Molyneux: I was wrong about Godfather’s plot – games will surpass it

Monday, 6th April 2009 10:25 GMT By Patrick Garratt


Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux’s has said his previous claim that games will produce a story “equivalent” to Godfather’s quality by 2016 is “wrong”.

“I think I was wrong about that Godfather line… I think we can surpass where the Godfather is,” he told VG247, speaking at GDC.

The exec expanded, saying gaming’s interactivity is the key to its potential story-telling greatness.

“Here’s the thing about games: you’re involved in them. And part of the stories that we tell, if we tell them in the right way, and we give you access to the right tools as you’re playing, you will feel engaged and involved in them in a way that you cannot feel engaged and involved with any film, or even book.”

Molyneux’s GDC session failed to produce a look at Lionhead’s next game, but the developer’s promised more on future plans at E3 in June.




    I disagree.

    #1 6 years ago
  2. Michael O'Connor

    Here’s a few suggestions.

    - Less space marines
    - Less fantasy settings
    - Less spiky haired teens

    That’s a good place to start.

    #2 6 years ago
  3. NiceFellow

    What is wrong with him? So far videogames have barely surpassed the worst direct to DVD nonsense and late night made for TV movies.

    Compared to The Godfather’s depth games are currently nowhere. But suddenly, because they’re interactive they’ll surpass it?

    Sorry, but by 2016, if we’re lucky, games might get to the level of a decent Hollywood movie. But unless some serious changes take place I don’t see them surpassing film/literature for content.

    Of course, maybe he just thinks The Godfather is a movie with a plot and has no grasp of its deeper thematic content.

    #3 6 years ago
  4. Quiiick

    “… you will feel engaged and involved in them in a way that you cannot feel engaged and involved with any film, or even book.”

    In other words, Mr. Molyneux, it’s different than the movie-experience but not necessarily better.

    #4 6 years ago
  5. Shatner

    I don’t think plot/narrative/characterisation should be the holy grail of games in general. Sure, plot adds a lot to a game (look at how it fattens a slender experience like Bioshock, for example). My three favourite games have no plot at all (ok, one has a ‘setting’ but that’s about it).

    Narrative needs to find its place in games. Just like the plot and narrative structure of a movie is bound by different constraints than of a book, so a game is another medium with different constraints.

    Knowing what works within the constraints of the medium makes the world of difference. I didn’t particularly enjoy reading the lengthy passages of text in the dream sequences in Lost Odyssey and gained little from them. On the other hand, the slight, almost invisible plotting and characterisation in games like Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and even Rez work with their medium to a more harmonius effect – making unique experiences that cannot be emulated in any other medium.

    #5 6 years ago
  6. Michael O'Connor

    “Sorry, but by 2016, if we’re lucky, games might get to the level of a decent Hollywood movie. But unless some serious changes take place I don’t see them surpassing film/literature for content.”

    There are already example of good storytelling in the medium if you know where to look. They might be a dime a dozen, but then again, so are decent movies.

    Rez. Ico. Shadow of the Colossus. Three examples off the top of my head. Artistic, intelligent, minimalist, but intelligent in how they drag the player into the messages they are trying to convey, which is the defining point of real art, surely?

    Why Peter feels the need for the greatest gaming stories to be compared to a mafia movie is beyond me. That’s like saying a drawing has to look like the Mona Lisa to be real art.

    #6 6 years ago
  7. Patrick Garratt

    Interesting. I agree that narrative doesn’t have to be an essential element of a great game, but then I do get sucked in if the plot appeals. If the plot’s supposed to be an essential element – a “proper” RPG, for example – I can’t play the game unless I’m completely on board with the narrative. If I’m not, I deconstruct the game’s elements and feel as though I’m wasting my time. But then, “place” is just as important in that respect.

    #7 6 years ago
  8. Shatner

    OK, I’m feeling quite uncomfortable now.

    That’s two separate news stories where O’conner is echoing similar sentiments to me. His referencing of Ico, Rez and SotC is uncanny. I call shenanigans.

    I’m going for a lie down.

    #8 6 years ago
  9. Michael O'Connor

    Pat: Genre’s definitely a big part of it. There’s nothing harder to swallow than a plot-line in a beat-em-up, but an RPG without a decent story? That’s losing half the experience.

    It’s just unfortunate some many of those stories are pants.

    “OK, I’m feeling quite uncomfortable now.

    That’s two separate news stories where O’conner is echoing similar sentiments to me. His referencing of Ico, Rez and SotC is uncanny. I call shenanigans.”

    Rez, Ico, and Shadow of the Colossus are my favourite games of the the last generation, and easily amongst my favourite games in the entire history of the medium, *because* of their story-telling approach.

    It might surprise you that when I post, my opinions are based on my own personal, usually well researched thoughts, and not always deliberate attempts to troll fanboys to elevate my ego. I’m as capable of agreeing with people as I am of disagreeing with them; it doesn’t matter who they are, you included.

    #9 6 years ago
  10. g00nerz

    Molyneux is the biggest numpty in gaming. I don’t know why but I just don’t like the man. Can’t figure out why. Hmm. Just an annoying git I suppose.

    #10 6 years ago
  11. Michael O'Connor

    Might I take this moment to say that I always thought The Godfather was a bit crap? I never did understand the fuss.

    #11 6 years ago
  12. Shatner

    Oh, I’d just like to say that me mentioning “my three favourite games” and also mentioning “Ico, Rez and Shadow of the Colossus” does not mean that those three games are my favourites.

