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The Frankenstein Project - Fable Series

I thought I'd start a new concept I thought would be interesting. You'll catch on as I go. This is semi-inspired by the thread "Series Where Different Games Had Attributes You Wish Were Together In One Game." It seems like as a series goes on it either gets better, worse, or both. Fable is no exception. What I'm trying to accomplish here is discuss how each Fable handles different gameplay aspects, events, leveling up, etc. and see what the best happy medium is by combining different concepts of the existing games rather than introducing new concepts.

Leveling Up/Character Customization

The Facts:

In the original Fable, completing tasks and killing enemies would net you general experience. Killing enemies in different ways would net you either strength, skill, or will experience, respectively. I'm also pretty sure that doing things like stealing, sneaking, etc. would have an impact on your experience, but I don't remember entirely. Fable 2 was essentially the same, except there were several potions and types of food that would also increase various types of experience, making the game almost dreadfully easy at times.

Fable 3, however, generalized everything down to one type of experience, but experience could also be gained by doing more things such as interacting with people, developing relationships, etc. When you want to level up in the original Fable or Fable 3, you have to return to the Sanctuary by warping there. In the original Fable, you would then choose to train in one of the disciplines (strength, skill, or will) and then select what you would like under the discipline.

Strength, skill, or will experience was necessary and general experience could be added as a sort of "round up" value, if necessary. Each time you chose to train, you would also age. Depending on what you trained, there was also the possibility of your physique, height, or general air of mysticism changing, at least from a visceral stance. Fable 2 didn't do the whole age thing, instead leaving it up to the plot to handle your age, but it did do pretty much everything else (just without the sanctuary aspect).

Fable 3 has this weird "Road to Rule" thing where you unlock chests that net you upgrades, new spells, higher levels of jobs, new dyes, new expressions, etc. While this is the most casual approach, it's also the most confusing and least RPG-like. However, Fable 3 does have an interesting system where your appearance changes depending on the things you do in combat, so it comes off feeling more organic.

Finally, food. It was entirely possible in the original Fable to be a gigantic fatass, but probably only for a couple of minutes. See, since running burned off fat, certain foods designed to burn off fat seemed redundant. On the flip side, in Fable 2 it's VERY easy to get fat, VERY hard to get rid of it (running doesn't seem to help at all), and you can get various social/purity penalties by drinking alcohol, eating meat, etc.

Fable 3 went back to basics by having a method very similar to the original Fable and not really tying any sort of morality to what you're eating unless it's tofu or crunchy chicks. While we're on the subject of morality, Fable 1 and 3 only had the one alignment system, whereas Fable 2 also had a purity system, which measured more or less what you ingested and how you "lived."

Finally, as the game progressed in both Fable 1 and 2, you established renown which measured more or less how popular (or infamous) you were for your deeds. This was completely discarded for Fable 3.

My Solution:

The original Fable had the best setup, but there were elements of the other two I found interesting. First off, you shouldn't have to return to a sanctuary to upgrade most things. Therefore, it should work in both tiers and be open. Here's how. So let's say you're trying to make a fighter class, so you constantly melee enemies. Okay and as a result, you get lots of strength experience and over time, you look tougher.

But tougher how? This is where experience comes into play. At any time, you should be able to access the upgrade menu. As you get strength experience, you should be able to attain higher proficiency with the type of weapon you're using, more moves, higher combos, greater speed, higher critical rate, greater strength overall, more natural defense, and higher max HP.

General experience should be here too and operate the exact same way as in the original. Experience potions should still be available, but be RIDICULOUSLY priced, hardly ever stocked, and barely ever found in dungeons. Certain things, however, should only be able to be learned at a training center (AKA sanctuary). So for example, learning new and different spells, different types of attacks, and various other things that, while upgradable, would have to be learned first.

In this way, the game could still operate in tiers that could be plot-based. The game should also have you age like in the first one, but maybe you could age differently depending on what's being upgraded, trained on, etc. Also, I don't disagree with having foods that have additional experience points tied to them, but the amount of points should always be VERY LOW.

Despite there being some questionable design choices (meat and alcohol is impure, etc.), I really liked Fable 2's food and morality system setup. If you wanted a fat character and you wanted to keep him/her fat, it wasn't hard. I do think that after running a specific amount of miles you should lose some weight, but it wouldn't be absolutely necessary since most of the public in all 3 titles doesn't seem to mind too much if you're overweight.

Renown also needs to make a return. I understand it acted more like a tier-based thing for the missions and they did have an interesting way of dealing with it in Fable 3, but renown was much more interesting and could be expounded upon.


