The Lionhead King

Peter Molyneux on Fable, Jonathan Ross and parrots.

Peter Molyneux is a familiar face at the Game Developers Conference. He often uses it as a platform to unveil new features in Lionhead games - remember 2007's infamous dog revelation?

But Lionhead has yet to announce its next project, and this year Molyneux didn't have any news to share. Eurogamer sat down with him to find out why, and to have a bit of a dig around in his brain. Read on to find out what's whirling about in it (briefly: parrots, vomit, disease, EA, Miyamoto being a "bastard", the Caddyshack films and the future of gaming).

Eurogamer: Why are you at the Game Developers Conference?

Peter Molyneux: Firstly, networking.

Eurogamer: Do you mean hanging about in the bar?

Peter Molyneux: Hanging about in the bar, meeting lots of independent game developers, meeting people I've known before, meeting bankers, meeting a whole raft of people... What's that on the back of your hand?

Eurogamer: I went to the Nordic Game party last night, and they stamped my hand to show that I'm 21, because obviously I don't look old enough to drink in America.

Peter Molyneux: Obviously. What was it like?

Eurogamer: It was quite Nordic.

Peter Molyneux: What do you mean?

Peter Molyneux, yesterday.

Eurogamer: Quite vikingy. Lots of very tall, very happy men shouting at each other. Anyway...

Peter Molyneux: I'm also giving a talk, and it's one of my first real talks. I've been coming to GDC since the dawn of time and usually I talk about the game Lionhead's working on. I think some people go to those talks, and they go away and say, "Oh, that approach they developed is interesting." Other people say, "That's just getting me excited about the game, and not telling me anything about the way Lionhead works."

So this time I'm talking about what if you want to innovate in games, and do mad things like put dogs into RPGs...

Eurogamer: I wondered how long it would be before you mentioned the dog.

Peter Molyneux: ...Then how do you do it without breaking the bank and going totally insane? I'm showing some Lionhead experiments and making the case that first of all, a lot of them aren't anything to do with me, and they're very successful. Secondly, experiments allow us to be brave, and we feel safe about doing experiments.

Eurogamer: That's no good for journalists though, is it? Where's your new game? I suppose it's not called the Game Journalists Conference...

Peter Molyneux: No, it's not. Although I've always said we should have a Game Journalists Conference where we pretend not to release details of the next game, but we actually do.

Eurogamer: In his GDC speech Satoru Iwata talked about Nintendo's approach to experimentation, and how Shigeru Miyamoto works...

In France, Peter Molyneux is known as Pierre Molynoire. Bonjour, Pierre.

Peter Molyneux: I didn't see that. How does he work?

Eurogamer: Well, there's the death spiral, see, where you start out with all these great ideas, but you run out of time and money and end up with a poor quality game.

Peter Molyneux: Hmm, yes [nods knowingly].

Eurogamer: Whereas at Nintendo, very small teams spend up to two years working on each prototype...

Peter Molyneux: Wow, it's the same! Unbeknown, I work the same way as Miyamoto! The bastard got it out before me! How funny, that's exactly the way we work...

At Lionhead we have these little prototypes, and they have what we call sponsors. Anyone who's senior management can sponsor an idea. The prototype projects can last from one week to 12 weeks, but that's the core of what the experience is. The dog in Fable would not exist without one of those experiments.

Well, no one's going to slag it off if Miyamoto uses that technique!

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson


Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.


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