Peter Molyneux’s pretty alright, really. The whole Spinner of Lies, Peddler of Broken Dreams thing never quite jived for me – it requires a level of forethought I’m just not seeing, especially considering the bloke’s biggest problem is talking faster than his team can say ‘hold on, Pete, we’re still not sure that’s possible’.
Over time I have gone from rolling my eyes at his extravagant promises, to wanting to roll a ball of wool across the floor for him because ‘d’aww, he’s just like an excitable kitten’. And you know why? Bawling anti-fans. Irritating hate-junkies. This pernicious and entirely baseless meme that he consistently produces bad games. At this point if the inevitable letdown involved him personally coming to my house, setting fire to my cat and charging me for his taxi fare, I would smile and give it 89%.
Considering how the wider gaming community carries on, you’d think that’s what actually happens; not that the bloke gets carried away with sparkling (but impossible) ideas, then delivers a pretty damn good game at the end of it. I know, I know. It won’t make pixies butter your toast for you, LIKE HE PROMISED, but you’re going to have to settle for a clever, quirky God Game with a neat belief mechanic.
And then half of the anti-fans look at me like “…what? What the fuck’s a God Game?”
“Actually,” they say, shuffling their feet. “We didn’t realise this Molyneux fellow was a person. We thought he was, like, some kind of monster. A boggart, maybe. Or a kelpie. We figured he just snuck into people’s houses and took their money and left a shit game under their pillow; like some rubbish version of the tooth fairy.”
A lot of people complaining bitterly about his mistreatment of gamers seem barely aware he made anything outside of Fable. There’s some vague sense of ‘oh, yes, he’s been screwing us for years but we’re wise to his tricks now’, but before you could say sentences like ‘…involved in producing critically-acclaimed games such as Theme Park, Syndicate and Dungeon Keeper’, you’d have to explain that he didn’t spend the last thirty years getting inexplicably large amounts of money to produce Wii Boardgames: Connect 4. It’s an undirected, unfocused kind of kind of rage, like if the Daily Mail writers woke up to find that somebody had cured cancer. People hate him without quite seeming to know why; in a sort of bilious version of keeping up with the Jones’.
When folks are lining up to say ‘He’s gonna overhype it! Just like last time! Half this stuff won’t even be in it!’, it rather begs the question then why are you psyching yourself up to be outraged? I know I’m not going to like the next Elder Scrolls game. I know that, no matter what they say, or what screencaps they release, or what the plot is; when release day comes I am going to feel like they personally designed that game to piss me off. So when the next big announcement comes I’m going to publically ignore it, privately bitch to my nearest and dearest, and deal with the fact that this series is not for me. But you’re not even holding back until release day, you’re tiptoeing down the stairs like a naughty child on Christmas Eve, determined to unwrap your presents early.
Only the presents are hate. And the staircase is the wasted minutes of your life.
I think the worst you can really say about Peter Molyneux is that he wants to give players more than anybody actually can. Did he rattle on about all the incredible stuff he planned to do in Black and White? Yes. Was a lot of that stuff there at the end? No. Because they just couldn’t do it.
Those kind of disappointments are the natural consequence of any kind of openness from devs. Of course there was stuff they were gonna put in only to find out it just didn’t fit or occasionally made all the graphics turn pink. I wrote an awful lot of material for this which is now moping around in my Misc Lines document. Loss is an inevitable part of creation.
He fucks up on his aspirations for games, but when the alternative is carefully-vague PR and a parade of games which stay firmly within the commonly-accepted limits… I can cope with one passionate guy who lets his hopes run away with his head. Better to reach for the moon and bring down the stars, then aim for the neighbour’s guttering and make it.