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Molyneux – The greatest story ever told will be in a computer game

Tuesday, 7th April 2009 12:59 GMT By Patrick Garratt

petermolyneux2

Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux thinks games will surpass the level of storytelling seen in the Godfather. Bold claims. Not bold enough. He’s told VG247 that games will tell the best story in the world. Ever.

“The greatest story ever told? I think it’s going to be in a computer game,” he said.

“And I think that if I play the greatest story ever told in the same game as you play it, your greatest story is going to be different to my greatest story.

“And that is power.”

Not only will games tell the best story in the world, but if Molyneux has his way it’ll be his team that creates it.

He added: “That ambition to do that, to write that story, or to write that game that allows you to experience that story, is definitely something Lionhead Studios wants to do.”

The best story ever. Hopefully it involves chocolate cake and getting up later than 5.00am.

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49 Comments

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  1. Michael O'Connor

    You know, I won’t deny one thing; Fable 2 took an interesting story-telling approach. The way in which it used the dog (trying to avoid spoilers) was especially smart as a story element.

    Even then though, it was the same story-device that both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus had already done, and done well.

    It’s a long, long way from being the greatest story ever told though.

    I look forward to seeing him try, but unless he hires Shakespeare, it’s not going to happen.

    #1 5 years ago
  2. Tiger Walts

    How many articles have there now been dragged from this story?

    #2 5 years ago
  3. Michael O'Connor

    “How many articles have there now been dragged from this story?”

    Two or three.

    But hey, it’s an interesting topic, so I’m not complaining.

    #3 5 years ago
  4. Lutz

    Six-gun Pete shoots his load again.

    #4 5 years ago
  5. Shatner

    10 PRINT “HELLO MUM”
    20 GOTO 10

    Greatest story ever told, Pete. Right there

    #5 5 years ago
  6. Michael O'Connor

    30 IF 10 = “UR MOM” THEN QUIT.

    #6 5 years ago
  7. Doomsayer

    40 IF “PETE” USES WORD “Greatest” TAKE AWAY FROM COKE
    50 REHAB

    #7 5 years ago
  8. Truk

    Warning: Unreachable code (30)
    Error: invalid comparison (30)
    Cannot continue after earlier errors. Bailing out.

    #8 5 years ago
  9. Johnny Cullen

    Fable II was a decent start but if he honestly thinks he can create the best story ever, good luck to him because it aint gonna happen.

    If anyone is gonna tell a great story in the gaming industry, only Kojima, Ueda or Sakaguchi (depending on if he can create a game that surpasses FFVII)can.

    #9 5 years ago
  10. Shatner

    Perhaps Pete should get into Dwarf Fortress (if he hasn’t already).

    It’s an astoundingly rich game with truly gobsmacking levels of detail. The learning curve is pretty high but for those that get into it the rewards are plentiful.

    The game covers so much stuff that many folk have chronicled their gameplay exploits. What you get is a collection of beardy, dwarfy stories that read like a Tolkien fan-fiction convention.

    It’s impressive that these events are based on happenings in gameplay – not pre-scripted narrative. It’s an amazing game if you’ve got the tolerance for its lack of graphics and stacks of information.

    #10 5 years ago
  11. Truk

    Yeah, DF is awesome. Boatmurdered.

    #11 5 years ago
  12. Michael O'Connor

    Kojima is a hack. His stories might be fun for the fans to analysis in their ridiculous counter-complexity, but they’re not good stories. They’re far too self-aware, and completely impenetrable for most people. Not to mention they pretty much made up the whole story as they went along. The best story ever told is one that will be understood and appreciated by everyone (well, anyone with half a brain) who experiences it.

    Sakaguchi has some inspirational ideas, but his execution leaves something to be desired. As long as he keeps falling back on the same unoriginal Japanese premises and stereotypes, his stories will never be anything more than “good”.

    Ueda has already created my favourite game story of all time (Ico), and Shadow of the Colossus does it as well despite being too ambiguous for its own good, but it’s worrisome when the guy himself admits that the emotions and feelings that people took from those games were never deliberately intended.

