Interview: Lionhead on Fable III, PC and GFWL

By Alec Meer on April 13th, 2011 at 11:14 pm.

You can't fight that, silly

Hello! So, when I pottered off to Lionhead to take a peek at the upcoming PC version of Fable III, I also had a chat with lead designer Josh Atkins. Read on for how the studio feels about PC gaming and PC gamers, the choices, changes and improvements they made for the PC version of Fable III, how youngsters react to difficult moral decisions in games, and the thorny issue of Games For Windows Live…

RPS: Why did you decide to make a PC version of Fable III, given you didn’t for Fable II? What changed your mind?

Josh Atkins: There’s a story behind that. When we were starting Fable III we made the decision to do the PC version, and a lot of that is about wanting to get back to the PC audience. Largely because they were asking for the game – we were getting so many requests, all the time, for versions on the PC that we felt that there was an opportunity, but also that our fanbase was there. That was something that we wanted to honour.

RPS: So you’re confident there is enough business there? Other publishers have claimed otherwise of late.

Josh Atkins: Sure. I think so. I mean, I know tons of people who play on the PC. So I don’t think it’s a business thing – it’s understanding how that business has changed. And that’s something that, whenever something pivotal happens, like for example if the model moves from retail to completely digital, like X large % digital, I can’t tell you how many people buy games on PC digitally but it’s a big number. You have to think slightly differently, and you have to think about the whole business case differently. But for us it was mostly the fact that we knew there were fans there, just by the sheer volume of people coming to Lionhead on the forums going “we want the PC version.”

It’s also actually been really fun working on it. I kind of alluded to that when we started, but I was involved in Fable: The Lost Chapters and it was fun doing that, working out how to move that control system over. And then kind of getting back to the roots: most of us here grew up playing PC games, most of us still do play games on PC, so getting back to designing for the PC was fun. It was a very homey, nice challenge. Our hope is that people who pick up on PC think “okay, this plays how I would expect it to play, it doesn’t play like just a half-done port”, which I think is the danger for PC games. Not to knock anyone else, but people tend to just rush games out onto the PC, they do the very quickest port they can and they try to do it as a financial model rather than let’s try to make something that at least plays like it was designed for this platform, and respects what the platform does.

RPS: Yeah, we see a lot of stuff where there’s no cursor in the menus and a ton references to A buttons…

Josh Atkins: Yeah, that’s kind of unfair. Certainly when it comes to the number of PCs that are in the world, there’s a lot more than there are consoles, and there’s definitely a lot of people who like playing on it. One of the things I was saying for a while – and this was something that came about from talking to you guys [journalists] actually – we tried really hard to respect the PC as a platform and to treat it in the same way, to draw a bit of a strange comparison, the coin golf app on phones in that it respects the mobile platform. It’s not like we tried to port a Fable-esque game to mobile, we designed a game for mobile. With Fable III on PC, we wanted it to feel like it was respectful of the platform, that it had been built for it.

RPS: Is there a sense that PC in general is resurging, as we get the rise of digital and Facebook and indie, or is this a special case for Lionhead and Microsoft because of that demand you mentioned?

Josh Atkins: It’s tough for me to comment on overall Microsoft strategy because I don’t have tons of visibility into that. Microsoft’s certainly put out the Age of Empires Online thing, or at least that’s something that’s out soon – I’ve seen it and it’s pretty cool. I think the big thing about PC, as you alluded to, is that there are so many kinds of games and it just means that we have to think really carefully about things before we start a project. Who’s it for, do we understand that audience, what they want, what’s important to them, do we have a way to reach them? Then if you look at the Facebook games, certainly those are PC-driven at the moment but that’s a whole different kind of gameplay, and that can exist on multiple platforms. It’s really understanding who you’re making the game for, not that there isn’t an audience for it.

RPS: In terms of digital distribution, is that the lead here or is retail still the biggest thing?

Josh Atkins: I think we have pretty ambitious plans, yeah. It’s important that we’re there with digital and that people can find the game online, because that’s how they expect to get it.

RPS: Is there any chance of it cropping up anywhere other than Games For Windows Live?

Josh Atkins: I don’t think we’ll go into huge detail on that at the moment, but it’s definitely important that we put it out on a digital platform.

RPS: Better than a flat no, I guess…

Josh Atkins: Yeah.

RPS: What about the use of Games For Windows Live? I guess you must be aware that it’s not exactly popular with a lot of people. How much has being part of Microsoft enabled you to tailor it to your game?

Josh Atkins: The way we treat GFWL, and I think this is both a pro and I’ll be honest a con too, is that we treated it a lot like we think about Xbox Live, because the parity between the two platforms is something that is important to Microsoft, right. And they so feel like one integrated system… As kind of a specific example, but I think it will make sense, going back to Coin Golf, it was important that it not just work with Xbox, but that it work with Xbox or a PC. That whole Live universe didn’t feel like Games For Windows Live and Xbox Live and Live on the phone –that it felt like one thing. That was kind of our approach for it, to make sure that it felt like it should feel if you’re playing on the console, that you get the same general vibe for it.

