Lionhead Studios - All News
Thursday - May 12, 2016
Lionhead Studios - The Inside Story
Eurogamer has written an extensive history of Lionhead covering its foundation and eventual closure.
The idea for Lionhead was that it would focus on making high quality games, as Bullfrog had, but avoid falling into the trap of growing too large. And Molyneux hired well. Developers who joined him during the early days of Lionhead include Demis Hassabis, the AI genius whose DeepMind tech recently beat one of the highest-ranking Go players in the world; Mark Healey and Alex Evans, who would later leave Lionhead to co-found LittleBigPlanet maker Media Molecule; and Jonty Barnes, who now leads production at Destiny developer Bungie.
As part of Molyneux and Webley's severance deal with EA, the pair had agreed to give the publisher first refusal on its first game, whatever it turned out to be. It turned out to be a god game called Black & White.
Most knew Lionhead was in trouble, and most knew The Movies and Black & White 2 hadn't sold well enough to keep the suits smiling. The venture capitalists were getting anxious, and that anxiety filtered down the ranks.
"Everybody gossips and talks," Charlton Edwards says. "I remember fearing we were in trouble. There was a sense of impending doom."
There were two offers on the table: one from Ubisoft, and one from Microsoft. Molyneux had met with Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot in Paris multiple times about a potential deal. Those discussions went well, people familiar with the talks say.
It's an overstatement to say Microsoft swooped in and stole Lionhead from under Ubisoft's nose, as acquisitions of this type are rarely so dramatic. But it was the case that Microsoft wanted to secure Fable, which had done well on the original Xbox, as an exclusive role-playing series for the Xbox 360, and was aware that if it had gone to Ubisoft, it would end up on the rival PlayStation 3.
Lionhead Studios - Last-Minute Rescue Collapsed
A rescue for the doomed shipwreck known as Lionhead Studios was in the works. But...Microsoft didn't want to let go of the Fable IP.
Unsurprising but sad news: what prevented the recently-closed, much-missed Britsoft studio Lionhead from finding a new home under another owner was, allegedly, Microsoft’s refusal to let the Fable IP go with it.
Kotaku UK cites ‘multiple sources’ who claim that several buyers, including “some of the biggest names in video game publishing”, were circling Peter Molyneux’s old stomping ground, making offers that were “in the range of hundreds of millions.” However, the long-running and best-selling Fable series was apparently a major part of their interest, and when MS allegedly make clear that it intended to hold onto those rights, “90% of the people interested just walked away at that point.”
I want to be all uppity at this point, and bellow about how Lionhead was about heritage and a huge talent pool, about how this was the home of mainstream gaming values that no other studio of its size shares. But the sad reality is that all Lionhead have been for quite some time is Fable games: from a purely business point of view, there is almost no other reason that a publisher would want to spend big on it.
I suppose that, even if Microsoft had relented, Lionhead would have been doomed to remain a Fable factory – and the studio itself would have been at some risk of future closure if the new owners’ primary interest was simply the IP.
Business is bad business.
Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Friday - April 29, 2016
Lionhead Studios - Closes
Lionhead Studios, famous for production of Fable and Black & White, closed its doors today.
After 20 years, Lionhead Studios is officially no more. A Microsoft representative confirmed to Polygon that the British developer behind games like Black & White and Fable will shut down today for good.
"We can confirm that after much consideration over the six week consultation period with Lionhead employees, we have reached the decision to close Lionhead Studios," the representative said. "We have nothing but heart-felt thanks for the team at Lionhead for their significant contributions to Xbox and the games industry."
Microsoft announced that it had begun preparing Lionhead staffers for the closure in March. Development on Fable Legends, a free-to-play multiplayer game, also stopped at that time. The game was announced in 2013 for a 2015 release on Windows PC and Xbox One; a beta was planned for this spring.
Thursday - March 08, 2012
Lionhead Studios - Peter Molyneux Leaves
Sir_Brennus points out that Peter Molyneux has left Lionhead Studios and also relinquished his role as creative head for Microsoft Studios Europe. He will be joining other ex-Lionhead staff at an independent venture called 22 Cans. With the Carter brothers (original founders of Big Blue Box and the Fable series) having left last year, you have to wonder about the future of Lionhead. From Kotaku:
"It is with mixed emotions that I made the decision to leave Microsoft and Lionhead Studios, the company that I co-founded in 1997, at the conclusion of development of Fable: The Journey.," Molyneux said in a statement to Kotaku. Fable: The Journey is this year's forthcoming Fable game for the Xbox 360 Kinect. Molyneux will continue to be involved in that title as a creative consultant."
