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Fable II Post-Mortem

EG chats to Peter Molyneux.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

You may think you know everything about Peter Molyneux by now, but did you know he once chatted up a ghost's girlfriend and then killed her in front of him? You may think you've heard everything about Fable II, but do you really know why it only has one save slot? Or which two simple things could have improved the co-op?

With a first round of DLC on the way, we sat down with the Lionhead boss to see how he feels about the company's latest game. SPOILER ALERT: if you haven't finished Fable 2 yet and don't like spoilers, you might want to give this one a miss - at least for now.

EurogamerYou've said that, most of all, you wanted Fable II to make people happy. Have you succeeded?
Peter Molyneux

If you open the community boards, you can see there are a lot of people who are fractious about things. But a lot of people have come up to me and said what a fantastic experience they've had.

Some of those are gamers and a lot of them are not. I'm very proud of how inviting the Fable world was and how much real freedom it gave you. So, although I'm sure there's room for a lot more improvement, I think on balance, my original statement is at least partially true.

EurogamerHas the game found the unusually broad audience you were after?
Peter Molyneux

Yes. Three years ago we were writing the big things on a board, and one of those was: the experience should be for more than just us gamer lot, and why not make it so that it's accessible for everyone? A lot of people who have played it have said, "My girlfriend or my partner saw me play it and they've taken over and continued playing it."

The only criticism that I've got, and I'm not going to fully point the finger at us, is that I think that controller is such a barrier to the casual market. It's so intimidating even before we pick it up. It's not an issue of making the controller pink or blue or something like that: it's far more inherently difficult for people who don't play many computer games.

My wife, for example - one day I'm going to do a game that she actually enjoys - she holds the thumbstick like a little gear lever, and you're looking at her and going, "Put your thumb down there!" and she refuses to do it. She's always going to be challenged by that.

EurogamerDo you feel you served the casual audience more successfully than your core audience?
Peter Molyneux

I don't think we gave the core audience enough rewards. Combat in Fable, and I'd argue in RPGs, shouldn't be tedious. It should be part of the relaxation of playing. We achieved that, but we didn't make you feel cooler and cooler.

We had the currency to do that. We had these mechanics called crescendos which were supposed to build up so that it was only later in the game that you realised, "Wow, I'm really cool," but we didn't exploit them well enough. They should have been even more dramatic and widespread.

EurogamerIs it hard to sell to the audience the difference between something that's accessible, and something that's just too easy?
Peter Molyneux

It's not the particular challenge that's easy or hard, it's the overall experience: how you feel about each of those combat moments. Personally, if you're defining easy as, "Well, I should have died five times here and had to repeat the same combat over," I think that's just tedious.

It's not about easy and hard, it's about entertainment and tedium. Each moment in Fable is an experience. Sometimes it's an experience about feeling like you're about to fail and just succeeding. That's the ultimate that we want, rather than the experience of going in, failing, and finally succeeding. I wouldn't mind that once or twice but not over and over.