Remember when Fable Legends was revealed to genuine ire and everyone pretty much said they didn’t want to play it? Well, apparently, not a lot of people wanted to make it either.
In an article from Eurogamer describing the final project of the beloved Lionhead Studios, former Art Director John McCormack stated that the original pitch for Fable 4 was a much darker game that fell in line with the previous titles. “We wanted to hit the late Victorian proper far out Jules Verne s***.”
It would be darker and grittier. And because it was R-rated it would have the prostitutes and the humor. I was like, man, this is going to be f***ing brilliant, and everybody was really into it.
Okay, maybe not totally in line with the previous light-hearted, “jolly good fun” Fable games in terms of presentation, but at least it would have been a real Fable game on the gameplay front. However, this pitch was rejected by Microsoft who saw the future of the series as an outlet for a free-to-play service.
Further details on the project point to the team struggling to balance the multiplayer characters, and the report indicates moral actually started to rise when word got out that the project was going to be canceled. Sadly, the studio was also sacrificed alongside the game. One source stated that:
The biggest stab in the heart was that for roughly six years the studio had pretty much been tasked to develop games that Microsoft wanted us to make to show off tech. Very few people wanted to make Fable: The Journey and almost nobody wanted to work on Fable Legends…
McCormack, who left the studio in 2012 following the failed pitch to form Another Place Productions, stated that Lionhead could have made a great game if given the chance.
I said, look, just give us four years, proper finance, give us the chance Mass Effect has, Skyrim has, the games at the time. They’re getting four years and a lot of budget.
Give us that, and we’ll give you something that’ll get you your players. ‘Nah, you’ve had three shots and you’ve only tripled the money. It’s not good enough. F*** off.’ That’s what I was annoyed about.
And in regards to Peter Molyneux, while many saw him as a big promiser and spotty on delivery, many at Lionhead missed his “greatest trait” which was “keeping Microsoft at bay.” When he left the studio, it seems the inevitable happened.