Lions Said: The Making Of Fable III PC

By Alec Meer on April 22nd, 2011 at 11:01 am.

Dance! Dance the endless dance of grudging but necessary business decisions!

So, Microsoft and Lionhead’s PC version of Fable III is to simultaneously release on both Games For Windows Live and Valve’s Steam. Jim perhaps did not entirely acknowledge the importance of this news in his post ysterday. The importance being “HOLY GOD-DARNED CAMEL SPIT, MICROSOFT ARE SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY.”

I mean, that’s huge, innit? Absolutely fuggin’ enormous. The firm that has for so long attempted to dominate the PC (as well as console), and in recent years has been dedicated to carving out its own, crazy closed-garden for download games, has now allowed its arch-rival into the bedroom of one of its most treasured gaming properties – and is actively choosing to throw cash at its PC gaming nemesis. Lordy-loo. I guess we all knew the day would come when Microsoft would have to admit they’d lost this fight, but I was convinced it’d be a couple of years yet.

Question is, what new doors does this open? Could we see the likes of Age of Empires or -pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease – Freelancer on Steam? I would kill 11 men to get that. Perhaps even 12. Perhaps even 12.

Anyway! If you’re still not sure about whether all this stuff abut Fable III being dramatically rethought for PC is true, take a look at the four minute making-of video below. They really are taking this seriously.

Yes, seriously.

Yes, not so seriously that they’ve removed Games For Windows Live from it, but let’s not kid ourselves that a Microsoft-owned studio has any choice in the matter, eh? I’m just glad Fable’s coming back to PC; while this is the year of RPG serious business (The Witcher 2! Mass Effect 3! Mother-lovin’ Skyrim! Deus Ex: Human Revolution! It’s an *incredible* year for RPGs) I’ve always dug its ambient, cheery rambling as a counter-balance to all that grim, epic questing. I recently previewed a Fable III PC build here, and interviewed its lead dev here. I did, I did so!

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69 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    I think its a case of pragmatic realism more than anything else. I suppose there may also be the hope that they can use the Steam sale as a vector to getting the GFWL storefront onto more PCs, but I suspect that this is secondary to the realization that a GFWL exclusive simply wont sell as well as something available on Steam.
    (Oh, and on a brief hijack if I may, any chance of getting a Quinns ‘Wot I think’ on Cargo at some point? It appeared quietly on Steam yesterday.)
    Edit: Haha, bloody hell that was quick. Almost as though it had been about to come before I even posted my comments.

    • Jeremy says:

      Isn’t that pragmatic realism still just as big of a story? A company like Microsoft even hinting at defeat is, in my mind, quite significant.

    • Rii says:

      I think dropping the fees was a far more significant step in that regard myself.

    • Jeremy says:

      What fees did they drop? I don’t honestly know that much about GFWL.

    • Rii says:

      When the service began it had a subscription fee like Xbox Live. But they quickly realised that that wasn’t going to fly in the PC space.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Did they actually introduce the fee in the end? Or did they just abandon their plans to do so?

  2. Teddy Leach says:

    Well, I’ll be buying it.

    • DuckSauce says:

      I’m pretty sure I will too, been pondering whether I should or not, but this video convinced me more than the trailer I saw on steam and not because of the PC chat, but just seeing the people behind and more of the game(despite the slow mo’s) excited me more than the trailer did.

    • Mac says:

      It’s an okay game – not as good as Fable 2, but it is no more than a rental title … £3.50 for a months rental at Boomerang. Far better value than paying £30 for it on PC.
      The delayed release, and the lack of fun just means that it is a no brainer for me to pass on the PC version :/

  3. poop says:

    As i said in the other comments thread: dont give a fuck about fable and never will but this news means that its possible that one day in the future microsoft’s oldass games get the GOG treatment

  4. Platinum says:

    I think you meant Mass Effect 3, although i wouldn’t go has far as calling it an RPG.
    You forgot Deux Ex 3 btw.
    Regarding Fable 3 (damn so many 3’s), it’s surely gonna fail. I’m not sure why do they even try.
    It’s the wrong platform for a blind kid to play with his feet.

