and games. I just don’t like that type of socializing in the first place. A lot of people love twitter and facebook, some for the simple practical uses some for the big picture side of it. I’m just not invested in that part of modern society. I don’t enjoy it. So when it comes into games, I also don’t enjoy it.

      But I love voice chat, text chat, friends lists, screenshot sharing and all the simple little gizmos that make it easier to play the game together. The point where it starts turning me off is when you add in like buttons, achievements, auction houses, facebook tie-ins, and so forth.

      That said, I think it makes a lot of sense to bring those sorts of things into gaming, because people have shown themselves to really value and enjoy that kind of interaction.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        I agree with you there. To be clear, I think there’s gobs of room to bring such concepts into gaming on two levels:

        As a toolset for players to use on top of another game, i.e. as functional design. I.e. Steam.

        As a theme or gameplay mechanism built into a game from the ground up in an interesting way. I imagine a multiplayer version of Don’t Take it Personally, Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story.

        But putting a box in a corner and then adding a “social game” layer on top doesn’t seem to be doing anything different than the crappy “social” games churned out by every publisher trying to get a piece of Zynga’s pie.

        I am all for people trying to make novel MMO games that connect large webs of players, but I think doing so requires a hell of a good idea, and careful integration of everything from your social mechanics to the story/themes/plot to the game mechanics.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          And we should trust your guesswork about design theory more than Molyneux’s because, why?

          I know that’s an argument from authority, but so was your post. So nyer.

  23. Kaira- says:

    I love Molyneux. In all his craziness and overblown ambitions and excitement, I do think I love him. And you can feel how he loves video games and wants to experiment. And that is good.

    • gwathdring says:

      Indeed. I’m not always interested in his ideas and I’ve yet to really enjoy one of his games … but he has so much enthusiasm and he really loves what he does. I don’t think he’s pretentious or full of himself. I think he’s just excited, and in love with his craft.

      And really, however good or bad his games are–that’s a fantastic thing for the industry. We complain a lot around these parts about all the corporate who make decisions about out games and get it wrong. Well here’s a guy who likes games and what they can be. He also happens to be a tad crazy, but it makes me happy.

  24. Simas says:

    Peter Molyneux for the mayor!

  25. Premium User Badge

    yhancik says:

    Dreamspangle

  26. Nic Clapper says:

    I think the best outcome for this would be that when the cube pops everyone gets their money back, and inside is a message for everyone who bought into this thing to please reflect on the choices they’ve made.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      That wouldn’t entirely surprise me from Molyneux. Admittedly, an outcome of no-one getting their money back but the cube containing a message to people to consider their choices also wouldn’t surprise me. Actually, from an independent Molyneux, I suspect there is very little that would surprise me at all other than him recapturing the sheer gaming magic of his original Bullfrog games.

  27. Vox Inaudita says:

    Who will be the first to buy me a new car? The person who gives me the final dollar will receive something very special. In a box. What’s in the box?!

    I stopped reading when I got to the part about giving him money. This is not a new experiment.