Peter Molyneux Interview: “I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more”

When Peter Molyneux agreed to speak to me, I knew the interview was going to be tense. I knew that an article we’d posted on Monday, asking what was going on with the development of Godus, had kicked up an enormous storm for 22cans and its boss, with the rest of the gaming press picking up and running with it. So I assumed, when he agreed to chat, he knew that it wasn’t going to be a smooth ride. I wanted to get to the root of so much that now seems to form the reputation of the developer, the outlandish promises that so often aren’t kept, the ridiculous time-frames claimed, and the often disappointing or lacklustre results. I especially wanted to do this now that the people funding such things aren’t deep-pocketed publishers, but the players themselves. I wasn’t expecting it to take us in the direction of Molyneux’s declaring that I was “driving him out of the games industry”.

We spoke on the phone on Wednesday evening, Molyneux speaking from the Guildford offices of his studio, 22cans. Sounding stressed, but composed, Molyneux asked how I’d like to begin, whether I had questions, or should I just let him talk. I told him I had questions, many questions, and so we began.

RPS: Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?

Peter Molyneux: That’s a very…

RPS: I know it’s a harsh question, but it seems an important question to ask because there do seem to be lots and lots of lies piling up.

Peter Molyneux: I’m not aware of a single lie, actually. I’m aware of me saying things and because of circumstances often outside of our control those things don’t come to pass, but I don’t think that’s called lying, is it? I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly lied, at all. And if you want to call me on one I’ll talk about it for sure.

RPS: During the Kickstarter for Godus you stated, regarding that you don’t want to use a publisher stating, “It’ll just be you and our unbridled dedication (no publishers).” And five months later you signed with a publisher.

Peter Molyneux: Absolutely. And at that time I wish we had raised enough money to not need a publisher.

RPS: But you got more than you asked–

Peter Molyneux: We could have gone and we were asked to by publishers to publish the Steam version, but we turned that down. The economics of doing Godus, unfortunately Kickstarter didn’t raise enough money. Now the trouble is with Kickstarter, you don’t really fully know how much money you need and I think most people who do Kickstarter would agree with me here. You have an idea, you think you need this much, but as most people will say with Kickstarter, if you ask for too much money up front because of the rules of Kickstarter, it’s very, very hard to ask for the complete development budget. I think Double Fine have gone back and asked for more money because development is a very, very, it’s a very confusing and bewildering time, and it’s very hard to predict what will happen.

RPS: Yes, but you know that. You’ve been working in the industry for over thirty years, you know how much money it costs to make a game and you put a specific amount–

Peter Molyneux: No, I don’t, I disagree John. I have no idea how much money it costs to make a game and anyone that tells you how much it’s going to cost to make a game which is completely a new experience is a fool or a genius.

RPS: But you have to have enough experience to know the basics of budgeting a videogame, you’ve been doing it for thirty years!

Peter Molyneux: No, I disagree. See this is where you’re wrong. I think even Hollywood struggles. Lots of films go over budget. I’ll give you an example, I had some repair works done to my house, they went over budget by 50%. I said exactly the same thing. Anything that involves creativity, you may think it should be a defined process, but it’s not. And the reason that it’s not a defined process is that the people who work on it aren’t robots, and you can’t predict whether someone is going to be brilliant and you give them a piece of code to do and they do it in a day, or whether they’re going to take a month to do it, and that’s the problem with creativity. Being creative is a very, very unpredictable force, and you try your best. You try your best to predict these things but very often you can be wrong. And I have been wrong. Every single project I have ever done, and people know this, every single project I have done, I have been wrong about the times. And I’ve been very honest about that. And the only time I have absolutely stuck to my dates was on Fable 3 and I shouldn’t have done that. I should have gone back and asked for more time.

RPS: I understand budgets can go–

Peter Molyneux: I’m running a business and god I wish to god that I could predict the time and I can assure you every single person has worked their ass off to try to make this game as quickly and effectively as they possibly can and everybody here is incredibly dedicated and still is. I mean, the Godus team were here at half past eight last night. We try as hard as we can to get things right the first time, to get a feature right the first time, we try to implement things that are going to be effective, but when you’re creating something new it’s almost impossible, John. Here’s the thing: this is what I truly believe. Making a computer game that’s entertaining and that’s incredible and that’s amazing is almost impossible, it’s almost impossible to do.

RPS: I recognise that things go over budget, obviously they do. What you said at the start was that you didn’t make enough money from the Kickstarter. You set an amount you want to make, you made about £100k more than that, you took over a half a million pounds of people’s money, knowing it wasn’t going to be enough to make the game.

Peter Molyneux: Well, I think if you talk to anyone, and this is the advice I have given to people about Kickstarter, is to not ask for too much. You cannot unfortunately ask for the actual amount you need. Because you don’t really know. This is how I based my assumption of what money we needed. We had started implementing Godus, we were working on a prototype that was really going well. I thought, ‘Oh, this looks pretty good.’ I asked everybody here, how long do you think we’ll need to develop the game in full. We all agreed that nine months was about the right amount of time to complete the game. We did the due diligence on it. We asked ourselves if there were any technical questions and it all seemed to make sense. This wasn’t me just plucking a date out of the air.

The reality came along when we chose our middleware, we had problems with the middleware. When we started implementing some of the features that were on paper, they just didn’t work. Now I wish that every single idea you ever had when you’re developing a game works first time, but they don’t. When we first released Godus in May, to some of the pledgers, we had taken an approach to this thing called the timeline and it just didn’t work. People were just not motivated by it. We went back to the drawing board on that. What I’m trying to say without going through every sort of, every bad story about development, when you’re creating something new, it’s like walking through a foggy forest. You’re never sure if you’re taking the wrong route or the right route.

I know you can call on me, John, ‘Oh you’ve got thirty years, surely you know what to do,’ but I would say that anybody who is creating something new and original and different, which Godus is, it’s almost impossible to ask for the right time, and in the end the amount of money that we have spent on making Godus is far, far exceeded what we got on Kickstarter. Far, far exceeded. Because you got to remember on Kickstarter, although we got £100k more than what we asked for, after Kickstarter take their cut, after paying VAT, you have to pay off after completing all the pledges, it’s far less than that. You do the maths, it’s that simple – you can do this math, we had 22 people here. If you take the average salary for someone in the industry, which must be about £30k, that’s 22 people, multiplied by £30k, divided by 12. You work out how many months Kickstarter money gives us.

We saw this coming, in around about March, end of March time. I knew by that time that the game was not going as it should have gone. I could have gone back to my pledges and asked for more money, but instead I went to a publisher and just signed up the mobile rights. Not the Steam rights, even though that would have made our life a lot easier to sign the Steam rights and we did have companies after us for the PC and the console rights. We ringfenced that and just did the mobile version and there were other reasons, but the money they gave us upfront far exceeded the money that we got off Kickstarter. And that was the business decision that you have to take, because you have to make these sacrifices both personally and professionally in the sake of making a great game.

RPS: You asked for less money on Kickstarter than you knew you were going to need because you didn’t want to ask for too much money.

Peter Molyneux: No, I didn’t say that. I asked for a sensible amount. If I was a sensible business man, then you would probably have a 100% contingency. That is the way that you run a business, is you would have contingency, and I would have to say in the Kickstarter campaign, we need one and a half million, because we want a 100% contingency in case something goes wrong. Now that is problematic if you’re a backer and anyway, if you go back to the Kickstarter time, people were already very… They’d been quite fractious that I was going on Kickstarter anyway. There was a lot of negative press about, you know ‘Why does Peter Molyneux need to go on Kickstarter?’, ‘Why is he doing it, Kickstarter isn’t for people like him.’ I think most people if you speak to about Kickstarter will say, don’t set your price too high, and make sure that every penny you ask for is justified. And asking for an additional five hundred thousand for a 100% contingency is something that’s hard to justify, especially in those times.

The problem with Kickstarter is that if you get to day thirty and you don’t make your pledged amount, which we got to like three days before our cut off, before we hit our pledged amount, then you don’t get anything. Then all that work and all that effort and all that exposure and all the hangovers that Kickstarter have, the biggest one is that takes the fire out of any excitement you can generate in the press, has been used up and you haven’t got any money. I’m not saying that in a perfect ideal world, everybody would go on Kickstarter and probably say the same as I did, as I do now. You go on and and you say, “We think it’s going to cost us nine months to develop, here’s the costs, it’s 22 people multiplied by the salary, that’s how much we need to get, but we’re going to ask for double that because we want 100% contingency.’ I think that’s the way it should be done but I don’t know anyone who does that.

RPS: OK, in 2012 Nathan asked for us, what happens if it doesn’t get funded? And you said, that you were not doing it for the money, you were doing it to get people’s feedback, it was feedback you were really after.

Peter Molyneux: That was one of the main reasons, yeah. I could have gone to January, December/January, I could have used my money I guess, I wouldn’t have had enough money, I’ve already used my money to found the company, and Kickstarter was there and it was an attractive thing to go into, not only to get you funding but it also gave you access to people who were passionate about the game and to help the game. And it was very much a thing of the moment. You only have to do the economics again John to realise that if 22cans doesn’t have a publisher, and it doesn’t have a VC, and it doesn’t share ownership by anybody else, then where’s the money going to come from? And it’s true, I didn’t need the money, because if the Kickstarter didn’t work I could have gone to a publisher. I said that in my Kickstarter campaign, and I didn’t, we didn’t until we actually needed that money, and some people would say, ‘You shouldn’t leave it so late.’ But we know that we did leave it to, not the last moment, but we left it as long as possible. When you see the writing on the wall, you see the writing on the wall.

RPS: The implication is that the PC didn’t go to a publisher and all that, but the reality is that you stopped developing the PC version and left it as broken as it is today.

Peter Molyneux: No, we have always said, right from the very start, if you go back through all the videos that Jack and I did, we said exactly this. This was our strategy. Firstly we would release a build, a very, very early build, after just six months, well five months of development, we would release an early build to the backers in May. We did that.

Secondly, we would release a build in Steam Early Access and it would be very very broken. I think we started, I can’t remember the start percentage but it was way before 50%. We absolutely did that and then we said very clearly, in every one of our videos, we’re going to spend up to Christmas iterating through that and then we’re going to go on to the mobile version and then we’re going to finish the mobile version and come back to the PC and refine it and polish it and make it the game it should be and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re doing precisely that.

And if you look at our front page on Steam, that’s what it said. It says 53%, it doesn’t say 98%, and the reason it’s 53% because we have to, absolutely have to put a story in the game, and that story comes out on Friday to the opt-in branch on Steam.

Then we have to put absolutely amazing, incredible combat, and this is totally unique combat, and the reason this is totally unique combat is that we have to solve one fundamental problem and that is how do you mix an RTS game with a god game. Because the problem is with combat in Godus, is that you’ve got this world that you can absolutely shape, and you can use all your god powers – we’re putting god powers in – you can use all your god powers that are cataclysmic but the wars, the fighting and the battles, have to take place between these little people and that is a real design challenge.

But we are absolutely focusing, the gameplay team – the original gameplay team that was on Godus right from the start – right on Godus now, we’re focusing that gameplay team on that feature and we’ve recruited someone who’s got some really amazing ideas on how to do things like ranking, grouping, and group behaviour because that’s the trick of the problem here – how are you going to group your troops together? – and we’re going to solve that. And we think – and again, I don’t know John, and you might think, ‘for fucks sake, why don’t you know, because you’ve been in the industry for thirty years,’ but I think we’ll be done by Easter. And then we can start moving that percentage up.

But we’re still not finished because we had multiplayer in the game October of 2013. We took it so far multiplayer, but then we realised that to maintain multiplayer in the game would really slow down development simply because of the way it works, it’s all got to be in sync and all that stuff. So after we’ve done the story, after we’ve done combat, we’ll then go back to multiplayer. And then the percentage will start moving up.

