The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

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The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by sear » February 7th, 2017, 12:52 pm

Today we have a message from Brian and a special treat in the form of our first extended look at Bard's Tale IV combat and exploration gameplay!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/in ... ts/1801716

And click here to get right to the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdOlts5srGM
One of the defining features of the classic Bard's Tale games was the use of exploration-focused songs and spells. This is a feature that will be returning in The Bard's Tale IV. Songs of Exploration and Adventurer's Tools were discussed in an earlier update, and can be thought of as specific puzzle-solving or traversal tools that you'll use when going through the world. This includes usable items you will collect, such as keys, torches, and more, as well as special bardic songs that you can play. The song you're seeing in the video, The Stone Remembers, allows the party to rebuild certain rune-emblazoned pieces of architecture, opening up new paths and routes.

Party Chatter

Part of our expanded CNPC system stretch goal for the game comes in the form of our party chatter system. As you explore the world, your characters will banter among themselves, offering personality-filled insights into the events you are seeing. You can also bet some of these will feed into side content, like hidden treasure or secret rooms and puzzles in the depths of our dungeons.

Combat System

This is what many of you have been waiting to see. We talked about some of our high level ideas in previous updates, specifically with respect to our grid-based system. Now you are seeing it in action. On the game HUD, you can see your party occupying 2 rows of 4 spaces each. Enemies will line up on the opposite grid with the same number of slots. The exact positioning of enemies, as well as your own party, will determine which attacks can land, and which will swing wild past their mark.

Another system you are seeing in place is opportunity. The blue and yellow gems on the HUD represent your party's and your enemy's opportunity. Opportunity is a shared resource that each side has, and it is granted each turn in combat. Unlike some other games where you will be forced to use action points for each character (or skip their turn), opportunity is a bit like a shared action point pool. The flexibility of this system means that party members can set up multi-hit combos, reposition for multiple attacks, or evade danger more effectively.

One thing that is harder to see in the video is our input queuing system. When you take an action in combat, you can begin ordering another party member before the action has played out. Although we intentionally slowed things down for the video to keep it a bit easier to follow, in practice this keeps the flow of combat moving along faster than a traditional turn-based system.

There's a lot more to talk about here, from the way elements like health, mana, and armor interact with each other, how channeling abilities and focus work, the way that temporary status boons can affect a character's functionality, or how positional tactics can let you set up more devastating damage. These open up a lot of subtle possibilities, but we'll save more of those details for future updates.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by thebruce » February 7th, 2017, 1:04 pm

I like seeing the grid-based map design, and how it's still viable and pretty in free-roaming mode. I think my reservations about the "feel" of the game will be assuaged after seeing exploration in grid-snapped mode.

The combat - I'm getting a feeling of, in so many words, ties to classic mechanics, but much more than just the difference a 'next-gen' game might display. If I were to compare the games side by side, I'd feel like saying this isn't just next-gen, it's like two or three iterations of game mechanics down the line, but with its roots in the BT ancestry. Or something like that.
It does look interesting and I'm sure it'll be fun; just hard to in good conscience convince myself "this is next-gen Bard's Tale!" I think the biggest difference may be the immedate character-by-character actions within the phase based combat, rather than defining the entire party's actions as a phase. To me that was a very BT-style combat system.

eg, there's no rolling back an attack if you're strategizing a set of multiple characters' actions, no? Strategizing takes a difference process, since you're executing each character action individually. You're thinking about lengths of actions/spells/attacks that span multiple 'rounds' (a little more tangible here in BT4 than 1-3, which is nice), but not setting up a set of party actions before executing them mixed with enemy attacks.

Thinking about it, I think that is really the only thing that's..removed? Planning the whole party's actions before executing. Everything else is pretty much more tangible depictions of everything that's happening.

Question: Will the game be playable by keyboard commands and shortcuts? Or is it graphic intense to the point of really having to use the mouse and icons to navigate the UI options?


