Förmiddagens jobbrutin på FZ-redaktionen bröts av ett rörformat paket. Vi slet av locket och blev inte mycket klokare när våra ögon fastnade på ett förseglat pergament. Med ivriga fingrar bröt vi förseglingen... och det klarnade - Peter Molyneux svarar på frågor om #Fable II.
Häromveckan fick FZ och ett antal andra spelmedier chansen att ställa frågor om Fable II till #Lionhead-bossen Peter Molyneux. Den gode britten ger sammanlagt tjugotre utförliga kommentarer om det efterlängtade rollspelet som når butik på torsdag nästa vecka. Läs hela intervjun nedan (de tre första frågorna är ställda av FZ).
Q & A Fable 2: Peter Molyneux
What features of Fable II are you most and least satisfied with?
- I think I'm most satisfied with the dog, the one button combat system and the co-op. I am least satisfied with the animations, the navigation system and the pause screens.
The "death design" has changed during the development. Could you tell us a bit more about this process?
- The question that I asked myself was firstly what death in computer games is and why is it there? The answer is that it is there to increase the drama of the game. I started wondering if you nowadays need to have death as in dying, and going back in time and have to start all over again, I think that it actually decreases the drama. And then I asked myself if you really wanted the drama of the moment, what is the way of achieving it? We experimented with the idea that every time you died you actually became scarred, which was pretty good and interesting but we found out that people hated being scarred for life, they would effectively reload the game every time they died. So we realized that the best way around this was to have people die for a few moments .Then return to the game but lose some of the experience they would have gained through the battle. And that worked out the best for us.
You've mentioned that you're using professional script writers and actors this time. Obviously, this should lead to a better script and better voice acting. But are there any drawbacks?
- The main drawback really was that the script writers did a lot of improvisation and what this actually meant for us was that we had to go back to the drawing board all the time. And this is actually a common thing when you are making a film, which leads to actors improvising and changing the story. We thought we had gone into the staging process with the perfect story but it actually turned out that we were nowhere near having this! It was much more like a film process, you would effectively go back to do some writing and then some re-writing. So it really let us realize that it is really much more difficult than you first think.
Fable didn't have very many interesting characters in the story - has that changed in Fable 2 and in that case - can you describe some of the more interesting ones?
- We really spent time on thinking on how we could upscale the drama, which included realizing that we weren't great storytellers. We knew how to write a good outline story but we needed some skilled people to help us with that. We hired professional scriptwriters that had done TV and film work, we spoke to film directors and we hired them to help us with the story. We even got a whole set of actors in to a sound stage and we filmed them and went through the whole story of Fable II before it was even put into the game, because we really wanted to nail the idea that this was going to be a really dramatic story.
So which would you describe as the more interesting characters in Fable II?
- Hard to go to in to specifics names without spoiling the story a little bit, but we got an archetypal enemy called Lucien who is a very interesting character; there is Rose, who is your sister. This is just to give an introduction but also to really make you feel that there is a dramatic story there and it's not easy to name specific actors, but we have definitely spent a lot of time on it.
How long is the game with and without side missions?
- This is one of the most interesting design problems that we had, the people that played Fable I, some said that the story was too long and some said it was too short. So we really thought about how we could get around that, if you follow the line of the story from start to finish it is about 13-14 hours. But you are going to get to the end of the story then and you are not going to get involved with the world, you are going to be pretty poor, be very unpopular and unloved because you haven't spend time getting a family or time with your family so if I didn't start adding in the side quest or spent time adding in whole stream of players, 4, 5, 6h of side quests. I like the idea that you can buy any building in the world this will lead to a lot of different side quests. I never really have seen anyone that truly has finished every aspect of Fable 2.
What's the biggest difference between Fable and Fable 2?
- Well that is a pretty hard question to answer because we started with a whole list of features that we wanted to improve from Fable I, but we soon realized that we needed to do more than that, we needed to improve the drama of the story and the characterization which is really different and important in Fable II. I loved the idea of this dog companion that you got, and the co-op is a fantastic addition into the game. Add all those things up and that makes Fable II a pretty unique thing.
What's the most important new feature in Fable 2?
- I think it's probably the co-op, the idea that you can play together, I mean for me that is pretty compulsive. I love the idea that you can invite partners or friends just to jump into your world and experience it for themselves. Or you can see fiends playing their single player game over live and again invite them to join you in your world . I am also pretty pleased with the one button combat system it is easy for anyone to pick up and play but also has a great deal of depth for the experienced gamer.
You have stated that you would rate Fable 2 as a 9/10, what would have made it a perfect 10?
- I never actually said that 9/10 but they recorded me saying that. I think my answer typically would be a lot more complex. I rate the story, dog, co-op, combat to combat as a ten. I think if I look at the individual lips of characters it probably a nine or an eight sometime the sun doesn't set quite right which brings the scores down. It's a much more complicated answer than to say just one score.
If you had to describe Fable 2 using only three other game titles, which ones would you choose?
- Final Fantasy 7, ICO and Zelda: The Wind Waker.
Why did you go for the kind of Victorian-era, steam punk-like, setting in "Fable"?
