Fable III Story, Cast and Simulation
Peter Molyneux shows off his latest title.
This is the big one from Develop 2010 in Brighton. Peter Molyneux is going to be talking about Fable III and rounding off his keynote with a demo of the highly anticipated Xbox 360 and PC title.
Neon will be in the audience, frantically live blogging everything to make sure you don't miss any new information.
This should kick off at 1:30pm BST.
Right, here we go again! Neon Kelly here, reporting live from a freezing cold room at the Develop Conference in Brighton.
We're just waiting for Peter Molyneux to sort himself out; he was a bit late getting to the right room. My kind of guy.
"Coming!" he shouts. And no, not like that. He means his Fable III presentation is to begin any minute now.
Peter's just booting up a 360 debug. We're going to see a live demo of the new game. I can't wait!
Applause! "Because of traffic, I was late. Relied on my sat-nav a bit too much"
Peter's going to talk about some of the design challenges of F3, then dive into a demo. Then we'll have questions.
In the 90s, doing sequels was regarded as the most evil, lazy thing you can do says Peter. Now, things have changed. Everyone loves taking their games and doing follow-ups, and that presents different design challenges.
A brief mention of Milo... apparently the stand-up comedian at last night's awards was having a pop. Peter feigns tears.
A blurb on screen explains "the dream" behind the game. Peter explains that what this really means is a desire to shift more units!
Fable II was a bit messy in places, admits Peter. At one point the game had around 67,000 bugs. The Microsoft test team rated the game as "Super Black" on their internal scale; prior to this, no-one had even been black! The game had to be cut down.
On top of that, there were design problems. Weddings were kind of pointless, were just an excuse to have sex. Furthermore, a study showed that most players only used 50 to 60 per cent of the game's features. Not good!
For the new game Lionhead want players to use all the mechanics. Drama is also a key area of focus. "I don't think we've taken drama seriously enough," he says. "When we did black and white, all the voices were done by the same person." Is that the best way to tell a story? Probably not.
Getting a good cast was one of the kick-off points for the game. Signing people like John Cleese. Also, mixing the drama with accessibility. "Personally, i love role-playing games," says P. "But a lot of the times, especially in games we've done, a lot of the RPG elements didn't happen in the game, but in the 2d screens." (There's no menu screen in Fable III, if you remember).
This time there will also be more co-op stuff this time. Anything you can do with an NPC, you should be able to do with your co-op partner. Now you can get married to your partner moment. "now we can have an intimate moment while playing Fable III. Not as good as the real thing, but not quite as messy!" Peter loves all this stuff: having a virtual baby with someone. One co-op person going off to buy a house while the other earns cash to customise the house.
At E3, Peter asked lots of people about the plot in Fable 2. No one could remember. This time the plot will be a lot more straightforward: lead an uprising, overthrow the king, take over for yourself. Much clearer objective this time.
For all this to work, you have to care. Lionhead started on this a year ago, with an evil king called Logan. They kept layering evil act upon evil act, and he'll have done terrrible stuff within 15min of starting the game. There will be constant reminders that this guy is a real piece of work.
This time, Fable will really focus on player characters being a reflection of their choice - not just appearance, but their behaviour too. Peter knows that most people won't be tyrannical, but he likes the fact that you can be even worse than Logan when you do finally become King.
Time to talk GUI (General User Interface). Peter reckons this is one of the biggest features of F3. Fable II was characterised by long lists, with sub menus with more sub menus, and hundreds of items within them. "That's just not good enough in today's world." says Pete. "In fable III we're not going to have a single list in the whole game." But, he adds. "That was a crazy thing to do." It wasn't based on existing design, it was more like setting the desingers a problem. Tricky for the genre, too. How do you level up?
We'll soon be seeing some of the new combat system, which evolves from the one-button system in the last game. And now... time for a demo! And questions at the same time! Lordy, this will be fun to report.
"This is really old school - me doing a demo and ansering questions at the same time. This is probably going to go horribly, tragically wrong!" Let's hope not. Today's demo is culled from the first 25 min of the game. He warns that there will be plenty of bugs.
Another mistake made before: throwing features onto the player. "This time, we want to be a lot more paced about it."
Right, we're just escaping from a castle - from the player's brother, the tyranical king. Fable theme plays. Young man runs around with a black and white dog lapping at his heels. Can import F2 save, and play as your offspring. This is just the point at which you discover that you're a hero. Hero-man is currently in a tomb, getting advice from a mentor-like character, voiced by Bernard Hill. This character has been carefully designed. "something nasty happens to him, but i won't spoil what it is" says Peter.
