Molyneux's Unfocused Innovation

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Calibanbutcher:
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?

I agree, the gnomes were a terrible idea. They broke the mood for everything from major battles, to dates, to weddings, to *spoiler* your friend going blind. A plot device shouldn't override the entire story.

I actually wrote Lionhead studios and heard back from them. I encourage everyone to write them. But you have to actually know what you did like and what you SPECIFICALLY didn't like in order to help them get the series back on track.

For example, *more spoilers* I thought the scene at the fort with the tutorial with Lucky was really, really well done! It was interesting enough and lept straight into game play! And not just a little, it was a serious test of your ability. If more of the game were like this it would be fantastic!

Yet too much of the game was like the opening. Too much effort to shoehorn the player down a rigidly narrow, linear path with drawn-out, repetitive mini-quests. I hated that the game assumed I could not understand a room having multiple doors off of it at the same time. It was also teeth-gratingly frustrating to try to do the tutorial bits and constantly get summoned back to the map chamber to show you another of the said doors. Do they think children are playing it? Not if the parents are worth their salt! Do they think there are many people who have never seen a video game left out there? If so, they would not start with the THIRD game in a series! So why is it written like this. And much like a movie, if the beginning jars you out of your suspension of disbelief, it is extremely difficult to get back into it.

It's biggest flaw: No choices. You can't choose which expression you will use. You can't choose more than one food item. (So why bother with the fat and thin thing? It becomes a live or die in battle one instead.) You can't choose to save of your own free will in case you make a wrong turn or choice. And that is an idea that was discarded some years ago. It isn't more "realistic". It is frustrating and annoying.

And unless there is a patch for the "aftermath", I agree with Yahtzee that it is stupid that you have to forever live with an unsightly world when you had to do something to save it for a single day.

Oh, and why do all the buildings have rock stars living in them? It's the only way to explain why they degrade so quickly causing the rent to go down or stop. And why can Jeeves suggest how to decorate a house but not handle the micromanagement of upgrading them as long as you have the cash? Again, filler =/= fun. And yet we hope the next game will get the mix right since each game has promise.

At least Lionhead studio does try to listen to its customers still. So get out that archaic pen and paper. Say it as nicely as you can so it won't get tossed in the trash. Why? Because maybe the next game will be the one you were hoping for. And because it's cool to get a letter back from them. ;)

The future of gaming is actually pretty bright.

More and more little companies can get on the bandwagon and some will make substantial amounts of money.
Most of the indie game companies are driven by very passionate people.
And what do you think when one of those companies have a series of massive successes.
Do you think that they will continue to make a little game or do you think that they will amass some extra resources and try to make the next Shadow of the Colossus?

I think that we will see the latter emerging in a couple of years or so.

Not all of them will be successful and it might even be the downfall of some of them, but a couple will succeed and these will be the games people will talk about fondly for years and years and years.

Another good development (I think) is remakes.
There have been some fantastic titles in the last 25 years or so, the old generation (i.e. me) is still interested in it, plus they have money to spend. And the newer ones might be interested in it.

Let's take Dungeon Keeper as en example. With a minimum of effort you could spice up the graphics and sounds and the interface. Plus put the stuff in it which the original dev team didn't have the time for. For these projects the scope is very clear and limited, little surprises during development and you only need a small team. If you then sell it for 20 or 30 bucks, the risk for customers is low and it would sell like hotcakes.

People that line up for these megaliths like Modern Warfare are to me as pop music fans. Statistics show there are huge numbers of them, but I have yet to meet one in person.

TheTinyMan:

Anyways, back on topic: I'm not sure that the world is as bereft of creativity as Yahtzee makes it out to be. We still have our true originality - our Minecrafts, Dwarf Fortresses, Limbos, Braids, Portals, Bioshocks, Osmoses (Osmosees? Osmos's?), Assassin's Creeds, Left 4 Deads, Heavy Rains, and our Mount & Blades. We still have fresh takes or new combinations of existing ideas, like Borderlands (much as I hated it), Mass Effect, Arkham Asylum, The Witcher, Castle Crashers, inFamous. I'm not convinced that there are fewer quality and creative games out there, but I do agree that there are more games of poor quality every day, making the average go down.

