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Tough Times for Lionhead Studios 43

Posted by Zonk
from the stiff-upper-lip-kitty dept.
Alice, over at the Wonderland blog, discusses Lionhead's decision to reduce the size of the company. The maker of The Movies and Black and White 2 has apparently not been doing so well financially this year. From the article: "Over the last few months Lionhead has been working on plans for a new AAA world class game. As work on a number of its titles draws to a close, a pool of 100 super talented developers at Lionhead are available to create a new super team at Lionhead. This will be in addition to an existing team which is working on an amazing next generation title. This strategy was presented to Lionhead this morning in a company meeting but sadly it will mean some redundancies."
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Tough Times for Lionhead Studios

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  • by hunterx11 (778171) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {11xretnuh}> on Friday March 03, 2006 @05:54PM (#14846212) Homepage Journal
    AAA world class game made by an amazing team? Well, that's a relief--at least they aren't putting out mediocre games!
    • Remember this is Lionhead, their mediocre games are considered AAA world class (black and white anyone, Fable anyone?)
      • It's amazing that Lionhead has stuck around as long as they have. Seems to me that there's a serious lack of leadership over there since not one of their games has really felt finished.

        Especially Fable, which had a lot of really cool ideas being thrown around early on and somehow shipped without any of them in the final product. Maybe they need to step back from trying to make "amazing world class AAA" games and just work on getting one out the door feature complete.
  • Anyone else thinking that the next generation game is most probably Fable 2?

    Sure hope so
    • still haven't even played fable...but it's sitting on my shelf.
      • Perfect game. Great graphics, story, and comedy.

        Way too short, and way too easy. But thats the way I like em.
        • I enjoyed it a lot, as well. It's one of the few games I've actually finished in the last ten years.

          Gamepad support would have been nice on the PC, though.
          • Fable was a great game, I beat the original three times, and I recently beat the rerelease of it which was much more finished, but they could have done a much better job on it. In fact, it was originally so hyped that most people were very dissapointed with the it when it was released. It was supposed to support multiplayer, full Xbox Live play, and many other things. If they do come out with Fable 2, and I hope they do, they need to come through on what they promise. Heck, I'd be happy if they manage t
      • I am 1/4 the way through. Very fun game. Go for it!
  • Oh Peter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Osmosis_Garett (712648) on Friday March 03, 2006 @06:09PM (#14846321)
    How you've fallen from grace! Black and White 2 was nothing more than a slick RTS with terrible multiplayer gaming, Fable was a pretty rail adventure, and the Movies is an elegant slice of what might have been a good game if not for the overwhelming micromanagement. I dont want to even mention Black and White and how you released a game that could not be finished because of the poor debugging.

    Its no wonder that Lionhead has to downsize; they're not trying to make 'popular' or 'successful' games... they're still trying to make 'innovative, groundbreaking games' and failing. Mabye they should take a que from Will Wright with his new SPORE [google.com], which is the sort of thing that I used to expect out of Lionhead or Peter Molyneux.

    • Its no wonder that Lionhead has to downsize; they're not trying to make 'popular' or 'successful' games... they're still trying to make 'innovative, groundbreaking games' and failing.

      Fable was a successful game, it got good reviews and had very good sales, I liked quite a bit... I shudder to think what the development costs were, I've heard development was so unfocused they tried out lots of features that they ended up ditching (real time tree growth? a dog that shows you around instead of using your map?

      • Actually, when I saw movies of The Movies the first thing that came to my mind was "Theme Movie" since it seemed eerily similar to Theme Park and Theme Hospital.
  • No Great Loss (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday March 03, 2006 @06:15PM (#14846368) Homepage Journal

    Let me open by saying that Populous (sp?) is one of my favorite games of all time, even to this day. It's the game that really defined the "god game" genre and in my opinion, the only game better than it is for the time in which it was released is Populous 2.

    Since then, however, it's been a downhill slide for Peter. This was made most clear to me when Populous 3 came out and totally ruined the gameplay model. The overly-curvy 3D interface made it far too difficult to see what you were doing. I would have honestly preferred another 2D iso-view game.

    Black & White was a horrible, terrible bugfest, and it was slow and chunky even on fairly high-end hardware. A god game should not be that demanding, because it doesn't need to be, unless you're reaching too far.

    Reaching too far seems to be Molyneux's current M.O. Fable did about 25% of the stuff it was supposed to do. Black & White 2 was a step backwards in playability, from all I've heard - I wasn't even motivated enough to hook up my desktop system, which currently is sitting in a corner, in order to play it based on the reviews.

    As long as Molyneux is unwilling to actually finish a game, I couldn't give one tenth of one fuck if he never makes another one.

    • I just want them to make a new version of Syndicate dammit! Is that too much to ask??

    • Re:No Great Loss (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As I understand it, Populous 3 wasn't actually made by Molyneaux it was made by Bullfrog who by then were just a division of EA Games, indeed after reading the credits for the game in the manual it makes no mention of Molyneaux at all.
      • As I understand it, Populous 3 wasn't actually made by Molyneaux it was made by Bullfrog who by then were just a division of EA Games, indeed after reading the credits for the game in the manual it makes no mention of Molyneaux at all.

