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We all recognize that the industry is growing, and that there are more types of gamers and more types of games than there ever were in the past. But are we doing enough?
To help answer this question, we sat down with Lionhead co-founder and seminal Populous creator Peter Molyneux - currently working on his ambitious RPG sequel and hardcore gamer's game Fable 2.
In this in-depth chat, Molyneux talks about how he hopes to open Fable 2 up to a broader audience, what the industry might do moving forward to expand, and what game gave him some surprising inspiration for his epic.
It's pretty interesting for you to be back with Fable 2. As the original game went through its publicity cycle, the excitement seemed to be well-handled - expectations rose, the game came out, everyone got excited and played it. How did you make that happen?
Peter Molyneux: Well, it was something I feel incredibly proud about. I mean, I'm proud about all the games that I've done -- I feel proud in the same way that a parent feels proud of his son who is really bad at football. He ends up getting squished by everyone in the football team, and he still feels proud.
And I think that Fable had -- you know, everyone got very, very excited about Fable, and I think it did some things incredibly well, but I think there are some things that we focused on, like the ridiculous acorn and an oak tree, and growing, that we cut, because of the goodness of the game. Which meant that hype got slightly out of control. Then people bought it, then they got disappointed with it, then they played again, they really got the game, and were excited.
So, there's never a perfect answer to the developing of the game and talking about the game; it just can't be done. What I've tried to do this time, personally, I've tried to say: "Look, here's why and how we developed it." And then going into Fable 2, I said: "Look, here's a prototype of the combat, this is what we're thinking of..." And the next time I show it: "All right, this is what's in-game; I guarantee this is in-game." I tried not to build that up too much.
It's still incredibly tempting to me to talk with excitement about what I'm going to do, because it is incredibly exciting. And quite often I am sitting on a couch, opposite somebody, and, you know, you just can't help getting excited about it, and that translates into hype a lot of the time. I'm trying not to hype; I'm trying to tell the truth...
There's an enthusiasm that is just so palpable when you talk about your games and your ideas. Way back at Fable 1 time, I remember we talked about an idea you had for an RPG on a real-life scale. And I don't know if that ever went anywhere, but at the time it was very exciting, and I remember I thought it was quite an interesting concept as well.
PM: I think that concept still exists, and I think a lot more of it is still being nurtured in Fable 2. In Fable 2 it is as much on the real-life scale as it is on the heroic scale, and this idea of there being a world there, and it's a world that you can interact with, and it's a simulated world, and you pick who you want to interact with. I think that still very much exists in Fable 2, and we'll be showing bits of that in the demos in the next couple of days.
And that's what's so exciting about a sequel, it's that doing -- first, to start off with, the fact that Fable 1 sold as many as it did, enables us to make another big leap in Fable 2. And that big leap in Fable 2 is to take everything that we tried to do in Fable 1 and make it work properly, and make it work well. And that makes a pretty amazing game in itself. Even if we just stopped there.
And then, on top of that, for an amazing reason to put three big wrappers -- three big, big systems that didn't exist at all in Fable 1, because they weren't something that were up here in our goals, up here. And that goal that's up here is very simple. It's to make a game which is designed in such a way that the hardcore gamer -- like maybe yourself -- can play Fable, and get all the enjoyment out of it that you would out of any hardcore game, whether it be Halo, or Ninja Gaiden, or whatever.
And that a total non-gamer -- who has never played a role-playing game before, who has never played an action game -- could play the same game and get equal amount of enjoyment out of it, and not feel stupid. And the hardcore gamer would end up getting to the end of the story, and be this incredibly powerful-looking, almost god-like, heroic figure, and be standing on hilltops, looking incredibly impressive.
And that's what a hardcore gamer would get out of it, whereas a casual gamer maybe wouldn't be that über-looking hero. Maybe he would look slightly average, but still be able to get through the game. That's we're going to do: try to get people who are hardcore gamers and casual gamers to play this game called Fable.
It's that all of this, a lot of this is wrapped up by the fact that Fable is fully co-op-able. You can play in the world, and invite people into your own world.
Well I know, previously, with Fable 1, before it got removed, there was something like a spirit who could travel with you. Is this going to be like that?
No. There's a henchman, and he comes into your world; he can do everything that you can do. Do all of the combat, do all of the expressions, he can chat people up, he can meet your family, he can meet your children. It's bloody cool. Bloody cool.