RPS: But do you hear how crazy these times sound? You’re talking about things you said you would do in 2013 as if that was just the other day.

Peter Molyneux: But John, every game I’ve ever worked on has been made–

RPS: So why say it’s going to take you seven months to make it when you know it’s not?

Peter Molyneux: One thing, Godus will be one of the fastest games I’ve ever done. If you go back and look at every single game I’ve ever worked on, ever, other than Fable 3, they’ve all taken longer than with the exception perhaps of the original Populous. They’ve all taken longer.

RPS: So why go to people who trust you and trust your reputation and ask them for half a million pounds and say you’re going to finish the game in seven months, when you know you’re not going to?

Peter Molyneux: Because I absolutely believe that and my team believe that. That’s what the creative process is.

RPS: You’re asking me to accept that you know you’ve run late on every game you’ve ever made but you were going to finish this one in a ludicrous and obviously impossible seven months?

Peter Molyneux: No, I didn’t say absolutely we’d be there, I said we’d try to finish it on this time. And why are you beating me up on these dates things? You sound like a publisher.

RPS: It’s three years later! People gave you half a million pounds and you’ve taken their money–

Peter Molyneux: One is, John, you’re becoming very emotional, I think firstly you need to take a breath, because if I had walked away from Godus I’d agree with your points, but I haven’t walked away from Godus. We are committed to Godus, we are recruiting people to go on to Godus, I have never moved that percentage beyond 52% where it is now.

RPS: How long should backers wait for you to deliver the game they paid for three years ago?

Peter Molyneux: I don’t know. All I know is that there are people here that have been working on Godus, that we have worked on Godus for one hundred and twenty thousand man-hours. We have got three terabytes of documentary feature. We’ve replied to 31,000 posts and tickets. We’ve done 57 community videos. Do you know how many updates we’ve done on Steam?

RPS: I don’t think anyone who paid for the game cares.

Peter Molyneux: How many updates have we done on Steam?

RPS: I don’t think anyone who paid for the game cares. I think they want the game they paid for three years ago or their money back.

Peter Molyneux: We’re trying as hard as we possibly can.

RPS: I don’t think you are. You’ve said yourself–

Peter Molyneux: John, John, John–

RPS: You said yourself, that you should not have gone and focused on the mobile version until the PC version was finished. This is all very disingenuous in light of you saying that.

Peter Molyneux: No, I actually said, “I wish I hadn’t focused on,” I didn’t say I shouldn’t have done.

RPS: [Laughs]

Peter Molyneux: This is the plan that we laid out John. Go back and look at the videos. Go back and look at what we said to the community. Go and talk to the, I’ve done twelve design Skype talks, we’ve had the bigger backers, we’ve taken them over to E3, go talk to those people. Talk to people in the studio, this studio has worked incredibly hard on making something that is totally unique. That’s what we’re trying to do. And making something totally unique takes time. How long did it take for Minecraft to be final?

RPS: He didn’t take anyone’s money before making it with promises he didn’t keep.

Peter Molyneux: I’m afraid you’ll have to check your facts there–

RPS: He sold an alpha, he didn’t make any promises.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, and we have absolutely, categorically stayed in Early Access for that exact reason and we have been honest about the percentage that we think the game is finished.

RPS: OK, let’s move on. How do you think Bryan Henderson’s life has been changed?

Peter Molyneux: Well, Bryan Henderson, we need Bryan Henderson, we need multiplayer to work before his life is changed. He’s still going to get what is coming to him, but we need to get through that development. It’s very much exactly the same problem

RPS: Your lead developer on Godus said on your forum that, “To be brutally candid and realistic I simply can’t see us delivering all the features promised on the Kickstarter page. Lots of the multiplayer stuff is looking seriously shaky right now, especially the persistent stuff like Hubworld.”

Peter Molyneux: Well, let me explain that. That was Konrad, and he actually is a backer of Godus.

RPS: A backer who pursued the job at your company because he was so dissatisfied with the state of the game. That’s what he said on your forum.

Peter Molyneux: No. That’s not the case. He actually joined us before we released the version, so that couldn’t have been the case. So Konrad is one of the main architects of multiplayer, and back in late October we – me and Jack – announcing that in November that we would be at last getting through to multiplayer. And Konrad was super excited, we were all super excited, to get on to that. And then in the first week of November our publisher called up and said, well, sorry about this, but the server system that you use called Polargy, we’re going to close down and you need to re-write the entirety of your server code that drives Godus under this new system–

RPS: Sorry, you’re saying that this is the publisher, but the PC version doesn’t have a publisher.

Peter Molyneux: Yes, I know, but you’re talking about everyone in the world playing Godus not being able to play Godus any more.

RPS: But you said that the PC version doesn’t have a publisher, but the publisher is the reason you had to take away the framework that allowed the multiplayer.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, I know, but John, these things–

RPS: No, I’m asking you to explain–

Peter Molyneux: Why do you– Why don’t you come here for a couple of days, and do your job, and see what goes on here?

RPS: Obviously that’s–

Peter Molyneux: Because what you must realise is that doing a game in today’s world and a game that’s live is a nightmare.

RPS: I know it is. I’ve visited many studios and I know how difficult your job is. What I’m asking is, you said that the PC version is independent of a publisher, that you turned that down, but you’re also saying that the PC version can’t have multiplayer because of the publisher.

Peter Molyneux: But this team isn’t independent of a publisher. And the people who are playing on mobile, some of them are backers incidentally, aren’t independent of a publisher. One of the reasons why we took that publisher on is that they have this server technology which is used to drive the game, which they then drop this bombshell, that we have to change the technology. Unfortunately, this is absolutely true, you can ask the person who did the code here, unfortunately and sadly the team that was going to do multiplayer, then had to switch over and fix that server stuff. That’s just what happens in development. And I wish it didn’t happen in development, and I wish the world was so simple that you could predict that tomorrow’s going to be the same as today, but it’s not.

RPS: Just to clarify, five days ago Konrad wrote, “From the minute I played the alpha, I could see the direction Godus was heading in and I didn’t like it. It took half a year to develop contact with Peter personally before I was offered a design position, initially unpaid, and then another year working at 22cans to get a position there.” So just to be clear he says that he played the alpha and didn’t like it and then came to work for you guys.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah. And that’s fair enough. And he did something about it.

RPS: No, but you just told me that he started working for you before the alpha came out so that wasn’t possible.

Peter Molyneux: I think he had had a temporary– He certainly came to the studio– Let me ask. [shouting in background] Konrad!

[in distance] Konrad: Yeah?

Peter Molyneux: When did you first come to 22cans?

Konrad: [inaudible]

Peter Molyneux: December. 2013. Is that– No, that’s not before the alpha.

RPS: No, long after.

Peter Molyneux: I was wrong. But it’s not a lie.

RPS: No, but it’s frustrating. Let’s go back to Bryan Henderson. The Eurogamer story revealed that you ignored him for nearly two years – that’s awful. And you’ve apologised, but how can that even have ever been a thing that happened?

Peter Molyneux: You’re right, John. It’s wrong. It’s one of those things where I thought someone else was handling it and they were. It was someone – and these are excuses, it’s pointless me writing these excuses – and I thought they were handling it. They left and I assumed incorrectly that they had handed their handling of Bryan off to someone else and they hadn’t.

RPS: But it never crossed your mind to talk to him or anything like that? You were changing his life.

Peter Molyneux: It’s terrible, it’s wrong, it’s bad of me, I shouldn’t have, I should have checked on these things, but there is a million things to check on, John, and that one slipped through. There wasn’t any intention not to use him, or not to incorporate him, but we needed the technology before doing and I am truly sorry and we are writing a letter of apology to him today.

RPS: OK, but only because Eurogamer chased after you.

Peter Molyneux: They, they, they actually did make me realise that I hadn’t checked up on it, it’s true. I am a very flawed human being, as you are pointing out, and I totally accept that I’m a flawed human being.

RPS: Everyone’s a flawed human being, that’s not my point at all.

Peter Molyneux: And when there are thousands of things to check on, you try to rely on your team and this slipped through the net and, you’re right, it shouldn’t have done.

RPS: In 2012–

Peter Molyneux: Why would I have ignored him? I mean, why did I do that? It’s just incompetence.

RPS: OK. In Rezzed–

Peter Molyneux: I mean, I’m sure you are going to write, ‘Peter Molyneux’s incompetent’, and I am.

RPS: No, look, this is ridiculous. Everyone is a flawed human being. My purpose here is not to hang you out. My purpose is to get to the truth of what’s going on here. In Rezzed–

Peter Molyneux: Yeah. I’m giving you– I mean, I would say, if you really want to get to the truth, come down to the studio.

RPS: At Rezzed in 2012, you said that what’s in the middle of the cube is “so valuable, so life-changingly important, I don’t want to waste the value of what’s inside that cube.” Could you have done more to waste it?

Peter Molyneux: Again you’re going down a very emotional line. But it’s born out of– when I did Curiosity and I thought of putting into the center of the cube a royalty share of the revenue for Godus, as soon as his role of God of Gods started, I thought that was a pretty good thing. And as soon as that comes to pass and as soon as we’ve got the technology to do that, I think, he will be getting that money and his reign will last six months and I think it will be an amazing feature.

RPS: OK, so you said that Bryan will be God Of Gods for six months. Just to double-check on this. When we spoke to you on 2012 you told us that it would be a significant amount of time, you estimated five or ten years.

Peter Molyneux: We what?

RPS: You said five or ten years, is what you told us.

Peter Molyneux: For what?

RPS: For being God Of Gods.

Peter Molyneux: No, I’ve always said that his reign would only last a certain amount of time but the God of Gods role, if Godus continues to be as successful as it is on mobile, could last that long. I mean there are mobile games that are being played now – and there are webgames that are being played now – that are decades old.

RPS: Let me quote, you said: “By the way, there would need to be enough time to make it meaningful for him in every sense of the word, but we could make it five years, we could make it ten years. I think I wanted before–”

Peter Molyneux: And then later on I came out and said it would be six months. And I said that again and again. What are you trying to do? You’re trying to prove that I’m a pathological liar, I suppose, aren’t you.

RPS: I’m trying to establish that you don’t tell the truth.

Peter Molyneux: Let me just ask you one question. Do you think from the line of questioning you’re giving me, that this industry would be better without me?

RPS: I think the industry would be better without your lying a lot.

Peter Molyneux: I don’t think I lie.

RPS: Let me just quote you from the Pocket Gamer–

Peter Molyneux: Well no, and and– Yeah, OK, you can carry on quoting me. Obviously I can see your headline now–

RPS: I don’t think you can see my headline now.

Peter Molyneux: Well I think I can.

RPS: What I want to get out of this–

Peter Molyneux: What you’re almost going to get out of this is driving me out of the industry.

RPS: No, what I want–

Peter Molyneux: And well done John, well done! And if that’s what you want, you’re going about it completely the right way.

RPS: If you were to be driven out of the industry it would be as a result of your own actions. I’ve done nothing but quote back things you’ve said and done.

Peter Molyneux: No [inaudible] me being hounded, which is what you’re doing.

RPS: I’m quoting back things that you–

Peter Molyneux: I must have given about fifty thousand hours of interviews and I’m sure if you go back over all of them you could– The only result of this is, I’ve already withdrawn mostly from the press, I’m just going to withdraw completely from the press.

[Since this interview was recorded, Peter Molyneux has done at least two other interviews with press on the same subject, including one with The Guardian which he says will be his last.]

RPS: I’ve done nothing in this interview but quote back things you have said and done.

