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Interview: Leafing through Fable: The Lost Chapters

We catch up with Lionhead to chat about the reinvented Xbox RPG on PC over a flagon of ale

Anticipation surrounding Fable on Xbox was massive prior to release and when it was finally unleashed upon the general public it sold by the bucket-load. Sure, it might have lacked some of the features originally promised, but the RPG was still generally regarded as a sterling effort boasting some truly ground-breaking elements. If there's one thing you can't fault Lionhead Studios for, it's attempting to push the videogame envelope.

Complainers complained that the game was a little short, but then if you chose to simply stick to the main storyline you were really missing the point. The world of Fable was interaction with big knobs on and even bigger knobs attached to those, and anyone immersing themselves in all the RPG had to offer could uncover untold riches. A lead character whose physical development and appearance was determined by actions taken during the course of the adventure was a major part of the experience, but there was so much more it could eat away hours of your life before you even realised it.

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And now this, and even more, is coming to PC in Fable: The Lost Chapters, a revamped version of the Xbox RPG that's coming with visual enhancements, new plot elements, new quests, new gameplay features, new items, new weapons, new spells, new armour, new environments and more.

We recently tracked down Lionhead creative director Dene Carter to find out more about what's in store in this refreshed outing.

Fable the Lost Chapters has been billed as a Director's Cut of Fable - would you say that's a fair summary? Was it always your intention to do an extended version?

Carter: First and foremost, Fable: The Lost Chapters was considered a 'Good, solid PC conversion'. However, because we didn't want to do a straight, lazy conversion, (which would have bored us rigid) we decided to add new content. This content certainly wasn't in our minds from the beginning. We did have a lot of ideas left over from the first game, though.

What would you say are the major differences between PC and Xbox versions? Is there enough in TLC to attract Xbox veterans into playing again?

Carter: Where do I start? We built a whole new region; the Northern Wastes we elliptically referred to in Fable. In addition, we really wanted to have some fun while we were working on the project, so we've added new monsters, spells, armour, weapons, a load of hats, expressions and... a bordello. We've also added around a 1/3rd new content to the game in terms of scripts and little dramatic scenes. We've not just expanded the story, but the richness of Albion as a whole.

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Just how big a difference does the PC's increased graphical capabilities make?

Carter: Well, I didn't really expect that much of a difference, but I'd forgotten that in the dark days when we didn't have any idea how large we could make our textures on the Xbox we had created all of our textures at double the final resolution. These were still present, and so when we kicked off Fable PC, you can imagine our delight when all the artists' hard work was suddenly visible for the first time.

The PC's mouse and keyboard control method is obviously a whole new ball game - would you say better, worse or just different?

Carter: The only thing I really miss from the Xbox controls is the rumble. The PC control setup is very different - in a good way. The mouse is a wonderful little device; the freedom and accuracy it gives to camera control is quite refreshing. First person archery feels like it has 'come home' to the PC. In addition, the inclusion of a shortcut bar is a very 'PC' thing to do. We tried emulating that kind of functionality on the Xbox and got pretty close, but when you use a PC you've got a 'joypad' in front of you with a hundred or so buttons on it. With so much choice, if you don't like our controls... you can just reconfigure them!

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