Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome to the Microsoft / Lionhead press conference.
Microsoft has delivered its gamescom 2009 conference, and we covered the keynote live from Cologne, Germany.
Peter Molyneux led the address, unveiling Fable III and discussing the lofty ideas within. Our Fable III preview has all the details.
Read on for a full, blow-by-blow, account of the Microsoft gamescom 2009 conference. The earliest entries are presented first.
We're sitting in a big room in the Koelnmessse. There are medieval style-banners hanging from the walls - blue and red with crowns and fleur de lys on one side of the room, black with bloody eagle symbols on the other.
Molynoire is on stage.
Molynoire is talking about the success he's had so far. "I've got a little bit of an announcement about Fable II."
It's something called "Fable episodic". As of September 29th, episodes 1 - 5 will be released.
The first chapter will be free - when you get to the end of one you can opt to buy the next one, or buy the rest of the game.
"Let's move on to talk about something else... FABLE III"
"Now of course we're developing Fable III. We'd be insane not to." Check the Eurogamer front page RIGHT NOW, Fable fans!
"The third child is always the problem child," says Peter.
"The third game in the series tends to be a bit of a lull, you get bored of playing the character and the world..."
"We want people to expect the unexpected. I want fans to say, 'Oi, you should clean up this from Fable 2" and so on.
He wants to give us something really "new, fresh and different". In the first game, "We made a really good step forward with the dog" AAA STOP GOING ON ABOUT THE BLOODY DOG.
"I think there's something fundamentally wrong with RPGs like Fable... It's a mechanic that's been there since the eighties. I'm going to take that foundation stone and throw it away."
But he won't tell us what the foundation stone is today - he's leaving it as a "puzzle" for us. Thanks. Will it have a cat this time, Peter?
"For me, as a games designer, it's all about power and you feeling powerful."
He's showing us a Fable III teaser video now. "The kingdom of Albion is changing," says Zoe Wanamaker. "The kingdom needs a new leader."
On screen is a crown lying in woodland. A pair of feet under a skirt wander over. "The race for the crown has begun."
Peter again: "You are going to become the ruler of the whole of Albion. You've played in this land in Fable 1, in Fable 2 you became a hero; this time, why not rule Albion? Why not be a king or a queen?"
Your judgments will affect the whole of the land. "I want players to feel and experience what it's like to be a ruler."
"If you look at our iconic leaders like Obama or HAHAHA Gordon Brown HAHAHA" what? "History and the world and the evolution of mankind is based around these iconic leaders."
Do you get to "be" Barack Obama? That would be good.
You can "eradicate poverty" says Peter by giving all the money in your treasure room to the people. Or you can keep it all yourself and be more of a tyrant. The point is, there are always consequences.
You have a family as well - a king or a queen sitting at your side. Do you also have a son called Milo, Peter?
Concept shot now - a king sits on a throne surrounded by a nagging wife and loads of rotten kids.
Another pic - a queen relaxing on her throne, using a peasant as a footstool. A bit like when Bertie helps me review Wii games. [Hey! - Bertie]
You start the game as the son or daughter of the Hero from Fable II. For the first half of the game you have to lead a revolution against the tyrant king.
You must gather support, gain followers and unite factions.
"We've really been inspired by people like Joan of Arc, Richard III, Genghis Khan, Ben Fogle." Maybe not the last one.
"Ultimately you overthrow that terrible tyrant who rules Albion, but to do that you have to make some promises."
This bit of the game is called Journey to Rule, looks like. You have to promise things to the people who follow you.
The question is, do you keep those promises when you rule? "I look at Obama, and he's not looking as fresh faced as he was, is he? He looks a bit haggard. It's as if the truth has been revealed to him."
I wonder if Barack Obama is watching a live feed of this going, "How does Peter Molyneux stay so fresh-faced and young?"
A new slide now - Once You Rule. You're still a hero ruler, "very much like the captain in Star Trek".
You are a hero like Ceaser (sic) or Gengis khan (sic - who wrote these slides?)
You must decide which promises you can keep. You can use your gold to build up a certain region, help poorer people, let people off taxes and so on.
He's now showing us the image you'll see on the Eurogamer front page now. You can decide who will exist there, "Or whether it will be basically one person's back garden."
"There's a new house there - what are you going to do with that?" Add a conservatory?
Another pic now - a grey canal between cobbled streets. It's an industrial district - "a lot of injustice, crime, poverty" here. "What are you going to do about that?" Put in a Lidl?
