[Back in 1997, I was working in the game industry as a game designer at Kuju Entertainment, but also interviewing a host of interesting game creators via email in my spare time. Following my interviews with Valve's Marc Laidlaw and 3D Realms' Scott Miller - both originally published on a site called VideoGameDesign.com - I'm reprinting this interview with Lionhead's Peter Molyneux and Demis Hassabis from 1997.
At that time, the duo were about a year into making seminal god game Black & White, which was eventually released in 2001. Peter (above) is obviously still in the game industry, having gone on to sell his studio to Microsoft, create the Fable franchise and spin off his own studio again, currently (as of 2013) working on a new game named Godus.
Interestingly, after running his spinoff developer Elixir Studios until 2005, and making titles like Republic and Evil Genius, Demis (right) has now gone in another direction, and is a brain/memory related research fellow at University College London - though he still may be lurking around the periphery of games, for all I know!]
Simon: Are you surprised at how mainstream and legitimate computer games and games design is becoming, as shown by events such as the computer games exhibition at the Museum Of The Moving Image in London, where your “Populous” Lego prototype was shown?
Peter Molyneux: We all sort of knew that the computer games industry would be recognised as an art form, but never imagined that it would have exhibits in museums or be talked about by a Prime Minister. I have heard rumours of a museum dedicated to computer games, and it is hard to imagine where this will all end up.
Simon: Where did the name “Populous” come from?
Peter Molyneux: “Populous” was actually called “Creation” first of all, which I have always thought was a much better name. Unfortunately it turned out that “Creation” has already been copyrighted, so a person called Joss Ellis who worked at EA came up with the name “Populous”.
Simon: If you could take 5 games to a desert island, presuming you had the right machines and power supply to run them on, heh, what would they be?