With Microsoft's emphasis on SmartGlass related features it can often be tough for developers to come up with innovative new ways to utilize the technology. So when Lionhead Studios looked towards integration for Fable Anniversary, Tim Timmins Lead Designer on the title described the unique situation his studio and strategy guide creator Prima Games were in.
"I absolutely loved SmartGlass when it was announced. When we first started on Fable Anniversary, I said to our leadership team, ‘please let me make some for SmartGlass.’"
But when Timmins turned to his studio, there was no one with knowledge of developing for SmartGlass. Luckily for him Prima Games found itself in a similar situation.
"We have a really great relationship with Prima, who make the strategy guides. At the start of the project I just said, ‘what plans do you guys have for SmartGlass?’ I remember them replying, ‘it’s really frustrating because we've got an engine and we've got a developer, but we have no game.’ And I said, ‘well we have a game and no developer and no engine.’ So we've been working with them really closely over the last year."
What has that enabled the developers to do? Pretty interesting stuff actually. "First and foremost, it’s an interactive map," Timmins reveals, "as you’re running through the regions, you can just have your phone next to you and you can see wherever you are on any map at any point. It makes you feel like a real adventurer, you've got the map in your hand and I’m off in the game running through the wilderness."
But that's not all Fable Anniversary will be able to do, Timmins says that it will have a comparitive feature much like Halo: Anniversary that let you swap between it's true graphics and the overhauled updated visuals. "...They had that incredible feature that allowed you to switch between old and new, but we were unable to pull that off technically because we were using the Unreal Engine."
"So what I wanted to do was use SmartGlass, the platform to utilize that. I did a complete playthrough of Fable 1, I took screenshots in every single region of the original game and then we put them in SmartGlass, so as you go through SmartGlass, you’ll be able to click on the screenshot icon and it’ll show you what Fable 1 use to look like. You can hold it up next to your television to see the differences between the two. That’s a nice little touch I think," he comments.
Then Prima took something upon it's own accord. Timmins asks, "If you get stuck in a video game, what do you have to do? What if all you had to do is connect your phone or your tablet to your Xbox and you had the answer? That’s what Prima really has provided."
"There’s are things like, whenever you click on your hero, it’ll tell you your current objective, if you need to find the last silver key, the silver keys show up on the map to try and help you track it down. I think that’s the kind of stuff that will help you stay immersed. My number one job is to help the player feel immersed and I think SmartGlass really helps with that."