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Interview Fable: Lesson Learned - Shit sells

Vault Dweller

Commissar, Red Star Studio
Developer
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
28,038
Tags: Fable: The Lost Chapters; Lionhead Studios

Can't get enough of <a href=http://www.microsoft.com/games/fable>Fable</a> news and info? We have something in stock just for you. It's a webcast thingy called <a href=http://www.pqhp.com/cmp/gdctv/register1.php?goto=aa12-molyneux-fable>Fable: Lessons Learned</a> by <b>Peter Molyneux</b> himself. Here is some blurb that accompanies the presentation:
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<blockquote>Fable was Lionhead’s first attempt at developing a console game and an RPG, and as with any firsts there are things that went far better than expected and other things that didn’t turn out as well as hoped. Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux and Microsoft’s Josh Atkins revisit the Fable development process and look at what went right and what went wrong. Many lessons were learned during Fable’s development, with the result that Lionhead has substantially changed its development process for future titles</blockquote>They can't stop hyping, can they?
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Saint_Proverbius

Administrator
Staff Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2002
Messages
12,543
Location
Behind you.
I think they learned that lesson with Black & White. Hype it enough, even if some of the features of the hype never make it in to the game, and it'll sell like hotcakes. Sure, there's a demonishing gain involved because of the whole once-bitten-twice-shy thing, but Peter is getting old and will probably retire by the time Lionhead doesn't sell anything anymore.

Then again, I'm hoping The Movies is fairly decent. However, due to B&W, I'm waiting for a demo.
 

Kamaz

Pahris Entertainment
Developer
Joined
Feb 16, 2004
Messages
1,036
Location
The Glorious Ancient City of Loja
Errr. Fable is good game. Its not like DungeonLords which was totally shit-hyped. Fable is actually pretty good game.Though, they shouldnt call it an RPG, well, maybe console RPG only.

Besides, the paragraph you quoted doesnt contain any stupid hype. Its maybe usual PR, but its not hype, no exeggerating and I cannot see whats supposed to be wrong with that. Everyone should "learn lessons" after finishing some project and there were definetly good things in Fable to learn. So, whats the big deal?
 

obediah

Erudite
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
5,051
This whole multi-platform things makes my head hurt. 6 months after Peter aborts his latest half-formed game on the world is when he is supposed to apologize for not meeting the hype and promising all the missing features and super double plus more crazy shit for the sequel.

I can't bother to read the article but is he apologizing for and hyping fable, or has further apologizing been pushed back so that they can further hype non-existant features they've already apologized for?

My head hurts.
 

Astromarine

Erudite
Joined
Jan 21, 2003
Messages
2,213
Location
Switzerland
Fable is not a good game. Nothing that can be completed on autopilot with little thought, tactical skill, or reflexes can be considered a good game. Diablo is a good game but a lousy RPG. So is Freedom Force. So is Fate. Others are good stories but bad games. Fable is an empty shell designed to steal your money without giving you enough challenge in return to make even the bargain bin seem appealing. It's a tech demo.

Fuck tech demos.
 

Chefe

Erudite
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
4,731
If anyone watched the film, he's not hyping it at all. He makes two little referencs to TLC at the end saying it adds in some of the content that was originally cut. Mostly, it talks about the lifespan of the concept of Fable - how it evolved (and, eventually, devolved).

Lionhead tried to do too much at once, and Pete references that a couple of times. They had never done a console game before and they had never done an RPG before, so they tried to make a groundbreaking console RPG which completely revolutionizes... well... everything. It doesn't add up. An architect who only designs suburban houses doesn't suddenly decided to build the biggest skyscraper in the world and realistically think he will succeed. He works his way up to that.

It was simply too ambitious for a company with no console nor RPG experience. They didn't come up with a good design document before hand, and didn't even think too much about the concept. Peter also made the mistake of sharing his ideas and visions to the gaming crowd. In this industry, it's a golden rule not to tell anybody ANYTHING until you're 300% sure it's in the game. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but that's how it works in gaming.

Hopefully they learned their mistakes. I still appreciate and enjoy Fable, both for what it is and what it could have been.

Hype? No hype here. Just the process of creating Fable. The video is almost 2 hours long, so I doubt many of you would actually watch it.
 

