Lionhead Studios, best known for the Fable series, might not be creating games anymore but they’re still keeping us entertained with wild stories from when they were.
The most recent story has come from community manager Sam van Tilburgh, who revealed at a BAFTA function that he and his team tracked down a teenage “troll” who had obtained Fable development secrets and threatened to tell his mum what he was up to.
According to the BBC (opens in new tab), van Tilburgh told the audience that back in 2003, before the studio had been sold to Microsoft, a group of trolls known as Kibitz “managed to get their hands on some screenshots” from the in-development Fable.
He said that one of the screenshots they’d gotten a hold of depicted “the hero of Fable stabbing a little kid through the head which was “never meant to be released for obvious reasons”, as well as other materials “unannounced to this day.”
The group posted some of the images to Lionhead’s own forums, threatening the community team that they’d release them. Unfortunately for the trolls, the Lionhead staff had access to the IP address of the person who had uploaded them to the forum which allowed them to trace the poster back to a physical location.
The troll happened to be a 16 year old, and the Lionhead team got a hold of his school records “through a mate” which included a poem the boy had recited in class.
Van Tilburgh went on to say: “We wrote a public message as Lionhead Studios to the group Kibitz and we started the message with the opening lines of the poem he had recited in high school, and we included the landmark he could see from his house where he lived.
“And I said, 'You have got to stop this now otherwise I pass all this information onto your mum.'”
It was a risky move that could have seriously backfired and the team didn’t tell the Lionhead legal department until after they’d done it. Fortunately for them, the risk paid off and van Tilburgh said the culprit “kept quiet” and “was a very polite boy after that.”
It seems apt that the creators of the fantastical Fable would have taken part in some real-life troll hunting.