Ex-Playground Game Developer Says Fable Reboot Team ‘Lacked People Who Know’ About Action RPGs

A former member of Playgound Games has revealed that the studio had no idea how to make an action RPG when it was hired to develop Microsoft’s recently announced Fable reboot.

Source: Fable (TBD), Xbox Game Studios

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Employed by Playground Games from October 2017 to January 2021, de Simón’s time with the studio saw him help lay the groundwork for the next Fable title.

In just over three years, de Simón created all of the game’s technical systems, wrote documentation, and even undertook competitive research into other action RPG features and classic Fable games to see the appeal of of them. Its prototypes have even been used to test the game’s tools and systems.

In an interview with Spanish outlet Vandal (translated via Google Translate), former Playground Games developer Fernández de Simón claimed that the Forza Horizon developer may have bitten off more than he could chew when he has agreed to take on the next entry in the popular video game series.

Source: Forza Horizon 5 (2021), Playground Games

“PlayGround is a series [oriented] company, very organized and production-oriented, every two years they publish a Forza Horizon, which has more than 90 on Metacritic, with incredible quality, ”began de Simón. “They’ve taken running games and they’ve been dominating for the past few years, they’re very smart and they know what they’re doing.”

Nonetheless, he conceded, although “they wanted to branch out with something different and they thought what they did well was open-world racing games,” the studio found that they “lacked people who know the way the gameplay is done”.

Source: Fable Legends (canceled), Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Studios, Xbox Media Asset Library

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“How you control a character and the actions [in an open world game] are very different from what you have in a racing game,” De Simón explained. “At the technological level, we have to develop a system of animation, scripts, quests. Traveling by car at 300 km/ha demands very different things from walking through the countryside.

“Open-world action RPGs are incredibly complicated to make,” de Simón explained. “They take a lot of time, a lot of people and in PlayGround they have the mentality of doing more with less.”

Source: Fable Legends (canceled), Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Studios, Xbox Media Asset Library

As an example of this philosophy, de Simón speculated, “if Assassin’s Creed is made by 5,000 people, they [Playground Games] will have 150 or 200 and, if they do it in 7 years, they [will do] Fable in 5.

“It’s good to be ambitious but you also have to be realistic,” noted de Simón, “and what I saw was that it was getting longer and longer and, personally, I don’t know if I have the creative ability to work on the same thing for more than x years.

Source: Fable Legends (canceled), Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Studios, Xbox Media Asset Library

de Simón changed jobs after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, moving to Nomada Studio in February 2021. According to the developer, it was the idea of ​​working remotely on Fable that prompted his exit.

“The move to remote work in a game as big as Fable, which has a lot to do with talking to people, bureaucracy, meetings,” de Simón explained. “There were many factors and I needed a change.”

Source: Fable III (2010), Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Game Studios

Still, despite his departure, de Simón has high hopes for Fable, praising: “It’s been a super fun three years and I think Fable is a super, super interesting IP, the game has incredible potential and there’s a very good team inside.”

“The best thing Playground has done in the years I’ve seen is the people it’s had for the team, there’s a lot of talent there,” he concluded. “I wish them all the luck in the world and I really want to play there.”

Source: Fable Legends (canceled), Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Studios, Xbox Media Asset Library

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While de Simón has praised Playground Games, his departure means we ultimately don’t know whether or not the studio has been able to make up for his lack of action-RPG expertise.

Although it was announced in 2020, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting many schedules, we still don’t have a release date for Fable.

Source: Fable III (2010), Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Game Studios, Power On: The Xbox Story | Chapter 6: TV… or not TV, Xbox, YouTube

Playground Games also has a slew of job postings that are currently open for applications on their official website, LinkedIn, and Indeed.

Lists include AI engineers, art director, cinematic animators, combat designers, dialogue designers, game designers, producers, and more.

Source: Fable (TBD), Xbox Game Studios

Do you think Simón’s concerns are far behind Playground Games, or does the first chapter of Fable’s return bode badly for the franchise? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.

NEXT: Xbox Execs Admit Fable Developer Lionhead Studios’ Mismanagement Was One of Their ‘Biggest Missteps’

Donald E. Patel