Right, now we're exploring a heaven-like environment, with a rocky path flanked by clouds, and big gates. This is sort of the level-up screen. As you pass through each gate, you get closer to becoming King. This area also introduces the game;s only currency - "seals". You get this stuff for doing pretty much anything in the game - questing, fighting, getting married. You spend the XP on opening gates and on treasure chests in the heaven-like world. These represent abilities.
One chest represents the ability to get married. "But you may not be interested in getting married. You might be more interested in carrying a big bastard sword. And this chest represents your ability to carry a big bastard sword!" You choose the features you want in your game.
Is the game different if you play as a girl? Yes. You start out as a princess, and have a boyfriend. No more details, but women will no longer look like Russian shot-putters. They will have "curves and soft bits".
In a big cave now. Lovely shafts of light shining down. "This is not a vista" says Peter. You can go anywhere you can see. There's no HUD, btw. A d-pad icon pops up in the lower left, like F2, but it disappears when not in use.
Magic: you can tap for firing stuff out, or you can hold it down for a big spell. Apparently there's no limit on this: if you rest a coffee cup on your pad and then go to bed, when you wake up the next morning you'll be able to fire some huge spell. Weapons, meanwhile, are managed via an in-game gauntlet. Weapons morph to match your personality.
Someone asks: Is the bit where you become King a dead-end? The temptation is to have a voice guiding you to where you need to go. "The breadcrumb trail in Fable 2 had its critics," admits Peter. But they've now found that players will respond to mentor like characters. They won't butt in. If you're chatting up a girl, Walter (your mentor) will go wait in a pub. And then the breadcrumb trail will redirect you back to him when you're done.
We're now a bit further into the game. In a very pretty-looking snow-covered forest. The player is toasting wolves with the aid of quickly-thrown fireballs. At the touch of the button,. We warp to our sanctuary - the 3d replacement for the 2d GUI: it's a a ciruclar chamber with black and white tiles on the floor. Loads of wardrobes contains costumes and clothes to change into. You'll gradually unlock new areas and items in this world. Tap a button, and we're straight back in the forest.
Someone asks about loading. "I hate loading." he says. "I know that the journalists, wonderful people that they are, are going to slag us off about loading." They've tried to keep loading down as much as possible, but it's hard due to the size of the worlds. "Because a lot of world is persistent, we can't afford to keep it in the memory. We tried to stream-load it..." Peter trails off as he stops to deal with another wolf.
Question: do your companions ever beat you up? John Cleese's character is too weak to beat you up, but he'll lay into you verbally for stuff that you do. Walter will also respond. "He doesn't physically stab you in the heart, but he does tell you what's right and wrong," he says. "Making you feel responsible for your actions is really important."
Someone else asks about impact on NPCs. In F2, you could piss people off and then they'd love you two minutes later, after you've done a silly dance. Peter responds by mentioning the promise-making stuff we've heard about. Pledges made on your ascent to power will definitely have to be answered, one way or another.
We;re running around Brightwall village now. Graphically, it looks a lot like Fable 2 but nicer. Not much sign of the industrial vibe we saw in the concept art. The hero starts dragging a random villager about by the hand. Take him to the pub, make friends with him, and he'll become an ally. You'll also gain the XP needed to open seals.
No massive armies in the game, says Peter. But you could play the entire game with that random bloke being dragged along with you. He'll follow you too, if you do the right stuff, and he'll react to stuff you do. The player burps, and your chum responds. A harmony of burps results.
If our new friend gets scared of something, he'll try to shy away. You can still drag him at this point, against his will. You can even drag the poor chap along the floor, if you wish.
And that's that. Demo over. It was a bit of a manic presentation, and a little all over the place at times - but always engaging and interesting. Felt like there was something to comment on every 10 seconds or so - more than this live report could even handle, if i'm honest! In short: typical Molyneux enthusiasm, but all the stuff he was talking about was actually there, or most of it was. Less in the way of huge, doubtful-if-they'll-be-fulfilled promises.
My reaction to the game? Well, it certainly looks very similar in appearance to Fable II, and while combat's been tweaked and there are new ways to interact, it looks very much like a sequel to the last game. In my opinion, that;s nowt to complain about. The "walk-around-menu" thing, with a personal butler voiced by John Cleese, looks ace. And I really like the look of the levelling up system.
At any rate, I'm really looking forward to seeing more of this. I suspect, however, that it'll be the later bits of the game that will determine how much the game distinguishes itself from its predecessor, as that's the area that sounds like the biggest departure. I've got a good vibe about how this will turn out, but I guess we'll have to wait and see what Molyneux and Lionhead have in store for us.
That's all from me. Bye for now!