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Faces of Good and Evil in Fable II

Next week, you make a choice. Will you live life as a noble hero or as a dastardly anti-hero? Will you smile at children, offer help to villagers and stay monogamous to your spouse? Or will you scream at children, offer severed trophy heads to villagers and engage in crowded orgies with everyone but your spouse?

Decide carefully, for in Fable II - the sequel to 2004’s fantasy and morality-based RPG - your actions affect everything around you. Your quests and storyline. Your popularity and love life. Your children and pets. And, most importantly, your own appearance.

In this exclusive interview, we chat with John McCormack, art director on Fable II, about how the game determines all of these vast and dramatic transformations. We’ve also got brand new, exclusive artwork to show you just how much is at stake.

GamesRadar: How do you define “good” and “evil” in Fable II?

John McCormack, Art Director on Fable II: We create an environment where the characters and circumstances of the game hold up a moral mirror to the player and ask them what they would do in each situation - not literally, but more in a passive way so that the players feel at ease with their choices and the consequences that come later.

GamesRadar: What kind of choices and behaviors will move you towards one extreme or the other?

JM: Morally, the choices are pretty obvious - do the right thing or not - but the beauty of Fable II lies in the grey areas in between that determine a player’s level of purity in whatever direction they choose to go. The game will pick up on the details of each action and will adjust your character on the fly so that the player isn’t inundated with statistics.

GamesRadar: Is the transformation slow and seamless, or will players notice - or be alerted - at each step of the process?

JM: The player will be alerted to the major moral slides in character so they are never uncertain of what is “right” and what is “wrong." All the other, more subtle, levels of character customization will work in the background. The player will only really notice when one of the villagers points it out by shouting “Hey! Fatty!” Then they’ll take a look at themselves and think, "Oh... I am putting on a bit of weight.” We kind of liked that level of subtlety.

GamesRadar: How did you decide what good and evil looked like? Is evil automatically ugly? Is good automatically beautiful?

JM: This is an area where we took a slightly different approach from the original Fable. We incorporated an extra level of purity-versus-corruption to layer on top of the good-and-evil visual morphs. We found that, when we looked at archetypes of the extremes in character morality, we noticed that there were distinct differences in some areas that could be explained through purity.

For instance, Dracula could be described as “Pure Evil” because, while he is a murderer, he is also quite noble, well mannered and unperverse - this leaves him evil-looking but quite handsome. Whereas a horned, cloven-hooved demon would be a creature of Evil that is also a slave of its desires and has no nobility or manners. We would describe it as “Corrupt Evil,” leaving it ugly, horned and scarred. If you apply this sensibility to both good and evil, you end up with more variation and more control over the hero you will become.

GamesRadar: Does anything transform besides the hero’s basic look? Like his or her voice, clothes, animation, expressions?

JM:  The animations change based on alignment but the clothes are dictated by the player and, like the first Fable, the Hero has no voice. We could have made everything associated with the Hero related to the player’s choice in alignment, but we found that this started dictating too much in gameplay and customization terms. Therefore, we deliberately trimmed it all back to just an aesthetic impact - the rest is completely optional for the player.

GamesRadar: How else does your “look” affect gameplay? Can you provide some specific examples of how your hero’s family and the world’s citizens might treat you differently?

JM: If you marry someone and look a certain way, your wife/husband will treat you as they did the first time you met, on the condition you stay that way. If you suddenly come back from a quest with horns, a beer gut and a sex change... well, sometimes love doesn’t always find a way.

GamesRadar: Can your appearance, or the choices that led to that appearance, affect what quests and storylines are available to you?

JM: Definitely. We made an attempt at creating divergent storylines and alignment based quests in Fable, but we never pulled it off as much as we wanted to. Fable II’s world is much more reflective of the hero’s choices and, not only will new quests appear related to the type of hero you are crafting, but entire regions will change over time depending on what you’ve done there.

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27 comments

  • hadn - May 30, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    well you say that the chaotic guy look bad but when i was pure and evil i looked horrible.i had blue skin and half of my face had rotted.
  • CandiedJester - October 20, 2008 10:18 p.m.