Peter Molyneux: Yes, I know, and you can– I’m sure– We’re talking 50,000 hours of interview and there’s going to be mistakes. Most of these things you’ve said are mistakes, and most of these things that you have said are coming from the mouth of someone that believes. I believe everything that I’ve said. That’s what I’ve said in countless interviews. I believe. I believed that Godus would take nine months. To be honest with you, if you told me back then it would take two, three years, I probably would have said, ‘Oh god, we probably won’t do Godus then.’ I believe that. If you think that I’ve got some sort of Machiavellian plan, of trying to hide the truth from people why would I do that? Why would I do that? We are committed to, we’ve used all the Kickstarter money, we’re still committed to doing a great version on PC.

RPS: My original question was–

Peter Molyneux: Why isn’t that enough? If you think that we’re a bit shit for taking too long, then fair enough. I don’t know what you get out of this line of questioning.

RPS: My first question wasn’t, ‘Are you a Machiavellian and spiteful liar’, it was ‘Are you a pathological liar?’ It was, do you say stuff that isn’t true without meaning to?

Peter Molyneux: Like anybody that is in the business of creating something that doesn’t exist, I say things that I believe is true, that very often don’t come true and sometimes do come true.

RPS: But you agree though that you do have the reputation, the mock Twitter accounts, all these things, you have this reputation over many years of saying things that are outlandish and impossible.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, and my answer to that nowadays is to not do any press any more. You may have noticed, or you may have not as it doesn’t really matter, that I’m doing a few little conferences but I’m not going to GDC, because I’m not doing anything. I think, you know, I think, a lot of people have turned round and have said that we don’t want to listen to your lies, even though they’re not lies. They’re coming from someone who truly believes and I truly believe that the combat in Godus will be brilliant and I truly believe that it should take around three months to do. But maybe it won’t take three months or maybe it’ll need iterating more. You cannot find anybody in this industry more passionate than me, John.

RPS: OK so–

Peter Molyneux: I literally work sixteen hours a day. I literally work sixteen hours a day. I don’t do that just to lie to people, I do it because I believe I’m doing. I totally believe in what I’m trying to make. Yeah, and you can rile the backers up and get them to ask for their money back and you can say, ‘Oh, you’ve broken your promises,’ but I’m still doing it. I’m still working on it. I’m still putting every ounce of my energy. I’m still not going to my son’s play because I had to work on Godus. I’m still getting shouted at by my wife because I’m not home. Do you know what time I got home last night? Two-thirty in the morning.

RPS: I don’t–

Peter Molyneux: Do you know what I was doing? I was dealing with the shit that all of this has come up, rather than working on Godus.

RPS: But–

Peter Molyneux: I’m someone, I’m defined by what I do in this industry and I love it so much. And, you know, it emotionally hurts me to have someone like yourself be so angry with me and really all I want to do is make a great game. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.

RPS: Do you think you can make a great game?

Peter Molyneux: I think I can try.

RPS: But do you think you can achieve it?

Peter Molyneux: You’ve gotta try, man! There’s one thing that I would love more than anything else, in my life, I’d love in a years time for that percentage on Steam to be 100%. And I’d love to talk to you John and have you say, ‘I understand why it took another year.’ And the only way I’m going to do that, I’m not going to do that by spinning people, and I know that none of this would have come to pass if I had spun the press, I could spin the press. I could have gone on and I could have explained about the delays and I could have done all sorts of interviews but I thought, ‘No, the only way I’m going to do this is to prove it.’ And I’m going to prove it by making a great game. But everything we do here, and everyone here, I can promise you, that’s why you should come here John, and you should see that–

RPS: I don’t doubt for a moment that you work very hard, it’s very obvious that you do work very hard, and I imagine your team works extremely hard, but that’s not really relevant.

Peter Molyneux: Well, I think it is absolutely relevant. Is it relevant that someone like myself, with the reputation that I have, two years ago predicted a date that was wrong, is that really relevant? What is relevant is, is there going to be a great game at the end of this?

RPS: But do you understand that most people now don’t think there is?

Peter Molyneux: The very fact that I’m talking to you. It would be so easy for me to say, ‘No comment.’ I truly care, I truly care about the backers, I truly care what everyone does. We have, we have tried. We have done 207 updates. We’ve gone way beyond what we, some of the things we said in Kickstarter. We’ve given the community tools to edit the game. We never said that in Kickstarter.

RPS: That’s great but there’s lots of things you say in Kickstarter that you haven’t done. Do you think in two and a half years–

Peter Molyneux: Yet! Yet. That we haven’t done yet. There is one Kickstarter promise that I am very worried about but all the rest are going to get done.

RPS: Which is Linux. You made it a stretch goal; that was pretty shitty of you, wasn’t it, when you know you couldn’t do it?

Peter Molyneux: No, it wasn’t shitty of us. If you look at Kickstarter campaigns a lot of people do this, and at that time, you know, Linux seemed more than possible, and we’re waiting for an update from Marmalade to do Linux and they just haven’t supplied it. At that time, it was on the cards for them to develop. They haven’t developed it. And us going back and re-writing the whole of the middleware is, would mean that the development of Godus would stop. We’ve considered it. But you know, it’s months of work.

RPS: Do you think a year and a half, to two years on, after the estimated deliveries on Kickstarter for things like, an art book and various other pledge items that don’t exist, do you think at this point people can get their money back?

Peter Molyneux: Admittedly we should have done–

RPS: So do you think people can get their money back at this point?

Peter Molyneux: The excuse and, the excuse, and it is an excuse and I’ll put my hand up to it and we are going to make it now, the excuse is that we hadn’t finished the game. So you can’t do– it wasn’t an art book, it was a making of book, and we haven’t finished the game. But you know, Jack has got three terabytes of footage and we have now got someone called Connor who is going to be working on that book. Which is, we’ll probably have that out pretty soon.

[It needs to be noted that in the prominent Kickstarter pledge levels, from £199, a “GODUS design/art book” is listed, and not a “making of book”. However, in the graphics at the bottom of the page, it is instead described as a “making of book”.]

RPS: OK but do you not think after this much time that people paid money for a product they haven’t received. Do they at this point deserve their money back – isn’t that just basic business?

Peter Molyneux: No. Because they didn’t buy a product.

RPS: The pledge rewards were certainly a product. Kickstarter’s terms and conditions are explicit that you have to provide those pledge rewards.

Peter Molyneux: But you can’t make a Making Of book till the game’s finished, can you?

RPS: Well, no, but at the same time, because you haven’t supplied the product that was paid for, should you not give people their money back?

Peter Molyneux: No, what you’re saying is what I should have done–

RPS: No, I’m asking should you give the money back, I’m asking nothing but, should they get their money back now?

Peter Molyneux: I don’t think we’re finished developing yet.

RPS: They paid for a product, they waited two years, it still hasn’t shown up. Should they get their money back?

Peter Molyneux: They didn’t pay for a product. That’s not what Kickstarter–

RPS: I’m not talking about Godus, I’m talking about the pledge rewards. For whatever reason, it doesn’t matter why they can’t be finished, they paid for it, they paid at a certain pledge level. They could have pledged ten quid and got the game, which they’ve got, but they pledged a hundred or whatever it was in order to get certain items they’ve not received. Should they not– isn’t it basic business, that they should get their money back?

Peter Molyneux: No. Because they’ve received an awful lot of pledges already.

RPS: No, the people who haven’t. The people who haven’t received their pledge rewards that they’ve paid–

Peter Molyneux: You’re talking as if they haven’t received anything, but they have.

RPS: People paid specific amounts of money to receive specific pledge rewards that they haven’t received. Do they not therefore deserve to receive their money back?

Peter Molyneux: No, they deserve an explanation as to why they haven’t got them yet. Maybe they would deserve their money back if we announced that we weren’t doing something. But we haven’t announced that.

RPS: Why did it take my writing an article about the fact these things don’t exist for you to get round to start making them?

Peter Molyneux: I’ll tell you why, John. Because we’re so fucking busy trying to make this game a great game. Everybody here, every single person here is doing something on the game, with the exception of Michelle, and even Michelle who is the office administrator is now acting as a producer to help out. And someone called Peter Murphy who is the finance director. Everyone else is programming, doing art, coding, doing concept drawings, testing, and there isn’t, there’s not, we’re not a big enough company to have someone who looks after the pledges. We did have someone like that and unfortunately they left and went and left the industry. And you know, maybe if we had more money than anybody else, we’d employ lots of support people to handle that. We’re just a small indie developer. If I was Electronic Arts then, fair enough, justified, because they’ve got the infrastructure. You know I think something like 80% of their people are support people and only 20% people are actually people who produce stuff, who make code and art.

That’s the reason why. Is that right? No. I could spend a day a week going on to boards and answering the boards and I could spend half my day doing it. Christ knows how that would work. I mean, I’ve got absolutely zero free time as it is. We won’t see me, John, going round schmoozing and taking five days to go to GDC. I don’t have a social life.

RPS: You tweeted the other day about how much you were enjoying luxuries of the Mayfair Hotel.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, the Mayfair Hotel, which I went up there because a friend gave me a free, a free suite in the Mayfair Hotel which I didn’t pay for at all, and the reason I was up there was that I had a meeting that finished at 1 o’clock in the morning and then I had a start in the next morning that I went to Casual Connect it was, and I actually met two people – two people – which I helped out charity stuff in the morning. One at 8:30 in the morning, this guy who just got funding from the Welsh council, and one kid from Westminster college who wanted some advice. You can– I’ll tell you what, this is what we’ll do John, I’ll put you on Find A Friend, on Apple, and you can see exactly where I am every moment of my day.

RPS: OK, honestly Peter, I don’t have an Apple product and I don’t want to know where you are at any time.

Peter Molyneux: You’re questioning this, you ask anybody in this studio, I am the first to arrive in the morning and I am the last to leave–

RPS: I’m not denying that you work hard, I’m just saying that you are going to events. It’s silly to say that you’re not going to events.

Peter Molyneux: You just accused me of holidaying in the Mayfair Hotel!

RPS: No, I’m not, I’m just pointing out that you were there for Casual Connect, you do go to events.

Peter Molyneux: No, I was there for one night and one night only.

RPS: Sure, but, OK. It was just an odd point, you were saying you don’t go to events and you went to one last week. It just seemed an odd–

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, and I could have spent– I was over in Amsterdam, great place to spend some time, isn’t it? You’d think I’d take just a couple of days extra just to spend it in the coffee shops. I flew in there, I landed at 11 o’clock at night, I went and I did my talk, and I was back in the office by 6 o’clock in the evening. I am completely dedicated to what I do.

RPS: Me too. I work very hard too. We all work very hard too.

Peter Molyneux: Let’s carry on going. Let’s make me more depressed.

RPS: Do the student forums exist?

Peter Molyneux: The student forums, we set up, I went up to Teeside University, I did a talk, and then the volume of traffic on those student forums got so low because they were all going to the main forums, we stopped it. If there’s enough interest in the students forums, we’ll start it up again.

RPS: Did you provide anyone with support and advice on those forums? The pledge said that you would provide people with feedback on their games and advice for students?

Peter Molyneux: Yes, we did twelve one-hour sessions where we went through people’s games, I’ve actually got their art on the wall here, and we went through people’s games, we went through their designs. Konrad was actually one of those people. Yesterday, in fact, I went to school, a local school, and was helping kids out with their games designs, so yes.

RPS: That’s great. That’s brilliant.

Peter Molyneux: What are you doing at the moment John? You’re trying to find any crack you can to actually destroy us. That’s what this article is going to do, isn’t it?

RPS: I think I’ve found enough cracks already. I think what I’ve done there is fill in one, that’s brilliant news. I’m really glad that that existed and that you did it and that’s good.

Peter Molyneux: Well what cracks have you found?

