With excitement surrounding the release of Xbox 360 exclusive RPG Fable II hitting fever pitch, Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux is much in demand. But the game development legend still found some space in his hectic schedule to spend some quality time with VideoGamer.com, and granted us his most in-depth interview of the year. Here, in the second part of our monster chat, Peter tells us why Fable II's online co-op is only possible on Xbox LIVE, dishes the dirt on the chances of a PC version and lays down the law on DRM. If you missed the first part, don't fret. You can catch up right here.
VideoGamer.com: You're a 360 exclusive developer. Have you ever fancied having a crack at making a game for the PS3?
Peter Molyneux: I um and ah because, OK, it's a quite sophisticated piece of tech. These days I don't get involved so much with shaders and the actual 3D design any more, the actual programming. It looks very complex. I do say, the 360 and the PS3 technically, they seem neck and neck. Sometimes I look at a title on the 360 it looks fantastic, sometimes I look at a title on PS3 and it looks fantastic. I can't see a difference. What I would say, and this is not just me being the good company man, I'd say the thing I love about the 360 more than anything has nothing to do with the hardware, it's all to do with LIVE. LIVE is still underexploited for a game mechanic. Some of the stuff in Fable II we're doing with co-op is only possible because of the way LIVE is structured. I love playing around with that stuff as a designer. Whereas PS3 doesn't seem to be quite so mature on that side. They haven't got quite the same infrastructure and service but, you know, yeah, I'd love to get games on every platform.
VideoGamer.com: At the end of the day it's a much of a muchness. They're both essentially PCs.
Peter Molyneux: It is, except for one thing. The reason I ummed and ahhed is if you said to me oh there's this console coming out and it's got another way of interacting with a game, kind of like what the Wii did with their controller, you said to me someone else is coming out, I would be there as a designer. I think if you just make one change, even a simple change, to what people hold in their hands and how they play the game, that's ten times more significant for me as a designer than giving me five more graphics chips, because it really does mean that we can invent, as designers, stuff you haven't had before. Now that Nintendo has broken away from the conventional controller I think you're going to see this industry start to change what we hold in our hands and the way we interact with games.
VideoGamer.com: On that note, would you like to develop a game for the Wii?
Peter Molyneux: The Wii is an interesting one because it's incredibly underpowered compared to the 360 and the PS3, but it has got this new input device. If you said to me OK, go away and produce a smaller game I'd be there. The idea of squeezing Fable II into the Wii's architecture would be really immensely challenging.
VideoGamer.com: Going back to Fable, there's no PC version of Fable II, but there was a PC version of Fable. Is there a reason why you have decided not to do a PC version this time?
Peter Molyneux: If you recall we didn't release a PC version of Fable immediately. I don't think we even announced it immediately. There's no announcement either positive or negative on a PC version just yet.
VideoGamer.com: So it may be the case that a PC version might turn up later then?
Peter Molyneux: You see you said all the maybes and mights there, I'll leave that with you! But these are the sorts of things as you can imagine I get into an enormous amount of trouble for. I have to be very careful!
VideoGamer.com: What's your take on the New Xbox Experience?
Peter Molyneux: I think it's a step forward. It makes the blade system a lot simpler and a lot more accessible. I'm really all for that. I love the customisation of the avatar characters. I think that's pretty cool. I'm yet to really get my hands on it to be honest with you. There's some really nice gadgets in there. As a whole I think it's an exciting thing. But what happens with all of those things is it's only when you get games exploiting what the New Xbox Experience gives that you're really going to take it to its full. Certainly it's cleaner, it's simpler, I can show it to more people and they understand it instantly. I love that.
VideoGamer.com: There's been a lot of talk recently relating to DRM and Spore. You're a PC gaming legend - what's your take on the whole issue?
Peter Molyneux: What do you mean? You've got to remember I've been travelling incessantly so I haven't caught up...
VideoGamer.com: EA has taken some flak from PC gamers for limiting the number of PCs that Spore can be activated on.
Peter Molyneux: Ahh. How many did they limit it to?
Peter Molyneux: 3? Hmm. It's interesting because if you go online, a lot of PC gaming is now casual gaming. A lot of our people are talking about this. If you look at the gamer market on PC, I'll be quite honest with you, it's in tatters. There aren't that many releases on PC. There are some high points like Crysis and what Blizzard is doing, but other than that you are restricted to The Sims and World of Warcraft, they seem to be dominating the PC side. But on the other side of the coin you've got the whole casual market. Interestingly on the casual market if I go to a casual website, download a game that's it, it's only for that machine and that machine only. I cannot transfer that on to another machine. So I think the casual space has had even more restrictive copying than the core space.
I would say while me as a player hates any restrictions, I can understand that publishers need to do something to give them the confidence to make games for the PC, to spend the huge amounts of money necessary to spend on development and to get their return. Anything that may give them more confidence on the PC means that ultimately we as gamers will come out better off because they will invest more in the game. I don't think three sounds that bad. I'd prefer it not to be there but if it is going to be there then I think three is OK, but I can understand people being very upset. Personally I hate any copy protection. I hate typing in that number. I loathe it as a gamer. It just makes me feel insulted. And I always lose the blasted manual anyway. So if we can get away from that password protected side, which is a waste of time, then that would be great.
Check the site next week for the third and final part of our humongous Peter Molynuex interview, where he answers VideoGamer.com readers' questions on Fable II! Read Tom's hands-on preview right here!