The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by thebruce » December 26th, 2017, 6:10 pm

Yep, the only "sub-class" type of stuff happened in 2 and 3 (though technically Geomancer, Archmage, Chronomancer and whatnot are additional spell classes, but Geomancer might be the closest - being a minified prior class with new magic abilities). But classes were essentially static in BT1, save spell casters moving across magic classes.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by ZiN » December 27th, 2017, 3:34 am

Huh, I was expecting something along the lines of:
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- Some cool instruments, like Inferno Horn, Hornpipes of Baltasound, or Celerian Harp of Invigoration.
- Bard songs and abilities, like "Tales of the Unknown verse 4.: Falkenyne's Fury", or "The Destiny Knight stanza 2.: Rhyme of Duotime", etc.
- A selection of the finest Caithian beverages.

Ah I guess, it is Mr. Eyesworth McCloakington and Celtic orc #328 for now...

demeisen wrote:
December 22nd, 2017, 2:35 pm
Cool. Cute one-eyed monster thingy :).
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Getting there... Bonus question: Who/what was "Angra"?
Gizmo wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 1:09 pm
If there are tavern locations, I would really like to see more than a few performance skills that apply to crowds; as in performing a show for the crowd for tips... also pick-pocketing the crowd.

**If this sounds a bit much, recall that the 'Realms of Arkania' series did it. They also did haggling with vendors, and item commission that took time for the merchant to complete.
It would be cool. Attic/Guido Henkel was a genius of making superb games, but failed at marketing and crowd-funding. InXile/Brian Fargo is pretty much the opposite.
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 9:43 pm
Well, I'm the kind of person who will spend hours playing around with different builds. I'm also not the kind of person to read other people's strategy guides, because I'd rather perform my own analysis. I'm also the kind of person who will want to start over with a new party halfway through the game, if I figure out that I could've made a significantly better build.
The cool thing about Bard's Tale was, that you could always hire new adventurers in the Adventurer's Guild and bring them along, to a specific dungeon, for some heavy-duty training. The trick is keeping them alive of course, but power-levelling is very fun, especially if you've already found some cool gear for the newbie's class/build. Of course they can always add "respec" options, as well as hiring higher-level adventurers at an increased cost (PoE).
Gizmo wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 11:40 pm
Just so long as there is no re-spec option; and restarting for a different party—really means it. There is nothing so cheap and exploitive as a party who gets to suddenly change every aspect of their talents (and weaknesses) to better take on the next challenge—after having discarded the talents that enabled them to complete the previous ones.
Depends on how they handle "respeccing": For example there could be a strange contraption at the inner sanctum of Urmech in Kinestia, or an ancient recipe for an elixir hidden in one of the towers of Gelidia, etc.
Zombra wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 5:27 pm
Game balance is certainly an issue and a proliferation of party builds may make testing and balancing more difficult. Personally, weaker game balance is a price I will happily pay for a greater selection of character types.
A valid concern, especially if we take into account advanced crafting, puzzle items and such. It needs very robust itemization and in turn huge amounts of testing and balancing, which I'm afraid isn't the strong point of InXile, if we look at their previous games.
Drool wrote:
December 24th, 2017, 1:39 pm
My personal concern is balance. Yes, I know, single player games are less concerned with balance, but when it's completely ignored, you get Might & Magic X where the balance is so awful you basically have one or two build combinations that make the game relatively easy while pretty much every other combination is effectively a challenge run.
Yes, MMX was awful in that regard (among others), but to be honest balance wasn't BT's strong point either. In fact, late-game, super-powered mages are pretty much a "signature element" of BT for me.


Happy holidays, Cheers!


ps. inevitable BT classic monsters:
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Gizmo » December 27th, 2017, 10:06 am

ZiN wrote:
December 27th, 2017, 3:34 am
Depends on how they handle "respeccing": For example there could be a strange contraption at the inner sanctum of Urmech in Kinestia, or an ancient recipe for an elixir hidden in one of the towers of Gelidia, etc.
I can agree with that. 8-)

*But IMO it should not be an easy or —entirely free— full re-spec. A partial one; and/or non-repeatable, would be my preference; and not enough for the whole party to re-spec.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » December 27th, 2017, 11:37 am

