It's always a pleasure to chat with Lionhead, so this month we were delighted to get together with Guildford's finest development house to hear the tall tale behind Fable: The Lost Chapters, one of the studio's most hilarious and bumpkin creations. We put on our robes and wizard hats to take council with brothers Dene Carter (designer) and Simon Carter (lead coder), the minds behind all the brothels, phallic hedges and chicken football of Albion...
Dene: When Simon and I were kids, we were kicking around the idea of something we called 'The Game'. This was going to be an RPG where you could do pretty much anything you wanted in the entire world, including taming your own horses and mixing your own potions from everything. In short, it was just ridiculous.
Simon: And very, very dull!
Dene: Imagine Morrowind, but multiply the dullness by an ultra-large factor. It wasn't on any specific platform, the idea was just 'The Game' in our heads and it kept moving onto whatever platform we were on next. 'Wow, 256k of memory! That'll be perfect'!"
Dene: There were frankly buckets of really stupid ideas we had throughout the development of Fable; things like chicken-kicking competitions and brothels. The nice thing with Fable is it's the sort of game where, when you have an idea or when you think about something in the normal, everyday world that strikes you as a bit ridiculous, you can think, 'I wonder what that would be like in Albion?' So anything from, 'What would a games magazine be like in Albion?', to, "What would it be like to go on a historical tour in Albion?' That's why you have all these very bizarre, almost recognisable characters - Jack Sparrow in our original arena, for example.
THE WEST COUNTRY
Dene: (In a stern voice) We'd like to feel that Fable has a very deep, philosophical message. It's actually ripping the piss out of the culture of celebrity greatly. We really liked the idea that these heroes were, frankly, stupidly blown-up, horrible characters you'd find in Hello!, and all the people would pander and cater to them, and clap their stupid hands with glee every time they did anything: 'Oh look, it's a hero wiping his nose!' This is really ripe to rip the piss out of.
Simon: We were watching a lot of Big Brother.
Dene: We were trying to differentiate the accents so that the country yokels were very obviously overt country yokels. So we took the most strong, unpleasantly horrible regional country accents we could and blew them out of all proportion, so you really knew who you were supposed to care about and who was a clapping monkey. They were all caricatures intentionally though, so if ever I visit Northumberland, for example, I hope there's not a gang of pissed off people gathered outside my hotel...
Simon: We had quite a few comedians who did many of the voices in Fable. One of the guys from I'm Alan Partridge - Simon Greenall - did a lot of the voices, and his timing and vocal range were extremely impressive. He was very, very funny.
Dene: Yes, Simon Greenall was an absolute scream, absolutely fantastic - he's the unintelligible geordie chap from I'm Alan Partridge who talks about throwing monkeys into the sea. When he was recording he just spontaneously did most of the voices in the game in all these different accents, then all we had to do was focus on the ones we thought were the funniest.