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Peter Molyneux 1.jpg
Peter Molyneux
Species Human
Gender Male
Home UK
Status Alive (62 years old)

Peter Molyneux is a British game designer, producer, developer and programmer. He is well known as one of the lead designers at Lionhead Studios and even the creator of the Dungeon Keeper, Populous, and Black & White series of games. He is often referred to as a Veteran of the Video Game Industry, having been a game designer for almost 40 years and is credited as the 'father of God Games' for his innovative work on games such as Populous and Powermongerer, which helped create a new genre altogether. Due to his prolific work in the video game industry, he received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2004.


Before working at Microsoft Studios, Peter Molyneux became the vice-president and consultant for Electronic Arts back in 1994. Peter was also the Managing Director but later became a Lead Designer for the Fable series, which was originally created by Simon and Dene Carter at Big Blue Box Studios. He eventually became a Creative Director for Microsoft Game Studios Europe in 2009. On the 7th March 2012, he announced that he was leaving Lionhead Studios and moving to independent developer 22Cans.

History[]

Peter Douglas Molyneux OBE was born on 5th May, 1959 in Guildford, Surrey, in the United Kingdom (England).

Early Life[]

According to Peter Molyneux, his parents played an immense role in shaping his future as a designer. Peter claims that his mother owned a toy shop and since they didn't really have much money, this occupation allowed them to receive toys. However, Peter would go on to say that this wasn't as good as it sounds, as they only really got to play with old toys that people didn't want anymore. Since they would be missing a rule book or other essentials to play the game properly. Apparently, it was this toy shop that inspired him to start his own businesses. Peter Molyneux says that he would tinker around with these broken toys all the time, just to see how they tick. It's these experiences, which would help spark both an understanding and a passion for how toys and bits of technology worked.

"My mother ran this toy shop and that sounds wonderful as a kid, you know, you think you would get every single toy known to man. Actually, what it meant was that we got all the things that were broken, that people didn't want to buy. We got lots of games with no rules in, monopoly sets without any money. So, you just sort of had to make up the rules. I think that had a big effect." - Peter Molyneux, explaining his early years during a documentary by G4 Icons.

Peter claims that his entrepreneurial skills were evident at a very young age. When he was just 12 years old, he would employ his sister and their friends to cut other people's lawn. Peter even claims that he would only give them a percentage of the money per hour, while he just sat there and watched, but kept a majority of the profits since he owned the business. He also says that when he was younger, he would lend money to unpopular people in school, because he believed they would be more likely to pay him the money back. He refers to these as "his little schemes" and that he understands they were probably a little immoral.

Peter Molyneux also suffers from Dyslexia[1], which is a neurological disorder that is characterized by a difficulty in reading in individuals with unaffected intelligence. The disorder can also affect a person's memory, vision and spelling. Although Peter spent a lot of his younger years not even knowing about this until he was attending technical college.

Eventually Peter would graduate from the University of Southampton, where he was awarded an honorary degree in Doctor of Science and later that year, an honorary doctorate at the University of Surrey.

Video Games[]

One day, Peter came to the realisation that it might have been possible to add software to floppy disks, rather than just selling empty floppy disks that people would fill themselves. This realisation is what inspired him to want to create his own video games and make software that people would enjoy playing. So, he began his career in 1982 by porting and distributing games for Atari and the Commodore 64. Then around 1984, he began to work on his own video games. Peter says that during this time, he noticed that most people in the early days of the video games industry were simply making generic shooting games. So, he made his first game called The Entrepreneur, which was a text-based business simulation game. Peter was so convinced that his first game was going to be a hit, that he phoned up the post office and said that he "was expecting a lot of post". However, when it came to actually selling the game, it was a commercial failure as it only got two sales which Peter is convinced was done by his mother to support him.

"I came up with this reaaally dumb idea: If we could sell floppy disks, on these floppy disks would be some free stuff, like a free game. It was such a stupid idea because no one really wanted a floppy disk with a load of stuff on. If they wanted floppy disks, they were blank. What I realised is people where focusing more on the software of these disks, then anything else." - Peter Molyneux, explaining what inspired him to create video games during a documentary by G4 Icons.

