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I've been thinking a lot about the new Fable, recently. About what exactly it is I want from it. This is, after all, the first new entry in the fantasy RPG franchise in ten years. It's also the first one not being developed by original studio Lionhead. Instead, Microsoft has handed the reigns over to Playground Games, the studio behind the excellent Forza racing series.
What we have then, is a developer best known for racing games that is now working on a AAA open world RPG... a reboot of a beloved franchise that the previous studio poured its entire being into, no less. There's a lot riding on this, is what I'm saying.
I'm sure we all have our own hopes and dreams for Fable. Things we want Playground Games to keep from the original games, things we want it to improve, and things we want it to completely change. Personally, I'm more than happy for Playground Games to leave its own mark on the franchise - as long as some things remain. I'd like it to be a single-player experience first and foremost, for example, which it sounds like it is. I'd also like it to retain that Pratchett-esque sense of very, very silly fantasy humour... which the trailer, at least, has managed.
But there's one thing, one feature in particular, that I really feel Playground Games needs to keep intact, lest Fable lose all sense of what it once was. I'm talking, of course, about the sex scenes. Playground Games, I implore you to take Lionhead's approach to the "intimate" scenes from the first three Fable games, and don't you dare change a thing about them.
If you've never played Fable or can't quite recall what I'm talking about, sex in the original games worked a little something like this: After a brief courtship involving sharing gifts and not farting in front of your potential lover, players could choose to marry certain NPCs. At this point, you had the option of taking them to bed to... you know.
The screen would fade to black, some comical music would play, and you'd hear the occasional grunt and groan accompanied by your companion saying things like "oooh, naughty" - usually in a northern or west country accent. As you can see below, it's about as sexy as having Nigel Farage explain the plot of Basic Instinct to you... but I always loved how utterly stupid and thoroughly unerotic it was.
I want the new Fable to pick up where its predecessors left off, and encourage players to court and woo NPCs, obviously. Forging relationships and having children was definitely a neat part of the original games that helped you to establish roots. Sometimes in multiple towns. So yes, absolutely bring back sex and relationships - but keep the act itself off-screen, just as the original Fable and its sequels did.
It's not that sex is something that should be kept out of sight at all times, but in a Fable game? Well, it absolutely kind of is, actually. It's a fantasy world full of comical characters doing lots of very stupid, very silly things. I don't know that suddenly peppering the game with Witcher-style sex scenes would match Fable's vibe.
Nor would it do to cut out sex or find some other way around it, by the way. The manner in which Fable "censors" sex is so hilariously, inherently dumb that it managed to become a huge part of the series' whimsical charms. At least in my eyes. I mean, there are very other games out there whose approach to sex scenes has stuck in my mind quite as vividly. Lionhead's approach to hanky panky was the good kind of bad, and I sincerely hope Playground Games picks up the raunchy torch.
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