We recently had the chance to sit down with Flaming Fowl's Craig Oman and play some Fable Fortune, the new card battler set in the Fable universe.
During our interview, which took place after our hands-on demo, we asked Oman to tell us about the origins of the game and the studio, which formed out of the ashes of Lionhead Studios after Microsoft shut down the developer roughly one year ago.
We didn't dwell on the past for too long, though, and quickly we moved on to discuss the title itself, in particular the co-op mode that looks like it's going to separate it from similarly-themed CCGs already on the market (mentioning no names). In this mode players will work together to take down opponents, playing cards as effectively as possible, in the process trying to complete in-game quests and unlock new cards/gear.
Of course we couldn't wrap things up without also asking about the ways in which Fable itself has influenced the design of the game, from the humour that defines the RPG series, through to the binary nature of the good vs evil divide that lets players be guided by their own moral compass.
"Some of those core Fable features in the game, we want to make sure that we brought them into this," Oman explained. "It is a CCG, it's not your standard Fable RPG, so we want to make sure that we brought in those elements. So good and evil is a great example. So we've brought that in by, every time that you're playing a game you're actually challenged with completing quests within that match. As you complete the quests you're levelling up your hero and you're given the option of completing that quest in a certain way.
"So it could be, an example, that you're trying to rescue the jewels that have been stolen from a village, and you go and you do this quest, you complete it in-game, and then you're given... do you do the good choice where the outcome where you return the jewels to the village and you're the saviour, or do you pick the evil option and keep them for yourself. And actually picking that, you know, whether you go good or evil, changes your hero ability. So the core functionality stays similar, but actually they will expand and become something more powerful, but also have a different ability on them. So you can use that then in the middle of a match; you can see how your opponent is playing, what kind of deck they've got, and you can then actually adapt in the middle of a match."
Oman continued: "That was one of the important things for us to get in, that we didn't want to get to this point where you're playing a game, you're on round three, and you think, 'oh, well that guy's playing this character class with this deck type, that doesn't work with mine, I'm going to lose'. We wanted to try and give you as much opportunity that you can actually use your smarts, your intelligence, to actually play the game and actually try and combat however anyone is playing."
However, this duality, the split between good and evil, isn't just limited to the in-game quests, it also affects some of the cards in the game too, with the player's moral position giving them potentially game-changing options that may help them turn the tide in battle.
"We also have that with some of the cards in your hand, they morph as well. So you can have a card that just has a normal, neutral version, but then it will also have a good and an evil version, and depending where you are in terms of your alignment, you will then actually summon the good or evil version of the card.
"So you get this really interesting choice that when you're levelling up, you're thinking not only 'how does that affect my hero power?', but also 'how does it affect the cards that I'm going to be playing in the next few turns?'. So you can try and adapt, as I say, to what somebody else is doing, and you think 'actually, I know what I'm going to do to try and counter that'. And it makes the games a lot more interesting, and a lot more... it's less luck-dependent and it's more skill-dependent, of actually how good are you at playing the game."
We'll be coming back to take a closer look at Fable Fortune in the near future, and the studio is aiming to bring it to PC (via Steam Early Access) and Xbox One (via the Xbox Preview Program). Both versions are potentially landing in the near future, with Flaming Fowl targeting a release in Q2, 2017. As Oman says, that's "pretty soon."