The Facts:

The original Fable operated like a traditional RPG in this respect. Different armor and suits have different effects as well as armor value. I think there were also benefits to wielding the entire suit rather than just parts of different suits. The same was true for tattoos, hairstyles, and so on. This was both dumbed down and improved in Fable 2 where there's a stronger emphasis on public opinion, but no real armor value benefit to one piece of armor over another.

Fable 3, however, is even worse. There is no apparent benefit from wearing one piece of clothing vs. another. I say "apparent" for two reasons. One, I haven't noticed much of a difference. Every villager either loves or mocks your look and it doesn't matter anyway because it won't really change their opinion of you. Two, there are no stats listed for anything. Ever.

As far as items go, there's a very nice pre-set/hotkey setup you can completely modify if you don't want to enter your menu to grab stuff in the original. There is no setup whatsoever in Fable 2, meaning various random potions and foodstuffs are automatically put on it for you. Fable 3 is the absolute worst as far as this goes by allowing you to carry only one type of food and only having 3 types of potions (2 of which are absolutely useless).

Finally, Fable 2 introduced the dog, which could assist in both combat and relationships and even find items for you, and Fable 3 continued the trend, though it dumbed down his meaningfulness.

My Solution:

A combination of the strongest points of Fable 2 with Fable 1's original style would be best. I like the idea of having an extensive pre-set system you can set up in advance. Sure, having recommendations is nice, but if it's not what you want, you have to go into the menu and dig for it. Besides that, having ACTUAL armor for your characters is always a good idea. Plus, you could even have pre-set outfits, which is something Fable 3 did, but coupled with everything else on Fable 3 it almost wasn't necessary.

I would keep the dog in and have the dog system match Fable 2 as much as possible.


The Facts:

In the original Fable, combat was relatively straightforward. You had a very basic combo for your melee weapons and while you could blind-fire with the bow, it was horribly inaccurate unless you aimed in FPS mode and took your time to aim. The headshot/blood fountain you would get as a result was still pretty cool, though. Flourishes were necessary for shattering a defense and various spells were available on pre-sets.

There was also a mana bar, a healing spell, and various buffs and debuffs. In Fable 2, there was no mana bar. As a result, there was no healing spell or buffs/debuffs. The pre-sets were there, but only in the form of charging up spell levels, then either casting a surround or shot attack. There was also absolutely no need to delay between spells. Fable 3 continued this, but allowed combining spells and having no pre-sets, instead requiring the player to go into the menu (in this case, the sanctuary) and reconfigure spell gauntlet setup.

The original Fable there was also a combat multiplier that would assist in gathering more and more experience. You also can't die in Fable 2 or 3, instead opting to scar up the player and have you lose some experience. Finally, Fable 3 went ultra casual by not even having a life bar, but instead having an auto-recover system that made the game WAY too easy.

Fable 2 and 3's combat system was, however, more cinematic. Especially in the 3rd the executions are AWESOME. The gun/crossbow system was also highly simplified.

My Solution:

I like the spell weaving (combo) system from Fable 3. I thought it was really interesting and could be expanded further with more spells and spell types. However, I think you should be able to switch between various spell types and combos via a pre-set system as well. Also, buffs/debuffs, healing spells, and whatever could only be possible if there was a mana bar, so that should make a return as well.

The combat multiplier should definitely make a triumphant return. I literally have no idea why that concept was left in the dust after the first Fable. And finally, death. You should be able to die, not just get scuffed up. While getting scarred may matter to certain perfectionists and achievement hunters alike, it makes no difference to a seasoned RPG veteran. The stakes need to be higher.

I would, however, keep the simplified gun system from 2 and 3. Sure, it makes it a little easy at times, but that just means you should have more variables and upgradable skills at play such as reloading speed, critical chance, double and triple taps, firing speed, charged shots, and more. And yes, absolutely keep the highly stylized cinematics for awesome flourishes, counters, and executions.

Relationships and Sex

The Facts:

In the original Fable, I only got married because, well...there was that one story part where...you...look, I don't know. All I can remember is there's a part where you can get married and also, much like in the other Fable games, you can get married whenever you'd like, provided the other person loves you. Problem is, in the original Fable this is very meh and there seems to be little point.

Nevermind that developing relationships is so random. In the original Fable, every time you got a trophy, you were supposed to show it off to all the villagers in each town with a sort of mini-game that would earn you additional renown. Beyond that, I don't remember if there even were any major actions to enhance or utterly destroy relationships.

