Lionhead Studios’ Geoff Smith on how Fable Legends will return to the franchise’s roots.
The Fable franchise has seen its fair share of ups and downs. After the success of the first two games, Fable 3 turned out to be a disappointment and its fair to say that the series has lost some of its charm since then. But now with Fable Legends, Lionhead studios are not only reinventing the wheel by introducing competitive cooperative multiplayer experience but the game will also mark a return to the series’s root.
In order to learn more, GamingBolt got in touch with the game’s executive producer Geoff Smith. Check out his response below.
Leonid Melikhov: First of all what can you tell us about Fable Legends?
Geoff Smith: Fable Legends is a new and ambitious Fable project from Lionhead. We’ve taken the single-player game Fable and we amped it up into a cooperative experience. We’ve always done co-op in the past, but now we’re that first and foremost experience, where you go on adventures with three other heroes across quests.
But the key thing in Fable Legends is you’re not just going on quests, you’re fighting and playing against a villain player. Now, that villain player has a top down RTS style view and his orchestrating everything the heroes are playing against the creatures, the traps and mines. It’s a very re-playable game because you get different players coming in and playing as a villain and doing it a different way and you’re playing and you can play as different heroes of course.
"We’re working very closely with Epic because we’re using Unreal Engine 4 and the combination of Xbox One and UE4 is very potent. We’re very pleased with the way it’s looking and it’s going to look better because Unreal Engine 4 has yet to be completed. It’s going to look better, later in Fall it’s going to be given another overhaul, it’s going to be great."
Leonid Melikhov: What made you decide to go co-op in the first place?
Geoff Smith: I think we just wanted to try and do something different if I am honest. We love Fable. We have many, many man years of Fable experience in the studio, but we’ve felt that Fable was right to do something more. It’s a big world, it has a great cast of characters and we thought we could make a great co-op game with Fable and I think we’re well on the way to be honest, it’s kind of fun. The villain thing was kind of more an accident to some degree and we were thinking “well, we got the 4 players, wouldn’t it be great if they played against someone?” So you get kind of a competitive cooperative multiplayer.
Leonid Melikhov: Right, I see. With Xbox One and new generations of consoles, what does it allow you to do as opposed to previous generations?
Geoff Smith: There is a couple of things really. There is the seamless sort of multiplayer backed by Xbox Live and the drop in/drop out gameplay that we’re able to do, I should talk briefly about that and I’ll talk about second points in a minute about Xbox One. You can play single-player as well and the other heroes will be controlled and you can play against an AI villain if you like too. Xbox One just enables us very easily to move between those kinds of modes.
The other things of course, it just makes us, or makes the game rather look beautiful. We’re working very closely with Epic because we’re using Unreal Engine 4 and the combination of Xbox One and UE4 is very potent. We’re very pleased with the way it’s looking and it’s going to look better because Unreal Engine 4 has yet to be completed. It’s going to look better, later in Fall it’s going to be given another overhaul, it’s going to be great.
Leonid Melikhov: Are you guys shooting for 1080p?
Geoff Smith: Aha! At the moment, we’re just focusing on a great experience. We’re not at 1080p right now, but we’re making something that feels great to play and looks wonderful. Wherever we end up, it’s going to be a gorgeous experience.
Leonid Melikhov: 60 fps?
Geoff Smith: It’s 30 fps. That suits our gameplay very nicely, that’s what it is for now. I cannot comment on what it will be for final.
Leonid Melikhov: I see. Did you guys had any problems developing because of some of the esRAM issues that the other developers had with Xbox One?
Geoff Smith: A little, to be honest but not too bad. We’ve had a fairly straight-forward Xbox One development; it’s a good platform to develop for.
Leonid Melikhov: How long has the game been in development for?
Geoff Smith: We’ve been in for couple of years. Coming up to a couple of years in September I should be honest. We passed our concept review in September 2012. We’re just going into full production now.
Leonid Melikhov: You guys got quite a few stuff done .
Geoff Smith: Yep.
Leonid Melikhov: As a fan, what do you like the most about Fable Legends?
Geoff Smith: So what I love about is that you can choose the hero to suit you. I loved the previous Fables where you could get a hero and mold them. What I love about this one, you get a great back-story with all the heroes because they’re definite characters. I love the choice and I love the melee characters and I know a-lot of people love the ranged.
I also love the fact you will be able to customize them too. You’re still gonna take someone like Sterling the Rogue and you could go change his hair, take him to Brightlodge for a haircut, go ahead change his skin tone, go and change his armor, level up his weapons, you can still do all that. I love the fact that we’re kind of combining some of the traditional RPG elements but with a new twist and making some lovely characters that fit very much in the Fable world.
"It‘s before Fable 1, it’s more ancient, there are more magical forests, it’s going to be much more lush, there is not much in the way of towns, there is no steam-punk or technology really. It’s British fairly tale fantasy we’d like to think about it."
