GDC: The Top Ten Peter Molyneux Quotes

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Although the concept got an enthusiastic approval, the officially published article was toned down a bit. Fair enough. But there’s no holding back Peter Molyneux. So here this is.

On Friday, the syrupy and gracious Mr. Molyneux held a session to show off his half-complete mega-opus, Fable 2. There are, however, a few problems in covering the session, in that a valiant effort in spin control has stifled what Molyneux can actually discuss. Most of what he was left to reveal, therefore, had already been revealed at an earlier keynote. The rest of the material was generally familiar from a much smaller press gathering a year ago, at which Molyneux personally served cookies to all interested parties. Which was… mostly this writer.

Nevertheless, in lieu of actual information, one can always rely on Molyneux himself as a topic of interest. Let us, then, revisit the session and stroke our chins to the form, if not the content, of Molyneux’s message. Since most of these quotes are more fun out-of-context, the explanations have all been spoiler-tagged. Highlight to reveal. Continue reading “GDC: The Top Ten Peter Molyneux Quotes”

Fable is Love; Love is Puppies

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

This article had a strict deadline; I rushed to finish it so it could go live before the whole Internet had reported on the demonstration. And then… I guess it slipped through the cracks. Oh well! Here it is.

As another note, I think this was the meeting where Molyneux creepily offered his audience cookies. I was the only one to perk up. Hey, cookies.

Peter Molyneux was in loopy spirits, discussing his new game. Who knows how many times he had been over the same territory that day, though he seemed to enjoy spinning his tale, finding the right notes to highlight, the right places to pause for dramatic tension.

“Sequels are tricky things,” Molyneux started off. “Not my specialty. The sensible approach is to give you more things you like, better.” More weapons, new monsters, twenty times the land, guns! When Molyneux was asked to provide a sequel, he set off doing demographical research to see just what people wanted of him anyway. Then he opened “the doors of hell” – the online communities – only to quickly, in his words, slam them shut again. There were so many demands, so shrilly phrased – “so many people mortally offended by the design choices in Fable 1” – that the best Molyneux could do was sift out the most common complaints. Continue reading “Fable is Love; Love is Puppies”

Five That Didn’t Fall

by Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

Part nine of my ongoing culture column for Next Generation. After the popularity of my earlier article, I pitched a companion piece about companies that had lived past their remit, yet technically were still with us. On publication we lost the framing conceit and the article was split into five pieces, each spun as a simple bottled history. In turn, some of those were picked up by BusinessWeek Online. Here’s the whole thing, in context.

A few weeks ago we published a list of five developers that made a difference, helped to shape the game industry, then, one way or another (usually at the hands of their parent companies), ceased to exist. One theme I touched on there, that I got called on by a few readers, is that although in practical terms all the listed companies were indeed defunct, several continued on in name (Atari, Sierra, and Origin), living a sort of strange afterlife as a brand detached from its body.

This was an deliberate choice; although Infogrames has been going around lately with a nametag saying “HELLO my name is Atari” – and hey, why not; it’s a good name – that doesn’t make Infogrames the historical Atari any more than the creep in the purple spandex with the bowling ball is the historical Jesus. (Not that I’m relating Infogrames to a fictional sex offender – though he is a pretty cool character.) The question arises, though – what about those companies which live on in both name and body, yet which we don’t really recognize anymore? You know who I’m talking about; the cool rebels you used to know in high school, who you see ten years later working a desk job, or in charge of a bank. You try to joke with them, and they don’t get a word you’re saying. You leave, feeling a mix of fear and relief that (as far as you know) you managed to come out of society with your personality intact.

The same thing happens in the videogame world – hey, videogames are people; all our sins are handed down. This article is a document of five great companies – that started off so well, ready to change the world – that… somehow we’ve lost, even as they trundle on through the successful afterlife of our corporate culture. And somehow that just makes us miss them all the more. Continue reading “Five That Didn’t Fall”

I QUIT

There’s this mission in Fable, where I’m supposed to rescue a kid from a cave filled with monsters. I tried twice to beat it. It wasn’t any fun at all. I mean, I really did not enjoy it. The second time I nearly did finish, but I died again. The third time, which I attempted just today, I succeeded — but then I failed anyway because the kid I was supposed to protect got killed somehow. When I failed, I figured, ah, well. So I failed it. At least I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.

BUT THEN THE GAME LOADED THE LAST AUTOSAVE.

So. I was forced to start again.

Finally I completed the quest effectively. I went back to the guild and leveled-up. I went back to town. I bought a few items. I checked on my wife.

AND THE GAME LOCKED UP.

I… I tried loading the last autosave. It was was just before that quest, again.

I’m… about to kill something.

I certainly don’t feel compelled to continue playing.

“‘Chicken-chaser’? Does that mean you… chase chickens?”

I just got Fable.

Why the fuck is there a top-level menu item to watch commercials for other, unrelated games published by Microsoft? I mean. Could they not have used that disc space for something more constructive?

I feel slightly dirty for having witnessed this.

EDIT:

I actually am enjoying the hell out of this, even if it’s not what I expected. It’s not even close. I was waiting for a cross between Shenmue and Morrowind. That sounded like the original concept for the game, anyway. Now it’s more like the offspring of Zelda and The Sims.

It sure ain’t the revolutionary leap it was touted as. It has a lot of charm, though. Even if the save system is bothersome, and I CAN’T GET THE DAMNED GOD-VOICE TO SHUT UP.

If the game were to just leave me alone and let me do my own thing without badgering me like, uh, any recent version of Zelda, I would have little problem with it. From what I’ve seen. Even its dumb videogamey qualities (the chests littered around the game world) seem on some level deliberate. If the game were to take itself seriously, I might not feel the same way. The tone is just what’s needed, though, to make it work in the form it is.

This evening, as I was pouring virtual beer into a virtual barmaid, in real life a terror-soaked voice echoed from down the street: “HELP! OH GOD, HELP! CALL THE POLICE! SOMEBODY! HELP ME PLEASE! SAVE ME! OH GOD! POLICE!” And. So on.

This was followed by another voice: “What the FUCK‘s your problem, huh?” And a smacking sound.

Then. Nothing.

Several minutes later, we heard a series of loud noises. Noises I have trouble finding words for. They sounded like the midway between a buzz-saw and someone sucking ice cream through a straw.

I don’t know what connection, if any, exists between the above events.

EDIT 2:

I just realized why the music so made me think of Danny Elfman — to the point where I was constantly tempted to mutter “something’s up with Jack/something’s up with Jack…”.

It’s because the music is written by Danny Elfman.

I, uh, had forgotten that.