The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 13th, 2017, 4:17 pm

Myself, I used to pick three-way fights in New Reno (Fallout 2), and would re-play the Regulator fight a few times in Fallout (1). I enjoyed the fights in the SSI gold box games to be still playing them; (Currently playing Death Knights of Krynn).

But I wouldn't like just a simple " hit them, and they hit you back—until dead" lather, wash & repeat sort of system; which almost—but not quite excludes classic BT combat as-is. In a Bard's Tale style game, this could be alleviated merely by clever commentary, that doesn't overly repeat (now that there is more room to hold dialog). In a differently styled game, options... or at least pleasant (and some unpleasant) surprises to the combat; along with as many turn options as feasible; (preferably meaningful ones). I'd like fights to be losable for one thing. Losable without carefully using some of those meaningful options; and to occasional bad-luck.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 13th, 2017, 4:20 pm

Myself, I used to pick three-way fights in New Reno (Fallout 2), and would re-play the Regulator fight a few times in Fallout (1). I enjoyed the fights in the SSI gold box games enough to be still playing them; (Currently playing Death Knights of Krynn).

But I wouldn't like just a simple " hit them, and they hit you back—until dead" lather, wash & repeat sort of system; which almost—but not quite excludes classic BT combat as-is. In a Bard's Tale style game, this could be alleviated merely by clever commentary, that doesn't overly repeat (now that there is more room to hold dialog). In a differently styled game, options... or at least pleasant (and some unpleasant) surprises to the combat; along with as many turn options as feasible; (preferably meaningful ones). I'd like fights to be losable for one thing. Losable without carefully using some of those meaningful options; and to occasional bad-luck.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Drool » September 13th, 2017, 6:45 pm

Gizmo wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 6:07 pm
Drool wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 6:02 pm
See: Paul Verhoven's Starship Troopers
What's odd about that? Didn't he do Robocop? It would seem right up his alley.
He read two pages of the source material, declared it "fascist trash" and threw it away.
Gizmo wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 6:07 pm
As example: Just imagine FO3 (or 4) as it could have been...
No. I refuse. Not everything needs to tie back into your personal hobby horse.
demeisen wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 1:23 pm
To me endless repetitions of very similar tactics are what ends up "soul-crushing". What I'm hoping for is combat that's tactically deeper than BT1 was. I'm wanting a system with more meat on the bones precisely so it's not a slog of reacting almost the same way in fight after fight.
Rewatch their combat demo video. Combat is overly complex, and they make it sound like it's going to be overly complex for every fight in the entire game. I don't want to chain "combos" across four characters, juggling monsters from spot to spot and meticulously apply debuffs.

I want my bloody warrior to cleave the goblin's skull in half.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Woolfe » September 13th, 2017, 7:30 pm

Drool wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 6:45 pm
Gizmo wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 6:07 pm
Drool wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 6:02 pm
See: Paul Verhoven's Starship Troopers
What's odd about that? Didn't he do Robocop? It would seem right up his alley.
He read two pages of the source material, declared it "fascist trash" and threw it away.
Pretty much. They didn't even have powered armour for crying out loud.

But the ultimate sin

"Go Roughnecks"
"Yeah Rico's Roughnecks"

I almost left the theatre at that point. Even though I went into it knowing it would be nothing like the book.

Drool wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 6:45 pm
demeisen wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 1:23 pm
To me endless repetitions of very similar tactics are what ends up "soul-crushing". What I'm hoping for is combat that's tactically deeper than BT1 was. I'm wanting a system with more meat on the bones precisely so it's not a slog of reacting almost the same way in fight after fight.
Rewatch their combat demo video. Combat is overly complex, and they make it sound like it's going to be overly complex for every fight in the entire game. I don't want to chain "combos" across four characters, juggling monsters from spot to spot and meticulously apply debuffs.

I want my bloody warrior to cleave the goblin's skull in half.
This. Combo's and complex can be fun. But So can simple and straight forward. Don't eschew one for the other.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 13th, 2017, 7:39 pm

Woolfe wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 7:30 pm
But the ultimate sin

"Go Roughnecks"
"Yeah Rico's Roughnecks"

I almost left the theatre at that point. Even though I went into it knowing it would be nothing like the book.
I walked out of the IMAX about 20 minutes into whatever the name of that second Transformers film was. That Bay fellow (repeatedly!) makes a good example of why they shouldn't hand over franchises to people that have no clue or concern about them. Sure, he ruined it for money, and succeeded in selling it to a different audience by making it wholly unlike its original premise... Once again, it's more of the same shtick we see in the game & film industries; (making palatable fake versions of properties with previously edgy reputations, for mass-consumption, to capitalize on the name alone), and it's always the same, and always tantamount to making & selling this awful stuff:
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 13th, 2017, 9:31 pm