ZiN wrote:
December 27th, 2017, 3:34 am
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 9:43 pm
Well, I'm the kind of person who will spend hours playing around with different builds. I'm also not the kind of person to read other people's strategy guides, because I'd rather perform my own analysis. I'm also the kind of person who will want to start over with a new party halfway through the game, if I figure out that I could've made a significantly better build.
The cool thing about Bard's Tale was, that you could always hire new adventurers in the Adventurer's Guild and bring them along, to a specific dungeon, for some heavy-duty training. The trick is keeping them alive of course, but power-levelling is very fun, especially if you've already found some cool gear for the newbie's class/build. Of course they can always add "respec" options, as well as hiring higher-level adventurers at an increased cost (PoE).
Yeah, I've logged many hours with the classic games (mostly BT1, my favorite) and it is standard operating procedure for me to return to the guild and swap out party members at different points in the game and power level the new characters. However, we are not certain that BT IV is even going to have dungeons with respawning monsters, which is pretty much a prerequisite for being able to power level new additions to a party. And, it is not even clear whether BT IV is going to allow party members to swapped out.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Drool » December 29th, 2017, 1:22 pm

Zombra wrote:
December 26th, 2017, 4:59 pm
As I remember, you had say a Hunter, and then if you levelled him up to 20 he was a level 20 Hunter like any other level 20 Hunter.
Well, as the stats were randomly given on level up, there could be differences, but outside of save-scumming, you couldn't really manipulate it.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Wintermute_of_Cof » January 2nd, 2018, 4:23 am

Gizmo wrote:
December 27th, 2017, 10:06 am
A partial one; and/or non-repeatable, would be my preference; and not enough for the whole party to re-spec.
I disagree. Artificial limits can be overcome by copying/editing the save file, but why make people do that? If you don't want to respec then it should be straightforward enough for you to simply not do it, but don't make my gameplay more awkward.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Gizmo » January 2nd, 2018, 7:59 am

Wintermute_of_Cof wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 4:23 am
I disagree. Artificial limits can be overcome by copying/editing the save file, but why make people do that? If you don't want to respec then it should be straightforward enough for you to simply not do it, but don't make my gameplay more awkward.
Because anyone interested in that can do that, but that doesn't mean that they should build it into the game. I used to hex-edit the Sage's advice in BT2 as a prank, but I'd never expect them to make the dialog optionally editable.

Re-spec means that a person lives their life from adolescence into, and beyond their adventures as an adult... but then they suddenly become a person that they never were—and might retain accomplishments that they were never capable of (logically couldn't have done). That's like a person making it through medical school, and a few years residency/ and later private practice..., and then suddenly becoming a life-long body-builder, or an acrobat/contortionist. To make it more clear, they could become a carnival performer and have no formal training for what to do when someone breaks their legs during a stunt; and yet they were once a practicing MD—but later they never were. (Having swapped out skills, and changed stats for new ones.)

And the developer would have to design their game to support this... That makes the gameplay, and even the narrative very awkward; especially for RPGs, where a game might record early choices (and achievements) to affect later outcomes—events that later might not have been possible for those characters at the time.

If someone wants a new character instead of their old one, then they should bring a new character into their party, and dismiss their old one... not selectively undo parts of them to remove skills that they no longer want or need, and to add skills that could have changed their past adventures—because they suddenly always knew them.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Zombra » January 2nd, 2018, 10:33 am

Instead of any respec option, I'd rather the designers concentrate on strong communication of what abilities do and what they are for. Instead of just making us take "wolf leap" because it sounds cool, only to find out that it's a passive maneuver that halves mana cost on fire spells, let us read the full statistical description before we select it for our character. If we choose a suboptimal combination of abilities, too late, our character already learned it.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Wintermute_of_Cof » January 2nd, 2018, 10:43 am

Gizmo wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 7:59 am
...Re-spec means that...
Re-spec usually means that you choose a different set of skills for your class, it doesn't mean you suddenly become a different class altogether.
Gizmo wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 7:59 am
And the developer would have to design their game to support this...
Many games have designed their game to support this without any issues. It's a feature some people like.
Gizmo wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 7:59 am
To make it more clear, they could become a carnival performer and have no formal training for what to do when someone breaks their legs during a stunt; and yet they were once a practicing MD—but later they never were.
Yes, they could, it's a character in a game, it doesn't have to be 'real'. If you want to impose 'real' restrictions on your characters then I have no problem with you doing that.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Zombra » January 2nd, 2018, 11:39 am

