Peter Molyneux Discusses AAA Game Development, Crunch Time

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Lionhead Developer Peter “Broken Promises” Molyneux shared his charming brand of candor with Develop Online, touching on many current topics. He first commented on a growing sentiment that large, AAA games will eventually fall to smaller, social games.

“Triple-A is here to stay. When TV came along it didn’t replace the movie industry. Social gaming is like TV. It is going to co-exist because, frankly, there’s too much money in it,” Molyneux said. “Slowly the publishers are moving in on this space. They will nibble away at the market. My advice for anyone doing iPhone games is to be original, think about the things the big companies won’t try.”

He also dispelled the notion that social games are easier to make, or that they require less up-front development.

“And in regards to social games, don’t believe the hype. The hype is this: “Oh we only build 20 per cent of our game before releasing it, we do the rest after!” That’s a load of shit. It’s not true. What they should say is: “We add 80 per cent more to our game,”" Molyneux said, adding “If you release a rubbish game at the start, it’s always going to be rubbish.”

Molyneux then commented on crunch time in game development – the horror stories of which have only recently become known.

“I don’t think that crunch is possible to avoid in any creative industry. If you’re making a TV advert, a film, a building – anything creative where it’s difficult to predict what obstacles are going to be ahead of you – you’re going to face crunch,” Molyneux said. “Even lawyers crunch, for Christ’s sake. Accountants crunch. If they have to crunch, then we’re always going to have to crunch.”

This doesn’t happen because developers just love to work for twelve hours a day, however. As it turns out, developing games is hard.

“A lot of games development is all done in parallel. For example, all the level tech on Fable is done at the same stage as all the character tech and navigation – it means that everything has to meet a certain level of quality before you discover what it really is like,” Molyneux explained. “The developer’s ability to change and refine the game is then restricted down to this narrow band.”

He also made an automotive comparison, which seems to be popular with developers.

“It’s almost like test driving a car two weeks before it’s released to the general public. You’d never do that, it’d be insane to do that, but that’s what it’s like for game developers,” Molyneux said.

Read the full interview for more frank revelations about the current state of gaming.

[via Develop Online]

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