Monday - June 06, 2011
Fable: The Journey Revealed at E3
The Microsoft E3 Press Conference has revealed Fable: The Journey. You can watch the entire conference at G4TV, though Blues describes the game as "being a rail shooter to all appearances". Nevertheless, Molyneux apparently said the player will feel "100 times more involved".
Source: Blues News
Wednesday - August 19, 2009
Lionhead Studios - Fable 3 Announced
Lionhead and Microsoft have put out a press release announcing their next title in the Fable series, the XBox 360 exclusive Fable III, along with a trailer and two concept art pics. You can read the press release details and catch the media here at Voodoo Extreme, Action Trip, and ShackNews among others. Eurogamer also has a preview of the game here.
"The entire Fable idea is a fairytale twist on European history and myth," says [art lead John] McCormack. "What we've settled on is to go about 50 years on from Fable II. So we've loosely chosen the Napoleonic period, and we've started to pull in a bit of Regency, a tiny bit of Victorian, and we're plugging in an early industrial age to Albion. It's a Napoleonic fairytale."
The game is slated for a holiday 2010 release date.
Wednesday - July 01, 2009
Lionhead Studios - More Fable 3 Hints
It's not at all surprising that Fable III would be in development but following the earlier hints from a voice actor's twitter, Kotaku notes that the New York Times' "Weddings/Celebrations" section applauds the wedding of Joshua Atkins and his partner -and Joshua's occupation is listed as the lead designer on Fable III.
Thursday - June 04, 2009
Lionhead Studios - Peter Molyneux Promoted
News at various sites including Joystiq is that Peter Molyneux has been promoted to European Creative Director for Microsoft Game Studios. Word is he will still lead Lionhead, so I guess it's generally business as usual.
Saturday - May 30, 2009
Lionhead Studios - Big Reveal Coming
Peter Molyneux will unveil...er...something at an upcoming Microsoft event, according to Eurogamer:
Lionhead has promised "a big presentation" during the Microsoft E3 conference, which runs on Monday, 1st June from 6.30pm UK time (BST). And we'll be reporting live from the event, remember.
"Lionhead is off to LA for this year's E3 and will give a big presentation at the Microsoft press conference on Monday! Watch this space," reads the company's Twitter.
This, we presume, will be the next project Peter Molyneux has been trailing. After all, he told us he had something ready to show when we talked to him at GDC, but that the revelation date was out of his hands.
Wednesday - March 18, 2009
Lionhead Studios - Peter Molyneux Interview @ Develop
Peter Molyneux speaks to Develop magazine about turning Lionhead around through improvements to their processes:
The truth is, I think I’m famously awful at developing games. Before, I’d walk into the office, wave my arms and say ‘I’ve just had a cool thought’ – usually after severe alcohol abuse – and that lead us to spending a lot of money very foolishly on things that weren’t going to get anywhere.
Quite a while ago now, we sat down and thought, well, this is ridiculous – we can’t keep this notion that game development is a purely creative process, and that you have to build it to be able to see it. There’s got to be another way.
The first thing that we did is say, right, we need to do more work upfront it design and concepting, and that means less iteration further on. Because when you’ve got a team like Fable, which was around 100 people, you can’t experiment with that many; you’d be spending mad amounts of money. You just can’t do it.
Wednesday - March 11, 2009
Lionhead Studios - Fable 3 Accidentally Revealed
Eurogamer writes that UK comedian Jonathon Ross has revealed Fable III (surprise!) via Twitter after coming home from the BAFTA awards:
"Goodnight all. Must go to bed. Got asked to do voice in Fable 3 tonight. Subarashi. Oyasuminasia. Woss out."
When asked to confirm the slip by a fellow Tweeter, Ross proclaimed, "Yes they are doing it. Charlie Brooker said he would do a voice for it to! Great fun!!"
Source: Blues News
Monday - July 21, 2008
Lionhead Studios - Working on an MMO?
'Sounds' like Lionhead are certainly interested in the MMO market according to Peter Molyneux on an interview at Eurogamer.
Eurogamer: There seems to be a lot of MMO mechanics in Fable 2. Are MMOs something you've been thinking about recently?
Peter Molyneux: [Gestures to PR] Well, there's someone in this room to make sure that I don't say too much about that question. I have been looking at MMOs. I love the interaction, and I'm fascinated by the idea of really feeling secure and cool enough to actually do it.
