Peter Molyneux’s infectious enthusiasm for his projects, which have spanned PCs and consoles for over 20 years, has delivered some of gaming’s seminal releases.
Molyneux’s career in games began by chance; working from a process of trial and error – through play and experimentation – Molyneux almost accidently became the creator of the god game genre.
Populous (1989), his first commercial release, was the first god game. Released by Molneux’s Bullfrog Studios, it was a huge success, selling four million copies. Placed in the position of a deity, the player controlled and expanded a medieval world and its inhabitants, building towns and cities so as to create a thriving civilization. The games’ isometric visual design drew on earlier arcade design but was a radical departure from most of the side- or top-view PC games at the time.
Several years after Bullfrog’s acquisition by Electronic Arts, during which Molyneux became vice-president for the publisher, the designer left to set-up a new studio, Lionhead, paying $6 million out of his own pocket to fund production of its first game, Black & White (2001) – Molyneux’s second god game.
Black & White won numerous awards on release and was recognised for its use of artificial intelligence in the introduction of a creature character that the player teaches throughout the game.
Molyneux then shifted focus to Microsoft’s new Xbox console, developing the action role-playing game Fable (2003), a rich, humorous fantasy game in which players take their character from childhood to adulthood and through marriage and divorce while chasing a twisting quest. The game enhances the moral choice component of god games by letting players decide whether to pursue good or evil actions in completing quests. The same year Fable was released, Molyneux received an OBE in the British New Year’s Honours list.