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Fable: The blunder, the backlash, the self-doubt, the fight back, the Journey

The new face of Lionhead opens up on how the studio saved itself from E3 criticisms

The legend Peter Molyneux was not the best person to represent Lionhead.

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He is an industry luminary, an avuncular businessman who has journalists' attention in the palm of his hand, but he was a Microsoft executive first. His heart may have been with the Guildford studio, but his schedule had him elsewhere.

Everywhere, in fact; jetting between studios and cities to oversee numerous Microsoft projects, and to talk to the suits in Redmond, and to show his face at the latest industry gala, and to make amazing promises on behalf of Lionhead without consulting his team.

He is a British institution, deservedly the games industry's favourite for a knighthood, but the last project he truly worked on was Black & White. He has was not the guts of Lionhead. His delightful interview technique had always generated publicity for the studio, but it was his name that stole the headlines.

The result was that the immensely gifted development team at Lionhead had become distanced from the people it made games for. It was a gap that Molyneux would temporarily fill rather than bridge.

"Now he's gone, someone has to take his place," says Gary Carr, Lionhead's highly respected creative director, whose career in games began in 1985.

While the typical Molyneux response to a question would be an ornate and elaborate narrative, Carr speaks in short, sharp beats straight from Lionhead's heart.

Is he sick of discussing Kinect? "Yes".

What effect did Fable The Journey's backlash have on the Lionhead team? "It destroyed them".

Lionhead is perhaps more isolated than it has ever been from its fan base. The 2011 E3 demonstration of Fable The Journey will looked back on as a disaster which had thrown the project into doubt. Molyneux's immediate response - an imprecise denial that the game was on-rails - likely made matters worse.

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"Peter's on-rails rant, if we should call it that, was him trying to hit back at the criticisms saying that it wasn't on-rails. I think, if we had done this again, we would have just said, yeah, it's on rails," says Carr.

Now, as the studio looks to move on from its rough period, what Lionhead needs more than anything is a straight-talking representative like Carr. No hyperbole, no extraordinary quotes, but straight and honest discourse.

Over the page, Carr pulls no punches in his interview with CVG. He discusses the anguish his studio went through when enflamed by criticisms, reveals the temptations to restructure the Journey project, and recounts the vital moment when his team rallied together to finish work on its most controversial project yet.

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