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Peter Molyneux Apologizes for Fable 113

Posted by Zonk
from the at-least-they-tried dept.
InFoMaD writes "On the official Lionhead Studio forums Peter Molyneux apologized for announcing features that did not make it into the final version of Fable." Their forums are already getting hammered. Post text available below.
Text from the Lionhead Studios Post -

A message from Peter Molyneux.
There is something I have to say. And I have to say it because I love making games. When a game is in development, myself and the development teams I work with constantly encourage each other to think of the best features and the most ground-breaking design possible.

However, what happens is that we strive to include absolutely everything we've ever dreamt of and, in my enthusiasm, I talk about it to anyone who'll listen, mainly in press interviews. When I tell people about what we're planning, I'm telling the truth, and people, of course, expect to see all the features I've mentioned. And when some of the most ambitious ideas get altered, redesigned or even dropped, people rightly want to know what happened to them.

If I have mentioned any feature in the past which, for whatever reason, didn't make it as I described into Fable, I apologise. Every feature I have ever talked about WAS in development, but not all made it. Often the reason is that the feature did not make sense. For example, three years ago I talked about trees growing as time past. The team did code this but it took so much processor time (15%) that the feature was not worth leaving in. That 15 % was much better spent on effects and combat. So nothing I said was groundless hype, but people expecting specific features which couldn't be included were of course disappointed. If that's you, I apologise. All I can say is that Fable is the best game we could possibly make, and that people really seem to love it.

I have come to realise that I should not talk about features too early so I am considering not talking about games as early as I do. This will mean that the Lionhead games will not be known about as early as they are, but I think this is the more industry standard.

Our job as the Lionhead family of studios is to be as ambitious as we possibly can. But although we jump up and down in glee about the fabulous concepts and features we're working on, I will not mention them to the outside world until we've implemented and tested them, and they are a reality.

Thank you for reading.

Peter.

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Peter Molyneux Apologizes for Fable

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  • Reality. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JavaLord (680960) on Friday October 01, 2004 @01:37PM (#10406325) Journal
    It's Gutsy for him to come out and say it. His statement:

    However, what happens is that we strive to include absolutely everything we've ever dreamt of and, in my enthusiasm, I talk about it to anyone who'll listen, mainly in press interviews. When I tell people about what we're planning, I'm telling the truth, and people, of course, expect to see all the features I've mentioned. And when some of the most ambitious ideas get altered, redesigned or even dropped, people rightly want to know what happened to them.

    Anyone who has ever developed software for a living knows this is the truth. Early on you spec out cool features, come up with great ideas, etc, etc. Your game/app is going to be the "BEST EVER!"...then somewhere along the way in the development process reality kicks you in the face. Bad features sometimes get added, good ones need to be dropped for technical reasons or time constraints.

    The crappy part about it is, usually you only talk to people in your company about an app early on. Or maybe if you are in a small shitty company you talk to the press and no one cares. But the "big name" programmers are expected to deliever on everything they say and then some. It takes a lot of guts for Molyneux to step up and say sorry I couldn't give you everything I said.
  • by Sentry21 (8183) on Friday October 01, 2004 @01:39PM (#10406352) Journal
    I dunno, but as long as he makes it clear that whatever features are what he wants to have in the game, if adding them in is reasonable, then he should talk.

    I don't know about you guys, but personally, I love talking with friends about theory, however practical or impractical that might be. What would be cool in a game, how you could implement it, races, ships, whatever. I think Mr. Molyneux should talk with the enthusiasm that he has for his games, as long as he's not promising that those features will be there.

    Let's be realistic: trees growing doesn't matter. I mean, really, it's immersive, but also irrelevant. I'm not going to notice if it's not there (well I might, but I won't care). That being said though, just talking about the possibility opens up dozens of possibilities in my mind, ideas and theories that I can discuss with my friends, and we can say 'wouldn't it be cool if we made a game that could do this or that or the other thing?'

    As long as he's not influencing sales by guaranteeing anything, I'm fine with him saying 'we're working on realtime tree growth and you can watch the textures change as paint dries, and the shorelines will gradually recede or encroach depending on the phase of the moon and the changing climate and passing meteors'. If they really are working on it, then A+, and if it doesn't make it in, then hey, that's the way she goes.

    --Dan
  • Refreshing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paladin128 (203968) <aaron&traas,org> on Friday October 01, 2004 @01:48PM (#10406481) Homepage
    I must say, it's nice to see someone with as big a name as Molyneux apologize to the community for this. Most people that are in the "industry pioneer" category tend to be just [johnromero.com] a bit [mailto] arrogant [penny-arcade.com]. He made some claims about features, gamers were pissed they weren't there, and he took the blame. Admirable.

    Maybe next time, he won't blab every wild feature he plans.
  • Fable Features (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MilenCent (219397) <johnwh&gmail,com> on Friday October 01, 2004 @02:00PM (#10406625) Homepage
    A feature in a game like this doesn't mean much unless it adds to the gameplay.

    Is it possible for real-time tree growth to improve gameplay? In fact, yes. Remember, Nintendo was planning something a little like that in the (vaporware) N64 sequel to Earthbound/Mother, where the player could plant a seed in a location and come back later, when the passage of time detected from the machine's real-time clock would tell the game when it had grown to a point where it could be harvested for useful fruit. Not quite the same thing that Molyneux's talking about perhaps, but indicative of the kinds of ways tree growth can improve a game. However, if the tree growth is merely decorative it doesn't influence the game *that* much.

