Lionhead's Peter Molyneux

"If I'm not careful I could break into tears."

After arriving 10 minutes late for his Develop Conference keynote, Peter Molyneux took another 10 minutes to plug an Xbox 360 running the latest build of upcoming role-playing game Fable III into a projector set deep within the bowels of the Brighton Metropole hotel.

Once ready, though, Molyneux didn't look back, showing off a multitude of new game features as he played the game live. In doing so, the Lionhead boss surprised his audience: he slagged off his own game, Fable II.

Afterwards, and having had to agree not to ask him any questions about Milo & Kate, Eurogamer sat down with Molyneux for a chat. Read on for his take on review scores and why he thinks the iPhone is where it's at.

Eurogamer: I enjoyed your presentation today.

Peter Molyneux: Really? I thought it was a bit scrappy.

Eurogamer: You were late, so you didn't have much time to prepare.

Peter Molyneux: I had a proper demo, and it took 10 minutes to boot.

Eurogamer: Your enthusiasm and passion for the game still came across.

Peter Molyneux: I love what I do. We love making Fable. We really do. I can remember 18 months ago sitting around the table with Josh [Atkins, studio design director] and Louise [Murray, head of Fable franchise] and a few other people, talking about... The way you design is you make these pillars, first of all - it's going to be about this. We just stopped at one moment and said, 'This is f***ing amazing, man! We get to do this cool stuff! It's amazing.'

Eurogamer: Your role now is at the executive level. How do you stay so passionate about Fable? How are you still so excited by it?

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Peter Molyneux: How can you not be excited? Just think about it. Just for a second think about what I actually do. I wake up in the morning and I go to work and I sit down and I get to inspire people and I get to inspire them with ideas I have. I promise you, the day I get tired of that is the day I pop a cyanide tablet and shuffle off this mortal coil.

This is going to sound horribly yucky, but it's an incredible honour to do that. It really is. To have people's trust, first of all. People trust their lives, their careers and their futures to your hands. It's just amazing.

Even though I'm talking to you now, if I'm not careful I could get really super-emotional and break into tears. That's how amazing it is.

Eurogamer: Over the last decade or so gaming has become a more serious business and people are more cynical than they ever were.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah. In a way that seriousness and that, oh God, every time you do a game you feel like you're putting all the chips on the table, in a way that is a great thing. It's not a negative thing. That means the opportunity is so big.

Sure enough, we don't have room for mistakes. At the moment we have room for mistakes on this sort of thing [points to iPhone], on handhelds. But on the triple-A franchises... You're going to spend millions, man.

Whether you like it or not, whether you're an exec like I am, or whether you're a junior programmer, you've got someone up there looking down on you watching you spend that money. That in a way is a good thing because it makes you more honest. You know you've got to turn around to these people and say, 'Look, this is why I'm spending this money.' In a way, if you do it right it can be a great thing.

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Where there's still a huge problem - a massive problem I have - not so much with Fable because Fable's a proven franchise now, but with this other thing we're working on, and anything new I come up with, it's getting people to see what you're trying to do, what you're trying to invent or create, before it's actually done. That is insanely hard to do.

The best analogy is if I had invented the bicycle. Let's say you've never seen a bicycle before, but you were funding me. I say, 'I've taken all your money and I've invented this thing. You sit on this saddle and you balance on two wheels and you go 16 miles an hour, and it's going to be the most universal mode of transport around the world'. You would look at me as if I was crazy.

Even if you saw the bicycle, you'd still say, 'No way am I going to go on one of those.' It's not until you sit and ride the bicycle that you realise this idea is going to work. So often with big ideas, whether they're parts of game, like in Fable III, or whether they're entire games, it's hard to get people to see the pictures in your head.

God, I ranted for hours answering one question! I apologise.

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