RPS: Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?
Peter Molyneux: That’s a very…
RPS: I know it’s a harsh question, but it seems an important question to ask because there do seem to be lots and lots of lies piling up.
Peter Molyneux: I’m not aware of a single lie, actually. I’m aware of me saying things and because of circumstances often outside of our control those things don’t come to pass, but I don’t think that’s called lying, is it? I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly lied, at all. And if you want to call me on one I’ll talk about it for sure.
RPS: During the Kickstarter for Godus you stated, regarding that you don’t want to use a publisher stating, “It’ll just be you and our unbridled dedication (no publishers).” And five months later you signed with a publisher.
Peter Molyneux: Absolutely. And at that time I wish we had raised enough money to not need a publisher.
RPS: But you got more than you asked–
Peter Molyneux: We could have gone and we were asked to by publishers to publish the Steam version, but we turned that down. The economics of doing Godus, unfortunately Kickstarter didn’t raise enough money. Now the trouble is with Kickstarter, you don’t really fully know how much money you need and I think most people who do Kickstarter would agree with me here. You have an idea, you think you need this much, but as most people will say with Kickstarter, if you ask for too much money up front because of the rules of Kickstarter, it’s very, very hard to ask for the complete development budget. I think Double Fine have gone back and asked for more money because development is a very, very, it’s a very confusing and bewildering time, and it’s very hard to predict what will happen.
RPS: Yes, but you know that. You’ve been working in the industry for over thirty years, you know how much money it costs to make a game and you put a specific amount–
Peter Molyneux: No, I don’t, I disagree John. I have no idea how much money it costs to make a game and anyone that tells you how much it’s going to cost to make a game which is completely a new experience is a fool or a genius.
RPS: But you have to have enough experience to know the basics of budgeting a videogame, you’ve been doing it for thirty years!
Peter Molyneux: No, I disagree. See this is where you’re wrong. I think even Hollywood struggles. Lots of films go over budget. I’ll give you an example, I had some repair works done to my house, they went over budget by 50%. I said exactly the same thing. Anything that involves creativity, you may think it should be a defined process, but it’s not. And the reason that it’s not a defined process is that the people who work on it aren’t robots, and you can’t predict whether someone is going to be brilliant and you give them a piece of code to do and they do it in a day, or whether they’re going to take a month to do it, and that’s the problem with creativity. Being creative is a very, very unpredictable force, and you try your best. You try your best to predict these things but very often you can be wrong. And I have been wrong. Every single project I have ever done, and people know this, every single project I have done, I have been wrong about the times. And I’ve been very honest about that. And the only time I have absolutely stuck to my dates was on Fable 3 and I shouldn’t have done that. I should have gone back and asked for more time.
RPS: I understand budgets can go–
Peter Molyneux: I’m running a business and god I wish to god that I could predict the time and I can assure you every single person has worked their ass off to try to make this game as quickly and effectively as they possibly can and everybody here is incredibly dedicated and still is. I mean, the Godus team were here at half past eight last night. We try as hard as we can to get things right the first time, to get a feature right the first time, we try to implement things that are going to be effective, but when you’re creating something new it’s almost impossible, John. Here’s the thing: this is what I truly believe. Making a computer game that’s entertaining and that’s incredible and that’s amazing is almost impossible, it’s almost impossible to do.
RPS: I recognise that things go over budget, obviously they do. What you said at the start was that you didn’t make enough money from the Kickstarter. You set an amount you want to make, you made about £100k more than that, you took over a half a million pounds of people’s money, knowing it wasn’t going to be enough to make the game.
Peter Molyneux: Well, I think if you talk to anyone, and this is the advice I have given to people about Kickstarter, is to not ask for too much. You cannot unfortunately ask for the actual amount you need. Because you don’t really know. This is how I based my assumption of what money we needed. We had started implementing Godus, we were working on a prototype that was really going well. I thought, ‘Oh, this looks pretty good.’ I asked everybody here, how long do you think we’ll need to develop the game in full. We all agreed that nine months was about the right amount of time to complete the game. We did the due diligence on it. We asked ourselves if there were any technical questions and it all seemed to make sense. This wasn’t me just plucking a date out of the air.
The reality came along when we chose our middleware, we had problems with the middleware. When we started implementing some of the features that were on paper, they just didn’t work. Now I wish that every single idea you ever had when you’re developing a game works first time, but they don’t. When we first released Godus in May, to some of the pledgers, we had taken an approach to this thing called the timeline and it just didn’t work. People were just not motivated by it. We went back to the drawing board on that. What I’m trying to say without going through every sort of, every bad story about development, when you’re creating something new, it’s like walking through a foggy forest. You’re never sure if you’re taking the wrong route or the right route.
I know you can call on me, John, ‘Oh you’ve got thirty years, surely you know what to do,’ but I would say that anybody who is creating something new and original and different, which Godus is, it’s almost impossible to ask for the right time, and in the end the amount of money that we have spent on making Godus is far, far exceeded what we got on Kickstarter. Far, far exceeded. Because you got to remember on Kickstarter, although we got £100k more than what we asked for, after Kickstarter take their cut, after paying VAT, you have to pay off after completing all the pledges, it’s far less than that. You do the maths, it’s that simple – you can do this math, we had 22 people here. If you take the average salary for someone in the industry, which must be about £30k, that’s 22 people, multiplied by £30k, divided by 12. You work out how many months Kickstarter money gives us.
We saw this coming, in around about March, end of March time. I knew by that time that the game was not going as it should have gone. I could have gone back to my pledges and asked for more money, but instead I went to a publisher and just signed up the mobile rights. Not the Steam rights, even though that would have made our life a lot easier to sign the Steam rights and we did have companies after us for the PC and the console rights. We ringfenced that and just did the mobile version and there were other reasons, but the money they gave us upfront far exceeded the money that we got off Kickstarter. And that was the business decision that you have to take, because you have to make these sacrifices both personally and professionally in the sake of making a great game.
Koliko je brutalan intervju, ali su sva pitanja na mestu. Interesantan je ovaj uvid u način razmišljanja Molyneuxa…