Tag Archives: Peter Molyneux

Fable 3: Why Peter Molyneux Gives Great Demos

During the last demo of Fable 3 at Microsoft’s XO10 conference in San Francisco, Lionhead chief Peter Molyneux asked us if he could sit, as he explained, he had been working 10-12 hour days. Eventually has asked if he could get onto his knees to illuminate actions on the HDTV. Since my associate and I were the only guys in the last session of the day, we agreed. Molyneux, whose repertoire of games reaches back to the 8-bit and 16-bit days and includes hits such as Syndicate, Black and White, and Dungeon Keeper, is known for both charming audiences during his infamous demo sessions and overpromising on games that often only deliver a portion of those promises.

In our demo, Molyneux demonstrated exactly why he is so captivating as a speaker and as a game designer. He speaks personally to as many journalists as possible, to such a degree that his “handlers” have to end the sessions for him. He expresses a child-like joy for the games he makes, which you can hear in his voice and see on his face. And few of his games are proper, predictable sequels. They’re always packed with new ideas and attempts at doing something different. As the chief of Lionhead, he said, he loves his job, asking in what other position could he employ such off-the-wall ideas, or make such drastic changes, or have so much fun at his job?

Of course, the opposite can be said, and with conviction. Molyneux’s games often only contain a portion of the ideas he hypes, leaving lots of gamers frustrated and angry at him, and leaving a game that clearly looks like it has been cleaved (like Fable 1, for instance). 

Fable 3 stands to build upon the previous Fables in the series, with more character customization and innovative options in three ways, says Molyneux: 1) by rewriting the rules of traditional story-telling in games, 2) by enabling an Ico-like hand-holding mechanic called “touch,” 3) and by enabling players to customize their weapon (as an outgrowth of customizing their characters).

THE HERO MYTH REWRITTEN

“Video games are always told by means of the hero’s journey,” said Molyneux, referring to the common concept of heroes from writer Joseph Campbell’s book, Hero of a Thousand Faces. “A big baddy does something really bad, you’re the hero, and you work all game long to beat him. Then, the worst thing happens. The credits roll. When you beat him, the story ends. In our game, after you beat the leader of the town of Logan halfway through the game,  you become the king.”

Molyneux’s premise is that gamers always play the same story model, and by putting gamers in the shoes of the king, they’ll gain an enormous amount of power and then have to make decisions that will make some followers happy, but will eventually let other people down, giving players choices over how they’ll reign.

LET’S “TOUCH”

“Let’s face it, when it comes to expressions in Fable 1 and 2, it really came down to one funny ‘expression.’ Farting.” In Fable 3, Lionhead is borrowing the hand-holding mechanic first introduced in ICO to connect gamers with characters in the story.

Molyneux demonstrated the idea with a family of three, a father, mother, and a young, lost daughter.  In order to find the daughter, the character relies on his pet dog to track her scent. Once located the father lifts the girl into his arms and they hug. Players can then punish or reward the daughter for running away.Your character then tries to lead her into the pub, where she responds by saying, “Daddy, that’s the pub. Mother said she never wanted you to go there again.”

They then walk back home hand-in-hand. “When we have couples who play game in co-op walk in hand in hand, everyone single one of them is moved,” said Molyneux. “It’s amazing how simple and effective it is.”

Molyneux also showed how “touch” negatively affects characters.  By putting his character’s hand on the shoulder of a beggar and misguiding him into believing he’ll be fed, the father leads the beggar to a labor shop. Once the beggar realizes he’s going to the labor plant, he pulls and tugs and tries to break free from your grip. But no such luck. By physically connecting players with characters in the game, they’ll feel more attached and emotionally connected to the game, added Molyneux.

WEAPONRY: SAM’S AXE OF DEATH

Finally, Molyneux explained how the weapons have been changed and improved over Fable 2. “We were in a design meeting talking about weapons,” explained Molyneux. We had created about 300 weapons already (Molyneux signs with boredom at the thought of so many weapons) when we suddenly realized that we should allow you to create your own weapon.”

In the demo Molyneux shows a striped face warrior holding an unusually shaped axe. “It’s tall because of the 1,000 kills you’ve tallied. It’s spiked because of your Xbox 360 gamer skills. And it’s named ‘Sam’s axe of death,'” said Molyneux. The best part? You can trade or sell your weapon online, or buy another player’s weapon.

1 Comment

Filed under Video Games

GamesCom 09: Molyneux Unveils Kingdom in Fable IIm

Cologne, Germany holds the annual European show, GamesCom, and this year the surprises are bigger and better than in years past. For one, Sony announced a $100 price cut for PS3 along with its new PS3 slim model. Second, Lionhead Creative Director Peter Molyneux revealed his studio is in the works not only with Milo and Kate of Project Natal E3 fame, but with Fable III. (Check the video here.)

It's good to be the king...

It's good to be the king...

Unlike a most designers trained by PR folks to hold back information and stick with the cue cards, Molyneux dives right into the details of his new game, due exlcusively on Xbox 360 in 2010. Fable III is connected to Fable II in that the game will analyze your indescretions and those will play a part of how you are perceived in Fable III.

The third in Molyneux’s action-RPG series, Fable III puts you in the shoes of a son or daughter of your character from Fable II. Only now yuo are positioned to inherit the role of king of Albion, and the world has changed dramatically. It’s industrialized, there is more crime, and you are a politician who must figure out how to make things work, while essentially trying to please everyone.

“We’ve spent a lot of time at Lionhead thinking about how we can innovate the gameplay and progress the world of the Fable games for its third chapter, and we’re confident that players won’t second-guess what we have planned for Fable III,” said Molyneux. “Though I can’t give too much away right now, players should expect to have to make much tougher choices with far wider consequences than ever before in Albion—and with many more interactive adventure elements.”

Good or bad? You will decide your kingdom's fate by passing judgment or investigating crimes.

Good or bad? You will decide your kingdom's fate by passing judgment or investigating crimes.

Molyneux introduced two new mechanics for next year’s Fable III: Judgments and Touch. When you are king, you’ll see numerous people come before you who have committed crimes. Should you punish them outright or investigate their story? These judgment situations serve as quests. You can summarily sentence the person, setting an example for the rest of the kingdom, or you can investigate. Molyneux said, for example, a young girl was caught stealing. If you investigate, you might find that she was trying to feed her starving family.

The other mechanic, Touch, enables players to turn a simple handshake into a hug or a kiss, or something more, according to Molyneux, who sheepishly teased the audience. Another example he gave of Touch was of you saving a child who was stuck in a burning house. In Fable II, you would just prress a butto and save the child. In Fable III, you would actually go in and walk out with the child, where everyone could see you. “I’m going to tease you with how we’re doing this, and it’s one sliver of what we’re doing with Fable III.” Could he possibly be talking about Project Natal? Hm…when was Molyneux ever subtle?

Leave a comment

Filed under Video Games