Game designer Peter Molyneux surprised many when he announced his departure from Microsoft last month. Molyneux is best known for heading up the Fable franchise and for his ambitious, unusual game ideas, both the successful and the cancelled.
Speaking with Eurogamer, Molyneux finally explained why he chose to leave Microsoft when he did, and why going indie again felt like the right path for his future career.
The impetus for leaving Microsoft, he said, began when he found himself receiving a number of lifetime achievement awards. He recalled thinking, "Are these awards really for things I've done in the past? Do they represent the best I'm ever going to do? Or do they represent a challenge to what I am going to do?" That line of thought led him to think about the role risk and safety played in his career. He decided that in order to accomplish what he hoped to do, he would need a more risk-taking environment:
The case I put was, the best a creative person can ever do is when there is a lot of risk and when there is a lot at stake. That's hard to do within a big corporation like Microsoft. Secondly, the type of people I would need to exploit all this new stuff would be slightly different from the type of people who were at Lionhead.
So, after a lot of talking, we agreed I would leave Microsoft and set up a new company. Of course, Microsoft was very keen to talk about a deal, but I didn't want to constrain any creative endeavours this new company would do with setting an early deal. That's what I did at Lionhead, and it really did end up constraining what you ended up doing.
He continued to discuss his experiences at Microsoft and his outlook on the indie community, saying that he felt strongly that the Fable franchise could have a lot of life in it yet. The cancellation of Project Milo left a lingering hurt, he said, but he didn't blame Microsoft for their decision.
Molyneux, in fact, seems to bear no ill will toward Microsoft as a business at all. When asked if he would consider Microsoft as a publishing partner for future work with his new start-up 22cans, Molyneux answered, "I actually have an almost physical love for Microsoft. I know people there incredibly well. I love their direction, their passion. They're definitely people we will talk to for sure. I just don't want them to be the only people if you see what I mean."
So what does the future hold for Molyneux and his new studio? He avoided discussing the actual game idea that he and his new crew hope to developed, but indicated that, as with his earlier experiment working with the Kinect, he hopes to be able to use new, rapidly evolving technology in an innovative way. In true Molyneux fashion, he spoke excitedly about the future of cloud computing and announced that saved games are an outdated idea:
Although I'm not going to talk about the idea, I will say there are so many ingredients that go to make up an amazing game now, and those ingredients just didn't exist even a few months ago. Whether you talk about new ways of input, or smartglass or motion control or the evolution of whatever consoles are going to be. There's the cloud, where can save your game to it and off it goes and you can go to your friend's house. But it's so much more than that! It can be so much more!
What I love about cloud computing - and this hasn't been explored yet - is that it allows for something that we as gamers haven't had since the start of gaming, and that is persistence. We don't have worlds or experiences that can continue and last for extended periods of time. We need to get rid of saved games.
It's that kind of thinking that created Molyneux's fake Twitter doppelganger Peter Molydeux and the recent Molydeux Game Jam, which Molyneux himself attended. Whatever comes next for the infamous game-maker and his new studio, no doubt it will at least attempt to be something we haven't seen before.