Dhruin

Liturgist
Joined
Aug 15, 2003
Messages
758
Only Molyneux isn't a suburban architect. He's a Jorn Utzon who has designed some classic titles and should know how to write a design doc. If he didn't -- which I don't believe -- then he deserves any scorn that is heaped upon him.

To continue with your metaphor, if he sets out to build a skyscraper and ends up with a suburban house with nice doors but a non-functional kitchen, well...
 

Chefe

Erudite
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
4,731
Note I said "good design document". Or I could say, more specifically, a good "RPG" design document. They didn't realize that RPGs are completely different games. For the record, most companies don't realize it either... but then again those other companies do know their limits where Molyneux didn't. After watching the video, it seems he thought he could just walk into a full team and tell him "this looks cool, let's try this" which probably had worked for his other projects... just don't this one.

I know people like to bitch and moan about Fable, for their own reasons, so I'm not trying to tell you that you suck or you're wrong or anything (just so we're clear). But I think the extreme prejudice would be more appropriate if they come out with another RPG and its not any improvement over Fable. I'll be bitching too then.

To give a related RPG example off the top of my head, I see Fable as an "Arena"... and I see Lionhead RPG #2 as a potential "Daggerfall".

Dhruin said:
To continue with your metaphor, if he sets out to build a skyscraper and ends up with a suburban house with nice doors but a non-functional kitchen, well...

... he fucked up. But at least he ended up fixing that kitchen. Maybe next time he'll at least get to an office building.
 

obediah

Erudite
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
5,051
angler said:
Hopefully they learned their mistakes. I still appreciate and enjoy Fable, both for what it is and what it could have been.

From your description, it sounds like they could have avoided these problems by learning their lesson from Black & White. Sure there are some new nouns thrown into the excuses, but everything else sounds familiar. I wouldn't be surprised to hear the same stuff in 3 years with 'sequel to a console game' and 'sequel to an rpg' subbed in as appropriate.

Honestly I think there is more historical evidence for attributing the problems of over-ambition, over-hype, and lack of realistic planning to the developer in question rather than the console or game genre.
 

Chefe

Erudite
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
4,731
obediah said:
From your description, it sounds like they could have avoided these problems by learning their lesson from Black & White.

I remember playing Black and White and not enjoying it. But that was a while ago, and I hardly remember anything about it, so I couldn't say if they should have learned their lessons or not.

Honestly I think there is more historical evidence for attributing the problems of over-ambition, over-hype, and lack of realistic planning to the developer in question rather than the console or game genre.

That was a big part of it, that was most of it in fact, but it was also due to them being inept at designing for consoles and inexperience in the RPG genre. But I agree, most of the problems stem from over ambition and lack of good, realistic planning.

Again, I enjoy Fable but I'll just have to wait and see if they actually follow through with the strive to be better in the RPG genre.
 

AZ

Liturgist
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
467
Fable is not a bad game, just it’s not an rpg, and it's not ground breaking - as it was said to be. It is well done, interesting style, fair gameplay, nice charter development, very nice and quick engine, no fatal bugs. But keep in mind - it is a console type game.

If you are looking for over-hyped shit see Doom3 or Dungeon Lords. Doom3 is well made but awful at gameplay, Dungeon Lords is just a bug-fest.

And I like Fable better than KotOR2. It had very boring, mindless, and easy fighting, the bodybuilder looking charters where plain ugly, and it ran slower than KotOR1 whit the same gfx. :(
 

fnordcircle

Liturgist
Joined
Jan 6, 2004
Messages
693
Location
Frowning at my monitor as I read your dumb post.
I want to kick the penis of people who want to try and reclassify what was a horrible lie foisted upon consumers as some sort of 'They were shooting for the moon but only hit the sky' those poor developers scenario.

The facts are that Fable in no way resembles the game that they wouldn't shut the fuck up about for 3 years. And you know what? That's fine except for one simple thing, the moment their hyped features were removed they stopped talking and that's bullshit. Game development companies have no accountability because they can hide behind anti-piracy laws after shitting out a crappy product. Don't like a game? Sorry because you might have made a copy of it we can't take it back, shit like that. And this is what allows developers to get away with trotting out what ends up being a complete crock because they don't have to face down customer returns.

