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#1 Posted : Monday, February 3, 2014 12:00:46 PM(UTC)

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With Fable Anniversary's launch tantalisingly close, we take a moment to interview one guy who's already spent a lot of time with the game - the creator of the Prima Official Game Guide!

Hi! - Who are you and what other guides have you worked on before?

Hello, I’m Matt and you might remember me from such seminal works as Fable: The Journey - Prima Official Game Guide. Oh, and I did the guide for Conker: Live and Reloaded, plus a bunch of others too - but that was years ago.

What made you want to make a Fable Anniversary guide?

The short and slightly boring answer is that, after the success of the Fable: The Journey guide, Prima very kindly asked if I’d like to write the Fable Anniversary one too - and I said yes. Partly because I’m clearly a masochist (strategy guides are basically life vampires) but, mostly, because I’ve been a massive Fable fan since Albion first opened its doors on Xbox way back in (yikes) 2004. Actually there was another reason I wanted to do the guide: it gave me the perfect excuse to sit down and FINALLY play Fable: The Lost Chapters - something I’d been meaning to do for almost a decade.

In case your memory’s a bit hazy, The Lost Chapters (which came out on Xbox and PC in 2005) expands the original Fable quite dramatically - and, it turns out, is a bit of a revelation. The Lost Chapters is basically the game that Fable should have been on release. It plugs up a bunch of plot holes, adds a ton of content that was alluded to but never seen in the original game and generally makes the entire experience feel complete. Suddenly, the plinth at the top of Hook Coast lighthouse serves a purpose, references to ancient dragons and cold, distant climes finally come to fruition - oh, and you can prostitute yourself out for a few gold coins too.

Basically, until Fable Anniversary comes along with its fancy new visuals, upgraded audio, improved controls and sexy Achievements, The Lost Chapters is the definitive version of the game. Which makes Fable Anniversary the definitive version of the definitive version of the game - so why isn’t it called ‘Fable: The Definitivist Edition’, Lionhead?

What were the biggest challenges in bringing the guide together?

Without wanting to sound too dramatic (after all, I’m getting paid to play video games, right?), putting a strategy guide together can be an intense experience. There are so many different elements you need to consider - and work into a coherent whole - that it can be pretty overwhelming at times. Basically, if you’re not sat in your underpants, weeping into fistfuls of increasingly cryptic notes by end of the second week, you’ve done well.

Really, what you’re always trying to ensure is that you’ve covered the game from every conceivable angle. You want your guide to be as comprehensive, usable and, most importantly, USEFUL as possible - which is where those scraps of paper, filled with maps, doodles, chapter headers, squiggly lines and arrows, come in. Of course, the whole process is made considerably easier when you’ve got the support of teams as passionate as those at Prima and Lionhead. Both of whom were eager to deliver a final book that wasn’t ‘just’ a strategy guide but a glorious tome worthy of Fable’s tenth birthday celebrations.

Are there any parts of the lore or information about characters and places that can only be found in the guide?

Ah, yes, well - there’s one thing that springs immediately to mind: the ACTUAL PROPER 100% GUARANTEED way of acquiring Skorm’s Bow. The exact means of securing what is, hands down, the most powerful ranged weapon in Fable, has thwarted fans for years. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find all sorts of increasingly desperate theories - usually starting off perfectly sensibly before the author’s encroaching madness finally takes hold.

By the end of the page, you’re usually being told to recite strange incantations, don a tutu and daub yourself in goat’s blood in order to win your prize. Somewhat surprisingly, I couldn’t find a single accurate explanation of the process (although some are just…so…close). Finally however, thanks to some tinkering around in Fable’s code, the mystery has been solved - but you’ll need to read the book to find out the truth.

As far as characters and lore go, during writing we actually uncovered a ton of stuff that fans absolutely won’t have seen before - and won’t want to miss either. It’s all bundled into the guide’s extensive ‘making of’ chapter (well, I say ‘chapter’ - it actually takes up half of the book) - which I’ll be discussing in more detail in about, oooh, three centimetres from now.

Oh, and finally, did I mention that you get an exclusive weapon if you purchase the Fable Anniversary official game guide? It’s called the Sword of Strategia and it looks bloody awesome - not that I’ve been deemed important enough to get one yet!

What was the most interesting thing you learned about Fable when making this guide?