In Fable 2 and 3 there are all kinds of options as far as interacting with the townsfolk, but it was better in Fable 2 in my opinion because of the wide array of things you could do, there were several wheels of pre-sets, and also how they played out to multiple people, not just one at a time. Both 2 and 3 featured your dog getting in on the action, too.

I don't recall whether you can have sex outside wedlock in the original Fable, but you certainly can in Fable 2 and 3 to the point of having gigantic, almost town-sized orgies (which is a little harder in the 3rd with only the ability to lead around one person at a time). You could also develop STDs or worse...CHILDREN...for having unprotected sex, meaning that yes you could buy and...find...condoms.

My Solution:

I would simply keep the second Fable's method. No change necessary.

Property, Map System, and Travel

The Facts:

I know you could buy property in the original Fable, but again, there was little point. Yeah, you needed to have a house for when you were married, but unless I'm mistaken, that was literally the only reason to ever buy houses. Fable 2 expanded on this by allowing you to rent out properties and renovate them. Fable 3 expanded it further by two ways. One, more options as far as renovations.

Two, house condition. In other words, on a regular basis, you had to repair your properties, which was a pain in the ass. They did, however, slightly streamline the system for viewing properties by upgrading the map system. This is something that remained largely unchanged in the previous Fable games. There's a mini-map system on the first two Fables, but not on the third.

The third also doesn't tell you exactly where you are on the map, but you can completely swivel it around and see certain tasks, properties, and so on. The original Fable only let you warp to specific areas and only after you visited them. Fable 2 and 3 let you fast travel, which eats up time, but you can go anywhere. Of course, Fable 2 is better because you can specify multiple areas you can spawn in a given map.

Fable 2 and 3 ditched the compass system in favor of a golden trail of sorts that would, to the best of its ability, point you in the direction you needed to go for whatever quest you were on. Fable 3 also let you select a "recommended" setup to quickly optimize whatever property you were in with the best furnishings.

My Solution:

Fable 3 had the right idea, but they dumbed it down too much. A combination is necessary. I would want a zoomed out, fully rotatable 3D view of wherever I was (or wasn't), complete with mission markers, properties, and stores. Assuming I wasn't in combat or in an area where fast travel wasn't possible, I would want a way to not only update and buy new properties, but also buy merchandise on the go.

Even though the golden trail method is good and I would definitely keep it, I would still want a compass and a way to set way points on the map. If properties degrade over time, I would want a way to slow it down, either by using furnishings that don't degrade as quickly or by accessing skills such as, say, "advanced carpentry" or something. Beyond that, Fable 3's method of being able to purchase properties as you do and update them with recommended furniture is about the best idea ever, so I'd absolutely keep it.

Oh yes, and along with the compass, keep the goddamn mini-map. Minimizing the HUD is one thing, but there's a reason the HUD exists, people!

Questing and Quest Types

The Facts:

In the original Fable, there were 3 types of questions: gold, silver, and bronze. Gold quests were significant to the plot and forwarded it, usually also netting you a trophy. You could also set a boast before you began a quest and should you meet it, get significant bonuses. Silver quests were your basic side missions that would net you additional points here and there.

Bronze quests were repeatable fetch, courier, or escort missions. While they weren't worth as much as the other quests, they were definitely significant if you needed a little boost in points and such. Fable 2 and 3 really only had one type of quest and it was up to you to determine whether it would advance the plot or not. Thus, without really separating them out, it was hard to tell what was repeatable, plot advancing, side missions, etc.

Fable 2, much like the original, had various missions that would only be unlocked once you achieved a certain amount of renown or were a certain alignment. Fable 3 pretty much ditched this idea entirely in favor of simply doing random tasks in a given area until villagers "liked" you, which is debatable as all you were really doing was a pseudo-version of renown, just without renown...if that makes sense.

My Solution:

Fable 3's method is BULLSHIT, so we won't be discussing it again. I really, REALLY liked the setup of the original, so I'd probably just keep it that way and ignore Fable 2 as well. Yes, that includes bringing boasting back.

Choice and Consequences

The Facts:

The basic alignment system in Fable was a good idea, but poorly executed for one very good reason: it was virtually impossible to be evil. I'd say at least 90% of the enemies (if not 100%) were considered evil and therefore by killing them, you'd get holy points. In other words, you were a good guy whether you liked it or not. It didn't matter if you robbed a town blind and totally burned it down...give it about an hour of questing and you'd be back up to at least neutral status.

