“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.