Just before Fable 3 launches here in the UK, we caught up with Josh Atkins, Lionhead’s Senior Design Director to find out more about the the game.
Peter Molyneux was quoted as saying he wanted to remove the traditional RPG mechanics from Fable 3 and make it more accessible. How has this been achieved?
We’ve done it in a couple of ways. The trick when you get handed a task like that you don’t lose any of the fun that comes from RPG mechanics. So what we did was, firstly we wanted you to maintain a sense of hero progression so you feel your character’s improved. So instead of moving hero progression, what we did was we ended up simplifying it.
Now there’s one currency and you use that currency as a way to upgrade your hero. So rather than having multiple forms of experience, you essentially have one thing to collect making it easier to understand. That’s the first thing.
Unlike traditional RPG’s where you concentrate on being a gun guy, magic guy or a sword guy, in Fable III you can easily flow between the three of them so you’re not so stuck on a single path and, actually, the combat is a lot more fun.
The third thing we’ve done is that the way you can upgrade your hero, customise your hero and understanding your hero’s state and status way more interactive so there’s no more 2D bars and meters and stuff. Everything is built into our Sanctuary and in there you can upgrade your hero is a very visual way by opening chests or by interacting with your butler who can say things such as ‘I can see you’re getting stronger’ or ‘the villagers will like it if you wear that dress’.
Do you believe Fable III will be the game that makes RPG’s appealing to non-RPG fans due to its lack of menus and different way of doing things?
I think people who like RPG games in the sense of enjoying a really great story, a really big world and the feeling they are on a journey where they are improving their hero, they will really like this game.
RPG games have a certain stigma attached them where there’s a lot of rules, things to remember, searching for the right statistics and deciding which sword you should carry, but in Fable III it’s way more pick-up-and-play and there’s less we have to teach and less the player has to remember so players who are not comfortable with RPG’s should be way more comfortable with Fable III.
Can you explain how Dynamic Touch will work?
We wanted to grab the player emotionally, give some connection between the player and the game and one of the thing’s Peter proposed early on in the game was the ability to reach out and touch characters and the first thing we did when experimenting with that feature was allowing the player to pick up and hug their child.
From there we added the ability to hug other villages, hug your friends, shake hands and because this is Fable you can fart on their heads. We essentially created a system that allows human to human contact that creates a sense of emotional connection.
I think this is very unusual for a game as you rarely see this kind of human interaction.
How many hours of estimated gameplay does Fable III have?
I think it depends on the player. That’s a tricky one to answer. If someone was to just jam on it and play the bare minimum I would say between 12 to 15 hours, but to do everything definitely 30 hours plus as there’s more content in Fable III then we’ve ever had in any previous Fable game.
When a player becomes ruler, I understand you can decide to go to war with Aurora?
What happens is that you, as a ruler, discover something really bad has happened in Aurora. As a foreign country, you have a choice, using your own resources, as to whether you want to help them. As a ruler you are presented with a difficult decision whether or not you are going to be a merciful leader. Alternatively, you can force them to be free labour for the benefit of Albion.
I’ve read that character-morphing and the new location-morphing will be more dynamic this time round?
We’ve definitely changed the technology so that, while your character will change the way they have done in previous Fable games, but it’s very different to past games as now, when you’re in combat, you get big glowing wings and you feel like you’re quite powerful and something unique.
Another thing we’ve done is change the customisation options so now you’ve got more control over the look and presentation of your hero as well. And the way your hero appears affects the way other characters interact with you and perceive you.
With celebs such as Jonathan Ross and Stephen Fry providing the voice-overs in Fable III and the likes of Matthew Perry doing the voice-overs in Fallout New Vegas, do you believe this will become the norm in the games industry as it has done with animated hollywood movies?
Honestly, yes I do. I think you need people who have a lot of talent, not just famous people, but also a great audio director.
We spent hours and hours deciding what characters would say and do and when you see Sir Ben Kingley talk for your characters and you see Simon Pegg bringing a lot of passion to it, it is quite emotional and it makes it feel like all that work was worth it.
Animated movies now use famous names for both voice overs and as a promotional point on advertising boards etc, do you believe this will happen in the games industry?
Absolutely, I believe this is the way the industry will go.
Given that the game has reportedly over 47 hours of speech, how intelligent are the conversations between characters?
There are a lot of layers to the speech system, so our hope is that the speech is very intelligent. One of the things we’ve done is give the hero a voice this time, so we’ve made interaction between the hero and the villagers and the hero and the narrative characters a bit more emotionally engaging and a bit more dramatic.
Although we have not made the game a very textual experience as that’s not what Fable is about, it’s very much based around touch and human interaction and having a relationship with the other characters, but not pick one of these three responses kind of stuff.
In the cooperative mode, Peter Molyneux said players will not now be tied to one camera. How does this work?
In Fable II, both characters were required to stay close to each other. And only character could be a hero, the other would be a henchman. This worked okay over the couch, but it was not a great live experience. But in Fable III, you can now bring in two heroes and are no longer tied to one camera, but can wander around the world as you see fit. One player can be on one side of the world and the other player on the other and long as they are talking to each other then it works fine.
Can you tell me any features in the game not previously published?
You can race chickens!
There is a quest in the game where you have to dress up as a chicken and then you race them. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but what other game lets you race chickens?
Thanks to John at Lionhead for taking the time to talk to IncGamers, and don’t forget to read our full .