    • Edawan says:

      Funny how everyone already forgot Dragon Age 2 when talking of “the year of the RPG”.

    • Wizardry says:

      Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3, Skyrim, Fable III, The Witcher II, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Spot the non-action CRPG from this list…

      Terrible year.

    • Vague-rant says:

      @Wizardry

      What was the last non-action CRPG? And what does non-action CRPG mean?

    • DrGonzo says:

      It means he’s pretentious.

    • Bureaucrat says:

      A “non-action” RPG is one where the player’s reflexes are never a factor in whether one succeeds or not.

    • Vague-rant says:

      So turn-based, like a JRPG.

    • Wizardry says:

      Turn-based like a JRPG? Unfortunately for you, most western RPGs are also turn-based. But maybe you got into gaming with Mass Effect.

    • The Hammer says:

      @Wizardry: Sounds like you’d like The Sims: Medieval.

    • Bureaucrat says:

      IMO, you can have a real-time “non-action” RPGs, so long as there is a pause function wherein you can pick targets, queue up abilities, tell characters where to move, etc. See, e.g., Baldur’s Gate and the group of games using that engine.

    • Vague-rant says:

      @Wizardry

      Haha! Its funny because someone is young! Unfortunately, I’m not that young, and answer the question.

    • DrGonzo says:

      They really aren’t Wizardry. Ever since Baldurs Gate I think the majority of western RPGs have been real time actually.

      Being arrogant doesn’t make you right by the way.

    • Wizardry says:

      @DrGonzo: And that’s what my first post implied. Real-time combat might be common at the moment, but most CRPGs are turn-based. Perhaps in 10 to 20 years time things will have changed.

      @Vague-rant: My point was that turn-based combat in an RPG format is not owned by JRPGs. Western CRPGs were turn-based long before JRPGs were invented. You can have the freedom of interaction and narrative that western CRPGs provide while having turn-based combat.

      So no. I don’t want turn-based CRPGs like JRPGs. I want turn-based CRPGs like turn-based CRPGs.

      And to answer your question, an independent CRPG was the last non-action PC RPG. If you are looking at more well known titles, Drakensang might be the most recent. Though it’s not strictly turn-based, it isn’t an action game for the reasons Bureaucrat stated.

    • Vague-rant says:

      See, thats what I thought you meant by non-action CRPG. But once we stray out of turn-based games though, the lines get a little murky to me. How about something like Fallout 3? Is that a non-action CRPG? If you use solely VATS then the combat in that requires less reflex than Baldur’s Gate. None of the party management, but from what you’re saying that’s not a necessity.

      Or if we’re talking about queuing moves/orders then why didn’t Dragon Age;Origins make the list? Less developed than some of the older games, sure, but it does tick the boxes.

      This is why I hate the idea of “Genres” (capital G of course). Its synonymous with “I have a strict idea of a game in my head. Make it please.”. I’d rather focus on “That looks interesting. Maybe I’ll buy it”

    • bwion says:

      RPG, in particular, strikes me as an especially useless genre description. There are so many very different games that call themselves RPGs, or incorporate “RPG elements”, that there’s basically nothing to unify them.

      Of course, if you do want a narrower definition of RPG, which one of the approximately 7.8 trillion definitions do you use? Get any two people together, and you will almost certainly end up with (a) a minimum of 3 definitions of RPG, and (b) a knife fight between them for the supremacy of their favorite one.

    • Aedrill says:

      If I have a choice between turn-based RPG (or non-action, to be less specific) with story about Saving The World From Great Evil From The North and action RPG with something actually interesting, I always choose the latter. Both Drakensang and Dragon Age: Origins have really shitty main quests and I was never able to finish them because of this.

    • Wizardry says:

      Fallout 3 is definitely an action RPG because it requires a heavy dose of player skill to be effective at fundamental interactions such as targeting and dodging. You can use VATS if you want, but you can also play Dragon Age II like a real-time tactics game and Mass Effect with pause abuse. None of those styles of play are strictly necessary and none of them are a substitute for turn-based combat due to the real-time action gameplay takeing place between pauses. At least in Baldur’s Gate II, with the use of auto-pausing, you don’t actually gain much from fucking around between the 6 second rounds.

