Peter Molyneux: Talking to the press too early can be your undoing

Peter Molyneux, discussing his techniques for iterative development at Reboot Develop, says that talking to the press about your current idea of what your game will be can be a mistake.

Speaking at the Reboot Develop conference, Peter Molyneux discussed his tactics for dealing with the press, and by extension, the ultimate customers of his games. "The mistake I made, and I've made it again and again and again, and if I ever do this again I'll probably make it again," he began, "is to go to talk to the press about my current ideas. As you can see from the iterative development side, the current idea is the most exciting idea ever."

Molyneux had been discussing his process of iterative development, in which he starts making the game with a jumble of ideas, and keeps adding cool things until it's a finished product. Starting with the ideas is his passion, and he wants to share this with the world. He recalls a specific instance in the promotion of Fable.

"I went in, and I was talking to this journalist in this room," said Molyneux. "At E3 you used to have these one-to-one press meetings. The truth is, the journalist comes in, sits down, they're utterly exhausted. They've got probably three days of hangovers building up on them, they've been walking around the show, and they're about as excited about what you're going to say as they would be talking to their accountant. And my job was to explain why my game is better than any of the 700 games showing around E3."

"And I'd say, these are the things that excite me about this game," he continues. "In Fable, I said 'one of the things I'd love in an RPG is to have this world that evolves. I'd love to have trees that grew.' Well, they grew in Black and White. So I said I'd love to have an acorn you could plant and would grow into a tree. But of course the game didn't have that, but that became the headline. And some people get so incensed. 'Why are you lying to us.' I wasn't lying, this is what I thought of the game at the moment. They say this is fraud."

Molyneux asserts that this problem extends beyond him and his iterative development techniques. "The problem with us as an industry getting so excited about No Man's Sky is I worry we'll have a similar thing to what happened with Black and White," he said. "Those of you in the indie community, you've got a massive problem," he says. "That problem is there's a hell of a lot of you. But there's only one editor's choice. And that's the problem. And if it means talking about acorns and oak trees to get your head above water, maybe you should do that." 

Juxtaposing against his earlier statement, Molyneux clarified, "I wouldn't choose to do that again, however."

Molyneux feels that his beloved iterative development is getting very difficult now with crowdfunding communities. "That's because people will think, naturally, and I completely understand this, that your Kickstarter game will have to contain all the features, every single feature," he says. "And of course it doesn't. You don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. But trying to communicate that to an audience is very difficult. But I still love that iterative development."

But Molyneux still believes in iterative development, and in creating something that allows you to live your dreams. "Indies should say 'fuck it! I'm going to do something that nobody has done before," he said. "And I am going to make every mistake, and I'm going to do something the world has never seen. and if we're not doing that, we're doing nothing but making money."

"Can you imagine, for a second, what it has felt like to make the games that I've made," he said, appearing to almost break down in tears. "It's been wonderful. It's been incredible, and I don't want to stop doing that. To make something that no-one has touched before, or felt before."

"I tell you what, when Curiosity came to an end, it was the number one trending feature on Twitter," said Molyneux. "How cool is that, when all it was is 'what's inside the fucking box.' And to be trending in the world, can you imagine what that feels like? And to me that's what this is all about."

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