Vulcan Computing[]

The first business that Peter ever set up was called Vulcan Computing, which is where he sold his floppy disks. The office was made out of cardboard boxes and only took up a corner in a warehouse.

Taurus Impact[]

Alongside this, Peter started another company up called Taurus around 1987, which was a business that sold and packaged baked beans to The Middle East for a very small amount of money. According to Peter, he started this company up with Les Edgar and was given the opportunity by his girlfriends father. The profits were so bad, that Peter claims he had to eat some of the stock of baked beans just to get by as it turns out they weren't popular in that region. However, due to a spelling mistake in the name of the company, another company called Commodore had phoned up claiming that they were "impressed by the company". Peter goes on to say that the company gave him the "red carpet treatment" when he visited them, all of which he states was a surprise to him. But when the company asked him when his "network would be available", he came to the realisation that Commodore accidently mistaken his company for Toros. Peter claims that he could vividly envision an angel and devil on his shoulders trying to convince him if he should take advantage of this situation, to which he chose to lie and accepted Commodore's deal.

"I can still remember it vividly, going through my head. There was like an Angel and a Devil on my shoulders. One saying "Go on, go on just tell the truth, you know you can't lie like this!" and another voice saying "Just lie, just lie. Get the machines, go to stand space and just sort it out afterwards." Of course, I ended up lying..." - Peter Molyneux, explaining how he got into the video game industry during a documentary by G4 Icons.

Firebird Software Ltd[]

Peter Molyneux and Dene Carter helped design and port games for a company called Firebird Software Ltd in the mid 1980s.

Bullfrog Productions[]

In 1987, he co-founded the game design company Bullfrog Productions. At first, Bullfrog actually struggled to make a hit game. According to Adrian Moore, the lead designer for The Movies, Peter was actually really poor and was more like a struggling artist during this period of his life. Peter also claimed that he struggled with paying rent and was running out of money.

"I first met Peter when I was 15 years old. He was really poor, actually. He would have the same shirt on every day, hunched over his computer with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and there'd be cigarette ash all over his computer. He literally was the archetypal sort of struggling artist. He was really just trying to get off the ground and his business was struggling at the time." - Adrian Moore, talking about Peter's early days at Bullfrog during a documentary by G4 Icons.

However, this changed when he spent this time to create the game Populous, along with Glenn Corpes, Kevin Donkin and Les Edgar, which was eventually published by Electronic Arts. Populous changed everything for Peter, as he lead the development of the game, which ended up creating a new genre that reflected what would become his passion for video games - the God Game. The game was also critically and commercially successful. According to Peter, he received a phone call one day by Electronic Arts who said "how does it feel to be a millionaire?" in response to the success of the game. The game is often credited as one of the best-selling PC games of all time.

Bullfrog would also go onto make a lot more critically acclaimed games, such as Theme Park, a simulation that allowed players to be a manager of their own theme park. Magic Carpet, which was a type of game that mixed action and exploration. And even Dungeon Keeper, which was a creature managing strategy game that tried to put the player in the shoes of a bad guy.

Electronic Arts[]

After the success of Bullfrog Productions, Electronic Arts bought a significant share of the studio. Peter then became the vice-president and consultant for Electronic Arts in 1994.

Lionhead Studios[]

He eventually left Bullfrog Productions, to found another company called Lionhead Studios in 1997, along with Mark Webley, Tim Rance and Steve Jackson. Apparently, Lionhead Studios is named after Mark Webley's hamster, which just so happened to die not long after the naming of the studio. At one point, Lionhead was also going to be named Redeye Studios, but Peter goes on to say that almost every company back then was called Redeye or used the word Redeye in their name, so they went with Lionhead Studios instead. Lionhead was known for games such as The Movies and Black & White. After merging with Big Blue Box, Lionhead Studios went on to contribute towards the creation of the Fable series. Lionhead Studios was later purchased by Microsoft Game Studios.

Microsoft[]

In 2009, he announced that was moving up to Creative Director for Microsoft Game Studios Europe. Although it is believed that he had already taken up some tasks under that title, prior to the announcement.

22Cans[]

After leaving Microsoft and Lionhead Studios, Peter Molyneux went on to create a new company called 22Cans in 2012.