        My bad. I actually knew that EA owned (in the leet sense) bullfrog, but I forgot completely.

        Guess that's the danger with being identified with a franchise.

    • I can only talk about Fable, but man that was not the "Zelda/Final Fantasy Killer" Peter Molyneux said it'd be. It was linear, easy, and I did most everything in the game (except about two sidequests) in 13 hours. 100 hours of game time my ass.

      As long as Molyneux is unwilling to actually finish a game, I couldn't give one tenth of one fuck if he never makes another one.
      Amen.
  • > A new AAA world class game...
    > a pool of 100 super talented developers...
    > a new super team...
    > an amazing next generation title...

    Sorry, Lionhead forfeited the right to all those adjectives when it made Black and White.
    • It's kind of funny really. I bought B&W when it was still fairly new and found my fairly decent system that was well above the minimums still really couldn't handle it. I also had all the usual stability problems. I recently found a stash of disks I'd lost, including that one, and loaded it up with all the updates, addons, and such on my nice A64/GF6600GT system and I've found it runs smoothly and nicely. With the latest patches it seems fairly stable, and it's been a lot more fun than I remember it bei
  • The Movies (Score:4, Funny)

    by wampus (1932) on Friday March 03, 2006 @06:34PM (#14846525)
    The Movies wouldn't be a bad game if they had some way to make Snakes on a Plane...
  • It seems I may have to hold may head in shame but I liked the first Black and White.
    Yes it might be a bit buggy sometimes but for something you pickup from the $5 shelf
    its not all that bad.

    [sVen]
    • Oh Black & White was an ASTOUNDING game, which was the most frustrating part of it.
      As much as I loved it, the bugs kept you from actually enjoying it once you made it past the vortex. That seems to be where the 'save' glitch started to kick in, along with random freezes that just killed the gameplay.
  • If this means they'll have to stop having their Good and Evil narrators stop talking, or the Guildmaster not say "There's another quest for you at the Guild, Hero", then I'm all in favor of downsizing at Lion's Head studios.
    • Irritating-as-hell Guildmaster aside, I found the single most jarring thing about Fable's narrative to be the 4th-wall smashing "Quest Card" dialogue. For instance, you meet with your sister for the express purpose of discussing your family's dark secret and the location of your mother. It goes something like this:

      "Hello brother. Thanks for coming. Now, go back to the Guild and read the Quest Card I left with all the information I *should* be relating directly on it."

      Or, upon entering a new story arc, you h
  • by LordZardoz (155141) on Friday March 03, 2006 @10:27PM (#14847852)
    Lionhead is best at trying new concepts, and in creating games that give players a great deal of leeway in how they want to play. But they are not so good at creating games that trigger the 'must buy' reflex in the average consumer. Alot of that is that their games, particularly the gameplay, dont seem to be the sort that lend themselves well to typical marketing campaigns. Black and White was a fine game, but how do you sell someone on the notion of spending hours training a giant cow?

    The games are excellent in the most abstract and fundamental sense. Be a god, good or evil as you choose. Be a villian or a hero. But the gameplay often falls just a bit short. I would say that Fable is probably Lionheads most commercially viable franchise. Black and White and Movies are just too hard for marketing to sell.

    The simplest way to create a monster hit is to have fundamentally solid gameplay mechanics paired with a style and tone that both compliments that gameplay, and that the intended audience can identify with even without being hard core gamers. I believe that most of Lionheads problems are primarily stylistic.

    END COMMUNICATION
    • by Forbman (794277) on Friday March 03, 2006 @11:00PM (#14847970)
      Black and White was a fine game, but how do you sell someone on the notion of spending hours training a giant cow?

      I don't know. Nintendo has done a good job sucking people into NintenDogs...
    • "how do you sell someone on the notion of spending hours training a giant cow?"

      Nintendogs was already mentioned, and it's not only selling like crazy, it's also helping sell the DS big time. I know people who had no intention of getting a portable console, but ended up buying one anyway because their kid wanted Nintendogs.

      I'll add titles like Catz or Creatures. I don't know the exact sales numbers, but I'd assume it must have been enough to be worth making sequels and console ports. Creatures was up to numb
  • When a game is in development and he's meeting with the press he will always talk about every idea he has as if it is nailed down and already a fact of the game. When said game comes out we realise that we've been bullshitted, again. I thought black and white, while enjoyable was just a bit too ambitious for the available hardware at the time, Fable was a superb little romp, black and white 2 - the jury's still out and the movies - whilst being told by pre-release news that you could run your own movie st
  • Dungeon Keeper 2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Taulin (569009) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @03:10PM (#14850679) Homepage Journal
    The other day I got to play a multiplayer session of DK2, something I didn't do back in the day when it came out. Wow, what fun! The only problem is keeps loosing contact when troop counts get high. I also loved the Magic Carpet series. My point is Molex can make games, but he is getting too caught up in the race to produce a game with everything, than focusing on core design, so we get these games from him that have a 50% core idea complete with several trivial ideas to fill in the space.
  • And Red all over?

Refreshed by a brief blackout, I got to my feet and went next door. -- Martin Amis, _Money_

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