On a purely classic-fanatical point, a hope and dream that will likely never see the light of day - I think it would be awesome to have a 'classic mode' where the 3D world is reduced to the classic viewport, with the party listed in classic form in the footer, and game text content scrolling like the originals :). All the elements seem to be there to have a classic UI mode (maybe a special easter egg) that lets you play it in retro style. :D #wishfulthinking
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Lucius » February 7th, 2017, 1:48 pm

My only input on this is regarding character attacks. They should turn back around during the actual attack animation. It looks weird for a massive slashing attack goes off but the guy is facing the wrong way! If the other characters weren't looking toward the enemies, it might be less weird, but I like that they face the enemy and we see the back of their heads, unlike traditional portrait systems. That's a nice touch. Maybe don't have selected characters turn around at all and find a different way to indicate which character is selected? At the very least, have them turn back around during the attack animation. All in all, this is a nice budget compromise between portraits and full 3d player models.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Zombra » February 7th, 2017, 1:51 pm

Brian wrote:Part of our expanded CNPC system stretch goal for the game comes in the form of our party chatter system. As you explore the world, your characters will banter among themselves, offering personality-filled insights into the events you are seeing. You can also bet some of these will feed into side content, like hidden treasure or secret rooms and puzzles in the depths of our dungeons.
Shades of Wizardry 8! This doesn't work for every game, but OK, here I am into it.
PLEASE make sure you have a wide variety of voices to choose from, and give them some personality so it's not just "bland hero 1" and "bland hero 2". Wiz8 had 36 voices to choose from. Crowdsource the acting if you have to, I know at least 5 people who would do it and I know people at three different recording studios.
Brian wrote:Obviously, this is still in development and there are things we’re not in love with yet. Namely, the characters on the HUD are still at a first pass. We will be updating their visual look and likely not have them bouncing around as they speak.
That's good, it looks weird.

I can't talk about Wizardry 8 enough it seems. Animate the portraits! It doesn't have to be super elaborate; just move their mouths and blink their eyes. It's easy, cheap and looks cute.

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This dude may not look super pro, but honestly it already looks way better than the "wiggling postcards" ... and it took me three minutes to make. You get this one free; if you want me to do more, PM me. I have done a ton of them already.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Drool » February 7th, 2017, 1:53 pm

Quick thoughts: it looks absolutely gorgeous. It doesn't, at all, feel like Bard's Tale. I have no idea how that combat is going to support big combats.

It's only a six minute video, but it looks like it'll be an amazing fantasy dungeon crawler. Kind of a pity it's trying to be a Bard's Tale game, because it doesn't look or feel like a Bard's Tale game in the slightest. I mean, I guess I'm happy that we're getting a beautiful dungeon crawler, but... but I backed Bard's Tale, so I'm really torn.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by thebruce » February 7th, 2017, 1:56 pm

Drool wrote:I'm really torn.
Echoed :|
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Lucius » February 7th, 2017, 2:11 pm

Drool wrote:Quick thoughts: it looks absolutely gorgeous. It doesn't, at all, feel like Bard's Tale. I have no idea how that combat is going to support big combats.
It won't. I hope you aren't holding out hope for that one. I'd love to see larger combats, 10-25 would be good, (100+ is not reasonable with what they are doing) but that's extremely unlikely to happen. And of course it doesn't feel like Bard's Tale. The more info released, the more that became obvious. I'm not sure if they can make a "modern" sequel and have it still feel like the BT trilogy. I believe any attempt to do so would just be a massive disappointment anyway. Better to make a great game than to try to reclaim the feeling of a 30 yr old IP. Somehow they couldn't do it with WL so trying to do so with BT seems utterly unrealistic.

Hopefully no more Kickstarted sequels of 80's and 90's games. I'm ready to see what they can do with a new IP.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Tuoweit » February 7th, 2017, 2:49 pm

Overall, looks pretty interesting!

I have one nitpick though: The first minute or so of the video, walking around in the forest, looks super blurry, especially when the camera pans around. I guess it's a combination of depth of field and motion blur, but (IMO) it's way over the top. I hope this is either a WIP thing or graphics features that can be turned off.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by balinor » February 7th, 2017, 2:49 pm

Zombra wrote: I can't talk about Wizardry 8 enough it seems. ANIMATE THE PORTRAITS. It doesn't have to be super elaborate, just move their mouths and blink their eyes. THIS IS NOT HARD.

I disagree. Static portraits are better because it is hard to tie the movement of a mouth and facial expressions to speech. Even AAA studios fail at that task frequently and the disconnect there hurts more than just having a static picture.
thebruce wrote:
Drool wrote:I'm really torn.
Echoed :|
Indeed. I actually like the look of the system in place much more than I thought I would, but it doesn't seem at all like a Bard's Tale game. I'm hoping that it will be enjoyable while the remaster when it finally comes will give me my BT fix again.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Zombra » February 7th, 2017, 3:06 pm

balinor wrote:I disagree. Static portraits are better because it is hard to tie the movement of a mouth and facial expressions to speech. Even AAA studios fail at that task frequently and the disconnect there hurts more than just having a static picture.
Million-dollar AAA lip syncing or nothing, huh? Awful to see that some people prefer nothing to something. Personally I thought it looked terrible when M&MX took a step backwards from previous games in the series. Just draw a postcard and call it a day. Oh well, entitled to your opinion and all that.

