The developers behind "Fable II" tried letting players whistle to their dog -- but dropped the feature.
Gamers who played last fall's Xbox 360 hit "Fable II" were supposed to feel an emotional connection to the virtual canine that faithfully followed their hero throughout the game.
The dog was mostly self-sufficient -- following, leading and fighting on its own -- though it did do tricks with the press of a button.
What if players could talk to that dog?
After all, gamers could call and command their puppies in Nintendo's "Nintendogs" portable game. And console games from "SOCOM" to "EndWar" have enabled players to use a headset to instruct other characters in those military adventures.
The "Fable II" developers tried to make some microphone interaction work.
"We did test it out," Lionhead founder Peter Molyneux told me in an interview last week. "Whistling to the dog with the microphone was one of the features that we dropped."
Molyneux said the voice-activation felt more like a "gimmick" and instead of true gameplay.
While it's hard to argue with a developer who has tested something that you haven't, it seems that the "Nintendogs" and "EndWar" executions did allow players to have more intimate connections with the characters at whom they addressed their speech.
Perhaps the difference is between Lionhead testing a whistling mechanic and integrating the speech recognition in the other two games. "Nintendogs" memorizes vocal prompts that are tied to specific tricks. "EndWar" interprets the delivery of a set list of vocabulary words.
Room for more testing in a "Fable 3?