What’s In The Box, Peter?

I bet there's a dead dog inside the cube

If you couldn’t make it over to the Rezzed game show we co-hosted last weekend – perhaps you live in another country, couldn’t afford it or sensibly realised that it would be unfair to expose that many other human beings to the dangerous, dazzling beauty of your face – have no fear. Well, have some fear, as the Western world is on the brink of ruin and all that, but specifically have no fear that there’s no way for you to see the speakers and sessions at the show. The chaps at Eurogamer were able to use some manner of magic electronic gun that can capture and store both sound and vision, and quite likely also the souls of whatever it’s pointed at. So here’s Peter Molyneux talking about his post-Lionhead plans with new studio 22 Cans, his thoughts on the excellent Molydeux spoof Twitter account and the “life-changing” contents of the mysterious cube in Curiosity.

Caution: includes wild, impossible claims and promises. But he wouldn’t be P-Mol if it didn’t.

Sadly, I didn’t get to ask my intended question “how much of humanity do you expect to survive after the killer AI inside the cube is released into the world?”, presumably because the talk organisers spotted the insolent glint in my eye and decided they’d better give the mic to someone else.


  1. grundus says:

    Well whatever’s in the box, I’m sure it would make Brad Pitt angry. He’s got a phobia of box contents.

  2. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I predict that the box will contain disappointment.

    • Heliocentric says:

      But it will be really full of it, so that’s something.

    • konrad_ha says:

      It was originally meant to contain lot’s of disappointment, but due to budget restrictions and looming deadlines much of it had to be removed before release.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Peter always promises substantial, emotionally crippling disappointments, but he can never really deliver on his promises.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      As of right now, the box is so full of Molyneux’s shit that there’s no room for disappointment.

  3. Alabaster Crippens says:

    I was disappointed with the person who set up perfectly to ask about his obvious god complex and wasted the opportunity.

    That guy is inspiringly insane. An odd mix of sentimentality, childish excitement and complete confidence in his megalomania.

    Can’t go wrong?

    • djbriandamage says:

      You’ve eloquently encapsulated the man! Why, you’ve put Peter in the box!

  4. misterT0AST says:

    I can’t think of a faster way to gather hate and contempt from skeptics.

    • Llewyn says:

      I think it’s a little late for Molyneux to start worrying about hate or contempt.

      Strangely, the more bile that gets directed at him, especially from RPS commenters, the more I find myself open to his more outlandish views.

      • Terragot says:

        Thems be hipster words if I ever did see ’em

      • woodsey says:

        I find him pretty tiresome, but at the very least the guy seems to have actual ideas. I think he could probably benefit from co-designing a game with someone capable of seeing the bigger picture without being almost entirely high-concept-no-practically about the whole thing.

        Come to think of it, that’s similar to how Warren Spector described how he and Harvey Smith worked together on DX.

        • sinister agent says:

          I think the real problem isn’t so much his big ideas, but that he talks too much about them. Enthusiasm is a great and relatively rare thing in big designers, but it’s unhelpful to talk big before things are done, as people will take even a hint of a good thing and blow it out of all proportion, making disappointment inevitable. If you talk about the moon, the internet will be pissed off if you don’t give it to them on a stick.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        I don’t think he really cares about them haters. If you are prominent on the internet you will be hated, no matter what. So the best thing is to just ignore it.

      • Xerian says:

        Outlandish views, child-like excitement and the creations and innovation of a madman. Its obvious, hes brilliant and mad. Sure, hes not as brilliant as his madness makes him yell, but you honestly cant get around the fact that hes madly brilliant and brilliantly mad. And there really is something special about seeing one of the oldest veterans of the industry excited like a child, about going indie. It really is inspiring in some sense..

      • Jengaman says:

        You must be one of those unique kids huh…

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      Bluerps says:

      I don’t understand this. It’s not like the guy forces anyone to listen to him, or to play his games. He is just a developer with strange and ambitious ideas that tend to fall short. Why should anyone hate him?

      • MasterDex says:

        Hate is a strong word. I don’t think any gamer really hates Molyneux. I think it’s more disillusionment. Back in the day, he had all these great ideas and they were, for the most part, all they were purported to be when they went from idea to game but with Lionhead, he never seemed to hit the mark he said he was going to be hitting.

        So a lot of gamers got tired of it. Hearing “It’s going to have this and that and this is going to be so amazing”, only to waste money on it and find out it’s not half the game he said it would be, tends to do that. I think it was Fable that really did it.

        Probably the most infuriating thing for these people is that they still feel that draw from the man. They know he’s made some great games so when he starts waxing lyrical about his next one, the same people that go “Oh god! Not this again!” are likely thinking “But maybe it’ll be different this time!”.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        There’s nothing wrong with having strange and ambitious ideas, but when you start saying that they will be present in your next game, and that your game will revolutionise the genre as we know it, and then release a middle of the road game that contains as much innovation as a cheese toastie, people are going to get pissed off. If PM quietly had ideas and then implemented them in his games rather than using false claims to Market them he probably wouldn’t come across as such a snake oil salesman.

