Missed Opportunities: Lionhead Could Have Made LittleBigPlanet

Illustration for article titled Missed Opportunities: Lionhead Could Have Made LittleBigPlanet

Peter Molyneux still wouldn't give up the goods on his new game at the "Lionhead Experiment Revealed" panel, but he did give us a glimpse into how Lionhead let LittleBigPlanet slip through their fingers.


The studio that brought us Black & White and the Fable games has a creative process called "experiments" where anybody in the company can take a stab at developing a game mechanic or a piece of technology to be used in a future Lionhead game. The process sounds a bit more rigorous than Bungie pre-Halo 3; but it yields some pretty interesting results.

Molyneux showed off some of these experiments — ones that worked and ones that didn't quite pan out. We saw two prototypes of the dog from Fable II: the first was a rewards system where you could pet the dog a la Nintendogs (which Lionhead eventually chucked; and the second was a mechanic of having the dog run ahead of the player instead of following behind (the status quo in the final game).

We also saw a host of technical developments — like an aging system that applies a layer of wear and tear to everything in the world (murderizes the rendering rates), and a one-button combat system where the computer decides how the character attacks based on proximity to a target (which sort of made it into Fable II).

But the most interesting thing was a "tech demo" called "The Room" — made with love by Alex, Mark and Dave. As in Mark Healey, Alex Evans, Dave Smith — three out of the four guys that formed Media Molecule which went on to make LittleBigPlanet.

You could see a lot of proto-LBP things in "The Room" — from the textures on the fabrics and wallpaper to the concept of "empowering player creativity" by letting them design their own items to fill the room , everything just screams "Make me into an award-winning game."


But Lionhead didn't. They shelved it.

"This is one that didn't work terribly well," said Molyneux. "They worked on this for quite some time... and they had some really, really cool ideas. All of this was enormously, massively exciting... Each time we looked at it, our jaws dropped every single time. But – at the end of the day, even though this looks really cool and inspired us massively, it wasn't an experiment that really went anywhere."


You're right, sir. Four Game Developers Choice awards, a BAFTA and tons of Game of the Year nominations and wins is nowhere.

But, before you can cry "sour grapes," Internet — you should know that Molyneux said, "Media Molecule [are] some of the smartest people in the world."


Apparently, smarter than him, even.



A lot of you seem to have the wrong idea from this article which is not surprising considering its misleading tone.

First of all, Molyneaux didn't pass on the idea of Little Big Planet. I HIGHLY doubt he was shown anything near the end product of that. He merely said the EXPERIMENT (as in "The Room") was eventually abandoned because they didn't know where to take it next to develop in to a full fledged product.

Let me say that again:

Molyneaux passed on the idea of "The Room" becoming a sellable product, NOT a proposal for LBP. Though the people who worked on this tech eventually split off and created LBP, there is no reason to think LBP as a product was ever mentioned to Molyneaux or Lionhead before that.

Again, considering the unfortunate/misleading tone of the article from the author, I can see how some of you might get that idea.