      Dragon Age: Origins isn’t an action RPG because pausing and issuing orders is actually quite important. It’s more action than Baldur’s Gate II because it doesn’t run on rounds/turns/frames, which makes it very difficult for the player to issue command after command in succession. However, it’s far less of an action RPG than Dragon Age II because Dragon Age II almost scraps the time taken to perform actions and therefore makes it VERY difficult for the player to manage the entire party even while pausing. Plus, Dragon Age II was made to be easily completable while controlling only the protagonist, meaning tactics are mostly nothing more than time wasters.

      But basically, when I say I want non-action CRPGs, I’m saying that I want turn-based CRPGs or, at a stretch, Infinity Engine style games with auto-pausing and rounds/turns underneath. At an extreme stretch, Dragon Age: Origins but WITHOUT the horrible MMO-style character development and combat.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Aedrill: And why the hell should you choose? Why does real-time combat allow for a better story? It makes no sense at all. In fact, because turn-based CRPGs could require less development time (depending a lot on graphical viewpoint), you could argue that they are better placed to have more thought put into their stories.

      In other words, it’s not a trade off. I just want turn-based CRPGs as opposed to the action-games-with-levelling-and-dialogue that are so common today. Stick a good story in them. Stick good characters in them. I just look at the list of “CRPGs” coming out this year and let out a big yawn. Deus Ex is an FPS with dialogue and levelling (skills/augmentation). Skyrim is a first person hack & slasher with dialogue and levelling (though at least it might have some non-combat skills). Dragon Age II was just plain embarrassing, whatever it was. Mass Effect 3 will be like the previous two, Gears of War plus levelling and dialogue. The Witcher 2 looks like it has even more action-like combat than the first game, which was a glorified QTE game.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      This discussion would be a lot easier without the term RPG. When people say RPG in the context of videogames, either they mean something inspired by actual roleplaying around a table, a stat-heavy game with levels and experience, or a game focussed on story and dialogue.

      That’s so complicated.

      Just call one game an action game and the other a strategy game. That’s basically what it is, and that’s what Wizardry is talking about. It simply makes no sense to lump Fallout 3 and let’s say Wizard’s Crown* together like that, just because they call themselves RPG for one reason or another.

      Is it real-time? Does it require the player to react quickly? Probably an action game.
      Is it turn based? Does it require forethought and deep decision making? Probably a strategy game.

      Would someone argue against someone who said they wanted more turn-based strategy games where you control a party of four through a fantasy world? Eh?

      *Nobody was mentioning a strategy-heavy CRPG by name in this thread, so here you go.

    • Aedrill says:

      @Wizardry
      At which point did I say that it’s a trade off? Apparently we’re looking for completely different things in RPGs. You’re focused on turn based, tactical fighting system, I’m much more into good story followed by as much non linearity as possible. That’s why my RPG-of-choice is The Witcher, not Dragon Age. If, by any chance, I’d find an RPG with good story and nice, tactical fighting system, I’ll be more than happy. But still – I don’t mind dynamic fighting as long as it’s fun.

    • Wizardry says:

      Just call one game an action game and the other a strategy game. That’s basically what it is, and that’s what Wizardry is talking about. It simply makes no sense to lump Fallout 3 and let’s say Wizard’s Crown* together like that, just because they call themselves RPG for one reason or another.

      Is it real-time? Does it require the player to react quickly? Probably an action game.
      Is it turn based? Does it require forethought and deep decision making? Probably a strategy game.

      I think it’s more accurate to say tactics instead of strategy because arguably all CRPGs have a strategic element: building up your character(s).

      This discussion would be a lot easier without the term RPG. When people say RPG in the context of videogames, either they mean something inspired by actual roleplaying around a table, a stat-heavy game with levels and experience, or a game focussed on story and dialogue.

      That’s so complicated.

      I do get your point, but it’s not like the combat is completely unrelated to a game’s relationship with the RPG label. In a game like Wizard’s Crown (as you mentioned), the results of each of your characters’ actions are determined by their statistics. Less so in more action-oriented CRPGs.

