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Unite 2012: Peter Molyneux reveals the 5 key ingredients to put in your development cooking pot

#unite12 And why Populous was born of incompetence
Unite 2012: Peter Molyneux reveals the 5 key ingredients to put in your development cooking pot

If there was one reason that caused Peter Molyneux to depart Lionhead and the "safety" of Microsoft, it was the desire to create something with a singular, simple vision.

That's according to Molyneux's keynote speech at 2012's Unite conference in Amsterdam, where he spent the majority of his time on stage advising how start up studios should approach development.

Simply speaking

"Trying to focus on more than one thing is the mistake I've always made," admitted Molyneux.

"Start ups need to focus on one simple thing."

Such a strategy is supported by Unity, he claimed, stating that his new studio 22 Can's decision to utilise the engine was born out of a desire to avoid dealing "with the tedium of what developers have to deal with supporting multiple devices."

"If Unity had been around back in 1989, Populous would never have existed, because a lot of the gameplay was born out of my total incompetence as a programmer," he added.

One vision, multiple threads

Keeping things simple when it comes to the games doesn't mean your vision can't touch multiple bases, however.

Indeed, Molyneux has five key ingredients that he recommends new studios seek to employ in everything they do: keep things simple, keep things delightful, try to surprise your audience, engage them, and offer them something unique.

"Almost the whole world is becoming gamers," claimed Molyneux.

"If you really want to engage those people, you've got to keep things simple. You have about a tenth of a second before people to get bored of your game and press that home button these days."

The big fear

That's a scary thought. Indeed, Molyneux said a big part of going indie is the fear that it instils in all involved especially if you're used to the security of a company like Microsoft.

"It's very, very scary," he said.

"Part of the reason is you have less masters standing over you telling you to do this, do that. You can do whatever you like. One of the reasons why I wanted to leave Microsoft was because starting up your own dev means you can have a single idea an idea the entire team can utterly focus on." 

22 Cans' first project Curiosity is certainly a simple concept to understand: the whole world working together to chip away at a cube, with only one lucky person getting to unveil the "life changing" object inside.

"It's crazy," he admitted. "But we've got to be crazy and experiment with these things. Locking yourself away in an ivory tower and coming up with a project and just releasing it those days are over. You've got to engage with your audience."

Old habits

Engage, be brave, and ultimately surprise them.

"It's so tempting to fall back on the cornerstones of our design and not to experiment with and use the new technology," added Molyneux.

"Surprise has got to be at the centre of everything we do. Especially in today's world. I'm bored with movies and TV programmes we're in the last entertaining industry that really, truly can surprise people. We can create experiences that really engage with people.

"In today's world of mass blandness, we can make things that are unique that have never been seen before, never been touched before."

Money matters

Studios shouldn't be scared of monetising their games, however.

"Monetisation is a dirty word for indies but it shouldn't be,£ he concluded.

"We shouldn't think of it as monetising gamers, but rather turning them into investors."

Indeed, everyone who buys an in-app purchase in Curiosity now due to launch in September will be a certified investor in the company, afforded perks such as their name in the game's credits to an invite to the beta of 22 Cans' forthcoming "big amazing" game.

You can watch the Unite 2012 keynote speeches in full below.