    “It’s impressive that these events are based on happenings in gameplay – not pre-scripted narrative. It’s an amazing game if you’ve got the tolerance for its lack of graphics and stacks of information.”

    ^ This.

    Our own memorable experiences stem from what we experience directly in our own lives. How we become attached to things through our own interactions and immersion with them. Video games are unique because of how they can allow us to interact with them directly.

    We need more reliance on game mechanics to convey the story. As I even said above, the dog in Fable II was a very good example of how to apply this.

    I’ll be very impressed if we see this “greatest story” in my lifetime.

    #12 5 years ago
  13. Shatner

    Nice one Truk. I love DeceasedCrab’s “Lets Play” videos on YouTube :D

    #13 5 years ago
  14. tenthousandgothsonacid

    Does he ring you up every time he’s in the pub ?

    Stop encouraging him by publishing this nonsense.

    #14 5 years ago
  15. DaMan

    ” Sakaguchi (depending on if he can create a game that surpasses FFVII)can ”

    that has already been done without him xD, in Xenogears, Chrono Trigger (even before FF7), Star Ocean 2, Shadow Hearts and Vagrant Story. then again, half of PSOne Squaresoft games were never released in Europe, so it’s understandable you guys think that.

    #15 5 years ago
  16. G1GAHURTZ

    Hands up if you know this difference between watching a story unfold and being part of an adventure.

    #16 5 years ago
  17. Thamer

    agree with DaMan… a lot of games story have been one of the best stories i every lived in a videogame..

    Mr.Peter Molyneux saying that “The greatest story ever told will be in a computer game” i think he miss a lot of games if he didn’t saw games like Xenogears, Chrono Trigger ,FF VII , Shadow Hearts , Vagrant Story and a lot more than that…

    Fable II was a misleading game and story… I liked the main concept of the game but the story was *sigh* is it really a story… I felt like playing a hack and slash game all the time..

    #17 5 years ago
  18. Michael O'Connor

    DaMan: Every single title you just mentioned suffer the exact same problems.

    They’re stereotypical stories that rely on conventional presentations and story-telling devices that are popular in their country of origin; needlessly complicated storytelling (a good story does not have to be a ridiculously convoluted one), tacky anime graphics, and a juvenile story.

    Xenogears is pretentious religious symbolism dropped into a generic anime setting.

    Chrono Trigger is fun, but it’s hardly great storytelling.

    Star Ocean 2 has a very bare bones plot, and 90% of its cast receives absolutely no character development.

    Vagrant Story barely has a story. There’s nothing original or insightful behind it, and it falls back on so many deus-ex moments that it wouldn’t matter if it did. It has a nice art style, but its story is nothing exceptional.

    Shadow Hearts was certainly different, but that doesn’t make it good. Yuri gets hung up on a chick with a short skirt. It’s far too difficult to take a story seriously when its characters are deliberate fap material.

    None of them are very unique, all of them are derivative in some fashion, and they most certainly don’t even come close to the greatest literature or film pieces in history.

    And they never will until someone with some unique creative vision comes up with a truly inspirational and original storyline in a video game where the mechanics play to the story, and we don’t have to sit down for 2 hours listening to spiky haired teenager preach vague ideas that the writer ripped from badly researched philosophy papers.

    Fuemito Ueda is the only creative designer whose come even close to this, but he’s still a long way off.

    You guys really need to start aiming a little higher than Japanese RPGs that you researched the plots for on the internet…

    “Hands up if you know this difference between watching a story unfold and being part of an adventure.”

    *raises hand*

    Most Japanese game designers are in the wrong industry, they should be making movies instead.

    #18 5 years ago
  19. NiceFellow

    Yeah right. This is getting silly now. Most developers can’t even create original games (note all those numbers in the titles and repeat rinse genres efforts) never mind achieve this.