      Would someone argue against someone who said they wanted more turn-based strategy games where you control a party of four through a fantasy world? Eh?

      But there are still turn-based strategy games being made by high profile developers. You’ve got Civilization and Total War (campaign map). Heroes of Might & Magic VI is coming out this year. Stardock are still around. Paradox might technically make real-time games but they certainly don’t require fast reflexes like action games.

      CRPGs on the other hand are different. Turn-based combat basically died with Fallout 2 because it made the mistake of having a slow-paced turn-based combat system but with only single character control and bad AI (making it less tactical than real-time games such as Baldur’s Gate). Jagged Alliance 2 (though mostly turn-based tactics) and Wizardry 8 by Sir-Tech, and later Temple of Elemental Evil by Troika tried to carry on turn-based party combat but didn’t make enough money to save either company from doom. Now we only see turn-based combat in independent CRPGs such as Knights of the Chalice and Spiderweb Software games. It’s not really comparable.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Aedrill: I understand what you’re saying, but even I’m not a fan of non-stop combat. That’s why I can’t stand JRPGs. I’m a huge fan of non-linearity and tonnes of non-combat interaction. I like being able to hack computers, blow up structures, sail boats, mix potions, craft weapons, stealth past enemies and use survival skills when playing through a CRPG. As long as all those interactions are governed by the various skills and statistics of my party members.

      I like freedom and non-linearity as much as you. I enjoy a good story and good characters as much as anyone. But I also like my CRPGs to be about my characters and not my own personal skill at performing their actions for them. I’d much rather hack a computer requiring 60 points in hacking in order to shut down a security system inside a building than to play some hacking mini-game requiring fast reflexes. I’d much rather climb a mountain requiring 70 points in mountain climbing in order to reach a hidden village than to walk up a path while dodging falling rocks in real-time. Test my characters, not me. Let me guide them and tell them what to do.

    • Wulf says:

      I suppose what I want at the end of the day is action adventures with customisable characters (including race), meaningful choices, a truly compelling and emotional storyline, characters that are at least charismatic and likeable in their own little ways, and developers trying to be innovative with setting, world, and gameplay styles. (If the death of the RPG meant the death of the medieval England setting, I’d do a little happy dance, but I’d want something even more interesting to replace it with, and I could name many more interesting sorts of settings that they could fill that void with.)

  5. roryok says:

    I’m glad Marc Almond is still a playable character

  6. Navagon says:

    Given that this is a GFWL game anyway, buying on Steam is actually kind of detrimental given that you’d have two clients buzzing like angry hornets around your game. Plus GFWM customers get Fable 1 as a bonus.

    ME3 *cough*

    • Navagon says:

      I haven’t actually bothered looking at the pricing, but you’re right that’s not much of a pre-order bonus then, is it? Still, not having it tied to two clients has something to be said for it, even if you’re stuck with GFWL either way.

      Still, I bet that a retail copy bought from an online retailer is the way to go. A more realistic price tag if nothing else.

  7. Rii says:

    LOL @ “I need a teleprompter”.

    I might conceivably be interested in this. I’ve never gotten into an RPG, WoW excepted, and apparently Fable 3 is pretty, umm, light in that respect. And it does appear as though the devs are intent on doing the PC transition justice.

    Pity about that whole GFWL thing.

  8. Loix says:

    Ahh, still has GFWL. No sale.

  9. hosndosn says:

    Fair enough. A couple of bigger studios are re-discovering the PC, it seems. I wonder if some “interesting” numbers popped up on some publisher CEO’s radar in the last year? Minecraft selling 2 million units without a cent spent on marketing? Digital distribution finally being counted in sales figures? Starcraft 2 actually selling 5 million copies?

    Anyway, good for us.

  10. Pemptus says:

    “Hardcore mode”, eh? So, in the case of Fable, a normal difficulty level? Well, whatever makes the game seem less like it was developed for 5-year-olds with serious disabilities is a good thing, I suppose.

  11. Rasputinator says:

    So a company is releasing a game with Steam and Games For Windows Live, they’re just asking for it to be pirated aren’t they?

