My husband and child disappeared the other day. Not my real family, but my little RPG family I had set up in the land of Albion while playing Fable 3. When I beat the game, I had purchased every single piece of property available and was making loads of money that I had no intention of spending since I had also purchased every item in every shop. I had achieved the best possible ending and saved everyone in Albion and had finished all the quests that I had intended to finish. I knew I wouldn’t bother with the long collection quests but I was quite satisfied with the way I ended the game. I had intended to merely walk around for a bit, and then turn off the game for at least a few months, possibly never to boot it up again.
Then I got the family notification that my husband Elliot had a gift for me. I happily transported back home, checked inside my well-decorated house. Neither husband nor child was to be found. That’s all right, they sometimes roam around the marketplace. I walked around a bit and still couldn’t find them. That’s when I started to get a bit nervous. After 10 minutes I went to my mini-map and relocated them to another house. They still didn’t show up. Then I moved them to a different town. Still nowhere to be seen. Then I moved them back to the original house. Not there. But the heart notification is still blinking on the bottom corner of my screen. Finally I give up and search for Fable 3 glitches, and lo and behold I discover that if you so happen to place your family in certain “unsafe” areas of the world when beating the game, they will disappear and never come back. They will still show up on your quest log, but there is no way to see them in-game again. I researched possible solutions but only read posts about the bug still being unfixed. This bothered me a lot. Then I felt even more bothered that the disappearance of my RPG family would disturb me that much.
Elliot was a unique character unlike my Fable 2 husband, whose character design was so repetitive I sent him off crying once because I accidentally asked one of his clones to bed instead. I didn’t particularly care so much about what happened with him but I cared about my dog, so when I saved my dog in Fable 2 I wound up saving my family as well. But Fable 3 was different. I saved Elliot from being executed at the beginning of the game, and then when we finally reunited I convinced him to ditch his fiance and come back with me, then proposed to him, and I set up a luxurious home in Bowerstone where we had one child. He would occasionally give me gifts, including a large portrait of himself that was worth +1500 value to home furnishings. I only had to make the simplest single-button interactions with him to keep him happy. It is one of the shallowest NPC interactions you can find in a video game, but it still bothered me that he went missing in the end.
Maybe it’s because the point of an RPG is to create an experience that is truly your own. Maybe it’s because I like things that I put time and effort into to remain there. After all, I cared enough about the game to make that extra tedious effort to save pointless NPCs in Albion. Maybe it’s because all of this is due to a ridiculous glitch that undermines a lot of what I had done during the game. It would be different if story-wise you lose your family – that is unavoidable and something the writers wanted to happen. But through a glitch? I’ll put up with the many other bugs in the Fable games: disappearing navigation trails, NPCs talking over each other, a dog that can’t walk straight. But losing your family? Never again, Lionhead.
(Originally published on Destructoid Community Blogs 2012)