The divisive developer releases his new game on mobile for free
Is there a more controversial developer in the video game industry than #PeterMolyneux? His new game, #TheTrail has its defenders but his many haters are marking the occasion by venting their outrage.
Gamers of a certain age remember that the British designer made his mark on the industry as a legendary creative genius. Peter was the driving force behind such quality classics such as Syndicate, Theme Park, Populous, Dungeon Keeper and Fable.
His games tended to be high-concept affairs with great potential for the kind of deep choice-and-consequence gameplay that keeps players involved and invested.
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I gave up a decent chunk of the supposed best years of my life to some of Peter Molyneux's games. Syndicate and sequels sparked my love of the cyberpunk genre before I ever read William Gibson or Neal Stephenson.
Magic Carpet was a fantastic open world FPS, and god sim Populous was amazingly addictive. Because I'm much better at being a god than running a business (to this day), I mainly remember Theme Park through its Game Over sequence, when you commit suicide via defenestration after bankruptcy.
Cheques, Lies and Video Games
With such a pedigree of quality games behind him, for a long time it seemed that Peter Molyneux had the golden touch, and he could do no wrong. But unfortunately, he was also an early adopter of one of the most frustrating things about the game industry today - overhyping a new title, then failing to deliver on his promises. Peter would make promises for his games that were simply impossible given the technological constraints at the time. Take, for example, when he promoted Theme Park in an interview with The Guardian:
A backlash against his bragging started with god sim (or overpriced Tamagotchi for PC, depending on who you ask) Black and White, but Molyneux really upset gamers with his fantasy #RPG Fable, released in 2004 without many of the features talked about by Molyneux in press interviews during development.
Peter made outrageous claims for Fable, such as that the game would span the player character's entire lifetime, and the player would be able to sire children in-game, or knock an acorn off a tree and watch it grow into an oak.
Eventually he released a public apology when these features and others didn't make it into the game, but it didn't stop him from making similar grandiose and fraudulent claims about his future projects. The Kickstarter-funded Godus, in particular, left a lot of backers feeling burned.
Nowadays, the goodwill he built on the back of his early career has been squandered, leaving him with a reputation as a huckster, a snake oil salesman. Molyneux seems to have realized that his name is toxic now, and has vowed never again to speak to the press.
Taking the Trail less Travelled
Peter Molyneux seems to be taking a different tack these days, avoiding the hype and bluster he's become most well-known for. The Trail is a pretty lightweight-looking casual adventure game that's just been released in the UK for free on #iOS and #Android. It was actually released last September in the Phillipines, but this 'soft launch' attracted relatively little fanfare.
In The Trail the player is a fortune-seeker, exploring an exotic locale in search of a town called Eden Falls. As they discover their surroundings, the must also craft materials, trade resources, and build settlements.
Relatively low-key and unpretentious compared to Molyneux's previous undertakings, The Trail could show that gaming's most controversial figure has learned his lesson. Could this be the game that wins him back his fandom?
Let's see what the internet thinks:
It's not looking good. The vitriol is so strong in this one, he delivers a twofer of contempt, killing The Trail and #NoMansSky with one stone.
Seriously, lay off No Man's Sky, people. Focus.
The internet has a long memory, and does not forgive easily.
90's Molyneux was great, I think we can all agree.
This guy gets it.
I'm actually starting to feel kind of sorry for him now.
It's getting absolutely savaged on youtube.
You're definitely not at the best point in your career when unicorns are insulting you over the internet.
I once released things under another Monica, and let me tell you, the first one wasn't happy.
Does Peter Molyneux deserve another chance?