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Peter Molyneux Lets Go, Has A Good Cry

Well, maybe crying is a bit much, but a brief talk with CVG gives us a bit o insight into how Molyneux's handling the reviews of Fable II.

HAHA! LET'S TAKE A VACATION EVERYONE!
I've reviewed a lot of games over the years. The number is probably up around 1,500 games at this point, in fact. And I've always been a bit curious as to how my work is received by the people on the other end. I've been talking to a lot more actual game developers, as well as the marketing and public relations people that surround them, over the past 11 months, and I've gotten a variety of answers.

To some, the enthusiast press is completely irrelevant. Some people don't read any reviews of their own games, positive or negative, instead placing more importance on the users of their company's message boards. Some people only care about sales figures. Or focus tests. Or satisfaction surveys. Or what their friends think. Or phases of the moon.

Others seem to live or die with every review. And some seem to hang on every score with no concern for the text--they're probably working for companies where their bonus or royalty rate is determined by their Metacritic average.

Occasionally people get in touch privately to say thanks for a positive review, which always strikes me as a little weird because it's quite rare. More often, official lines of communication are opened to air grievances over a review that's perceived to be a negative one. And most often, you don't hear anything. That's fine, too. No one gets into this line of work--which in a lot of cases still involves extreme abuse and rampant character assassination across as many message boards as possible--to be praised. Or, at least, no one should.

With that in mind, I found comments from Peter Molyneux about his reaction to the (mostly positive) reviews of Fable II to be really fascinating.

Wait a tic... I just had another idea for a new game.
In a brief communication to CVG, Molyneux confessed that the first reviews of Fable II that hit this weak made him "incredibly emotional" as he read them all, noting the different ways that the different reviewers played his game.

There's also this quote...

"Fable II must have been one of the hardest games to review. The world is so big and the story and gameplay are enormous. How reviewers manage to distill such an experience into a few pages is incredible."

To speak from experience, the hardest games to review are actually the middling games with nearly equal parts of good and bad. Those are the grinds, where you're met with crushing disappointment around every corner, as every single positive point about the game that you want to latch onto and love is offset by an equal or slightly stronger negative. When games get to be as good as Fable II apparently is (as soon as I'm done reviewing Rock Revolution, Fallout 3, Red Alert 3, and whatever else comes along between here and Thanksgiving, I intend to sit down and play it for myself), the review becomes more of a process of figuring out which information is relevant to the prospective buyer, and how much information is too much. After all, we're not writing a Fable II guide or walkthrough that covers every possible option the game offers. THAT would be hard.

OK, VACATION'S CANCELED, LET'S JUST MAKE ANOTHER GAME!
Like any game, Fable II was developed by a sizable team of human beings, people who probably threw aside large sections of their lives and devoted anywhere from one to three years to turning a vision into reality. I don't think I could do that. In fact, I sort of had the chance to pursue that career change late last year, and I gave it a lot of thought. Ultimately, I felt like I had more to say and do in this line of work than I had said up until that point, and throwing in with the amazing gentlemen we've partnered with to deliver Giant Bomb quickly turned from wild idea to wilder reality. Also, the thought of playing the same game for three years never sounded very appealing at all.

I could probably stupidly ramble on about this for several more inches, but instead I'd like to briefly salute Peter Molyneux and his team for what still seems like a monumental task when you sit down and think about it: getting a game out the door and onto shelves for people to enjoy.

That salute also goes to those of you who shipped games during this crazy year, as well as those who are still putting in long hours to frantically finish up the games we'll be playing over the next month or so. Keep fighting the good fight.

(But just to be clear, respect doesn't translate into stars on our review scale. Not even half-stars. Sorry.)
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
43 Comments
Posted by Jeff
HAHA! LET'S TAKE A VACATION EVERYONE!
I've reviewed a lot of games over the years. The number is probably up around 1,500 games at this point, in fact. And I've always been a bit curious as to how my work is received by the people on the other end. I've been talking to a lot more actual game developers, as well as the marketing and public relations people that surround them, over the past 11 months, and I've gotten a variety of answers.

To some, the enthusiast press is completely irrelevant. Some people don't read any reviews of their own games, positive or negative, instead placing more importance on the users of their company's message boards. Some people only care about sales figures. Or focus tests. Or satisfaction surveys. Or what their friends think. Or phases of the moon.

Others seem to live or die with every review. And some seem to hang on every score with no concern for the text--they're probably working for companies where their bonus or royalty rate is determined by their Metacritic average.

