What ho and hail, Lusipeople!
My oh my what an exciting week! Amid the din of the internet hordes slowly migrating away from the Xbox release and towards whatever controversy strikes their ire next, a news story popped up unexpectedly. Some may have even heard it before now. Yes, Peter Molyneux’s Curiosity had been defeated and laid in the dirt, the champion hailed as the new king God in Molyneux’s next game. The most common reactions seem to vary from disgust to genuine surprise, as is typical of any news article related to Molyneux. The man is, after all, utterly insane.
Which is why I am absolutely in love with him.
I love his weird British accent. I love how he holds his hands like a Tyrannosaurus Rex when he speaks about his ideas. I love his shiny yet always enticing head. I love the way he prances about in a maid’s outfit, sprinkling candy canes and lemon drops over my head…er, hold up. That only happened in my dreams, but I love it nonetheless! As a force of personality, Peter Molyneux is one of the greatest things to happen to gaming since gamification courses started at Arkham Asylum.
Of course, it goes without saying that most of his games are mediocre if not terrible. Populous and the Black & White series are two shining exceptions, but for the most part I agree that his games are underwhelming at best. The Fable series hardly revolutionized the video game industry, although I suppose we could credit it for being the first time the dog was more entertaining than the main character. My point is that Molyneux is hardly gaming’s greatest designer. He is, however, a wonderful person that I wish could be the face of gaming. He is the true believer. He is the hype man. He is the Flavor Flav to gaming’s Public Enemy.
See, the first step in understanding the Molyneux is to accept that, on some level, he actually believes what he is saying. Nobody else does, mind. Even his wife and kids have permanently tempered their expectations about everything he says. But Molyneux maintains an endearing, unyielding sense of optimism that allows him to truly believe in what other people might dismiss as crazy talk. This is the man who famously claimed that trees would age in real time in his game; of course, it failed to happen, but who else would try and do that? Molyneux has effectively adapted the improvisational adage “yes, and” into video game design. While his ideas either fail to be incorporated into the game or fail to buoy the game’s metacritic score when included, I cannot help but admire the scope and seeming randomness of those ideas. This is the guy who put STD mechanics into an action/adventure game! Why? Why not?!
This admiration is also why I tend to gravitate towards the positive reception camp with regards to Molyneux’s prize for Curiosity. The experiment-cum-game never reached the worldwide phenomena status Molyneux openly hoped for,* but I find it hard to argue that making the rules and earning a cut in a game that is just over 15,000 preorders while still in development is not somewhat life changing. Plus, who ever would have thought giving game-breaking powers to a random player based on no criteria beyond the random fun of random was a good idea? Nobody, that is who. Nobody but Peter Molyneux.
Peter Molyneux, as a person, is simply bold and entertaining. Naturally we have learned to not take his word for it when it comes to promising features in games, but can we not admire the features he would like to see? Or the optimism that thought those things were possible? He is the baseball batter who refuses to aim for the stars but instead aims for Jupiter, Mars, or the Prius parked beside the McDonalds across the street. Yes, yes, he still seems to strike out every time he swings, but who would not be impressed if he managed to actually hit what he was aiming for? And who can deny that he picks things to aim at that very few developers of his clout are willing to try? For all the praise I lavished on Bioshock: Infinite, I cannot deny that Levine played it mighty safe from a mechanical perspective. If Molyneux had been in charge of that product, I have no doubt we would have seen a gameplay mechanic in which we must impregnate the right set of people at the right times to ensure the birth of George Washington. Because why not.
So what about you, Lusipurr readers? Are there any developers whom you acknowledge as terrible but nonetheless earn your love? Any deep, dark secrets held in your closets that you hide from your gaming friends? Share with us in our comments! Only we will know. Well…us and Peter…because Peter always knows…
*Possibly because the only way for Curiosity to have made it on the nightly news in this cultural climate would have been if some crazy man stabbed people while screaming “I NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THE CUBE!”