To be a successful at anything you need to be blind to a certain level of negativity. You need to be forward looking, positive, confident in your own opinions.. and most of all you need to be excited about what you’re working on.
This is what Peter Molyneux’s special ability is. It isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s a awesome trait and it should never be lost.
It’s is a hugely powerful tool when talking to publishers and investors. It gets you funding. Gets your project green lit.
The game is going to take 12 months longer than expected? Let me explain why we want 10 million dollars more to really nail it and make you money. It’s not even about a game in that situation – it’s about selling the idea, the pitch, the situation.
They’re selling magazines that no-one buys. We have the internet. So the best way to get sales is to get exclusives. Missed exclusives are missed sales. If a magazine comes out next week that has Half-Life 3 exclusive info you’re gonna go buy it. They probably wouldn’t get that exclusive if they’d previously dug up a bunch of dirt on Gabe.
So of course they’re going to eat up anything Peter says. They’re not going to question it. They’re not going to stop and say “hang on, remember that last interview you did with the cube thing – that ended a bit shit didn’t it? I don’t think we want to print any more of your bullshit – we’ll wait until the game comes out and review it.”.
Replace publishers with kickstarter backers, the traditional press with social media. Release on Early Access. Now the old rules don’t work.
The game is going to take 12 months longer than expected? Fuck you scamming pricks – finish it right now.
Your backers understand your game. They can see your game. They can see what it has, what it doesn’t have. They can see your work rate. They have long memories and will use everything you say against you. Everything is about what you produce. If you’re producing more bullshit than content you’re going to be in trouble down the line.
But backers are also stupid, petty, shortsighted, self-centered, volatile and pedantic. They don’t understand the process. They’re not going to understand that a feature you talked about 8 months ago not being in the game is a casualty of game design – not a broken promise. So it’s best to not talk about it until it’s done.
The Online Press
The online gaming press consists of pasting stuff from the traditional presses websites and pasting stuff from the front page of reddit. There’s no investigation, no checking up, no journalism.
So if you piss enough of your backers off that they get onto the reddit front page – you’re going to have to answer some tough questions. Once one website publishes a news articles they all publish it. Suddenly people who had backed your game on a whim 2 years ago and have never even redeemed the steam key are going to be outraged of your abandonment of the original vision.
Now it’s an airing of grievances. Everyone you accidentally stumbled into. Everyone who has worked for you. Every promise you’ve broken. Every idea that you haven’t implemented. Your massive house.
Had a 30 year career? Shaped the industry? Made some of our favourite games? We don’t care – we want you to strip off, crawl around on broken glass and beg for our forgiveness. And even then, even if you admit that you fucked up – we’re still not going to forgive you. We’re going to force you out of the industry. Because our increasingly irrelevant website needs more pageviews.
Lessons For Developers
- Under-promise on everything
- Don’t bullshit
- Hype, faked demos, faked trailers hurt you in the long run
- Don’t talk about stuff until it’s done, in game, and you’re happy with it
- Be in the community
- Don’t abandon your PC backers for mobile/console money
Lessons For Backers
- You paid $20. It’s still their game, you’re not the head designer.
- Opt out of hype – believe only gameplay
- Be understanding – but never stand for being purposely deceived
- You’re making the industry better
- Vote with your wallet
Lessons for Peter Molyneux
Get excited in private. Fund your own games. Never retire.