Drool wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 6:45 pm
demeisen wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 1:23 pm
To me endless repetitions of very similar tactics are what ends up "soul-crushing". What I'm hoping for is combat that's tactically deeper than BT1 was. I'm wanting a system with more meat on the bones precisely so it's not a slog of reacting almost the same way in fight after fight.
Rewatch their combat demo video. Combat is overly complex, and they make it sound like it's going to be overly complex for every fight in the entire game. I don't want to chain "combos" across four characters, juggling monsters from spot to spot and meticulously apply debuffs.
Agreed. It will also be interesting to see how much of the fancy stuff ends up being used in actual combat, if inXile stays the course on this aspect of their game development. Most players will find the path of least resistance to favorably resolving combats. My bet is that a lot of the stuff inXile is touting as a rich combat experience will end up getting strewn by the wayside as players quickly grow sick of slogging through those mechanics and opt to build parties which can use simpler ones, if possible. (And, if not possible, then it will be a source of a lot of critical feedback on the game - rather like overly-complicated crafting systems, in other games, that only end up boring or annoying the player.)
Drool wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 6:45 pm
I want my bloody warrior to cleave the goblin's skull in half.
Amen.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 13th, 2017, 9:48 pm

Drool wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 6:45 pm
I want my bloody warrior to cleave the goblin's skull in half.
Most certainly a plus. ;)
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 9:31 pm
Agreed. It will also be interesting to see how much of the fancy stuff ends up being used in actual combat, if inXile stays the course on this aspect of their game development. Most players will find the path of least resistance to favorably resolving combats. My bet is that a lot of the stuff inXile is touting as a rich combat experience will end up getting strewn by the wayside as players quickly grow sick of slogging through those mechanics and opt to build parties which can use simpler ones, if possible. (And, if not possible, then it will be a source of a lot of critical feedback on the game - rather like overly-complicated crafting systems, in other games, that only end up boring or annoying the player.)
I feel that this is a double edged sword... On the one side, yeah, finishing a long, but mildly pointless random encounter, only to stumble on to another a few moves later can (if the combat is rather involved, and the outcome is practically an assured victory)... get boring pretty fast, and it makes you want to skip it. On the other side, one wants a cleverly integrated combat system that is sufficiently deep, and that allows for novel use of affecting tactics; or at least the sense that your choice of actions during the fight won the battle—where you could (or truly think you could) very easily have lost had you made poor ones. The Myth series has dirt simple combat, and it's shockingly easy to lose one's entire force—with no player controlled means of replenishing lost warriors. The game is fantastic; one can play it for hours and not get bored... but it is essentially 'pick a target, and watch your soldier try to kill it'. The magic of it lay in when, and whom you chose to do the task; (and whether or not you told them to run away, with what's left of their hitpoints).

Once again, I will suggest a page from the Disciples (, and SSI's Gold-Box) series, where the combat does have an optional auto resolve (either instant, or turn-by-turn); one that comes with the understood caveat that the auto-combat AI is not that good. The reason...is don't use it unless you are willing to accept more damage, and loss of resources than had you skillfully played it out yourself. Both of the aforementioned games offer this option, and it comes in handy in the mid-to-late game; not so much in the beginning or end, where a false move can cause a death (or multiple deaths) in the party. It's something you'd use against rats.

**A useful variation on this is the ability to set specific PCs to auto-combat. This can be useful if the PC is out of ammo, and you just want them to defend themselves; or if you want your magicians to cast their area effect or sniping spells each turn—with this it would just happen while you were focusing on selecting your melee fighter's actions. Gold-Box games even let you set inventory items as available, or unavailable to the auto-combat AI.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by thebruce » September 14th, 2017, 6:08 am

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 9:31 pm
(And, if not possible, then it will be a source of a lot of critical feedback on the game - rather like overly-complicated crafting systems, in other games, that only end up boring or annoying the player.)
Or create cliques of uber-specialized players who focus on the obscure meta-game activities and master them impressively and skillfully. And the studio embraces their attention and pour love on them so much they create events around them, stick them on pedestals, broadcast competitions, and then somehow people get enamoured by it all adoring the skill those people have - rather than actually playing the game themselves...
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by demeisen » September 14th, 2017, 8:22 am

