back to article Fable creator: How DLC ruined my summer vacation

Acclaimed inventive game designer Peter Molyneux was thisclose to dropping the name of his next project at his Game Developers Conference lecture today. Alas, the man caught himself mid-sentence while referring to Lionhead Studio's newest project, holding his head and exclaiming "that would have been a nightmare." The …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Safari (and Chrome) is nothing in that screenshot - this is a 'serious' game developer with Bejeweled on his desktop!

  2. theotherone
    Paris Hilton


    "testing reveal players spent their time prodding the canine's bum"

    priceless factoid there for you ...

    Paris cause ...yeah it's obvious ....

  3. jon
    Paris Hilton


    if you look at the bottom of those icons you'll see an ie html icon, so that points to his default still being ie. Personally I think that's worse ;)

    Paris; because she's good at noticing small things

  4. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    throw % at d

    Rex catches the tripe ration. --more-- Rex devours the tripe ration.

    Now *that*'s gameplay.

  5. Heff

    Less guru, More increasingly-dated obsessive

    Look, I think Pete is a nice guy and all, and Bullfrog turned out some frankly breathtaking work with him at the helm; the Populous saga, Dungeon keeper, Syndicate, the Theme Series, etc, etc. I was even one of the maybe 6 people on earth that bought a copy of Hi Octane.

    Since moving to lionhead though, things seem to be getting... a little formulaic. and heres the formula;

    Promise of a free, open environment where plays can RPG good or evil, every action they take affecting this balance + time + promise of revolutionary features = bullshit product, behind schedule, lacking 50% of features, other 50% badly implemented.

    Black and White 1 was 95% hype and 5% working content : the creature mechanic was a nice toy. The morality mechanic was a nice toy that didnt work properly. The weather-linked to the internet, and the game state linked to the computer clock was... a nice toy. Gestures were revolutionary, though atrociously implemented. B&W2 was a little better as a game, but promised probably three times more shit that didnt make it into the final cut. Whatever happened the 'physics' that you bleated about for _years_ Pete? oh, right. Didnt make it; like the gestures, which were made strictly optional, instead dropped for a toolbar, and a "tribute" reward system; tell me, as a God, who am I "buying" this stuff from?

    Fable was an atrocity. Sure, the console monkeys loved it, but it was the new darling of the xbox market, and set the standard for crappy ports to the PC from then on; ranks of nested menus, childish dialogue and character progression, and once again, the big focus on "morality" that was implemented as thinly as an anorexic spreads butter on toast; and of course, the pointless toys; the brothels, the 'good' armour, the 'evil' armour, the entire spellcasting thing, the ownership of multiple houses, stealing and stealth...

    I could mention "The Movies" here, but really, whats the point?

    Fable, Black and white, and its successor have come across as games made with singular, talented vision, unfortunately afflicted by ADD.

    And now, Fable 2 cometh. Pete goes to GDC and tells us all about the great things that are coming from Lionhead. I've given up, truthfully. He promises to provide these amazing games, a continuance of the wonderful, involving, revolutionary, _GENRE CREATING_ stuff churned out by Bullfrog... but he keeps disappointing. The marketing of features that never materialise, the promise of 'cutting edge AI' that feels like you're trapped in a lift with a bunch of drunks playing blind-mans-buff. it keeps continuing, and he keeps selling product.

    I've figured out why. he turns up at GDC, at E3, at tradeshows everywhere, and dazzles with these videos and talks and promises and the press does a fucking backflip of glee and writes it all up. The consumers read their glee, buy the game, and are disappointed. I just read the article, and the cycle repeated itself again, only, without the glee.

    Is it just me? I cant be the only one who thinks that lionheads offerings have been decidedly mediocre and the old fart has lost his touch?

  6. Jeremy
    Dead Vulture


    Clearly he also uses Chrome (two icons up from the bottom of the right-hand column)

    However, his default browser is obviously IE. Hence the URL short cut at the bottom of the right-hand column of desktop short cuts has an MSIE web page icon.

    He also has iTunes installed and plays Bejewelled and Command and Conquer.

    Shock! Horror! Peter Molyneux does things with his computer that the rest of us do as well!

  7. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Icons on the desktop?

    The worst "shock and horror" to me is that he has icons on his desktop in the first place. UGH! I thought Windows XP was supposed to be the beginning of the Clean Desktop Era(tm).