RPS: [laughs] I think with the whole conversation.

Peter Molyneux: No, I’ve admitted that I get dates wrong, I always have got dates wrong. So that’s not much of a crack. We’ve had the student forum, and we started them and closed them down because people weren’t using them. I’m absolutely happy to start them up again. I’ve admitted my mistake on Bryan. The Making Of book we are going to do now but really it should be done at the end. So where’s your big ‘Watergate’?

RPS: I don’t think there’s a Watergate. You’ve got this bizarre agenda for me that I don’t have. If I have any agenda, if I have any goal to come out of this, it would be for you to commit to not continue this cycle of making promises that you can’t keep.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, I’m totally committed. You, are one of the people, that will drive me out of any press interviews at all. I have done any press interviews–

RPS: Apart from the one to Eurogamer on Monday.

Peter Molyneux: [inaudible ] –about Hololens, you’re not going to have me.

RPS: You spoke to Eurogamer and Gamespot on Monday so that was a couple of interviews.

Peter Molyneux: It wasn’t Monday. It was Eurogamer and Gamespot because of the article you put forward.

RPS: That was Monday, yes.

Peter Molyneux: Was it Monday?

RPS: Yes. So there was press interviews that you recently did, you say that you don’t do them any more, you quite readily do them.

Peter Molyneux: This is not me doing press, this is me reacting to the press. I’m not going to generate any press articles. You go back and have a look. I used to phone up press and I used to invite press into the studio, we don’t do that any more.

RPS: Do you not–

Peter Molyneux: Because people like yourself have said, ‘don’t overpromise.’ OK, I won’t overpromise, because I won’t talk. When was the last time that you saw an article about a game that we’re doing?

RPS: I saw that you made an announcement about The Trail at an event in November.

Peter Molyneux: Yes, I made an announcement about The Trail and I said nothing about it.

RPS: Well, you kind of talked ambiguously about social media and–

Peter Molyneux: I didn’t give dates about it or anything. I now want to step away from the press because you know, that seems to be the only solution to the problem that you’re putting forward. You said, categorically, ‘I want you to stop overpromising. I want you to be like a PR person is’. And my answer to that is, ‘OK John, fine, I won’t talk about my development process, I won’t talk about my games.’ That’s what I’m going to do! There you go, you got what you wanted.

RPS: But do you not see that asking you– There’s a massive gap between not overpromising and taking your ball and going home. There’s a huge gap between the two, which could be talking more sensibly and calmly about these things.

Peter Molyneux: Oh, so you want me to talk calmly? You don’t want me to–

RPS: I don’t want you to hype up people so they spend money on products and are excited to get things that they don’t get.

Peter Molyneux: And that’s exactly what I haven’t done for the last twelve months.

[It’s important to note that Molyneux has done plenty of interviews promoting Godus over the last twelve months.]

RPS: OK, but you haven’t had a game to do that with.

Peter Molyneux: I’ve spoken to people about HoloLens and when people have spoken me up. I haven’t tried to sell you Godus.

RPS: I don’t blame you given the state it’s been in. But that’s the point, you haven’t had anything to sell for twelve months, of course you haven’t.

Peter Molyneux: I did exactly that if you go back and you have a look at what I did in Fable 1 and Fable 2 when the dates were moved, I then hyped all the press up, so I’m not doing that any more.

RPS: No no, and everyone–

Peter Molyneux: You’ve got what you want, haven’t you John? You just don’t want me around.

RPS: Listen, that’s a ridiculous thing to say. I’m saying that of course you haven’t done any promotional press in the last twelve months, you haven’t had anything to promote for twelve months.

Peter Molyneux: Yes I have. Of course I have!

RPS: What?

Peter Molyneux: There’ve been 207 releases on Steam.

RPS: And the reviews of those releases–

Peter Molyneux: There’s been the iOS version and the Android version. I could have hyped those. There’s been the total change around of the timeline in the game, I could have hyped those. I would have hyped those in the old days. Jesus Christ, I kept the development of Black & White going in the press for four years.

RPS: And especially with Black & White 2, people were disappointed when they spent money on the game based on the things you had promised.

Peter Molyneux: Oh my God, you really have got it in. You really don’t like the stuff that I’ve done.

RPS: No, I love some of your games. Absolutely adore some of your games.

Peter Molyneux: [skeptical] Really? And which ones were those.

RPS: Yes! Populous was wonderful, Dungeon Keeper, Syndicate, wonderful, wonderful entire industry-changing games for which I have massive respect and admiration.

Peter Molyneux: Right. They were all late.

RPS: I’m not complaining–!

Peter Molyneux: Dungeon Keeper, do you know what I had to do– Maybe this will give you an insight. Even though I was working at Electronic Arts, I paid to finish Dungeon Keeper at Electronic Arts, because they wanted to force me to finish the product a year early. I said no, take the team to my house, the whole team went to my house and we worked slavishly hard on the game and finished it. That’s, you know–

RPS: Do you not see the difference between being late for a publisher and being late for half a million pounds that gamers gave you?

Peter Molyneux: Well the publisher gives you– I could have said that the game was finished a year ago. But I didn’t. Why didn’t I? Ask yourself that. Why didn’t I just say, oh the game’s finished?

RPS: Because I think that would have been the end of your reputation if you put out a game that bad a year ago.

Peter Molyneux: I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more.

RPS: Why do you think that is?

Peter Molyneux: I mean, I don’t think I have. Every time, at the moment the way it works is that every time I say anything it’s leapt on. You know, I said the thing about HoloLens and that all went into, ‘Oh, Peter said don’t overpromise,” and you know, I just feel that the press as it is at the moment on, that sort of press is just a place I’m no longer in. And it’s hugely sad for me, but you won’t see me at GDC, you won’t see me at E3. So you just won’t see me at those things. I just feel quite introverted these days, comparatively so very introverted.

RPS: You seem to be trying to blame the press for that rather than the press merely holding you to account–

Peter Molyneux: No, I’m not blaming the press at all, I’m not blaming the press at all. I was held to account. I didn’t announce that I was withdrawing myself, I just withdrew myself. Everybody said, ‘oh, you keep overpromising, you keep overpromising,’ and I said right, OK, fine. My answer to this– I have the sort of personality that finds it very, very difficult when faced with members of the press, and talking about my game, to be, not to get excited. I’ve tried to do that. I tried to do that at Microsoft and I had an army of PR people trying to suppress me but it’s very difficult in my personality. So my answer was a year ago, well, I’m going to stop. I’ll just quietly withdraw and that’s what I’ve done. And I just feel like doing it more, because if it means that people don’t hound me, and I have been hounded.

I mean, if you go back in time, and you look at all the press interviews, and you look at the Kickstarter campaign, there have been mistakes. And you can put that in the headline right now. But I am still dedicated and this team, especially the gameplay team, not the GUI team, and not the graphics team, is still dedicated to making Godus a great game. And it’s going to take another six months. And that is the absolute truth of the matter.

RPS: OK so we should probably–

Peter Molyneux: There have been many many times, many times in my career where I said things I shouldn’t have said about acorns and oak trees and dogs and god knows what else. But I promise you John, I only said them because at that time I truly believed them.

RPS: Do you think you wanted them to be true rather than believed they were true?

Peter Molyneux: I think a lot of times, especially a few years ago, I would say things almost as I thought things, and the team used to really get aggressive, that they would say, ‘Oh god Peter, this is the first time we know that we’re going to have this feature in the game.’ And then the other side of the equation, which is just as bad, is that I would tell the press and often show the press when they’ve only just been implemented without thought to the consequences of them making it into the final game. But this is what– Years ago, and over the years, I think I was one of the developers that showed the stuff that was being made as it was being made. Not like, a publisher, they were always into the shock and awe. Microsoft tried to get me to be like this, which is, Peter, wait until the game’s finished and then do press, but I always loved– and it was a passion and a love, sharing with the press, you know, what development was going on.

We had pretty much every journalist in the studio and looking round and meeting with us and that’s the way that that world used to work and now, that side of development has completely gone off, so now we’re developing The Trail and we’re not going to say anything, at all. Anything at all, until this game is released on Steam Early Access.

RPS: OK, can we just clarify one thing. A number of sites have reported this week that the Godus team has been hugely reduced, there’s very few people left working on it, but you’ve implied that the whole of 22cans is working on it. Where’s the truth in that?

Peter Molyneux: No, I didn’t say that.

RPS: Sorry, I misunderstood you then.

Peter Molyneux: Here’s the thing. When a developer, a programmer or an artist has been working on something for a long time, they often, especially younger people and most of the people who have left are younger people, they want to broaden their horizons. And that indeed, a few people did that. On the production side, there was Gemma, and Christine, and Matt, and they were super busy when we were releasing the Android version and the iOS version, but after we finished those the writing was on the wall and they looked around for other jobs. All of them except for Matt actually left the industry.

We have now recruited people to replace them and that’s a really brilliant thing for a studio. A studio needs to have an influx of new people, so we’ve just had an artist start from France, a brilliant artist start from France, I don’t know his name, I should know his name. We’re having Richard start on the, and he specialises in gameplay and combat and he’s starting on Monday, and we’re interviewing, we’re about to make another job offer to a producer guy, but I can’t tell you his name because he hasn’t handed in his notice yet. So this is the normal–

RPS: So how many of those people are working on Godus and how many are on The Trail roughly, do you know?

Peter Molyneux: So the people who aren’t working on Godus are the people who wouldn’t be busy on Godus most of the time. So at the moment, I’m just looking over them now. We’ve got Dave, Pavle, Konrad, Andy, Martin and Conor, and Michelle just stuck up her arms as well. [to Michelle] You’re not working on Godus.

And then Peter on the art side, and on the Trail we’ve got Sara, who’s a concept artist so there’s not much work for her to do on Godus, we’ve got Paul, who did all the sculpting stuff so there’s not much for him to do on Godus at the moment, Tony’s working on the Trail, Demetri and Tom, and then on the art side the new artist is learning Maya and we’ll have to see how he gets on. And Paul McLaughlin is working on Godus and he’s the head art. I think I’ve covered everyone that I can see.

RPS: OK, that’s great.

Peter Molyneux: Jack is working on Godus, he’s sitting next to me playing the story of Godus through at the moment.

RPS: Like I say, a lot of sites have reported that there are very few people left on Godus so it’s good that we can clarify that that’s not the case.

Peter Molyneux: I don’t think that’s very few people, is it?

RPS: No no no, I’m saying–

Peter Molyneux: John, why don’t you get, come down…

RPS: Peter, listen, listen, you’ve misunderstood. A number of sites have reported that very few people are left working on Godus. It’s good to have clarified that’s not the case.

Peter Molyneux: …Yeah. I’m passionate, I hope if you’ve got anything from this. I’m passionate about making a great game. You know, I’m doing work on Godus, well, I should be working on Godus, I should be playing through the story now but I’m talking to you. How long have we been talking?

RPS: An hour and fifteen minutes. I very much appreciate it. OK. One final thing then before we wrap up. It’s been three years for Bryan Henderson, why don’t you give him some of the money from the game?

Peter Molyneux: Well, because he needs to act as God of Gods.

RPS: Yeah, but he thought he was going to do that and…

Peter Molyneux: Because that is part of the deal. He needs to be God of Gods and we need to get the multiplayer in before God of Gods can–

RPS: Sure, but at this point don’t you think it would be a bit of a good faith thing to do since he’s been so badly screwed over?

Peter Molyneux: I think we’ll… We’ll, well, hmm. We’ll probably–

RPS: You told Pocket Gamer that you were putting money aside for him.

Peter Molyneux: –think of something to say sorry about and I’m, you know, maybe I’m, this is not the place to announce that.

