Peter Molyneux Interview

Peter Molyneux might not be with Lionhead Studios or Microsoft anymore, but he's still a veteran designer that GameSpot AU considers to be "one of the biggest names in game development", and so he's the latest designer to be picked for their "Game Masters" Q&A series. Hopefully he turns one of his "insanely ambitious ideas" into a role-playing game:
As a game developer who has been in the industry for a very long time, what things have become easier, and what things have become harder in the last twenty or so years?

The one incredible thing that's become much, much easier is reaching people. It's much easier to reach consumers because of social networks, and digital communication as a whole. You can build teams and literally ask the gamers who like your games: "Hey, what do you think of this?"

That was impossible when I started. The only way to do that--and I tried this once--was to take an ad in the paper and ask people to write in. Now you can Tweet and ask people what they think and you can get thousands of responses. Just being able to pull people's experience is priceless. That is an incredible shortcut. That's also allowed us to find talented people--that's also become a lot easier nowadays.

But that global communication is also a double-edged sword because it leads you to a sense of confusion. There's something to be said for locking yourself away and closing all the doors and create something amazing. At the moment, you can almost ask too many questions and get too much feedback. There's no idea which you can put out there which someone won't try to shoot down. With so many games coming out every single day on a variety of formats, it doesn't feel like you can as easily go out there and find an idea that hasn't been explored before.


Can you tell us a little bit about your decision to leave Lionhead and Microsoft, all the things you achieved there, and the new direction you're taking with 22 Cans?

I love the people at Lionhead, but for me, I think the way my creative mind works best is when I'm in a small team of people just trying out insanely ambitious ideas. That's where I work best. It's not as the captain of a huge ship, but rather a nimble little sailing boat. I left because I felt Lionhead had the Fable franchise worked out, and I had all these mad crazy ideas that I wanted to experiment with and that meant finding completely new people to work with.

Not being bound by any platform or any larger corporate direction gave me the freedom to explore avenues I wouldn't have been able to explore at Microsoft. Yes, it was a hard decision to make--it's very scary out here, and I cried when I left. But as soon as I walked into my new office it felt unbelievably refreshing. I've been more creative in these last eight weeks since leaving than I have in a very long time.