The Master, Unveiled.

You may be aware of a certain movie called The Master. A movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson about a charismatic, charming con artist who manages to convince everyone that he is a genius and a revolutionary when in fact he has no discernible talent of worth. Does this remind you of anyone?

 

The Master is a work of fiction.

But never let it be in doubt that art imitated real life. The fictional tale of a man who is effectively a crook, a con-man, the sort who uses words as their weapons and can charm the coo from a bird has many parallels. Indeed, yesterday Dr. Mark Kermode insisted that this must be a reaction to Hollywood talent-void, Adam Sandler. But I disagree. I disagree deeply because there is another man, in the gaming industry, that exerts the same kind of force on those around him. A man who even now has convinced thousands of you to queue up for his latest offering and deal with every single last issue, even if you lose money in the process. A man who knows how to talk the talk, but when it comes to the crunch, can’t walk the walk.

I of course am referring to Peter Molyneux.

Know thy enemy. Study its visage well.

In the movie, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the title character of The Master, a man who is creepy. A man who is over-confident. A man who talks a good game. A man who is scary at times, troubling in others. He is overpowering, he is wily, he often promises the moon. But he never delivers. The one thing Mr. Molyneux doesn’t have is morality.

Indeed, this can be traced directly back to the series he birthed with much promise: Fable. For years, Peter Molyneux promised us the stars and all we got was a picture of his personal moon. The games show a sense of humour, even a certain aesthetic charm, but as games they are shallow. We are told choices matter, and yet they can never take us anywhere but to set points. We are promised a world to explore, and yet we get a package holiday around some of the choicest adventure scenery. You cannot go off the beaten track, it’s physically impossible to do so. He would stand up and talk about his latest project, the latest game, and people would pay handsomely to hear the words of this prophet of gaming, this saint who in the past might have had some actual weight in the market. Oh Molyneux. How we want your product. We will do anything for it. We will pay you now.

And yet for all his promises, he ends up apologising because what he has promised cannot be delivered. Indeed, it’s the fact this charming and charismatic individual has such a gift of the English Language that spells the end for the projects he works on. Often he would make up features and ideas for the press. He would talk about some outrageous addition he wanted to achieve, and his team – the people who are paid to put this stuff together into a coherent game – would weep uncontrollably. Knowing that if he could mute his words, they might actually have a shot at getting people to enjoy their efforts. But with this giant of a personality at the front, the game is eclipsed in his shadow. It cannot escape the looming presence of Molyneux.

It is most telling also that when it appeared that the whole of Fable was about to collapse from underneath him with the ill-fated ‘The Journey’, he abandoned ship. Knowing full well that this Kinect-only exclusive was going to critically and commercially sink like a concrete breeze-block, he took his leave just long enough before release to assure a safe distance between himself and the game, but not so soon that he couldn’t also provide his candid and outlandish discussions on what they were looking to achieve. I cannot believe that was a coincidence. The timing was far too perfect and calculated for it to have been anything other than a devious business move, so that he could continue to peddle his outrageous opinions and beliefs on a media that worship him and will repeat his press-releases word for word, without once questioning if such things were possible in the confines of the medium of games. Or if they were even possible in the stringent time restrictions being allotted.

And of course, the past months Mr. Molyneux has been talking about his latest magnum opus, Curiosity. A demonstration of all he is. Of who he is. Encapsulated in the most perfect digital form.

For you see, Mr. Molyneux would like to convince us that Curiosity is a social experiment, a test, a sort of trial run for more in-depth work to come. He’d like us to believe there are real values and choices to be made in an application that sees you chip away slowly, block by block, at a large cube comprised of an unspecified number of these blocks. He tells us that it is to see how people react to paid content, charging a dollar up to $50,000 for upgraded chisels to hammer away at the cube. Will people leave messages? Will they create signs and words within the cubes fragile walls? And what is inside the final block? All we know is the person who breaks it will be sent a link to a video “somewhere” on the internet. It is up to the person who gets this reward to share it or not. As long as they don’t make money from it, as one assumes even the video itself will be the property of Peter Molyneux and 22 Cans. Likely of Mr. Molyneux in a bathtub full of fifty pound notes, laughing hysterically for ten minutes that people have fallen for this hilariously obvious trick.

The realities of this are painful to bear. First and foremost – sure, people are leaving messages in the surface of the cube. As you’d expect from the anonymity of the internet – we’re talking childish insults and huge depictions of phallic objects and female mammaries. That is peppered midst the foul language people are leaving in the walls of the cube, and not without reason as Curiosity is also very badly made. It has been crashing, robbing people of their time and whatever purchases they have reportedly made. More than that, it prominently advertises Facebook the whole time, insisting users sign into the service. Always there, insisting upon it. Trying to convince you to do so and befriend Mr. Molyneux. Because all he wants is your love, right?

Do I want to know what’s in the box? Actually… no. No thank you.

Wrong. You think that link is there by accident? I don’t. The paid DLC – convenient? Yes. This cube-destruction thing is nothing that an A-Level programmer wouldn’t be shy of knocking up as part of his coursework, but Mr. Molyneux is an old hand at this. He has more in him, and he has created something simple which can’t have cost him more than a couple of weeks of coding time, and he is set to make obscene profits on the back of this shallow, limp-wristed effort. And what is worse than that, people are yet again falling for it, falling for the same old lines. The same old Molyneux charm offensive. Surely he’ll get it right this time? Even a broken watch tells the correct time twice a day, right?

And yet no. Once again for a Molyneux effort, the technical polish is absent and the depth is as shallow as a drop of water in a sterilised petri-dish. All the talk that has charmed the pants off the media and his devoted fans and admirers (who will hate me for this whole post!) and what do we have to show for it? A crap app that crashes on people, wastes money and parades around as a social experiment all the while making Mr. Molyneux and others like Facebook an awful lot of money in the process.

It’s the perfect Molyneux summation. Fundamentally broken, and yet somehow people are still hailing it as a masterpiece of creative design and flair.

I of course will be shunned now as I have spoken out against the Church of Molyneux, but I am not afraid. For years, I followed this man. I believed in him, and all he has ever done with my love and money is abuse it, abuse it in ways that made me weep, made me ashamed of myself. But no more. I am free of the shackles of this cult fascination of Peter Molyneux, and I am calling him out for what he is; a con. A man who promises so much and can never deliver anything remotely a fifth of the way towards those lofty claims. People can continue to follow this Pied Piper to their eventual bankrupt doom, but I for one must place my faith and trust in people who aren’t quite so cavalier with all the wealth and adulation that they receive. In people who talk to me like a person, not a child. And in people who deliver exceptional content without ever expecting anything for their efforts over people who promise to shove rainbows and unicorns through your front door.

Curiosity is the perfect truth of what Molyneux is. It’s wholly him in a convenient nutshell. And yet he has managed to convince the world once again this is somehow new, amazing, revolutionary.

There’s a greater chance of Xenu coming down to do a night on David Letterman than Peter Molyneux ever creating something new, amazing or revolutionary.

Don’t be fooled. Molyneuxology is a dangerous cult. Don’t get started.

Put all your trust into the Sha of Happiness.

For he is love.

{◕ ◡ ◕}

 

Agree? Disagree? Why not leave a comment?
Please note this is not to be taken seriously. I love Fable.
I just wish it was a better game series. 

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