Eurogamer: Have you thought about making an MMO, and about what a Lionhead MMO would look like?
Peter Molyneux: Yes.
Eurogamer: And you can't answer the question...?
Peter Molyneux: No.
Wednesday - May 21, 2008
Lionhead Studios - Molyneux Talks Up Fable 2 and His Next Game @ Wired
In an interview with Wired, Molyneux discusses the problems of Fable, and the features of Fable 2 a bit, and also mentions that his next game, known at this time as project Dimitiri, will be "... a significant scientific achievement.." Here's the full quote:
Game creator Peter Molyneux is well-known for making grandiose promises about his upcoming games, but he was on his best behavior at this week's Microsoft media event...But, when I ask him about his next game, we get a glimpse of classic Molyneux.
"I think it's such a significant scientific achievement that it will be on the cover of Wired," he says with a twinkle in his eye.
"My next game will not be Fable 3. It's not a game I can talk to you about right now, but: AI, simulation, the way characters interact -- we've had smart people working on that stuff for over a decade with the Fable games and Black and White." His next game consolidates all of what they have learned, he says.
Startegy Informer has some speculation about the project here.
Source: Strategy Informer
Saturday - March 22, 2008
Lionhead Studios - Molyneux Interview @ Shacknews
Peter Molyneux has been interviewed at Shacknews about various things including an unnannounced game built around a "breakthrough" that will apparently end up on the cover of science and nature magazines, PC gaming and, of course, Fable 2:
Shack: I've heard that there will be an acorn in Fable 2 that will play a central role?
Peter Molyneux: I got into a lot of trouble with that, an acorn in Fable 1 growing into an oak tree. What we've done, and I'm not going to give you the exact story thread, there is a whole thread about something called the Golden Acorn and how it's got to grow into an oak tree.
There is a whole thread of the story absolutely about that. I don't want anyone to say, after Fable 2, that we don't have acorns. We definitely have acorns. Acorns are central to the game of [Fable 2]. If you don't get your acorn, you can't finish the game. That's how ingrained it is into the world.
Sunday - October 14, 2007
Lionhead Studios - Interview with Peter Molyneux @ GamesIndustry.biz
GamesIndustry.biz has posted the second part of their two part interview with Lionhead Studio's Peter Molyneux. The discussion is about Molyneux' views on games as art, and what he'd like to acheive in Fable 2 :
GamesIndustry.biz: You've always been outspoken in your beliefs about what games have the potential to offer and where they could go. What's your view on the question of whether games are an art form?
Peter Molyneux: Of course they are.
Why would you say that is?
Why would you say they weren't? I'm very glib about that because this is a philosophical question. Before I really answer it, you have to define what art is to you. If art is described as something which promotes a reaction in you and lets you glimpse something that's more than reality - then yes, of course they're an art form...
...I will say this: if this industry doesn't start waking up from the slumber it's in at the moment and realising we're not making people go 'Wow!' any more, we are going to become increasingly niche.
We need to look at the sense of wonder everybody has when they see a screen, and how many computer games are really getting that. That is art because it pulls people in, just like a piece of great art.
I want to play Spider-Man 3, of course I do... But what I desperately want I don't see very often these days: that moment I had when I first saw computer games. When I first saw Street Fighter, my eyes were glued to the screen. You look back at it now and it looks really rubbish, but it was incredible at that time.
We have to get that sense of wonder back into this industry, and that's a real obsession of mine at the moment.
Part 1 of the interview, which deals with Fable2's combat approach, may be found here.
Tuesday - October 31, 2006
Lionhead Studios - Being Peter Molyneux @ Gamasutra
A four-page interview with Peter Molyneux is up at Gamasutra, discussing "next-gen" development, his persona and Fable 2:
GS: So what can you say about Fable 2?
PM: Here’s the thing about Fable 2 – the whole reason that Lionhead exists, the reason that Microsoft acquired us, and the reason that I still am passionate about games is about innovation. We should kick every single foundation stone that we’ve got in Fable 2 – the way we’ve done that is with lots of experiments.
There are experiments with how we tell the story, experiments with what the world is and what the world means, experiments with - and this is probably the biggest experiment of all – the emotions I want you to feel as a player.
I want you to feel real emotions with Fable 2 that you haven’t felt before. I want you to experience things like unconditional love – that’s what I’m trying to get to. What this all adds up to is the idea that Fable 2 is intended to be a landmark game – it’s not just a sequel to Fable. It would have been so easy to do that.
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