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Molyneux: Hate Mail Changed Fable II DLC

Illustration for article titled Molyneux: Hate Mail Changed Fable II DLC

I guess this rates a spoiler alert, nearly a year after the fact. But the dilemma presented at the end of Fable II so outraged some players that they took to writing good old-fashioned hate mail to Peter Molyneux.

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In an interview on the choices the Fable series forces its player to make, Molyneux said Fable II's ultimate decision was a bridge too far for some. They so resented being forced to choose between sacrificing all their companions - including the beloved dog - or a sizable group of people, that they wrote in, vociferously. Molyneux told GameSetWatch he "did have hate mail from people" who couldn't sacrifice the greater numbers, and said bye to the dog.

It all "got to such a furor," Molyneux said, that Fable's first DLC was changed to allow the dog to return to the game.

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You can look at this one of two ways: One, that Molyneux diluted the force of his game's calling card: choices and their consequences.

Or, two, that this isn't like filmgoers complaining about a surprise ending. Gamers don't just passively experience the story, and having no idea they'd be asked to do something this uncomfortable is quite a shock. I'm not sure I'd sent "hate mail," (I'm not sure how vehement it was, either), but I'm willing to see the gripe's legitimacy.

In-Depth: Peter Molyneux on the Importance of Choice [GameSetWatch via Destructoid]

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DISCUSSION

i can't say i'm a big fan of this "choices" thing in games. i think "choice" ruins any possibility of telling a compelling story, contrary to its intended purpose of furthering engagement. it's lazy storytelling. it eliminates theme and confuses character motivation. simply put, a choose your own adventure book will never be placed in the same category as moby dick...and shouldn't be. you want to teach people a lesson about consequences? then craft a story where the decisions the CHARACTERS — not the player — make are poignant in the context of the story and world created.

i understand that games are designed to be interactive and that even simple games such as pong or smb involve players making decisions on what to do. still, i really feel like when you start creating these virtual worlds where every decision you make is supposed to be important — but has no actual impact on the game other than if your skin will be blue or red — you're losing focus on entertaining your audience. i make enough hard choices every day of my life. when i turn on my xbox or playstation or ds, i don't need to have a game designer try to lecture me on the repercussions of my actions.

fable 2 is a great example of this. what kind of crappy decision is that at the end? you get one wish and you can either get a bunch of money, save a billion people or bring your dog back? how contrived is that? i wouldn't mind making one huge, important decision at the end if the entire story led to that point...but how does your entire journey to the end of the game influence your decision? it only influences the decision at all b/c you spent 8-10 hours with the dog. nothing else about the game or the countless decisions you made had any impact on that decision. simply, you know what the designer thinks you should think is the "right" decision and uses that in a silly attempt to twist your emotions rather than craft a meaningful story. that's why people were outraged...because the decision was shallow and poorly executed.

in contrast, i LOVED the new PoP and the decision you're forced to make at the end of the game.

***SPOILER***

you spend the entire game fighting to keep an evil god trapped and away from the world, then you have to decide to either let him loose by bringing Elika back to life, or keep him contained while Elika remains dead. THAT'S a great choice. one choice in the game and they made it matter. either the game's storytelling was good enough to compel the player to sacrifice 8-10 hours of gameplay for the sake of a wonderful character, or the game's storytelling wasn't all that great and the player is content with a job well done. and the best thing about it? the "prince" is a selfish, arrogant guy from the beginning of the game. bringing Elika back to life is both selfish AND selfless, and really reflects who the character was at the start of his journey as well as how much he has progressed due to the game's events. it's thematically relevant to the story being told.

for what it's worth, i stilli enjoyed fable 2 (minus all the sim-ing) and i saved the dog. i LOVED PoP and i brought back Elika.