The Art of Fable 2 • Page 3

Lionhead's artists down brushes for a pre-release chat.

Eurogamer: I guess I was driving less at the technical side of the art, and more at the traditional side - what's different about the look and style of the game.

Ian Lovett: Okay. Well, one of the key things that's going to bring the whole thing alive is that the lighting is very good. That works particularly well. Everything looks much more grounded and solid, like part of the world. You walk under the trees and you get a green glow coming in.

I mean, that's all great technology - but hopefully that's invisible to the consumer. He'll just look at that and feel like he's in a forest. You'll feel more part of the game, more wrapped up in the experience.

I also think that this game is a bit more consistent, actually. In the first one, there were definitely some things that didn't quite match with other things, and what have you. On this one, John [McCormack, art director on the game] has done an amazing job of whipping the art team into a very consistent type of style. Everything hangs together with a much more convincing look.

That's one of the things Nintendo always do. Everything is so solid - it really feels like it's part of their world. Nothing feels out of place.

Mike McCarthy: I think that's it, that's the challenge. It's when people don't notice it that it's successful. When nothing jumps out at them as not belonging in that universe.

Ian Lovett: We want them to be sucked into the game and the story, and we want it to be fun.

Mike McCarthy: We want it to be immersive, and when it's totally immersive, you don't question. You don't go around thinking, "well, that doesn't look like it belongs", or "that bit looks really realistic".

Ian Lovett: That's the analogy with Toy Story. That could have been a graphical showcase - and the fact that it's beautiful is neither here nor there. The reason people went to see that film is because it was a really, really good story and film. Now, I'm not saying that Fable's story is quite on that level, but it's playing to a number of different strengths.

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"That's the analogy with Toy Story. That could have been a graphical showcase - and the fact that it's beautiful is neither here nor there...We want the art to be complementary to the experience."

That's what we want. We want the art to be complementary to the experience. It should be light-hearted and humorous, where the game is. It should poke fun at things... We're not really talking a lot about the animation, but that's probably one of the areas that really brings the game to life. The art is the backdrop, the animation is the personality - and the story on top is the reason that you're there.

Mike McCarthy: I think generally, in a funny way, it's very slightly more realistic than Fable. The look of it is slightly... Fable is really quite cartoony. This is slightly less exaggerated. It's still not trying to be real life.

Ian Lovett: It's stronger for it. We always said that it was a kind of exaggerated stereotype. If something needed to be big and bold, it wasn't afraid of pushing the boundaries to do that. We still do that in Fable 2, but we just toned everything down slightly.

Eurogamer: Was there anything that you really wanted to do in Fable 1 - from an artistic, or area design perspective - which Fable 2 has now given you the freedom to do?

Ian Lovett: Oh god, all kinds of things. Oh, hell yeah. The possibilities suddenly go whoosh!

Mike McCarthy: Just the amount of detail you can get into everything...

Ian Lovett: The thing is, you are overwhelmed initially - partly because we felt very constrained at the end of the Xbox lifespan. It was a great platform, but when you've been working for that long on one platform, you're like, "please, god, just let me have a few more polygons!"

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"We made a real decision that, whilst we were going to increase the quality - the polygons, the textures - involved in making the world, really what we wanted to do was make the world bigger."

We made a real decision that, whilst we were going to increase the quality - the polygons, the textures - involved in making the world, really what we wanted to do was make the world bigger. More people. More houses. Rather than keeping it the same size as Fable, and having super-beautiful one-off houses here and there, we were going to do twenty houses instead.

That means that there wasn't necessarily the same jump as some other games that have gone from Xbox to 360, or from PS2 to - eventually! - the PS3. We wanted to make it bigger, more immersive, to put more stuff in it.

Mike McCarthy: Places like Bowerstone really do feel like a busy city.

Ian Lovett: When we did Bowerstone on the original game, we had this huge city - and then we had to cut it in half! As we started adding things like people, we realised that we were hitting these performance limitations. All that beautiful stuff we wanted to put in just went - it was heartbreaking.

This time, we said, "right, we're going to have all that stuff - but we're going to be sensible about it!" I think we've achieved that. I'm really pleased. And slightly nervous. The expectation to sell a lot of units is high.

Indeed it is, and you'll be able to decide whether to buy it or not with the help of our Fable 2 review, which will go live around the time of the game's 24th October release date.

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