For ages, it would have been the stuff about Skorm’s Bow - or the algorithm that someone at Lionhead uncovered, governing how long it takes the infected Trader to turn BAD in the Darkwood escort mission*. That all changed though, when a ton of long-buried, little-seen Fable concept art plopped into my inbox. It’s genuinely incredible stuff - particularly if you’re a huge series fan like me - and ranges from early pencil sketches of the Hero and preliminary character art, to beautiful, hand-painted environmental and architectural concepts for many of Albion’s most recognisable regions.

Even more exciting is the wealth of COMPLETELY UNIDENTIFIABLE art that was amassed during Fable’s six-year-long development period. This is stuff that never progressed far enough to make the final cut - that has been locked away for so long that even the guys who drew it don’t recognise it anymore. It’s all in the book though, for completist’s sake - so if you fancy a tantalising glimpse at the creatures, characters and locations that might have been, we’ve got you covered too.

Oh, and thanks to the supreme generosity of the original Big Blue Box and Lionhead teams, we’ve managed to assemble an enormous Fable retrospective, looking at almost every aspect of the game’s development - from AI and art to script and audio design.

We’ve amazing insights into Project Ego’s inception from the likes of Dene Carter, Simon Carter, and Ian Yarwood-Lovett - and countless wonderful anecdotes from the passionate people that worked tirelessly to make Fable happen. It’s a real treat for Fable fans, featuring some wonderful, often surprising facts - for instance, did you know that Fable was originally intended for release on Dreamcast?

*Sadly this proved to be so exceptionally, mind bogglingly complicated that we couldn’t put it in the guide - but, hey, at least we tried.

What is your favourite improvement to Fable Anniversary?

Wow, that’s a tough question. The obvious answer, though, is that I love Fable Anniversary’s audio and visual overhaul. The original Fable is a bit of a rarity in video games in that it’s stood the test of time incredibly well; it might not have the smoothest frame rate or the fanciest polygons, but its distinct art style and wonderfully evocative musical score are just as captivating now as they were ten years ago.

That said, it’s hard not to wonder what that first iteration of Albion would have looked like if Lionhead and Big Blue Box had been able to harness the power of modern technology back in 2004 - and, now, finally, Fable Anniversary reveals all.

I’m also a big fan of some of Fable Anniversary’s less flashy, but equally notable, improvements. There’s the brand-new, checkpoint-style save system, for instance, and the very welcome overhaul of the game’s original interface - there’s a lot to love about Fable but its horrifically compromised menu system wasn’t on that list! Now, thankfully, item and equipment faff is a thing of the past! Want me to go on? Well, there’s the brilliant new Achievement system and, if you’re the kind of person that needs EVEN MORE TECHNOLOGY with their technology, some impressive SmartGlass integration.

Oh, and I love that you can plant acorns and watch them grow into trees now too.

Just kidding.

Edited by user Tuesday, August 5, 2014 10:29:35 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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#2 Posted : Monday, February 3, 2014 4:51:37 PM(UTC)

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Well done for making this! It just makes me even more excited to get it! Grin I can't wait to see some of the art Smile I'm glad Fable didn't come out on Dreamcast otherwise I probably wouldn't have played it!
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#3 Posted : Monday, February 3, 2014 5:36:34 PM(UTC)

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Just noticed the page number in that last image. This is going to be quite the beefy strategy guide! I think it's awesome that the team recognized that with the advent of the internet and ten years' time that they needed to do more than just make a glorified walkthrough. It seems they've really gone the extra mile and included some really great stuff in this guide. Can't wait for mine to come in the mail!
#4 Posted : Monday, February 3, 2014 6:52:59 PM(UTC)

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Can't wait to get my copy!
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#5 Posted : Monday, February 3, 2014 8:31:42 PM(UTC)

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I think I might buy another copy now. One for using and one for collecting purposes. This guide is downright glorious and very, very impressive.
#6 Posted : Tuesday, February 4, 2014 3:05:47 AM(UTC)

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Just got an email from Amazon: They've shipped my copy of the guide and it will be here tomorrow! :D
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#7 Posted : Tuesday, February 4, 2014 5:45:25 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: AwesomeDannyRay Go to Quoted Post
Just got an email from Amazon: They've shipped my copy of the guide and it will be here tomorrow! :D

Awesome Danny! (See what I did there?) Hope you enjoy it. To date, this seems to be the best guide that Lionhead's ever had a hand in. Definitely a must have for any hardcore fan.
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