Molyneux's Unfocused Innovation

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Molyneux's Unfocused Innovation

Yahtzee likes Mr. Molyneux, but doesn't think his head's in a good place right now.

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Well, maybe his head is but his developers suck.
And what's with those imps and romantic dinners?
Is there something you aren't telling us?

Fable 3 does try to be too much.
That doesn't mean it isn't fun to play, but it's broken. I wish Petter hadn't condensed the storyline so much (among other things)
And apparently the 'game' does end when you become king.

I like Peter, he really seems like a nice guy, and proud of what he does.
It's just a shame Fable is so... un-enthusing.

I'm glad he tries to mix the formula up, I'm just not sure he thinks everything through from a purely gameplay perspective (which is rather important).

Or ya know...he could look back at Black & White and remember he made another amazing game back in the day as well.

He has a decently sized arsenal to lean back on for ideas, so whats the deal with all of this Fable love? After Fable 2, I don't care for the series anymore due to it just being so...disappointing. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. Same goes for Black & White 2 when it came out.

He needs to just go back to having fun with his ideas and stop trying to appeal to such broad audiences (which is why he can't pinpoint whom exactly his games are aimed at anymore).

Black & White had a sequel... which also tried to be too much.

But, I find the Fable Games to be quite fun. They allow me to enjoy anything I want, except the Main Quest (Which, I think is utterly horrible in every one of the fable games). In my mind, the Broad Appeal is awesome.

I did hate the introduction of more emphasis on the sex in Fables 2&3. In the first game, it was only there if you went looking for it. Later games, no matter how you play, you're at least going to stumble across a condom.

Had there been no condoms, the games would have been a lot better.

I seriously need to replay dungeon keeper, that game ruled!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjbXb2xPdgE

Homm!

These days, everywhere, I look I find more and more evidence that the breed of games I like most - immersive, artistically-driven triple-A console titles - are dying. Unsustainable. Ruinously expensive to develop and insufficiently purchased by consumers who have gradually been bred to immediately reject anything that doesn't have the shiniest graphics, the realistic-est physics and the growliest insecure-est white male space marines.

And now you see why I support the Wii so much Mr. Croshaw. At least it tries and does things different with this industry and doesn't bend over backwards for the graphics whores and space marine shooter snobs. I'm not saying the other consoles don't occasionally have more original artistically driven stuff but it's few and far between now between stuff like Killzone, HALO, Call of Duty, ect. I don't buy a console just to play FPSs set in space or in a real life war. I need variety.

Great article Yahtzee. I've never played any Fable game and I'm having a hard time thinking of a game I've played that suffers from trying to juggle dozens of different aspects, but I agree with your point about how features that are inspired by a technical or purely fantastical drive generally tend to fall short when realized. The maturity level of the gaming community tends to disappoint me. When somebody says a game is good because it lets you have sex with any random person or pilot a rocket launcher equipped scooter, I can be pretty sure that I wouldn't get along famously with them. It's not so easy to sum up what makes a great game so quickly. You don't like Shadow of the Collosus simply because it lets you stab behemoths in the face. You like it for the entirety of the experience- for the open world, the anxiety of finding your next target while you explore, the sense of insignificance and fear upon finding it, the adrenaline and strategy of the battle, and the sense of accomplishment upon sending it crashing to the ground.

I share your pain Yahtzee about games devolving into Halo clones and the like. I thoroughly enjoyed games like COD MW2 (the first of the series I owned) but the fps genre is full of games that are just too similiar that they become unbelievably dull, because you have seen it all before. Many of my friends repeatedly buy these games and they condemn me for resisting the trend, when I try to justify my not wasting $120 on a game that I feel like I've already played thousands of times.

However I do believe there are some games which contain enough innovation that they can buck this trend, yet they just don't seem to get the recognition and audience of the huge titles. For instance, Vanquish (which I am very annoyed you haven't reviewed) was a title I only found out about because I saw the demo in the PSN store about a month after its release. I played through this and the new rocket sliding transformed a potentially bland, gears clone into an awesome, high paced adrenaline rush. It was a third person shooter that actually rewarded you for not constantly staying in cover, taking pot shots when your enemy reloaded. Just Cause 2 also was a fantastic experience because they weren't afraid to adhere to silly things like physics and realism. Yet the modern gamer, like you said doesn't seem to give anything without incredible graphics and realistic physics a chance, because they just can't appreciate innovation. Instead they keep buying the same bland games and bragging about their 720 quickscoping and 1.5 K/D ratios. This just pisses me off to no end and makes me worry about the future of this art form that is just not living up to its potential.

