GS: So what exactly is Lionhead working on right now?
PM: Certainly, our immediate focus is on Fable 2, and Fable 2 is for the Xbox 360. I just want to specialize and focus everything on one problem, since we’ve previously been so diluted by focusing on three things [The Movies, Black & White 2, Fable: The Lost Chapters, all completed in late 2005]. Me personally, I’m actually designing properly again for Fable 2, which is cool – it makes people very nervous! [laughs]
We are experimenting with something else, yes. That experiment may lead to another game. But we’re not saying anything else about that.
GS: So what can you say about Fable 2?
PM: Here’s the thing about Fable 2 – the whole reason that Lionhead exists, the reason that Microsoft acquired us, and the reason that I still am passionate about games is about innovation. We should kick every single foundation stone that we’ve got in Fable 2 – the way we’ve done that is with lots of experiments.
There are experiments with how we tell the story, experiments with what the world is and what the world means, experiments with - and this is probably the biggest experiment of all – the emotions I want you to feel as a player.
I want you to feel real emotions with Fable 2 that you haven’t felt before. I want you to experience things like unconditional love – that’s what I’m trying to get to. What this all adds up to is the idea that Fable 2 is intended to be a landmark game – it’s not just a sequel to Fable. It would have been so easy to do that.
GS: Oddly, in some ways it seems like popular opinion on the first Fable changed – people were initially a little disappointed compared to their perceived image of the game, but then they got turned around and in many cases enjoyed the experience.
PM: It did. After Fable I gave an apology and said: ‘Look, I’m sorry – when I went out there to explain what was going on, I was explaining what was happening in development. I wasn’t saying that this, this, and this were going to be in the final game.’
I think a lot of people got quite upset that some features weren’t in the game. But in some cases, the features I’d been talking about were there, but they weren’t exploited the way the players thought they would be.
Again, in Black & White, almost uniquely, I was talking about gameplay features when I should have been talking about experiments. We experimented with stuff far too late for it to be exploited. But you know, again, people came around.
And now we still experiment with ideas. But we used to wait until the game got to a certain stage in development and then experiment. Now we experiment first – they’re mad, crazy things - but they’re small things that we can play around with. This means that after we’ve done these experiments, we have a palette of things that we are happy with, and the game then can then exploit these kinds of things.