"I don’t think there’s one perfect game in me, and that everything I do is striving to create it"
- Peter Molyneux
Peter Douglas Molyneux is a legendary British game designer and programmer who was born as a son of two Toy-Shop owners on May 5th, 1959 in Guildford, Surrey. As a child he was very curious about what made things tick and often screwed toys apart to see what could be done with the parts.
The will to change, create and explore whats beneath and beyond was something that would carry on to adulthood. He has been in the industry for decades now and has become one of the most prolific and well known game designer faces on the planet. His involvement in the games industry began in 1982 when he started a company selling floppy discs, which contained games playable on the Atari and Commodore 64. His first game, The Entrepreneur, was purely text based and was not particularly successful; "In those days you could literally call a game 'Space Blob Attacks Mars' and sell about 50 million copies. So what did I do? I did a business simulation," Peter said in an interview, effectively showing the path he has chosen to take in the industry. The Entrepreneur sold two copies total and the rumor is that his own mother ordered one of them to show her support. He also tried making some interesting titles such as Druid, Druid 2, Fusion and Dragon's Breath. This was the humble beginnings of a man that would soon become the giant he is today.
In 1987 he decided to found his second company, Bullfrog Productions. A game company now known for countless legendary PC titles which almost all of them originated from Peter Molyneux himself. There he went on to make the game that, together with Powermonger, would be his big breakthrough and the beginning of his career as an innovator and a revolutionary thinker in gaming. Populous was a success and with that game he established his visions of playing a god in video games. From there the successes started rolling in. Titles such as Dungeon Keeper (Peter's last project before leaving Bullfrog, a game that was rebuilt and remade in Peter's own house with some loyal coworkers when Bullfrog had decided to scrap the idea), Theme Park, Syndicate, Magic Carpet and Hi-Octane were all titles that were carefully crafted by him and the handpicked, talented people at Bullfrog. He was also a consultant for Theme Hospital, a game that will forever be up there amongst the top of Business simulation games and a game that is still popular with a re-release on Playstation Network.
Lionhead & MS Game Studios 1997-2012
In 1997 he left Bullfrog. The company had been bought by EA and it had rapidly increased in size and rapidly decreased in quality. Production management had been changed to a much higher working flow that didn't suit Peter at all. He left all of his big games behind him (some of them which later got less creative and less successful sequels, such as Dungeon Keeper 2 and Theme Park World) and founded his third game company, Lionhead Studios that would focus on innovation and deep game design that other game companies would not dare trying.
He took his programming skills, leadership personality and god game / management ideas with him and started working on what would be the first of many projects for this new studio, Black & White, a revolutionary god simulator. This is the game that introduced Peter to a new generation of gamers.
The studio saw great success with Black & White and went on to make Fable, The Movies, Black & White 2 and Fable 2. The Movies was kind of an odd project and a big throwback to Peters early business simulation days. It resembles Theme Park in many ways and overall it was a triumphant nostalgia trip for old Molyneux veterans as well as a tool to let gamers create their own B-movies. The commercial success of Lionhead has skyrocketed with every title and with Fable 2 they were at the forefront of Microsofts holiday lineup for 2008. The company would go on to produce Fable 3 in 2010, however it did not fare as well as previous games in the series with slightly lower scored reviews, however it has still sold considerably well. They are currently working on another Fable game in the same universe, entitled Fable: The Journey, for Kinect.
During E3 2009 (3rd of June 2009) he announced that he will move up and become Creative Director at Microsoft Game Studios Europe. At the time of the announcement he had already taken on some tasks under that title. This would not however, affect his role as studio head at Lionhead Studios and he said the following via Twitter after the announcement: "Thanks for the support everyone. Just to be clear I will still be as involved with the design of Lionhead games as I ever was".
On March 7th 2012, Peter announced via his twitter the news he will leave Microsoft and Lionhead to found a new company called 22 Cans, after finishing Fable: The Journey.
