Fable Progress Slow Due to Playground’s Lack of RPG Experience and Frugal Approach Says Dev

Nathan Birch

What exactly is going on with Microsoft and Playground Games’ Fable reboot? The game was announced nearly two years ago, and rumors it was in development surfaced two years before that, so shouldn’t we have seen something beyond a very basic teaser? It feels like development is progressing rather slowly for a studio that pumps out massive open-world Forza Horizon games on a very regular basis, and it seems we may now have some insight into why.

Game designer Juan Fernandez has bounced around various studios, including Rime developer Tequila Works, Hellblade creators Ninja Theory, and a stint at Playground Games where he worked on the new Fable. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in an interview with Vandal (translation provided by Google, so forgive any stiff phrasing) Fernandez reveals Playground had some trouble adapting to making an open-world game where you don’t blast around in fancy cars at 200 mph.

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Playground is [...] very organized and production-driven. Every two years they put out a Forza Horizon, which has more than 90 on Metacritic, with incredible quality. They have taken racing games and they've dominated them these last few years. They're very smart and they know what they're doing. They wanted to branch out with something different and they thought that what they do well is open world racing games, [but] they lacked people with the knowledge of how gameplay is done. In an open world, how you control a character and the actions are very different from what you have in a racing game. At the technology level, you have to develop animation, scripting, a quest system. Moving in a car at 300 kmh has very different requirements than walking through the countryside.

Playground also reportedly has a “do more with less” ethos, which has served them well when it comes to doing something they’ve reduced to a science like Forza Horizon, but slowed progress when it came to something more ambitious like Fable…

Action RPG open worlds are incredibly complicated to do, they take a lot of time. A lot of people and in Playground they have the mentality of doing more with less, that if Assassin's Creed is done by 5000 people they will have 150 or 200, and if they do [Assassin's Creed] in 7 years, they'd do Fable in 5. It is good to be ambitious but you also have to be realistic and what I saw is that [development] was getting longer and longer.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Playground’s take on Fable turns out. Thankfully, according to Fernandez, Playground has added a lot of new talent to their team, so hopefully they have the people they need to make Fable a success.

Fable is coming to PC and Xbox Series X/S. A release window has yet to be revealed.

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