Peter Molyneux has been a bit of clock-watching lately. Right now, the game designer behind the Populous and Fable game franchises has been watching time tick down on the Kickstarter for the Godus project from his 22Cans dev studio. I spoke to him about raising money for Godus but also asked him about his son Lucas. Does he know when Half-Life 3 is coming out yet?
"He's given up. He's given up!," Molyneux exclaimed. "He's moved on. Valve have lost him. Completely. He moved onto Minecraft for a longtime. I don't know the last time he played Half-Life. I keep trying to sort of hit him with a gravity gun idea occasionally but he looks at me as if… They've lost him."
The context for this is, of course, the moderately popular video that Molyneux shot with his offspring in 2010, where son Lucas pleaded with the Seattle developer for something, anything about when Half-Life 3 might be coming out. But it came up as Molyneux and I were discussing the fleeting cycles that spin around game development and opportunities for attention in the present day.
I asked Molyneux if there was a lesson for him in his son's disinterest in Gordon Freeman's universe. "Yes," he answered. "The world we live in now; it's insanely fast. That's why we had to be really quick after Curiosity. Immediately after Curiosity, we came out with our Kickstarter. Immediately after we've done our Kickstarter, we've got another thing that we're thinking about, though I'm really not even going to so much as suggest anything about it.
We've got a long term project which is very, very brave and which we're thinking about. We've got some other thoughts in our mind of what we would want to do for sure. This is the thing: you can't just go into Kickstarter blindly thinking, ‘Oh my God, we're definitely going to be funded. We don't need to think of anything else.' You've got to be a businessman about this. You've got to be realistic."
Molyneux is a man who's trying to adapt to changing times, proliferating platforms and shifting audiences. If his son, who might know more about video games get made than most teenagers, seems to have lost interest in one of the most hotly-anticipated in-development games, there might be a message there. "So you've got to be really fast, you've got to be really exciting, you've got to be really brave. That's the world we live in now, which is a fantastic world to be in." It's also a world where Molyneux's next game might not get funded. But he seems to know what he'll be doing even if it doesn't.