Fable creator reflects on disappointments with RPG series, including the Fable III ‘trainwreck’

Molyneux: I’ll never make my perfect game

Peter Molyneux believes that no matter how hard he tries, the perfect games he imagines will never quite come to fruition.

Speaking to Develop at this month’s Casual Connect, the Fable and Populous creator said that any creative process is subject to “empirical decay” from inception to final product, which prevents him from creating the masterpiece he has been striving for.

Looking back on the Fable series, Molyneux admitted he was disappointed the finished games didn’t live up to his vision and some people’s expectations – particularly the 2010 Fable III.

“In my mind, as a designer, whenever I’m making a game I have this perfect jewel in mind,” he told Develop. “Fable for me was this beautiful, incredible, amusing, funny, artistic, wonderful gem of a game that anyone could play, that tugged on the heartstrings and that was instantly engaging.

“The gem that was in my mind has never come to be, it’s always flawed in some way. I thought Fable 1 – when you consider that it was the first game I ever did of that type – wasn’t bad. It was hugely flawed in some senses, and there were technical issues like the animation didn’t work but it wasn’t bad.

“I think Fable II was a step in the right direction. I think Fable III was a trainwreck. It was built to be much bigger than what it was constrained to be and eventually ended up as. If I had my time again, I’d take the advances we made from Fable 1 to Fable II, I’d make the same advances from Fable II to Fable III and spend another entire year working on Fable III. But would it be that perfect gem that’s in my mind? No.”

Molyneux also addressed the now infamous original premise of Fable – including the acorn that players could plant and watch grow into an oak over time – explaining that his claims are never misdirection, just unbridled passion.

“The trouble with me is I do this stupid thing, and I always do it, where I start talking in an excited way about what I’m working on before I’m finished,” he said. “And what people are actually seeing is me as a designer being excited about what I am doing. You’re not seeing someone who’s a brilliant PR person who’s selling ice cubes to the arctic. Last time I was talking about a game feature, I got really excited and said it would be ‘the utopia of game design’, but that’s just me talking with no filter. When I was at Microsoft, there were these PR policemen in the room trying to pour buckets of cold water over me when I got too excited.

 “I just shouldn’t get so excited in front of the press. There’s an empirical decay between what the idea is in your mind and what you end up with, no matter what creative field you’re working in. I talk to a lot of creative people and they’re often disappointed in their own work.

“Saying that, of course, Godus exceeds that gem,” he laughs.

Our full interview with Molyneux will be published tomorrow

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