RPS: No no, not at all, but you told Pocket Gamer that the revenue was being put aside for him that he would get when the multiplayer is fined.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, but he needs to be God of Gods before that happens.

RPS: Yeah, but with one of your lead developers saying he doesn’t think that’s likely to happen–

Peter Molyneux: I’ve already explained that, John. If you ask Konrad now, he would say the complete opposite. The key thing is that we have to do this stupid, boring, shitty server stuff before doing it and now they’re literally once we’ve fixed the bugs in the story, that’s the next thing they’re working on and I hope and believe this date or not, I hope that by Easter we’re going to have that in there. And then it starts getting really interesting.

RPS: Then it’s combat, then it’s multiplayer after Easter, is what you’re saying.

Peter Molyneux: And then we need combat and then it’s multiplayer and then we’ve got the ingredients for God of Gods, because it’s combat which is used to judge the God of Gods. And stuff like that.

RPS: OK. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that you haven’t enjoyed this at all, but I appreciate how much time you’ve given to do it.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah. I love Godus. I love what we’re doing. I love what we’re doing. I wish I was smarter and I wish, everything that came out of my mouth that came to pass, and there’s no one in this industry John that hasn’t been more committed and more passionate about the industry and I hope, I hope you personally see that. I’m sure you’re going to write the article and it’s going to be tough on us and–

RPS: Well, I’m going to quote the interview. It’s not going to be, I can’t make it any better or worse than the things that you’ve said, so that should be fine.

Peter Molyneux: OK, yeah. OK. I wonder, yeah. Well, we’ll see. I’ll get back to work. Get an Apple phone so you can Find A Friend.

RPS: [laughs]

1,072 Comments

  1. Chillz says:

    This was amazing to read through, I did so with a few breaks, very powerful

  2. krait says:

    People, including John, make the mistake of thinking that making a completely new groundbreaking video game like Godus is akin to making every other consumer product

    “I ordered my consumer product three years ago, why aren’t you done with it now.”

    They are totally different things though. Molyneux is completely right that you cannot 100% predict how long a creative effort will take, how many people you need for it, and how much money you will need. He is also correct about the flaw in the rules of Kickstarter which basically forces you to ask for less money than you would really need in order to increase your chances to get ANY money at all. It’s like poker in that way. So he is right about the basics.

    Making Godus is also not comparable to making the next Call of Duty. Because the next COD is going to be an iteration on a theme and you’ll be able to plan it much better. Godus with its god of gods idea is completely different from that.

    It seems that John is simply not getting the difference between any old consumer product and something like Godus. People largely have no idea about how video games are made, and it seems, surprisingly, John is one of them.

    I will say that it seems Molyneux is not a good manager. Not talking to people when he should have talked to them, not knowing who in his team is currently doing what, those are signs of mismanagement. So yeah, he should not be a manager. He should be a creative director or something.

    But Molyneux does have some points, and John comes off as a little of an asshole.

    At least Molyneux never said he was going to make anyone his bitch… so cut him some slack and let him finish this game (which I believe he wants), and judge it then and there.

    • Darkheart says:

      So far I haven’t seen anything ground-breaking with Godus. The God of Gods thingy seems more like a gimmick that isn’t really needed in any other way than a forced looking multi-player feature and the “life-changing” gift he needed for his shit-cube, which was nothing more than a money-making scheme based on the stupidity of people and his then still somewhat reputable name.

      I will give you though, that at some points of the interview the tone on both sides seemed a bit unprofessional. Doesn’t change the facts, though…

      Kickstarter is a bit of a gamble, yes. But please explain to me how other companies produce gems like Darkest Dungeon with less money, less people and less experience. PM just mismanaged the whole thing in my eyes. Server change or not, he fucked it up on several fronts.

  3. Kurokawa says:

    I’ll make it short. This piece…

    I) Confirmed my long standing believes of who Peter Molyneux is.
    II) Made me lose all respect for John Walker’s “journalism”.

    As much as I can understand the anger and frustration some people feel towards PM, as much as some tough questions have to be asked, this sensationalist, prejudiced, bigoted, self-righteous, disrespectful and utterly unprofessional piece of click- and hate-bait is just about everything I thought RPS did NOT stand for.

    Massively, massively disappointing…

    • Borodin says:

      Isn’t it. If I knew my supporter money was going towards paying for John to spit in people’s eyes then I would never have subscribed.

  4. mpk says:

    I feel sorry for Peter Molyneux, cos he’s fucked up and has been called out on it. Godus is obviously a catastrophe, and whether or not it can be saved, I don’t think Molyneux’s image as gamings Steve Jobs can. The bubble surrounding him seems to have finally burst. I just hope the folks working at 22 Cans can finish the game and keep their jobs, regardless.

    • Kingmarzo says:

      This can’t have helped. Ironically this would be a good time to stop the whole thing completely.

  5. cog says:

    I think this is the first time I ended up on the edge of my chair reading a games interview.

  6. Yoofaloof says:

    I’ve backed many kickstarters including this one. Some have come to fruition others haven’t. Some have come in on time, others haven’t. Am I the only backer who doesn’t bear a grudge if things haven’t gone quite to plan, I can’t be the only one surely? There is always an element of risk, and backers asking for their money back aren’t true backers in my book.

    Anyways this interview was an uncomfortable read, and at this moment in time I’m very disappointed in RPS and ashamed to be a RPS reader.

    Cut PM a bit of slack.

  7. Nihilist says:

    I think that was needed.

    Thank you to both gentleman. John for being consequent, Peter for staying through this. While reading I was perspirating and tears ran down my face – it was that hard, cathartical dimensions.

    Peter just finish the PC version of Godus- I will buy it. John and RPS stay like this, I love being around here, because only RPS could have make that happen.

    I will never forget reading this.

  8. fish99 says:

    There’s a difference between lying and failing to deliver. If you believe what you’re saying it’s not a lie. And technically speaking it’s not Molyneux failing to deliver, it’s his team. Probably at Bullfrog there were some very talented people, including Molyneux himself who worked as a programmer back then (and also designer), who could turn his visions into fun games, and maybe he doesn’t have that calibre of people to work with now.

    Anyway, I don’t think any of his ‘crimes’ justify being this rude. One look at my twitter timeline and I see other developers with a lot more insight into the process of game development than John has, feeling genuinely sorry for Molyneux since this interview.

  9. racccoon says:

    Morale of the story is ..

    Devs: Don’t do KICKSTARTER Stop begging get publisher or give us our money back!

    Gamers: Don’t do KICKSTARTER Stop being drawn into and sucked into false promises and lies.
    Kickstarter is a total farce!

    And this song sums it up the interview..

    link to youtu.be

    • Thirith says:

      [quote]Gamers: Don’t do KICKSTARTER Stop being drawn into and sucked into false promises and lies.
      Kickstarter is a total farce![/quote]
      I’ll remember that as I play Wasteland 2, Divinity: Original Sin, Shadowrun Returns, Sir, You Are Being Hunted and Knock-knock, and watch the Veronica Mars movie and Bil Plympton’s Cheatin’.

      Seriously: Kickstarter isn’t perfect and it’s risky, but at the same time it’s been a breath of fresh wind for creatives and audiences alike. Criticise the things that ought to be criticised, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater is just silly internet hysterics.

  10. Kingmarzo says:

    On a lighter note, I think the picture of Molyneux at the top looks like he’s taken a arrow to his back and is politely asking someone to remove it.

    No doubt John fired it lol

  11. Artist says:

    Mr. John Walker once again showed his ugly face. Horrible, horrible “journalism” and from now on I will avoid anything he will write. Sad to see that PM didnt just hang up instead of wasting his time with Johnny Walker.
    Very dissapointed!

  12. reptilianbrain says:

    So how will RPS respond to this then? I see N scenarios:

    1) Issue an apology and terminate / suspend this author. This will be the most professional outcome, but it seems that there is little chance for that. Was the piece edited? Was it greenlighted by anyone besides the author? Or does the author decide what goes on.

    2) Take a business stance evaluate the traffic surge and side with the neckbeards. Defend such consumerist / aggressive anti-developer approach and cultivate it further. Take pride in working with this author further.

    3) Keep silent as if nothing happened. This will leave stain on RPS as such an incident cannot just go. It really is polarizing in a sense of neckbeards VS the world.

    Just looked up Molyneux’s achievements.. Yep, Magic Carpet, Syndicate, Populos, Dungeon Keeper caught the eye. I will back the KS by Molyneux again. There is no justification for this interview.

    If anyone the author is going through mid-life crisis and this outburst is the side-effect of it.

    • Premium User Badge

      kfix says:

      Yes, John Walker is well known as king of the neckbeards. Your well informed comment is appreciated.

    • foop says:

      The achievements that you mention are all in the distant past. Most of the stuff that he has done since then has disappointed, and the more recent stuff has been either an abject failure or abandoned as he goes off to chase the next idea. John’s interview was harsh, but giving someone a free ride just because he produced excellent games at the start of his career would be going too far in the other direction.

      • reptilianbrain says:

        Well you don’t go to a Nobel Prize winner asking “where is your new discovery you promised us, you pathological liar government-money stealing fancy-hotel occupying you..”?

        This “author” (a belch of Internet culture really) cannot touch a guy like Molyneux with a mile-long stick.

        It sucks there is no way to extend the support to Molyneux (Twitter is no good) just to let him know that this guy is a minority and a bully and nothing else.

        • FCA says:

          Actually, the big grant organizations (NSF and such) do look at the recent work done by big name scientists before they decide to give them more money, Nobel prize or not. As would any self-respecting publisher do before deciding to fund a game. As should any gamer looking to kickstart. Peter Molyneux dug his own hole, and John is standing outside, shouting questions like: “Why did you dig this hole? Are you a compulsive hole-digger?”
          And Peter is going on about how amazing the hole will be when it’s finished, just a few more months of digging, just stop asking those pesky questions, trust me!

          • reptilianbrain says:

            Unfortunately this author does not call Molyneux a “hole digger”, he calls him a “pathological liar” and uses tone and approach that is unacceptable in any professional environment outside of some piss-yellow press.
            Regarding NSF – good parallel. However after a certain number of achievements even NSF would stop looking at the failure-success ratio. I mean once you get Nobel prize you can fail every next experiment, the chance that you can actually get to the level of original discovery makes it worth it. Same here, I would rather have Molyneux fail in any way he likes as much as he likes so that 10th effort results in another Magic Carpet, then have him hide in a hole because of the neckbeard rage. This piece of interview caused destruction and done zero good besides giving the “author” an opportunity to pet his entitlement and brag on Twitter about it. We potentially lost an opportunity to see something from Molyneux.

  13. djbriandamage says:

    What a gross article. Go ahead, John; stop at nothing to weasel out an admission.

    What mean-spirited bullshit. Goodbye forever, RPS.

  14. clavain says:

    So when is the Braben interview scheduled? Well done.

  15. Premium User Badge

    kfix says:

    This is why I support RPS. Well done John.

  16. jaheira says:

    Painful, but necessary. Articles like this are exactly why RPS is the only gaming site I bother with.

  17. Cross says:

    Reading through the comments, i really am having a hard time understanding the Molyneux apologists in here. I can understand the people who have problems with the wording and tone of the interview. But the people who actually believe that Molyneux has made fluke-fuckups something like five times and isn’t either a woefully incompetent project leader or a pathological liar: I must question your judgement.

    • woodsey says:

      For all his bluster Molyneux’s never appeared anything less than a nice, well-meaning guy, so it’s hard not to sympathise when he’s given the interview equivalent of the Saw films. A hard-hitting interview does not actually require the interviewee to be beaten to a pulp by the first question – or any of them, in fact.

      • woodsey says:

        (No edit function, it seems:) I mean, what are we actually supposed to take from the first question? It’s just a vindictive, needless assault on character.