      • Asokn says:

        Precisely. I have a problem with him in the same way I have a problem with salespeople in shops who tell me a product has a feature which it actually doesn’t. I remember when Black & White 2 was in development I read an interview he did where he was asked to talk about the storyline for the game, the response was that the storyline was so strong, deep and fascinating that it would be impossible to give any specifics without spoiling it. Lo and behold the game had practically no storyline.

        I have no problem with him as a creative game developer, I just don’t think he should be allowed to market his games like he repeatedly does because he misleads consumers.

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        Bluerps says:

        @MasterDex: Disillusionment I can understand. I think it was actually Black & White that did it for me. I think I’m confused because I believe that by now everyone knows that Molyneux should be taken with a grain of salt – if everyone knows that, then it makes no sense that everyone is disappointed when he makes a new game that again comes short.

        I think he has interesting ideas, but at the moment I wouldn’t buy a game from him (or at least not at full price) unless I’ve read a lot of good things about it, after it has come out.

        @Eddy9000 and Asokn: I can understand how someone could see what Molyneux says as false marketing. However, I think that there is some aspect of malice in marketing that is absent in Molyneux’s announcements for his games. He doesn’t say these things to sell more games, he says them because he genuinely believes that he can do them. Or at least I assume he does – maybe I’m just naive.

        • Asokn says:

          The problem though is that he can’t expect people to do a search on him every time he pops up to promote a new game, if he wants to be the face of a game then he needs to ensure that he’s clear. I’ve no problem with people who say they’re trying to achieve great things, but don’t put out a product that doesn’t match the description.

          I can’t imagine any other context in which consumers would be expected to just accept that the marketing for a product was false; “Sorry sir, I understand why you thought this car had air conditioning when it doesn’t but, on the other hand, you listened to Fast Eddie and everyone who works here knows he talks rubbish”.

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            Bluerps says:

            Ah, but that’s what I meant with what I said to MasterDex. Fast Eddie has been selling cars for a long time, to a lot of people. Everyone knows that he talks rubbish, not only the people who work there.

          • Asokn says:

            Unfortunately though not everyone knows it, I didn’t before B&W2, others probably didn’t before Fable and others still won’t know until after this new thing is released. Gaming is a relatively young market with new consumers all the time and even most consumers wouldn’t know who PM is; they may have read a few of his quotes before purchasing a game but wouldn’t know what his next project is.

            Also, we seem to be discussing whether it’s better to be a habitual liar or just mislead consumers some of the time. I’d prefer not to be misled at all.

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            Bluerps says:

            Sure, that would be the best case, but the world isn’t perfect, is it? I think that it is better to be misled by someone who overestimates his capabilities, than by someone who lies to sell something. The important thing is that I know that I’m misled.

            Regarding the new people: I think that it is easy to get a general impression about Peter Molyneux. At least the fact that not everything he promises comes true should become clear fast. Note that this hasn’t been the case when Black & White 2 or Fable came out.

    • derbefrier says:

      well what do you expect. this guy makes wild promises about his games and never delivers. he hasnt done anything relevant in at least 10 years, unless you count fable which was probably one of the biggest disappointments in video game history. Hes a hack the lives on hype he hasn’t made a good game in at least 10 years i cant understand why people still pay attention to him.

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    Bluerps says:

    I say it’s a muffin.
    Mostly because I want a muffin right now.

    • Gnoupi says:

      That would assume that there are video interviews by game journalists which are something else than hype relays.

      But from what I observed even recently, such interviews give the impression of two possible characters:

      – the fan boy, who is obviously super excited to interview his idol
      – the clueless guy who will just ask predefined questions

      Either way, they’ll be relays for whatever hype marketers want to sell.

      Note that it’s not against game journalists per se. You can notice the same behaviour in most “movie cast interviews”, or even political ones. My point is, that kind of “calling out” seems highly surrealistic.

  6. diebroken says:

    Milo 2.0…?

  7. Salt says:

    I predict it will contain Peter Molyneux’s soul, as captured by Eurogamer’s videomancers.

  8. noodlecake says:

    Interesting. I think he would be a very inspiring person to work for.

  9. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    What will be inside the Cube? The most exciting sequel possible, a polyhedron with a whole new face! Yes get past the six sided Cube and you get to move on to the Seven sided Heptahedron!

    Will an Octahedron follow? Who knows!

  10. Jimbo says:

    ‘Bullfrog’ counters any argument anybody ever has against Peter Molyneux. I bet he could use it to get out of a speeding ticket if he wanted to.

  11. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Box contained bobcat. Would not click again.

  12. bglamb says:

    Inside the box is a copy of that ‘inspiring’ video.

    It’ll change your life and you’ll grow up to be the next Peter Molyneux.

  13. Fuzzball says:

    The cube contains several kidnapped individuals, trying to find their way through the cube’s many treacherous chambers to freedom. Each of the people has abilities that are vital to the group’s survival, but they also have hidden agendas…

    Oh, “box”? I thought you said “cube.” My bad.