    So far a few titles have achieved elements of involvement and genuine narrative elements driven via the interactive nature of the medium, such as Ico and SOTC, but even those are very simplistic.

    No game from Lionhead ever had shown me they can write to an acceptable level never mind the level he’s talking about. Fable 2 certainly doesn’t get any closer to what he’s talking about and as a game is only a refinement of errors made in Fable.

    So far Peter has produced some gems of games and more than a few duds, hasn’t shown the slightest ability to more than copy basic narrative ideas for existing literature and films (remembering that films borrow almost all their narrative techniques from literature).

    I can only conclude Peter has gone mad. For he’s clearly spouting nonsense.

    #19 5 years ago
  20. DaMan

    one question, Mr O’Connor sir, who are you to talk like this? everything you ‘ve just said were your personal opinionated definitions.

    and did say, SotC have a story? could you please enlighten me on what was it about?

    EDIT: and “You guys really need to start aiming a little higher than Japanese RPGs that you researched the plots for on the internet…”
    sarcasm? because I think that’s what you did. Xenogears were never released in Ireland, Michael.

    #20 5 years ago
  21. Michael O'Connor

    “one question, Mr O’Connor sir, who are you to talk like this? everything you’ve just said were your personal opinionated definitions.”

    I never said it wasn’t.

    I don’t see people the world over sitting down in universities discussing the intellectual merits of Xenogears. They’re too busy discussing history’s real classics to waste their time on something so utterly pretentious.

    Xenogears took a famous philosopher’s ideas and put them in the mouth of a spiky haired anime teenager. This is not great storytelling.

    “and did say, SotC have a story? could you please enlighten me on what was it about?”

    I could write an entire essay on Shadow of the Colossus’ plot, exposition, structure, and underlying messages… if you really want me to.

    #21 5 years ago
  22. Thamer

    Michael O’Connor saying that SotC have a story that can be describe in one sentence…

    The things you said about the JRPG is true but still the stories still stand still and have a potential that make it the best ever no games can reach what they did..

    #22 5 years ago
  23. Thamer

    I don’t want to be understand wrong but SotC will be in my Top 10 games not because the story but the gameplay will be a big thing that Mr.Fuemito Ueda made it perfect in his game…

    that’s all for me…

    #23 5 years ago
  24. DaMan

    Xenogears’ plot wasn’t even entirely based on Nietzsche’s books, they only used them.

    ” I don’t see people the world over sitting down in universities discussing the intellectual merits of Xenogears. They’re too busy discussing history’s real classics to waste their time on something so utterly pretentious. ”
    point being? this is silly. Xenogears is a videogame, and it was meant er, to be played you know..

    and videogames aren’t even art in the same sense as movies or literature. and I hope they will never be. Because I like playing games, not being a part of a virtual adventure.

    so what was SoTC story about? no need for explaining the underlying opinions, er, I mean messages. just what was it about?

    #24 5 years ago
  25. Michael O'Connor

    “The things you said about the JRPG is true but still the stories still stand still and have a potential that make it the best ever no games can reach what they did”

    Hey, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed most of those games, and their stories were fun while they lasted. And maybe even of the best stories SO FAR.

    But then, silent movies was considered amazing… until they invented film that could record sound. And how many silent movies of the thousands made do people remember? One, maybe two?

    The “greatest gaming story” ever made will be one that transcends any cultural boundaries, relies on no cultural stereotypes, and will be understood, appreciated, loved and analysed by the whole world.

    We’re not even *close* to reaching that.

    Maybe *one* of those games will be remembered in a centuries time, when gaming buffs look back at history and the year that gaming finally started being treated as a possible medium of artistic expression. Until 40 years ago, nobody considered movies an artistic medium. 70 years ago, music was considered a cancer on modern society.

    But all of those? Not a chance.

    My money is on Ico being that game.

    “so what was SoTC story about? no need for explaining the underlying opinions, er, I mean messages. just what was it about?”