      • Cross says:

        It’s a damned tough question to start with, and would probably have been best saved for later, but if you look up the definition of pathological lying, i actually find it to be quite appropriate. Molyneux has filled us with plausible sounding bollocks oh so many times over, but he really does seem blisfully unaware that he makes promises and then back on them constantly.

        • Kingmarzo says:

          So asking pretty much if he has a mental illness is fine. Compulsive liar might have been better

          • Cross says:

            We’re getting into the depth of sociology and stigmas here, but yes, i believe that calling him a pathological liar, which implies that he’s unaware of lying and can’t help it, is better than calling him a massive sham.

  18. Ham Solo says:

    Wow, great interview. Tough and direct questions. Wonderful work here.

  19. physys says:

    I don’t deal well with confrontation and the whole interview made me feel anxious. I can see why the backers are pissed off, but I can also understand that development can be an unpredictable nightmare. I honestly feel bad for Peter because there’s only so much a person can do. Yeah, he over-promised A LOT but it at least speaks to his character that he’s still working ridiculous hours on something others would have bailed on. He has amazing talent and I hope he sticks it out and at least breaks even. It would be a shame to lose him completely if it really is just a run of bad luck and mismanagement.

  20. blushplus says:

    While I’m glad that Peter Molyneux has faced a great deal of long coming scrutiny lately, I can’t help but feel like it’s gotten a little ruthless with this interview and the way it was conducted right out of the gate. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be the first person to mock his blustery idealism and inability to filter the information he provides the press, but he’s not deserving of being kicked repeatedly in the ribs like this.

    I wish more understanding and empathy were provided not only for Peter’s sake, given that he’s clearly in shambles over all of this, but for the sake of being capable of a true neutral standpoint that allows the situation to come about organically rather than running him off the track in an instant. You asked what were essentially all the right questions in the most disrespectful and needlessly foul way possible and by the time Peter was getting upset over what he perceived your intentions to be I could easily see where he was coming from. You can argue that you weren’t pulling punches, and sure, I consider and appreciate it, but you didn’t earn the pathological liar remark and it comes off like you sucker punched him because you had the opportunity to be vengeful over the phone.

    Someone else said this prior, but I can’t imagine RPS is going to come out looking favourably for this and if I were a developer I’d be more than wary of giving John a second of my time.

  21. Borodin says:

    I’ve been searching for a way to cancel my supporter status. Does anyone know how to do that?

    This is particularly nasty journalism, and in the light of John’s recent exposé about his anxiety disorder I expected something more empathetic and compassionate.

    Finding facts that are in the interests of RPS readers and uncovering the truth needn’t involve abusive methods like those transcribed here. I don’t enjoy blood sports, and take no pleasure in seeing a dying horse kicked to within an inch of its life like to think that most other subscribers feel the same.

    I subscribed to RPS in the hope of a more mature assessment of PC gaming news. Now I wish I had seen this item much earlier on. Sorry John, but your tactics are contemptible.

    • Mackeriah says:

      This has done RPS considerable harm. I really hope this wasn’t reviewed by the other writers prior to publication. As that would sadly tar yourselves also, although to a lesser degree. If it wasn’t reviewed before John posted it, then I suspect that’s a hard lesson RPS just learnt.

    • sairas says:

      agreed.
      something must have gone wrong in the editorial process, although it seems unlikely a controversial transcription like this would’ve been published without discussion amongst the editors.

    • James Currie says:

      The issue is that I am more informed as a consumer for having read this article. I learned that PM is passionate on levels I cannot comprehend. I also learned that he can’t keep a promise, doesn’t understand development management, doesn’t understand the Terms and Conditions of Kickstarter (Which state that pledges must be kept on time) and he is something of an evasive man who played the victim card immediately and stuck with it relentlessly.

      PM comes across as a really nice guy, but incompetent in a large number of ways. As someone who has not been part of the industry since 1990 it was interesting to see PM talk, unfortunately he talked, endlessly, on simple yes/no questions – telling me that I simply should not back him on anything. I would love to see him in a PR role though – the man was born for it.

  22. theworldisPein says:

    Brutal and brilliant. One of the best interviews in have read in a while in the game related media. Perhaps the best. Definitely going to check out your work on a regular basis dear Sir.

  23. GiantPotato says:

    John: This interview was absolutely brutal, and for part of it you sound like you’re arguing with your interview subject instead of asking questions. I think that a follow-up piece explaining your methodology and goals would be very helpful in order to better understand what was said.

    I’m not saying apologize, because some hard questions needed to be asked about Godus. And Molyneux, to an extent, is playing the victim in this interview. But maybe some explanation of what the stakes are for Kickstarter, and what your investment is in this whole thing, would be a good idea.

  24. teije says:

    Some good and tough questions. The guy is actually incapable of remembering his own lies any longer and repeatedly contradicted himself.

    I actually thought the interview could have been more incisive, and asked more pertinent follow-up questions, on many of the contradictory and bogus things Molyneux said. John softened around midway through the interview and didn’t pursue several points that were blatantly false. That whole story about the multiplayer was absolute twaddle.

    And any developer who has “no idea” how expensive it is to develop a game should not be in business or ask people for their money. Period. No excuse for that.

    • YeGoblynQueenne says:

      And what do you do for a living? ‘Cause you’re sure not a developer, not in games, not in anything that actually delivers software. The word “deadline” is a joke in the software industry- it’s just something to hang your coat on when you get to a meeting with the business. And you ‘re having a meeting to explain why the software is late in the first place.

      I’m starting to see this more and more like the archetypical clash between a manager type who has not a clue what it takes to do anything productive (or even creative) and a techie type who just emerged from a life and death battle with the bugs, just to be told she’s useless and incompetent.

      Molyneux is not a even a techie but he’s the guy who’s put on the spot and asked to explain the unexplainable: “Why did it take you so long to create the damned thing?” and “Why couldn’t you make it work like promised?”

      Because it’s impossible to estimate how long the engineering process is going to take and because it’s impossible to know when engineering challenges will prove insurmountable _especially_ when you’re trying to do something you’ve never done before. Which is most of the time, because that’s what most people will pay money for.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Then why did Peter explicitly state the timeframe?

        There’s a lot of “dev” comments here arguing that Peter shouldn’t have been asked those questions or that John and commentators are wrong because deadlines are a “joke” and it just ignores the issues brought up.

        Peter was the one who set the budget for the Kickstarter.
        Peter was the one who set the timeframe for development.
        Peter was the one who made all the promises.

        Peter has acknowledged both prior to and during this interview that he knew these were unachievable and that he deliberately under estimated the work required to get people’s money.

        This is not like say the PoE Kickstarter where it was costed and there were unforeseen circumstances. All the timeframe and budget issues were foreseen by Peter and ignored in favour of getting people to give him money.

        It doesn’t whether we are devs are not, when the person responsible for a project says it will be done within a certain timeframe and a certain budget and they know full well it won’t we have a right to hold them accountable for it.

        • YeGoblynQueenne says:

          It doesn’t whether we are devs are not, when the person responsible for a project says it will be done within a certain timeframe and a certain budget and they know full well it won’t we have a right to hold them accountable for it.

          Look, I understand your frustration and I don’t want to blame you for not knowing how things work in an industry that you don’t work in and yep, I agree that there’s a lot of very bad communication all around. Still, the fact is that in the industry it’s common knowledge that you can’t expect to deliver “complete” software (whatever “complete” means) unless you keep working on it until it’s way past its sell-by date. There’s even a thing called “Agile” which basically embodies exactly this realisation, that software is never finished until it’s time for v 2.0. Kickstarter and Early Access are even based on this idea, that it’s better to deliver some basic features now than wait around for ever until the “finished” product is ready- because the “finished” product will usually take as long as Duke bloody Nukem.

          So basically this mob is calling for Molyneux to be hanged because he’s released an early version of his product that’s useable now, but missing some features that are still being worked on. Would it be better if you were still waiting to play even the half-finished versions you get now? If there was no mobile version? If there was nothing published at all? And who would pay the developers during that time?

          That’s what Molyneux is saying in his interview (mixed with a lot of rubbish, for sure). But I can’t believe that John Walker really doesn’t understand that’s how things work, he’s supposed to have been covering games for a long time, but he keeps attacking Molyneux _for the way things work in the whole wide industry_.

          Yeah, there’s games you probably consider “finished”. I’ve played lots of them- but nobody ever made any promises about them, nobody ever told me what was left out or what was considered for inclusion but was not implemented because there was no time or money. Actually, that’s wrong, I often read articles from developers that flat out tell you “we wanted feature X in the game but there was no time and we didn’t have the money to keep working on it”. And that happens with games that everyone is perfectly happy to pay for.

          You’re complaining about Molyneux, but you’ve _always_ been playing incomplete games with missing features and bugs aplenty, you just didn’t know because nobody tried to promise you specific features beforehand. But you’re upset over features that someone promised but hasn’t delivered _yet_? Well, sorry but that just sounds so… uninformed.

          And in any case, RPS is always trying to sell you games that are half-made and are promising features that may never make it to the “final” version. Why single out one company for that and why make it in such an unbelieavably biased, unprofessional and personally insulting manner?

          I don’t care about Molyneux and his games btw, I ‘ve only ever enjoyed one game he ever made (Dungeon Keeper) and I thought that could be much better. I’ve always thought all his stuff is overhyped and boring, but there you have it. I still don’t see the reason to treat someone like shit because they’re doing the same kind of job everyone else is doing.

          • Philomelle says:

            It appears that you’re not aware of the complete history behind this interview. Here are a couple facts.

            1. Molyneux outright stated in an interview several days ago that he never intended to implement the features spoken about here, he simply promised them because he thought it raised the chance of his Kickstarter succeeding.

            2. The current project lead stated that a lot of those features are impossible to implement. The Linux version is impossible to develop because the current engine doesn’t support the operating system at all, while other features are impossible because they would require changing how the game currently works. Molyneux has been actively roadblocking those changes because they would move away from the microtransaction-driven design of the current game.

            3. The mobile version has never been mentioned during the Kickstarter at all, yet it was developed first and the game’s design is very clearly oriented for mobile; it’s basically Cookie Clicker with a less browser-driven UI. The backers’ money actually was spent on a completely different project for a completely different platform than the one they backed.

            So no, it’s not that Molyneux tried and didn’t succeed in time. It’s that he didn’t try at all.

      • Philomelle says:

        Frankly, I don’t care if you’re a techie or a manager. Once you reveal that you hired a different person to lead the project you started, but don’t remember when that happened or how long he’s been working for you, I wouldn’t even trust you to take out garbage.

      • teije says:

        Not that it’s any of your business, but since you’ve asked – I’ve worked as a software developer for 20 years, and now lead a team of 22 developers. Obviously over those years I have estimated and delivered successfully many project both large and small – the largest being 60,000 hours for a complete enterprise rewrite.

        Your comments indicate you have no idea how successful companies function. Having at least somewhat accurate estimating is a key skill for producing any software – otherwise you burn through your money and timelines and maybe end up bankrupt. Molyneux can’t manage a software team – that much is obvious from his comments – and as such 22Cans desperately needs someone who actually knows how to produce software.

        Putting a bunch of devs together in a room and throwing great ideas at them does not produce quality functioning software – gaming or otherwise.

        • YeGoblynQueenne says:

          Well in that case I’ll presume you’re just biased.

          • YeGoblynQueenne says:

            OK, sorry that’s not fair of me to say.

            Look at my longer reply above. Sure, you can deliver a set of features and stay within an estimated budget and timeframe, but that really depends on what you are delivering.

            Anyway, sorry for the personal tone, wasn’t meant that way.

          • teije says:

            No worries – no offense taken.