There are things about Games For Windows Live that I think even people from Microsoft have said there’s work to do, and I think that work’s ongoing.

RPS: Let’s hope so. Other than the controls, what has the extra time in development afforded you?

Josh Atkins: Well, I don’t think it’s any surprise that we fixed a lot of bugs, which was something that was by nature what we were doing. The other thing that has been interesting is the difficulty mode. It’s not the first time that’s come up on Fable game; on Fable from the beginning I can remember sitting in a room with Peter [Molyneux] and him being very explicit with me that… I believe the direct quote, if I remember correctly, was “I want a blind child to be able to win this game with their feet.” Clearly, that’s an ambition, a general direction – for us, people should be able to finish the game.

The main reason for that at the time, and that hasn’t changed, is that people have limited free time and we want them to feel like there’s a sense of progress and they’re seeing the world, experiencing the story and everything they can in the game. The other thing is that we want people to finish it. There’s nothing more frustrating for a user or a developer than when someone gets to a point in the game and says “alright, I quit”. That’s bad for both parties.

So we’ve always kept that as a mainstay, but when the difficulty came up we were talking about what would PC players want. What would be important to them? The additional challenge, or the choice for additional challenge was something that we thought was important. Figuring out how to do that in a way that was both efficient and fair was challenging. We didn’t just move sliders around: we actually sat down and looked at the creature types and looked at them as individuals. Rather than just say, “this one now does 10% more damage” we made them a little faster, which gives them the perception of being a little bit smarter.

So we did quite a lot of work on that, then we redid the GUI so it felt a little bit more mouse-specific. So if you try to click on things it worked, rather than there’s no cursor. So those are the main areas that we worked on, and then clearly the 3D.

RPS: How much did you tweak in response to how much people used or tired of the various mechanics on the Xbox, like the Seal collecting and the friendship-forming?

Josh Atkins: I’ll give you one interesting hint. If you look at the number of items that need be collected to get certain Achievements on the Xbox version and the PC version, they may be slightly different.

RPS: Higher or lower?

Josh Atkins: Lower. That was some of the stuff we looked at. One of the things I’ve said many times over is every time you launch a game someone pulls it out of your hands, and you’re trying to desperately hold onto it, do more to it. Certainly the opportunity to go back and look at some stuff was good. We didn’t want to make a big deal of all of it, because some of it was little things that we knew we wanted to do, like the Achievement thing. As another example, there’s ability to repair all your houses, and there’s multiple save slots.

RPS: Is the general sentiment around Lionhead that the collection elements, the almost Farmville-like stuff, has been a success?

Josh Atkins: There’s definitely a future to it. It’s an execution question; there’s room to continue to do more with that. It’s successful in the sense that people enjoyed; I’m not trying to pitch Coin Golf here, it’s just at the top of my mind, but the way we’ve done Achievements there – you have to trade with other people to get them all, things like that, we look at that as kind of the tip of the iceberg of a whole lot of new gameplay. What’s the future of companion apps on the phone or the tablets or the PC? What’s the future of, looking at the Farmville thing, the mentality of how much you have to play together, and bringing that to a console game? There’s a lot of room for innovation there. It’s successful in the sense that people like it; it’s successful in the sense that it inspired us.

RPS: Your aim with Fable III seemed to be to tap into non-traditional gaming markets – how much did that happen?

Josh Atkins: The interesting thing about Fable is the anecdotal stuff that we hear. The first thing that springs to mind is our PR telling us that her hairdresser plays Fable, and she’s a girl, and it’s the only game she plays. Another one is that a friend of mine emailed me and told me it was the first game his daughter had ever finished. She’s nine, and she loved it. It’s important to us that we achieve that. From the get-go for the franchise, we’ve balanced it so that anyone who picks up can generally be successful. When a friend who’s working in games emails you and tells you their kid liked it, it has an impact.

RPS: How did the more casual or younger players take to the quite heavy moral choices you have in the game, such as deciding right at the start whether your lover or a group of innocent townspeople are killed?

Josh Atkins: It’s interesting, because kids now have entertainment that’s kind of hardcore. If you look at Harry Potter as a good example, he’s dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. So I do think that for us the interesting thing is that presenting a choice like that a kid… as long as the parent is comfortable with them playing it, we’re comfortable with offering them the choice because it makes the kid think. They’re just a person, right, with shorter arms. They’re sitting a littler closer to the screen perhaps, but nonetheless they’re still sitting there wondering what’s the right thing to do.

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107 Comments »

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  1. Text_Fish says:

    That company line is being tooooooooooooowed. And we are going to have aaaaaaaants.

    On a more sober note, if Lionhead want to get back in to PC’s pants (talk about a fair-weather-friend) maybe they should make a PC Game. Black&White3?

    • GenBanks says:

      announcement of a PC only black and white 3 would make my week

    • godgoo says:

      announcement of a PC only black and white 3 would make me weak.

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      Fatbubba says:

      I doubt we’ll see that. B&W is EA property right? And Lionhead Studios is Microsoft property?

