Fable II’s story and drama weren’t very good, but Fable III’s will be excellent, said Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux this morning, when he demoed the upcoming RPG sequel to delegates at the Develop Conference in Brighton, England -- the first time the game has been shown in Europe.
"I don’t think [the industry] has taken drama seriously enough," said Molyneux, who considers Lionhead no exception here: Black and White, he noted, had just a single actor voicing its cast of hundreds.
And in Fable, he revealed, "although we took the writing reasonably seriously, we didn’t think of it as a 'real' story... I was talking to the press back at E3, and in every interview I gave I asked the press, ‘what was the story in Fable II?’ -- and none of them could remember anything about it.”
On Fable III, therefore, the team at Lionhead are considering narrative particularly carefully, in order to present a story that is effective, affecting and memorable.
"One of the things that we really wanted to do is have something very clear about the story," Molyneux continued. "The story in Fable III is this simple: you are going to be a revolutionary, who’s going to overthrow this tyrannical king who’s doing horrible stuff to Albion. You’re going to gather forces, storm the castle, and then become king yourself. I love that, because people are going to remember that," whereas in the previous Fable games the big story point was often lost, Molyneux admitted.
The presence of strong actors has also been essential in achieving a compelling story, said Molyneux -- especially in terms of humor. "Making people laugh in Fable is absolutely essential," he said. "[These actors] are naturally funny people. 20 per cent of the lines you hear in Fable III are actually from their mouths and minds, rather than us."
Better Than Fable II
The stronger storytelling, combined with a number of other factors, will make Fable III a far stronger game than its predecessor, Molyneux assured delegates during his address. "Being honest, [Fable II], had some terribly messy things about it," he said. "In development, you rush at the end."
At one point during development, the game had approximately 67,000 bugs in the code. "The Microsoft test team rated us ‘super black’," recalled Molyneux. "No one had ever been rated ‘black’ before."
More fundamentally, Molyneux believes there were a number of poor decisions made for Fable II, particularly the inclusion of game features that few people felt the need to use. "Marriage didn’t mean anything," he said -- "it was just an excuse to have sex."
More than 50 per cent of Fable II players explored less than 60 percent of its content, he revealed.
Ultimately, Molyneux hopes that Fable III will be a far more accessible game than either previous release in the series. Particularly important to the team is the removal of Fable II’s cluttered user interface, which is to be replaced by in-game alternatives. "It was just not good enough in today’s world," he said of the game’s unintuitive menu.