    Ignoring the underlying messages of a story completely defeats the point. That’s like saying that The Godfather is “just a movie about the Mafia”, or that A Christmas Carol is “just about a dream”. The underlining messages are *part* of the story, and its the defining factor that separates entertainment from art.

    #25 5 years ago
  26. Hunam

    …but Planescape: Torment is already out!

    #26 5 years ago
  27. DaMan

    Michael O’Connor, you ‘re a strange guy.

    you do realize there’re different ways of presenting stories in videogames, and there’re different opinions on what should games be like?

    ” Ignoring the underlying messages of a story completely defeats the point. That’s like saying that The Godfather is “just a movie about the Mafia”, or that A Christmas Carol is “just about a dream”. ”
    Nonsense. SotC had no plot, it was just a virtual adventure with a well done setting.

    #27 5 years ago
  28. Michael O'Connor

    “Nonsense. SotC had no plot, it was just a virtual adventure with a well done setting.”

    That tells me everything I need to know right there about your insight into gaming’s capacity storytelling.

    Mind you, I *did* say that Ico did it might better than SotC did. I said SotC was good at it, but not the most defining example in the history of the medium.

    If I wanted to watch some guy paraphrase Nietzsche for an hour and a half, I’d go watch a French movie.

    #28 5 years ago
  29. Blerk

    SotC had a great story. The fact that it manages to tell it magnificently without shoving it in your face with dozens of cut-scenes and voice-over explanations makes it an even greater achievement. Same goes for Ico.

    #29 5 years ago
  30. Michael O'Connor

    “SotC had a great story. The fact that it manages to tell it magnificently without shoving it in your face with dozens of cut-scenes and voice-over explanations makes it an even greater achievement. Same goes for Ico.”

    ^ This.

    Try to discover its story for yourself, instead of researching some essay SquallLover4621 posted up on the internet 10 years ago in an attempt to justify Xenogear’s pretentious plot.

    The two most common mistakes that young audiences make about good-storytelling is that the more convoluted a story is, the better it is.

    The fact that Final Fantasy XII’s stories doesn’t have 100 plot-twists is one reason amongst many that I consider it’s story to be a markable improvement over every single Final Fantasy that comes before it, and nearly every single RPG too, for that matter. The fact that it was able to weave subtle character development, without having to SHOVE EVERY SINGLE DETAIL IN YOUR FACE elevates it even further.

    #30 5 years ago
  31. Shatner

    10 PRINT “YES IT IS”
    20 PRINT “NO IT ISN’T”
    30 GOTO 10

    #31 5 years ago
  32. DaMan

    Michael O’Connor , you ‘re a actually being a pretentious self-righteous twat. that’s all.

    and your four paragraphs essay over there followed by a “french movies” comment tells me everything I need to know about your insight into Nietzshe and psychology.

    #32 5 years ago
  33. Michael O'Connor

    “Michael O’Connor , you’re a actually being a pretentious self-righteous twat. that’s all.”

    No, I just have higher standards for good story-telling than you.

    #33 5 years ago
  34. DaMan

    ” Try to discover its story for yourself, instead of researching some essay SquallLover4621 posted up on the internet 10 years ago in an attempt to justify Xenogear’s pretentious plot.

    The two most common mistakes that young audiences make about good-storytelling is that the more convoluted a story is, the better it is.”
    that’s what you did with XG to be honest. and I never “justified” anything. I said that XG uses a different approach to story telling, and it’s one of the way creating a plot in videogames.

    and neither Chrono Trigger or Shadow Hearts had “convoluted” stories.

    ” No, I just have higher standards for good story-telling than you.”
    gee..
    you have a different view on videogames to begin with..

    #34 5 years ago
  35. NiceFellow

    Actually DaMan, I have to agree with the others that Ico and SOTC most definitely do have superior stories (from an artistic point of view) than pretty much any other video game.

    That they do so while also providing very enjoyable gaming experiences is part of what I admire about them.