    For those that are interested:

    1) Tetris
    2) DRoD (KDD edition)
    3) Space Giraffe

    You can try all of those games for free and DRoD’s free demo (and one of the most ingenious games I’ve ever played) will probably keep you quiet for weeks before you get to the end of it!

    Ico, SotC and Rez are also quite good games.

    /waits for Pat to say something like “I really ought to play Rez but never got around to it”

    #12 6 years ago
  13. Patrick Garratt

    Played Rez a bit. It’s alright. Too poncy. Just because it’s “arty” doesn’t mean it’s the best thing ever. Some of the stuff written about that game is bewildering. I was too drunk to play Ico properly. I’ve never played SotC.

    I’m with you on Tetris. It’s amazing.

    #13 6 years ago
  14. Patrick Garratt

    Michael – I think the word that best sums up Godfather I and II is “worthy”.

    The word best associated with Godfather III is “shit”.

    #14 6 years ago
  15. Michael O'Connor

    I still think Space Giraffe is pants.

    “I’ve never played SotC.”

    All hope is lost.

    #15 6 years ago
  16. Patrick Garratt

    Yeah, it’s not good. I will sort it out. Although I probably won’t.

    #16 6 years ago
  17. Shatner

    Pat, this may sound elitist but you really need to play the final (5th) stage of Rez to appreciate it. You need to beat the 4 main stages before the 5th becomes available but it genuinely elevates the entire game. Honest.

    Peter doesn’t like The Godfather either :shock:

    #17 6 years ago
  18. CastellanSpandrell

    Ignore him. He may just go away.

    #18 6 years ago
  19. Syrok

    I didn’t like The Godfather movies either. The books were alright though.

    #19 6 years ago
  20. Retroid

    I’m very confused.

    I must now hate Pat & Mr O’Connor for not liking Rez & Space Giraffe respectively, yet I must side with Shatner for loving Tetris and Space Giraffe.


    #20 6 years ago
  21. Patrick Garratt

    Shatner – I may play it on 360, then.

    #21 6 years ago
  22. Retroid

    Make sure you do, it’s Great! ^_______________^

    #22 6 years ago
  23. NiceFellow

    Michael I’ve played those games – but despite how good Ico, etc. is vs other games, they still lag behind films/books by a fair bit.

    I’m actually a big fan of how far games can change in regard to delivering more than just a game experience, but out of thousands and thousands of games only a few so far have contained anything of real worth – I don’t mean narrative, but actual depth of character, emotional content and a theme.

    ICO does, as does Silent Hill 2 and Shadow, but they are the shining lights and they still pale next other mediums.

    I really do want to see games expand their scope but this kind of foolish posturing is nonsense and deserves ridicule.

    I see no evidence that he even knows what he’s talking about or has real reasons for saying it other than posturing.

    #23 6 years ago
  24. DaMan

    SotC had no story and no gameplay. That “game” doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned alongside Silent Hill.

    #24 6 years ago
  25. Gamoc

    Why has nobody mentioned Metal Gear Solid yet?

    #25 6 years ago
  26. Blerk

    Because MGS’s story is unintelligible shit? :-D

    I quite like the games, but they completely lost the plot about half way into the first game and then steadily got even worse. I haven’t played MGS4, I dread to think what that one’s like.

    #26 6 years ago
  27. Michael O'Connor

    “Why has nobody mentioned Metal Gear Solid yet?”

    Because its the worst example of good storytelling in the industry?

    It’s fun to get wrapped up in the ridiculously complicated backstory and history if you’re into that kind of thing, and try to figure it all out, but it’s by no stretch strong storytelling. It’s too pretentious.

    #27 6 years ago
  28. limulder

    “Because MGS’s story is unintelligible shit?”

    I won’t argue that. Games like Bioshock, Fallout, etc. do a much better job at telling a story. However, I’ve never thought it was the plots that made MGS so special. What makes MGS a cut above most other games is the character development: Snake is such a wonderfully complex character: heroic, selfish, tormented, tragic. I would love for more games to have characters as flawed and as compelling as Snake, or many of the other MGS characters.

    Plus, Kojima has these brilliant ways developing characters so unique to the medium: [spoilers] think about the beginning of Act 4 when Snake arrives at Shadow moses and how Kojima uses the flashbacks of a young virile snake from MGS1 and how the decrepit, forgotten Shadow Moses becomes a metaphor for snake, himself. Or when snake is the microwave chamber, and you effectively have to feel his suffering to get through by wailing on that triangle button like your life depended on it.

    MGS may not be the epitome of storytelling, but it really is one of the high points in gaming character development.

    #28 6 years ago
  29. Gekidami

    “Games like Bioshock, Fallout, etc. do a much better job at telling a story.”
    I disagree, they make a better job of making an interesting setting, installing lore then telling a story based in them.

    #29 6 years ago
  30. Bulk Slash

    I agree with Molyneux, games have the potential to tell far more compelling and personal stories than movies, the only real barrier is the enormous complexity involved in making modern videogames.

    #30 6 years ago
  31. Shatner

    How can anyone say that a series of games that routinely feature characters soiling themselves is pretentious? There’s loads of humour in those games and I think it suits its critics to take it far more seriously than the games take themselves. Burping monkeys in leather nappies anyone?

    Pretentious! Ha! Now Braid. That’s a pretentious game.

    #31 6 years ago
  32. wz

    I think telling a great story directly conflicts with the freedom of the player.

    #32 6 years ago
  33. Gamoc

    The actual storytelling in MGS is superb, it’s just that the story itself is overblown and excessive.

    #33 6 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.