    I was actually fairly jazzed up about Fable until recently. The more I read about it the more I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't be so excited after all. I was hearing things before about a world that evolves around the player and dynamic gameplay, but now I'm hearing things that sound more like a 3D Zelda with Harvest Moon elements mixed in. Perhaps an interesting game still (HM isn't *that* bad, and if you're gonna copy, copy the best -- it's still better than almost anything else I'm aware of for X-Box), but it no longer is making me consider buying an X-Box again to check it out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2004 @02:11PM (#10406750)
    I respect him for coming out and making a statement like that, but the game is still pretty disappointing. It's a decent enough RPG. You can see tiny glimmers of greatness as you play the game, which makes the game's flaws stand out even more.

    I am not just referring to missing features. Those were disappointing enough, particularly given how much this game was hyped. For years this game was presented as the second coming of RPG's. The results were so far from the boasts one can't help but be disappointed. If you promise to feed people steak, you can expect to hear some grumbling when you serve them a ham sandwich no matter how good the sandwich is.

    But more than that are the obvious game flaws:

    - awkward controls (WHY DOES AUTOLOCK KEEP POINTING ME TOWARDS THE FREAKIN BARREL WHEN I AM FIGHTING 5 BALVERINES!)

    - clichéd story elements... honestly, aren't we passed the forced failure being acceptable in a game, particularly one that claims as it selling point the concept of player choice?

    - the fact that temple donations make the game's alignment system seem pointless

    - and for a game that was supposed to be an genre changing epic RPG, isn't the game kind of short?

    I am just going to go into a corner and quietly whimper until Jade Empire comes out.
  • by Paladin128 (203968) <aaron&traas,org> on Friday October 01, 2004 @02:24PM (#10406925) Homepage
    A few flaws with this:

    1) It's a console game. No patch. No hope of having more CPU power in a year.

    2) It was supposed to be something that affected gameplay as well... not just prettiness.
  • Re:Reality. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Friday October 01, 2004 @02:30PM (#10407000) Homepage Journal
    yes. but the guys a pro. he should know better to not shoot his mouth off about things that are not certain.
    except that by now he has probably figured out that big hype == big pre-orders and that big promises == big hype.

    games biz is almost as much about the hype(pr) as of creating the actual games, big pre-hype enables them to get funding without questioning.

    and for example, the trees could still have been made to evolve probably somehow, just with a differenct tactic(without wasting some magical 15% of cpu time on it).

    and yes, he has the option to not tell about features that he just figured out last week and is not even sure if they're good or not.
  • by sgant (178166) on Friday October 01, 2004 @02:44PM (#10407195) Homepage Journal
    Black & White wasn't a bad game. Sure, there was a ton of hype about it, but not all of it from Peter. The press had a ton of hype about it also.

    And when all was said and done, it wasn't that bad of a game. Over-hyped for sure, but not bad.

    I had fun with it and it brought a smile to my face...what else should a game do?
  • Re:15%.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2004 @04:09PM (#10408149)

    Well, in order for the feature to be the least bit useful, the trees would have to look significantly different from one another. Generally, when rendering a large number of similar (or identical) objects in 3D space, one can take a number of shortcuts--for instance, the objects may share the same texture maps, and the engine can perform certain transforms on one copy of the mesh, instead of having to do so on each instance of it.

    From what I understand, there are also some pretty heavy costs in generating meshes dynamically, particularly if they're animated. Not to mention the memory cost (and consequent increased paging demands) of storing dozens of separate, detailed meshes in each scene.

    We also don't know how complex their simulation was. In addition to structural factors, there could be provisions for dead trees, variable growth, and perhaps even something like Dutch Elm Disease.

    To label something as "impossible" without conclusive evidence is a dangerous thing to do--especially among geeks, who are as a group the most ingenious and capable demographic that I know of.

  • Re:15%.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by atarrri (580364) on Friday October 01, 2004 @08:03PM (#10410152)
    Seems to me that his programmers have some problems with optimization. Frankly I'm surprised that Microsoft allowed a game to be released with a sub 20 fps (my estimate) in many key areas of the game. So I'm not surprised at all that his programmers told him that it takes 15% of frame time to do growing trees. There are certainly methods of getting some form of growing trees in the game with minimal cpu usage.

    Common sense is that you should never ever mention features that have a high probability of getting cut from a product. Reason being that if the final product doesn't have those features the customers may be upset. Personally I wouldn't even have minded those missing features if the game still turned out great. IMO he shouldn't be apologizing for the missing features, he should be apologizing because Fable is technically unimpressive and ultimately not a very fun game at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2004 @02:23AM (#10411607)
    It may not have been bad, but it wasn't a game.
  • Re:15%.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kreyg (103130) <kreyg@shNETBSDaw.ca minus bsd> on Saturday October 02, 2004 @02:59AM (#10411745) Homepage
    Molyneux probably has no fucking clue how much processor time the growing trees feature would take

    That is quite likely... on the other hand, it very well could have been a crappy implementation, or simply completely unoptimized - iterating over every tree in the world every frame could suck up a big chunk. Programmers are exceptionally scarce resources in game development, probably better to have them fix show-stopper bugs or implement features more central to gameplay than make trees grow.

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