Presenting at Fable III at X10 in San Francisco, Peter Molyneux has revealed that the RPG - if you can still call it that - has no experience points or health bar.
Health is represented by the screen-colouring effects common in action and FPS games - Fable III has no HUD most of the time - while your character grows in power according to how many followers he or she has in the game's world of Albion. Levelling up is also represented by your weapons, which grow and change appearance according to how much and how you use them.
"It's an RPG without a health bar or experience," Molyneux said in a demonstration. "Because we put the levelling up into the world, with followers, you don't need experience."
Why make the change? "The absolute main reason is that most people didn't really understand it," Molyneux told Eurogamer later. "When you asked people how to get red experience, they'd say, 'I don't know, sometimes it's green, sometimes it's red, sometimes it's blue'."
Molyneux came to feel that experience was out of date, and out of step with Fable's themes. "Why do you just get experience for combat? It seemed wrong. This game is expressions and getting married and doing things in the world that should be as significant as fighting. So as soon as we said the word followers... just saying the word followers, what people think of you, meant more to the entirety of the game.
"Experience seemed 1990s, it seemed old school."
It was the same thing with the removal of the health bar, he said. "We haven't removed the health bar, we've just copied other games. First-person shooters, the health bar's in the world. When your health gets low the corners of the screen go red, sometimes it goes black and white - that's a health bar man, it's just the same as a little bar, it's just that people see it.
"As soon as you say those things you think, Jesus, why was I so stupid beforehand," Molyneux said. "It just seems like these are legacy things."
These are the changes which Molyneux feared fans would be "pissed off" by. "If I remove experience and health bars, and I put levelling up from a 2D interface to a 3D interface, some people are going to get really upset, but that's not a reason not to do it, man. It's actually a reason to do it."
But he still thinks of Fable III as an RPG. "I still love the idea of levelling up... I love seeing myself and my hero grow and get more powerful. That to me is what role-playing is all about. I love the idea of being able to choose, that's another thing about an RPG."
For more on Fable III - including the weapon morphing system, the online features, and the Touch mechanic first revealed at Gamescom in Cologne last year - watch out for a full feature preview shortly.
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