Normally I wouldn't publish a conversation and call it an editorial. Then again, normally game designers don't vomit in a plastic case, shrink wrap it, and call it a videogame. When Peter Molyneux gets involved with, well, anything those lines get a little blurred. I was talking to none other than MusicalMac (of the GameSpot mod team) on the issue, and our thoughts were rather similar. It's not that I have anything personally against Peter Molyneux, really he made Populous and Dungeon Keeper, so he deserves a little credit - it's that whatever talent he has is characteristically sidetracked by his unique ability to be completely distracted by utterly boring things.
Take Fable 2 for instance, Molyneux has spent more time at press discussing the "pet dog mechanic" than any other aspect of the game. At a certain point, you just want to stop and ask "Peter, Fable 2 is a role-playing game, shouldn't your focus be on the story, characters, and world more than on how often some mongrel will pee on your shoes?" Really, the fact that a dog may, after several hours of absence, charge out of the woods to aid me in combat (presumably by biting my enemies in the shins) does little to edify my involvement in the world of Fable.
"Is today the day Fluffy returns?" Who cares?
When you factor in a host of new "casino-st yle" minigames releasing prior to Fable 2, the rather short gameplay length, and the emphasis on a handful of character possibilities (buy any house, get pregnant with anyone's child!) over true customization, combat, and storyline, well it doesn't sit right with me. That isn't to say I'm opposed to freedom (in fact, I love it) but openness is only interesting when it's matched with an engaging world (Fallout 2) and not so much when I'm wandering a hollow landscape populated with stock characters (Oblivion). Peter Molyneux has accomplished something unique with Fable 2, in making a game where you can roleplay as an unwed teenage mother, gambling her last dollar to get food for her baby, sound utterly uninteresting.
And thus, my conversation with MusicalMac:
Subrosian - The video review of Fable 2 would be me beating up Peter Molyneux. Fable 2 does not sit right with me.
MusicalMac - I could stand to watch 15 or 20 minutes of Molyneux beatings. Fable 2 also does not sit right with me.
Subrosian - Three minigames where you "earn money" for Fable 2 on XBLA...
MusicalMac - I'm not looking forward to... "interesting one button combat" what? Has one button combat ever been... interesting?
Subrosian - Uhhh, no?
MusicalMac - Correct!
Subrosian - Even Mario has two-button combat: jump and fireball
MusicalMac - Three if you count the spin jump from Super Mario on the SNES
Subrosian - True
MusicalMac - So there you have it. Peter - stop it.
Subrosian - And it's [super mario world] not even an RPG, which revolves around combat. He's a stoner, we just need to come out and say it - Peter Molyneux has a fascination with uninteresting things. Or, at the very least, impractical things.
MusicalMac - It doesn't matter how well you can sell it, Peter - boxed poo still stinks once opened. It only gets worse when you subject it to lasers and spinning things.
Subrosian - *laughs* The achievements are going to be tied to earning enough money to buy every house, town, shop, et cetera in the game.
Musicalmac - There, the Publisher is happy...
Subrosian - Look, let's just shoot Peter Molyneux - he's so high he won't notice anyway. *
MusicalMac - He may be high, but Fable 1 wasn't a total bust. Fishing was fun.
Subrosian - If I want to fish, I'll play Animal Crossing - the characters are deeper than Fable's
MusicalMac - Touche.
And there you have it. Sure, I could get into a lengthy discussion about how the idea of multi-game integration has been done before, discuss the ethics of charging an additional $15 (three arcade games at 400 points each) for minigames that seem like they could have been included with the game, or perhaps a timeline of Molyneux's decline from glory - but then I'd be as boring as Peter. As they say "keep on trucking" - and don't forget to bring your pillow to the Fable 2 launch party - a late night release of a boring game - it's cliche - but "hell-o snooze fest!"
*Editor's Note: I do not actually advocate gun violence against Peter Molyneux. Besides, if we leave him alone for long enough he's bound to bore himself to death.