Peter is known for being one of the most interesting people in the industry one can listen to. He has the ability to keep a crowd entertained for as long as it takes for him to prove a point. He is really burning for what he is currently working on and he loves to share his ideas and concepts with the fans and the press. He is a very relaxed person in public situations and he will never suppress his eager interest to innovate when talking about his work. Peter is arguably one of the most experienced game designers out there by now and he will no doubt go down in history as a great thinker and designer alike.
Concerning his private life little is known to the public unless you start to dig into old articles dating back 10 or so years where you could read that he lives in a big mansion (only minutes away from the offices).
He is not a morning person and he likes to come in later in the day, often driving something like a Nissan Skyline GT or something more in style with a Jaguar. Like many other rich, successful geniuses in the gaming industry he likes fast, expensive cars. Peter has also always been a big party dude according to his co-workers at Lionhead.
Peter Molyneux is the inventor of the god genre and he has contributed with so much to gaming by now that he is without a doubt a priceless addition to an industry that is more and more about playing it safe and pumping out the next version of an already popular game.
In this age of Internet Peter has finally gotten himself a Twitter account. Peter Molyneux personal twitter can be found at http://twitter.com/pmolyneux. He will talk about work related stuff as well as asking user questions for upcoming projects.
- Peter Molyneux came in at fifth place in GameSpy’s 30 Most Influential People in Gaming.
- He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the University of Southampton in July 2007.
- He was honored with an Order of the British Empire title and the title of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Literature) by the French government in March 2007.
- He was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in 2004.
Taken out of context:
- "Now, one button combat has been done before. And it's been really rubbish!"
- "I'm trying to make Fable 2 the greatest roleplaying game of all time.. again.. but this time, I´ve learned from my mistakes."
- "Options for romance kissing to some X rated bits (this will be censored) can also be manipulated. Will the first female nudity give you a success or will it turn off the audience?"
- "Most conversations about mobile game development happen in a bar. It wasn't because mobile developers are alcoholics, but because bars are the ideal place to lament the low motivation you may have by working in such a frustrating industry."
- "I think it's a huge tragedy. I mean, you might as well say PC gaming is World of Warcraft and The Sims... The weird thing is everyone's got a PC, they're just not buying software for it."
- "There is an acorn, and it is a golden acorn. We're taking acorns to the next level."
- "It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here."
- "Mini-maps are shit. They're shit because you make these multimillion-dollar games, and people play them staring at these little dots."
- “It's amazing for a role playing game, because most role playing games are shit! Oblivion was a great game, but the combat was rubbish; we all talked about it being rubbish. So imagine you had a great role-playing game and really, really good combat system.”
"Like it or not, combat is at least half of a role-playing experience, probably more like 0%. So if I want to get into that landmark status, I've got to innovate combat. And the problem is an enormous number of games you see are totally unplayable for the vast majority of the population. Give Halo 3 or Call of Duty to a casual gamer and they will just run away screaming, they wouldn't have the first chance. But, hardcore gamers are getting so demanding now, they're requiring ultimate balance, enormous depth, and love experimenting throughout the whole of the game. Those are polar opposites, on one side accessibility, and on the other, depth. How can I create a combat system that combines both together?"
- "Just press the blue bloody button and get on with it!"
- "Having a little child run out and you say, 'oh, that's just lovely, isn't it?' – that's part of the drama."
- "This time I'm going to make it really tough to be good. Truly being good is all about sacrifice. How much are you going to sacrifice to do good?"
- "Even more... I was going to say 'fucking'. Can I say 'fucking'? Oh what the hell, I'll say 'fucking'. Even more fucking cool is combining that with magic."
- "I keep finding myself rejected by men, which is a new experience for me."
- "Pull the right trigger to see The Most Interesting Thing in the World."
- "Big wobbly water bags."
Peter Molyneux has recently appeared in the Xbox Live Arcade version of Perfect Dark. He makes his debut in Mission 1 part 2 "DataDyne Research - Investigation" replacing the standard lift guard from the original N64 version. Players may also select his appearance for multiplayer.