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Molyneux talks combat games

It's time for a revolution, he says.

In a speech delivered at the Leipzig GCDC this morning, Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux has declared it's time to revolutionise combat games - and guess what, he's got some ideas on how to go about that.

But don't go expecting that revolution to occur with Fable 2, however. A cautious Molyneux - no doubt wary after previous PR, er, mishaps - informed the audience that nothing in his speech would be "to do with Fable 2; these are just some of the inspirations going through our minds at Lionhead".

Oh. Right. Seems strange they've spent all this time talking about how to revolutionise combat in a completely random context when they should probably get on with making their new game, but there you are.

Anyway, Molyneux began his speech by identifying what he sees as the problems with traditional combat games - namely, the fact that they're all about hit points, the weapons don't tend to do much damage and are generally a bit rubbish, and the environments, such as those in Street Fighter II for example, are meaningless.

Molyneux even took the opportunity to slag off one of his own games, stating: "It's a bit repetitive, isn't it, especially in Fable. You're pressing that button, and you could probably just close your eyes and keep on pressing it..." Instead, Molyneux believes, combat should be "dramatic, varied and innovational."

In fact, it should be more like the combat is in films. To demonstrate this, Molyneux showed a clip from Kill Bill - namely the bit where The Bride takes out the Crazy 88 in just 88 seconds with her super-sharp sword. But game developers, Molyneux observed, "Do not treat a sword like a real thing; it's like a big squashy thing. And that's not what we want to present, or what Hollywood presents as combat."

Time then for another Kill Bill clip - the O-Ren-Ishi boss fight. Molyneux observed that it goes on for the same length of time as the Crazy 88 battle, but O-Ren is defeated with just one move in the end - and one-kill hits is something he'd like to see more of in combat games.

He's also keen on one-button moves, arguing, "Around 80 per cent of people use one button anyway." But to keep things interesting, Molyneux continued, that one button should do different things depending on context - so if you're next to a beer bottle, pressing the button might cause your character to smash it over an enemy's head; or, if you're underneath a chandelier, your character might leap up and grab it, swinging both feet forward to kick a baddie in the chest.

One thing that button won't do, in Molyneux's ideal world, is block. "Do we really need a block button?" he asked the audience. He conceded that the idea of getting rid of it is "not popular" with the team at Lionhead, but added, "It's something we are still playing with."

So there you have it - if Molyneux had his way, combat games would be all about one-button combats, one-hit kills and environmental action, with no boring old blocking or hit points system to contend with. Concluding his speech, he stated: "I'm sure a lot of you think this is a very foolish endeavour, but I think it's something worth getting on with" - before reiterating that nothing in his speech referred to anything we can expect to see in Fable 2. Righto...