Lionhead Studios

From Academic Kids

Lionhead Studios is a computer game development company led by industry veteran Peter Molyneux.

Started as a break away from the developer Bullfrog, which was also founded by Molyneux, Lionhead's first game was Black and White, a god game with elements of artificial life, strategy, and beat 'em up games. Black and White was published by Electronic Arts in 2001.

Black and White was followed up with the release of an expansion pack named "Black and White: Creature Isle." Since then, the only Lionhead-linked release has been that of the popular (and controversial) Fable, from satellite developer Big Blue Box.

Lionhead has set up a network of "satellite" developers, including Big Blue Box Studios (developers of Fable), Intrepid Games (developers of BC, since cancelled with little explanation) and Black & White Studios (who have taken responsibility for the continuation of the Black & White series). Lionhead proper is working on two games, The Movies (a sims-like game based upon the premise of running your own Movie Studio) and Dimitri, a simulation game of some sort (about which Lionhead is being unusually tight-lipped). However, during an interview with Computer and Video Games, on April 6th, 2005, Peter Molyneux revealed that "[Dimitri is] a game about (pause for dramatic drum roll) It allows anyone who plays the game to relive their life, their entire individual life. That's a pretty ambitious concept." While our [C&VG's] jaw dropped to the floor, Lionhead PR hastily intervened with the effect of a virtual gagging order.

The degree of control that Lionhead has over its satellites is not clear, but Lionhead programmers were seconded to work on Fable after it became apparent that Big Blue Box had been making little progress. It would also seem that it was the hand of Molyneux behind the supposed cancellation of BC in October 2004 - although there are suggestions that it is still in development in some form.

Lionhead was a privately held company until October 2004 (shortly before the cancellation of BC) when a consortium of investors, including Ingenious Ventures, IDG VE and technology firm Add Partners, made a significant investment into the developer.

Lionhead, and Molyneux in particular, is notorious for "hyping" their games to an uncommon degree, often resulting in disappointment from those who have followed the game. This was very much the case after the release of Black and White, but even more so after the launch of Fable. After the official forums were flooded with complaints, Molyneux made a rare appearance on the forums, where he made a "mea culpa" speech of dubious sincerity. In this post he claimed to have had no idea that claims about the content of Fable early in the development cycle were unrealistic, and committed himself to revealing games only much later in the development cycle. Such a commitment missed the point with stunning grace, but the acknowledgement of mistakes was nevertheless appreciated by those who had raised an eyebrow at the gulf between what had been claimed and that which had been delivered.

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