  14. Keirley says:

    I’m calling it now – there’s $50,000 (the cost of purchasing the diamond pickaxe) in that cube.

  15. magnus says:

    Inside the box is a cat which was actually alive until someone forgot to drill holes in it, the box not the cat.

  16. Unholymess says:

    I think that Peter should put the bunny back in the box….

  17. Mctittles says:

    I was really hoping someone would ask him if he knew about the cowclicker “game”

    Also gambling, and how it compared to his monetization of chance.

  18. konrad_ha says:

    The box contains a trip to the ISS. You heard it first on RPS.

    • Harlander says:

      It contains the whole trip? Like, it’s a box encompassing the ISS’s orbit?

  19. rebb says:

  20. Eddy9000 says:

    First it was J-Lo, then Su-Bo, and now P-mol.

    I wonder if Libertines frontman Pete Doherty is considering following this naming trend?

  21. MasterDex says:

    Calling it now: The box contains some poison,a radioactive source and a dead cat. Or some poison, a radioactive source and a living cat. Or both.

  22. cairbre says:

    Maybe DayZ will be in the box

  23. Makariel says:

    Inside the box is Half Life 2 Episode 3. It will never open.

  24. fiddlesticks says:

    The box contains one heart, one key, one bomb, one coin, one pill, one tarot card and one trinket.

  25. randalluk says:

    I think the cube will contain the sum of what everyone has spent on chisels. So if just 1 person bought a diamond chisel (which I guess they assume someone will) it will be a “life-changing” amount of money.

  26. Suits says:

    Fable Heroes 2 in the box

  27. LTK says:

    Inside the box is the revelation that Peter Molyneux is an extraterrestrial, or has made first contact with extraterrestrials. Given the way he talks about it, this seems likely.

  28. Salt says:

    Thinking about it, the game as an experiment in player psychology is significantly flawed. It’s meant to be testing the motivational power of curiosity, but it’s not going to.

    We know from CowClicker (look it up if you don’t know it, it has a very interesting history) that people will play a game that consists of nothing but literally mindless clicking. Not even the usual hollow reward structure of increasing numbers and levels, it literally is just clicking on a cow. They’ll also pay money towards that game for nothing but a cosmetic change.

    Adding a curiosity element on top of that makes it impossible to distinguish between players who are engaged for the sake of mindless clicking versus those engaged for the sake of curiosity. Without a normal group (which wouldn’t really be possible to set up in such an open experiment) it will not be possible to draw any meaningful conclusions about the power of curiosity.

    Speaking of courting publicity, the absurd hype around the game adds another layer of confounding variables. If last year I released an identical iOS game about tapping a cube with a secret surprise in the middle, vastly fewer people would play it and their pattern of play would be different.

    So we end up with a game that although seemingly interesting from a research point of view, will in fact tell us absolutely nothing. Maybe 22 Cans should have included someone with a background in theory of science?

    Sneak preview of the results:
    Loads and loads of people will download the app.
    About 15% will play for more than 5 minutes.
    5% will play for more than 10 minutes.
    Of those 5%, over half will keep playing for over 30 minutes.
    The greater time a player has accumulated playing, the more likely they are to purchase a chisel.
    About 0.05% of all downloads will be converted to a chisel purchase.

    Put that in an infographic (run it through a filter to make it look like a poster from 1960s) and the world will bow before your powers of fake science.

    Curiosity seems to have brought out my cynicism. I do apologise.

    • Arathain says:

      I confess this prediction rings true to me.

    • Mctittles says:

      I agree with your prediction. I also agree there isn’t much to be learned here. Seems like Molyneux just discovered the internet or something.

  29. GamerOS says:

    In the box is probably another, smaller box.

  30. Bobtree says:

    Please stop posting this stuff.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Is RPS getting a cut of any action Molyneux sees out of this scam? Given the amount of blogs we’ll be seeing about this, that seems to be the case.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      But then where will we complain about people posting about this stuff?

  31. bit.bat says:

    It seems to me that the less bits Peter has to work with the better games he makes. The more possibilities he has to play with the more his brain gets fried.

  32. wodin says:

    Who gives a shit whats in the box…it will be a computer generated graphic of some sort…yippee. It certainly wont be the meaning of life… nor even money…as it will be a computer graphic..

    Maybe he will hire Noel Edmonds who asks people stupid fucking questions throughout whilst people virtually hammer on a blackbox.. thats one shit idea…or is it genius?

    Inside the box is a message “saying fuckin hell you need to get a life”…or “you’ve just wasted {insert time} and spent {insert money spent} hitting a computer square with a computer hammer do you feel stupid”?

  33. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    The problem I have with this is that it seems like it shouldn’t and needn’t be a game. It’s like.. well.. Cowclicker (as said earlier). It’s just that Molyneux has the money to play around like that.. for whatever reason. As if he only thinks about numbers and statistics and not the people, the gamers themselves who he subjects (or who subject themselves) to things like this.