A lot of the games you listed here are Indie games. Or developed as independent mini-projects in-house like Portal. I think you've misrepresented Yahtzee's views here. He never stated that the world is bereft of creativity. He's highlighted this to be a problem primarily in AAA titles. Creativity is generally higher in indie games, exactly because the developer is not limited by publishers or shareholders. The larger the budgets, the more the shareholders got to lose. And the more they got to lose, the more cowardly their development becomes. They play it safe, because they already got too much to lose. All the great studios, including Bullfrog, started out as small teams. A friend of mine (Chris Hill) made the graphics for Syndicate. He told it was a small studio at max 20-30 people when he joined during Populous 2.

I inherently agree with the premise of Yahtzee's article. In fact, I've long thought that Peter Molyneux has lost his marbles. It started with Black & White, which I was both impressed and disappointed with. Though there was something amusing about having a giant gorilla throw feces into the local water supply.

Once, Peter Molyneux stated that the best and most innovative game of that year was "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time" - I shook my head in disbelief. While he's dug himself deeper into his pit of experimental undisciplined ideas, he's simultaneously gotten the taste for the bland and mainstream. I find this paradox illustrative as to what makes the man tick.

Assassin's Creed is a rare example of a great and original AAA game that was developed and conceived in an already large studio. Left 4 Dead is a zombie survival game - don't see the originality here.

Bioshock has an original style, but is gameplay-wise a steampunk 50s version of System Shock. Made by some of the same people who did System Shock.

Heavy Rain was original only in story structure. The game was excellent and stirred me for days after I finished it. But I will not sit idly by amid claims that the game play was original. It was just a bunch of poorly written QTEs (Quick-Time-Events), and poor 3rd person controls.

My conclusion is:

All great ideas begin small, and as they grow too large for themselves without temperance and balance, they rot from the inside out. Like all the ideologies, and all the great empires have always done.

Spot1990:

Electrogecko:

Lordofthesuplex:

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.

Nintendo are hardly the most innovative either. They've got their major IPs. The recent Super Mario collection for the Wii is a prime example. Nintendo are no better than any other company. For better or worse they gave us motion controls and a 3D handheld, but even then their first thought is "How do we get Mario, Zelda and Metroid on this?"... Ok, Microsoft is a little worse I guess because what they did is design their own motion control system and go "Now, how can we make this more like the Wii."

PS3 has done some pretty good work, the move seems like a shameless rip off of the Wii, but at least its, for the most part, being used on games that attract a core audience. Even they suffer though, churning out God of War sequels that keep getting progressively worse. But they developed a console MMO which was an interesting move.

360 gave us some interesting titles too, Overlord, Dead Rising and, yes, even Fable.

None of the devs are majorly innovative. If Nintendo do take more risks, it's not a noteworthy amount.

Okay they like to use Zelda and Mario a lot, but what about the last three Kirby games, Pikmin and a few of the Mario games too are all pretty innovative. Nintendo is just being smart release a few titles that guarantee millions in profit, then dick around and try something new tell the next Zelda game is ready.

i agree completly, and i LIKE the fable series. Its starting to be to much of the same thing, and conciderbly less fun. I think that he should probly wright a book though, the worlds he comes up with are so expansive and the charcters so brillent, that its just horrendous to have the main protaginist be silent, or nearly silent. The fable book (the balverine order) is one of my favorite books, because the world is soo much better when you actually get to be intouch with the charcters, instead of them just telling you were to go or what to do with no facial expression at all. The games are fun, but only to a point.

I agree , Peter is one of those people ... he's work is weird , but at least he's not apathetic.
Do a job you like was what I was always told and it's a good point.The more people chose their profession out of passion the better off we are as a whole.

I do like the idea of not having a map , in a niche game centered around exploring a vast world , discovering plants , animals , monsters and trying to figure out how to use/kill them.
In a RPG it's a bad idea , the same way no health bar is a bad idea in an FPS.