- It's not so much steam punk it's more the idea that it's like Victorian England it the certain of time where you could believe that you are round about Dickens time. That scene fits perfectly the story that we wanted to make.
What is your single biggest motivation as a game developer?
- I think for me it's making a game that truly makes you feel something. It's the sensation that you get when you actually are playing the game and making people remember the game. When we first started out working with Fable II we wanted people to remember this game for the rest of their lives. And for me making a game that people truly remember is actually a huge motivation.
How would you say your own life is reflected in "Fable II"?
- There is a bizarre way to answer that question. And that is to say that Fable II is a combination of a load of games I have done. It's not only Fable II it is also bits of "Black and White" bits of "The Movies" and bits of "the Dungeon Keeper", which in a way is a sort mix and blend of all the games that I have done.
Name a few authors or filmmakers that have inspired you in your work.
- There is a whole list of filmmakers, but to be honest it's more the films that have inspired me than than the filmmakers; Luc Besson's films, Tim Burton's film Sleepy Hollow which was incredibly inspirational in the making of Fable. The man with the dog in Mad Max II is also inspirational. A lot of times that we ended up talking about the movies how they make you feel and what it meant to actually be a hero and what it felt like for us to see that film.
I read an article that the decisions you make will physically affect the game world. The example given was when the player encountered a band of thieves attacking a merchant. Help him and years later that merchant could have expanded his shop into a prosperous city. Do nothing and only scattered remains of the merchants shop would be there instead. I'm wondering if the "good guy" choices will let the player experience more content than the bad guy choices. Looking at the example that seems likely and since I favor a chaotic evil way of playing my characters that wouldn't be great news.
- We have been very careful about the good and the evil side so that the people don't end up thinking to play the game effectively and to get the best experience, you have to play good or evil that is not the way we wanted it to work.
If Fable 2 was a person, how would you describe him/her in terms of personality, and how should we feel about getting into a long-term relationship with him/her?
- Fable II as a person would be an Empath. That is a person who is very sensitive about what you like and what you don't like.
In the Fable games there is a very distinct difference of what is considered good and what is considered evil. And in interviews you say that the Fable game is interesting because it makes people think about their own moral and question if they really are as good as they think. These statements makes one pose the question: Do you and the rest of the developers claim that there is a thing called objective morality, which you have incorporated in the game, and if so why is the morality you depict different from that of the common man? Isn't it hypocrisy to claim that you want people to criticize their moral by presenting a moral that isn't criticized at all?
- Wow, interesting question! The key thing here is that the people that judge you in the Fable game is the population. And could we model the population on a world that we constructed we could get away with what their objective moralities was rather than ours. When we thought about morality we thought about it with the mindset of someone who lived in the world of Albion. And the population of Albion morality is governed by their location. In other words people that lived in a rich district of the world would have a different morality than people that live in a poor district of the world. This way we were able to get the color of morality without predefining the exact morality and being burden by morality of our world. The morality in Fable II is not necessarily applicable to our world's morality. It's based upon the morality in that we set up in the simulation of the world rather than morals of our world in compare to theirs.
What is your vision or perhaps dream concerning games as media and what can be achieved?
- I think games as an entertainment form has a huge way to go, they are still to a great extent undiscovered. The idea that computer games can entertain you in a personal way is unique to them. You can't watch a film and everybody will see that film in a different light, whenever we watch film we always watch someone else's vision . Games can adapt themselves to what you want rather than what I as a designer want. They are more interactive and a more personal form of entertainment. At the end of the day I can create a world which allows you to be who you want to be, rather than you being someone that I want you to be.
As a dog owner I'm thrilled about the dog in Fable II, but also curious about the concept of bringing love and caring into the game world as something dynamic and, for the player, direct. How did the idea of a canine companion emerge?
- It came about really after a long period of time. The real motivation was to give you something more than just a mechanic to care about. If I could give you something like a real dog and you care about the dog and the dog cares about you that will make you feel differently about the whole world. We saw the possibility in creating a more humanlike character by adding the dog.
With all the updates from Lionhead on the development of Fable II the gamers can keep up and also discuss the game during de development process. Does that have any impact on the development and if so: in what way is developing Fable II different from when Fable was created?
- We do listen to what people have to say during the development of the game. We particularly look at boards and gaming comments. Some of those are really useful and some are quite distressing. We are using that as inspiration as a part of that development process.
What was the thinking behind the decision to put out the downloadable pub games in advance? Are they supposed to have an impact on Fable II sales?
- We wanted to give the ability to earn money outside the Fable world maybe this is just a start of something. What special about Fable is that there is so much to spend money on so why shouldn't you be able to play at Xbox Live Arcade game or even a website? It also gives you a taste, to get ready for Fable, before you buy it.
What is your relation to classic fantasy "stereotypes"? Is it something you try to avoid?
- If you go too far down the fantasy stereotypes you can get yourself into real trouble. If you create a world which only you understand, it means that people are less likely to buy into it. So I think that you will be better off if you don't go too far down the fantasy route.
I've read that one of the paths a player could take in Fable 2 is the "poor" path. What motivates you to play as a poor person? Will anyone want to be poor?
- The people that want to go through the story fast will be poor, that is the motivation for them, to go through the game fast.