Drool wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 6:45 pm
demeisen wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 1:23 pm
To me endless repetitions of very similar tactics are what ends up "soul-crushing". What I'm hoping for is combat that's tactically deeper than BT1 was. I'm wanting a system with more meat on the bones precisely so it's not a slog of reacting almost the same way in fight after fight.
Rewatch their combat demo video. Combat is overly complex, and they make it sound like it's going to be overly complex for every fight in the entire game.
OK, I did. It's always difficult to know how it'll feel in game - a lot comes down to things we don't know from watching a very early alpha video when they're still experimenting. That said:

I agree with the narrator on much of what he was saying. They want to avoid "the same tactics fight after fight". Hard to argue with that - otherwise it ends up as a dull, mindlessly repetitive slog. "Make each combat a puzzle that will have you changing tactics to adapt to the enemy". Yep: engage my brain please, not just my fingers. Those are the games that last over time. He also mentioned "Turn based". I'm fine with that: slightly prefer TB to RTwP, and greatly prefer both of those to RT.

I also noted some "classic RPG" combat features, such as use of armor-reducing abilities before using multi-hit attacks. That kind of thing is an RPG staple. The special creature aside, combat seemed pretty quick - I'd almost want a few more rounds to it. Most of the video's clock time was in pause while the narrator talked. I assume the combat lengths will vary though, and we'll see a mix of short ones and longer ones.

I don't know how deep the tactics will really be: that depends on the ability design, and whether there really is enough to sink your teeth into. I'm satisfied with the general idea though. If they can give it some of the vibe of a Hearthstone or a MtG, those games were well received and widely acclaimed as being tons of fun with lasting appeal. I'm not going to argue they're nailing the absolute #1 top system possible which will end world hunger and bring about peace in the middle east, but ... it looks WAY more fun than AAADDD.

*Editing for typos*

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by thebruce » September 14th, 2017, 8:38 am

demeisen wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 8:22 am
I agree with the narrator on much of what he was saying. They want to avoid "the same tactics fight after fight". Hard to argue with that - otherwise it ends up as a dull, mindlessly repetitive slog.
...
it looks WAY more fun than AAADDD.
You know, I just want to address something... People keep referring to BT1-3 as mindless AAAADDD. But, to be fair, that's really only true if your characters are super-high level against the foes and you have zero worry of dying or losing anything significantly.

There was always a level of analysis of the combat situation, even if only to determine if your spellcasters have to do anything. Especially in later levels, there was always a strategic element. Melee for the most part was straightforward attack - but that's because you've already strategized your combat equipment to optimize the character's general effectiveness. Whereas spellcasters/bards/special abilities were always an element when facing foes for each and every encounter.

So, ignoring combat where you're super-advanced over the enemies (most any game will resort to basic-quick combat in that case)...
...and considering the relative simplicity of the classic combat system itself...
...relatively speaking, the combat system in BT was indeed strategically complex. But being simplistic by today's standards, it's easy to look back at it and think "AAAADDD" - but that's not what it was at the time, and so within its range of combat options, there were times of super-simplicity, and times of super-complexity.

My point: Don't make a combat system that is universally and consistently more complex. It should get to the point that if the party is overpowered compared to the foes that the encounter should be swift and simple. We don't want complexity for complexity's sake. There are times when grinding may be desired - purposefully going to lower level dungeons just to rake up XP and/or loot with quick simple encounters. Please don't make those complex!

The combat mechanic should allow for simple combat, and provide room for strategic planning when it's relevant.

(I think I'm beginning really to grow to hate that AAAADDD condesending reference to the originals' combat :P)
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by demeisen » September 14th, 2017, 9:03 am

thebruce wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 8:38 am
(I think I'm beginning really to grow to hate that AAAADDD condesending reference to the originals' combat :P)
Fair enough - it wasn't universal. I do remember an awful lot of that though: there's a reason people call it out without much fondness. I'm thinking it like 75% of all game rounds or so for my playthough, because that was the most magic-efficient thing that let you stay out the longest. Admittedly it's been eons since I played the classic ones.

Even when the groups were dangerous and I didn't open with AAADDD, there was a lot of "use magic group-attacks to winnow down the big groups and then mop up what's left with AAADDD". Some occasional buffs and debuffs too, which did add to the interest a bit, and some knowing which were the most dangerous monsters I should get rid of first.

