Many of Peter Molyneux’s original promises for Fable were never fulfilled, but perhaps the next entry can finally deliver.
Fable originally released in 2004 to critical acclaim. The fantasy RPG boasted skillful combat, interesting characters, and irreverent humor that made the title incredibly popular. However, something less positive that has become almost as famous as the series itself is the many promised Peter Molyneux features that never made it into the game. Molyneux was a co-founder of Fable developer Lionhead Studios, and their enthusiasm for the title led to some pretty glaring absences from the final release.
Molyneux has since apologized for his excessive promises, but still seems unable to escape some of those original claims. With the Fable Receiving a highly anticipated fourth installment, perhaps new developer Playground Games could finally deliver on some of these promises.
Molyneux originally claimed that the more powerful and successful a player became, the more famous he would be in the world. This supposedly would have led to tangible changes, such as the creation of a fan club around the player character. These groupies would dress similar to the player, cheer them on, and style their hair to look like the player.
In 2021, this seems like a completely feasible system to implement in a current generation title. A Renown-based fame system existed in the series, but it didn’t involve any of the aforementioned effects regarding NPC groupies or their appearance. This feature would certainly make the world feel more alive and realistic, especially since it was supposed to extend to the other AI heroes within the game.
AI Hero Competition
Inside the world of Fable, the Guild of Heroes is an organization made up of renowned heroes who are tasked with protecting the land of Albion and its people. Molyneux stated that the other heroes would do more than just exist in specific scenes and missions; they were constantly doing their job, accepting tasks and missions from citizens just as the player does.
This was intended as a way to add some competition to a single player game. If one player took too long to finish a mission, another hero could take over. Players could be defeated despite their best efforts and lose rewards and credit for an AI hero. The NPC groupies would even start dressing up as other heroes instead of the player if they became more famous than themselves. However, this never happened.
Catch arrows in the air
Weather Fable he was praised for his combat, deeper mechanisms and systems were promised. Molyneux claimed that there would be big differences between the “hulking” characters who wielded large swords and the agile characters who wielded knives and shurikens. Supposedly, the agile characters would be so insanely fast that players could catch arrows in midair in real-time combat.
An updated combat system seems inevitable for the next Fable title simply by virtue of the fact that more than a decade has passed since the series’ previous main launch. Truly differentiating between combat styles would make the player feel like their build choices really matter, though whether or not catching arrows comes into play remains to be seen.
The infamous acorn
Perhaps the most infamous promise made by Molyneux, one that he has struggled to escape more than any other, is that time would realistically pass. For example, engraving a message on a tree would cause it to remain there for the rest of the game, the player characters could grow old, die, and be replaced by their children, and of course planting an acorn would allow players to watch it become a magnificent tree.
In reference to the original promise, Fable II features a single acorn that can grow into a tree if certain decisions are made, but players cannot watch it grow in real time. A realistic passage of time would probably still be difficult to achieve today, let alone in 2004, but seeing this feature finally materialize could be exactly the kind of thing a new one would do. Fable stand out from other RPGs that are popular today.
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