    Well I don't like the fact that being evil makes you look like a man O.o. But still it sounds really cool. I'll probably get it eventually. But Fallout 3 is my first priority.
  • Radarette_1 - October 20, 2008 8:31 p.m.

    Charlie Barratt Marry Me! Muah!
  • .molecule. - October 20, 2008 7:46 p.m.

    aaaaawww this is so annoyin i have the first one which I delibaratly was evil on because u look amazingly cool and i was trying to see how evil u can be!! but wat really annoys me is the fact that the new one comes for 360 which i dont have pc which mine is really really laggy on the first one so i dread wat would happen with fable 2 anyway i would buy a 360 just to get this game or a brand new laptop!! cant wait!!!!!!
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - October 20, 2008 5:15 p.m.

    @twishart: As someone also not that into RPGs, I'm planning to pick up Fable 2. Also worthwhile: Mass Effect. I was surprised at how much I liked it.
  • finalcut315 - October 19, 2008 5:39 a.m.

    how come the fat dude got skinnier when he was evil? are you telling fat kids to worship satan? all kidding aside, this was a great article.
  • VoodooChicken - October 18, 2008 9:34 p.m.

    I really enjoyed the first Fable, so much so i went and bought Lost Chapters. completed both of them like 5 times. this game is gonna rock my socks, i'm getting the Limited Edition one, for only £10 more. the only downside it's for my birthday which is mid way through November so I've gotta try and hold myself =P so freakin' Pumped!! my only query is that if you make your character fat, it's a little pot belly, i was wanting a jabba the hut-esque character =D
  • cog114 - October 18, 2008 5:20 p.m.

    i cant beleive how soon this game is coming out:D
  • bron1417 - October 18, 2008 4:06 p.m.

    it looks cool i might give it a rent first because i never played the first Fable.
  • xXgodlypunkXx - October 18, 2008 2:20 p.m.

    this game looks so frikin awesome
  • Cynwyddon - October 18, 2008 3:18 a.m.

    Albion-est with you all, this game looks pretty cool.
  • harybd - October 18, 2008 3:10 a.m.

    interesting. First good male character looks like sh...t
  • Smoothie101902 - October 21, 2008 3:07 p.m.

    Picking it up today, can't wait. My goal is to have a villager say "Hey Fatty" to me!
  • The-Pro-Gamer306 - October 20, 2008 8:49 p.m.

    The Game Looks Like It Will Beat LBP I Can't Wait To Play Mine Tommorow (I Pre-ordered It) Unless They Moved The Pre-Order To Next Week Lol Anyways It Looks Great So Far With All The Screenshots So Far It's A 10/10 For Me :D
  • Z-man427 - October 20, 2008 7:26 p.m.

    really antsy for this. I can't decide if I want to go to the midnight release. "We had a fat, cross dressing, whoremongering, disease-ridden, bearded lesbian hero dressed in a bright pink chicken suit beating up her tenants after they complained about the rent going up." Best hero ever
  • eksplosiver - October 20, 2008 6:18 p.m.

    :) cant wait
  • maedene - October 20, 2008 3:01 a.m.

    I seriosly cannot wait for this game. and twishart: If you aren't that involved with RPG's, but would like to see whats up with them, i say try them out. They really give you a chance to be someone else or just play them for the (usually) involving stories.
  • twishart - October 20, 2008 2:20 a.m.

    Never played Fable 1, but this certainly gets my interest. I don't play many RPG's - the last one I think I actually finished was Chrono Cross - is this still something worth checking out? How accessible is it to someone that isn't terribly involved in the genre?
  • Mrinsane117 - October 20, 2008 2:09 a.m.

    Awsome! Good work guys i am soo excited.
  • oreomonkey - October 20, 2008 1:03 a.m.

    ok im getting cod5 and far cry 2 when they come out, then this and maybe fallout 3 for christmas... i was wish i could get them all right now...:P for any1 who hasnt checked out far cry 2 yet check it out i didnt even know about it till a week ago and i alredy cant wait 4 it

Showing 1-20 of 27 comments

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