Sources Discuss Lionhead Closure, Rejected Fable 4 Pitch

Sources Discuss Lionhead Closure, Rejected Fable 4 Pitch

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"Almost nobody wanted to work on Fable Legends."

In March, Microsoft announced that it was "in discussions" to close Fable developer Lionhead Studios and that development on Fable Legends was canceled. Fable Legends went offline forever on April 13, and Lionhead shut its doors on April 29. Yesterday, a report from Kotaku UK stated that multiple buyers were interested in acquiring the studio, but the deals didn't move forward because Microsoft didn't want to part with the Fable IP.

In an in depth article over at Eurogamer, sources from Lionhead confirmed the report and spoke of the cancelation of Fable Legends, the studio's closure, and the hopes the team had, both prior to the announcement and during the attempts to save the studio.

Sources told Eurogamer that the game was "technically finished" and that morale was "actually quite high again."

"People were happy that Legends was coming to a close. We never really expected Legends to last a long time, but we never expected them to cancel it," the source said. "The biggest shock was the closing of the studio though. It felt as that because Microsoft hadn't had the best year with their games that we took the brunt of the attack, rather than a big studio such as 343."

"The biggest stab in the heart though 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," the source continued. "Very few people wanted to make Fable: The Journey and almost nobody wanted to work on Fable Legends."

The source claimed that the game they wanted to make was the game "everyone wanted to play" - Fable 4. The team's "doomsday scenario," according to the source, was that Fable Legends would be canceled and the assets would be used towards Fable 4.

Sources confirmed earlier reports that the team had attempted to save Fable Legends in what was called "Project Phoenix" - an attempt to ship the game and continue development as a new studio that would license from Microsoft - but they ran out of time.

Also detailed was a rejected pitch by Lionhead's John McCormack for Fable 4 - a game that would push the series into the "technological, industrial age, with tram cars and flying machines."

The goal was to "hit the late Victorian proper far out Jules Verne shit," McCormack said, putting characters like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Jack the Ripper into "this kind of weird fucked up London environment."

"And that was going to be Fable 4, and it would be darker and grittier," McCormack said. "And because it was R-rated it would have the prostitutes and the humor. I was like, 'Man, this is going to be fucking brilliant, and everybody was really into it."

The lengthy article, which can be read in full here, touches on the history of the studio, the closure, and the team's attempt to save Lionhead.

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I hate microsoft. Fucking soulless, passionless arseholes. They drain Rareware to a zombified husk of its former self, then take their own failures out on a smaller studio while hoarding its IP. It's ugly behaviour, is there no one there that stopped to think that maybe they should stop pulling dick moves for once, if only to regain some consumer trust? One corporatiom the world would be much better without.
Edit: You weren't lying about the lengthy article...it's a biopic!!
Cue the inevitable incoming escapist negativity...

At least they weren't promising a Molyneux of a game with fable 4, just something R rated and grittier (either because of catching the zeitgeist or claiming it was thus due this.)

In a way, I'm disappointed.
Fable promises were as much part of the fun as the game itself.
Remember the trees you could plant and watch grow as your children aged and became adventurers?
This time I was expecting claims of the game procedurally generating an entire world geography and history for each new character IN REAL TIME!
...and being able to fart up to four national anthems.

Lizzy Finnegan:

"And that was going to be Fable 4, and it would be darker and grittier," McCormack said. "And because it was R-rated it would have the prostitutes and the humor. I was like, 'Man, this is going to be fucking brilliant, and everybody was really into it."

Oh just fuck off with the darker and grittier shit. We just got out of that "Gritty Reboot" trend. Who would want more?

Eh, I gave up on Fable after the third one. Not even sure why anyone cares here. I thought everyone hated fable for always overhyping their own game and failing in everything they ever said that would happen. its not like this one would be different (Please don't say " You never know!").

But then again, this is the Escapist where one minute something is god awful and shouldn't be made. The next "my god I enjoy those games! How could they be canceled!"

Fable was a train of overhyping, but I actually liked the games. Usually each one had a different strength, and I played the hell out of the third one and I want it for my PC.
Sad to see it go, because I quite liked the franchise.