EDIT: Sorry for the rant, I just get really riled up about this stuff.

Unless I'm getting him confused with someone else, Randy Pitchford (of Gearbox) is a decently famous name, and he's pretty much of this generation of games. Ditto for CliffyB.

Off topic, but I really want Yahtzee to review a very old game known as Magic Carpet 2, which was a product of Molyneux's bullfrog before it got eaten up by EA.

"Having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true."
-Spock (Star Trek)

I think that about sums it up.

Lordofthesuplex:

These days, everywhere, I look I find more and more evidence that the breed of games I like most - immersive, artistically-driven triple-A console titles - are dying. Unsustainable. Ruinously expensive to develop and insufficiently purchased by consumers who have gradually been bred to immediately reject anything that doesn't have the shiniest graphics, the realistic-est physics and the growliest insecure-est white male space marines.

And now you see why I support the Wii so much Mr. Croshaw. At least it tries and does things different with this industry and doesn't bend over backwards for the graphics whores and space marine shooter snobs. I'm not saying the other consoles don't occasionally have more original artistically driven stuff but it's few and far between now between stuff like Killzone, HALO, Call of Duty, ect. I don't buy a console just to play FPSs set in space or in a real life war. I need variety.

I was going to say something similar. Why is it that Yahtzee is so bent against the Wii and Nintendo if this is the way he feels about games? Does he think that triple-A means a visual level that the Wii can't handle? That motion controls have led to no innovations or expansions to the medium? He seems to be being hypocritical in the passage you quoted.

I think Yahtzee put into words I've had for a while: the game developer celebrity. I understand the idea of straying from the auteur phase of things, but were are the people leading the charge? It's just faceless, nameless entities now. I feel it generates this breach between the gamer and the gaming industry since you can identify with no one in particular.

Developers from before 2003 I can name of the top of my head: Roberta Williams, Ron Gilbert, Tim Schaffer, Warren Spector, Jordan Mechner, Jane Jensen, Sid Meir, Peter Molyneux, Hideo Kojima, Ragnar Tornquist, maybe Toby Gard (ok, heavy adventure game slant there, but I used to play them a lot). Most of them are still around one way or another.

Names I can come up that have been recent and innovative: Kevin Levine, Fumito Ueda, Jenova Chen, and maaaaaaybe the guys at Tale of Tales. That's it. I can't recall anyone else that actually seems to have a school of design philosophy. Everyone else just appears to be going with the flow of whatever management wants. This lack of direction towards anything is my main suspect for meandering, repetitive and dull games from the primary studios as of late. The indie scene is where most of the auteurs are appearing and definite trends in design can be drawn. I guess that's why I've become much more of a fan of that movement.

Finally a worthy Extra Punctuation. The last ones were failing and quickly tossed them away.

Good he mentioned this rather burning issue.

Electrogecko:
I was going to say something similar. Why is it that Yahtzee is so bent against the Wii and Nintendo if this is the way he feels about games? Does he think that triple-A means a visual level that the Wii can't handle? That motion controls have led to no innovations or expansions to the medium? He seems to be being hypocritical in the passage you quoted.

From what I can tell based on his videos, his issue with he wii is that most game design is built around a gimmick. And when he criticizes something for looking bad on the wii it is usually because it is trying to be something that the wii is not. To put it another way, not focusing on the systems strengths. I hope I have this right.

That was... depressing. I agree, but still. When you take an overview look of the industry like that, it really does seem like we're going backwards.
We built the industry on innovative ideas and concepts and now we want all games to look, feel and play the same.

Maybe we're experiencing something of a new renaissance with the all the "throwback" FPSes coming out, the only reason I mention this is because FPSes seem to dominate the market, sad but true.

Meh, I'm done philosophizing, it's depressing and not all that related to the original topic.

I dont hate Peter Molyneux, just the sphere of lies he weaves around his games.

He says things will in a game but when you get round to it, its nothing like he explains it. One quote I remeber from just before Fable 2 was released was "If you save a farming village from attack and come back later it will have expanded."

It turns out that mechanic was in the game, one single quest to be exact. I was under the impression that the vllages in the game would come under attack at random and as time goes by, they actively expand depending on weather or not you help.

Ironic Pirate:
Unless I'm getting him confused with someone else, Randy Pitchford (of Gearbox) is a decently famous name, and he's pretty much of this generation of games. Ditto for CliffyB.

Not really: Randy's been around since Duke Nukeum 3D (and wisely bailed out of 3D Realms after it's launch to found Gearbox. First game: Half Life 1 expansion). Cliffy B again is probably known for Unreal Tournament 1, also known as UT99. That said, Bullfrog, the company that first shot Molyneux into the limelight, did date from the late 1980s. Populous was released in 1989.

