Molyneux: Minecraft is 'most impressive' game of last 10 years

Peter Molyneux explains why he still feels a kinship for gaming with a PC and a mouse
Peter Molyneux explains why he still feels a kinship for gaming with a PC and a mouse

To most gamers, Peter Molyneux needs little introduction. Not only is he a great British games designer, he is one of the gaming industry's most high-profile developers.

Inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) and awarded an OBE back in 2004, Peter was most recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Game Developers Choice Awards, in addition to receiving a BAFTA Fellowship at the 2011 British Academy Video Games Awards.

So it's already been a great year for the man widely credited with inventing the god game genre with 1989's Populous, the second major title to come out of his first studio, Bullfrog Productions. That company was acquired by Electronic Arts in the 1990s, where Molyneux worked for a few years before founding Lionhead Studios in 1997 to launch the massively ambitious PC title Black and White.

Fourteen years later, Peter is still making games with Lionhead, and is still a vociferous supporter of PC gaming - with the PC version of Fable III set for release later in May this year. He is also creative director of Microsoft Game Studios, Europe (with Microsoft having acquired Lionhead back in 2006).

TechRadar recently caught up with Molyneux to find out a little more about his thoughts on the past, present and future of the UK's games development scene, the latest on the forthcoming PC version of Fable III, and to pump him for more info on the latest status of Milo and Kate for Kinect and lots more.

The early Britsoft scene

Firstly, we wanted to revisit those halcyon early days of 1980's Britsoft games development. What was it that originally inspired the younger Mr Molyneux to make games back then?

"Back in the 1980s I was running small business coding and developing business software for the Amiga," he reminds us. "However, I had always had this fascination for computer games - ever since I saw my first Pong machine - so in my spare time I did games coding and that eventually turned in a game called Populous. I've never done any business software programming since then!"

Many British developers and games publishers of a certain age have a tendency to look back on those pre-console days of the ZX Spectrum, C64 and (later) the Amiga with rose-tinted specs. While Peter remembers them fondly, he has no truck with that type of nostalgia.

"It was not better or worse, just very different. To start with there were no reference books, infrastructure or real community so it felt like you were inventing more than evolving in those days. I suppose the greatest difference now is that console games require a big team to produce AAA titles."

A kinship with PC gaming

All of which brings us nicely on to Lionhead's latest PC update of 2010's Xbox 360 hit, Fable III. The PC release of the game is a big deal for Microsoft, with the company taking considerable critical flak from PC gamers in recent years.

"With Fable III we tried to make the RPG elements clearer and the story more dramatic," he explains. "The PC version of the game is due out mid May and I am pleased we have been able to do this version and that we have had the time to adapt it sympathetically, as I still feel a kinship with the PC and mouse gaming."

Continuing along the PC gaming theme, Molyneux is also incredibly enthused by the recent success of Minecraft, which he describes as "truly original, a real breath of fresh air... [Minecraft designer] Markus Persson has not only shown the world that a game can be creative and that the rules of questing and levelling up can be broken but he did this singlehandedly.

Adam Hartley