Occasionally people get in touch privately to say thanks for a positive review, which always strikes me as a little weird because it's quite rare. More often, official lines of communication are opened to air grievances over a review that's perceived to be a negative one. And most often, you don't hear anything. That's fine, too. No one gets into this line of work--which in a lot of cases still involves extreme abuse and rampant character assassination across as many message boards as possible--to be praised. Or, at least, no one should.

With that in mind, I found comments from Peter Molyneux about his reaction to the (mostly positive) reviews of Fable II to be really fascinating.

Wait a tic... I just had another idea for a new game.
In a brief communication to CVG, Molyneux confessed that the first reviews of Fable II that hit this weak made him "incredibly emotional" as he read them all, noting the different ways that the different reviewers played his game.

There's also this quote...

"Fable II must have been one of the hardest games to review. The world is so big and the story and gameplay are enormous. How reviewers manage to distill such an experience into a few pages is incredible."

To speak from experience, the hardest games to review are actually the middling games with nearly equal parts of good and bad. Those are the grinds, where you're met with crushing disappointment around every corner, as every single positive point about the game that you want to latch onto and love is offset by an equal or slightly stronger negative. When games get to be as good as Fable II apparently is (as soon as I'm done reviewing Rock Revolution, Fallout 3, Red Alert 3, and whatever else comes along between here and Thanksgiving, I intend to sit down and play it for myself), the review becomes more of a process of figuring out which information is relevant to the prospective buyer, and how much information is too much. After all, we're not writing a Fable II guide or walkthrough that covers every possible option the game offers. THAT would be hard.

OK, VACATION'S CANCELED, LET'S JUST MAKE ANOTHER GAME!
Like any game, Fable II was developed by a sizable team of human beings, people who probably threw aside large sections of their lives and devoted anywhere from one to three years to turning a vision into reality. I don't think I could do that. In fact, I sort of had the chance to pursue that career change late last year, and I gave it a lot of thought. Ultimately, I felt like I had more to say and do in this line of work than I had said up until that point, and throwing in with the amazing gentlemen we've partnered with to deliver Giant Bomb quickly turned from wild idea to wilder reality. Also, the thought of playing the same game for three years never sounded very appealing at all.

I could probably stupidly ramble on about this for several more inches, but instead I'd like to briefly salute Peter Molyneux and his team for what still seems like a monumental task when you sit down and think about it: getting a game out the door and onto shelves for people to enjoy.

That salute also goes to those of you who shipped games during this crazy year, as well as those who are still putting in long hours to frantically finish up the games we'll be playing over the next month or so. Keep fighting the good fight.

(But just to be clear, respect doesn't translate into stars on our review scale. Not even half-stars. Sorry.)
Staff
Posted by Wright

Awesome Peter Molyneux pics/captions XD

Posted by chililili

Nice post Jeff

Posted by Homes

Nice captions!

Posted by Destroyeron

Moly is one crazy man.

Posted by dtran1212

WORD

Posted by Jimbo_N

Its too bad my respect for Peter Molyneux cant get any higher since its already maxed out, otherwise it would.

Posted by majnuker

YOU were thinking about game design or something similar? And you had a shot at it? Wow Jeff, that's one fact i've never known about you.

But i'd agree with you...reviewing would be funner for me than making a game. After all, i'm in about 3 writing clubs at school at the moment...

Posted by deaux

Could you link to the CVG interview?

Posted by keyhunter

Certainly isn't anything wrong with fable 2.

Posted by Claude

You got to love the games we play.

Posted by zoozilla

R-E-S-P-E-C-T,
Find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T...

Posted by Stealthoneill

Great post Jeff!

Got to respect people who spend anywhere up to three years of there life on the one huge project. Must be a great feeling to have that game come out and see the scores sky rocket!
Posted by bgenso

Haha funny captions. Well I'm really happy to find you guys started Giant Bomb.com and continued writing, after Gamespot deal I felt i left, and was lost to find some of my favorite journalists to read from, and now i got a dedicated to site again. Respect to you Jeff, Ryan, Brad, and Vincters. And thanks for sharing.

Posted by diz
Posted by Kaido

;)

Posted by Meltbrain

Molyneux is an emo kid at heart. Nice to see him actually taking the time to see what people say about his game though rather than relying on some hollow-ass statistics and such like.

Posted by Cosign

I recall watching an interview with Peter Molyneux about his views of Fable 2 back a few months ago. He says Fable II is a 9/10 game. And he was fairly spot on. It's funny to see developers (any reviewers) dig their reviews so much because usually game reviews are from the Gamer's territory, not intended for developers to see. This is outside-the-glass-box, a place where we can spit on or salivate all we like. 

Game reviews are exactly as he described, 
"How reviewers manage to distill such an experience into a few pages is incredible."

As in, the limited time you spend in MY game, you have probably written out of ignorance. 