    You don’t need to get into the story if you don’t want to – and I’d note in those titles the story is almost subliminal, and is not delivered via traditional plot, dialogue, etc. – but if you do want to pick up on the slow accumulation of various clues/narrative cues then they actually convey a great deal.

    Unlike almost every video game, but in common with the best literature and films, they also have a core theme that is clearly conveyed throughout their game play.

    I’m sorry if it seems pretentious to value this, but those two titles really have some nice depth compared to the average video game.

    They’re still pretty light fare next to literature and films, mind you, and that’s why I think ‘ole Peter is talking a big load of crappola personally.

    #35 5 years ago
  36. OrphanageExplosion

    Awesome. It’s Peter Molyneux saying random stuff that serves only to make people talk about Peter Molyneux and we keep falling for it.

    #36 5 years ago
  37. NiceFellow

    OrphanageExplosion…

    You’re right! I’m not going to bother dignifying his nonsense with further effort/comments.

    #37 5 years ago
  38. Michael O'Connor

    “and neither Chrono Trigger or Shadow Hearts had “convoluted” stories. ”

    Chrono Trigger has a FUN story, but it certainly doesn’t try to be anything more than that.

    “I said that XG uses a different approach to story telling, and it’s one of the way creating a plot in videogames.”

    It dumps religious symbolism all over the place and rattled off Nietzsche every chance it gets. Anime has been doing that for years, and so have video games. There’s nothing even remotely original about that.

    The story itself was told in a completely conventional manner – lots of text boxes that took hours to read through.

    “you have a different view on video games to begin with.”

    And thank fuck for that.

    I know. Independent thinking. Crazy idea, right.

    Nicefellow: Thank you. You put it even better than I could.

    #38 5 years ago
  39. DaMan

    ” Actually DaMan, I have to agree with the others that Ico and SOTC most definitely do have superior stories (from an artistic point of view) than pretty much any other video game. ”

    I would in fact even agree with this, but that is only if you judge games in the same way as literature or movies like I said. Not everyone thinks like that. say in example Kojima has his own way of creating games, I would rate them highly but I still can’t stand it.

    ” I’m sorry if it seems pretentious to value this, but those two titles really have some nice depth compared to the average video game. ”
    did I say it is pretentious? I said Michael O’Connor is quite a pretentious fella.

    #39 5 years ago
  40. Michael O'Connor

    “I would in fact even agree with this, but that is only if you judge games in the same way as literature or movies like I said. Not everyone thinks like that. say in example Kojima has his own way of creating games, I would rate them highly but I still can’t stand it.”

    I’m basing them on their ability to use the medium of GAMING to present their themes and ideologies, NOT on the standards of “literature or movies”. I’m doing the exact opposite of what you’re saying.

    Metal Gear Solid 4 requires you to sit down passively for 2 hours between every mission, with the actual gameplay practically being a forethought. This is equatable to movies.

    Xenogears requires you to sit through streams of pretentious text. This is equatable to literature.

    THOSE are pretentious.

    The examples I choose take gaming’s unique assets and use them as a means to convey their stories, instead or relying on film and literature techniques. The only one “judging games in the same way as literature or movies” is you.

    #40 5 years ago
  41. DaMan

    ” It dumps religious symbolism all over the place and rattled off Nietzsche every chance it gets. Anime has been doing that for years, and so have video games. There’s nothing even remotely original about that.”
    YOU, Michael, haven’t played that game. try doing that, then come back here and post your opinionated stuff. at least it won’t be opionated crap, it will be just opinions.

    ” And thank fuck for that.

    I know. Independent thinking. Crazy idea, right. ”
    I wouldn’t call half of your comments such an independent thinking, I would call them violent twattery. but I digress.

    ” I’m basing them on their ability to use the medium of GAMING to present their themes and ideologies, NOT on the standards of “literature or movies”. I’m doing the exact opposite of what you’re saying. ”
    btw, did I say this isn’t my first tongue? just so that you won’t comment on grammar or something like that, you know.. okay, I’ll try to explain my point, Michael..