A pic of the castle now, with the sun setting in the background. Are you going to spend loads of money on upgrading it, or let it go to rack and ruin and spend money on the poor? I vote loft conversion.
Another pic under the title "Not just Albion this time" - looks like a desert with strange pointy rocks sticking out of the sand. "You haven't seen all of Albion... We'll be unveiling more of that world in Fable III."
A new slide now - "Drama". Getting drama is tricky, says Peter. He should watch The Hills.
The slide says there will be some characters from Fable II returning.
"Look up the tale of what's happened in Oman in the last hundred years - it's fascinating and it almost fits perfectly what we're trying to do."
Apparently one brother tried to hold Oman back and the other tried to overthrow him - "It's like a story in itself."
"When you start investigating that, the amount of intrigue, backstabbing, terrible events that went on is almost unbelievable."
"But the big problem games have time and time again, especially with something like Fable - it's such a massive game... The big problem is seeing the story early enough."
They didn't quite get to the drama in Fable I and II because they didn't get to see the story till the game was almost finished.
So they've been experimenting with a new way of seeing the story early - it's called "staging". They wrote all the scripts, then went to Shepperton and hired a big sound stage, got a load of actors and actresses in and a proper director, and started acting out the whole story.
We're seeing some footage of that now. A woman kneels in front of a man on the throne - she is accused of treason.
Molynoire says they'd written the scene with the King walking around, but the staging and the ad-libbing by the actors enabled them to recast the whole scene.
"Our story isn't just one thread, it branches and merges and there are lots of choices and consequences, and we have to get to the centre of that as quickly as possible."
The staging video then goes back to the animators and the gameplay scripters. They're inspired as a result.
A new slide now - "Need some new gameplay."
"I know what you're thinking out there, you press people, because you're sneaky. You're thinking, is it going to be an RTS, then?"
NO, says Peter. They're putting a new mechanic in called "judgments". As king you can judge people and make them defend themselves.
Let's take an example - but this example "isn't in the game". Oh.
Say you're in your throne room and they bring in a girl caught stealing food. You can listen to the witness's statement and arguments for setting an example.
You can investigate things further yourself, or at any time say you've heard enough and make a judgment.
Or you can listen to the girl's case and excuses for why she stole. You can go and visit her family, for example, and see if they really are as poor as she says.
Then you can choose what to do - throw the girl a handful of gold or throw her in the dungeons? Can't you just give her an ASBO and an ankle bracelet, Peter?
There will be all sorts of judgments: "Everything from a crust of bread being stolen to a huge countrywide thing - shall we go to war?"
There's another new mechanic called Touch, too.
He's talking about how the English think farting is funny but Germans don't. Or something.
They were considering whether to do expressions in Fable III - "Could you really do the Michael Jackson moonwalk on your throne?" Well, he couldn't.
"In many games for me, the main character feels detached from the world. It's rare you see them physically touching people."
"In Fable 2, OK you could stroke your dog" that's two dog references now Peter THAT'S ENOUGH.
"Now we've got this new system of touching. When you meet someone you can shake their hand or refuse to. Later on you can turn that into a hug. Later on that can turn into an embrace." Where is this going?
"A full passionate snog. Then I won't tell you where it leads to, but you can use your imagination... I'm not saying there's cupping, by the way." Is there teabagging?
"Imagine being able to embrace your child. How does that make you feel?"
That's expression touch, but then there's dynamic touch, which "enables you at any time to reach out and touch someone - to hold someone's hand, to pull them along, to be pulled by then, to take the person you love to the top of a cliff and look at the sunset." And cup them?
"Imagine hearing the cries from a young child in the house, and you as a ruler storm in to save the child." In Fable I and Fable II, you'd get a button prompt - press A to save the child. With dynamic touch, you can pull the child out of the flames and the burning house.
You can cuddle them and reassure them and carry them out of the burning house. BUT WHO WILL SAVE THE DOG PETER.
"I am going to tease you with how we're doing this" NO CUPPPING PLEASE "That's only one tiny sliver of the gameplay we're unveiling."
Fable III is out in 2010 - "Don't expect it too early in 2010"
"On the Xbox 360. And we're still working hard on Milo and Kate."
"Please enjoy the sense of power we're going to give you with Fable III."
"One more thing - I am giving a talk at 1pm where I'm going into more detail about choices and consequences." Righto.
And he's off, and it looks like that's it. What no Xbox 360 Slim?
Well there you go, a first glimpse at Fable III from Pierre Molynoire himself. For more, check out our exclusive feature on the front page right now. Byeee!