Peter Molyneux on Kinect
To kick off his presentation of Fable: The Journey at Microsoft's Spring Showcase in San Francisco, Peter Molyneux said the following:
"Set a few years after the end of Fable 3, it's a very rich and involving role-playing game that just happens to solely be controlled through Kinect. I don't know what your opinion is of Kinect or whether you think it's going to work or not work. The blogs and general reaction from the world seems to be in doubt that any title can use Kinect controls. People have concerns like, 'I don't want to leap around like a lunatic, I want to relax on the couch, I want to concentrate on the game rather than what gestures I use.' We happen to love Kinect, we think it's a great tool for telling a fantastic story, and I'd like during these next few minutes to prove that."
Look out for a full preview in our next issue which tackles whether he succeeded, but we later asked him why he seemed so defensive of Kinect. Here we present his extraordinary response, in which he decries the increasing homogeneity of the ways games use controllers, and calls for more celebration of Kinect's strengths.
This is how I sold Kinect in Fable to the team and to Redmond. I had a realisation watching my son playing console games. It wasn't a particularly good realisation. It was this: every single controller-based game I pick up now demands that I strap my left hand around the controller, my thumb to the thumbstick, my right hand to the controller and the trigger. And that is it. There are no other laws. That is carved in stone. Every experience on Xbox is the same. Those. Are. The. Rules.
Where have the days gone? Remember when we used to put our finger on one button and roll it back so we could press another button, so we could jump and shoot at the same time? Remember when we used to flick the buttons and go down the pub and exchange tips? Where's that sense of discovery in gameplay interaction gone? No, now we have rules, those rules must be obeyed by the gaming community. When I pick up a game I know how to play it, I don't even need to look at the controller. We don't even bother showing controller schematics any more.
And I'm sick of it. I'm sick to the back teeth of what we've lost from that infinite control. We've lost that joy, the joy of discovery, of not knowing how something works. That's a real joy. Why is it a curse? I don't want a second of The Journey to tell you how to play the game. I want you to find out yourself. Why am I doing it? Not because I'm lazy, but because you're discovering yourself, inventing yourself, creating yourself, is one of the core things that make games great.
Fable: The Journey will allow players to cast spells using gestures.
This isn't something I've invented or rediscovered myself. This is what Minecraft was when I first picked it up. It didn't have a manual. It broke all the rules – why can't we go back to those worlds?
And I love the fact that Kinect's not precise. I celebrate it, because I'm not precise; I'm a human being, I'm completely different from you, and different from one day to another. Some days I want to cast magic like this [gestures violently] – I'm angry. Some days I'm tired or relaxed. Why not celebrate that?
So I'm not defending Kinect, I just think we've done this very simple thing that we do all the time because we're human beings – when we get something new we expect it to be perfect but we never think imaginatively enough of the bigger picture. We expect too much of the first month and not nearly enough of ten years. We start forgetting about the bad things, after all there are terrible things with controllers – if I invented controllers today you'd just laugh me out of court – there are some terrible things with Kinect technology, but there are some wonderful things as well. Let's focus on the wonderful stuff.
I actually think, despite what everyone says, the first way of titles were great. OK there was dancing and sports but they were really good. It's an incredibly hard problem to solve. I just want this second wave of titles to prove what a wonderful world we're inventing. We're in the golden age of gaming. That's where we are now and we're about to need people like me and other designers to go crazy with their inventions, because we have to get our heads around motion control, multi-device gaming, cloud gaming. It's time to celebrate that.