      Oh well, one can wish I guess ;)

    • Milky says:

      Announcement of A PC only Black & White 3 would make my life.

    • Tuco says:

      Announcement of A PC only Black & White 3 would make me yawn.
      Just like any other Lionhead game.

      Syndicate or Popolous, on the other hand…

  2. BarerRudeROC says:

    :Insert generic rant discussing hate of GFWL here:

    • Jad says:

      Don’t want to make yet another generic beat-up-on-GFWL post, because I frankly don’t have too much of a problem with it (other than encrypted saves, which is BS), but something stood out at me:

      He starts with saying things like:

      Our hope is that people who pick up on PC think “okay, this plays how I would expect it to play, it doesn’t play like just a half-done port”, which I think is the danger for PC games.

      and

      With Fable III on PC, we wanted it to feel like it was respectful of the platform, that it had been built for it.

      Which is great. But then he says:

      The way we treat GFWL, and I think this is both a pro and I’ll be honest a con too, is that we treated it a lot like we think about Xbox Live, because the parity between the two platforms is something that is important to Microsoft, right. And they so feel like one integrated system … That was kind of our approach for it, to make sure that it felt like it should feel if you’re playing on the console, that you get the same general vibe for it.

      And this brings up the issue a lot of people have with GFWL. GFWL does not feel like it was “built for [the PC]”, it feels like a “half-done port” of Xbox Live. But it doesn’t fit into the “Fable III feels like it could have been PC-exclusive” thing they appear to be going for. Maybe thats what he meant by “a con too”.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      @ Jad

      The PC port issue is within Lionhead… the GFWL issue is a Microsoft mandate. That explains the differing sentiments there.

    • Trousers says:

      For some reason or another, I linked my xbox live account with my GFWL account. If I’m watching a netflix movie through my xbox (live), and sign into GFWL to play a PC game, it turns my movie off, for whoever may be watching.

      Minor gripe, but c’mon microsoft, really?

  3. tstapp1026 says:

    This game will die a horrible death before it even has a chance on the PC. M$’s GFWL killed it before it was born.

    • Fwiffo says:

      Ugh, do people really have to write it as ‘M$’? Cringe inducing really.

    • The Colonel says:

      This.

    • Danarchist says:

      It’s the banality of that particular meme that drives me nuts. (Look ma! I used big words!)
      Microsoft is no more a money whore than Novell or anyone else, and compared to Apple they are generous. But somewhere along the line nerdz were taught that your not cool if you don’t hate the same things as your buddies on 4chan.

      GFWL does suck though. I hate how intrusive and needy it is. If i have to install a service pack to run your freaking game client then I will probably put that off as usual and buy something else to play. Im still a little miffed about losing all my dawn of war 2 saves because my account somehow poofed into thin air.

    • rivalin says:

      Yes, it does get a bit old, and frankly they’re nowhere near the likes of Apple, putting out constant minor updates with planned obsolescence, dropping support for programs the first chance they get etc.

      GFWL is utter tat, but gaming aside Microsoft has really upped its game over the last few years, hopefully they’re going to get round to fixing GFWL, hopefully the first thing they redevelop is the name, “windows gaming live” would sound a lot better than “games for windows live”

    • Armante says:

      M$ ? How… 1990’s

    • Eightball says:

      At this point it’s more like tradition.

    • ExMortis says:

      Micro$$$haft Internet Exploder am i right

    • ScottTFrazer says:

      Obligatory Penny-Arcade: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2002/7/22/

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      phuzz says:

      I still refer to them as M$, mainly to distinguish it from MS when I can’t be bothered to type the entire name. I’m not a knee-jerk microsoft hater though, big sections of the company are great, and are putting out wonderful products* with a good attitude. It’s just spoiled a bit by the general management culture which leads to decisions like GFWL being kept alive.

      *mainly in the server space, things like WSUS, Group Policy and WDS are really handy.

  4. Casimir Effect says:

    Molyneux thought a blind child could beat Fable: TLC with their feet? What sort of crazy savant children does he have? The game had some ludicrously difficult bits involving timers and not letting some fucknut get chopped up.

    Still, I’m interested by this. Especially to see if they’ve done much to improve the menu management which made everything take 10 times longer on the Xbox (apparently).

    Wish he’s asked if there were any plans to go back and make Fable 2 for the PC. I’ve had a copy sitting around for my 360 for ages but never gotten around to playing it. A PC version may inspire me though

    • Wulf says:

      I think they’re referring to Fable II, which I can tell you from experience really was that easier, and trusted sources have told met hat Fable III is even easier than that.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      See, I thought that but it does say
      “on Fable from the beginning I can remember sitting in a room with Peter …” so who knows.

      I’ve heard Fable 2 is ridiculously easy as well, but I honestly have no problem with that. I prefer too easy to too hard any day, with the ideal being a game that let’s you change difficulty on the fly. This was gotten perfect by old Infinite Engine games, DA: Origins and even Far Cry 2.

  5. Tei says:

    Theres something very morally wrong in using GFWL.