I doubt what they're doing for BT4 will be perfect, but I do think it has the potential to be pretty fun, with satisfying variety and depth. Some of the games they mentioned as inspiration have very well received systems. IMHO it's going to come down to the details, the feel, the balance, the specific ways things mesh into a coherent system.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 14th, 2017, 9:13 am

demeisen wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 8:22 am
"Make each combat a puzzle that will have you changing tactics to adapt to the enemy". Yep: engage my brain please, not just my fingers. Those are the games that last over time.
Dungeonkeeper had many levels that seemed difficult at first, even too difficult, and the solution to the 'puzzle' was that there was often a back door through the bedrock, and once you found it—once you solved the 'puzzle', it became trivial to win... and that's every time you played from then on. So I'm concerned that a player might soon learn to recognize these (probably parameterized repeating) 'puzzles', and immediately know the how the combat will play out from beginning to end, and the next one, and the next, when they get to it.
thebruce wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 8:38 am
The combat mechanic should allow for simple combat, and provide room for strategic planning when it's relevant.

(I think I'm beginning really to grow to hate that AAAADDD condesending reference to the originals' combat :P)
Agreed; on both.
________________

I think I would want less novelty from the combatants, and have the element of change be mostly the attrition of the party (and its resources); and this is further case for needing to visit a tavern for the Bard, and daylight for spell points; but that's not meant to imply ten identical fights with the same mobs, by a dwindling party—per se... but it is partially that.
Last edited by Gizmo on September 14th, 2017, 9:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by demeisen » September 14th, 2017, 9:19 am

Gizmo wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 9:13 am
So I'm concerned that a player might soon learn to recognize these (probably parameterized repeating) 'puzzles', and immediately know the how the combat will play out from beginning to end, and the next one, and the next, when they get to it.
Good thought: I also hope that's avoided. Probably no way to know at this stage. I'm hopeful though: they've drawn inspiration from systems that have been well received among gamers as interesting and fun to play. But yeah, if it devolves to something too formulaic, that won't be fun.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 14th, 2017, 9:25 am

Disciples 3 has a bit of that problem, but on the whole I think it's a good series to examine for aspects of gameplay. It's also turn based, and essentially similar, excepting the (3D)iso perspective. Some (even weak) enemies simply for their addition to the opposing force, can radically change the difficulty of a fight in those games. Some combatants (PCs and enemies) have area effect melee attacks, others can, (or nearly) one-shot single targets, some avoid melee, but constantly replenish the enemy ranks with magic summons or healing abilities; this can block melee fighters with insignificant targets while the back rank deals out serious damage to all. Hitpoints in Disciples (PCs and enemies) can be in the tens, hundreds, or even the thousands.

The location of the fight in these games can change its handling and its difficulty, and it would be nice if that happened in BT4 as well. Biting rats may seem a nuisance, but imagine fighting a dozen of them in a brier patch; or in a mine field. Not that it applies to BT4, where combat seems to take place in one stationary location; but what if there were dense thorny underbrush in that location, and the tiny enemies received an armor bonus, and party received environmental damage for every movement they make in the thorns, and with a chance of spellcasters losing their spells due to surprise injury. (What if the party could set fire to the underbrush if they used fire spells; burning everyone equally?)

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Woolfe » September 14th, 2017, 5:02 pm

demeisen wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 8:22 am
I agree with the narrator on much of what he was saying. They want to avoid "the same tactics fight after fight". Hard to argue with that - otherwise it ends up as a dull, mindlessly repetitive slog.
I think we all agree to a degree. And Bruce argued well against that. But I want to point something out.

Right now you are saying that the AAAADDD rinse and repeat was dull and boring. Which is fair enough.

But now imagine that every AAAADDD fight with even the weakest foes, required an extra bunch of steps to actually win it. Is that better or worse?
Oh sure, you might have a funky "move that guy there so that you can blast 3 foes at once" type move, but when you are doing that same move EVERY battle with only a slight variation on positioning. Its still just as bad as AAAADDD. Worse in some ways, because it potentially takes longer.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 14th, 2017, 5:28 pm

thebruce wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 8:38 am
demeisen wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 8:22 am
I agree with the narrator on much of what he was saying. They want to avoid "the same tactics fight after fight". Hard to argue with that - otherwise it ends up as a dull, mindlessly repetitive slog.
...
it looks WAY more fun than AAADDD.
You know, I just want to address something... People keep referring to BT1-3 as mindless AAAADDD. But, to be fair, that's really only true if your characters are super-high level against the foes and you have zero worry of dying or losing anything significantly.

