The Fable mastermind and expert of overhyping a game recently sat down for an interview with Gamasutra, going into detail about the missed targets for Fable 3 and what was next for the franchise.
Of course, the reason why Fable 3 wasn’t the genre-breaking success that it was meant to be wasn’t because of Molyneux’s inane promises, but because his studio, Lionhead, couldn’t realise his vision properly. "It didn’t end up being the game that I dreamed it would beâ€ he says when asked about Fable 3.
The game came together so late that we had so little time to balance and refine some of the play mechanics. There was just a few weeks to do it. That meant that what could have been a great mechanic turned out to be a good idea.
The bets get bigger and bigger, and the quality… I think that we have got a long way to go on the quality of Fable, and you just have to take a deep breath, knuckle down, and do it. If you look to the quality of a computer game just ten years ago, it is astounding, the difference. That’s not going to stop anytime soon. What we thought of as being breath-taking, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping graphics of something like Half-Life now seems incredibly retro. It’s just… Take a deep breath and move forward.
We’re already mid-process in change, and we’ve kind of looked at that; we’ve taken some pretty big steps along that route with what we are working on now. We are taking some fairly big steps on the quality.
But what’s so fascinating about it is there’s so many things that are increasing in quality. One of the things that really, in my opinion, dramatically increased in quality is the ability of teams to do the most amazing demo. It’s like that E3 show-stopper demo. There is a real craft in doing that; there are separate teams that just do an E3 demo or press demo.
I begin to say to myself, Well, hang on a second. This is a bit like what Hollywood does with trailers, which I absolutely hate. You see a trailer for some action film, and you know you’ve just seen the best bits of the movie. I think games are starting to go down on that side. The amount of craft that we put into the public perception and the demo and the stage presence of it and the pacing of it is astounding. It’s amazing, really, because, of course, that’s totally distraction off the game.
While Fable 3 was no doubt a fun game, it was hardly anything new, relying too much on old gameplay mechanics without bringing anything original to the table, resulting in an average game. Molyneux however, plans to guide Lionhead Studios in a direction that will finally bring his gaming dreams to fruition, delivering on promises that he’s been making for almost a decade now.
Yeah. I think last year we were just on the cusp of possibly getting everything we wanted in the game, or possibly having to come down and edit very heavily to finish the game in what was two years. You have to remember that, you know, Lionhead, especially me, has never created projects in less than two years. This was the first time we ever did that.
Just after that point, we then sat down, and, partly because of the way that we worked — the process, the way that we designed, and the way that we crafted — meant that the game came together very late. That is one of the things that we’re changing; that is just such an old school way of working.
You have these ideas called pillars, and then you rush away and develop these pillars. About nine months before the game is due to be finished, you’ve got to bring that whole thing together and then, Oh, wow! The game’s this long!
Every game, unbelievably, you sit down: Good grief! It’s twice as long as I thought it was going to be! You just can’t afford that in terms of development when you’re developing by the second.
So when we came down to it, the edit, I think the ruling section in Fable was the one that really suffered a lot here. The edit was very harsh and hard to actually make the game fit.
Now, the bar you have to reach is so extremely high. It is thousands of pounds a minute, if you think of it that way; if you waste a minute, you’ve wasted a thousand pounds and wasted an opportunity.
I look at Fable III, and it’s hard to be completely honest without offending people; but I know, when I read in the middle of a review that said the quality just wasn’t good enough, I actually agree with those reviews.
I think Lionhead can’t afford to rest on its laurels of its fans and produce low-quality stuff. We have lots of excuses, as you always do have excuses; but I don’t think that’s good enough. For consumers, it’s very simple: there’s a bright light here, and there’s an even brighter light there. They’re going to go towards the even brighter light — and why shouldn’t they? You just can’t sit on your hands and say, "Well, we know how to do it. It’s Fable, so that’s the way we do it." You just can’t do that.
And on the topic of the Kinect demo for Milo and Kate that seems to have become vapourware as of late.
I can’t say anything about Milo. I’ve got in such trouble, an amazing amount of trouble, like standing in the corner of the room and being shouted at sort of trouble. I’ve always been cheeky in the past, and I’ve always pushed the boundaries of what publishers would like me to say, but this is literally standing in front of a court and being stripped down repeated times.
Love or hate the man, he’s got some good points and great ideas, and a genuine love for games that are always ruined by an inability to stop promising gamers the world, resulting in broken dreams. Whether the latest Fable game will be an on-rails experience that waters down the game completely like many suspect still remains to be seen, as gamers will no doubt be wary when it comes to buying yet another Fable title.
Last Updated: June 28, 2011