Ironic Pirate:
Unless I'm getting him confused with someone else, Randy Pitchford (of Gearbox) is a decently famous name, and he's pretty much of this generation of games.

Perhaps, but somehow I don't think it's a famous name for the reasons you're thinking. Seriously? Randy Pitchfork!?

Also, I bet to myself that it would take 16 posts before somebody hated on Halo. Turns out I was 8 posts too late.

"If he were making Dungeon Keeper today he'd probably let the player take their individual imps on romantic dinners" and it would be the best thing ever :')

Yeah I really wish he would do something other than Fable, uyes they are good games (in my opinion), but they are nothing compared to the stuff his old studio (Bullfrog) used to pump out.

Good piece.
Syndicate, populous, dungeon keeper. Molyneux used to be a visionary.

Now he doesn't know if his casual games should be about saving the world or about farting at npcs. Stupid, repetitive crap.

Lenny Magic:
"If he were making Dungeon Keeper today he'd probably let the player take their individual imps on romantic dinners" and it would be the best thing ever :')

Yeah I really wish he would do something other than Fable, uyes they are good games (in my opinion), but they are nothing compared to the stuff his old studio (Bullfrog) used to pump out.

Yea. That sounds like a cool version of Dungeon Keeper. Someone should make Yhatzee's ideas, even the ones he thinks are bad are better than 90% of the crap on shelves today.
I really want to play that Frank Zappa Supervillain game he described in the Saints Row 2 review.

veloper:
Good piece.
Syndicate, populous, dungeon keeper. Molyneux used to be a visionary.

I'll admit that I didn't know that the guy that did Syndicate, Populous, Theme Park, Black & White and Fable were all the same person.

You might be able to include Jon Schafer, the guy in charge of Civilization V, in a list of new famous game designers. I think he got popular as a Civilization IV mod designer.

Wow, Syndicate and Dungeon keeper, I guess the guy has been responsible for a couple of my all time favourites. Now if he did some more sequels to them I'd be happy.

To be honest, I love most of the options in Fable, but it kind of seems all so pointless. I mean, you can make friends with an entire fucking village... what does that get you? Shop discounts? Not really, free lodging or money that becomes useless half-way through the game anyhow as you're a billionaire? So what? There is NO POINT in most of the stuff in there.

Collecting rare weapons, hunting down gnomes and gargoyles, that was fun. Getting married or having an 'orgy' just because is not fun. Hell, what did having an STD even do to your character? Or even the hair and clothing options. While it's fun to change up your look often, it ultimately serves nothing but a cosmetic purpose.

Sometimes these things are relevant, like dressing up like a highwayman to get into a fort... but they blatantly spell it out for you that it's what you have to do. Why not leave it up to the user? Present htem with the fort, and let them try to gain access on their own or use the costume approach.

The Chicken costume as well. No point to it whatsoever, same with holding hands. How many forced hand-holding quests are in Fable III that are just the same damn thing as an escort quest? the Hand-holding mechanic adds NOTHING to the game.

So much more could have been done. Hell, in the second, if the final boss knows you have a wife and kid, why doesn't he kill them or kidnap them? If you do have a kid and then abandon him for 10 years on the spire, why doesn't he grow up to hate you and try to kill you when you get back? Or if you did take care of your family, why can't you use them as an ally? Or for that matter, anyone you befriend? If you make friends with an entire village, and then are chased into that village by demons, wouldn't they help you? This would all make sense. So much potential, unrealized.

What is C2DE??

Otherwise, I'm with you there Yahtzee. Granted I only played the first Fable, being Xbox-less, but I intend to give 3 a go when it's available on PC.

Oh, Yahtzee.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I haven't said anything because I dislike posting in forums. But now I'm finally gonna say it, and the fact that you'll probably never end up reading it doesn't change the fact that I'll be glad to have finally gotten it out and vaguely in your direction.

I enjoy your videos and columns despite the fact that I disagree with you on a considerable number of important points about what makes a given game good or bad, and I think the reason for it is that I disagree with you in different ways from how I disagree with most people. I find it refreshing to hear comparatively fresh and valid criticisms of the things that I like despite their flaws, whereas most of the criticisms I hear tend to seem ignorant.

This is a perfect example.

The issues you take with Fable 3 (and the Fable games in general) are perfectly reasonable issues to take. At the same time, while the reasons you like Peter Molyneux and his games might be outweighed by your problems with Fable, you still find value in the innovation he brings to the table.

