Monday, May 19, 2008

Fable : The Lost Chapter

I recently came across Fable : The Lost Chapters. I've been hearing from it for years, but never took a look at it. Now it's a 3 years old game, it's very cheap, so I bought it, thinking "even if it sucks, I won't spend too much money"...

I've been playing it for a week, and ... what a good surprise ! The best gaming experience since GTA San Andreas... It's even better than The Witcher in term of gameplay, and it definitely entered my list of top game references for TCOD (along with Oblivion and Guild Wars).

Oblivion was my first source of inspiration and the first features I wanted to have in TCOD was Oblivion-like towns with houses full of objects you can steal. But I found out quickly that it would be a hell to implement. Oblivion tags stolen objects so that you cannot sell them to merchants. I don't like this, but Oblivion do it because every single object in every house of the world is an actual world entity that can be taken, dropped, stolen. Allowing you to sell stolen item would allow you to empty the whole world.

Doing it in ascii was also pretty difficult. How can you represent a house full of objects, dishes, furnitures in an ASCII world ??

Fable handle this in a very elegant way. Every object in the house is not a world entity. Instead, furnitures full of objects are only figurative. A bookcase can be represented full of books, but when you interact with it, you will be able to take only one book. Thus, each house contains only a limited number of objects that you can steal (0 or 1 per furniture), and when you have taken everything you can, the house don't look empty. Of course, this is not as realist as the Oblivion approach, but I find it superior in term of gameplay.

After I release the Arena, I'll probably
add this feature to TCOD. Why objects in houses are so important to the game when it lacks so many other basic gameplay mechanisms ? In fact, in my mind, the stealth gameplay will be very important in TCOD. With objects in the houses, the thief gameplay will be within reach. I can't help myself thinking about tactical missions where you have to break into a manor/castle and evade the guards to get a precious object. This will be very refreshing after an hour of troll bashing... :)