Now that you're at the end, you've completed the game and submitted the multiplayer patch, how do you feel? I'm sure you feel relieved to come to the end of a project that was difficult, or challenging.
PM: It's a very, very odd feeling finishing a game. "Relief" is the wrong word. There's all the relief from people around you. The marketing people are relieved, and the production people are relieved, and the sales forecast people are relieved, and the people... they're all relieved.
I personally go into a grieving process. I do. It's like I have a month of grieving where my brain is no longer full of Fable. And I'm not thinking about, "God, what am I going to say about Fable, what am I going to show? What does this mean and what does that mean? And God, isn't it going to be fantastic to see people play it?"
It fills the whole of your mind, and then suddenly [claps] it's over. And you know, the cat is out of the bag. And you kind of miss it.
PM: You miss it in way. I've never had a game that I've truly been proud of. And that sounds like this is a PR line of being humble. It's not. I always had this tradition of going into a shop and buying the retail copy and going home and actually playing it.
And I always play it, and it must be like watching yourself in a movie. I think, "Oh God, why did I make that stupid mistake?" And I hope -- I think -- Fable is going to be closer than any game I've done before to what I thought it was going to be when I first sat down to the idea.
Well, that brings me to something. I remember when I first met you in 2004, and it was right when you were finishing up Fable I. And you told me at that time, if I remember correctly, that you already knew where Fable II and Fable III were going to go. How close did you get in the end, four years later, to what you thought Fable II was going to be at that time?
PM: Well there's the thing to that. I think, when Dene and Simon Carter and I were talking about creating Fable, back when we were doing Dungeon Keeper together, we talked about this great vision, and it was more about the vision of the story, and what it would be like to play through this.
And that's perhaps what I was talking about there. And I also, perhaps, was talking about, God, there's some things I would have loved to have done better in Fable I.
PM: At the end of Fable I, we sat down and we kind of thought, firstly the reviews were... some of the reviews were very mixed. We asked ourselves, "How did we disappoint people?" -- with those reviews.
The second thing, the boards were unbelievably passionate about some things. Incredibly passionate and very focused on, "Why isn't there free roaming? I thought there was free roaming, this should have free roaming, it's supposed to be an open world." That was 100%, everybody was passionate about that.
There were some other things that were very confusing. The length of the story was immensely confusing because a lot of people said it was far, far, far too short and a lot more people said, "Actually, it's just the right length, and it was the only game I finished because it was that length."
Yes. That could be a real challenge.
PM: Yes, and it was a real challenge. So we had this list of stuff which we went away and thought we're really going to try and fix that. We did, we really did do due diligence on that. I mean there is, when you've got that blank sheet of paper when you come to a new game, there's a lot of voices screaming in your ear trying to persuade you to take it in a different direction.
A lot of those voices are the science of making computer games. Those are the most scary ones -- is that you have these market research people -- and Microsoft is brilliant at doing this, to come in and say, "51.3% of your audience did this and 68.8% did that," and you end up thinking, "Oh my God, how am I ever going to design this?" It's like someone mixed together 20 jigsaw puzzles and you've got to make a picture out of those jigsaw pieces.
But, at that point, it became clear that the real failing of Fable I is that we didn't make a truly emotional experience that people remember. I've never... did you play Fable I?
Oh, yes. I played it in your office, remember?
PM: Yeah, I do remember. Did you finish it, though?
Yes, I got to the end.
PM: Can you remember the story?
I can remember what happened. I'm not sure that I would say I remember it like a story, in the sense that you remember the story from a movie.
PM: Exactly. That was a stupid, dumb mistake and you will remember the story of Fable II and I want you to remember the story of Fable II for the rest of your life. That is my job.