Molyneux: "The worst thing I've ever said"

Fable developer on the dangers of facing the press

Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux has revealed what he considers to be the greatest of his infamous overstatements.

Speaking to a packed audience at the Eurogamer Expo today, Molyneux ran through a retrospective of the Fable series to date.

Molyneux claimed that the first game was originally discussed when at Bullfrog back in 1996, born of a desire to create a non-statistical roleplaying game.

Following his departure from Bullfrog, "We went away worked hard at building a team, Big Blue Box. We were lucky enough to get a contract with Microsoft," he said, "and then I went out to the press and I said something terrible.

"Probably the worst thing I've ever said in my life. I said Fable is going to be the greatest roleplaying game of all time.

"That was the first time I really realised that you can make huge mistakes in the press - you can't just stand up and get all enthusiastic like I do with developers."

However, he was adamant that the same intention remained, despite fans' angry response to the statement. "We're still trying to make the greatest roleplaying game of all time."

He also revealed that Microsoft at one point had low expectations for the Xbox game. "Your publisher always tends to fill you with doom and gloom, you had something called a forecast which said it could possibly sell this much and you think 'oh God, I don't make a game that sells 100 units, it should be million units.'

"And Fable came out it was just hugely successful. That conversation in 1996 led to the start of something we loved so much."

Molyneux went on to joke that, despite the improvements to the series over the time, and the addition of a female playable character to the upcoming third game, "I still can't persuade my wife to like Fable."

He also hailed PlayStation 2 cult hit Ico as "probably the greatest game design of all time."

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Latest comments (24)

Eric Boltjes Lead Designer, Guerrilla Games9 years ago
Good old Peter Molyneux! I love his very personal and enthusiastic approach to the media. Don't ever change!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Eric Boltjes on 1st October 2010 1:00pm

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Iain Lowson Writer 9 years ago
I happily second Eric's comment - the industry needs people with Molyneux's clear and wonderful passion.
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David Heslop Video editor & producer 9 years ago
Upset I couldn't attend the EG Expo this year, as Molyneux is probably my favourite industry figure, and I would have dearly loved to hear him speak. His games are consistently great, and his enthusiasm for the industry and the whole process is exemplary.
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Show all comments (24)
Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 9 years ago
"the industry needs people with Molyneux's clear and wonderful passion."
Indeed. But the Industry (read Peter) needs someone to actually communicate his passion to the media/consumers in a....hmmmm.....more down to earth manner. Unfullfilled/too high expectations are a real killer.
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Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College9 years ago
Is that it? I've herad him say much worse things than that!

But passion is what drives the industry as are those who constantly seek bigger and better products!

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
This has move Peter back up a few more notches in my book. Humbleness is big. Understanding and accepting your faults are big.

I've always enjoyed his enthusiasm but it's always felt overshadowed by his pretentiousness which took away from the intent of the message.
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Stefano Ronchi Indie Game Developer 9 years ago
Nice comeback for Peter, yet was that really the most terrible thing he ever did? Don't sell yourself short Petey, I'm sure you've said many more incredible blunders to date -Milo would agree with you ;)

But you gotta love the guy, and regardless of what a buffoon he sometimes makes himself look he's got the balls to carry on, and getting to where he got doesn't just happen with bravado, some modicum of skill is necessary.
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Jason Basciani Engineering Technician, Vuzix Corporation9 years ago
This guy is a joke and has lost touch with the difference between game conception and game design. Fable has got to be one of the most over-hyped, under-delivering game franchises in recent memory. I think people like Peter do more to hurt gaming than help it. Being enthusiastic is great, but if you can't bring your vision to life in a cohesive manner, then keep it to yourself.
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As a consumer, I have occasionally been disappointed when a Molyneaux game failed to deliver on an extravagant promise. However, as a gamer I love Peter. I love his vision, his desire to really create an extraordinary product. I'm glad to see a designer that is still willing to make these claims, to shoot for the stars.
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Stefan Pettersson Specialist Consultant, Fat Tuna9 years ago
I'd rather have Peter aim for the moon with his next game, and tell everyone about it, than watch him stop trying. Like Tecmo recently did with the horrible Quantum Theory.
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Shamsuddeen Salihu-Alkali 3D Artist / Environment Artist 9 years ago
I was there today at the expo! :). It was a good presentation and I enjoyed listening to the inspiration and hard work they put into this game. I have never actually played the fable games before, but now I want to just to pay homage.
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Max Priddy9 years ago
I like Peter Molyneux, yes you should have a bucket of salt at hand when he makes a statement but there's just that strange down to earth in a way charm to him, and sure Fable may not be the "greatest RPG of all time" but nonetheless it was still a great game, and I can't wait to see what he and Lionhead do after Fable 3, also the conference today was ace so yeah!

