Peter Molydeux proves video game parody is art

first_imgImagine a game where you are dating the lead designer of the very game that you are playing, as your relationship changes so does the game— petermolydeux (@PeterMolydeux) March 4, 2016 Fable fans, rejoice! When Microsoft shuttered Lionhead, it may have ended all possibility of a major new installment in the fantasy RPG series. However, the brand still lives! Flaming Fowl Studios bought the rights to the IP and is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for Fable Fortune, a collectible card game based on a video game, because people seem to love those. While the team is made up of former Lionhead developers, it doesn’t include founder Peter Molyneux, one of the most (in)famous game development personalities and one of those weird auteurs the industry could use more of. How singular and bizarre is Peter Molyneux? For years, a Twitter account has done nothing but parody his game ideas.To understand the joke of Peter Molydeux, you first need to understand the reality of Peter Molyneux. One of Britain’s most celebrated game designers, Molyneux has been responsible for some straight-up classics throughout his nearly 30-year career. He invented and reinvented the God game with Populous and Black & White. He’s responsible for the good Dungeon Keeper games, not the recent exploitative mobile game. And of course, Fable was a flagship franchise for the Xbox and Xbox 360.Molyneux has made some great games, but he’s also known for setting insanely unrealistic expectations with his lofty, almost poetic rhetoric. He claimed that in Fable II, a player could knock an acorn off a tree and watch it grow into another tree. They couldn’t. He said in his Hollywood simulator The Movies that players could make sequels, even though the team already told him such a system would be too much work. When Microsoft unveiled the Kinect, Molyneux didn’t demo a game. Instead, he baffled games journalists with a virtual boy named Milo. There wasn’t much hyperbole there, but presenting a pseudo-video game as a revolutionary leap in human interaction is classic Molyneux.Because Molyneux’s artsy grandiose style is so instantly recognizable, it’s ripe for parody. Enter Peter Molydeux. Since 2009, @PeterMolydeux tweets game pitches that sound like the next Molyneux joint. Absurd mechanics, overwrought emotions, and unusual player characters are all typical Molydeux tweet elements. They not only display an intense understanding of, and affection for, Molyneux himself, they also exhibit a keen awareness of the larger video game industry. Here are some examples:We spend a large amount of time looking at maps in games, imagine if a map was a tattoo on a character that is afraid of you and hides— petermolydeux (@PeterMolydeux) May 27, 2016 If you’re thinking, “I would actually like to play some of these games.” you’re not alone. In 2012, many of these jokes were rescued and turned into real games for “What Would Molydeux?” At this game jam — an event where teams of developers make a game in a day or two usually around a common theme — independent creators actualized their favorite Peter Molydeux tweets.In Ghost Dad 2, “you are a ghost dad and you must come to terms with your own death using only the cats of your daughters to fend off your inner Jungian shadows.” That Guy Should Not Be Here is a “game where your arms are controlled by a psychopath who keeps firing guns at innocent people. You must turn away from them and run.” Uracoin is a “game where you are a coin being passed around. Must travel as far as possible, placing yourself in ideal places to be picked up and transported.” Beautiful. Unfortunately, a lot of files from the game jam have been lost, but many are archived in this link. Check them out for yourself, just get ready to weep.However, there is a dark side to Molyneux’s starry-eyed persona. Over the years his overpromising has gone from cute to a joke to just plain frustrating for players. Consumers feel like they are being tricked and lied to by a huckster, or maybe he just buys too much into his own hype. In an aggressive interview on Rock Paper Shotgun, interviewer John Walker’s first question was “Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?” The defensive Molyneux admitted that he hasn’t “got a reputation in the industry anymore.” This was in response to the constant delays and troubled production of Godus, his crowdfunded return to the God game genre from his new team 22Cans. Incidentally, in 22Cans’ previous game Curiosity – What’s Inside the Cube?, players from all over the world chipped away at a big cube to win a life-changing prize. That prize ended being godly power over other gods in Godus as well as a portion of the game’s profits. However, the winner, Bryan Henderson, never received his prize.That sucks, but who else would even make an MMO about whittling away a giant cube? The beauty of Peter Molydeux is that the reality of Peter Molyneux is so beyond parody that the tweets all sound pretty plausible. The fact that some became real games is proof of that. Molyneux may be on the decline, but at least we’ll always have this Twitter account to remind us of the offbeat creative spark that makes him so fascinating. And if you’re an indie game designer who wants to add some pathos to your game, Peter Molydeux is a great source of inspiration. As far as video game Twitter accounts go, it’s up there with Sonic the Hedgehog.last_img

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