Peter Molyneux held a talk at Eurogamer Expo last weekend and suffice to say, it was about Fable III. Thankfully it was not so much about the new game's features or some kind of PR presentation, but more about what influenced the design and look for the Fable games. As a big movie buff myself, this of course grabbed me more than some talk about Fable III's mysterious "after you become King" part of the game. Because to be honest, I still have no clue at all what that is exactly about in terms of gameplay.
For context's sake, Molyneux started out by talking about how they got the idea for Fable around 1996 while working on Dungeon Keeper. Three core concepts would play an important role in the design of the series. The first was to create an epic world that was more like our own than a high-fantasy world. That means no elves, no dwarfs and no dragons. Monsters of the kind we use in children stories were okay, though.
So it was important to create a more realistic world that was allowed to be somewhat magical and fantasy-like, but still mostly grounded in reality as we know from history. Numbers were bad, and you had to feel like you were a hero that became stronger regardless of these figures that show us our level or damage output. Cue the movie inspirations for these three concepts.
For the first Fable, Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow (1999) influence was all about the look of a fantasy world that was grounded in reality but was magical in a sense. Sleepy Hollow had that dark, mysterious forest setting where strange things happened. Things that couldn't be real, but were set in a world like our own. It was a perfect fit.
The movie, while awful, took the legend and framed it in a slightly more believable story. Even though it was really lame. As such, it's easy to see how it ties into the Fable series' focus on keeping the world human and something we can easily relate to. Although it's hardly something the Arthur legend can claim ownership of, the concept of having a group of heroes fighting evil is reflected in Fable's Heroes' Guild as well.
The impact of the big decision in Fable II on how the player is engaged into caring about the effects was something they wanted to do in Fable III as well. Molyneux said that in Fable III, there will be a big decision with a large impact for the rest of the game within the first 10 minutes. Given the nature of the games to carry the player from a hero's childhood into adulthood, I think it's safe to place a bet on a choice you make in the hero's youth.
Two other movies and legends influenced Fable II, and both have a more direct effect on the gameplay and story. Robin Hood, another legend, was an example of a hero who grew into his role in a world without magic. In Fable II, the Heroes' Guild is gone and you are the only hero left. That, and Robin Hood's theme of his rebel force fighting against a corrupt power structure is the first part of Fable III.
Perhaps you'll be able to marry and then take your husband or wife to a whorehouse to work there? Some of the gameplay videos seem to indicate you could force people into labour, although I don't think Fable III is upping the gay marriage ante by introducing male whorehouses yet. You never know, though. At the presentation, all the talk about touching took a turn for the worse when jokes were made about touching and being touched in various places. I sure hope there won't be too much touching in the childhood period if there is a church involved.
Finally two movies inspired the look for Fable III's 18th century Dickens kind of world. The movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) visualized Paris in a very distinct way. That movie used a dark monochrome and a yellow-and-gold pallet to elicit a distinct feel for the viewer. Some screenshots were shown that displayed a similar colorful distinction in Fable III, although it wasn't clear if this would be tied into the morality system or if it will just mean that the slums will be dark and the castle will have a lot of bloom. And to create an 18th century look for the city of Bowerstone, the visual design was inspired by the way London was depicted in an Oliver Twist movie adaptation. I can't be sure which movie adaptation it was, but it looked like the 2005 one.
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