Afterthoughts: FableJennifer Tsao
By now, if you’re a Fable fan, you’re probably on your second or third playthrough. You’re done being good, you’ve stopped caring about your poor sister’s issues with archvillain Jack of Blades, and you’re basically slicing and dicing any and all unfortunate villagers who happen to cross your path at the wrong moment...or is that just us? We recently sat down with one of the makers of this Xbox free-form action-RPG—Lionhead Studios President Peter Molyneux—to chat about development challenges, design decisions, and a couple of unusually twisted things you can do in Fable.
EGM: What sorts of things has the game allowed players to do that you didn’t really expect?
Peter Molyneux: I didn’t plan for people in Fable to massacre entire villages, acquire all the vacant property at knockdown prices, and then make a fortune renting out to newcomers. I didn’t plan for one player to use his wife as a human shield, and when we first introduced children into the world, I didn’t expect the testers to do unspeakable things to them—which is why players now don’t have weapons when they’re in a village or town.
EGM: What were the biggest problems in making a game like this?
PM: Our biggest challenge was that we were PC developers, and historically PC developers have struggled to make great console games. Creating a combat system that was easy to master and allowed for the mixing of combat styles seemed simple but was very difficult.
EGM: Fable seemed inspired by recent 3D Zelda adventures. Is that true?
PM: Quite a few features in Fable were in fact inspired by [Lionhead’s PC game] Black & White—open-ended gameplay [and] characters that morphed to reflect what you’re like. Another influence was Zelda, which always found ways to evoke player emotions. I really cared about Link, and that was something we wanted Fable to have.
EGM: Did you ever consider incorporating proper “dungeons” with puzzles and such?
PM: The really cerebral puzzles you see in other games...we felt [those] wouldn’t sit well with the action part of the game.
EGM: Why not let players continue doing quests via the guild after they finish Fable?
PM: In story terms, I don’t know that it would make much sense to still have quests at the guild.
EGM: Any secrets or in-jokes most gamers might have missed?
PM: It would be a shame to reveal all of them, but two of the secrets in the game are the Sandgoose and the frying pan that doubles as a weapon.
EGM: This game’s original working title was “Project Ego.” Are there any hidden references to that in the final version of the game?
PM: No—it would have been a nice idea.... Why couldn’t you have asked that question six months ago? P
Those pub minigames don’t play themselves. Here are top scores from the Fable dev team:
• Card Pairs (Bowerstone South): 9.9 seconds
• Shove Ha’penny (Hook Coast): 40
• Card Sorting (Knothole Glade): 16.1
• Spot the Addition (Bandit Camp): 8.2
• Coin Golf (Oakvale): 6
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.