Please don’t think I have some kind of personal vendetta against the guy.
I generally don’t like the easy targets because they don’t have quite the same sensation when you get through their B.S. and down into the core of their being. Peter Molyneux is an exception for me though, because to get down into his core means wading through multiple layers of his Id, Ego and Super-Ego. I don’t HATE the guy however; I’ve bought his games in the past and I’m not about to stage a protest burning of my Fable 2 and Fable 3 discs. No, my issue with Peter Molyneux – and his latest Kickstarter – is that he is once again trying to absolve himself of risk, and that I find reprehensible.
After all these years and all these games, and arguably all those disappointments, Peter Molyneux has very little left to lose in terms of reputation. But on the flipside, he has the most to gain from an honest, decent perspective. If the man was using his own money to fund his Godus title, knowing it is his money on the line, I’d have far more faith in the project. For then there is something tangible for the guy to lose if it does all end up going tits-up; his reputation isn’t really going to sink any lower than it already is. In effect, he is in the best position to take a risk, that leap of faith and tell his long-suffering fans he will do them proud by revisiting arguably one of his proudest achievements.
You can’t and won’t get that same sense of danger or desperation if it isn’t his money on the line. Peter Molyneux has been cavalier for some years now; Fable: The Journey – he could have said no, but he didn’t. We all knew long before its release how it would pan out; it didn’t disappoint us in that regard and that in itself is quite sad, really. Peter’s exit from Lionhead was somewhat amply timed; just enough time to lend his hype to it, but not too little that he couldn’t get clear of the wreckage either. You might think that’s quite cynical of me; but is it not also cynical for a man who has constantly disappointed people in the gaming world to ask that same world to help bankroll his next game? Cynicism breeds cynicism in this case. Peter Molyneux is his own worst enemy in that regard.
When his fans have already paid their money, do I have any faith Peter will deliver on any of his promises? Not really. There are plenty of examples of him ‘adding’ features to Fable games in his excitable manner, features that never materialise. He’s got to prove he can deliver to me before I will pre-fund ANY project of his. This is the bit I do want people to think over; considering his track record, can you take what he says about Godus right now as gospel? It’s an important question and I do want people to genuinely ask themselves if this is the right time or place to Kickstart a project; giving money to a studio run by a man whose reputation precedes him. Personally, I find it rather distasteful. I don’t like it because to me, it looks once more like he’s using a title he is attached to in order to distract us from his own failings; and to be brutal for a moment, Populous and its memory deserves better, no? Peter has fallen a long way from the 1989 classic. Twenty-three years later and people will have changed in that time. Peter is largely unrecognisable, a shadow of his former self. No, I wouldn’t have minded him making another “God-sim”. But to use Populous so freely in the tagline is wildly misleading; the world has changed and the man has changed. It may be a case of writing checks that he has no means of cashing.
However, I am NOT above eating my words. If Godus comes out and it’s worth a £30 entrance fee, then fantastic. I’d be overjoyed! I do like a good comeback, we all do don’t we? It’s the unexpected and pleasant surprise of it that would work so amply in this case. But I can’t invest in the Kickstarter because in this instance, I feel it’s more abusive than anything. Cynical, immoral and quite rude after asking people to donate to the Curiosity project in the absence of its chisel-based shop-front. As I said, cynicism breeds cynicism. Peter can feel hurt and people can argue his merits but a cynical-looking stunt will be met with cynical-sounding reactions. For all our failings, I don’t believe anyone is stupid. A look around most major gaming sites tells you the overall reaction from a variety of worlds is largely one of abject cynicism. People are wise to his ways; pattern recognition has set in and I do feel that whether he gets funded or not, he’s going to have a massive uphill struggle to convince the market that Godus is worth the wait. Perhaps that’s the irony here. That even if Godus does turn out alright, he’s seeded enough mistrust over the past decade to effectively brand the game before it hits the market. Whatever he does now, he can’t win.
That doesn’t mean however that we as the consumers should take on the burden. Peter Molyneux has the talent and the studio (and likely some means of funding!) to really make a go of this on his own accord. By absolving himself of the risks involved in funding ($450,000 being asked for) he is effectively being quite coy about the state of his affairs. People should be critical. And cynical. And yet let’s also remember there is a chance it could turn out great, and it would be a shame if that were to happen to let our cynicism dictate our purchase at the end.
But by going the Kickstarter route, Peter Molyneux is going to raise questions; not just about his track record, but about Kickstarter, about its security and moreso about 22Cans. He comes with baggage; and that baggage is heavy, weighty and full of dark, dark secrets. I feel it would be a shame if that were to affect others on Kickstarter. The man brings a wave of cynicism with him. Kickstarter is about the hope, the morally right thing to do, the encouragement of new ideas and concepts. It just looks like a match made in hell right now.
He’s got to prove this will work. And ideally, the only non-cynical way to do this is to fund Godus himself. But in absence of that as an alternative, let’s be very cautious. Because yeah, I’ve been very cynical. It’s hard not to be, as we now know.
But if Godus turns out good, we SHOULD buy it. That’s the encouragement needed, right? Good game = purchase, bad game = no purchase. If it turns out badly, then that’s a rotting rope bridge that will have to be crossed. Over a flooded pit. Filled with starved crocodiles. Who have been made to listen to Cheryl Cole’s latest album on loop for the past week.
He’s got no room for error here. I wish I could say I thought that might inspire him to get it right…