PC Gamer, my favorite gaming magazine for several reasons, featured a column about Fable 2 in its latest issue. It was written by staffer Yahtzee Croshaw, after attending the Fable 2 presentation by none other than Peter Molyneux himself on GDC, and the column made me choke on my afternoon coffee, cough and then blink, and then finally think to myself, “what is wrong with that guy?”
Then I decided to research the matter. I went to Gamespot’s coverage of the Fable 2 presentation on GDC. I looked at IGN, I went to the official Fable 2 website, but none of it convinced me to change my initial thought: From a fantasy gaming perspective, there is something wrong with Peter Molyneux’s vision.
The first thing that is wrong is that the man scoffs at mini maps. If you tried playing Overlord on the 360, you know why scoffing at them is just wrong. Because without the mini map there is no way of knowing where we are, where everything else is, and where to go in a game. Apparently the reason the mini map is not there is to encourage players to explore, with the help of the marvellous dog that an entire 20-minute video was dedicated to. The video was submitted to Xbox live, in an effort to make other players as excited about The Vision as Peter Molyneux is.
But as far as I am concerned, he has lost me, my enthusiasm, and the time I would have spent playing the game, and here is why: He has told me I will not be able to earn an in-game living on adventuring.
According to PC Gamer’s column, and supported by everything else I find, it is not possible to earn a living simply by adventuring. Especially not if you marry someone and start a family, because now your income needs to support them as well. As an extra bonus, by the way, if you play as a female, the extra weight, loss of agility, and over-all vulnerability of being pregnant will be a very noticeable factor in game-play.
It appears that I am going to need a job to finance my death-defying adventuring life-style. According to Croshaw’s column, Peter Molyneux spoke proudly, “with breathless enthusiasm”, about the many extra features of game, and all the things that you can buy in the game… houses, furniture, villages, or dungeons. Monsters are not going to drop gold at all, instead you need to find gold elsewhere, either by hiring out as a henchman to another hero, by using the multi-player co-op function of the game, or by playing the Xbox LIVE Arcade mini-games, that will allow you to start amassing in-game cash for purchasing armor and weapons, long before Fable 2 hits retail shelves.
I refuse to believe that I am alone in asking Mr Molyneux, in stunned disbelief: What the hell are you trying to do? If you are aiming for realism you are so far off it is not even close to making sense.
Conan never settled down with a family, whom he then had to provide for, neither did Elric, Red Sonja, or the Grey Mouser and his far less mousy friend. Geralt of Rivia spoke for all of them when he stated that his high-risk profession, with extensive traveling, was not conducive to marriage, and if you want realism, shouldn’t you factor that in? In fact, if you want to be realistic, shouldn’t you take into account that none of the above mentioned adventurers want to settle down and start a family? They’re all adrenaline junkies, commitment-phobic, not to mention that they are constantly broke. The reason they are broke all the time is because an adventurer has no retirement to save up for. Slaying dragons is a risky business, not to mention that all the loot inevitably is used up too repair or replace the armor and weapons that were damaged while slaying said reptile. Whatever is left over is used up on babes and booze (and if you are Conan, a second babe the same night, for good measure), and that is why adventurers go back out on adventures, and why they take on mercenary contracts. They have nothing to save for, and no one to share with, and nothing to anchor them to any particular place, and that is the appeal and romance of sword & sorcery fantasy literature and games.
But apparently in this game, I will have to take a second job to be able to go adventuring once in a while. I will not have a mini map to help that adventuring, and as an extra realism-bonus I will have to put up with an unhappy spouse who complains that I am never home.
Once again Peter, what the hell are you trying to do here? Didn’t Black & White 2 make it clear that however pretty your vision might be in your head, the rest of the world doesn’t want to spend money on it?
This is supposed to be a fable! A fairy tale! Give me a high-fantasy world, with high-fantasy realism. If I wanted to raise and feed an ungrateful family, I’d be playing The Sims.