Posted by: Chris | March 11, 2010

GUI, GUI, Gone

Fable 3 will forgo a menu system entirely and will instead warp players to a new area whenever they pause.  I cannot imagine this will be an anyway intuitive or an improvement over Fable 2 already poor interface.  However, since Nick has been both researching designing interfaces and been playing Fable 2 recently, I am curious about his opinion on the matter.

My suspicion is that this, along with many of Lionhead’s quirky but ultimately ill-fated design choices, stems from Molyneux being one of the few prominent lead designers who began in programming/ai rather than design/art.  Molyneux tends to think like a lead programmer rather than a lead designer, and focuses on innovations that are interesting to program (but have minimal or sometimes negative effects on player experience) and then drape them over simplistic and mundane game design and artwork.  Thus, when Molyneux speaks about the future of game design he talks more about this stuff and less about this stuff.



  1. I have the strange feeling he’s tried this menu idea before…

    It was a frustrating and miserable failure that time. Why not give it a second shot?

  2. […] my fancy, but I suspect that is as much my fault as it is theirs (except for Fable 3, where it is Peter Molyneux’s fault entirely).   Thus I can’t say I feel terribly excited about the next year or so of […]

  3. […] purpose of creating a putatively nonlinear, openworld game.  It all points to the same trend we cited earlier: like an informercial salesman, Peter Molyneux has a knack for devising solutions in need of […]

  4. While I don’t think it’s as boneheaded as I did before reading the article (it seems to warp you to a location whose layout remains fixed, but you move around in 3d space rather than navigate a 2d menu), I still think it’s a mistake. From About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design:

    “The problems with global metaphors

    The most significant problem with metaphors, however, is that they tie our interfaces to mechanical age artifacts. … You go outside to access third-party services, which … are represented by building on a street. You enter a building to configure a service, and so on. The heavy reliance on this metaphor means that you can intuit the basic functioning of the software; but the downside is that, after you understand its function, the metaphor adds significantly to the overhead of navigation. You must go back out onto the street to configure another service. You must go down the hallway and into the game room to play Solitaire. This may be normal in the physical world, but there is no reason for it in the world of software. Why not abandon this slavish devotion to metaphor and give the user easy access to functions?” (p.252-253)

    The solution for people not knowing how to use your game is not to make all the functionality require you to move your character around to achieve verisimilitude. That’s just asinine, and part of the reason Home is so stupid – no one wants to have to go to a virtual house of their room to pull up movie trailers, when it would be so much faster to press a button via a 2D menu to get there.

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