Did you ever play Wizardry 8, by the way? Did the animation ruin it for you?
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by IHaveHugeNick » February 7th, 2017, 4:15 pm

thebruce wrote:
Drool wrote:I'm really torn.
Echoed :|
Yup. Then again, what would make it look like a BT? This isn't 1980s, giving a distinct look to a 1st person game with realistic graphics is nigh impossible.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Dork Mage » February 7th, 2017, 5:30 pm

It's the game play that makes it "not BT", not the looks.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Drool » February 7th, 2017, 9:12 pm

Dork Mage wrote:It's the game play that makes it "not BT", not the looks.
And that game play doesn't support massive battles, and the battles it has are going to be extraordinarily fiddly affairs.
IHaveHugeNick wrote:Then again, what would make it look like a BT? This isn't 1980s, giving a distinct look to a 1st person game with realistic graphics is nigh impossible.
Eh. Stripping back the combat to something more abstract would certainly help.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Lord of Riva » February 7th, 2017, 10:31 pm

i really like how this looks, i dont have any nostalgia for BT1-3 though.

I wonder if you guys can keep up with the banter all the time, in general i feel this can be awesome with filling the world with live, that said i agree with Zombra i would love to see that as well, or if that isnt possible it would be sufficient if the characters didnt "pulse" like that i thought it pretty wierd.
(EDIT: after actually reading the update:
We will be updating their visual look and likely not have them bouncing around as they speak.
so there is that)

Otherwise looking good, lets hope that you guys can keep it up.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Grohal » February 7th, 2017, 11:33 pm

I like the visuals - especially the visuals of the spells. Allthough I still hope you can turn them off - I guess after the 100th time they can be a bit bothersome and clunky.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by ZZGO » February 8th, 2017, 12:14 am

On combat:
Maybe I missed something, but has it been spelled out anywhere by InXile that there won't be mega combat? I can easily see 388 more berserkers waiting beyond that 4x2 grid, ready to step over the corpses of their fallen comrades. Perhaps there should be a ninth "far behind" grid for the monsters where their reinforcements roster is.
(Edit: Re-watching the video... what about that creature that moves across the background early the the battle, then returns at the end to join the fight? Could the developers say a few words about the game/combat mechanics behind that please?)

While the combat sequence looks a bit more complicated than ye olde A A A P-4 C-NUKE C-NUKE, I suppose it can end up being equally easy to use with hotkey commands or orders like "repeat last order" while at the same time expanding the scope of possible tactics - character interactions/joint attacks, flanking, spell buffs, initiative concerns - by leaps and bounds.
A possibility would be a Zoom Out function for combat that leaves the tactical mode for a more abstract combat system that harkens back to classic BT combat but gives the player little if any opportunity to use combat tactics to his advantage. Such a simplified but quick-to-play abstract combat system would typically be used for low-level combat where you can expect to easily walk over the opposition, and where full-tactical combat would be a chore with little if any challenge or fun. That would certainly cater to the grinding aspect of Bard's Tale.
(A bit like what thebruce suggested.)

On banter:
I'm not a native speaker of English, and half of the time I had a hard time understanding what everybody said. Subtitles - preferrably in a scrollable conversation box - would be appreciated. If plot-relevant information is given through party banter or overhearing monsters then subtitles are a must.

On visuals:
Blown away. Not that visuals were an important factor in the original BT for me, but I sure have no complaints about what I'm seeing.

On exploration:
That's the most important aspect of the game, in my opinion, right next to combat. And where the most development potential lies. So far, I'm very happy about what the developers had to say.