    I mean you judge videogames like it is the same ART as movies, just a different form of it. while some games try doing that actually (like Ico), it’s not the only way of making them, and I hope it won’t be in the future of gaming. Games are not art in the same sense as cinema, story was only a part of XG, when games completely try doing that ( like SotC ), they become a virtual reality trip.

    #41 5 years ago
  42. Michael O'Connor

    “I mean you judge videogames like it is the same ART as movies, just a different form of it. while some games try doing that actually (like Ico)”

    No, I judge it as an art of its own. A young and still juvenile art-form, but still one when it tries to be.

    And nothing in your argument makes sense. Nothing about Ico takes inspiration from film, and a huge portion of its emotion is conveyed through the actual GAMEPLAY. How is story conveyed through GAMEPLAY inspired by film?

    Are you telling that MGS4 is *less* inspired by film? MGS4 ia 8 hours of cutscenes and 5 hours of gameplay.

    90% of MGS’s inspirations come from films. Games like Ico and SotC and Rez try to convey their *own* ideas. That makes them better art by default.

    There’s nothing artistic about ripping off someone else’s ideas.

    “I wouldn’t call half of your comments such an independent thinking, I would call them violent twattery. but I digress.”

    Nice. You’re got so little to back up your points, and dislike being disagreed with, that you fall back on cheap, unoriginal flaming. It’s an old tactic.

    Enjoy your day. <3

    #42 5 years ago
  43. DaMan

    the fact is that I never did what you’ve just said.

    and no, I understand people have different opinions. I would hardly call you self righteous if I hated being disagreed with.

    #43 5 years ago
  44. Shatner

    I would.

    #44 5 years ago
  45. DaMan

    ” No, I judge it as an art of its own. A young and still juvenile art-form, but still one when it tries to be. ” and I disagree with this, I would never call games a form of art. they might have plots, but they are not art.

    ” And nothing in your argument makes sense. Nothing about Ico takes inspiration from film, and a huge portion of its emotion is conveyed through the actual GAMEPLAY. How is story conveyed through GAMEPLAY inspired by film? ”
    where did I say it takes inspiration from the film? I said Ico is a virtual reality trip, it’s not a game in the way even XG is, let alone anything else less story-heavy..

    MGS is an interactive movie, I said it is an example of presenting a plot and an example of one way of making games. I said I would rate it very highly but that’s not the only way of making videogames, and not the only way of presenting a plot in a game.

    ” Nice. You’re got so little to back up your points, and dislike being disagreed with, that you fall back on cheap, unoriginal flaming. It’s an old tactic.
    Enjoy your day. <3 ”
    that was meant as a reply to ” And thank fuck for that.

    I know. Independent thinking. Crazy idea, right. ” bit.

    #45 5 years ago
  46. Mike

    I’m a Molyneux fanboy. Go Pete. If you say that game can be made, then I believe you.

    #46 5 years ago
  47. mightyhokie

    Love you Pete, but you are over-reaching. Do you really think that a video game will ever have the effect on culture that the Bible has had? You’re a computer god, but that is with a lower-case ‘g’.

    #47 5 years ago
  48. Captain Fruitloop

    Question: if Pete thinks – as we’ve been hearing several times now over the last week – that story is so massively important……then why doesn’t Lionhead have a writer on its staff?

    #48 5 years ago
  49. No_PUDding

    Ofcourse I agree with Michael O’Connor, but if you actually believe Ueda doesn’t intend that then you have no clue.

    Maybe you don’t realise but the further he can stay away from that whole aspect, the better it will be received. And the more he and his team stay in the dark the better too.

    No logo, no official Team name, all of it goes to develop the cult/independent aspect.

    I really do think also that the story’s in Shadow of the Colossus are my favourite becuase at this early stage in the mediums development, we need to start on a basic level. Sure there’s depth to it, if you want it, or explore it, or interpret it, but we don’t know how to utilise gameplay properly yet. Let alone interactivity.

    Cannot wait for whatever comes next from Team ICO.

    #49 5 years ago