The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by phimseto » May 2nd, 2017, 7:42 am

demeisen wrote:
May 2nd, 2017, 7:31 am
Zombra wrote:
May 1st, 2017, 11:24 pm
I did like the original concept with the party fully rendered:
Oh, I'd never seen that. I like it.

Strange it was going to be expensive: I'd think that after making 3D models for all the creatures and the environment, a few character models would be a very small increment.
First thing you learn hanging out with developers is that nothing is ever "very small" when it comes to creating or implementing game assets. :-D That's not a comment on the specific issue above, but game development generally. Any time you have to create something new, it's an investment and it has a ripple effect across the production.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by Zombra » May 2nd, 2017, 10:11 am

demeisen wrote:
May 2nd, 2017, 7:31 am
Zombra wrote:
May 1st, 2017, 11:24 pm
I did like the original concept with the party fully rendered:
Strange it was going to be expensive: I'd think that after making 3D models for all the creatures and the environment, a few character models would be a very small increment.
Well, bear in mind that they wouldn't want to just make 6 player character models and call it good. They'd probably want to have some customization, hair color and interchangeable faces, plus if you put on a viking helmet the player is going to want to see that too. To do it right would indeed be resource intensive.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by Crosmando » May 2nd, 2017, 11:27 am

Honestly, the advantage of blobber RPGs is that they can be created quickly and cheaply because of the abstract elements; no need to create models and animations for party members, including race/gender specific clothing and armor etc etc. Why throw away those advantages for something that won't be seen that often? I think the better choice would be to instead spend limited resources on more dungeons/bigger world etc.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by Zombra » May 2nd, 2017, 2:26 pm

I don't disagree, Cros. On a personal note, I always want in-game character customization when I can get it. But it's fine with me if it's a cheap 2D paper doll - even something like this will satisfy me :)
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by lefty1117 » May 2nd, 2017, 4:55 pm

Why not the best of both worlds? Show character portraits on the left side, or down below, to be used for interactions, and the game world is rendered in a frame. Similar to say, Baldur's Gate or Pillars of Eternity in terms of the UI layout, but of course the game world is rendered in first person view. During combat, add the backs of the characters facing the targets lined in their positioning within the view frame. When you click a portrait, it highlights the character in the view frame. etc.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » May 2nd, 2017, 5:28 pm

Crosmando wrote:
May 2nd, 2017, 11:27 am
Honestly, the advantage of blobber RPGs is that they can be created quickly and cheaply because of the abstract elements; no need to create models and animations for party members, including race/gender specific clothing and armor etc etc. Why throw away those advantages for something that won't be seen that often? I think the better choice would be to instead spend limited resources on more dungeons/bigger world etc.
Yes - agreed. I would certainly be fine with nice, generic 2D animated portraits.
Crosmando wrote:Sounds good but the reference to combat as a "puzzle" made me cringe a bit. I hope that the game still has feats/perks or whatever which allow players to build a more traditional "tank and spank" party with super-armored HP sponges at the front and glass cannons at the rear, without having to engage in some of the stuff in that video (like characters swapping places during combat).
Agreed again. While combat was a part of the original series, it was never really some intricate dance full of deep options. I sometimes like deep tactical combat, but not in a Bard's Tale game, where the focus is more on the general adventure and puzzle-solving.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by Lucius » May 2nd, 2017, 5:43 pm

Zombra wrote:
May 1st, 2017, 11:24 pm
demeisen wrote:
May 1st, 2017, 9:18 pm
Possible idea: the monsters are apparently first class residents of the environment. Perhaps the player's party members could become so as well at the start of combat, while moving on the same combat grid they do now.
I did like the original concept with the party fully rendered:

Image

... but for one reason or another (budget?) they decided not to go in this direction. So, OK, make the party UI only, fine. Perhaps make the divide clearer.
This. Though I do realize I'm one of all of 2 people on this forum that supported this. And budget and all.

Edit: 3 people apparently

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by thebruce » May 2nd, 2017, 7:52 pm

To be honest, as I mentioned elsewhere, I don't mind if the game is capable of that level of literal..ness. But it has to be able to play as close to the classics as possible - that is, if there is an option to not do 3d in-game rendering of combat and characters, and choose to interact in quick keyboard shortcuts for zippy dungeon crawly combat, then I'd be ecstatic! I'm sure there would be times when I'd turn on the prettiness and sit back and enjoy, but when I'm dungeon crawling, I really want to be able (key) to have quick simplistic combat, with occasional strategic encounters and special events. I'm all for pretty graphics, but in BT4, I'd be much more satisfied if the focus is on the BT style with the added bonus of improved features.

hm, perhaps consider how Halo remastered allowed the player to swap between the original graphics and the updated graphics, while playing live in game. Not that I'm advocating that specifically, but MS understood the value of keeping the nostalgia for the people who preferred it, while still providing an updated experience.
Similarly, if BT4 has super-boosted graphics and art, that is wonderful, but as the 4th installment, it really should retain some semblance of classic gameplay. So, if it is at all possible to still play the game effectively with the same mechanics but without all the frilly extras, that would be wonderful.