Molyneux is in my good book!
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Peter Molyneux ambitious nature, I think makes him spectacular, though he does not always deliver;
He builds up hype like no one else. It would be a different story altogether if he'd didn't deliver on anything he said would be in his games. His Fable series, I provides a unique experience (at least for me it does) because the gameworld actually feels organic, not to sound dramatic.

He is a credit to British gaming industry and the worldwide, his work never stops peaking. Honestly I loved Populous, Black and White and of course Fable, I look forward to his future work.

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Miguel Melo Principal Software Engineer/Product Manager 9 years ago
I'm a huge fan of Peter since early Bullfrog days and I always looked up to him before getting into the games industry. When I did, I started working for EA UK in 1995, which had recently bought Bullfrog so it was with baited breath that I got to sit through some of his internal presentations and actually speak with him.

I can tell you that, for once in an icon, he did not disappoint. He always conveys so much genuine enthusiasm when talking about his games that you do feel mesmerized. I remember that many in the EA internal Dev team (of which I was a part) were quite critical that he/Bullfrog seemed to get away with murder while we were on a tight leash. I say "nonsense" because, to be honest, they got away with things because their games had "spark" while ours, safe as they may have been, did not!

Of course he'll always make lofty claims that he won't live up to. But we need dreamers. We need black and white on this grey world. So, 15 years later, and with very little chance of ever meeting him again, I keep saying go Peter, go!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Miguel Melo on 2nd October 2010 12:08am

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Josef Brett Animator 9 years ago
When I was at the Expo today the Fable 3 demo broke (several times in fact) and whilst the guy from Lionhead was fixing it, I was chatting to him about PM. He was very quick to say "Peter is much better nowadays - he hasn't even talked about the final third of the game. He's always criticised for saying too much about these games".

I thought it was a shame that the Lionhead rep felt he had to get on the defensive straight away. I love that PM is passionate about what he does. Who cares if he sometimes exaggerates. It's nice to have someone left in the industry who is a) honest and b) isn't afraid to take the piss out of himself.

The Fable 3 demo (when it worked) was very good. Can't wait!
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology9 years ago
hes a funny guy and the games he and his team makes are very good!
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Ahmad Salman9 years ago
Fable 2 was probably the shittiest RPG I've ever played
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Gregor Burns Environment artist 9 years ago
I agree that the concepts in Fables are overhyped. They have nice fantasy environments but the gameplay is just hammering the A button again and again
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Simon Arnet9 years ago
@Ahmad Salaman, That's not the first time I've seen you post a negative comment, try and provide some critical feedback instead of what your saying currently. Instead of, that's a "shitty" game. Why is it "shitty". True, Fable 2 was not nearly as good as say Fable 1 but I can find many things that are enjoyable about it.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D9 years ago
I just can't get into Fable, no matter how hard I try. Like Halo, it's a franchise I really wish I could learn to love.
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Joe Bognar Senior Games Account Manager, Substance Global9 years ago
For me, Peter is an ambassador of videogames! The white, galant knight with blond hair (oh... wait...ah, it doesn't matter) in the shining armor! He really is. His passion is something that a lot of us have in some way however he is one of the lucky ones who actually CAN show this passion and love for videogames to the world. He might say inconsiderate things but hey, no one is perfect! He is like a clumsy runner. He falls on his face a lot but when he gets up, he's doing it with an even bigger smile and passion!
Good one Peter!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Joe Bognar on 4th October 2010 1:44pm

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Terence Gage Freelance writer 9 years ago
Although I generally like Molyneux, I'm glad he's wound it down in the last few years, in terms of impossible promises. His enthusiasm can be infectuous, but it can also lead to immense disappointment.

Nonetheless, I think we could do with a few more figureheads like him in the industry; people with a lot of passion for their ideas just trying to help create fun and entertaining games. Too many producers/developers are too concerned with trying to make 'badass' games or characters, and I find that notion quite tiresome. Fable's whimsical Monty Python-esque fairytale world is very refreshing next to all these angsty shooters.
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Matthew Hill Head of Recruitment, Specialmove9 years ago
I've huge admiration for Peter's achievements and passion.

Nevertheless the truth is he is a Developer "Brand" one of the few cases where the mention of an individual developers name will create huge buzz. As such the (sad ?) reality is he needs to be managed like any other brand - particularly when ambitious £MM projects with heaps of staff are involved.

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Jamie Armstrong Studying bsc game design and production management, University of Abertay Dundee9 years ago
Fable 1 and 2 were both utterly underwhelming. At least Bioware know how to make a truly great RPG.
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