Leonid Melikhov: What can you tell us about the story?
Geoff Smith: There is a narrative arc that covers an entire set of quests that we’re making at the moment. It’s important for the heroes to have narrative goals. There are various things that will be happening in the quests that intro you to the objectives which aren’t just about defeating the villain. There is a whole back story. Narrative is very important to Fable games and so we’ll make sure there is one.
Leonid Melikhov: Is there a hub town?
Geoff Smith: Yes there is a hub town called Brightlodge. We hope to show that at future events.
Leonid Melikhov: My favorite Fable was the first one, second one was pretty good. Third one I didn’t think turn out that wel. It’s nice to see how the game is going back to its roots in terms of theme. I think Fable 3, something started to get lost a little bit.
Geoff Smith: Yeah, I think so. We’re very excited. We’ve taken this game back chronologically to before Fable 1.
Leonid Melikhov: So the timeline is before Fable 1, and just more ancient.
Geoff Smith: It‘s before Fable 1, it’s more ancient, there are more magical forests, it’s going to be much more lush, there is not much in the way of towns, there is no steam-punk or technology really. It’s British fairly tale fantasy we’d like to think about it.
Leonid Melikhov: Which is what I loved about the first two Fables.
Geoff Smith: Excellent, good stuff.
Leonid Melikhov: You’re bringing any kind of companions?
Geoff Smith: We hope too, yes. It’s very much in development, but we have a number of ideas. At some point we will be talking about those, but yeah.
Leonid Melikhov: So right now you have 4 classes correct? Melee damage, tank, archer ranger and a mage.
Geoff Smith: That’s right. We’ve got a 5th, the Healer class. So we have 6 characters here, but two of the same sort of class. The range dealer if you’d like, we’ve got Shroud the Assassin and Rook the Crossbow guy. We’ve got Lech who’s our healer and those are primarily the classes we are going to have.
Leonid Melikhov: Are you guys going to add more classes or heroes in the future or post-launch?
Geoff Smith: We will be adding more heroes pre-launch, so there will be more to come post-launch. Yeah, we’ll keep the thing going as much as possible.
Leonid Melikhov: Will there be anything like an Open Beta for Xbox One users?
Geoff Smith: There is a Closed Beta coming Fall this year – where we just want to get a-lot of feedback around the total 3 quests we put in Bridgelodge and start talking to our big fans about how can we make the game better. So, that’s in Fall this year and you can sign up on FableLegends.com.
"We’ll look to get in whatever we can that is truly Fable. There are so many things that make up what Fable is and we consistently talk about Fable and challenge the game to make sure it’s still within Fable spirit and the tone of Fable. We’ll do whatever we can that works and screams Fable."
Leonid Melikhov: In terms of length, how long do you think the game has replaybility before the first content patch? I don’t know how you guys are doing your content, I don’t know if you’re doing downloadable content or full-on expansion packs or how you’re releasing that stuff.
Geoff Smith: So yeah, were looking forward to do that in the future. Fundamentally; the quests are around 30 minutes in length. We’re looking at the moment for an initial start of 15 and 30 quests. You can do the math to work out the length of that, but, we’ve got Bridgelodge as well. We anticipate people spending a reasonable amount of time in Bridgelodge because people like to explore and go to different shops so, and that’s where you level up your heroes too. I think you can work it out with those figures, but there will be plenty to do in Fable Legends.
Leonid Melikhov: Is there still a currency of gold and all that stuff? Can you still rob shops like you were able to in the first Fable?
Geoff Smith: Yeah (laughs) potentially.
Leonid Melikhov: Any kind of Real Estate – like you can buy a house?
Geoff Smith: Yeah, we’re looking at that. We’re looking at all that sort of stuff. Because of the different heroes – things like marriage don’t quite work out so well, but we’re certainly going to do as much as we can to give you that kind of persistence in Bridgelodge and that kind of feeling of broad things to do in Fable.
Leonid Melikhov: Right. As a personal thing I think that what made the old Fable special was that you were able to buy places. People looked at you in a certain way because you were a hero. I am hoping that’s still going to stay there, maybe not at launch but somehow will be implemented overtime. So I am hoping to see that despite the fact that it’s a multiplayer based game.
Geoff Smith: We’ll look to get in whatever we can that is truly Fable. There are so many things that make up what Fable is and we consistently talk about Fable and challenge the game to make sure it’s still within Fable spirit and the tone of Fable. We’ll do whatever we can that works and screams Fable.
Leonid Melikhov: Final question, when is the release date?
Geoff Smith: I can’t comment on that.
Leonid Melikhov: 2015 safe to say?
Geoff Smith: 2015 is probably fairly safe to say. Fundamentally, we need to get this to be kick ass and brilliant and we’ll release it when it is that.
Leonid Melikhov: Looking forward to it. Thank you so much!
Geoff Smith: Thank you so much indeed, great to chat with you!