  12. Hunam says:

    Whilst you can’t die in the Xbox 360 version (not sure if this is changed in the PC version) but the combat is a lot harder than it was in Fable 2.

    • thegooseking says:

      It is? I never died fell over once in the course of completing it twice and doing a rather substantial number of the side-questy things.

  13. vodka and cookies says:

    They could certainly update some of their back catalog of games and put them on GOG or Steam.

    Valve work next door to Microsoft and were founded by ex-Microsoft employees so I don’t think they consider MS the “enemy”.

    Also Microsoft sensibilities are prone to change to the more practical from time to time like Bing being on the iPad [a pretty good app too] and so on. However Microsofts problems is that it’s like semi-state company and once a dimwit gets in charge of a division it’s very difficult to dislodge them no matter how many bad decisions get made, also other MS divisions actively sabotage others in case it may jeopardize their plans.

    I think MS has realized it has little chance against Steam in the hardcore market but by no means has MS given up and you will almost certainly see casual games as part of Windows 8 built in app store.

  14. DuckSauce says:

    I gave GFWL an honest chance, tried to pre-purchase Fable 3 on their site, says my country might not be supported, though it’s on the supported list, but I should download the client to try again.

    *Downloads client* *Change IE settings so it blooming works already* then it appears Fable 3 isn’t even on the list there, so I can’t buy it despite my country being supported.

    The shit? Microsoft doesn’t want my money, but I want their game, what do I do oh what do I do. I’ve sworn off piracy and I doubt a Steam purchase is gonna make much difference if that’ll still use GFWL.

    • Ajh says:

      I thought it wasn’t released for another few weeks?

    • DuckSauce says:

      It’s up for pre-purchase, with fable: the lost chapters for free.
      Well… it’s SUPPOSED to be on pre-purchase, like the big fat notification on the Games for Windows site with the button Pre-Purchase would indicate, but then you can’t actually purchase it.

  15. xGryfter says:

    The smartest thing MS could do to bolster PC game sales is ditch all aspects of GFWL except the link of a common Gamertag/account with it’s console counter part and embrace/partner with Steam/Valve. All’s MS is doing now is muddying the waters making things even more difficult for those of us who consider the PC their primary gaming platform.

    I may be in the minority here and while I don’t mind having multiple game consoles I honestly hate having to use multiple digital distribution services. If a PC game is not on Steam the likelihood of me purchasing it is very, very slim. I’m still shocked that Sony were the ones to pull their collective heads out of their asses first and partner up with Valve, and that’s on a freakin’ game console! MS is either the most ignorant company when it comes to PC gaming and Steam or they are just freakin’ stupid and have let greed blind them to the reality of this market.

    Also, Fable 3 is one of the dumbest games I have ever played. I enjoyed 1&2 for the most part but in an age where most modern RPGs contain fleshed out characters and and deep(ish) dialog mechanics having to interact with people by farting, burping and making faces is, well… stupid and no longer carries with it the “charm” of the first two games. I’m generally not too picky when it comes to games and I despise how the term “dumbing down” is thrown around so casually, the only thing that really matters to me is if I’m having fun with it whether it’s a brainless manshoot or a brilliantly written puzzle game but with Fable 3 I couldn’t shake the feeling that Molineux thinks everyone is retarded and cant handle more complex character development… or he is insane and thinks this is the way the world should communicate. Either way it’s annoying and really kept me from enjoying the game.

  16. Captain Hijinx says:

    Okay, my fragile PC ego has been appropriately assuaged by the video, i get it. They’re making the PC version to the PC versions strengths.

    We seem to be getting a lot of this lately. Publishers and Devs going out of their way to explain to PC that the platform will receive the proper treatment. The recent Deus Ex video also did something fairly similar with the Dev’s explaining the option to turn the magical vision off, Crysis 2 as well to a lesser extent, though they messed up a bit with the “Press Start” fiasco that sent some people into a foaming frenzy of rage.

    Now i’m not one of those people that needs such reassurance, as i’ve been playing games long enough to know that the current state of the industry means we’re going to get a lot of games in which consoles take priority due to the sheer size of the console audience, but is this progress?

