Fable 2's co-op shortcomings as explained by Molyneux

"I think we're taking a poorly implemented feature in Fable 2 and really making it shine in Fable 3." Peter Molyneux's enthusiasm, equally infamous and infectious, doesn't necessarily extend into the past. The creative director of Microsoft Game Studios Europe guided us through Fable 3's improved co-op design during a Friday morning TGS session, eagerly contrasting new features with some earnest recollection of the previous game's shortcomings.

"Well, to be honest, the problem we had -- it was a bizarre problem -- is that every time you do something different, and this will sound horribly mechanical but it comes down to this at all times ... When you create a different version, then that needs a complete test pass," Molyneux explained. "So we had in Fable 2, because co-op came in quite late, couch co-op and we had [Xbox] Live co-op. We hadn't really planned for the fact that we were going to have to do a test pass. An entire test pass for the single player; an entire test pass for the couch co-op; an entire test pass for the Live co-op."

Intent on adding online co-op to Fable 2 within a limited time frame, Lionhead Studios essentially went for a prudent two-for-one deal: take the working couch co-op online. "We could save a whole test pass if we made Live and couch co-op almost identical in Fable 2, and we were kind of running low on time so we had to do that," said Molyneux. Since the game essentially believed it was running on one screen, both players had to relinquish control of the camera -- and one had to settle for playing as a generic impostor in place of a true hero.

In Fable 3, you're allowed to take your hero into someone else's game, along with your upgradeable weapons, abilities and fluffy, canine companions. You can marry your co-op partner, divorce them, go into a business partnership and even play pat-a-cake with them. And -- finally -- both players have a fully controllable camera. This is how the best internet romances start.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.