So stop with this bullshit 'Oh they were just trying so hard, they tried their little hearts out' refrain because Lionheart sure as shit wasn't trying real hard to clear up what was hype and what was feature.

Those fuckers flat out lied on their own board and said, the day before launch that it was possible to get lost in a forest in Fable. Does anything else need to be said?
 

AZ

Liturgist
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
467
The difference between us fnordcircle, I think is that - I stopped reading pre hype long time ago, I just wait and see. Who cares about the marketing.
 

Dhruin

Liturgist
Joined
Aug 15, 2003
Messages
758
First off, I don't think Fable is a terrible game - as has been noted, it's a fairly competent action game that has charm. However, I don't buy the "inexperienced with consoles" or "too ambitious design" because many of the shortcomings in the game are at the basic design concept level and have nothing to do with the platform, and because I don't see an awful lot of ambition in the title.

The way NPCs acknowledge the player is quite nice (if one-dimensional) and the idea of a "genuine" economy is interesting but adds little to the actual gameplay. Otherwise, the schedules and so on are seen in Gothic and even back to Ultima...V or VI? The changing appearance thing is nothing more than a gimmick and was already done by Molyneux in B&W and BioWare did it KotOR. What does actually set out to do that is revolutionary?

On the other hand, they've streamlined it too far. The lack of dialogue means none of the NPCs develop any character at all: for example, you can get married - but what for?. I picked the the wench with the pony-tail and skirt rather than the short hair and trousers, because they have no personality and there's no other difference.

Exploration is hamstrung because of the tiny areas, which may be a platform issue, but most areas being a single straight path is a design choice. Centralised quests so I jump back and forth from quest location to the Guild and back rather than manually exploring is a design choice.

Have to run, so that will do. My question is: what is so ambitious about Fable?
 

triCritical

Erudite
Joined
Jan 8, 2003
Messages
1,329
Location
Colorado Springs
Saint_Proverbius said:
I think they learned that lesson with Black & White. Hype it enough, even if some of the features of the hype never make it in to the game, and it'll sell like hotcakes. Sure, there's a demonishing gain involved because of the whole once-bitten-twice-shy thing, but Peter is getting old and will probably retire by the time Lionhead doesn't sell anything anymore.

Then again, I'm hoping The Movies is fairly decent. However, due to B&W, I'm waiting for a demo.

That sounds a whole lot like Bioware to me. Where else do you get tons of interviews detailing the amount of doors a game has, or how the lips move when people talk. To bad neither of the games were immersive enough to have any of these things factor in a big way. The name of the game is hype, and if you are going to sell 10^6 or more copies you need a substantial amount of it.
 

triCritical

Erudite
Joined
Jan 8, 2003
Messages
1,329
Location
Colorado Springs
Role-Player said:
Dhruin said:
What does actually set out to do that is revolutionary?

You've just made Fable fanboys everywhere cry in the dark. Those that aren't still detached from reality, that is.

I can tell him, for one thing your character is suppose to age progressively through the game. That would be the pre-game hype touched upon earlier in this thread. However what actually happens, and is indeed spectactularly unrevolutionary, is one day your character is N years older, sort of like Zelda.

Oh but what about getting married, well take your pick Fallout 2, phantasy star 3.

I know, I know... SIDE QUEST!!!

LOL!
 

Chefe

Erudite
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
4,731
fnordcircle said:
I want to kick the penis of people who want to try and reclassify what was a horrible lie foisted upon consumers as some sort of 'They were shooting for the moon but only hit the sky' those poor developers scenario.

So, whoever thinks different from you about what really happened deserves to be kicked in the crotch? Come on, grow the fuck up.

Dhruin said:
My question is: what is so ambitious about Fable?

Project Ego was ambitious. Fable, the game released, introduced some interesting concepts but wasn't really ambitious, IMO.
 

Chefe

Erudite
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
4,731
triCritical said:
I can tell him, for one thing your character is suppose to age progressively through the game. That would be the pre-game hype touched upon earlier in this thread. However what actually happens, and is indeed spectactularly unrevolutionary, is one day your character is N years older, sort of like Zelda.