See, in classic BT your character class and level didn't matter (much) during exploration, and was basically only important for combat - save for the few instances where you needed a Bard in your party for certain puzzles, and some spells. If not for frequent combat encounters, a party of level 1 characters could have played through the game.
I would very much like it if BT4 brought this to a next level where "wilderness proficiency" (perhaps even divided into an outdoor and an urban aspect) is another factor besides magic skill and fighting skill. Archetype character classes that spring to mind include Thieves, Hunters, and Rangers - these would have skills and powers that are more useful in exploration than combat, such as detecting and disarming traps (which never really worked well in classic BT), perception, and perhaps movement: Lock-picking skills. Perception skills. Scaling/climbing (for rock faces and trees), allowing your party to go where they otherwise couldn't. Perhaps loremasters to identify items and hints along the way, or merchant skills to pay less and sell your booty for more. Alignments or patron gods that will allow you access to some parts but give you no end of troubles in other parts. In short, please make it worthwile to have characters and skills that are not combat-oriented.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by mieu » February 8th, 2017, 12:16 am

Someone on youtube said this this
"The pop-up characters and the glib tone really breaks the feeling of immersion...also hearkens back to the "joke" version of Bard's Tale...which for OG Bard's Tale fans isn't a good thing"

I would say yes, lose the "see you Jimmy" attitude of the party and make them serious adventures, the jokes and stupid glib remarks are still fine for the imps as is their nature, and i would have the portraits more akin to Might and magic or Wizardry other than that it looks and sounds great, just need to get rid of the gufaw guffaw adventurer banter as it was more like a funny cartoon not a serious dungeon situation
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by Zombra » February 8th, 2017, 1:45 am

ZZGO wrote:Maybe I missed something, but has it been spelled out anywhere by InXile that there won't be mega combat?
They haven't made a direct statement, but at this point it's abundantly clear that 8 vs 8 is the biggest any fight is going to get. I'm thinking that maybe we'll find 99 Berserkers aggregate over the course of the entire game. ;)
ZZGO wrote:I'm not a native speaker of English, and half of the time I had a hard time understanding what everybody said. Subtitles - preferrably in a scrollable conversation box - would be appreciated. If plot-relevant information is given through party banter or overhearing monsters then subtitles are a must.
Yeah. Apparently all voice actors are required to speak with a Scottish accent heavier than a caber and thick enough to stun Nessie with. I could have lived without this, but I guess the real Skara Brae is in Scotland so they decided for BT4 to have music from Scotland and monster types from the mythology of Scotland and Scotland scenery Scotland and Scotland Scotland Scotland Scotland Scotland Scotland Scotland

ahem so I agree that subtitles are a good idea
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by balinor » February 8th, 2017, 2:11 am

Zombra wrote:
balinor wrote:I disagree. Static portraits are better because it is hard to tie the movement of a mouth and facial expressions to speech. Even AAA studios fail at that task frequently and the disconnect there hurts more than just having a static picture.
Million-dollar AAA lip syncing or nothing, huh? Awful to see that some people prefer nothing to something. Personally I thought it looked terrible when M&MX took a step backwards from previous games in the series. Just draw a postcard and call it a day. Oh well, entitled to your opinion and all that.

Did you ever play Wizardry 8, by the way? Did the animation ruin it for you?
I did play it yes and no it didn't ruin it for me, but I did find it a distraction.

You'll also note that I didn't suggest million dollar AAA lip syncing as you have implied, I actually suggested that just a static picture would be better.

I'm sure it wasn't intended that way but you came across quite hostile just because we disagree on something relatively minor.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #33: New Gameplay Video

Post by ZZGO » February 8th, 2017, 2:39 am

Zombra wrote:
ZZGO wrote:Maybe I missed something, but has it been spelled out anywhere by InXile that there won't be mega combat?
They haven't made a direct statement, but at this point it's abundantly clear that 8 vs 8 is the biggest any fight is going to get. I'm thinking that maybe we'll find 99 Berserkers aggregate over the course of the entire game. ;)
Well, there's that extra monster that joined the fight at the end. It looks to me as though you can only fight eight, or perhaps (16 minus [# of party members]), monsters on a given round, but that additional monsters can join an ongoing fight. I would very much like InXile to comment on this.

Also, in the demo the party isn't jumped in random combat but can see monsters physically moving throught the dungeon.
Question 1 - does each wandering monster represent only itself, i.e. a single monster, or can it stand for a whole party of monsters?
Question 2 - will there still be random combat encounters with unexpected opponents that you can't or didn't see beforehand, such as a group of thieves jumping the party?
Question 3 - How, if at all, is the "Sir Robin mechanic" (i.e. running away) implemented? I gather there will be dungeons with opponents way too strong for the party at the time when they can first access that dungeon. I wouldn't want to experience a full party kill every time I ventured too far, so I figure a Run Away option of some sort is a requirement.

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