GU: You mentioned ICO as an inspiration. The relationship with your horse reminded me of another Team Ico game, Shadow of the Colossus. What inspired the specific horse and carriage dynamic? And how much of the game does it represent?
Peter: Well, I think these relationships with creatures started with Black & White. The horse in particular draws a lot from Black & White. There was a bond we built up over the course of that game, and a lot of it was about rewarding and punishing your creature. People built up strong bonds with their creatures, and the one thing we learned from that is you've got to allow time for that bond to build up.
I can't give you five minutes of gameplay and expect you to care about the horse, but within about two or three hours of [Fable: The Journey] you will start caring. We give you complete freedom to rush through this game, but to do that you're going to have to whip your horse. You're going to see that whip cutting the horse's flesh. If you're fine with that, then that's fine.
GU: Can your horse die from the abuse you're talking about?
Peter: Your horse can die. You can get a different horse, but you'll have to start from scratch - none of the voice commands will work on the new horse. Each horse will feel slightly different. I would encourage anybody who plays this game to do whatever they can to keep one horse right through until the end, because something really interesting can happen.
GU: Is there anyway to progress without a horse?
Peter: No. If your horse dies, you have to stop off at a trading post and get another one. We do fast travel you there, and you goto the last trading post you've been to. You can change your horse in this way, but we find people don't do that. Nobody has wanted to so far.
GU: You mentioned you can create your own verbal cues for the horse. Is there any customization in the way you conjure different spells?
Peter: Well... People love talking to the horse. They don't get embarrassed to command it that way, but a lot of people have trouble - Americans don't seem to have this problem, but English people definitely do - getting overly enthusiastic towards the screen. So we have got a system in place at the moment where you can enhance a spell with audio. It's called Chanting, and for example, you could use your voice to make a change to a spell as you can with your hands. It's one thing in our box of tricks we're going to pull out later. But as a designer, I don't want to force people to shout at the screen to cast their magic. Maybe we'll just turn it on for the US version [laughs]. It's 50/50 in my mind on whether it's something you can abuse too much.
GU: Your choices in Fable III drastically changed Albion. Where does The Journey fit in the Fable timeline? And does the game take any of these past choices into account?
Peter: The Journey is set just after Fable III finished, but we aren't telling the bloodlines story. If we ever do Fable IV, then it will be about the bloodline. That's what we wanted to do with Fable I - III was tell the story of a family, and we decided not to burden Fable: The Journey with that. So you play just a member of a tribe. It's set just after Fable III because I'm not a fan of prequels where you know what's going to happen.
[In The Journey], Theresa has lost all of her powers of sight. Within the first 15 minutes of the game you are separated from your tribe and you discover her. Fascinatingly, Theresa doesn't know what to do for the first time in her life. The only thing she knows is she has to get back to the spire from Fable II. She's kind of falling apart. Here you've got one of the most powerful figures in the entirety of Albion who is close to loosing it completely. So if you're a fan of Fable, you're going to learn a lot more about Albion and it's history. If you've never played, then you've just got this slightly mad lady in the back of your carriage.
GU: A big part of Fable has always been customizing your character. How does that change with a first-person view?
Peter: Well, there's two things on that. For starters, you can customize your horse, your home, which is your caravan, and yourself. Those are the three things that you can customize. When you go to a campsite - which can do at any point, but there's some obvious places to camp and there's some stupid ones - then you'll go into a third-person view and you can see everything that you've got. So although you don't see yourself all the time, you can still see the rim of carriage with certain things you can place there as well.
GU: Is the camp comparable to the sanctuary from Fable III?
Peter: No, not really. It's just a physical need. For instance, the only magic you can't do is heal while you're on the move, so sometimes you have to heal your horse. This is a living thing. You can see by the end of this demo that the horse's head is sagging because we've really pushed it. You'll need to give your horse a break and sometime to eat. Theresa in the back of the carriage will also insist you stop from time to time. So it's more like a rest spot where there is also some functionality for customization. It also helps with storytelling, as you can interact with passengers you've picked up on the way.
GU: Is your freedom to look around the environment constricted by the carriage's forward-looking view?
Peter: Not at all. You are absolutely free to look around at any point with [Kinect's] head tracking. You can almost look 360 degrees around, and it actually feels a lot more intuitive to do it that way. I should mention you can look around at any point, it doesn't matter if you are on or off the carriage. It just feels very natural.
GU: Another big part of Fable in the past was the challenges and rewards for using different weapons. Will there be anything like that in The Journey?
Peter: We've got exactly the same challenge system for the creational magic. When you create stuff, we're going to give you specific challenges. For example, if you kill 50 enemies with a spear it will unlock new functionality for that spear. We love leveling up. I adore all forms of leveling up, and we're definitely embracing that.
GU: Thanks for your time, Peter.
Peter: Thank you.
Fable: The Journey is set for release in 2012 on Xbox 360.