Perhaps I misinterpret. He might actually be in appraisal to the work of reviewers. Can't tell unless link to full interview!

Posted by tekmojo

Peter deserves a B in my book

Posted by Kohe321

Nice post, I like the captions under the Peter pictures myself!

Posted by Johanz

Hahaha, best captions ever. Good story too. I like how Peter is kinda vocal and all, makes him feel more connected with reviewers and gamers.

Posted by Death_Burnout

Yeah those captions made me laugh damn hard, reading them in succession.

And good for Peter! im pretty happy about it my self

Posted by obiwan

I still hope Peter can continue delivering quality games. And Jeff, thanks for your insightful reviews of all these years and your commitment in this line of work.

Posted by Media_Master

Nice insight

Posted by Ossi

Good story, thanks Jeff.

Posted by theredace

Wow.  I read this article, then read all the GB comments below, then linked to the original article and read all the CVG comments.
In comparison, I'm struck by just how much more mature the Giant Bomb crowd is.

Example:
Giant Bomb: "Great article, Jeff!  Molyneux is the bomb!  It must truly be emotional to work on something for so long."
CVG: "Molyneux is a pansy-ass lip-trembler!  Fable II suxorz!  0/10!!!!"

I actually feel myself getting a bit emotional over just how great and admirable the GB folks are.  I think I might cry.
:)

Posted by BawaTheGamer

That was a very good read,Jeff. very nice indeed.

Posted by Irishjohn

Jeff, you could have worked on Def Jam: Icon 2 and you turned it down??? How??? WHY?????

Posted by Mittt

Awesome post Jeff! I've never gotten the people that get on message boards and flame the makers of a game for not giving them the exact experience they wanted every second of every minute they play the game(I'm looking at you Bungie.net users). I love playing games but I could never even begin to make a game. Therefore, I am grateful for people that have the skill and passion to make great games and tell great stories.

Posted by Anuebis
Eliquently stated, Jeff.   I too would like to give a big thank you to Petter.  Forge ahead, both of you.
Posted by Alphazero

I give this interesting essay ten half stars.

Thanks!

Posted by Spiritof

Oh yeah?

I give this essay twenty one-quarter stars.

It's just that good.

Posted by Scooper

Keep up the fight.

Posted by Crono

I bet Peter just ate this whole essay up.  Probably framed and hanging on his bedroom ceiling.

Posted by Milkman

Very well said, Jeff.

Posted by RHCPfan24

I love these type of articles.  Keep it up Jeff.

Posted by HatKing

Nice Jeff that felt like it came from the heart.

Posted by CapnCloudchaser

I have to agree with theredace up there. There are so many immature gaming websites out their that I feel touched by your comments here, Jeff, and I am grateful for you, and the rest of the Giant Bomb staff, for making such a great website with such thoughtful articles, reviews and pieces.

I'm studying game design myself thus I can imagine the blood, sweat and tears that go into actually producing a game. It disturbs me to venture on to gaming communities where people just slag off producers without even thinking of the effort involved in making a game for us all to enjoy.

Posted by bcfish

Jeff, you stated that well, and thank you for providing a voice or go-between the folks like Peter and gamers like me!  As for Peter, it looks like he and his team did an amazing job with Fable II, and I look forward to giving it a go!

Posted by AutoBarn

I had a dream last night about some kind of complex, dazzling apocalypse... you know, the kind of dream logic that doesn't make sense out loud. 

To cut a long story wide, I and a small band of survivors ended up hiding out at this huge mansion in the middle of an autumnal forest, which turned out to belong to Peter Molyneux.
We spent most of the evening there, playing Fable 2 on a dev kit he had installed in his living room, wondering whether he had survived the apocalypse, and why he had abandoned his home. Suddenly we heard footsteps upstairs, and went to investigate.

There was a little ladder leading up to the attic, and someone handed me a flashlight and I headed up there. As I peered into the darkness, my flashlight beam picked out a figure in the corner, just in time to be able to make out Molyneux, squatting in the corner with a gun in his mouth. He pulled the trigger, and I woke up.

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to Fable 2, and wish Peter the very best.
Posted by sado

Great article Jeff. It's stories like this that really get across the point that the people making the game are actual live hoonans (really obscure star control 2 reference for humans)!

I feel pretty happy with the way the game turned out. Beat the game once and found the ending an emotionally taxing experience, extremely rare in games (that's a good thing).

Posted by tmontana1004

Good read. I'm glad Peter's satisfied, he's a good man and has definitely learned his lesson to not hype a game to be better than FF7. Can't wait to see what's next for Lionhead and for some Fable II DLC!

Posted by daniel_beck_90

Jeff you really  know how to write ! good job