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Fable II Post-Mortem

EG chats to Peter Molyneux.
EurogamerIs it scary to throw out seasoned mechanics like dying, restarting, grinding, and getting lost?
Peter Molyneux

It was deeply scary to have the breadcrumb trail. It took an awful lot of persuasion. I think everybody predicted, "You'll follow this thing and get bored, and the sense of exploration will be gone." Sometimes, when you're a designer, you have to push against all resistance, and you have to believe it's going to work.

The experience of being lost is not what you want. The experience of exploring is what you want. The argument I use is: if you go orienteering, you take a map. Humans like to know where they're going. The people who really like to explore are the uber-uber-good people who are very good at working out where they are in a 2- and 3-D world. We stuck with the breadcrumb trail, and I'm really happy with the results.

Thinking about the future, I think there's an enormous amount of gameplay in that breadcrumb trail: there's a lot we can do with that which we never had time to explore.

EurogamerHow do you play Fable II?
Peter Molyneux

Remember, I've only recently played Fable II for the first time, because although I've played through it thousands of times, when you're playing through it and writing down the things that are wrong, you're not really playing it.

After a while, I forgot completely about the good and evil side, and got wrapped up in what was going on in the moment. I found myself taking quite unnecessary revenge on things that I felt had done me wrong, and at other times I'd go along with things.

For example, the ghost that asked me to marry the bride: I was the epitome of cruelty to that bloke because I thought he had done something wrong. I married the girl, took her back, and then I killed her in front of him, and took great glee in that.

EurogamerWhy the single save slot?
Peter Molyneux

Should I be honest? I think I should. The one save slot is purely a restriction imposed on us because of running out of time. It was nothing to do with the save mechanics, it was purely down to the GUI.

The pause screen having a scrolling list of games was weeded out in the last weeks. Before that I had put in the question: if we give people these save slots, for a lot of people it will ruin the experience, because the feeling you can just go backwards and forwards is rather like rewinding in a film when you're halfway. That's how I justified it to myself, but that was another raging debate. I'm not sure it's a system we'll emulate again, to be honest.

EurogamerWhich choices in the games have turned out to be the most memorable?
Peter Molyneux

I think the Shadow Court stands out, the idea of being scarred, that stands out a lot, and the end of the game. A lot of people have said, "Where was the big battle?" I stand by it: the Lucien character was not a character to fight. He had an army so it would have been invalid. So those three choices at the end, albeit simple, were very engaging.

EurogamerAre you collecting stats on the way people are playing? Do you know what choice people are making at the end?
Peter Molyneux

There is this tool we could have integrated, which would have collected thousands of stats on everybody. But it also generated thousands of bugs, and we had to drop it. What a great shame.

There's been a surprising number of reactions to the choices, from someone sending me a personal email saying that I deserved to die, and that he would never buy another game ever again unless I release a patch to resurrect his dog, to people saying, "I didn't think I had it in me to sacrifice so much, but I feel so good about it."

EurogamerThe final choice has very clear consequences, but a lot of the other choices are unclear. You often seem to go for a surprise...
Peter Molyneux

You've got to have a blend. We had this technology to change the world radically all the way through the game. We realised that if you kept doing this, unless you say, "Choice A means thousands will live and choice B means thousands will die," it spoils that. I love mixing things up.

EurogamerThere are moments in the game where you really change the pace: the Spire, where you're a slave, for example. Was that a risk, given the audience you wanted?
Peter Molyneux

It was definitely part of the pacing. A lot of games and films have this arc which is always the same: the baddies get tougher, the weapons get bigger, you're building yourself up for a really big fight and then everyone dies, and that's it. We wanted to mix it up and make it more unexpected.

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About the Author

Christian Donlan avatar

Christian Donlan

Features Editor

Christian Donlan is a features editor for Eurogamer. He is the author of The Unmapped Mind, published as The Inward Empire in the US.


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