Monday, February 25, 2008

Fable 2 News (GDC08 Preview)

In San Francisco last week (more on that later), I heard Peter Molyneux talk about Fable 2. See, I love the first Fable, and I'm really excited about this new arrival.

He announced four new features which are on Wikipedia already, so for many of the details you'll want to head there. As a part of the demo, Peter demonstrated his onscreen counterpart, The Molynator who, like a solid 10% of the audience, was female. Fable 1 had just one possible (male) protagonist. He announced that The Molynator married (after meeting at a courting spot, or something like that) five years ago. They'd found a home in the slums of Bowerstone early on, then moved to a country residence a few years later. The young couple had a young child in that time. Yes, Molyneux said, she experienced all the joys of virtual pregnancy, including the growing belly.


He said he didn't know if the big belly would actually make it in the game. Something about a nine-month pregnant woman slicing open a dragon or troll with a broadsword strikes me a little inauthentic. Especially if you've ever seen (or been) a nine-month pregnant woman trying to get out of a chair. Also, might it be bad form to have a pregnant woman defeated in battle?

Imagine you choose to have a family in Fable 2. Molyneux strongly hinted that your family will become a part of the narrative. He glossed over this one really fast, though. Your children, your spouse kidnapped, murdered? Avenged? Who knows?

Co-op play inspired by LEGO Star Wars, but much more dynamic. Rebekka and I can play Fable 2 together! So now we won't have to worry about her getting that big belly again. ;) Well, until we finish it. He didn't say anything about the length. Hope it's longer than Fable 1.

There's no overhead map. Instead, there's an innovative breadcrumb trail showing you where you've been most.

Check this out. No money for completing quests? Arghh. You either have to gamble or be hired as a henchman to make money. That just doesn't make any sense to me. I have to get a job to make money? That's way too much like the Sims. Which means way too much like real life. I'm not much of a gambler either. The weird thing is I already have a job. It's the one that I'll use to pay for Fable 2. And I like it more than gambling or being a henchman.

One of the gambling games, Keystone - a roulette like casino game - will be coming onto Xbox Live prior to the release of Fable 2 so that you can make your money before you need to spend it.

I'm excited to play it. I can wait though. I've still got Assassin's Creed and BioShock to work through (not necessarily in that order), so The Molynator's got plenty of time.

More info on the presentation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

They Say Games Are No Good For Kids...

This article (Xbox is Crack for Kids) is kind of funny in a way. This offhand opinion met with hundreds of angry replies. Honestly, I don't think that the game-playing community needs to be so defensive. Games, or more broadly, interactive-everything, is the future.

That article represents the solitary voice screaming at the tsunami to keep its distance. We humans want to be entertained. We go to great lengths to build entertainment technology and we've always adapted non-entertainment technology to serve the purposes of entertainment.

In any event, I've long held that good-quality games are excellent teaching tools. My eight year-old son is a strong reader. He's always loved games and has (coincidentally) been drawn to games that require heavy reading. Nintendo fans know what I'm talking about. Because of the games, he was motivated early on to read, and the interactivity of games pushed him further in that direction. Now, paradoxically, he loves reading novels (but still plays games!).

Here's another example. My children love Tim Schafer's phenomenal Psychonauts. About a week ago, while getting the kids to sleep, I found my six year-old daughter sitting on her bed deep in thought.

"What are you thinking about?" I asked.

"Daddy, why did Napoleon lose at Waterloo?" She asked.

I laughed, "I don't really know, but we can look it up.."

I don't think her first-grade textbooks could have provoked that question.