    The people putting that bloated middleware is not the people wasting his free time to fix these bugs.

    • Maktaka says:

      Consider though that the game already had xbox live integrated into it for the 360 release. Swapping that out for something like Steam (or gutting an achievement system entirely) would have been significantly more work that just going for GfWL. Would I prefer Steam and it’s PC-centric design and incredibly powerful overlay to the console-shoehorned-onto-PC and functionally-anemic design of GfWL? Absolutely, but as long as GfWL doesn’t break anything and stays out of the way, I’ll be fine.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Plus, Lionhead is owned by Microsoft. A Microsoft company not using Games for Windows Live pretty much signals the death knell for the service.

      @Maktaka: I wonder what the PS3 folk think of the Steam Overlay For PS3 when Portal 2 launches, since it’s potentially a case of reverse-GfWL.

    • Milky1985 says:

      If they didn’t use GFWL everyone sould start shouting “See even they know its rubbish” etc etc etc

      So tis a damned if you do/don’t scenario.

    • Tei says:

      The people with power to fix GFWL are to busy in internal corporate thug wars. While the people with the expertise to fix this don’t have any power. The tecnical people is on the bottom, and powerless.
      So as a result, customers have to use a system that has a abysmal low quality, …. the financial cost to fix GFWL is redirected to the customers, that have to invest time (his quality time) to use google to search for patch and solutions to problems that sould not be here to begin first, and that a $2 indie game don’t have.
      I say this is a moral problem, as much a tecnological/social one. Wen you sell products that you know are broken, you are a bad person inside a bad structure.

  6. pupsikaso says:

    Wait, third? When was the second?

  7. BigJonno says:

    Watch the spoilers, Alec! I know the game has been on the ol’ consoletoy X for a few months, but I’m sure some people are holding out for the PC version and don’t want to know.

    • thegooseking says:

      I do believe the only spoiler here is the choice between letting the lover or the townsfolk die, which is literally the second thing you do in the game (the first just being to talk to said lover).

  8. SilverSilence says:

    This would be interesting if they actually made good games.

  9. Tally says:

    This put Fable III back on the radar for me. I think I’ll keep an eye on it from now til release. The mention of Farmville-like elements is a bit off-putting though.

  10. mod the world says:

    I miss the question about Fable II’s non release on PC and if they might change that if part III does well.

  11. Pantsman says:

    A child is just a person, with shorter arms. Words to live by.

  12. Conor says:

    I would be interested, but GFWL? I’m afraid not.

    • Loix says:

      Same. GFWL is an instant lost sale.

      It’s a cancer. A slow, bloating, updating, game restarting, immersion breaking, must-be-logged-in-to-access-saves, AIDS-infested pile of shite.

    • Icarus says:

      I’ve said elsewhere that I’ll tolerate GFWL in an excellent game. Sadly, I doubt Fable 3 will meet the benchmark of ‘excellent game’. All aboard the ‘what a shame’ train.

    • Eightball says:

      Now that Dawn of War is off GFWL it’s a lost sale for me. ;)

    • Stevostin says:

      GFWL is a slight pain, yes, but I had to cope with it to play GTA IV and Fallout 3, and I did. Come on, it’s just an auto login and a splash screen.

  13. wonkavision says:

    Every time I read Fable III in a headline, I think, Oh, there’s a new Fable coming! Then I realize it’s just that most recent Fable that I have no interest in playing.

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      drewski says:

      I’m a little confused as to why you’d be interested in a new Fable if you’re not interested in the current Fable. It’s not like Fable is going to change it’s spots, so to speak, in a new iteration.

  14. Tasloi says:

    “That was kind of our approach for it, to make sure that it felt like it should feel if you’re playing on the console, that you get the same general vibe for it.”

    Oh boy that’s exactly what I want from a PC game.. Leaving out GFWL’s various technical issues & whatnot this is probably the main reason it’s disliked as much as it is. It’s just not dedicated PC. It’s a second fiddle solution. At least they seem to know it too, for what that’s worth.

  15. Navagon says:

    You certainly know how to ask the right questions. Not to blunt. Not too direct. But the direction is set. Unfortunately he also knows how to give the right answers. So only so much was learned from this. But it does again suggest a much more PC orientated direction.

    I’m under the impression that Mircosoft is definitely thinking post-360 now. This doesn’t seem to include any build up for a next generation console so who knows what this all means. Maybe they think they’ll make much easier money on Windows Phone games or something? The 360 would have sunk a less financially stable company after all.

    • subedii says:

      I felt he answered fairly honestly, or at least as honestly as he could in the situation. Even when the topic of GFWL came up he didn’t deny it, he pretty much said they knew that there were bad points to GFWL.

      It’s not like we can expect him to outright pan the thing considering they are ultimately releasing a game using it. And realistically, I don’t feel that GFWL in itself is going to be a major detriment to the game. Like I said in the other Fable 3 thread, I don’t mind GFWL so much when it comes to singleplayer games, I largely just ignore it.