            Completely agree that accurate estimating and effective development project managing are hard skills, and crazy shit happens during a project. But if I had mishandled this project like Molyneux has to date, I’d be fired, and rightfully so.

        • YeGoblynQueenne says:

          Having at least somewhat accurate estimating is a key skill for producing any software – otherwise you burn through your money and timelines and maybe end up bankrupt.

          Also, that’s what happens to most startups. They fail to deliver on time and within budget and then go bankrupt. Again: why single out Molyneux and why insult him?

  25. Hahaha says:

    From the guy who tells people to fuck off when they point out his mistakes…. stay classy john

  26. Divine says:

    The Molyneux-Syndrome

    Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments
    Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others
    Envies others and believes others envy him/her
    Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence
    Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others
    Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior
    Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic

    – DSM IV TR

    But thats the downside of creative mindsets, which in fact is driven by constant social constraint (Ritualtheorie, Victor Turner – creativity is the result of social break/discrimination, called the transition (liminoid) phase, where symoblic reconfiguration is used for re-integration or dis-integration). The upside is Syndicate (and even without any creative success a disorder probability is mandatory to care, especially judgement).

    In fact, a short psycho-linguistic analysis prognosticates Godus far off (date-dancing), 22cans at financial rock bottom (he dodged the curio-winner-revenues and denied unfullfilled plegde refund), and well, the molyneux-syndrome.

    gg @John, who probably plays retribution paladin (wow), because the “handling” of the life-changing reward and the pledge fraud definitely needed some reasonable response.
    Journalism doesnt have to be neutral, but based on heuristic facts.

    My personal interest aims for the implications on Crowdfunding and esp. KS, which has grown some anti-customer tendencies (ie. Alpha/Beta Test =Early Access pricing E:Dang) and also some revolutionary impacts (customer-democracy>AAA Marketing). Because this model is the most influential incentive to reconfigure the corporate mindset (which is also a Molyneux Syndrome) of the gaming industry to 21. century (because investments did not only rise since Crowdfunding, but became more flexible AND controllable(!)).
    This interview is a proof of concept of the dawn of a new customer selfunderstanding: this aint a game, but (human) life…

  27. woodsey says:

    Didn’t get very far at all, he was right: too emotional an interviewer. Five questions in and the thing just starts going round and round. If you’re talking over him quite that much then, generally, I would say that something’s gone wrong.

  28. 3havoc says:

    Finally a brutal interview, whether it is good journalism or not is debatable, I pefer the lets cut through the bullshit approach and start with the hard questions. Hell I expect to see Chris Roberts get the same treatment or worse if he fails to deliever, I hope that he does succeed and exceeds expectations.

    Personally I disagree with those saying “no one can work out how long or how much you need and its not fair,” I will agree that you can’t predict with perfect accuracy but planning with a pragamatic and realisitic approach does allow for better accuracy and a healthy dose over estimation of budget and time is a must. It doesn’t always work but its better than using questionable estimates and believing it will be enough. To clarify I work as a programmer, even done a stint at the train wreck formerly known as Team Bondi which killed my desire to work in the industry.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      Well, I hope you enjoy this while it lasts, because now that word has gotten around that this is apparently how Mr. Walker wants to play ball, I’d be surprised if any other game devs will want to give him the time of day in the future. Molyneux was pretty naive to not kill the interview at the very beginning himself, after the “pathological liar” crap.

  29. Hahaha says:

    link to twitter.com

    “@botherer If you don’t want people to point out factual inaccuracies in your articles do your research next time..
    @bit_crusherrr I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you fuck off as far as it’s possible for any human to fuck off?
    @botherer Why are you so volatile anyway? The majority of comments were just pointing out you made a mistake, there was hardly any insults.”

    ;)

    • Sam says:

      That’s three messages out of context in a huge Twitter thread from three years ago. What on earth does that have to do with this interview? Just desperately trying to find John saying a rude word? Because he does far more often than every 3 years.

      • Hahaha says:

        Yep his been a dick for that long and it’s about john getting his facts wrong in another piece he wrote on here and flipping out when people pointed that fact out to him.

        • Hahaha says:

          Basically john is a pathological dick and can’t take criticism of any kind without flipping out.

        • Sam says:

          Still not sure what it has to do with the interview. I don’t think there’s an issue here with him getting facts wrong?

          The person “kindly pointing out an inaccuracy” is doing so after the inaccuracy has been pointed out dozens of times and after the inaccurate post was removed, and within a context of the internet going all conspiracy theory pile-on.

  30. Hahaha says:

    Can we get a tally of how many people are thinking of/going to unsubscribe from rps due to this “interview”

    • Elusiv3Pastry says:

      I’m definitely going to renew my Supporter status due to this article.

    • DonkeyCity says:

      I’d been debating cutting this from my reading list a few times in the last couple of months (the continued feigned outrage over Evolve was eye-roll-inducing) , but I deleted it from my daily rounds of bookmarked sites because of this. It’s unlikely I’ll intentionally return after this evening.

    • melnificent says:

      I’m definitely subbing again.
      It’s great to see honest questions put forward without qualifiers or fluffy language. The opening question is something that has been asked by enough people that have come across Molyneux from his promises for various games that it’s a valid question. I know it’s the first one I’ve wanted to ask him for years.

      • JiminyJickers says:

        Same here. Peter has lost my faith too many times and it is about time he is publicly called out by the gaming press about it. I have no problem with this interview. I like Peter but just cannot trust hie lies anymore.

        • mavrik says:

          You DO understand there’s a difference between criticising and insulting a person right? Because this interview is downright scummy Fox News style pushing of agenda on the interviewee instead of doing quality journalism.

          • Philomelle says:

            The one that pushed an agenda in this interview was Molyneux. John recklessly played into his hand by starting with a very hardball question, and from there Molyneux interrupted and derailed every single attempt to get back on topic or conduct a conversation for the sake of flagellating himself and bringing single questions to inane conclusions about how he’s being driven out of the industry.

            Molyneux has a long history of theft, fraud and downplaying his actions by making them out into harmless anecdote. He founded Bullfrog by stealing valuable hardware from another company, he leeched money out of Microsoft with insane promises until they put their foot down and said “No you’re releasing Fable as it is and that’s final,” and he has admitted to intentionally misleading backers by promising features he never intended to implement.

            Even in this conversation, he tried to make himself look intensely uncomfortable, but hopped from it and straight into a Guardian interview in which he tried to demonize John as the man who harassed him into not speaking with the press, essentially creating a convenient excuse for him to avoid talking to people at the time when his customers are demanding that he take responsibility for the Godus debacle. He essentially tried to shift blame for his own poor communication with people to whom he owes over half a million onto this interview.

            He is a professional manipulator and I’m not buying him being a victim for a second. Hell, I could practically hear him smacking his lips in delight when John opened with a hardball question and allowed him to instantly start to manipulating the entire interview into “evil abuser John vs. poor widdle misunderstood artiste Molyneux”.

  31. YeGoblynQueenne says:

    So, this interview is just so much bullying. It’s the kind of piece that would fit right into the Daily Mail, in spirit if not in tone- because I think even the Mail doesn’t call up people to call them liars to their face.

    Also, don’t get it. That opening question? How is it supposed to be answered?

    “Peter, are you a pathological liar?”

    “Yes John, I can’t help myself, in fact I’m lying right now.”

  32. celticdr says:

    Good interview – I don’t think I’ve ever seen Molyneux hit with such a hard line of questioning before, and rightly so given the circumstances, but I couldn’t help feel for the man.

    He obviously has little grasp of how much time/money is involved in designing a game and seriously he needs a real-world producer in charge of his studio to say “Peter there’s no way this game is going to be finished in 9 months, let’s be realistic and say 2 years” or “No Peter, that feature isn’t likely given the budget”. PM is a creative mind and creative minds need realists to call the shots.

    John – you should take him up on the offer and go down to Guildford and see the studio – there’s another juicy article in that surely?

  33. kuertee says:

    Simply, unprofessional journalism.

    To those unhappy about Godus (and/or any other game from PM)…do you seriously think PM lied to you directly just so he can steal your money? Isn’t it more likely that his passion for building games for YOUR enjoyment (always) falls short of his promises?

    • melnificent says:

      Yes he did see this article about the godus kickstarter link to techradar.com

      ‘Christ, we’ve only got 10 days to go and we’ve got to make £100,000, for f**k’s sake, lets just say anything’. So I’m not sure I would do that again. – Peter Molyneux

      And if you actually read this interview you’ll see him deflect the question only to admit that he purposely lowballed the figure needed to get funding, so lying about the funding really needed.

  34. Chris D says:

    I am bemused by the number of people apparently still prepared to believe Molyneux is acting in good faith at this point.

    The impulse to give people the benefit of the doubt is a noble one but I think it’s misplaced here. Kickstarter isn’t a guarantee but it does operate on the basis that there’s at least a genuine attempt to deliver on what was promised and at this point I find it very hard to believe that happened in this case.

    Firstly if you have no idea how much a game costs to make then maybe don’t say “Give us £500.000 and we’ll make an old-school god game.”, if you don’t think you can do that. Maybe don’t promise innovation and creativity if what you really want to deliver is a mobile game plagued by microtransactions and no ideas other than that. Don’t promise delivery in seven months and spend two years working on a mobile version. Don’t say you want creative freedom and then sign up with a publisher. Don’t three years on have not one coherent design idea to show.

    Molyneux also promised something life changing for the winner of curiosity. He also charged money for people to improve their chances of it. What that turned out to be was publicity for his next venture. Look at how it’s been dropped back from five to ten years to probably six months, or until someone successfully challenges .

    Or look at his own words “There’s this overwhelming urge to over-promise because it’s such a harsh rule: if you’re one penny short of your target then you don’t get it. And of course in this instance, the behaviour is incredibly destructive, which is ‘Christ, we’ve only got 10 days to go and we’ve got to make £100,000, for fuck’s sake, lets just say anything’. So I’m not sure I would do that again.”

    Look at how his account of what’s happening differs from that of his new lead designer.- “Naszynski explains that he had to choose something that seemed quickly achievable with minimal resources, so chose the story. He says that had he selected to overhaul the resource system, “I would have been told outright no.””

    Compare that to how Molyneaux describes it in the video he released earlier this week, about how he had been convinced that story was the key to the whole thing.

    Molyneaux sells the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and dances on to the next thing before delivering. It’s not a victimless crime, from the people who backed in good faith, the people who paid for Curiosity on the basis of his promises, Bryan Henderson and the rest of the team at 22Cans who have been left to pick up the pieces, possibly paid, possibly not.

    He gets away with it because when he’s challenged he plays the tormented auteur who is just so passionate about games and no one pushes the issue. Look at the video he released this week. He’s asked questions by the community but answers none of them directly and no one is prepared to call him out (understandably as he’s their boss).

    This interview may not have been pretty to watch and it may not have been perfect but it was necessary.

    • SuziQ says:

      The mobile deal and publisher were done to save the game. What are you gonna do if shit hits the fan, do you prefer a failed Kickstarter? The Steam version is still coming, I don’t think they changed it into a f2p mobile game.

      • Chris D says:

        The kickstarter was in December 2012 with an estimated seven month delivery window. In the interview Molyneux says it was clear they were going to run out of money in March, three months later.

        If it was after the project had overun then maybe I would be more sympathetic to that explanation but less than half-way through the project? That’s either mismanagement on a catastrophic scale or it was always the plan to seek additional funding, in which case that should have been made clear from the start.

        It’s not damning in isolation, apart from the catastrophic mismanagement thing, but taken alongside everything else I find it hard to believe Molyneux’s version of events.