Fable 2 handled this a bit better and Fable 3 fucked it up again. In Fable 2, you got good or bad points by actually doing good or bad things. The only suspect action that was considered good that I didn't entirely agree with was playing the lute. Other than that, it was incredibly easy to be evil and you often had to work at it to be good, especially if you liked to steal a bunch of stuff.

Fable 3 has it where it's almost impossible to tip the scale one way or the other without doing something drastic. The good news is if you killed everyone in a town, okay, you're pretty fucking evil. Problem is it seems about impossible to be a saint in the game, which is an especially big pain in the ass for me, because I always like my first playthrough to be one where I'm a super nice guy...then a major bitch in the second playthrough, just to see what I can get away with.

The original Fable also really fucked up the ending. This was really the only true "choice" in the game and it would make you either immeasurably good or immeasurably evil...instantly. Meaning, even if you were a shining beacon of holiness leading up to the end, you basically had the ability to turn into an absolute demon right at the end. You might be wanting to remind me of the final choice in Fable 2, but that's different...and we'll get to that in a minute.

I want to preface this by saying I don't really know how it's handled in Fable 3. I don't have a strategy guide and my 360 RROD'd on me recently, so I'm going out on a limb here and assuming it did pretty much what Fable 2 did. In Fable 2, as early as the first hour of gameplay, there are choices you can make that will affect the outcome of economy, society, and an overall change of atmosphere in certain areas.

I didn't really notice this in Fable 3, but I haven't had an evil playthrough yet, so I don't know. Finally, the final choice in Fable 2 really tugs at your heartstrings and gives you the option to be a selfish asshole if you so desire. It's a really nice finishing touch, to be honest, and a great way to finish the game.

My Solution:

Without more knowledge of Fable 3, I feel Fable 2 has absolutely handled this the best, hands down. No change necessary.

Conclusion - Fable 4

If Lionhead is somehow introduced to this article, know now that I am not saying your games are shit. Here is exactly how I believe the next Fable should be handled:

Leveling Up/Character Customization - Keep most of the setup of the original Fable, both don't force the player to return to a sanctuary to level up; only to learn NEW things. Keep the more organic aspect of Fable 3 in terms of dictating how you looked. Keep experience potions, but have them VERY rare and expensive. Keep foods that add experience, but have the gained experience be minimal.

Add back in the morality system of Fable 2, but maybe tweak it a bit. Allow the player to burn fat by being active, but don't make it ridiculous to the point that the player will never get fat ever. Renown should make a return as well.

Items/Equipment/Dog - Keep an extensive pre-set system you can set up in advance. Have ACTUAL armor for your characters. Keep the ability to have pre-set outfits. Keep the dog.

Combat - Keep spell weaving and add more spells as well as bring back old ones. Have a pre-set system for all spells and combos. Bring back the mana bar. You should be able to die if your HP hits 0. Keep the simplified gun system, but enhance it with additional variables. Keep the highly stylized cinematics for awesome flourishes, counters, and executions.

Relationships and Sex - Copy Fable 2 with no changes.

Property, Map System, and Travel - Bring back the HUD, complete with compass and mini-map. Have a zoomed out, fully rotatable 3D map view of wherever I was (or wasn't), complete with mission markers, properties, and stores as well as the ability to buy and sell properties and merchandise. Keep golden trail. Tweak property degradation system. Keep ability to "auto-furnish."

Questing and Quest Types - Copy the original Fable with no changes.

Choice and Consequences - Copy Fable 2 with no changes.

To be honest, this wouldn't be hard to pull off. They already own all the engines, licenses, etc., so it would just be a matter of picking and pulling different aspects and concepts. I won't comment on which plot I like the best as I had more fun with the technical aspects of the games. That's not to say the plot doesn't matter at all; it just means that even if the plot sucked, having these different concepts mashed up in this way would create a mega-hit, at least in my opinion.
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About gunsageone of us since 2:58 PM on 04.11.2008

I've been gaming since 1987. I used to be a big Nintendo fanboy, then Square jumped the shark, so I followed. Eventually I realized neither Square nor Nintendo were the only companies out there worth following and my collection more or less speaks for itself now. I love to meet up with people on XBL, though I haven't done much online with the Wii. I've also been writing game review articles since 2004 on the old Project Wonderboy, then Morphine Nation, and now back to the new Project Wonderboy and various other sites.

I also help out in writing for a local videogame store website (VGMX). Not much else to say, really, when it comes to gaming. I wouldn't consider myself an expert, but I would say I'm experienced.

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