In a new Gamasutra feature interview, veteran developer Peter Molyneux talks about how Fable III didn't live up to his hopes -- saying that this has resulted in a "very, very different process" for Lionhead Studios moving forward.
One of the game's ambitious ideas was to take leveling out of the user interface, abstractly represented by numbers, and put it directly into the game -- tie it to the world, the character, and key moments in the story. Unfortunately, Molyneux says, this did not come across as hoped in the final product.
"I thought the idea of leveling outside the GUI, but leveling in the environment and the world was actually quite a good one, but I'm not sure..."
"The real dream of that leveling process was that, as you went through each gate, there would be these tough choices for the player. Which chest should I open? This one or that one? The feeling that you're going through the game at your own pace, but having to make these tough choices, was never actually realized," he says.
The problem, he says, was with the way the development studio worked.
"The process, the way that we designed, and the way that we crafted -- meant that the game came together very late. That is one of the things that we're changing; that is just such an old school way of working."
This left the team with "so little time to balance and refine" the game, says Molyneux. "That meant that what could have been a great mechanic turned out to be a good idea."
"I don't think that good ideas are a reason to do something; I think it has to feed into the overall experience to be a great idea. I liked the idea of not pressing the pause key and going to some abstracted GUI; I think that worked reasonably well."
He also admits, however, that "we didn't have the time to craft that into what that dream was."
"Lionhead -- especially me -- has never created projects in less than two years. This was the first time we ever did that," he says.
So how have things changed since? "It's because of those things that, now, when we approach development, it's very different, because we want to know precisely how long the experience we're crafting is up front, rather than waiting to the end, so that we have a clear idea how each of these mechanics is used, how they're meted out, how they're exploited, and how they're really used to amplify the whole drama of what that is.
"So we've got a very, very different process of designing now," Molyneux says. "We've spent a long time thinking about that and doing our research on how you can have a creatively-led production process and how you can take the complete randomness out of the way that a lot of ideas are developed and evolved."
The full interview goes into further depth on the travails of developing Fable III, contains new information about Milo, and more -- and is live now on Gamasutra.