" the game "everyone wanted to play" - Fable 4"
Hahaha, yeah, right... Everyone wanted another crappy Fable game.

Reading the rest of the article these guys sound totally childish and unprofessional. No wonder their latest games sucked so much.

I like how Lionhead takes a bizarre shot at 343.

I'm still baffled as to why people from Lionhead are in such denial about why the studio was shut down. They didn't produce anything substantial in quite a while and Microsoft decided Legends wasn't worth it. 343 makes Microsoft money.

In what logical world would Microsoft shoot their profitable studio in the foot to keep their failing studio afloat?

On one hand, we know that this is a studio founded on unrealized hype.
On the other hand, what they're promising is flying steampunk cars.
Then MS wanted them to make L4Fable, a game nobody was asking for, nobody wanted to make, and was hitched to win10. Instead of a game with flying steampunk cars.

Rednog:
I like how Lionhead takes a bizarre shot at 343.

I'm still baffled as to why people from Lionhead are in such denial about why the studio was shut down. They didn't produce anything substantial in quite a while and Microsoft decided Legends wasn't worth it. 343 makes Microsoft money.

In what logical world would Microsoft shoot their profitable studio in the foot to keep their failing studio afloat?

As they pointed out, they were forced to make games they didn't want to in order to show off Microsoft's tech. They took a shot at 343 because they're behind Microsoft's flagship Halo, and Guardians - while it made a lot of money - wasn't the hit Microsoft and consumers were expecting.

Lionhead was done with Legends, and they were hoping to finally be able to make a game that they and consumers wanted, but instead Microsoft pulled the plug on all of it because reasons (my guess being that the XBone and its exclusives are doing poorly). In doing so, they're shooting themselves in the foot, as they now have this finished game they pumped a lot of money into that will now never be released, instead of maybe cutting back a bit on say all the marketing and extra crap that goes into Halo.

Yes to Fable 4. No to the Victorian Era. Do a prequel to The Lost Chapters.

Rednog:
I like how Lionhead takes a bizarre shot at 343.

Bizarre... ? Have you SEEN Halo 5? It fucking sucked ASS. And this is coming from a long-time Halo fan so you know I mean it. The thing is though, I don't know if Microsoft forced those terrible design decisions or if that was all 343.

I spoke with a former Lionhead and 22 Cans employee not too long ago, they stated that the team initially planned for Fable 4, but they eventually decided against it.

They never mentioned anything about rejection. Just team decisions.

MCerberus:
On one hand, we know that this is a studio founded on unrealized hype.

No. It's a studio founded on Peter Molyneux getting ideas shot down by his team, and his team not being fond of the fact that he made big announcements (which weren't agreed on) in interviews.

The devs at Lionhead were quite good at their jobs. The major issue which Lionhead suffered from is that Peter Molyneux was just more of a dreamer, rather than a designer.

I feel that Peter stabbed his team in the back a bit whenever he promised some features, such as trees growing in real time. His team was constantly having to adapt. Overall though, Lionhead employees were big achievers. Fable 1-3 are good AAA titles to have under the belt.

This is a damn shame, I'd have loved to see the mainline Fable series seperate from Molyneux, might have had the potential to be great, rather than just ok

Arnoxthe1:
Yes to Fable 4. No to the Victorian Era. Do a prequel to The Lost Chapters.

Rednog:
I like how Lionhead takes a bizarre shot at 343.

Bizarre... ? Have you SEEN Halo 5? It fucking sucked ASS. And this is coming from a long-time Halo fan so you know I mean it. The thing is though, I don't know if Microsoft forced those terrible design decisions or if that was all 343.

But that's your opinion.
The facts are that Halo 5 was the biggest launch in the franchise and made a ton of money, made hardware sales, was received well critically, and made a ton of money from micro transactions.
Which once again begs the question, why would anyone penalize 343 to keep Lionhead afloat?

I was hoping that with Fable 4, they'd go for a fun, high-flying Dieselpunk adventure, continuing the march of time, with the new gimmick being a classic early-model car that gets upgraded as the game progresses to also sail, fly, and ultimately submerge. They could also have continued trying to go "Interfaceless" - replacing the inventory with the car's trunk and the Action-Archeologist main character's backpack.

