The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration Discussion

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sear
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The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration Discussion

Post by sear » September 28th, 2016, 2:35 pm

Although we just went live with news of Wasteland 3, you didn't think that was all we had up our sleeves, did you? The Bard's Tale IV team has been very hard at work on a brand new video to share with you all! This teaser reveals more of the world of Caith, including some of the monsters and locations that you will visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylU1-_L3SrY

This new look at the game also comes with a new update from Nathan Long and David Rogers, discussing the game's exploration mechanics in an extra bit of detail.
Level Keys - One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor

Some areas won't be locked away behind an actual physical door, and you won't need a physical key to get into them. They'll just be too much for you to handle at your current level. If you walk into a new area and find that you're getting your ass handed to you by every enemy who gives you the stink-eye, that's a clue to come back later, once you've toughened up and upgraded your gear. Of course you might be a sneaky sort, able to dodge your way through enemy patrols to snag some serious swag, but you do so at your own risk. We accept no liability for any party wipes that may occur if you go around trying to punch above your weight.

David Note: This is one of the classic ways computer games keep you out of an area temporarily. The way level gating in Bard’s Tale IV differs from other RPGs is our willingness to have a pockets of high level enemies living inside low level areas. Consider them a signpost, letting you know that there are high level rewards to come back to once you're strong enough to fight your way past the gatekeepers.

And to elaborate on sneaking and patrols, in BTIV, enemies will often be found guarding various locations, walking patrol routes, or hiding in ambush. These enemies have zones of perception that show where their attention is focused, and these zones can be tip-toed around by an adventuring party with good timing, or stealthed through with the help of a sneaky rogue. If you're spotted, enemies will get the jump on you, putting you at a disadvantage. However, you can get the jump on them by attacking from behind, causing front row enemies to switch to the back row and back row enemies to switch to the front, exposing their weakest group members and putting their melee troops out of range. Ambushing in this way also guarantees your party the first turn in combat.

Tool Keys - The Right Tool For The Job

When exploring dungeons, some secret passages, shortcuts, or hidden rooms require a certain tool to enter. Sometimes it'll be a simple key or lock-pick kit. Other times it will be something rarer or more unusual. An inaccessible ledge becomes scalable only if you equip a grappling hook. A ten-foot pole sets off the traps that keep you from getting to the door at the end of a hallway. Igniting some Demon Dust blows a hole in a weakened sewer wall, revealing a new area. Once you learn what tool you need to bypass each obstacle, you'll begin to see other instances of that obstacle scattered throughout the world, and you'll know what to stock up on the next time you visit Garth's Equipment Shop.

David Note: These kinds of keys, what we're calling Adventuring Tools, are how we lock off hidden content. When visiting a vendor, we want you to think about purchasing some of these tools before delving into your next dungeon, on the chance that the reward for using them will be greater than the investment, or that it will make an otherwise difficult fight easier or entirely avoidable.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration

Post by cparker94 » September 28th, 2016, 2:58 pm

I like the video and hope things are coming along. I do have one concern from reading Update 31 though. It seems with the success of Wasteland 2, Torment, and now the Kickstarter for Wasteland 3 launching in about a week, is it possible that Bard's Tale IV isn't getting the attention from Exile as it should? Just seems to me that Exile has a lot of projects going on at the same time and could make a better product if they would spend their time and resources all on one project at a time. Sorry if my post is negative. I am just being selfish and want Bard's Tale IV to be the absolute best it can be. :D

Craig from Texas

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration

Post by chaney » September 28th, 2016, 3:47 pm

Keep the updates coming. Very excited by the content of these updates.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration

Post by sear » September 28th, 2016, 4:43 pm

cparker94 wrote:I like the video and hope things are coming along. I do have one concern from reading Update 31 though. It seems with the success of Wasteland 2, Torment, and now the Kickstarter for Wasteland 3 launching in about a week, is it possible that Bard's Tale IV isn't getting the attention from Exile as it should? Just seems to me that Exile has a lot of projects going on at the same time and could make a better product if they would spend their time and resources all on one project at a time. Sorry if my post is negative. I am just being selfish and want Bard's Tale IV to be the absolute best it can be. :D

Craig from Texas
Heya Craig,

We do understand that concern, but keep in mind we have two studios now, one in Newport Beach and another in New Orleans. Bard's Tale IV is being worked on by its own team separate from Wasteland 3. Having two studios (and thus more people) lets us increase our overall game output.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration Discussion

