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Molyneux "Ashamed" Of Fable 3 Review Scores

Felix Kemp
Fable 3, Games news, Peter Molyneux
Fable III

Molyneux "Ashamed" Of Fable 3 Review Scores

Peter Molyneux is nothing if not honest. While you can ridicule him all you like for his over enthusiastic marketing and hype, he genuinely believes in his team and their work, even if his passion sometimes blinds him to stone cold facts. Case in point; Fable 3. The third title in Microsoft's morality-infused role-player didn't hit the same sort of critical heights as its predecessors - Carl awarded it a 7 - and Molyneux admits he was "pretty ashamed" by Lionhead's final product.

In an interview with Gamasutra, Molyneux begins by explaining that Fable 3 was the first title Lionhead ever completed in two years. Used to three, four year development cycles, less than half of that forced the team to adopt a new approach. And as such, the game itself suffered. "That is one of the things that we're changing," reveals Molyneux, "that is just such an old school way of working".

As with every game Lionhead has developed, the most crucial part of development is near the end, when the team sits down and decides what to cut and what to keep. One of Fable 3's key features - the ruling aspect where, as king or queen of Albion, you act as monarch of the kingdom itself - was heavily cut down, according to Molyneux. "The edit was very harsh and hard to actually make the game fit".

And while Fable 3 sold very, very well - five million units and counting - Molyneux admits the critical reception - which numbers in the high 80s - upset him deeply. "I know I probably should say it's a great game just respective of whatever it was, but the Metacritic score was sort of low-'80s," explains Molyneux. "I think I'm pretty ashamed of that, to be honest, and I take that on my own shoulders, not the team's shoulders. I think that, when you have something like that, which you can feel as a kick in the teeth, you have to pick yourself up and fight even harder".

He goes on to explain that features like Fable 3's abstract levelling design - where you traverse a mystical road, each level achieved represented by a door opened and chests plundered - suffered as a result of Lionhead's ambition not being properly executed, thanks to not enough time and not-so-refined development process. That's all changed now; Lionhead has adopted a new strategy for prototyping and implementing features like this, and Molyneux is - as ever - very excited about it. "We've spent a long time thinking about that and doing our research on how you can have a creatively-led production process and how you can take the complete randomness out of the way that a lot of ideas are developed and evolved".

Next up for Fable is The Journey, a Kinect title that, contrary to reports, is not on the rails. Molyneux couldn't be any more insistent on that matter. [Gamasutra]

Add a comment2 comments
StauntonLick  Jun. 27, 2011 at 22:16

Have to doff the proverbial to Molyneux. It's not often developers put their hands up and admit their mistakes, rather than existing in some sort of strange denial about duff review scores. It's a shame they had to rush the game out, if only studios all enjoyed the freedom of ones like Valve, who can take pretty much as long as they like.

On a side note, I worked for a short time in QA at Lionhead, and met Peter Molyneux when he came and lay down on the floor of the testing room. Nice to see someone of his stature interact with peons like me!

Matt Gardner  Jun. 27, 2011 at 23:44

I rather think this is a perfect example of Molyneux actually being far more honest and objective towards his own material than half of the reviewers out there. Fable III wasn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but it's hard to argue that it was a great game either, particularly when you stack it up against its predecessors. His disappointment at a low-80s score is indicative of two things:
1. He's a deeply committed man who absolutely wants to deliver the perfect game that's been knocking around in his head for decades.
2. The current use of the numerical spectrum by a number of sites is laughable. 80%+ should denote a pretty damn good game and be recognised as such. The scale does not pivot at 70%.


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