Already mentioned in the video was the ability to speed through action animations as they're queued up, not force-watched. I take that to mean that if you do speed through and there's an overlap or conflict then the previous animation will stop/skip instead of halt input or do weird things. That's a good thing :)
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by Gizmo » May 2nd, 2017, 9:06 pm

Zombra wrote:
May 2nd, 2017, 2:26 pm
I don't disagree, Cros. On a personal note, I always want in-game character customization when I can get it. But it's fine with me if it's a cheap 2D paper doll - even something like this will satisfy me :)
Pool of Radiance, as well as Blood & Magic (the first licensed D&D RTS title, both had 2D composite PC portraits... Precursors to 3D model avatars like the ones seen in Wasteland 2 (for instance). They allowed for user customized portraits, without the need for processed 3rd party image files.

Image Image Image

It could be nice if similar were done for BT4; and not necessarily done in 3D, [or entailing dozens of 3D costume props]

*I am assuming that the inclusion of voiced PCs [ :| ] mean that whatever the choice, the characters still talk the same.
Last edited by Gizmo on May 2nd, 2017, 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by Drool » May 2nd, 2017, 9:20 pm

Crosmando wrote:
May 2nd, 2017, 11:27 am
Honestly, the advantage of blobber RPGs is that they can be created quickly and cheaply because of the abstract elements; no need to create models and animations for party members, including race/gender specific clothing and armor etc etc. Why throw away those advantages for something that won't be seen that often? I think the better choice would be to instead spend limited resources on more dungeons/bigger world etc.
Yeah. Frankly, a Might & Magic style portrait would be just fine. Especially with facial differences for sick, poisoned, drunk, etc.

Would also solve the "who's talking" issue. Just have the portrait increase in size, say, 20% when they're talking. No need to animate mouths. Even though I, alone, would miss the bouncing.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by Crosmando » May 3rd, 2017, 4:10 am

Agreed. Two portraits (male/female) for every race, with variations for status effects, would be fine imo. Having mouth movement and blinking also wouldn't hurt.
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
May 2nd, 2017, 5:28 pm
Agreed again. While combat was a part of the original series, it was never really some intricate dance full of deep options. I sometimes like deep tactical combat, but not in a Bard's Tale game, where the focus is more on the general adventure and puzzle-solving.
Really? I mean, if it can be done, what's the harm in making the combat and character system more complex? I seriously doubt that the original BT devs actually intentionally set out to make a "simple RPG", it was just a matter of what could be done with limited time and money and what the technology of the time allowed. Early Wizardry went completely for complex systems and the comprimise was that it had simple wireframe graphics, while BT had music and great graphics but more simple systems.

I mean we don't need to make that comprimise anymore, so why not both?
Last edited by Crosmando on May 3rd, 2017, 6:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by Gizmo » May 3rd, 2017, 5:54 am

It's kind of amazing to realize that those early games were designed for computer systems that are now technologically surpassed by greeting cards.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by thebruce » May 3rd, 2017, 6:07 am

It's also amazing how much power and capability was drawn out by coders and artist in the old Demo Scene. They could probably find a way to make a greeting card dance and transform into a singing telegram.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by demeisen » May 3rd, 2017, 9:03 am

Crosmando wrote:
May 3rd, 2017, 4:10 am
Really? I mean, if it can be done, what's the harm in making the combat and character system more complex? I seriously doubt that the original BT devs actually intentionally set out to make a "simple RPG", it was just a matter of what could be done with limited time and money
I agree... BT1 was a product of 1985, probably written around 83-4. I had played some earlier CRPGs such as Temple of Apshai and similar ones (late 70's) which were much more limited due to constraints of their era. Then BT1 came along and pushed the envelope about as far as it could in its era, and it was a huge step above the 70's CRPG pack. I loved that game, and have fond recollections of late nights playing it instead of doing physics home work :lol:. Even with that nostalgia though, I am not pining for an exact return to its combat system, which I don't think has aged well. I'd much rather BT4 adopt the spirit, but not be a slave to the details. So, more tactical complexity, more variety from one combat to the next, exactly the things they're talking about. A little bit of MtG vibe wouldn't hurt - not exactly, but a bit of that tactical feel. Mostly, I want it to engage my brain, not just my fingers. Way too many games only want to engage my fingers.

