Word up!

Ok, I’m sure there are more apt ways to begin a first ever post, but what the hell, I’m all for street speak.

This site’s about opinions on gaming, from reviews to industry news, to features on past and present events in the gaming world.

Allow me to introduce myself; I’m Jordan, 5’9″, 23 years old, caucasian, British, half Iranian (but paler than Casper in a blizzard) and an avid gamer, with an opinion that spans beyond that of the words “fail” and “pwnd”. I am currently in posession of a PS3, PSP, and an Xbox 360 which is currently staring back at me with a vivid red ring (for the second time…), and I used to own a Wii, but got rid of it because.. well, I like playing games (more on that later).

I also like reading, playing and listening to music, long walks on the beach while holding hands… y’know, the usual crap.

In this first post I’m going to talk about the maestro of hype, a man whose presence and influence has held the hearts and minds of all gamers for over a decade… and then stomped on them upon delivering a products that came nowhere close to expectations.

I am of course talking about Peter Molyneux, founder and head of Lionhead Studios, responsible for games such as Black & White 1 & 2, and Fable 1 & 2. Molyneux has been responsible for other past ventures, some of which are commendable, but I won’t mention them here because they don’t necessarily fall under the remit of his spin machine.

Now firstly you may be asking ‘why Peter Molyneux?’ or ‘why am I reading this website?’. For those of you who’ve been keeping track of the recent E3 announcements, you will have more than likely caught Microsoft’s new motion technology Natal, which in itself looks like an innovative prospect; some might say that Microsoft and Sony’s desire to join the motion based gaming market is bandwagoneering, but it seems like a viable move, and one which I think may be injected with a much needed boost of innovation (innovation which Nintendo overlooked with the Wii… more on that in another article), but with the announcement of Natal came the coalition with developers, and who other than Peter Molyneux had his finger in Microsoft’s bright green (and sometimes 3/4 red) pie.

Peter Molyneux making his 'I hid my car keys up my arse' face...

Peter Molyneux making his 'I hid my car keys up my arse' face...

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for innovation, even if innovation means taking heed of those who tried in the past but didn’t quite get there. For example; where would controllers be right now if it weren’t for the Sega Saturn’s analogue controller which came with Nights?

I’m not saying it wouldn’t have happened, but there are certain events in any industry which invigorate others to use such technology, and perhaps make it better than it was in the beginning. If this wasn’t the case then it would be a very boring industry. However, innovation is only as good as the person who handles it, and Peter Molyneux’s previous efforts at innovation have proved less than fruitful as first promised.

If we take for example, Lionhead’s breakthrough PC Game Black & White released in 2001. Now for those who don’t remember the flurry of promises that came with the game, you can simply hark your mind back to when Black & White 2 was announced, and chances are you’ll find some similar spiel.

In essence, the game would allow you to play God, and win over the influence of fictional islands inhabited by races from our world that have existed through the centuries, and your job is essentially that of a glorified Jehova’s witness; spreading your influence by whatever means possible (by either being a loving god, or a wrathful god, hence Black & White… geddit?). Not only that, but you would have an intelligent beast that would be your representitive on earth, kind of like a fat hairy Pope, except it takes a shit when and where you least expect it… oh wait.

In essence, this all sounds like a good idea, not necassarily revolutionary, but a good idea for a game nontheless, and in fact I would have gone as far as to say it was a good game, but it unfortunately fell foul of Peter Molyneux offering inflated promises in the build up to the release of the game; I remember him saying that you would have complete control of the world around you, that the metropolis beneath your fingertips would be a constantly evolving hotbed of activity, one which only your intervention could either help or hinder (it’s also thanks to this game that we have so many developers hell bent on making games with a built in moral compass, in a cheap ploy to increase longevity of a game. As much as I loved Knights of the Old Republic, I didn’t want to play it again as a bad guy, because I don’t want that feeling of doing nice things go to waste!).

This wasn’t the case though, your intervention was more necessary than the assistance required by God in Israel if he/she existed (there’s a link to my email address on the side), you had to pick up people and shove them next to trees if villages needed wood, plonk people into a field if you needed them to collect food; Christ, you even had to pick up a villager and shove them in the direction of a member of the opposite sex if you wanted them to become a polygonal cassanova and get all the women in the village up the duff, turning your deity digits into no more than an encouraging elbow nudge, which makes you more like Hitch than a God (though Will Smith does come close).

Worst of all was your creature; apart from being a disobedient, genital free, prick and being harder to house train than my Jack Russel, it wasn’t this glorious representative of you walking among villagers and assisting (or hurting them) in which ever way it seems fit; most of the times it just got in the way, and you just wanted to chain it in its pen and wait for the RSPCA to arrive with a flatbed truck to rescue it.

But as I said previously, Black & White wasn’t a bad game, it just wasn’t the game we had come to expect, and that was mainly due to the hype machine Peter Molyneux had running in overdrive for nearly a year before we got to play the game, and now with Microsoft ready to take its next big leap into the market of motion based gaming, in my opinion it can be one of the worst things for them having him in tow, but first, have a look at this video from the E3 conference for Lionhead’s next project for Natal, Milo.

Now upon first glance, one would see this as an incredibly innovative step forward for motion technology; the interaction between the (admittedly very creepy Milo) and the lady in the red top who sounds like a patronizing primary school teacher seems remarkable, but certain elements are blown completely out of proportion, to the point of gimmickery, two things that stood out were the throwing of the goggles (“ooh! You feel connected to Milo! Don’t tell the neighbours!) and the passing of the drawing (which you don’t see reproduced on the screen, but in a cheap ploy for technological kudos Milo says “Nice, orange”… well done Pete, you want gamers to be friends with a colour photocopier…).

However, I’m more than willing to be proven wrong (as much as it pains me), and Peter may indeed have an innovative masterpiece on his hands; one that will serve as a benchmark for all developers who decide to venture into the motion based gaming market, but I think it would serve both Microsoft’s and Peter Molyneux’s interests (especially if he doesn’t wanna get the sack), for him to lay off the politician-like rhetoric when it comes to games. Yes, we got to play as a god… to a certain extent. Yes, we got to shape our character and the world around us in Fable… to a certain extent. Yes, a dog assisted you through your journey in Fable II… WHO GIVES A SHIT!?

Gaming would be a lot less disappointing at times if it weren’t for people like Peter telling us that we’re witnessing what might possibly be the next messiah, but when you put that disc in and the only thing that turns up is a false prophet with a fake beard and a jug of wine held behind his back, you can’t help but feel you might have been cheated, and maybe even feel a little stupid for buying into it in the first place.