Awards[]

  • Inducted into Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences hall of fame in 1998.
  • Honoured with an Order of the British Empire on December 31, 2004.
  • Given the title of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) by the French Government in 2004.
  • Awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the University of Southampton.
  • Awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Surrey.
  • Awarded The Lifetime Achievement Award by the Game Developers Choice Awards.
  • Received a BAFTA Fellowship at the GAME British Academy Video Games Awards in 2011.

Works[]

Pre-Bullfrog[]

  • The Entrepreneur
  • Druid 2

Bullfrog[]

  • Fusion (1987)
  • Populous (1989)
  • Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods (1991)
  • Syndicate (1993)
  • Theme Park (1994)
  • Magic Carpet (1994)
  • Hi-Octane (1995)
  • Genewars (1996)
  • Dungeon Keeper (1997)

Lionhead Studios[]

22Cans[]

  • Curiosity: What's Inside the Cube? (2012)
  • Godus (2014)
  • Godus Wars (2016)
  • The Trail: Frontier Challenge (2017)

Easter Eggs[]

  • In Fable: The Lost Chapters, his gravestone can be found in Snowspire village behind the bar. If players dig here, they will be rewarded with the Lionhead back tattoo, an obvious reference to Lionhead Studios.
  • In Fairfax Gardens besides the entrance of the tomb of Lady Grey there is a gravestone for PDM that has the note "this is the best grave in history and will change the way people look at final resting places in the future."
  • There was a game called ABP: All Points Bulletin which used recreations of real people to show how innovative their character creation system was. One of these characters were based off Peter Molyneux.
  • In Fable: The Balverine Order, one of the characters, Molly Newsome, is named as a reference to Peter Molyneux.
  • There is a guard which uses a texture that resembles his face in the Xbox Live Arcade version of Perfect Dark.

Quotes[]

  • "Big wobbly water bags."
  • "It is going to be really, really epic."
  • "What an unusual looking camera..."
  • "I'll tell you the real answer, actually..."
  • "I’m not aware of a single lie, actually."
  • "I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more."
  • "Just press the blue bloody button and get on with it!"
  • "So, you can hold in this expression and make it go - shiiiiiiiit!"
  • "Pull the right trigger to see The Most Interesting Thing in the World."
  • "I told them this... I told them that... It was complete and utter bullshit."
  • "I want to hear the fart of... a sort of... 25-year-old... Brazilian... Woman!"
  • "Shit. Muthafucka. Shit. And we're sort of rapping and doing our own rap!"
  • "I keep finding myself rejected by men, which is a new experience for me."
  • "My analogy is I saw that Pong machine and it changed everything in me."
  • "Only one thing went through my mind, he must NEVER play the game again."
  • "There is an acorn, and it is a golden acorn. We're taking acorns to the next level."
  • "Then I realised, I know, the golden rule: get him down to the pub and get him drunk!"
  • "...I think the dictionary definition of the word 'legendary' means that the person has to be dead."
  • "I can now reveal to you that he would go on to find the cure for cancer... and you just killed him!"
  • "Having a little child run out and you say, 'oh, that's just lovely, isn't it?' – that's part of the drama."
  • "I made the fatal mistake of having a good idea, programming that idea up and actually releasing it."
  • "For me, it's having control of something. I guess it shows that I sort of have a controlling personality."
  • "Every day I get up and think about Fable. Every night I go to bed, go to sleep and dream about Fable."
  • "It goes to show that no matter how much money you have, there will always be something you can't afford."
  • "If you wanna play a bad guy, you can play a bad guy. If you wanna play a good guy, you can play a good guy."
  • "OK, yeah. OK. I wonder, yeah. Well, we’ll see. I’ll get back to work. Get an Apple phone so you can Find A Friend."
  • "I'm trying to make Fable 2 the greatest roleplaying game of all time... again... but this time, I´ve learned from my mistakes."
  • "You develop a sort of relationship. You eat together, you drink together, you work together. You dream this dream together!"
  • "It's sort of like... well, you see in England you have this thing called Marmite. You either love this food called Marmite or you hate it."
  • "Mini-maps are shit. They're shit because you make these multimillion-dollar games, and people play them staring at these little dots."
  • "It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here."
  • "This time I'm going to make it really tough to be good. Truly being good is all about sacrifice. How much are you going to sacrifice to do good?"
  • "Even more... I was going to say 'fucking'. Can I say 'fucking'? Oh, what the hell, I'll say 'fucking'. Even more fucking cool is combining that with magic."
  • "Like anybody that is in the business of creating something that doesn't exist, I say things that I believe is true, that very often don’t come true and sometimes do come true."
  • "Options for romance kissing to some X rated bits (this will be censored) can also be manipulated. Will the first female nudity give you a success or will it turn off the audience?"
  • "I think it's a huge tragedy. I mean, you might as well say PC gaming is World of Warcraft and The Sims... The weird thing is everyone's got a PC, they're just not buying software for it."
  • "Like it or not, combat is at least half of a role-playing experience, probably more like 0%. So, if I want to get into that landmark status, I've got to innovate combat. And the problem is an enormous number of games you see are totally unplayable for the vast majority of the population. Give Halo 3 or Call of Duty to a casual gamer and they will just run away screaming, they wouldn't have the first chance. But hardcore gamers are getting so demanding now, they're requiring ultimate balance, enormous depth, and love experimenting throughout the whole of the game. Those are polar opposites, on one side accessibility, and on the other, depth. How can I create a combat system that combines both together?"
  • "Most conversations about mobile game development happen in a bar. It wasn't because mobile developers are alcoholics, but because bars are the ideal place to lament the low motivation you may have by working in such a frustrating industry."
  • "It's amazing for a role-playing game, because most role-playing games are shit! Oblivion was a great game, but the combat was rubbish; we all talked about it being rubbish. So, imagine you had a great role-playing game and really, really good combat system.”

