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Peter Molyneux - Part Two

The MGS creative director reveals Fable III, looks at the economic impact on games and offers his view on the release dates issue

GamesIndustry.biz Fable III is the next big project for Lionhead - give us a bit of an overview of the game?
Peter Molyneux

It's always tricky when a sequel comes along on the same platform - traditionally this is when sales drop off. So with Fable III we're going to take a bold step forward. With the Fable franchise we want people to expect the unexpected, but for the time being we're just going to be talking about the story.

So in Fable the player was one of many heroes, while in Fable II the player was the only hero - but in Fable III we're allowing you to be a rebel hero, trying to overthrow a tyrant to become the ruler of Albion yourself.

Then for the second part of the game experiencing what it’s like to be the hero king or queen, so now in Fable III the promises you've had to make on the road to rule have to be kept when you become ruler.

But the question is, what sort of ruler will you become? Will you be just or cruel? Will you hoard gold while your land experiences poverty...?

GamesIndustry.biz Indeed... Fable II was a rare recipient of full marks from Eurogamer - that sort of reaction must have been very pleasing?
Peter Molyneux

Very! But I still hope that even more people will get to enjoy Fable II, so we're announcing Fable Episodes. Fable II is broken down into five chapters each one will be released as an episode. The first chapter will be free and then in-game the player can decide whether or not to purchase the next episode - or there's a season pass option that opens up the rest of the game.

Hopefully the temptation of a free episode will encourage more people to play the entire game.

GamesIndustry.biz How tough is it going to be to follow that success up?
Peter Molyneux

I think we need to keep on with the quality and unique experiences within the Fable world. For me that means taking big steps and questioning some of the foundations that Fable is built on.

GamesIndustry.biz Moving onto the economy, you'll have seen a number of ups and downs over the years in your time in the games industry. What's your feeling about how things are bearing up at the moment? This time last year people didn't seem to feel that videogames would be hugely affected, so has it?
Peter Molyneux

I think it's a global recession - it's not a little, local thing. For Britain, at least, that's quite a good thing, because if it was just about Britain that would be very, very bad. I suspect that we, as an industry, are still growing - but just not growing quite so fast.

I think that does make people nervous, but that's not so much about whether them consumers will continue to buy - I think there's reasonable confidence about that - it's whether or not all the infrastructure things are right.

I know of a couple of small independent companies - and this is tragic - that haven't gone to try and get bank loans simply because they think they're going to be turned down and get a bad credit history. Once you get turned down for a loan it goes on your record - and that's really affected their ability to take on different projects.

And I think there are lots of examples like that - so it's less about the games industry and more about being a small business, and how a small- or medium-sized business will survive in this credit crunch environment.

I know that the old days of expecting a pay rise, and expecting it to be a certain size, for a lot of companies is very different now. That's very challenging - so everybody's nervous, but part of it is that this global credit crunch is being talked up, with the stories in the press. I think that's making people reticent to invest large amounts of money, and take bolder steps than they'd normally take.

But I don't see any panic, or our market shrinking dramatically the way other markets are shrinking though. I wouldn't say it's absolutely recession-proof - it's recession-proof in the way that your watch is waterproof. You can't take it to the bottom of the ocean, but you can get it a bit wet.

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