There was always a level of analysis of the combat situation, even if only to determine if your spellcasters have to do anything. Especially in later levels, there was always a strategic element. Melee for the most part was straightforward attack - but that's because you've already strategized your combat equipment to optimize the character's general effectiveness. Whereas spellcasters/bards/special abilities were always an element when facing foes for each and every encounter.
Yes. This.

The simplified generalization only really applies in cases where players aren't putting their parties in challenging situations. You want real adventure or not? Your choice.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 14th, 2017, 5:41 pm

demeisen wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 9:03 am
thebruce wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 8:38 am
(I think I'm beginning really to grow to hate that AAAADDD condesending reference to the originals' combat :P)
Fair enough - it wasn't universal. I do remember an awful lot of that though: there's a reason people call it out without much fondness. I'm thinking it like 75% of all game rounds or so for my playthough, because that was the most magic-efficient thing that let you stay out the longest. Admittedly it's been eons since I played the classic ones.
A trap to fall into is to assume that your party has to fight every fight, including ones that are beneath its current level of skill and equipage. For example, if you run into a pack of Wolves in the lower sewers or the catacombs of the first game, it's probably not worth your time. Yes, you'll hack it to pieces without using any magic, but the relative XP and treasure gain will be small compared to your current level, most likely. By contrast, a lot of level-appropriate fights would be quite risky without resorting to magic. People who want each and every fight to be interesting without being challenging are maybe looking for a toy more than a game.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 14th, 2017, 6:07 pm

The King's Bounty series has something to its combat that I'm not sure if it's good or bad.

It awards XP by taking into account certain statistics, or perhaps just one—which might be the number of turns it took to win, or perhaps how much damage you survived. I'm not really sure, but the upshot of it is, that if you win the fight immediately, you get almost to no XP for it. Long battles award far greater XP. And so very weak opponents cannot easily be used to level your character. It's probably damage_survived, as the number of turns could be gamed.

Another very interesting aspect of it is that your army gets tired over the course of the battle. This is indicated by a reduction in energy & motivation after as certain number of rounds. If the battle drags on too long, the player can lose due to lack of options... can't cast any spells, or use expensive special abilities; perhaps including healing. Spell Mana, and Rage (used to power some special abilities) get halved at some point, and maybe halved again later. Their regeneration rate slows down to a trickle, and ultimately stops entirely. (This does not affect the use of magic scrolls, if you have them.)

To switch games, in the Disciples series, the party (or parties) enter battle with a one or two choice items (previously equipped, and unchangeable until after the battle), It's a restriction that prevents buff spamming; you only have two to available for use. These can and often do save the party in combat by changing some aspect of how the melee plays out.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by ZiN » September 15th, 2017, 2:19 am

Drool wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 6:45 pm
Rewatch their combat demo video. Combat is overly complex, and they make it sound like it's going to be overly complex for every fight in the entire game. I don't want to chain "combos" across four characters, juggling monsters from spot to spot and meticulously apply debuffs.

I want my bloody warrior to cleave the goblin's skull in half.
As others have said: This!

Also my hunter critically shooting them in the eye, my rogue sneaking up and instakilling them, or me going "fuck this encounter" and clearing the screen with a NUKE, then going back to exploration, while chewing on a harmonic gem and listening to Bringaround Ballad.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Ether » September 15th, 2017, 4:51 am

thebruce wrote:
September 14th, 2017, 8:38 am


The combat mechanic should allow for simple combat, and provide room for strategic planning when it's relevant.

(I think I'm beginning really to grow to hate that AAAADDD condesending reference to the originals' combat :P)
:) My apologies.
I do agree that it's an oversimpification.

My interpretation - from the originals - is that there are more character classes than there are character slots, and that you have to pick and choose and deal without the perks of some of the classes, though the originals don't really go into deep exploration on it. What I'm really looking for is a further expansion on this, via character customization, a more diverse item roster, possibly few more combat commands, among others.
For example, a party geared with ice weapons and critical hit abilities, may be able to autopilot against a few Fire Giants, but may have issues against a trash mob while exploring Gelidia. And in that latter scenario, the player needs to be able figure out a way to get through that battle.

Regardless, the most obvious factor will be that, regardless of what the designers choose, is that it's designed well. Combat wasn't bad in the C64 version of BT2 because it was just AAAAHDD; it was largely because the fighters couldn't hit a dang thing once you got to the Maze of Dread. From what I gathered, the PC version of BT3 stinks because you can't cast spells due to no spell point regeneration. Now granted, those two examples I listed are bugs, but you get the idea.

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