I hope a crash doesn't happen , we haven't recovered from the last financial crises. :(

I completely agree Yahtzee! All this design by commitee approach to the gaming industry nowadays is really not going anywhere fast. Everything is becoming so unappealing and mediocre that it wouldn't surprise me either if the industry falls to another video game crash. Its not so much due to poorly made games and such as it was back in 1982, its more due to lack of variety. Recently I've been thinking about some of the classic strategy games of the 90's such as Worms, Lemmings and Cannon Fodder. Yes some of these are still going now but pretty much most reviews I've seen of these newer versions always say the same things, like its unoriginal or is more or less the same things as before. Its funny how these people never say the same things about the likes of Call of Duty, Halo and so many fps' of now, since they're mostly all the same! You don't need to have top of the range graphics and realistic physics to be a good game. It can be nice to look at but you need the gameplay and most importantly, you need the variety and innovation! While things like Worms may seem the same all the time, the gameplay is still fun and never takes itself seriously and you can never run out of creative ways to deal with missions.
I had a go of Fable 3 but the series in general has never really interested me. I just get bored of it very fast

Oh how I wish Mr. Molyneux would return to his grand ol' day of Dungeon Keeper. That game is an instant classic in my book worthy of a new modern face lift. Sadly just as Yahtzee had said though, you'd probably go on romantic dates and candle light dinners in any new version. =\

I agree. Dungeon Keeper is an instant "keeper" ;)
Absolutely love that game.

On a related note: The new "DUNGEONS" game by Kalypso should NOT be seen as a modern remake of Dungeon Keeper. First of all, you are trying to attract heroes to your dungeons in order to cater to their needs. And second of all, it does not grant you the ability to "posess" creatures and walk/fly around in first person. It's more like a Theme Hospital version of Dungeon Keeper.

Just to say, i love the whole fable series. I watched all the lionhead developer blogs and got the feeling that as the series went on, they wanted to make it more accessable to a wider audience, hence the dilution of gameplay mechanics.

I have to ask though, didnt anyone else get attached to the dog without realising it in Fable II? i hated the little git until the point he got shot....then i was pissed off.

I agree with the person above about how a world as big as oblivion would have been nice. The most irritating thing about fable III for me was every time in entered the sanctuary, being told that new items were for sale. Look, i was here 5 minutes ago, nothing new has appeared and stop trying to get me to spend real money on crap that i dont need!

Thing is, i will stand by PM, purely because i think he is the only visionary left in the game industry. I dont want another game from EA that ends with 02' 03' 04 etc (blah blah blah new roster hero blah blah blah). All be it, he has hung onto the fable franchise for longer than necassary.

1 more thing, wtf is with the STI's? the person above was right. they dont do shit appart from mount up on the score keeper thing.

/endrant

TPiddy:

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.

In Fable 2's defence, Lucian does kill your wife and family on hero's hill just before he shoots you, and you child does grow up but i suspect good parenting on the other half of the telationship will keep the kids murderous motives at bay... though overall, I agree with your point... there is so much to gain from these 'choises' that are just sliding past you as pointless inforation...

Lush Kills:
In Fable 2's defence, Lucian does kill your wife and family on hero's hill just before he shoots you, and you child does grow up but i suspect good parenting on the other half of the telationship will keep the kids murderous motives at bay... though overall, I agree with your point... there is so much to gain from these 'choises' that are just sliding past you as pointless inforation...

Well, I think that's my problem. They've set out with the goal of having the decisions you make have an impact on the world around you, and really, there's only 2-3 major decisions a game that do that. The rest, don't do anything.

Peter Molyneux and Will Wright (Sims etc) seem to be falling into the same abyss. They like making games where you have loads of decisions that don't really feel like decisions. Sure the decisions have some limited impact of the world around you, but rarely do they have any impact on the actual story. I suppose the next revolution in gaming must be procedural and branching story systems.

Bioware got the "Branching" part of the equation right, as witnessed in Mass Effect and Dragon Age (though I didn't like dragon age's gameplay). The next part of the equation might be procedurality. Thus granting a virtually infinite number of possible outcomes in the story.

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