      However one thing I do think may be a significant detriment is releasing it on the same day as The Witcher 2. And let’s face it, TW2 is probably going to be a better RPG, have a better storyline, and will almost certainly have more in-depth grey-area moral choices than anything Fable might attempt.

      Well, all that and it’s DRM free. :P

    • Baboonanza says:

      There will be another XBox, MS didn’t spend billions of dollars building the brand just to abandon it at it peak. And the battle for the living room is very much still on, though the landscape has changed somewhat since the original XBox concept because a lot of the more basic functions are now being put directly in TVs.

      The issue IMO is more to do with timing and market position. If I was Sony or Microsoft the lesson I would have taken from this generation is that a lower price is beats higher spec, a fact backed up be the need to try moderate the inevitable increase in development budgets in a (now) more slowly growing market.

      To me this suggests that they will wait as long as possible before the next generation. This will allow them to fully monetize the current one, build up a big enough technology gap between generations while keeping future hardware costs lower and give them more time to decide on the importance of digital distribution in the next gen (the longer they wait the easier this decision becomes).

      If Microsoft are smart they will realise that this long cycle will cause a growth in the PC market, something that out of the console makers only they can exploit, and get around to properly focusing on it. Given gaming is one of the few things that Windows does better (well, more) than any other OS they really should get it sorted.

    • MrMud says:

      I think the lesson learned from this console generation is that gimicks sell consoles (hi2u wii and kinect)

    • Baboonanza says:

      Good point :) I wouldn’t personally bet on that being true in the future though. But then, my tastes apparently differ from the mainstream enough that it’s not something I feel too confident predicting.

    • Navagon says:

      “or at least as honestly as he could in the situation.”

      This is the key point really. I’m not saying he was dishonest. But it was very much a politician’s take on honesty rather than the rather more frank and open honesty we might have seen if there weren’t contractual obligations on what he can and can’t say.

      “MS didn’t spend billions of dollars building the brand just to abandon it at it peak.”

      No offence, Baboonanza but I don’t think you fully understand what MS is capable of when it comes to abandoning that which they’ve made a substantial investment in. I think they’ll drag the 360 out for as long as they can. But when it comes to new tech I think we’ll be seeing a focus on smaller, portable devices.

      I could be wrong but it’s been a hell of a long time with not even so much as a hint of anything new in the pipeline console-wise. I just think that the market has peaked now and that future consoles will be that much less of a sure thing than they are now. Which is saying something really.

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    Acosta says:

    GFWL blah, blah, blah, where is Fable II blah, blah, blah, Fable sucks blah, blah, blah, Xbox stole my candies blah, blah blah. Let´s everyone just ignore Alec and his silly interview and let´s use our internet power to rise our highly important personal concerns that are not related to the content of the interview at all.

    (Great interview Alec.)

    • Bhazor says:

      GFWL blah blah AIDS blah blah blah M$ blah blah Steam blah blah blah blah.

      Great interview, surprisingly candid for a PR piece.

  17. Protome says:

    I’m still not sure I’ll be buying Fable 3 on PC. It depends if one of the improvements they made to the game from the 360 version is “the entire last section of the game.” Because after you become king the game suddenly turns crap.

  18. Jimbo says:

    When I was kid I was playing Syndicate. Children of today, you have my sympathy.

    That choice you are given at the start of the game is the single best thing about Fable 3 – it’s also perhaps the least representative part of any game ever made.

  19. Arachnyd says:

    What the hell is this Fable shit about anyways, and when are they releasing Black & White 3?

    • Baboonanza says:

      As far as I can tell it’s like a cross between a Bioware and a Bethesda game. Only worse, with 0 challenge, a shallower story and less freedom.

      Seriously, anyone who tells me they want their games to be completable by a blind child playing with his feet has immediately lost my respect. That is what you do when you are selling drivel to the masses so you can get a new money hat, not making something with integrity. If your game isn’t being finished it’s most likely becuase it’s shit, not because it isn’t easy enough.

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      Rikard Peterson says:

      You’re wrong. Not everyone interested in playing games has mastery of gaming. I have Portal among my unfinished games because it’s too difficult at the end. (Bloody timer!) Same with the final boss battle in Rayman 3. Both are games that I enjoyed a lot, but I don’t know if I’ll ever finish them.

      I get more interested in Fable III when I hear that it’s easy.

      Yes, I’m somewhat crap at playing games sometimes, but I still enjoy it (I play games, read RPS, and even spend some of my free time making games), so I guess I’m one of those they’re targeting when they make games easier.

  20. rocketman71 says:

    The only work that has to be done with GFWL is burn forever the god damned piece of shit that it is.

    And then Microsoft for bastardazing AoE amongst many other things.

  21. SquareWheel says:

    GFWL to me means waiting for a cracked version without GFWL to come out.

    It’s that bad.

  22. deadstoned says:

    Great interview Alec and well chosen questions.

    On the topic of GFWL again lol. I wish Microsoft would just admit its their bastard child and they’ve been ashamed of it for years. Then they can re-release, re-brand it and fix it. Its mere mention or even a sniff of it can make an entire hate wall for it in minutes. Like a load of other people here I wont get it because The Witcher 2 is coming out that day and it doesn’t use buggy GFWL or any DRM. I may consider getting it few months after its release when its down to £5 on Amazon. I’m pretty sure its not going to hold its retail price for long.

