On Thursday, Peter Molyneux gave a speech at Gamelab 2011. During his discussion about what inspired him to create games, he spoke about his upcoming Microsoft Kinect game, Fable: The Journey. Now while this shouldn’t normally be worth posting about, Molyneux once again restated his assertions that the game is not only not on rails, but unique. Unfortunately for him, it needs to be said that it seems like we’re all a little more skeptical this time around. We have every right to be after Molyneux himself came out and said that he agrees that the quality of Fable III wasn’t good enough. This followed the two other Fable games where much was promised, and very little delivered.
Now I enjoyed Fable II and Fable, but they were not the end all be all that Molyneux built them up to be. Mainly they were merely nice diversions that didn’t offer near the depth of most other RPGs, in terms of story or combat. This would all be fine if Molyneux didn’t constantly talk as if the Fable series should be placed amongst the deeper games of this generation. This all seemed to come to a head with the disappointment that was Fable III. After the missed potential of the Black and White series and then going through the same thing with Fable, you’d think that he would learn to quiet down, stop promising more than he can deliver and just make games that are fun.
I understand that it is Molyneux’s job to market his games, but he constantly goes over the edge and takes his discussions about his game to an extreme. One of these days, either Microsoft or he himself needs to hire someone to talk for him. The man is too busy creating unrealistic expectations to the point where many gamers don’t believe what he says. At the conference, Gamasutra reports that he claims that he once again made large claims, stating that Fable: The Journey “gives you the free momentum to go through the entire world.” He added that there would be some 300 square miles of space to explore. The off-rails play wasn’t enabled in the E3 demo, but, he reiterated, “we have off-rails navigation, it works fine.”
The problem here comes when the game does not have off rails navigation, or only does so in a limited manner. Or those 300 Square miles are a road where you can only get off at certain, predetermined points. The list goes on and on about the possible ambiguities in that statement. While it seems like he is saying that we would have this huge map to explore, judging from his past of making extravagant claims, I am worried that that might not be the case. Having listened to the man essentially lie to us about the true possibilities of his games for so long, I can’t bring myself to believe what he says, without at least seeing proof. Fool us once and it is shame on us, but fool, or try to fool us again and again with false promises? Shame on you.
I think that the reason why gamers are so disappointed by these false claims is that they, like Molyneux himself, get caught up in the hype. They fall into the trap of what could be. I know I have. I have a Collectors Edition of Fable III on my shelf because I got wrapped up in the possibility that winning a kingdom might actually be fun. I just wish that Molyneux would go back to making great games without having to stop every 20 minutes to tell us of the cool new thing he thought up. Especially when that cool new thing ends up being simplified to the point of irrelevance in the final product. Peter Molyneux used to be highly respected, now he is on the verge of being a laughing stock due to his extremely vocal statements. Maybe if he quieted down a bit and focused on making good games instead of merely talking about them, he would produce greatness again. I know I would welcome that.