Ah, Peter Molyneux.
You may remember him from such games as Fable, Black and White, and Godus. If you do, you remember him for talking about all of the things that are going to be happening in his games and then, when the game is released, you remember playing a game that can’t do any of the things that he said would be happening in the game.
Like, in Fable, he talked about having the ability to plant a tree and then, as you play the game, being able to visit where the tree was planted and watch it grow as you progressed in the game. This sounds pretty interesting, I guess… as interesting as watching trees grow, I guess… but the feature wasn’t in the game when the game came out.
This was irritating because he talked about the world and the ability plant trees in it. Had he never mentioned the trees in the first place, who would care? It’s planting a tree. This is a video game. I didn’t play this video game because I wanted a tree planting simulator. But since he hyped it, it was something that people idly thought they’d do. Hey, I’m going out and going to kill bad guys… might as well plant a tree. Watch it grow.
But when you couldn’t do this, you found yourself resenting the fact that you couldn’t plant a tree.
So Peter Molyneux actually had to up and apologize to everybody on the official Lionhead boards:
If I have mentioned any feature in the past which, for whatever reason, didn’t make it as I described into Fable, I apologise. Every feature I have ever talked about WAS in development, but not all made it. Often the reason is that the feature did not make sense. For example, three years ago I talked about trees growing as time past. The team did code this but it took so much processor time (15%) that the feature was not worth leaving in. That 15 % was much better spent on effects and combat. So nothing I said was groundless hype, but people expecting specific features which couldn’t be included were of course disappointed. If that’s you, I apologise. All I can say is that Fable is the best game we could possibly make, and that people really seem to love it.
Which brings us to No Man’s Sky. It’s going to be released this coming Tuesday.
The basic idea behind the game is that you can explore a universe with quadrillions of procedurally generated planets. Each one unique! Each one with different kinds of life! Get in there! Explore! Engage in commerce! Add entries to the galactic database! Fight each other!
And, of course, it seems to be the case that the game was oversold. An absolutely brilliant game, mind. Sure to knock your socks off… but the problem is that expectations were set so high in the first place that people will find themselves saying the equivalent of “I thought we were supposed to be able to plant trees” about parts of the game that they never would have even thought to miss had the devs not hyped them in the first place.
I guess we’ll find out on Tuesday.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))