  23. UltraZord says:

    I will not buying this game if it uses GFWL.

  24. Jools says:

    Not that I’m complaining about you guys doing these interviews (it’s certainly not your fault), but I feel like I never get anything of interest of them. The responses we get are the only responses that can possibly be given. Of course they’re going to be respectful of the platform and of course it won’t be a half-assed port, because nobody in their right mind is going to give responses to an interview that amount to “No, we don’t care about this port at all and we’re doing whatever we can to get it done as quickly as possible.”

    Honestly I don’t blame the developers either, because there’d be no point in that kind of honesty. And I’m not even saying that they don’t intend to do all the things they’re saying it’s just… I don’t know. I guess interviews like this are starting to make me feel numb, especially when “respect for the platform” and GFWL are practically contradictory at this point.

  25. Dances to Podcasts says:

    I read GFWL as EVIL. Time for bed, I think.

  26. wazups2x says:

    “The way we treat GFWL, and I think this is both a pro and I’ll be honest a con too, is that we treated it a lot like we think about Xbox Live, because the parity between the two platforms is something that is important to Microsoft, right. And they so feel like one integrated system … That was kind of our approach for it, to make sure that it felt like it should feel if you’re playing on the console, that you get the same general vibe for it.”

    I don’t want the console experience on my PC. They obviously don’t understand what PC gamers want.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      They may not understand whay YOU as a PC gamer want, but you are not the elected representative spokesperson of PC gaming, and YOU do not speak for all of us.

      I’m very happy the PC version has GFWL in it. If it didn’t, there is absolutely no chance I would buy it.

    • iainl says:

      Whenever the subject of GFWL comes up here, everyone goes off on one “I’d rather pirate it than have to put up with GFWL, GFWL is evil”, and so on with the tedious hyperbole.

      I get that some people are intensely resentful of Microsoft trying to bring PC gamers into an XBox-like environment, when they see Steam as doing all that for them already. But as a formerly 360-only gamer, I can certainly say that GFWL has been responsible for me playing games on my PC again, rather than leaving it crumbling with onboard graphics and just a copy of Office installed.

  27. DrGonzo says:

    I will be shocked if Fable 3 doesn’t have a re-imagined version of GFWL with it. Hopefully a good one, but that bit I’m not so certain on.

  28. SamC says:

    Are you all using the same GFWL? Because besides the updating experience (which is terribly opaque and clumsy), there’s nothing that’s made me say “I will not play the game because of this.” Red Faction: Guerilla, GTA IV, Fallout 3, it’s not exactly ruined my play experience in those games. I agree that it could be much better feature-wise, and I wouldn’t miss it, but I don’t understand not making a purchase because of it.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I largely agree, but I wouldn’t like having to use it for multiplayer games.

      Fortunately the multiplayer portion of Fable 3 is largely irrelevant, so I can’t see GFWL being a problem. It’s certainly less of a resource hog than Steam, which is about the only thing I find annoying about DRM overlays.

    • CMaster says:

      In Fallout 3, GFWL was optional, no? At least I never used it.

      Anyway, as I recently discovered, GfWL can (with no explanation) lock you out of your singleplayer games and not let you at them again until you perform a series of rituals gleaned from places like Yahoo answers. This is not a good system.

  29. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Keep your Farmville out of my computer games.

  30. bill says:

    On a tangent:

    It seems like a lot of the resurgent mainstream publisher interest in PC is due to the whole Facebook-type thing? Because i get the sense that’s all going to abandon the PC quite soon and go totally mobile/tablet.
    Are all the developers currently making free-to-play socially enabled games going to disappear again when that happens.

    I read an interesting opinion piece a few days back where the writer said something like “PCs used to be just typewriters, but then they became multi-purpose online social media platforms. Now they are just typewriters again and the money i’d have previously spent on a high end PC will go on a high end smartphone”.

    Now, he wasn’t a gamer, but if the majority of non-gamers start to think like that then the PC landscape is going to change dramatically… maybe going back to the much more niche landscape it used to be in the early days. That might be both good and bad for PC gamers.

    • V. Profane says:

      Nobody who would actually buy a “high-end” PC would think that tablet and or smart phone could replace one.

  31. Premium User Badge

    Daiv says:

    CDC: What about the use of syphillis? I guess you must be aware that it’s not exactly popular with a lot of people. How much has being Nurgle worshipers enabled you to tailor it to your victims?

    The way we treat syphilis, and I think this is both a pro and I’ll be honest a con too, is that we treated it a lot like we think about gonorrhea, because the parity between the two diseases is something that is important to Nurgle, right. And they so feel like one integrated disease… As kind of a specific example, but I think it will make sense, going back to infectious diseases, it was important that it not just work with unprotected sex, but that it work with sharing needles or kissing. That whole disease thing didn’t feel like syphilis and gonorrhea and genital warts on the **** –that it felt like one thing. That was kind of our approach for it, to make sure that it felt like it should feel if you’re sharing needles, that you get the same general vibe for it.

