Source: The latest Fable 2 developer diary posted to Lionhead Studios' Web site.
What we heard: Peter Molyneux has wanted to tell gamers when they can expect his studio's next ambitious Xbox 360 title for quite some time now. Never one to temper the lavish melodrama surrounding his titles, the celebrity designer has repeatedly hinted that his open-world fantasy role-playing game Fable 2 will be out this holiday season, saying at different times that gamers can expect to be playing it "when the leaves turn brown," or more specifically, "when the evenings draw in, and it gets a little chilly, but not very chilly at night."
That's helpful information to be sure, but not helpful enough, to say the least, for the highly anticipated follow-up to one of the original Xbox's best-selling titles. Now, Molyneux may have dropped one more hint as to when the world of Fable 2 will open for occupancy, this time not the least bit circumlocutory. Spotted by the gaming-obsessed souls that call the NeoGAF message boards home, the opening scene of the sixth Fable 2 developer diary gives a not-so-subtle hint that the game will appear on Microsoft's platform in October.
As part of the sequence, the camera first focuses on Molyneux speaking on the phone at his desk while scribbling in a notebook. The clip then cuts to a close-up of Molyneux's notebook (pictured), and among the near-illegible scrawl, the designer draws a box around the word "October."
Naturally, October jives perfectly with Molyneux's previous claims--in the fall, just as the leaves are turning due to a dip in the weather. However, several other indicators suggest the video isn't merely a red herring. Namely, a cursory glance at Microsoft Game Studios' holiday lineup reveals a gaping hole in the publisher's October window. Running down the publisher's other Xbox 360 exclusives, Silicon Knights' Too Human hits in August, with Rare's Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise planted in September. The publisher's two other major exclusives--Epic Games' Gears of War 2 and Rare's Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts--are both expected to arrive in November.
Assuming Microsoft returns with last year's strategy of releasing a top-tier Xbox 360 exclusive in every month of the vital holiday shopping season, October is the obvious window for when Fable 2 would surface. However, it should be noted that the game isn't the only announced MGS title that has yet to be given a release window. Though it has been AWOL since 2006, Remedy Entertainment's Alan Wake may be ready for prime time--an announcement that wouldn't be unsuitable for this year's E3 Media and Business Summit.
One other possibility is the yet-to-be officially dated Halo Wars from real-time strategy aficionados Ensemble Games. However, as noted by a recent post on the official Halo Wars Web site, Ensemble isn't even entirely sure the game will be available for hands-on time with the press during this E3, casting some shade of doubt on whether the game will hit its anticipated 2008 release window.
It also bears mentioning that major retailers, who are often given a jump on release dates, are in universal agreement that Fable 2 will surface sometime in October. GameStop's online database lists the game as being released on October 1, while Best Buy has a ship date of October 15 and Amazon projects October 30.
The official story: Microsoft had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Nothing official yet, but looking not bogus.