Did you feel pressure coming into this job?
I don’t feel pressure. I’m honoured to be working with the guys who’ve been here ten-odd years, and been involved with every Fable product, because it’s an IP I love. My standards are high for the IP because of my love for it, and the perspective I bring to the studio is a focus on community and online.
What does that focus on community entail?
It’s been a lot of evangelising the power of connected games. I think the real magic in the industry now is taking great traditional gameplay and IP, and this new connected world, and mashing them together.
uses SmartGlass, and now you’re moving on to which has a focus on online play. Is that essentially your mandate, to push this connectedness?
Correct. I am the person pivoting Lionhead into a games-as-service studio. Legends is quite different from previous Fable games. The trick with Legends, and the question we’re constantly asking, is: ‘Is it Fable?’ Even with the connected aspects. That’s why Fable Anniversary launching in February is perfect, because it grounds us – we want to make sure we’re maintaining what makes Fable great.
How is that going to work?
Now we’re looking at all these great online features we’re building into Legends. We’re bringing both of them together, taking what’s great about Anniversary and [Fable] II and III and bolting on features that make it a great connected experience.
Which online games have inspired you?
My inspiration is shared with a lot of the design guys – we play games like Dark Souls, which has a great online mode, and Journey, where people are flowing in and out of your world organically. They’re very natural online modes.
Will there be other
The next big game is Fable Legends. We can do other styles of Fable games, and keep them within Fable Legends. My plan is that Legends is essentially a platform for almost everything Fable going forward. It’s a long-range plan, of five to ten years, where we’re going to build and keep building onto Fable Legends. That’s the nature of games as a service – you keep adding systems and features and content.
How about microtransactions?
How will you hold people’s interest that long?
There are lots of examples in the MMOG world of keeping players engaged for that length of time, with new content constantly flowing into the game, and bolting on new [modes] into your game to keep it fresh. It all comes down to listening to your community, building content into the game that they want, and then iterating upon that. We haven’t talked about the business model yet. We’re just trying to build a great game.
Jim Vale (art director), Craig Oman (producer) and Ted Timmins (lead designer) collaborated on Fable Anniversary, whose visual motifs influence all sorts of spaces around Lionhead’s Guildford HQ