The tutorial also would have followed naturally! You start out as an upper-class archaeologist, with a dig team, a love interest, and butler. You're exploring ruins unearthed a few miles from Bowerstone - fight your way through Hollow Men that animate as you make your way in, and using a pistol for ranged combat, and Pickaxe for melee (You're an archeologist, after all!). And, at the end, you find a guild seal, and The Book of Heroes... which is at this point a Lovecraft-style tome of Eldritch Power, that you then spend the rest of the game 'translating' by earning power through practice of the disciplines of Strength, Skill, and Will (Essentially, the book becomes your level-up screen and 'character sheet'. Yes, it would be gimmicky to some, but immersive and really setting a "Turn of the Century Age of Exploration" tone) Essentially, you're playing the ultimate Two Fisted Tales adventure! And there's all sorts of worlds to explore, thanks to Fable 3 introducing the new Africa-like continent.

Unfortunately, that will never happen :(

Rednog:
The facts are that Halo 5 was the biggest launch in the franchise and made a ton of money, made hardware sales, was received well critically, and made a ton of money from micro transactions.

I'd like to see some receipts with this one. Halo 5 was the biggest launch only if you discount the last 4 games in the main series, and relative to it's predecessors it sold significantly less units, moved far less hardware and had the worst critical reception sans maybe ODST. Decent money on micropayments though.

Shit, Halo 5 and Tomb Raider 2 were the two biggest holiday underperformers in venerable best-selling franchises last year. Where you got your facts from?

Rednog:

Arnoxthe1:
Yes to Fable 4. No to the Victorian Era. Do a prequel to The Lost Chapters.

Rednog:
I like how Lionhead takes a bizarre shot at 343.

Bizarre... ? Have you SEEN Halo 5? It fucking sucked ASS. And this is coming from a long-time Halo fan so you know I mean it. The thing is though, I don't know if Microsoft forced those terrible design decisions or if that was all 343.

But that's your opinion.
The facts are that Halo 5 was the biggest launch in the franchise and made a ton of money, made hardware sales, was received well critically, and made a ton of money from micro transactions.

Halo 2 Sales: 8 Million
Halo 3 Sales: 14.5 Million
<- Best Halo game just in my opinion. But oh look, it sold the most.
Halo 4 Sales: 9.41 Million

Halo 5 Sales: 1 Million

And sure, it can be said that Halo 5 shipped consoles. But so did Forza and Rise of the Tomb Raider which sold apparently just as much. As to critically, it depends on who you ask, but I don't fucking care what ANY critic says since I objectively know that Halo 5 is much suckier than even Halo 2. Microtransactions though, you probably have a small point with that in terms of money made, as depressing as it is to admit.

So yeah, in conclusion, Halo 5 was a failure in almost all fronts.

So, we could have got a proper Fable sequel without Molyneux's involvement involving Victorian London-styled, Jules Verne inspired steampunk sci-fi!? Motherfucker. I would have bought an XBONE to play that. Nice work, Microsoft.

MC1980:

Rednog:
The facts are that Halo 5 was the biggest launch in the franchise and made a ton of money, made hardware sales, was received well critically, and made a ton of money from micro transactions.

I'd like to see some receipts with this one. Halo 5 was the biggest launch only if you discount the last 4 games in the main series, and relative to it's predecessors it sold significantly less units, moved far less hardware and had the worst critical reception sans maybe ODST. Decent money on micropayments though.

Shit, Halo 5 and Tomb Raider 2 were the two biggest holiday underperformers in venerable best-selling franchises last year. Where you got your facts from?

First-week global sales of Halo 5 software and hardware totaled more than US$400 million, making it the fastest-selling Xbox One exclusive. Halo 5 made the biggest sales record in Xbox history, and was the best-selling digital title.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_5:_Guardians

http://www.techinsider.io/halo-5-is-making-lots-of-money-2015-11
http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/11/04/halo-5-was-the-biggest-launch-in-halo-history/#1f9688eb52e5

Arnoxthe1:

Rednog:

Arnoxthe1:
Yes to Fable 4. No to the Victorian Era. Do a prequel to The Lost Chapters.

