Peter Molyneux on Streamlining Fable 3

Lionhead Studios' dream for Fable III is "to create a world that both core and casual gamers can play in," Microsoft's Peter Molyneux explained at Develop 2010, joking that "what this dream really means is that we want to sell loads more."

"Fable III must be more like an action-adventure than an RPG," Molyneux asserted, with combat that's "simple, because we have made people feel stupid for too long," yet, "very, very deep, because gamers want to feel great too."


During his talk, Molyneux demonstrated Fable III's one-button attacking, shooting and magic mechanics--a holdover from Fable II. Magic now draws power from a gauntlet the character wears named the "Fist of Power," and he conceded it was "looking slighty phallic at the moment." Through the Fist of Power players may charge spells for as long as they please and it can be upgraded over the course of the game.

To simplify interaction with the game, much of the user interface has been made into "an actual location" players visit and move around in. Gone is the standard RPG character sheet, replaced by a metaphorical, yet wholly physical, path of character progression. Gates along the path represent character levels, which when unlocked grant access to chests containing the treasure of new abilities. These range from opening up houses for purchase to "the ability to have big bastard swords."

In similar fashion, what would have been the standard interface with the game in Fable II has become a virtual area named Sanctuary. A number of rooms contain everything from wardrobes to a "living" scale model of the world, which serves as a map. Sanctuary is also home to Jasper, the trusty butler voiced by English funnyman John Cleese.

While he adventured in the demo no user interface at all was generally on show. Minimal elements popped up as and when needed, such as button prompts and tutorial messages.

Molyneux also demanded that the game feature not one single list. "To be honest with you," he conceded, "[that] was a crazy thing to say," but it has seemingly been achieved.

Co-op fans will be delighted to hear that their relationship with co-op partners can now more closely reflect that of theirs with NPCs. For instance, players can wed and impregnate each other...if you like that sort of thing.

The new hand-holding mechanic has also been embraced with gusto. Molyneux ran around holding an NPC's hand during his demonstration and revealed, "if I wanted to, I could play almost the entirety of the game holding this bloke's hand"--including dragging the poor chap along the floor if needs be.

Fable 3 is scheduled for a simultaneous PC and Xbox 360 release on October 26. A downloadable episodic version will follow "soon" afterwards.