  32. Paul says:

    MS will rather kill their own games and effort of their fine people than admit that GFWL is huge failure that most PC gamers hate. Pretty sad.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I think, without a comprehensive survey of a statistically valid and relevant sample of all types of PC gamer, that’s not in any way a statement you can support.

      People commenting specifically about one issue on a PC gaming enthusiast website /= “most PC gamers”.

    • CMaster says:

      Honestly Drewski, ignoring all things like where your friends are and what you think about the services provided, when you get locked out of your single player games because GFWL takes you around in endless, 15 minute loops and never tells you why (in fact a whole lot of googling eventually pointed out I had to go to xbox.com and agree to the new Xbox Live terms of service, I feel pretty confident in imagining a lot of non-enthusiasts with experience of it hate it as well.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I’d be surprised if “most PC gamers” have had that particular experience, to be honest.

      GFWL still needs a lot of work to be done on it, I don’t think anyone is disputing that. And a lot of the time, the way Microsoft are implementing change is odd and best and mindbogglingly convoluted at worst. But ease of use can be fixed.

    • CMaster says:

      I’d agree, I dare not say most.
      But persumably any who have had a GFWL account for long enough that the XBL ToS have changed, yet don’t log into xbox.com /XBL reguarly.

      It wouldn’t be a problem if GfWL told you what needed doing. But it doesn’t – it gets stuck in a looping update process which takes ~15 minutes to complete and any keypress interupts, so no doing anything else with your PC in that time.

      My point anyway that serious issues with GfWL aren’t restricted to the “hardcore” or “steamphiles” 0 it something any gamer could come across and get very frustrated with.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      The problem is one of polish, though, not fundamental evilness.

      I don’t have an issue with people saying GFWL is annoying, or unpolished, or cackhanded. I have a problem with the more extreme pejoratives, with people saying it’s so bad they’d rather pirate than play a GFWL title, with people saying “most PC gamers hate it”.

      These things are ridiculous.

  33. DeathBunny says:

    IF this game is great then i will buy it, but it using GFWL is already a huge turn of for me and the fact that it will be coming out next to the witcher makes this one a HARD sell.

  34. Keilnoth says:

    GFWL… no Fable III for me ! And that’s a bad new ! :(

  35. minipixel says:

    Josh Atkins: There’s a story behind that, and it’s so obvious that I’m gonna tell you some BS.

    fixed.

  36. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    1. It would crack me up so hard if Fable 3 PC outsells The Witcher 2 on release. Not because I think it’s a better game, but because it will really annoy all the sanctimonious PC “hardcore” who won’t abide anyone playing games they don’t approve of.

    2. Does anyone know if the DLC is included in the PC release? Because as much as GFWL generally doesn’t annoy me all that much, having to deal with it’s temperamental DLC system isn’t something I’m particularly keen to do.

    • Mephisto says:

      I was there on 14 April 2011. I saw the first one. The alpha version. A GFWL apologist.

      On a more serious note, I’m a mild-mannered guy, but regarding the few skirmishes I have had with GFWL-enabled games, it has induced rage of Hulk-like proportions fiddling with it.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I’m still waiting for my first GFWL bad experience. Worked fine in DoW2, Fallout 3 and GTA 4 which are the three I’ve used it in. But I don’t play multiplayer and I didn’t try any of the DLCs for those games.

    • darthmajor says:

      I am pretty sure this will be a fun game and a good 10-20 hours of enjoyment but look at the The Witcher 2 and what it’s going up against. Fable already has many negatives – GFWL, the massive delay for the PC, not even getting to play the middle of the trilogy…people might forget about that if there’s no other rpg on the market to play atm, but yeah, timing.

      It would shock me if it sold even near to it, but either way releasing two actiony-rpgy games on the same day, one of which is in a completely different weight category, was not smart.

    • subedii says:

      @ Drewski:

      Whilst I can sort of appreciate your ire, TW2 selling worse than Fable 3 would send ALL the wrong messages and pretty much affirm that:

      – It’s fine to release a port half a year late, they’ll all buy it anyway.

      – They don’t care about titles that ARE built around the specific platform, just the ones that have the biggest brand name.

      – For that matter, single platform development of high budget titles for the PC has now been proven to be complete folly, and it should never be attempted. The consoles have to be the focus, development otherwise has been shown comprehensively to be the wrong decision now.

      – It’s better to bundle in pointless DRM with your title, and going DRM free is what killed TW2.

      And whilst we’re at it:

      – Actual complexities of storyline are to be eschewed in favour of mass-market appeal.

      – Completely obtuse and overly inefficient interface design is A-OK, and far preferable to some simple “menu” based system. Where’s the art in that?

      So yeah, hoping for some reason that Fable 3 does better isn’t something I’m inclined to get behind.