Bizarre... ? Have you SEEN Halo 5? It fucking sucked ASS. And this is coming from a long-time Halo fan so you know I mean it. The thing is though, I don't know if Microsoft forced those terrible design decisions or if that was all 343.

But that's your opinion.
The facts are that Halo 5 was the biggest launch in the franchise and made a ton of money, made hardware sales, was received well critically, and made a ton of money from micro transactions.

Halo 2 Sales: 8 Million
Halo 3 Sales: 14.5 Million
<- Best Halo game just in my opinion. But oh look, it sold the most.
Halo 4 Sales: 9.41 Million

Halo 5 Sales: 1 Million

And sure, it can be said that Halo 5 shipped consoles. But so did Forza and Rise of the Tomb Raider which sold apparently just as much. As to critically, it depends on who you ask, but I don't fucking care what ANY critic says since I objectively know that Halo 5 is much suckier than even Halo 2. Microtransactions though, you probably have a small point with that in terms of money made, as depressing as it is to admit.

So yeah, in conclusion, Halo 5 was a failure in almost all fronts.

If you look at the Halo 5 link it's only source for 1 million is an article that says Halo, Tomb Raider, Forza, and Gears of War all sold over 1 mil. Don't know why the wiki editor would attribute that to exactly 1 mil copies sold. Even the source itself says no one is sure of the exact numbers for 5.

I was never going to play Fable Legends and I am never going to play Fable the Journey but I am one of those people who played Fable 3 more than once and what they wanted to do for Fable 4 sounded promising. I like how the Fable series was constantly moving forward through time and it would have been neat to see if Fable 5 or Fable 6 would have essentially just been a game wherein we're in the 90's but there are Golems, Goblins and, Reaver. Question though, remember that very first trailer and feature-list from the original Fable? Has ANY of that ever been used in any of the Fable games? Rival NPCs, trees that grow in real time...that would have been nice in a new Fable.

Rednog:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_5:_Guardians

http://www.techinsider.io/halo-5-is-making-lots-of-money-2015-11
http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/11/04/halo-5-was-the-biggest-launch-in-halo-history/#1f9688eb52e5

Ah, you fell for the spin. Here's an article that should help you understand things a little better.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-23/is-halo-5-really-a-blockbuster-it-s-hard-to-tell

You shouldn't take articles like the forbes contributor one and techinsider one as fact, they were both just slight rewordings of Microsofts press releases, with zero insight, cross referencing and corroboration by outside sources. Company press releases always try to show themselves in a better light, ie not saying your shit isn't selling nearly as much as it did before. (Or omit differences between hardware and software sales, or shipped versus sold to consumer copies.)

Actual unit sales tracking (US's NPD, UK weekly, Japan Weekly) has showed that the game performed far worse than it's predecessors. The game was most likely horribly overstocked aswell. Sorry to say, but it seems you've been jipped by the usual bs thrown out by companies.

In any case, going back to the OP, yes it does make sense that they're taking shots at 343/Microsoft since Halo 5 sucked, no matter how many freaking copies Microsoft managed to sell.

Kibeth41:

MCerberus:
On one hand, we know that this is a studio founded on unrealized hype.

No. It's a studio founded on Peter Molyneux getting ideas shot down by his team, and his team not being fond of the fact that he made big announcements (which weren't agreed on) in interviews.

The devs at Lionhead were quite good at their jobs. The major issue which Lionhead suffered from is that Peter Molyneux was just more of a dreamer, rather than a designer.

I feel that Peter stabbed his team in the back a bit whenever he promised some features, such as trees growing in real time. His team was constantly having to adapt. Overall though, Lionhead employees were big achievers. Fable 1-3 are good AAA titles to have under the belt.

Sounds like we're saying the same thing mostly. From the end-user standpoint everyone I believe realizes that the source of the hype isn't the devs failure. It was always Peter running his mouth. After reading the Eurogamer article (I'll see if I can get a link, but warning, it's a wall big enough to make Trump supporters weep) it doesn't even seem like he was even reading from the wish-list, but rather just mouthing off with the dev team just sort of looking on with stunned dread.

 

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