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Molyneux on Design

The Future of Games from a Design Perspective on GameSpy offers a recap of a discussion of game design at the DICE Summit given by famed designer Peter Molyneux. Along the way, he offers a simple summary of how good game design is suited to simple summaries:

Molyneux pointed out that whenever you try to tell a friend about a great book or a great movie, they often ask "What's it about?" A game is no different. Successful games can be summed up in one line, no matter how wild or unconventional the final gameplay or technology behind it. For example, Populous is summed up with the idea: "You are a God." "Build your own theme park" is the concept behind Molyneux's Theme Park. The concept is something people can easily grab on to, easily understand -- they know they want to play the game before they even see it. "This is the lynchpin of developing a game," Molyneux explained.

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37. Re: No subject Mar 8, 2004, 17:41 Darsint
 
"Motyr: You are a soldier in WW2
Call of Duty: You are a soldier in WW2

They're both clearly great..."

Apparantly every exec that hears that line agrees, if the number of WW2 games is any indication.

Designer: "So, we've got this game idea: You're a soldier in WW2..."
Suit: "Stop right there! Fantastic!"

And this year, "You're a soldier in Vietnam..."

 
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36. I think what he's saying is... Mar 8, 2004, 08:18 Eon
 
...that every game that was great could be summed up in one sentence by the guys implementing it. It was, after all, a talk directed at people who make games, right?

Let's get one thing straight - when it comes to getting a game designed, implemented and brought to market - Warren Spector is a CHILD compared to Peter Molyneux.

I don't mean to criticise Warren, here, I personally view him very much as the Western version of Shigeru Miyamoto. If you're talking Design then I'd love to hear anything Warren has to say, but if you're talking the Design Process then you need to shut up and listen to the man who has more succesfull projects under his belt than just about anybody.


End of fucking line.
This comment was edited on Mar 8, 08:19.
 
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35. No subject Mar 8, 2004, 07:24 space captain
 
but that is just standard practice... every project as big as a video game has an intensive planning stage that involves all kinds of one line summations, as well as intensive outlines, design documents, etc. etc.

the thing that pisses me off here is that Molyneaux is basically claiming to have the secret to a "great game", and that the secret is a very common and banal task that applies to everything

_____________________________________________
Give me slack. Or kill me.
 
______________________________________________
"When the bomb drops it'll be a bank holiday
Everybody happy in their tents and caravans
Everybody happy in their ignorance and apathy
No one realizes until the television breaks down..."

- SUBHUMANS
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34. No subject Mar 8, 2004, 07:23 Nexus
 
In some ways the concept of having a very distilled concept of what you're going to produce also echos the advice many give for producing novels too. You distil the idea you're attempting to convey down to something simple, then during fleshing out of the story, throw away ideas that contradict that concept or dilute it.

There's nothing dumb about it - it's just a piece of wisdom that sounds very simple, but could easily be done wrongly if you didn't understand / know about it.

 
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33. Re: philosophy is not his strong suit Mar 8, 2004, 01:24 Scottish Martial Arts
 
He's simply saying that the concept of the game should be something you want to play.

I think he is also talking about the importance of a mission statement. It describes what the ultimate goal is in a very clear and concise manner. Thus when ideas are proposed you refer back to your mission statement and then determine if what has been suggested fits in with the overall aim. Mission Statements arn't always necessary for all situations but I would imagine that the design of computer game would require one.

I've been playing a lot of Homeworld 2 this weekend so I'll use it as an example. If I was the guy who wrote the mission statement for HW2's design it would go something like this: A streamlined, more focused version of Homeworld. You then develop criteria based upon this statement to judge design ideas. For example: Makes the game easier to play or capitalizes on the stengths of HW1. Then during the design process ideas would be compared against these criteria and judged accordingly. Thus everything you put into the finished product somehow facilitates the experience you initially set out to create.

This is called basic project management and is absolutely necessary for a task with even a small degree of complexity. As an example of what happens when this isn't followed just look at the Battlecruiser series.
This comment was edited on Mar 8, 01:38.
 
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32. Re: philosophy is not his strong suit Mar 8, 2004, 00:53 aguita
 
I think everyone is missing his point. What he is trying to say is that your game needs to have something compelling the listener to want to play.

How many of you actually read the article? From the comments I would say very few. The article is discussing how he breaks game design into 6 elements -- one of them being game concept.

<i> "Molyneux divided game design into six important elements and talked about where each is going: Concept, Setting, Simulation, Technology, Story, and Gameplay. Although many of his examples were from his library of past work, the audience was also made privy to some developments in Black & White 2 and Fable. On to the talk! " </i>

The section about game concept is what is quoted above. He's simply saying that the concept of the game should be something you want to play.

However, I agree with what people are saying overall though: You can spin almost any game to have a compelling concept if you search hard enough.

This comment was edited on Mar 8, 00:54.
 
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31. philosophy is not his strong suit Mar 7, 2004, 23:20 space captain
 
its a retarded statement... anybody can sum up anything in one line - the simple fact is that such a summation is hardly accurate when it comes to complex concepts such as video games

_____________________________________________
Give me slack. Or kill me.
 
______________________________________________
"When the bomb drops it'll be a bank holiday
Everybody happy in their tents and caravans
Everybody happy in their ignorance and apathy
No one realizes until the television breaks down..."