I think developers making remakes of classic games always have a hard job, because people have such different hopes for it. They can't please everyone. IMHO, the best approach is to be true to their own vision. Sometimes that results in games I like, and sometimes in ones I don't, but in the big picture I'm happier with 10 indie or small-studio RPGs of which I like 3, than with 10 more soulless AAA-studio CRPGs of which I like zero. I figure either I'll like how BT4 combat works (most likely), or maybe I won't, but either way I'm happy it's getting made.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by thebruce » May 3rd, 2017, 12:37 pm

Again, elements like tactical complexity (game mechanics) and variety aren't inherent to limited technical capability. Noted by the fact that plenty of games exist today with mechanics that are simplistic in concept, and yet they are fun (to those who find them fun of course). Technical capability affects things like graphical fidelity, detail, active calculations requiring CPU processing power, etc. A turn-based system's gameplay mechanics should really, truly, not have technology as the primary limiting factor. (yes it still can be, but far from enough of an argument for some game mechanic preferences expressed).

Or to put it another way, just because technology now can do things that couldn't be done before, doesn't mean complexity should be added merely because it can. But it certainly is a tightrope walk trying to decide what to "update" and what to keep, what is limited by technology and what is a conceptual design mechanic.

RPGs are wonderful in that fundamentally, the game is not based on maximizing technical features. RPGs, being inherently fantasy, mean imagination is the primary design factor, and how players are able to interact with the conceptualized game world. In there, we have many genres and styles of gameplay to attract various types of gamers. And my argument is that the core gameplay mechanic of the Bard's Tale classics is for the most part not a style limited by technology. But it is a gameplay preference that is 'old' in that many other styles have come and gone and stuck around, so it's outdated in that it's temporally 'old', but it's certainly not obsolete (the gameplay style, not the graphics and engine - that is certainly technologically out of date :P)

We point again to Hearthstone (a name Brian Fargo tossed around at the launch of the kickstarter as an inspiration) which is card-based. The game mechanics are ridiculously simple. But it's fun. It's not about technological ability to make a fun game. The structures are there and designed in such a way that technology enhances the experience without altering the gameplay. BT4 should be just that - find out what the "Bard's Tale style" gameplay is, have that as the basis/inspiration for whatever is added/altered, and improved technology should enhance that experience, but not change it.

To this update - I saw that happening in the area of combat mechanics. Still pretty divergent from the classics, but less-so than the previous announcement. So I was pleased :)
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by Zombra » May 3rd, 2017, 1:14 pm

Nice post, thebruce. I was getting ready to argue for a minute, but you're right. The first principle of a good RPG should be to fire the imagination, to entice the player to participate, to treat him as a co-author. This can mean great graphics and whatnot to make him feel like he's "really there" ... but this is secondary and only desirable if it isn't limiting.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by demeisen » May 3rd, 2017, 5:14 pm

But it is a gameplay preference that is 'old' in that many other styles have come and gone and stuck around, so it's outdated in that it's temporally 'old', but it's certainly not obsolete (the gameplay style, not the graphics and engine - that is certainly technologically out of date :P)
...
Still pretty divergent from the classics, but less-so than the previous announcement. So I was pleased :)
Hehe - we may hold different views of the BT1 combat mechanics :D . Personally I don't see its combat as something to aspire to in a modern game... and I say that with a lot of love for the originals, not meaning that in any way as a slight. Still, many things that were acceptable by 1985 standards would be a pretty hard sell in 2017 (outside a small number of folks looking for a near-reskin), and for good reasons. The BT1 mechanics were quite flawed. They were highly repetitive (AAADDD...), the combat design was excessively simple (1 dimensional, etc), and the enemies felt more like fighting a random number generator than an intelligent, reacting opponent (they couldn't afford much AI on an 8 bit machine with a few tens of kilobytes of RAM). It was as good as anything was at the time, but nostalgia aside, I don't see it as a particularly great system in absolute terms.

I do think some of its choices were good ones though, such as turn or phase based instead of real time. Overall, my vote is definitely aligned with the things they've been saying around making something deeper, more tactically complex, with more variety.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » May 3rd, 2017, 5:38 pm

