Faces of Good and Evil in Fable II

GamesRadar: Outside of the good-evil dynamic, what other options exist for customizing your character?

JM: Well, there’s plenty of depth in there, but not all of it is optional. We deliberately wanted the look of the hero, physically, to be dictated by his/her actions. People won’t opt to be fat or ugly or disfigured, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

On top of the Good/Evil/Pure/Corrupt morphs and the choice of gender, we have tall, short, thin, fat, strong, ugly and attractive. Then we have hairstyles, beards, mustaches and tattoos. And then on top of that,we have the masks, hats, jewelry, clothing, dyes and, of course, weapons and augments. All of which leads to - on last count - over four million combinations of unique hero types on a purely aesthetic level.

GamesRadar: Describe the craziest, weirdest character you’ve created, or seen created, at Lionhead?

JM: There were times, let me tell you, when I was looking over some coders' shoulders and thinking to myself, "Oh sweet jeez, what have we created?" The game is so open to unique interpretation that the results can be pretty disturbing. 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. That’s the kind of thing we’re looking at every day!

GamesRadar: Do the other characters in the game react to these customizations as they do with the good and evil transformations?

JM: Absolutely. Not only will the other characters react to your actions and your renown and the stories they’ve heard about you, they will layer that on top of their immediate impression of your hero’s appearance. They will laugh and mock you if you look silly, pity your weaknesses and ugliness and flirt with those who appear beautiful or well dressed. All dependant, of course, on their own personal preferences.

GamesRadar: In what ways does the dog transform?

JM: When it came to the dog, we didn’t want to focus too much on the physicality of the thing, but rather transform it in an emotional and intellectual way. Peter [Molyneux, founder of Lionhead and creator of the Fable franchise] really wanted the dog to remain a pet throughout the experience and not have it overshadow the hero on screen. So, while there are some visual alignment morphs, there’s no three-headed fire-breathing winged dogs or anything.

The dog transforms by how you teach it; it learns as it goes. If you ignore the dog, it will remain pretty dumb for the duration of the game. It will sulk, yawn, sleep and follow you lovingly, but that’s about it. If, however, you treat the dog well and teach it to fight, hunt, dig, scout, fetch and do tricks, then you will see it grow as a personality along with your own.

GamesRadar: What games, outside the Fable franchise, do you think have nailed the good-evil dynamic?

JM: I think there are a bunch of games that give it a good shot. KOTOR, Oblivion, Mass Effect and even our own Fable and Black& White all give moral alignment a fine amount of attention. Recently, I particularly liked what BioShock did with the Little Sisters. It was the only real moral dilemma in the game and, even if the consequences of the choices weren’t entirely world changing, the weight of it made me pause for thought. I liked that a lot. We really tried in Fable II to not only push the choices, but also to try and make the consequences as dramatic as possible.

GamesRadar: What part of Fable II’s character customization are you most proud of?

JM: Oddly enough, even with all the variation we’ve put into the morphing, alignment, clothing and accessory customization, I’m actually most proud of the fact that we got the female hero in there. In Fable II, we really went all out to open up sexuality and role play in the gaming world; we wanted to make this a story where players could truly be the kind of heroes they wanted to be.

Sexual orientation and how people choose to explore different personas just to see how the game reacts really gives our wee fairytale an edge that I don’t think any other game can offer. Opening up boundaries in a male dominated medium such as this will always be a source of pride for our team and I think it’s something the gaming public will embrace. It also makes for some interesting stories when people relate their experiences in the Fable II world to each other over a beer.

Oct 17, 2008

Charlie Barratt
I enjoy sunshine, the company of kittens and turning frowns upside down. I am also a fan of sarcasm. Let's be friends!