    The fact that we’re even being acknowledged and assuaged at all seems like it might be, as opposed to the last several years, in which we just got what we got when given some port, bad or otherwise.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      It is kind of interesting that publishers are starting to realize that the PC gaming market is actually a viable source of revenue. Is it Halo 3 kinds of numbers? Not really. But it’s a nice chunk to pad the wallet, to be sure. To top it off, the way multi-platform development is going, it’s becoming an easier task to port between the different platforms.

      I think a lot also has to do with, honestly, gaming hardware being more accessible. It used to be rather niche to have a gpu. (remember Monster Fusion and Voodoo cards?) Nowadays, a lot of family computers from Dell and HP have low-level gpus. The console market has, in all honesty, kept the gaming industry from going too far too fast (Crysis, anyone?), which has meant that a lot of titles are able to be played on a wide variety of lower-spec machines.

      Regardless of the main driving force of this PC-satiating, I am rather enjoying this trend of even non-PC friendly titles appearing on the PC format, and often being given nice little tidbits as well. (Street Fighter IV being a great example)

  17. outoffeelinsobad says:

    I can’t tell if the devs in that video are really simple, or if they think I’m really simple. Almost feels patronizing.

    • Rii says:

      The important thing is that you’re able to feel both superior and offended, as a true PC gamer should.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      I thought your comment was interesting and clever, but not exactly innovative in it’s construction or execution. 7/10. I’ll wait for the Steam sale.

    • Rii says:

      Handled with poise … just like a true PC gamer! xD

  18. Sam Crisp says:

    The most important news is that it’s bound to be part of a Steam sale some time in the future. So I’ll probably end up buying it. As for actually playing it though…

  19. Fwiffo says:

    “HOLY GOD-DARNED CAMEL SPIT, MICROSOFT ARE SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY.”

    Yes, but only on the condition that they only do it in their crummy single bed.

  20. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    If this isn’t a sign that the apocalypse is nigh, I don’t know what is.

    CATS AND DOGS SLEEPING TOGETHER

  21. dsi1 says:

    GFWL is the plague stopping me from buying this game.

  22. Pijama says:

    WHY DON’T YOU RELEASE FABLE II YOU SONUVABITCHES

    Anyway, Lionhead fell off my radar long ago. Unless Molyneux decides to get some brass balls going and tell Microsoft to get him the Syndicate/DK/anything he needs licenses, he is just going to be a shadow of what he was.

  23. hocevar says:

    So, they are releasing a PC port of their game on the same day that one of the most awaited cRPGs of all time is going to land.

    Lets see, I give it a month before they start to complain how it isn’t selling well

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      Even so, I’d expect them to clean up on the holiday Steam sale. Even if Witcher completely buries this game, it’s a big enough name that people are going to hand over $20 or so during the annual wallet purge. Of course, assuming they port the game properly which gets it favorable reception.

  24. JohnnyMaverik says:

    I just can’t see myself choosing to play it over The Witcher 2, and I can’t afford to buy both… sorry Lionhead but I doubt I’m alone. It was pretty badly slated when it came out on 360, and by that I mean if you read the reviews and ignore the scores (as any RPS reader will do), not many of them we’re very positive, very much a Dragon Age 2, not an awful game but very disappointing. I can’t imagine they’ve changed that much in the PC version.

  25. SilverSilence says:

    All this PC news seems to be covering up the fact that this game is terrible.

  26. Jason Moyer says:

    Not so much sleeping with the enemy as sleeping with a (former) co-worker, which is way creepier.

  27. BobsLawnService says:

    Dear Microsoft,

    Please release Fable 2 on PC and I promise I’ll buy both.

  28. DigitalSignalX says:

    I like how the dev says something to the effect of “We’re actually proud of this, it’s not just a port” – implying that devs are indeed just as mortified as their intended consumer base at the quality of their PC product.

  29. BreadBitten says:

    Hopefully the port will at least be on par with ‘Mass Effect’ for the PC. New UI, HotKeys, etc. will be much appreciated…