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Fable III developer interview

Set in a Dickensian world of top hats, industry, and gaslight, Fable III dumps Fable II’s Expression wheel and even its experience system, replacing them with new mechanics which Peter reckons are ‘real game-changers’. Well, he would, wouldn’t he?

So this is a new Peter Molyneux – still a softly spoken walking quote machine, but these days more measured in his promises. He’s not out to make you feel like God: for Fable III, it’s enough for you to feel like the King.

Around halfway through Fable III you’ll lead a revolt which will see the King overthrown and yourself placed in power. Fable’s new experience system is powered by Followers – the more popular you are with the people, the more powerful you become. Along the way to the throne you’ll make promises to sway those followers, signing guarantees to close workhouses and send children to school; but it’s not easy being King, and keeping those promises might be the death of you.

Fable III will make you choose between what’s right and what’s possible, and every decision will become a literal hands-on choice made by reaching out and touching the world. Fable III’s new ‘Touch’ system lets you take any character by the hand and lead them to safety, danger, or just to the other side of town. You can take a tramp by the hand and lead him to your home for a meal or the workhouse and near-slavery, or lead a child to safety or abandon them right in the middle of nowhere. Every choice is made with your own hands, but if that sounds like it could well be a job for Natal, Peter is keeping quiet. Not that quiet, mind you…


Touch, Peter? Natal, surely?

I am absolutely forbidden to talk about Natal... Only that I’d say it’s a great device for a designer that makes you think in a very, very different way, and that there are unique things in Fable and it would be lovely to marry those two things together, would it not? But that’s not a confession that we have Natal functionality. I can tell you that the primary way to play Fable will be with the controller. I could spend many hours telling you about Natal and Fable...


What mistakes did you make with the first Fables?

I think the first mistake in Fable 1 was that I really mistook the idea of game features as goodness. I didn’t think about the mechanics of those game features or how to explain them to people or how to exploit them in the story.

There was this amazing moment when this piece of research came back – more than half the people that played Fable II understood and used less than half the features of the game. And you think, “oh my God, what a talentless bastard I really am,” because how can I have made a game in which the players understand less than half of its mechanics? It’s like making a film where people are like, “that was cool...  I don’t know what the hell was going on, but it was quite cool.”

You know, that seems wrong, so I think Fable III is all about using mechanics, exploiting mechanics, giving gameplay reasons for things. Like Expressions, for example. They were cool in Fable II, but they were really just a way of doing a fart joke over and over again. Let’s be honest about it. That’s what they were. They needed to have an overhaul, and the way you overhaul them is to make them simpler so that more people can use them. Striving for simplicity and accessibility is giving true depth. You want 100 percent of the people to understand 100 percent of the game.


Are you afraid people will think you’ve dumbed the game down?

No. You can design a game around ten percent of your audience if you want to but you’re probably being a bit lazy about it, and you know what? The world moves on, man.

Some people getting really upset if I remove experience and health bars and move leveling from a 2D to a 3D interface isn’t a reason not to do it, it’s actually a reason to do it. I know some people are gonna miss health bars and experience but their total number is getting smaller and smaller.

I like Expressions and I like the ability to emote but there’s just no reason for me to do that, but then you start to introduce the Touch system and the Follower system and you’re like “of course!” Now it fits in, now it’s part of the game, now there’s a reason for me to do that. There’s a consequence to me doing that and it all adds up.

10 comments

  • Stebsy - April 7, 2010 1:49 p.m.

    for me fable 2 was a huge disapoinment wheneva for a game that prides itself on making you care about what desicions you make there were about 1 or 2 that actualy worked and that was only because i didnt want my character to get old and wrinkly. there was so many undelivered promises, and now here we are again being promised new things that most likely wont work exactly to plan either. what molyneux should do is stop making new promises and start delivering on the ones he made about fable 1. he should be trying to refine and perfect the original premise of the first game before he gets so carried away with all these ideas. dont get me wrong i enjoyed fable and completed fable 2 and its not that there bad games its just that they never seem to be quite as good as they could be. let me know if you agree with me or not.
  • jackthemenace - March 28, 2010 7:02 p.m.

    I'm worried. i'm very worried. This looks awesome, and it does seem brilliant, but ditching XP is stupid. but, that's just me. and hopefully once i start to play it, the followers system will become totally clear. I hope.
  • JADENkOTOR - March 26, 2010 5:36 p.m.

    There is no reason to think this game will fail. Molyneux is a weird guy, but his ideas implemented in the game are always fresh and work most of the time. The first two games in the series were great and I only see this one raising the bar. I also think there will be much more physical evolving in this game(appearance, weapons, armor, ect.)instead of the usual leveling that we are used to. To see your character progressively change would be ten times more satisfying than any attribute/skills menu in recent memory. @ TooSpliced "my guy got fat!" That was fucking hilarious.
  • CaseD - March 25, 2010 2:41 p.m.

    Well man, considering this came from molyneux, and like, we all know what he's like man. I'm just waiting for it to come out so as not to be disappointed... man.
  • TRAVthe3RD - March 25, 2010 5:11 a.m.

    by taking out the experience and health bar it sounds like the action and looting aspect is taking a back seat to emoting.. they even said theres gonna be less magical monsters cuz of the industrialisation of albion.. @ toospliced did ya even think of eating the healthy foods like celery?? they make ya skinny aw wells bit late now :p
  • TooSpliced - March 25, 2010 3:53 a.m.

    Hes got my attention but after the experience, I think almost ANYTHING with motion is probably going to epicly fail. Its like you want to save someone right? What if you accidentally move or sneeze and accidentally KILL them? Im a fan of Fable. Biggn. And I'm scared motion stuff would kinda be its downfall. And the no health bar? Why not that? Are you going to do a CoD kind of effect were the screen turns red? And I hope it gets more into the good and evil stuff. And PLEASE! PLEEEEEEEEEEASE! Make a wat you can lose wight! On Fable 2 I accidentally ate a meat pie and my guy got fat! Had to start over cuz I like my guy to be perfecto. Sooooooooo, yeah.
  • Samael - March 25, 2010 1:04 a.m.

    Ohmygod you idiot! Shut up about Obama and talk about your damn game! He really just doesn't get it does he? Still, taking out expressions is a good move. It was supremely stupid that you could marry someone in 1 & 2 just by farting in their face and doing an arm pump a billion times. And then you find out that marrying someone doesn't do anything! There is no benefit whatsoever! *sigh*
  • BMW89 - March 24, 2010 10:05 p.m.

    I get the feeling this game is either going to be awesome or an epic fail. Hopefully it's the former.
  • ergreenday - March 24, 2010 9:54 p.m.

    Well peter has gotin alot beter at explaning games in these past few years, thats for sure. I can't wait for this game to come out!:)
  • penguinsrule3 - March 24, 2010 9:02 p.m.

    I was worried and still am, but this article eases some of my concern about Fable III. If the concept works out (Mostly) like he says it will then this is definetly a game i'm interested in.

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