Take Fable 2. The conclusion of its main storyline was, whether a given player enjoyed it or not, fresh and different. I suspect that you would not have liked it, but I also suspect that your reasons would be drawn from a lack of investment in the events leading up to the conclusion, which could have made the whole ordeal much more powerful -- which is a perfectly respectable viewpoint.

After I finished Fable 2, everywhere I looked, I saw people complaining about the ending, and it was always for the same reason: the main villain dies without a big, epic final boss fight.
I could even understand the complaint that the main villain's death was unsatisfying due to the way the conclusion was put together, but that was almost never the complaint. The complaint was nearly always that said death was unsatisfying due to the way the conclusion was -not- put together; specifically, that it lacked a nigh-universal gaming convention.

I can appreciate a difference of perspective in which something I like is criticized for executing something poorly. I have a much more difficult time appreciating criticism that stems from an aversion to a change from the familiar.

Your criticisms have an insightful substance that I find endlessly refreshing, even when we don't agree on those matters of substance.

So, in the unlikely event that you actually read this, I want to thank you.

The industry might be moving as you described regardless, but we can always hope. We might not place any bets on the matter... but we can hope.

scumofsociety:
Wow, Syndicate and Dungeon keeper, I guess the guy has been responsible for a couple of my all time favourites. Now if he did some more sequels to them I'd be happy.

I don't know about syndicate but his hands are tied when it comes to Dungeon Keeper... He no longer owns the rights to make the games... Same goes for a lot of his old games. There is a new Dungeon Keeper coming out but its going to be an MMO and only released in Asia, sadly Lionhead have no part in it.

Fable was the final fantasy of xbox, hence microsoft was going to write big checks to keep pete m making fable games. Unfortunately for us that like rpg games fable was rather meh, and final fantasy has declined rapidly since final fantasy X, the traditional rpg/jrpg is in decline because of the cost to make games anymore and lack of good and new ideas.

Was the latest final fantasy wholly linear because they decided that liner is better than a open or semi open world? or was it wholly linear because they spent a small fortune on making the game and to make it a open world would cost another small fortune and delay its release another year. Or another option is that square enix is just bored with final fantasy and is fresh out of ideas.

The fall of FF tho is harder burden than fable's lack of excellence. FF was the king the gold standard of jrpgs in general, each and every one used to be as good as you could find. PS1 and PS2 were awash in rpgs, it was the console to own if you wanted rpg games to play. Xbox wanted to cash in on some of console players thirst for rpgs, and belched out fable, and many xbox owners i knew loved fable to death, they played it obsessively. But then there was not that many rpgs out for xbox at all back then so their options were limited.

If it ain't broke don't fix it. And Fable 1 didn't need fixing >_>
The way to improve is to add and tweak, not waterdown everything. Fable 1 had many situational spells that did different things. Fable 3 has different things (mostly elements) that I can choose from to throw at people. The real flavour of Fable in Fable 3 only came out with the side quests.

Come on Peter, you can fix this broken series.

Molyneux seems to get lost inside his ideas, probably like a lot of us...the "oh wouldn't it be cool if we could do THAT," sort of thinking...the same sort of thinking that destroyed several early car companies (I'm thinking specifically of Wills-St. Claire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wills_Sainte_Claire)), that introducing small innovations take precendence over turning out the final product as a whole.

Basically, Molyneux can't keep his intellectual cock in his pants...not saying it isn't a very nice one or anything, just sometimes he should zip it up and finish the task at hand.

On the second note, don't ever apologize for Extra Punctuation. It was a nice surprise after getting hooked on your earlier videos, and I really enjoy reading them.

"Yeah, twenty years ago when the ability to have sex with hookers in Leisure Suit Larry blew my fucking mind, the notion of a game being so deep and expansive that after visiting an inn and flirting with the waitress on your way to slaying the dragon you can come back and buy the inn and marry the waitress, or any building or member of the service industry in the world, would have sounded like some glorious unreachable pipe dream." -Yahtzee

That almost sounded like a L.O.R.D. reference. Legend of the Red Dragon for those not in the know was a BBS game that let you in fact flirt with the barmaid and then marry her, and since it was multiplayer everyone could too. *Sniff* I miss games like that. I'm with you, Yahtzee. While I did enjoy Fable 3, it was fraught with poor design choices. I'm hoping that one day Peter will get a team of more than just "Yes men" too calm him down and call him out on the bad ideas, er... without worrying about being fired that is.

You know what the last three games I bought were?

Arcanum, Fallout 2 and Minecraft.

Anything described as "triple-A", can, at risk of making me look like some sort of indie hipster, fuck right off.

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