Not exactly. Aging is kind of... well... strange in the way it works. If you level up your character normally you will gradually see him become older. If you wait to level up for a while (as in, you horde your experience points until you've got a ton), when you do level up your character suddenly gets older in an instance. This really needed work, and should have been tied to the number of hours played intead of levels attained, because the way it currently is (don't know if they changed it for TLC or not) the gradual aging process is really fucking fast. That's one of my only gripes with the game... I hate being a fucking old man when no one else has aged at all (even my sister, who is actually older than me!).

I hate being an old man anyways... aging should either have a slider to adjust how fast you age and/or an option to turn aging off alltogether. Well, since it's coming to the PC, there may just be a way to change that.
 

fnordcircle

Liturgist
Joined
Jan 6, 2004
Messages
693
Location
Frowning at my monitor as I read your dumb post.
angler said:
So, whoever thinks different from you about what really happened deserves to be kicked in the crotch? Come on, grow the fuck up.
Yes, I search out those with differing views from me and assault them. It took an adult like you to see through my clever ruse of bombastic exaggeration to set me on the right track.

I was employing hyperbole to express how frustrated I was with people cutting breaks to a bunch of liars who they claim have starry eyes. Part of being an adult is learning not to take everything at face value, fyi.

Thanks for the life lesson.
 

errorcode

Liturgist
Joined
Jul 15, 2004
Messages
622
Location
Seattle
Fuck fable. nothing about that project being shit was due to lack of console experience or lack of RPG experience. It was lack of fuckng competent management and lack of accountability from the publisher.

Ms supplied devs to that project, you know, the company who *fucking* made the targeted platform. They also supplied all of their technical knowhow to optimize it for that platform.

And i'm sorry, but a design doc is a design doc, re-fucking-gardless of the genre. Peter's problem was sticking to the damn thing. He'd get it in his head just how much of a genius he is and make shit up on the fly, which wasn't documented nor discussed with the engineering staff and then expect it to be in the next build.

Peter can talk all the good game he wants, but it boils down to him not being a proficient lead designer or project manager. The only lesson that should have been learned from Fable was "don't put peter in charge". Let him be the idea guyl, he comes up with interesting concepts...but has no *fucking idea* how to execute those concepts into a playable form.

He set out to revolutionize RPGs...intstead he made a not-so-endearing Zelda clone. BUT IT'S GOT PIMP HATS NOW!!

Fuck Molynuex. Fuck Fable.

:)
 

TheGreatGodPan

Arbiter
Joined
Jul 21, 2005
Messages
1,762
Solution: Molyneux gets a (not lead) design position at Junction Point. Question: Is a sequel to Fireteam or Syndicate more likely?
 

Sol Invictus

Erudite
Joined
Oct 19, 2002
Messages
9,614
Location
Pax Romana
Oh my god, at least play the game before you bash it. It's nothing to get excited about but it's definitely not that bad VD.

If you're expecting anything that matches Peter's hype, it's a shitty game because it's nothing like that. It's because they totally hyped it up and it was nothing like they said it would be.

All that aside, Fable is a decent action-RPG catering more to the action side than the RPG side. It's like Beyond good & Evil. You don't get any real choices other than what you want your character to be, and some yes/no stuff along the way, but the game is pretty short and it's fun while it lasts.

Yeah, Molyneux totally screwed the pooch. If anything you should STILL play it though, but wait for it to hit the bargain bin. It doesn't last more than 16 hours per playthrough. If you're expecting a life simulator or an RPG, just look for something else.

Fable would have probably been a decent game if they planned it out for a PC release. They had to cut a lot of shit out and dumb a lot of stuff down for the console release, obviously - due to the XBOX's limitations. At least the PC version has an awesome interface. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that they had to cut things out at the last moment because they were inept or something. They planned that shit out all along and lied through the teeth about the game throughout its development, but if it had been a PC game, they wouldn't have had to make all those stupid decisions, right?

One last thing: Freedom Force sucks ass. I don't get the hype behind that game, or anything Irrational develops. Irrational sucks ass. They fucked up Tribes, so fuck them. It remains to be seen if BioShock will go fuck itself like every other game they've made. SWAT 4 needs better AI.
 

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