Fable The Journey devs "destroyed" by negative backlash

The Lionhead team working on the Kinect-powered adventure were hit hard by criticism

In an interview with CVG, Lionhead creative director Gary Carr explained how his team felt after journalists and fans were overwhelmingly negative about the E3 2011 demo of Fable: The Journey. According to Carr, the reception of the Kinect-powered entry in the franchise left the team "destroyed". Carr said the studio rallied around the criticism and sought to improve upon what they had already started.

"In the past we have shown things much more underdeveloped, much cruder, than the Fable The Journey demonstration at E3 [2011]. But for some reason, it wasn't resonating with people," said Carr.

"I think the presentation itself is partly to blame. I think we should have shown Fable The Journey further down the line."

"I think the studio took the criticisms to heart," Carr said. "I was okay, personally. The team rallied really quickly, it made us double-down on the project and worked really hard to make sure it was the best thing they could make. I think the turning-point was after the E3 [2011] showing, we finished up on developing our first dungeon. It's still the best one in the game. We nailed it. I think that turned the team. People started realizing that no, we were not making a shit game. We were making something that can be great."

Carr also had an unorthodox answer for the criticism about Fable The Journey being an on-rails experience. After the first showing of the game, Lionhead founder Peter Molyneux insisted the game was not on-rails; it was an insistence that was later found to be untrue.


Yes, it is apparently on-rails.

"Every single game is on-rails. I can score a fantastic goal on FIFA if I press certain buttons in the right order at the right time, that's the rails bit," Carr explained.

"I think, if we had done this again, we would have just said, yeah, it's on rails. The truth is, at the time Peter was saying it wasn't on-rails, we at Lionhead were considering free body movement. But it was awful. It just wasn't fun."

"Ultimately, the decision was, keep the faith. On-rails is actually necessary to make the game work really well. We are building a story-based game, a well-crafted world, a powerful narrative, a beautiful looking game. All our money is going into that. We are not messing with alternative control schemes anymore," Carr added.

Fable: The Journey is expected on Xbox 360 in October of this year.

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Latest comments (8)

Paul Smith Dev 9 years ago
But it was awful. It just wasn't fun."
"Better with Kinect!"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 17th July 2012 1:25am

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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game9 years ago
"Every single game is on-rails. I can score a fantastic goal on FIFA if I press certain buttons in the right order at the right time, that's the rails bit," Carr explained."

Does anyone consider that a good, and in no way snotty answer?
And no, the fact that pressing the buttons in one order leads to one outcome does not make it on rails if there is a choice to press another series of buttons. He must know that when people talk of on rails they refer to movement being restricted to one path like a train (on rails) rather than a car on a road network or a plane in the sky. If it is on rails, so be it, but making glib comments about all games being on rails isn't going to make that fan of open world RPGs stop and say, "you know what, Skyrim is on rails apparently, all games are, so it doesn't matter if Fable channels me along a set path, choice must be an illusion anyway."
Not to say it can't be fun and on rails, but that comment served no one.
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Chuan L Game Designer / Indie Developer 9 years ago
"I think the presentation itself is partly to blame. I think we should have shown Fable The Journey further down the line."

Wow ., does he really believe that? The original concept for "Fable" that Molyneux spoke of years ago which did get people excited re: world persistence & consequence never seems to have made it into an actual release game. Instead we got a pretty stock standard linear adventure with some questionable character design, and super dumbed -down plot.

If the videos and screenshots are anything to go by, this latest foible seems to be angling even more at the Popcap / Dungeon Defenders -style casual market and I'm just not interested in that kind of crap. Lionhead used to make some great games but ever since they got bought out by Micro -bland their output has been just passable. A real shame then that a developer that used to have some of the most brilliant minds [ eg. Demis Hassibis & others ] seems to be churning out such cookie cutter tripe. Same goes for Rare as well.!

-- Chuan
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Show all comments (8)
Terence Gage Freelance writer 9 years ago
Are they really surprised by the negative backlash? Fable III received far more negative feedback than its two predecessors and The Journey is on Kinect - which, if they haven't noticed - is borderline hated among the core audience. I think a lot of current/former Lionhead fans would like the studio to get a chance to work on a completely new IP, or in the very least something other than Fable. How about bringing back Black & White or The Movies; both seem like they'd be a better fit for Kinect than Fable.

"Every single game is on-rails."

I'm sorry, but this is complete bullshit. There's a huge difference between linearity and being on-rails, and you cannot compare a sports game taking place on an enclosed two acre pitch to an adventure game. I am playing The Witcher 2 at the moment, and while it's linear it still maintains a degree of player choice and exploration which stops it from feeling like you're simply being led down corridors.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to play Just Cause 2.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D9 years ago
"Every single game is on-rails. I can score a fantastic goal on FIFA if I press certain buttons in the right order at the right time, that's the rails bit," Carr explained.

Right. Just like life, where if you do certain things at a certain time then they will lead to a certain outcome.

Destroyed? What, like the Bizarre lot, or the Pivotal lot, or the FRD lot, or [insert studio name] lot were destroyed when their studios got closed?

Oh. No. You meant some people didn't like what you showed them. I see. A bit of perspective, please - this is not 'Nam.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Fran Mulhern on 17th July 2012 12:46pm

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Lionhead just need to start afresh from scratch. Fable ran out of legs a while back and a reboot is not the option
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
The funny thing is... this actually might be a much better game than expected and if it is, it probably won't sell because of other Kinect titles that failed to capture the "core" gamer dollar or interest because they weren't so hot. I liked what I saw and am willing to give the game a shot, but the gods at Metacritic must be served (I'm not listed on that joke of a site), so there goes that...
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Ian Brown IT Developer / IT Infrastructure 9 years ago
I've always been very cautious of the Fable series after the original and infact never got round to playing more than the demos of 2 & 3. All the promise, the E3 demos and then the game...which gave me a group of small areas and a set path through them. The battle damage and growth of the character only altered on your skills not what you actually did. So only by using all of your skillpoints on the strength attribute would your character become bulky, not by just playing the game and swinging heavy weapons around as advertised in the early interviews. I think the limitations of the console didn't help but if you keep telling everyone about the original features of the game and don't deliver expect to be told so.
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