Notes[]

  • According to Peter Molyneux, the game Populous made him a millionare.
  • Peter Molyneux has been quoted as saying "I entirely blame myself for Fable III."
  • His early company Taurus most likely got its name because it is Peter's star sign.
  • Peter claims that his parents always wanted him to be an Accountant when he grew up.
  • Peter Molyneux is considered the "father of God Games" and is credited as the creator of the genre.
  • Peter Molyneux has been quoted as saying that Fable would be "the best game ever", during its development.
  • Peter says that when it comes to game design, it's his philosophy that the first 15 minutes of gameplay is the most crucial.
  • During a Ted Talk, Peter mentions that he was actually disappointed that a majority of people chose the good ending(s) in Fable II.
  • While he doesn't have a 'favourite game' that he has made, Peter says that Theme Park World was the most successful in his portfolio.

Trivia[]

  • Peter says that the company Torus was spelt like a type of donut.
  • Although it could have been exaggerated, Peter claims that he has "...played every computer game there is."
  • According to an IGN interview, Peter only likes "sexy pieces of hardware" in regards to video game consoles.
  • In a GameInformer interview, Peter says that he is a big fan of both the Harry Potter and The Walking Dead series.
  • Due to Peter's enthusiasm as a game designer, he is sometimes mocked for his bizarre and outlandish thoughts and concepts.
  • In an interview for 'The Story of Mojang', Peter says that he has met with Markus Persson a few times and respects his work on creating Minecraft.
  • According to Peter; he and both of the Carter brothers worked together porting games for years and never realised it, until they worked on Dungeon Keeper.
  • At a BAFTA Games Lecture in 2009, Peter mentioned that two games which helped inspired him and Lionhead Studios were Tomb Raider and World of Warcraft.
  • Peter Molyneux held a talk at Eurogamer Expo, were he mentioned that some inspirations for Fable were the movies King Arthur (2004), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), and Sleepy Hollow (1999). For Fable II the movies were Mad Max (1981), and Kill Bill Vol. 1 and for Fable III, they were the movies Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) and maybe an Oliver Twist adaptation from 2005.
  • There is a theory on the internet known as the "Molyneux Cycle" where Peter is criticised for hyping up a game and then releasing a new game in the series and hyping up that new game, but saying that the last game wasn't very good.

Gallery[]

Videos[]

External links[]

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