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Lionhead's Peter Molyneux

The Fable creator tells all about the third iteration in the series...

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Why shouldn't something like Fable do the same? I love the idea of surprising people and getting people to do all the things that the game is capable of - and that is all down to what they understand.

So when you look at the expression system and you think, "I like expressions, I like the ability to be able to emote myself, there's just no reason for me to do that." And then you start introducing things like the touch system and the follower system and then you suddenly turn around and go: "Of course, now it fits in. Now it's part of the game. Now there are the reasons for me to do that and a consequence to me doing that."

You said you'd done some things that might 'piss off' Fable fans. Were you referring to the things you've taken away for Fable III?
What I've come to realise is this conversation I had in a taxi rank in Copenhagen when it was minus-15 and snowing has turned into what seems like a brilliant PR line: Peter Molyneux says going to piss everyone off and he comes to America and he reveals all and he doesn't piss anybody off.

It was genuinely was me standing in the snow, minus-15, with someone waiting for a cab. We were talking about games design and talking about Fable III and I said: "You know what, I'm really worried. I've changed so much in Fable III, I'm worried about pissing people off." That, combined with the power of Twitter, became a PR line.

It wasn't that at all. As a designer, I thought: God, if I remove experience and health bars, and I put levelling up from a 2D interface to a 3D interface, some people are going to get really upset. But that's not a reason not to do it, man - that's actually a reason to do it. And that's what I was really talking about. Because I know that some people are going to miss health bars, they're going to miss experience.

Do you think you've removed the 'RPG' from the Fable universe?
I'm not sure that I personally would call Fable an RPG, certainly not a 1990s RPG. In a way, it feels like an action/adventure. You know there's a lot of drama, there's a lot of story, there's a lot of emotion in there - but with levelling up.

I love that levelling up. I mean I'm not the sort of person that likes being given a pre-planned character and being told: "This is you no matter what." That's not what I'm like. That's not saying it's [not right] to make games with Master Chiefs and all that stuff - they're brilliant in their own way. It's just not Fable.

What was the point at which you realised you wanted to get rid of experience and what was your main reason?
The absolute main reason is that most people didn't really understand it. You know we had red experience, green experience, blue experience, general experience. If you ask people how have you got red experience, they say "I don't know. Sometimes it's red, sometimes it's green, sometimes it's blue."

And you know, that's wrong - it's just wrong. Why do you just get experience for combat? It's wrong... Getting married and doing other things in the world should be as significant as fighting.

So [when making Fable III], as soon as we said the word 'followers', just meant more to the entirety of the game. Before, it just seemed 1990s, it seemed old-school.

It's the same with the health-bar. I say we've 'removed' the health bar - we haven't removed anything. We've just copied other games. [In] first-person shooters, the health bar's in the world. When your health gets low the corner of the screen goes red, sometimes it goes black and white. That's a health bar man - it's the same as having a little bar, it's just that people [notice] it.

My little bar in Fable and Fable II was getting smaller and smaller. In Fable 3 [during development] a year ago it was wonky, it was high and no-one was seeing it - no-one had the first idea that they were about to die. You just think: 'Jesus! Why was I so stupid beforehand? Why didn't I just do what everyone else was doing and put it in the world?" And it just seems like these are [legacy] things, where we're making a transition from where you were to where you should be.

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