    Paris, the end of the clean something.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ heff

    No mate, it aint just you, i think you summed it up brilliantly.

  9. Anonymous

    @Heff:Don't be harsh on Fable

    Fable wasn't a poor port I played it only PC only and loved it but I have to agree with you totally on black and white 95% hype 5% horseshit.

  10. Jim
    Jobs Horns


    He fell for apple's Installer sniping. Missed that checkmark on Safari, accidentily installed it. And that URL on there has an IE logo, means IE is default... Great investigative reporting.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Prodding Dogs' Bums

    That's Shigeru Miyamoto's current hobby. Nintendo have a host of new games coming out in Q2 2009 based on it.

    Thumb - you knows where it goes.

  12. Simon Ward
    Thumb Down

    OK Pete, anything you say ....

    Really, who takes *anything* Molyneux says at face value nowadays? The man is known for letting his mouth run several miles ahead of his brain and, to be honest, I'm surprised his PR handlers let him out unaccompanied. The man is a liability.

    Yes, people want innovation, but at the same time they *don't* want endless amounts of groundless hype (the original Fable, for example - I didn't buy it until 'The Lost Chapters' came out) and games that are as buggy as fuck (eg. Fable II - brilliant game, IMO, but seriously hobbled by some show-stopping howlers until the first patch/DLC came out)

    As for the 'great things that are coming' - I'll believe 'em when I see 'em. Being acquired by Microsoft doesn't help either - look at how quickly the 'Age Of Empires' games went downhill after they acquired Ensemble ...

  13. B Ward

    Good old days are gone.

    I think he is over the hill and really from Black and White onwards it has been a downward trend. To me now he is just a sales man and not the quite the revolutionary of old. His boasts just smell of hollow marketing as oppossed to any real substance. Whilst we may wish to relive our Amiga days of Bullfrog greatness sadly it is not going to happen ever again. On the bright side there's other games companies are around that are making more fun games.

  14. Allan Rutland
    Thumb Up


    Always loved Molyneux' work. The humour is always a fantastic underlying feature that makes it so much better than the cold cash cows of companies like EA. I still crease myself laughing at the impersonators in Fable2, but by far is the Gordon Brown impersonator doing the "it's not my fault, its the state of the economy" line. The work Lionhead did with Fable2 was fantastic, the handling of aging, and continuation of morality from the first Fable. But one of my personal favourite things which seemed amazing was how organic the dungeons can caves were, everyone different and not the usual of cut and past the same old textures from other places. Everywhere feeling totally handcrafted and unique really added to the realism of the world and surprising considering they managed to cram it all onto one DVD on the 360. The way in which you actually feel emotion in the games also is utterly amazing and such a rarity in games these days. He quiet simply is a legend.

    Shame there’s not more game designers like him. It’s a fantastic change from the utter crap produced by Rockstar and EA.

  15. Ben Gibson

    What Heff Said

    Unfortunately, it is kinda like what Heff said. Some brilliant stuff in the past, those games were so awesome, and now it is games like Black and White which while showing some interesting things that look like they could break new ground, simply fall flat on their face. Perhaps he should be be hired by a games company not running one?

    Wow, doesn't the internet make me sound pompous.

  16. bothwell
    Thumb Up

    I can see the GIMP 2 icon on there as well

    Good for you, Molyneux!

  17. Christian Berger Silver badge


    How insane does someone need to be to _still_ install Windows natively. I mean he's sacrificing the whole Internet just to run legacy software.

  18. Tharrick
    Thumb Up

    Of course

    DLC is ruining his summer holiday. But if they'd release a game when it was finished, they wouldn't have to rush around desperately trying to get it working. Fable 2 came without the vaunted multiplayer system on release - and after all the publishing and everything, they were still running around like blue-arsed flies trying to get that part working for a DLC release to coincide with the physical release.

    Nice going there.

  19. Filippo


    It's not just you. B&W is a purchase I thoroughly regret, and Fable looks like just another RPG. The "revolutionary" features keep turning out to be gimmicks that get old after two hours, and positively annoying after four. The Bullfrog days seem to be gone.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Bejewelled Rocks!

    Aside from Minesweeper, it probably holds my record for Oldest Game Installed, (now that Star Wars Episode 1 Racer can't cope with xp64, or is that vice versa?). The current Mrs. A.C. is also a big fan, and she is no gamer, unlike I.

