a game born to die

Peter Molyneux is a man whom inspires extreme opinions; there are people who love his genius, just as there are people who do not enjoy his over-enthusiastic approach to talking about his games. Whichever side you may fall on, I would think you a fool if you were to protest his importance in the gaming industry.

Having started up his brand new independent studio, which I was fortunate enough to visit for a week, he has set his sights upon a new goal, experimentation. Indeed, his announced plan of 22 experiments scattered throughout a number of games released in the next few years is one that cannot fail to intrigue even the most hardened anti-Molyneux’s. Starting with ‘Curiosity’, or ‘The Cube’, the alleged ‘life-changing’ entity which exists inside is a bold way to start this new venture, and a clever one.

Peter Molyneux OBE has admitted to wanting, and even needing, millions of players throughout the life-time of these experiments, and so to claim this pseudo prize to be ‘life-changing’ is possibly a fantastic way of spurring a decent percentage of his targeted audience into giving it a try. Of course, Peter is a clever enough guy to know that he cannot simply state that this unknown thing is so fantastic, and then lose everybody’s interest when it is revealed to be nothing but an apple and an orange. This is the first valid reason to remain interested, a shallow, but albeit consuming lust to know what is so awe-inspiring.

Whilst up until now I may not have talked about anything that has not been discussed on various games journalism websites, or gaming forums, I would like to touch upon a matter which I feel has been all but forgotten. Here, we are faced with a game that is being sold to us with the promise that it will eventually be redundant. It may be in a few months of release, possibly a few weeks, and maybe even just a few days. Regardless, I cannot recall a time when somebody has been so open as to announce the fact that there is a global end to their game, at which point there is no returning to it. Most online games aren’t going to last forever, but it’s hardly a promoted characteristic.

Who knows what 22 Cans has in store for us? They could be planning on allowing the experience to transcend and surpass the life of the Cube, and from what very little I have gleamed from Peter Molyneux, I honestly think there are far greater plans for all of this. In fact, after recently reading the fantastic Edge article about 22 Cans in this month’s (July’s) issue, he certainly seems to be hinting at a convergence of all the experiments into a big final game.  Another bullet point added to the ‘Why Should I Care?’ list.

If I were to talk personally about how I instinctively feel when focussing on the cube, and its pre-determined death, I’m not filled with annoyance, nor disappointment, but respect. I have a deep respect for Peter Molyneux, a man willing to do something completely different. This is a man who has said ‘Fuck off’ to all of the usual rubbish that is inherent when developing a Triple AAA FPS with an inevitably stunted multi-player and maybe some shoe-horned co-op to boot. Here, we are seeing something rare; something new. Now this is the third, final, and undeniably best reason to keep your attention locked to 22 Cans. This could be just what everybody didn’t know they needed.

a week at 22 cans

For this week, or rather, three days of this week, I was fortunate enough to be sat next to the inspirational genius, Peter Molyneux, for a brief internship at 22 Cans. During those three days, I saw some of the most intelligent and creative people I have ever met working away on The Cube, and I have to say I felt honoured.

I said it at the studio, and I'll repeat it here now, games development is a culmination of a bunch of very smart people getting together to make something. Everyone was ridiculously kind to me, and the atmosphere was one of humour and fun. Despite the fact that they were working like mad, the studio remained calm, and I felt really welcome.

Peter Molyneux's idea behind these 22 Experiments scattered over time throughout hugely unconventional games is one of the most intriguing concepts existing in games development today. The Cube is shaping up to be the first of many incredible games. I am hugely looking forward to being able to purchase and play it when it's released.

Not an average week at all, and one that I'll never forget. On Monday it was my birthday, and I was lucky enough to spend it with some of the coolest people I've ever come across. It seems at 19 I've already peaked, but I'll make sure it's still uphill from here.

the most wonderful time of the year

So that was E3, and it was utterly magical in my opinion. I am bombarded constantly by negative opinions, critical tweets, judgmental articles, and yet, I only ever enjoy the whole thing. The gaming industry, as I see it, is more exciting than ever. Not only is there more innovation, games are clearly maturing as a whole. Concepts and ideas are being tackled that a few years ago would have made people completely confused. The whole medium is progressing at such a rapid rate now, and I'm fortunate enough to be here to see it.

The conferences all had their strengths and their weaknesses, but amidst some of the usual and expected announcements were some truly inspiring games. I, for one, have too many games I would like to play to even list. A few of the highlights that come to mind right now are Splinter Cell Blacklist, Tomb Raider, Curiosity, Beyond: Two Souls, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, and just so many more.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will one day accumulate enough money to fly out to L.A. and go to E3, it's just something that I must eventually do. What I would prefer though, is to be lucky enough to take a game that I have been working on to the show. Now that would seriously make me a happy young man.

Remember, whilst it's fine to bitch and moan, because if we're honest it's a very fun thing to do, deep down we need to recognise just how fantastic and vibrant the future of this industry is. We're all experiencing a massive shift in so many aspects of how we perceive video games, and I'm bloody loving it.


the triple a indie developers

Whilst the title might sound self-contradictory, the phenomena is now a perfectly valid and real one. A relatively large amount of development leads have been leaving their studios along with their high-up jobs and huge salary, and are seeking out an independent development experience. They're forming smaller studios, making smaller games, but most importantly; making the games that they've wanted to make all along. 

One day I'd probably love to delve into what events have coincided to provide the industry with the perfect situation in which to be an 'indie' developer. Just as much as I'd probably love to work out what an 'indie' developer really even is. However, for now, this clear movement towards making these more creative games without the constrictions of big-time publishers is fascinating enough.

Jordon Mechner, Peter Molyneux, David Jaffe, John Watson, Tim Schafer. These once Triple A developers, now making games without the pressure that comes alongside a hundred million dollar budget. They are also just a few examples, out of the hundreds or others, of people who have ditched these large-scale studio environments.

We're in a time now where these innovative, creative, and quite frankly, genius people are saying that they want to make the games they haven't had the freedom to. As well as that, we're in a time where these people have the ability to do something about it. Forming a smaller studio is no longer a ridiculous concept. With the rise of Steam, XBLA, PSN, and probably most notably, the iOS platform; selling smaller games has never been more easy. I, myself, am working with 9 other people on an iOS game. The difficulty and hard-work is still undoubtedly there, but the intensity of publishers constantly requesting updates, and setting deadlines and expectations for sales is gone.

This is one of the most incredible times to be a developer. The avenues are near-infinite, the audience bigger than ever, and the technology the most impressive and intuitive it has ever been. I, for one, could not be happier with this new direction in the games industry. When Peter Molyneux, a hero of mine, is outright saying that he now has the ability to make the game of his dreams; well,  that makes me an extremely excited and content young man.