Post by Drool » September 28th, 2016, 5:48 pm

Some thoughts from a grognard.
We wanted there to be doors you couldn't open the first time you found them, or rivers you couldn't cross, or ruins you could see but not reach.
Just learn the lessons of M%MX which used this kind of gating poorly.
you'll know what to stock up on the next time you visit Garth's Equipment Shop.
Bard's Tale 3 Box wrote:Skara Brae is in ruins. Roscoe's Energy Emporium stands vacant. The Equipment Shoppe went under so quickly Garth was crushed.
It's nice that you want callbacks, but retconning callbacks are just annoying. At the very least, call it Garth Jr's or something.
So, there's an actual system to this, which we're calling Songs of Exploration...
Okay, this was kinda neat.
Nothing along the main storyline is hidden behind these more esoteric puzzles, but plenty of cool stuff will be. Cleverness will be rewarded.
Don't be afraid of tricky puzzles in the main quest. The spell-locked towers in Gelidia were great.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration Discussion

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 28th, 2016, 8:09 pm

A few notes:
  • Seems like there aren't going to be popup encounters, a staple of the original series, if you can sneak up on enemies or perform recon against those which might be hiding.
  • Sounds like we are being forced to rely on NPCs party members:
    Update 31 wrote:The trick is finding and learning these songs. Some will be taught to you by your companions.
  • Lore keys are fine, but hopefully some of the puzzles will require more brain power than just finding the right lore key for the right puzzle.
Also, regarding the video, the music was nice and some of the wilderness well-rendered. However, the water on the lake looked like a puddle of molten plastic and the ettin and the dragon both seemed a bit like claymation figures.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration Discussion

Post by kaiman » September 29th, 2016, 1:25 am

Great update, guys! I have to say that I do like what I read about exploration (the only bit that I don't really care for is stealth, as I usually lack the patience for that). Especially fond of the absence of level scaling and all the optional secrets and puzzles to discover. That'll make exploration fun. At least for that part of the game, it seems you are on track to meet and even surpass my hopes and expectations. All in all, my somewhat cooled interest in BTIV has just increased by a significant amount :-).
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:Also, regarding the video, the music was nice and some of the wilderness well-rendered. However, the water on the lake looked like a puddle of molten plastic and the ettin and the dragon both seemed a bit like claymation figures.
I didn't find the creatures too shabby, but the water (starting around 1:10) really did not blend in with the rest of the terrain. Don't think that'll be the final version of it, though.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration Discussion

Post by thebruce » September 29th, 2016, 8:43 am

Personally, I know I'm a broken record on this, but the icing on the exploration cake will be being able to grid-map the levels - yep, even if they are epic in scale. But one of the draws to that was not pre-knowing what's in every grid square. So if there's free exploration, I truly hope that it's not a completely literal visual interpretation of the world, and there are things only discovered by visiting specific grid/location spots. I mean, what's the fun of mapping a 10x10 field of visibly empty squares? In BT1-3 there was mystery in seeing something like the open field, and having to visit (then map) each square to not miss any secrets.
I truly hope this exploration dynamic is carried over into BT4, in some feasible, enjoyable way. :)

I think my biggest positive takeaway from this update was about the scale of the world to explore.

The creatures - seeing visual designs is really nice, but it'll be even nicer when see how they tie in to the classics (whether species, or lore connections, etc).

Stealth - agreed with noblesse. I hope that popup encounters aren't scrapped in favour of visual depiction of all in-game creatures/groups/encounters. I'm not against those, but BT was definitely not purely literal/visual combat encounters.
I do like the idea of seeing/knowing where an enemy is and being able to strategize an optimal method of approach that can provide combat benefits. I suppose in my mind I can see how that mechanic could have been employed in the classic series (which really only got Rogue shadows ability, but could also have allowed approaching a square from 'behind' to gain advantage on a static encounter, for example).

All in all, I like the ideas being worked on. Just please don't lose sight of the classic mechanics (entirely).
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration Discussion

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 29th, 2016, 8:15 pm

thebruce wrote:So if there's free exploration, I truly hope that it's not a completely literal visual interpretation of the world, and there are things only discovered by visiting specific grid/location spots. I mean, what's the fun of mapping a 10x10 field of visibly empty squares? In BT1-3 there was mystery in seeing something like the open field, and having to visit (then map) each square to not miss any secrets.
A very good point. Popup encounters aside, I hope that there would be opportunities for stumbling on traps, light reduction zones, anti-magic zones, etc... without visual indicators (even if a spell like SOSI is up). And, of course, it wouldn't really be Bard's Tale if there weren't messages scrawled on the walls - wouldn't want those to be given away at a distance either. Want to fully incentivize the exploration of all squares. If a square has "something special", then you really shouldn't know what that "something special" is until you're in the square.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration Discussion

Post by Lucius » September 30th, 2016, 3:47 pm

The video looks amazing. Hope the gameplay turns out just as amazing as the visuals. Also, while I know these look to be giant open-world spaces, I know they won't be. I hope the world feels as big as it looks.

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