    I think it's the sound effects. Or maybe the weed?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    "Summer Holiday"?

    They have those in Gameland?

    Heck, I haven't had one of those in Realworld for a couple of decades. When one project is finished, we already have two more in the pipeline.

    No rest for the wicked. The reward for work well done is more work.

  22. Goat Jam
    Thumb Down


    Gave up on his over-hyped and underwhelming crap with "Black and White"

    The idea was good, the tech was good, the game play blew donkey balls.

    I don't think he's done anything worthwhile since Populous has he?

    Let me know if I've missed something.

  23. Simon Ward

    Re: Molyneaux

    "I don't think he's done anything worthwhile since Populous has he?"

    Ahhh .... Populous.

    One of the two games I actually bought (SimCity being the other) during the 16-bit era, rather than getting hooky copies off my mates. Those were the days ...

    Yes, "Black and White" was more than capable of sucking a donkey to erection at 30 miles but I still maintain that Fable, in its 'Lost Chapters' guise, was an excellent game (my preference was for the Xbox version, SWMBO had it for her PC). "Dungeon Keeper" deserves an honourable mention too, even though the sequel blew goats.

    I'm was also sad enough to buy a 360 so that I could play 'Fable II' - I certainly don't regret doing that, but if I'd been running the LionHead QA department there would have been heads rolling because of the state the game was in when it was released (see the LionHead forums to see just how pissed off some people were, and some of the bugs were real howlers) - there's a ton of potential there, both for Fable II DLC and Fable III and beyond and it would be a pity if it wasn't realised just because of Molyneux's inability to keep his gob shut.

    Mine's the one with the copy of "The Adventures of Perilous Spandex" in the pocket.

  24. Steve Swann
    Thumb Down

    @Heff & Others...

    I've been "in gaming" since around 1980 and have seen the evolution of the wonderful ideas put forward by Bullfrog in the early days.

    I've also been involved in RPGs since pre-computer-in-the-home days.

    I consider myself an expert in gaming history, at the very least, and I'm not afraid to say that I'm an old hand at game concept design.

    In my not-so-humble opinion, therefore, I say this : Fable? Crap! Black & White? Crap!

    Over promised, over hyped and utterly under-delivered. So bad, in fact, that I nearly reached for my copy of Spore again. Oh, wait, no, it's not THAT bad.

    Molyneux and Wright should get together and show us just how crap modern game design could be!

  25. B3vil

    Need new ideas..

    Both Fable and Fable 2 had immense amounts of charm, and wit which is lacking from many other titles. Whoever gave the games the character they have deserves a medal.

    The worlds were great, as others have mentioned, they didn't feel 'copy and paste' the same way Oblivion did (after a few dungeons / caves you could recognize all the prefabs and it became very boring, now THAT was a bad game after Morrowind)

    However, they also both suffered from feeling too short, and having many parts underdeveloped, unbalanced, in some cases unstable.

    The original Black and White, I skipped over. The sequel had one of the nicest 'city building' elements I've seen in a game, but the AI was so scripted it wasn't even funny, and it ruined the entire game. I'd also agree on the points made about the gestures, they're either a key feature of the game, or they're worthless. Having to buy them made no sense.

    Spore, I always felt wanted to be a Lionhead game. It fails miserably because it suffers from all the overblown hype, but lacks all the charm making it essentially worthless. It's the Sims with creatures, wherever everything can be solved with a song and dance. Relationships meters, little bubbles above heads. Some meaningless combat system if you decided to take that route. No house building, but essentially it was the Sims, and I'm only surprised there isn't a 'My Pet Spore' expansion for TS yet. At least if Lionhead had done it, it might have had a bit more character to it.

    The likes of Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital and Syndicate were all superb. Same humor, same charm, but they actually always tried something new back then and pulled it off in ways which at the time were remarkably deep and progressive, and could be approached in many ways.

    The logic behind a lot of modern titles is far too transparent, this makes them appear shallow and worthless. It's an overused term, but the most appropriate description would be 'dumbed-down', either because the market demands it, or because it makes the development easier. The other article about text in games is another example, a library full of books can really help draw you into a world, some old games (Frontier, Lemmings 2) even came with books which added to the experience.

    Back to the original subject. I still keep my eye on Bullfrog, because I still think they have the potential to produce something wonderful. Their games do have an edge, but the more recent efforts always leave you wondering 'what could have been'. Maybe one day they'll get it right again.

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