In the second part of our exclusive interview with the UK’s very own Peter Molyneux, the man answers more of the questions you wanted posed. In his most candid Fable interview to date, Molyneux frankly discusses the very essence of the game…
Question: Much has been said about the freedom available in Fable, and the game’s lack of linearity. Can you clarify how much freedom we can expect? Will it be akin to Morrowind?
Peter Molyneux: Fable is going to be as open-ended as people want it to be. The whole world will revolve around you as the player, his notoriety and prowess and those important things must change throughout the game. There will be multiple routes you can take, multiple quests and tasks along the way. The whole Fable world will be alive with people, villages and towns. You can stop along the way, amass wealth, buy shops, interact with people in the town, go and visit schools if you want… You can do anything you like along the way.
But, there has to be a main story underpinning everything, otherwise, people would get bored. You have a mother and a sister who are abducted by an evil force, there is another hero in the game who you must contend with.
Everything I have said about Fable is absolutely true. Yes you can get married, yes you will have children, but the whole thing must follow the main story. It’s an RPG.
Q: Why have the screenshots that have been shown from Fable over the past three years decreased in quality?
PM: Because… The person we had in charge of taking screenshots had no artistic eye. I’ll show you some screens, we’ll take some when we play the game later and they will be more beautiful than those of either 2001 or 2002.
There was a slight… I mean to be honest with you the very early screenshots were a little too high-poly that came out in about 2000 or 2001. The famous one looking out over a field isn’t too bad but there’s another one that shows the hero looking down over a city, which was a little off…
Q: Will Fable be your best game to date?
PM: Since we started making Fable and showed it at E3, we’ve been making it into the best game we can possibly make. Quite often it takes astounding effort to make a game worthy of people branding it as good, a huge effort. Fable is a massive game.
Q: Will Fable sell in Japan?
PM: To be quite honest with you, I think that the main character would have to be changed if Fable were to stand a good chance in Japan. The hero is far too western-looking and we’ll probably change him for that region.
Q: Do you think there’s any chance of seeing a gameplay video being released in the near future?
PM: How do you make a gameplay video?
Q: Well, get someone good at the game and show off its flashy bits…?
PM: Okay. Well, wherever we show the game we show it being played live, in real time, by one of the developers. So in a way, Fable has shown more in-game video stuff than any other big game in the works at present. I’d be more than happy to do one to answer the question though, yes. We’ve not put together a flash video full of FMV yet, which is why our stuff may not look as good as some other games around.
Q: It is our impression that a lot of the features touted in Fable, such as life sim aspects, have not yet been implemented yet. Shouldn’t a game this ambitious have this sort of infrastructure in place?
PM: Well actually it has been implemented, it’s just that people haven’t seen it yet. And you know why it’s not been seen? Because it’s difficult to demonstrate that kind of feature to people. I tried to show as much as possible of these parts of the game when I showed the game at E3.
I can show you all the theory behind it. To make it simple, Black and White had one and a half AI programs running it. And in Fable there are five, so you should gather that there is a serious amount of intelligence powering the game, into intricate detail.
Q: If the game has such powerful AI, when fighting multiple enemies, why does all but one hang back from the action?
PM: Interesting… In fact that’s a more interesting question than it sounds. It would be so easy, in terms of AI, to make all the enemies just pile in together. But that wouldn’t be any fun. And more the point, it would be unplayable. What you’ve got to do is get the pace of the battles right. So that players who are good get a good fight, and those who aren’t so good have access to the game. The AI will control the pace of each battle per player, so that those who have had many easy victories will start to find things get tougher, as the game and the characters in the game become more aware of the player’s renown.
The more experienced you get, the more the game will tailor itself to you. This is a problem faced by all RPGs. You have strength, speed agility, health all as constants, all the same for each player facing the same enemies.
Q: What’s so original about the combat? We’ve heard about the flourishes, how the character will learn to hold his sword better, unsheathe it faster. You have said that a year has been spent making the fighting context sensitive, yet we’ve not seen it. Is it still possible to fight with frying pans?
PM: Well you can fight with frying pans if you like… That was just a gimmick to show what the game was capable of. There are two special things, the flourishes and the combat multiplier. Combat multiplier rewards the player for having clean battles without getting hit. You can continue fighting, and whatever the multiplier has reached, your standard experience points will be multiplied by that number. Also, it locks, so that every time it passes five, if you get a hit after that, you’ll only loose a maximum of four. This brings a real gamble into the fight. The longer you’re in it, the more danger you have to face of loosing a massive amount of experience.
And then there are the flourishes, which are like the special moves in Fable. Flourishes denote skill with particular weapons. You can for instance, perform amazing tricks with a sword, though these won’t be transferable to, say, a battle-axe. And why should they be? They wouldn’t be in real life, so this way, players are encouraged to truly master a certain weapon and it works very well indeed.
Join us tomorrow for the final part of what is without question, the most intricate look at Fable to date. We’ll be posting an exclusive hands-on session impressions, as well as a batch of never before seen, world exclusive screens, taken from previously top-secret areas of th game.
And then there’s something very special indeed, the likes of which you’ll probably never have the opportunity to be involved with again.
Intrigued? Check back tomorrow.