        As for the PC version not being the mobile version? I think it’s telling that no-one, not even the lead designer is saying actually this game’s pretty good. Also look at the quote from Naszynski again. He says that had he selected to overhaul the resource system, “I would have been told outright no.” That doesn’t sound like there’s a new and improved PC version waiting in the wings.

        Yes, development overruns and mistakes happen but this is not an isolated occurence. I find it hard to believe that a good faith attempt was made to deliver on the promises made. To give Molyneaux a free pass on this does no service to the developers who face similar challenges and yet still deliver.

  35. YeGoblynQueenne says:

    Also, I expect John is now going to ask the same “hard questions” of every developer RPS interviews who has ever flunked a kickstarter, or really every game developer who has failed to reach their targets, in terms of time or features delivered.

    In fact I have a better idea. Let’s all get together and bitch to high heaven about every piece of vapourware, every broken promise from a software company big or small, every “demo” that was really just a few power point slides, every early prototype that was just a guy hidden under a desk pulling on strings, every feature that doesn’t quite do what it was advertised to do and every deadline that was ever missed.

    It’s not going to fix anything, mind. Because really that’s how it works in the tech world. The vast majority of tech starts with a big, fat, crazy promise that’s _meant_ to take your money before anyone has anything to deliver for it. A lot of it fails to ever deliver anything and so yeah, people lose their money for backing great ideas that never get off the ground, all the bloody time. It happens in the industry, it happens in academia, it happens in games, in automotive tech, in military tech, in medical, everywhere.

    In fact, there’s even a word for it- imagine that. It’s called “an investment“.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      This is not about any developer that just failed the first time. This is about a developer who has been doing the same thing for decades and keeps doing it.

  36. YeGoblynQueenne says:

    This just occured to me:

    If you take the average salary for someone in the industry, which must be about £30k, that’s 22 people, multiplied by £30k, divided by 12. You work out how many months Kickstarter money gives us.

    Game developers are paid on average 30k pa? That must be a mistake, right? That’s a pittance. O.o

    • Werthead says:

      The UK average wage is about £26,000 (roughly $46,000). That’s around what nurses and teachers get when starting out, and way above the minimum wage (which is about £13,000) here in the UK.

      • YeGoblynQueenne says:

        I am working here in the UK and the average salary for developers and software engineers is around £35k to £40k. I did a bit of googling and I can back up that figure, although of course nobody has very accurate data.

        In any case, even £35-40K is not representative. It’s the expected salary of a developer with just a few short years experience. Normally, a junior developer just starting out should expect abour £30k, a mid-level developer between £35k and £50k and a senior dev £65k and up.

        Those are figures for London and from personal experience and it depends a lot on the company you work for, but £30k is not a good salary, especially for the kind of workload that games devs are supposed to handle. One large reason I’m not working in games is because games developers are expected to work themselves to the ground, precisely because they do something they really care about and because they value the opportunity to work in games higher thant they value money.

        That’s something to think about when you next feel let down by a game company. They are actually people you know, not machines.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Christ I’m underpaid.

          • YeGoblynQueenne says:

            Sorry to hear that. To be honest, even 30k is really too much money just to sit around on your arse all day and tap on a keyboard (like I do). When I say that games devs are paid a pittance, I mean it in the context of general software development salaries. Otherwise, I feel very strongly that salaries in the developed world are completely out of proportion with the real work contributed by workers- including myself.

            When I can buy a cardigan for £15 in Primark but the people who make it are paid £24 a month, then there’s something really, really wrong in the world.

  37. snowgim says:

    I remember the Broken Age kickstarter pitch mentioned that they didn’t know whether it would be a success or a spectacular failure, but that we’d still get to watch it crash and burn.
    That may have just been them covering bases, but that’s my thinking going into any kickstarter.

    Following Godus’ development has been interesting, with a lot of ups and downs, but I don’t regret paying for the ride. And I won’t be getting off ’till it’s well and truly over.

    Poor Peter, he just gets too excited about the possibilities.

  38. Wedge says:

    The irony in the “backlash” RPS is suffering from this is quite the giggle.

  39. Eddie Bax says:

    The complaints about ‘fairness’ or ‘bias’ or what have you I think fail to understand that not addressing the elephant in the room — Molyneux’s well-documented false public statements over the years, whether intentional or not — is in itself a form of bias towards Molyneux and unfair to the people who have been burned by him. It’s not as if this interview exists in a vacuum.

    I can see why people have complaints about the tone, but to go any other way would have just given Molyneux yet another opportunity to deflect and pivot, as he’s done ever so many times before. Ok, so it’s ‘kicking him when he’s down,’ but why is he down? Seems like the result of his own behaviour to me, not just a random set of unfortunate circumstances. And this is hardly picking on the little guy.

  40. Anonymous says:

    So.. hefty interview there by John. But by and all, I’m fine with it. Mostly because in my opinion some people in the gaming industry get away with lying/making things up too much. And Peter has a history of this.

    And you know what, it’s easy to hide from the press when you’re catching flak but it’s a bit late for that at this stage. He should’ve had enough self-awareness to have someone to ask him hard questions and to keep him in check. And he didn’t, and a tough interview shouldn’t be his greatest concern. No, it should be taking a good look at himself and try as best he can to fulfill his promises. And if he can’t, then he should be open and honest about it.

    • toshiro says:

      Agreed. If you surround yourself with people who says “yes you are brilliant”, instead of “Hmm… I don’t agree” then I’m afraid this is the result.

  41. ffordesoon says:

    I feel really terrible for Peter Molyneux. Not because he’s not full of shit (he is), nor because I think John stepped over the line here (I would if John was talking to anyone else, but Molyneux has such an extensive history of dodging questions and issuing what are no doubt sincere apologies and never addressing the issues raised that I can’t really call that opening question excessive). I feel awful for Molyneux because I think he truly doesn’t understand why he’s being raked over the coals or why his behavior is percieved as in any way disingenuous. Watching this nice but deeply deluded man try and fail to paint himself as the hero of his own story is strangely heartbreaking.

  42. lumenadducere says:

    Jesus, this was a rough read. John, I like that you held him accountable, and that you asked the tough questions. But the tone this dips into and some of the lines are really skirting the border between tough journalism and spite. The intentions are good and the sentiment justified, but the execution…could have used some work. It’s like you got home to find your puppy had torn apart your couch, emptied the trash can all over your kitchen, and shit on the bathroom floor, and now you’re kicking and yelling at it and the puppy just doesn’t understand why. There had to be a better way to handle it.

  43. plugmonkey says:

    Christ, that was fucking awful. Paxman faux journalism has now entered the video gaming sphere, a day I never thought I’d see. The whole thing is a pathetic points scoring exercise, literally from the first sentence.

    Unsubscribe.

    • James says:

      I am way more informed than I was before the interview. I think this was as much consumer advocacy as journalism. As was apparent by the sometimes unprofessional questions that a dull news anchor will never ask, but that a backer would demand to know. As nobody else is asking PM questions from the backer’s perspective I have to give John credit for filing in the gaps. I wish he had been nicer and put more thought into his ordering of questions though.

  44. Sediqwe says:

    Korrekt this:
    “RPS: Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?
    Peter Molyneux: Absolutly yes!
    RPS: Thx and bye!”

  45. Lachlan1 says:

    “I remember it vividly going through my head,” says Molyneux . “There was like an angel and a devil on my shoulder. One saying ‘Go on you’ve got to tell the truth, you can’t lie like this.’ Then this other voice saying ‘Just lie. Just lie, get the machines, and sort it out afterwards.’ Of course, I ended up lying.”

  46. hemmer says:

    I agree with the “what” of the interview, meaning the type of questions asked. Some of it was a long time coming, answers were needed.

    The “how” though…absolutely disgusts me. I know John can be a very polarizing person but this seemed borderline unprofessional to me. Now as some others have pointed out, this may just be how it reads and it actually played out somewhat differently, but the phrasing seemed inappropriately aggressive. Less interview and more public shaming, pillory and all.

    Disclaimer: I have never played one of PM’s games, so maybe I simply don’t get the hate. Not that I have

    • Lachlan1 says:

      Let’s face facts, videogame “reporters” are entertainment writers at best. John probably started rps cos he was a tad unemployable, he’s a good writer but often rude.

      • hemmer says:

        Yes, RPS is a very entertainment-heavy site, which is part of why I like it, but the entertainment doesn’t have to be at someone else’s expense.

        There’s also more and more genuinely good journalism popping up here and elsewhere, so I don’t see why we can’t hold them (meaning games journalists in general) to a higher standard. Especially since I’m usually very satisfied with RPS quality-wise.

  47. Neurotic says:

    I’ve been reading Walker since he joined PC Gamer a decade and a half-plus ago, and whilst I haven’t always agreed with his views, I’ve always enjoyed his writing and found his opinions and insight to be interesting and informative. But after reading this interview, I have lost a bit of respect for him. In fact, probably since his first hysterical post about PM/Godus earlier this week. I think it’s very much in his character to be concerned about the money issue, and it’s great that someone with a wide public readership has pressed the point; however, I think he went too far, too fast. Nobody is above questioning, and again, it’s good that someone rattled the cage a bit, but there has been a sense of self-righteous ‘think of the children’ zealotry in his reporting and handling of the interview which I feel is wrong – disproportionate to the amount of force necessary.

  48. Lachlan1 says:

    “I remember it vividly going through my head,” says Molyneux . “There was like an angel and a devil on my shoulder. One saying ‘Go on you’ve got to tell the truth, you can’t lie like this.’ Then this other voice saying ‘Just lie. Just lie, get the machines, and sort it out afterwards.’ Of course, I ended up lying.” From eurogamer re the start of PM’s career, where his company was exporting baked beans to the middle east and was mistaken for a videogame company. He’s not aware of any lies though

  49. lookaheadfcsus says:

    This interview is as edgy and hard-hitting as Fox interviewing president Obama who of course is to blame for everything wrong with America.

    So, Obama, why are you to blame for everything?

    “I’m not.”

    “Ahah! But you are!”

    “I’m really not. Let me tell you wh-”

    “Why are you lying to me?”

    And so it goes untill Obama walks out, which in the interviewers eyes is the biggest confession in the whole interview.

    “So I was right. He was to blame.”

    And then shares it with like-minded peers who *also* know that Obama is to blame.

    And so we learn nothing, everything stays the same, a chance has been wasted, and people are happier than ever.

    First and last-time commenter.

    Out.

    • Alegis says:

      That is indeed a very edgy and hard-hitting comment. A shame you leave us … after never having been here?

      • LionsPhil says:

        Given the assumption that a large propotion of the RPS readerbase are silent non-commenters, it’s not unreasonable that they may voice a reason for why they then cease to read.

        Although they could have done it directly to the e-mail address at the foot of the page rather than announcing it to all.

  50. Alegis says:

    John, you have earned a lot of respect for me for conducting this interview and posting it ad verbum. This was needed.

    I disagree with the commenters who claim John has spit unfairly in Peter’s face. PM has a reputation for lying, we know it, we laugh about it ( link to i.imgur.com ); I found it a fair question to PM to begin with so he could address it.

    John went too far with the hotel questioning (of course PM should be able choose how to spend his own free time), but I understand how the interview got there as he was quoting PM to him to illustrate his contradictions.

    PM was too evasive. Yes, estimations can be difficult, but as John showed – he knew he could not keep up his promise, yet did so anyway in hopes of getting money from the backers. Then to spit on them to get money from a publisher anyway and tie their hands with the publisher’s demands and the mobile version. This in direct contradiction to his Kickstarter promises and why the project was on Kickstarter in the first place. As an interview of PM the person – this piece wasn’t needed perhaps. As a consumer advocacy piece for the Godus kickstarters; this was sorely needed.

    I respect PM’s dedication, but contrary to his initials he should not be a project manager.