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Eurogamer talks with lead combat designer Mike West:
Eurogamer: Did Fable III live up to your expectations that you had at the beginning of the project? Did you have enough time?
Mike West: It was a two-year project, so it's the shortest project Lionhead has ever done. I probably shouldn't say this, but we have released some buggy games in the past and they have been fixed. Fable II was buggier; Fable III wasn't very buggy - it was pretty polished. It all fitted together very well and as a product it was very good. People expected more. That was the only thing we were guilty of, that people expected it to be this next step. That's a problem we've created for ourselves being Lionhead. Because it was a two-year game, it wasn't going to be a big enough step.
[Fable III] is a better game than Fable II. We did really well for the time we did to release the game with all the elements working together. The consumer doesn't care how long it takes us: they know that it costs this much and that it's in a box.
Eurogamer: Was there any particular criticism you felt was unfair?
Mike West: People saying the story wasn't very good was unfair. It's an interesting situation of you gather people together and then defeating the main bad guy. It's a pretty good story and it's pretty fun.
I talk to people down pub and I bump into people in their early 20s and I mention what I do and they say, "Wow, I love Fable III, I love Fable II." Most of them are too young to play Fable 1, worryingly, but they love these games and I haven't had that before until about the last three or four years.
As does Beefjack:
BeefJack: I've deliberately kept to using a mouse and keyboard during my time with the game. One of the things that surprised me is how it in fact feels far more fluent than even the 360 controller, especially during combat. How did you approach implementing the new control method?
Mike West: The first thing we tried was a like-for-like button to key switch, but whereas on a controller having three different attacks on three buttons felt right, assigning these attacks to three arbitrary keys really didn't work very well. A number of other solutions were tried, but in the end we went for a more refined version of the Fable 1 PC controls.
We often went back to play the PC version while in development to see what we did right and wrong, to ensure the combat felt as clean as possible. Also, having the player fight in '˜modes' allowed us to switch the use of the RMB depending what mode you were in which was especially useful in the spell mode. Also taking the sticky aiming system used on the console and being able to switch it back to full mouse control always makes it feel smoother, especially when you can crank up the sensitivity allowing the player much more control over the hero.
BeefJack: The (Hardcore) mode significantly ups the demands on the player both in terms of dealing with enemies and reinforcing staples of the RPG genre such as health and potion management just to stay alive. Was that a deliberate design feature for the PC market, or something that sprung out of feedback from the Xbox title?
Mike West: It was a bit of both actually. We did get feedback from the Xbox 360 version saying it was less challenging than some fans would have liked and therefore with the extra time created by the conversion, some of the designers had time to tweak a number of the variables to add the hard mode. Personally, I always see PC gamers as slightly more hardcore gamers anyway I mean the price of a gaming rig alone means they are usually willing to invest more into their hobby. I'm both a console and PC gamer myself. Most genres work better on one platform or the other, but Fable is one of those that straddles the divide pretty well.