Peter Molyneux's decision to resign as a senior Microsoft Studios executive was triggered when his office chair was recalibrated to meet stringent health and safety standards, the veteran games developer has revealed.
In a candid interview with Develop – one which, for the first time in years, had no restrictions on what Molyneux was able to discuss – the Lionhead founder explained he had considered starting a new venture many months before leaving Microsoft.
But it was a peculiar incident involving “Microsoft chair adjustment personnel” that had cemented the decision to quit, Molyneux explained.
“About 18 months ago, this series of strange things started to happen. I started to get all these accolades. I got a BAFTA Fellowship. I got a Lifetime Achievement Award in Spain, another in Italy, over in the states I picked up a few more. They were all coming in,” he explained.
“Of course, I was unbelievably proud of it. But eventually I took a long hard look at all these awards lined up on the mantelpiece and asked myself, do I really deserve these? Are these a representation of everything I’ve done before? I couldn’t believe that was true.
“I had this unbelievable desire to make something. Of course I didn’t have the idea for the game itself, partly because when you’re at Microsoft any idea you have are property of Microsoft.
“Then this terrible thing happened to me. One day I was sitting on my chair, in the zone, my eyes closed, my headphones on, blaring in music in, trying to think of ideas to do with Fable The Journey.
“Suddenly I felt my chair move. I looked around. Standing there was the Microsoft chair adjustment personnel, this nice woman who comes once a month, fiddling with my chair settings to make sure it was posturepedically correct.
“I thought; this is insane. I was in a creative padded cell. Everything I did couldn’t hurt me, both creatively and physically. The danger was long gone. I had this huge desire to make something truly special, and I felt like I was being suffocated creatively a little bit.
“That was the moment I realised I had to go.”
Molyneux has ended his career at Microsoft and Lionhead on good terms – he still meets with Xbox company executives and Lionhead staff still speak highly of him when discussing his departure with Develop.
The games design luminary now wants to make a game that he believes “can change the world”, and is hiring for various positions at new studio 22Cans.
“I don’t think I’ve made my best game. And I haven’t made one of the greatest games ever, have I? To achieve that is my absolute, absolute passion. All the steps that I’ve taken in my life have led me to this point.”