- SUBHUMANS
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30. No subject Mar 7, 2004, 21:02 Silicon Avatar
 
<i>But I bet you think John Carmack is a God himself</I>

Why are you dragging Carmack into this? Lame. Stick to the issues.

Molyneux makes his opinion on game theory and other people disagree. Shocker.

Having an artificial limitation like "must be able to sum game up into one line" is pretentious and self-limiting.

 
Avatar 18037
 
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29. Re: Head out of arse please! Mar 7, 2004, 20:21 Dredd
 
I have no reason to doubt Mr. Molyneux's ability to create games, but I have to disagree with his statement that a game must be able to be summed up in one sentence. I think of my favorite games of all time (Privateer, Ultima 7, Fallout 2, Deus Ex, and a few others) and I have a hard time sumarizing them in one sentence.

Dredd
Newspaper Delivery Man and College Student
Mesa, Arizona, USA


 
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28. Re: Head out of arse please! Mar 7, 2004, 19:13 Parallax Abstraction
 
"You are a Master Chief, a superengineered soldier who is called to destroy a fanatical aliens species for control of a vast enigmatic ring-shaped space construct with the help of a onboard supercomputer from your crashed battleship." ???

Or better yet, "It's a first-person shooter, just like all the others."

Or perhaps an alternative, "It's just like every other one, except this one has a planetary ring."

Parallax Abstraction
Technical Consultant and Future Microplay Owner
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
 
Parallax Abstraction
Geek Bravado | YouTube (Watch/Rate/Comment on my shows!)
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27. Re: Head out of arse please! Mar 7, 2004, 19:12 Parallax Abstraction
 
Summing up successful games in one line huh? Well telling me *You are a God* will not make me want to buy a game. I would want tknow more. The bloke is so far up his own ass its untrue.

But I bet you think John Carmack is a God himself, right? Peter Molyneux knows nothing but a company that releases tech demos and calls them games deserves acclaim. Right...

Parallax Abstraction
Technical Consultant and Future Microplay Owner
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
 
Parallax Abstraction
Geek Bravado | YouTube (Watch/Rate/Comment on my shows!)
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26. Re: No subject Mar 7, 2004, 18:33 Tango
 
and "finding wood" is the brilliance that is Black & White.


Molyneux has done some excellent games. I think to take his comment about successful games being summed up in one line too literally is to miss the point - obviously he wasn't saying that to describe two games as "you are a soldier in WW2" is to say they are identical. In fact, Mortyr can be described in one word: shit.

But almost every original game you can think of can be summed up in a short sentence to describe what it is that nobody thought of before.

That would not be enough to get a publisher within a mile of their premises!!
No obviously not. But it might be enough of a premise to get them to think, "that hasn't been done like that before." Although I imagine project directors at EA Sports must be kinda running out of one-liners :p


This comment was edited on Mar 7, 18:36.
 
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25. Re: Head out of arse please! Mar 7, 2004, 18:29 hebrew_national
 
Well telling me *You are a God* will not make me want to buy a game.

Don't hold your breath for anyone to be saying that to you directly.

 
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24. Re: No subject Mar 7, 2004, 17:36 Learned Hand
 
"Peter Molyneux is quite overrated, IMO."

I don't know if successful games can be summed up in one line, but you've successfully summed up Molyneux in two words.

 
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23. Re: Head out of arse please! Mar 7, 2004, 17:22 madbunny
 
Yes, but alternatively does *You are God* explain Populous enough? No. Would you buy a game if someone just said *You play a soldier*?? That would not be enough to get a publisher within a mile of their premises!!

 
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22. Re: Head out of arse please! Mar 7, 2004, 16:42 Razerious
 
"You are a Master Chief, a superengineered soldier who is called to destroy a fanatical aliens species for control of a vast enigmatic ring-shaped space construct with the help of a onboard supercomputer from your crashed battleship."

Are all those excessive words really necessary to explain what you Halo is about? (PS: The answer is no)

 
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21. Re: hmm Mar 7, 2004, 16:42 The Truth
 
I like several others, taught my monster to throw poop at enemy buildings.

Good pet poop throwing monkey!

------
Leading the "Support our Arrow keys" movement!
 
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Diablo & Diablo 2 for the DS, it makes sense Blizzard!
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20. Re: hmm Mar 7, 2004, 16:24 Saba
 
no, no, I think it's "Throw poop!"

It was all about teaching your Avatar to throw his/her/its poop off the friggin Island (or at the other village). It was funny how the Economics of Poop was so unbalanced (no demand, y'know), that it had to be patched. Heck, it was probably why so many goddamn villaged faced <eerie_whisper>'deeeaaaatth'</e_w>


This comment was edited on Mar 7, 16:43.
 
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19. Re: Head out of arse please! Mar 7, 2004, 16:02 human
 
Yeah, there are plenty of successful games that one line doesnt do justice too.

"You are a Master Chief, a superengineered soldier who is called to destroy a fanatical aliens species for control of a vast enigmatic ring-shaped space construct with the help of a onboard supercomputer from your crashed battleship." ???

One line is need to SELL or PITCH a game idea to a publisher, maybe, but that has nothing to do with how good the game itself is.

 
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18. Re: No subject Mar 7, 2004, 15:13 JediLuke
 
?

Exactly.

~Steve

 
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37 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
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