    • aldo_14 says:

      But I don’t play multiplayer

      That’s not an option for GTA4 in my experience. In, what, 3 years on 2 different computers over 5 patches it has never connected to the online GfWL account more than the one time for me.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      @ subedii – probably helps that I don’t care about any of those things, apart from the DRM bit.

      I care about good games. Don’t really care when they’re released, don’t really care which platform they’re developed for, don’t really care which platform they’re focused on, don’t really care if they’re “PC only” as long as they’re PC at all, don’t really care whether or not it meets some arbitrary bar for narrative complexity and don’t really care about superfluous non-menus (although that’s largely dependent on context and implementation. For example, the mission selection in Sacrifice is nicely done; the crap on Black & White annoyed me).

      I basically have two considerations when looking at games.

      1. Does it work?
      2. Is it good?

      Everything else is chaff.

    • subedii says:

      Half of those are personal gameplay preferences on my part, but let’s focus on the other half. If you don’t care about second rate treatment from publishers, fine.

      I do. Trends I dislike are the ones I pointed out above, and Fable 3 winning out over TW2 shows all the hallmarks of those trends.

      I mean Resident Evil 4 on the PC happily fulfils your requirements:

      – a game that worked.
      – a good game.

      The core game was there and it was functional in every way by default. But as a port it was still a freaking joke and quite literally one of the worst ports I’ve ever seen (and if you want, I can go into the problems it had, whilst at the same time being functional enough to play). And it most certainly isn’t “chaff” to expect better than that in pretty much everything that happened with it. Release date, production, controls, visuals, the lot.

      It most certainly isn’t chaff to want a game to come out on time and not half a year later. Or to even like titles that take advantage of platform abilities (crikey, even CAPCOM do this now. They’ve previously introduced entire new game modes purely to take advantage of added processing power available to them on the PC platform. Pretty amazing dedication).

      EDIT: For that matter, if we’re really going to go there, you were the one who said that “there is absolutely no chance” you would buy Fable 3 if it didn’t include GFWL, and this is purely for the singleplayer too.

      And yet, I have a hard time classifying anything of GFWL’s contribution to the singleplayer functionality as anything other than “Chaff”, when it’s not being a minor annoyance over signing in changes affecting savegames.

      The only thing I can think that it adds is points towards the Live Gamerscore.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Exactly. That’s what I want. If it wasn’t available on Xbox 360 with ‘cheevos, then I wouldn’t care about GFWL. But if it is, I want to play it on a system where I can get my ‘cheevos. Because my friends and I metagame, that’s part of what makes gaming fun for us. But I can understand how that doesn’t appeal at all to others, and that’s fine.

      I would argue that the Resident Evil 4 PC port, from what I’ve heard, not having played it, was not “good” in the sense that I mean – that it offers an equally compelling, though not necessarily identical, gameplay experience. As I understand it, the RE4 PC port was playable but unpleasant as a PC version. Which does not satisfy my criteria for a “good” game. I don’t assess PC ports on their console version – I assess them on their PC version.

      I just don’t care about when it’s released. Sorry, not interested. It’s either a good game now or it’s not. If it’s not, then I don’t care about it at all. If it is, then I don’t care that someone else was playing it 6 months ago. Great for them; but why would I care that they had an experience before me? It’s not like games expire after 12 months and I only get half as long to enjoy it.

      If it controls badly, if the visuals are awful, if the story is bad – these things matter, but I don’t take any more or less account of them being good or not because it’s a port. It’s either good in the form it’s presented on PC, or it’s not. And, as I’ve enjoyed all the previous Fable games, on whichever platform they arrived, I see no reason I won’t get enjoyment out of this. And that’s all I care about.

      Does it work?
      Is it good?

  37. Chris says:

    If I wanted a game console experience I would buy a bloody game console.

    I would rather pirate a GFWL game than buy it. Even when it works it blows goat.

  38. Kdansky says:

    “I want a blind child to be able to win this game with their feet.”

    Make a movie?

    • Premium User Badge

      Okami says:

      And how would the blind child be supposed to *see* the movie? You’re a cruel person indeed…

  39. enobayram says:

    GFWL = no buy
    no GFWL = maybe buy depending on reviews.

  40. Milky1985 says:

    Most important question, have they finally realised that health bar might be a good idea!

  41. SuperNashwan says:

    Releasing a game ill-suited to a PC audience in order to push MS’ rubbish distribution platform is not the way I wanted Lionhead to return to PC gaming.

  42. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    This guy’s the lead designer, eh? Oh dear. Well, thankfully for me I never expected much good to come from them.

  43. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    “Multiple save slots”. Limiting the number of save slots at all is completely ridiculous, both on PC and consoles. This is the 21st century!

  44. Stupoider says:

    Can I do anything?

  45. Teddy Leach says:

    I love how he didn’t actually say why they didn’t do Fable 2, or why they’re not doing it.

  46. zind says:

    “As another example, there’s ability to repair all your houses”

    Assuming this means all houses at once, DEAR GOD WHY DID I NOT WAIT?
    By the time I finished the game on 360 I would’ve gladly accepted GFWL if only I could repair all of my sodding houses at once.

  47. Homu Homu says:

    poop