Crosmando wrote:
May 3rd, 2017, 4:10 am
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
May 2nd, 2017, 5:28 pm
Agreed again. While combat was a part of the original series, it was never really some intricate dance full of deep options. I sometimes like deep tactical combat, but not in a Bard's Tale game, where the focus is more on the general adventure and puzzle-solving.
Really? I mean, if it can be done, what's the harm in making the combat and character system more complex?
A few points:
  • Complexity is not the same as variety. Variety can enhance a gaming experience with care given to game balance and thematic appropriateness. Complexity is much more dangerous beast: it is harder to balance from a game design perspective and harder to engage the player in the longer term, because it possibly mandates a higher level of activity to achieve a particular outcome. If the amount of reward the player feels from attempting a particular activity isn't sufficiently high, then motivation to perform that activity is likely to decrease over time, especially once the novelty wears off.
  • I'm not adamantly against extending the combat or character system, but I do believe that the original series should be the baseline for this. inXile should get the stuff from the original series right before attempting to be fancy.
  • By invoking more involved combat, there is the risk of removing some focus from other traditional elements of the game. A lot of the original was wandering around, exploring and solving puzzles, punctuated by brief interludes of combat.
Crosmando wrote:
May 3rd, 2017, 4:10 am
I mean we don't need to make that comprimise anymore, so why not both?
Just because something can be done, doesn't mean that it should be done. I would not suppose that adding more complexity is necessarily a positive. Just because developers may have been limited by certain technological constraints, which have now been unfettered, doesn't mean that the originals didn't have a character or spirit to them that isn't worth preserving in their alleged sequel.
Last edited by _noblesse_oblige_ on May 3rd, 2017, 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » May 3rd, 2017, 5:48 pm

demeisen wrote:
May 3rd, 2017, 9:03 am
Then BT1 came along and pushed the envelope about as far as it could in its era, and it was a huge step above the 70's CRPG pack.
I certainly agree that BT1 pushed the envelope in the mid-80's. But, just because it was in the vanguard of technological innovation in that era, does not mean that its continued drawing power among fans to this day is due to what it achieved back then. Whether that character derived from designers and programmers working within technological limitations does not matter - what matters is that the games had a certain character or essence, and at least some of us would like to see that essence captured in the new game, which bears the same name.
demeisen wrote:
May 3rd, 2017, 9:03 am
I'd much rather BT4 adopt the spirit, but not be a slave to the details.
I would rather see BT4 closely match the originals in terms of mechanics, at first, as that can help recapture the essence of the originals. Then, if inXile shows that it can do that, I would be more amenable to it trying some new things.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 35: Combat Commentary & Brian DiDomenico Joins the Team

Post by thebruce » May 3rd, 2017, 7:22 pm

demeisen wrote:
May 3rd, 2017, 5:14 pm
Hehe - we may hold different views of the BT1 combat mechanics :D .
It appears so :ugeek: :D
demeisen wrote:
May 3rd, 2017, 5:14 pm
Personally I don't see its combat as something to aspire to in a modern game... and I say that with a lot of love for the originals, not meaning that in any way as a slight. Still, many things that were acceptable by 1985 standards would be a pretty hard sell in 2017 (outside a small number of folks looking for a near-reskin), and for good reasons. The BT1 mechanics were quite flawed. They were highly repetitive (AAADDD...), the combat design was excessively simple (1 dimensional, etc), and the enemies felt more like fighting a random number generator than an intelligent, reacting opponent (they couldn't afford much AI on an 8 bit machine with a few tens of kilobytes of RAM). It was as good as anything was at the time, but nostalgia aside, I don't see it as a particularly great system in absolute terms.

I do think some of its choices were good ones though, such as turn or phase based instead of real time. Overall, my vote is definitely aligned with the things they've been saying around making something deeper, more tactically complex, with more variety.
To be clear, as I've said in previous comments, I'm not advocating for AAAADDD mechanics. What I'm advocating for is a mechanic that is keyboard-friendly (most graphic-heavy RPGs are more mouse-oriented, making gameplay slower, or causing a UI overload to bring immediacy to most every common action/command) - that doesn't have anything to do with technological advancement; also for the structure of combat encounters - not necessarily single-dimension combat reports and 1D strategic offense/defense, but the layout of the party/opponent phases and how attacks, defenses, and special abilities play out - again technology is irrelevant there; also for methodology in how the world is traversed and explored - full 3D immersion in a literal environment is certainly not required for a good game, and is a great example of 'just because we can doesn't mean we should'. There were benefits to grid-based maps and movement that had nothing to do with technology (such as mentioned numerous times, puzzle design, player exploration agency with hand mapping, etc).

There's certainly no reason that graphics have to be 'out dated' with a grid design philosophy or certain combat and exploration mechanics, but it's the difference between technology leading the design mentality, and game design being enhanced by advanced technologies.

Get the core game mechanic theme down first, then find out how graphics and sound and complexity can enhance all that without fundamentally altering it. Own the style. An independent title has more room to create a unique style; a sequel has a history, a brand, an existing theme to draw from. And usually the mere fact that there is a sequel means there's something about the brand that was done right. Identify that ingredient, and implement that, first.
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