Wintermute_of_Cof wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 10:43 am
Many games have designed their game to support this without any issues. It's a feature some people like.
And some dislike. :)
Wintermute_of_Cof wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 10:43 am
It's a character in a game, it doesn't have to be 'real'.
It doesn't have to be nonsense either. I agree that gameplay is more important than realism, but it's generally best when the mechanics have some rationalization. Personally, I think respecs are bad for gameplay and plausibility.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Gizmo » January 2nd, 2018, 3:23 pm

Wintermute_of_Cof wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 10:43 am
Re-spec usually means that you choose a different set of skills for your class, it doesn't mean you suddenly become a different class altogether.
It is unlearning skills they've already learned; possibly skills they have already used. As I mentioned above, it is retroactively altering what they were capable of before, and suddenly may have never been capable of it at all. Consider a healer that saved lives for having a certain skill, and then is re-spec-ed so as to never have had that skill in the first place. Or a tracker that follows a difficult trail to their prey, but then (after re-spec-ing) never specialized in tracking—never could have followed the trail. One doesn't undo their education.
Gizmo wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 7:59 am
And the developer would have to design their game to support this...
Many games have designed their game to support this without any issues.
That's because they ignore the problem.
It's a feature some people like.
Others dislike the side-effects of this; and dislike the (limiting) narrative effects of designing a game to ignore the problem.
Gizmo wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 7:59 am
To make it more clear, they could become a carnival performer and have no formal training for what to do when someone breaks their legs during a stunt; and yet they were once a practicing MD—but later they never were.
Yes, they could, it's a character in a game, it doesn't have to be 'real'. If you want to impose 'real' restrictions on your characters then I have no problem with you doing that.
It's easy to tell the other guy to just ignore the option (that you want); and make it an issue of poor self control on their part. But effect of it is that if the option exists, then the developers design the game differently; for the worse in my experience. With a re-spec option, there is no reliable way to know the character's limits—except in the moment; not when the player can undo their past commitments. Sure... the game can ignore the narrative, and not care if the new version of the PC was ever capable of completing their past actions with their new skill-set... and of course there is no explaining them suddenly switching expertise for something they knew nothing about the day before; and forgetting what they knew the day before.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Drool » January 2nd, 2018, 5:38 pm

Zombra wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 11:39 am
Personally, I think respecs are bad for gameplay and plausibility.
Personally, I feel that most complaints about respec boil down to, "you're having fun in the wrong way!" I tend to think respec should be an option regardless, even if it's a costly one. That said, I don't consider "hours of my life" to be an acceptable cost. But I do consider it a great reason to seek a Steam refund.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Wintermute_of_Cof » January 3rd, 2018, 5:45 am

Gizmo wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 3:23 pm
But effect of it is that if the option exists, then the developers design the game differently; for the worse in my experience.
I don't see any way that you can prove that? Do you have any examples of game designs before and after respec was added?
Gizmo wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 3:23 pm
With a re-spec option, there is no reliable way to know the character's limits
I'm not sure what you're getting at here. There's no way of knowing at the game design phase what path through the skill trees any character has taken anyway, the design has to account as best it can for any path unless all progression is made linear (which would also remove the need for respec).

Let me expand a bit on what I want here: I want to have interesting choices about what skills to choose and see the impact of those choices; I want to be able to easily revisit those choices without necessarily having to repeat 20 hours of gameplay.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by thebruce » January 3rd, 2018, 6:08 am

Wintermute_of_Cof wrote:
January 3rd, 2018, 5:45 am
Let me expand a bit on what I want here: I want to have interesting choices about what skills to choose and see the impact of those choices; I want to be able to easily revisit those choices without necessarily having to repeat 20 hours of gameplay.
Honestly, that's what replaying the game is for.

But, I think the middle ground between these two arguments in about how a respec style mechanic is incorporated. On one hand, it's a 'cheat'; it's not condoned or incorporated into the game at all. That's the Bard's Tale way - the digital editing of the character data (if you know how) to change things about your character without having to do the 'work' of playing the game as intended.
On the other hand, it's an option provided by the game; but at what point? A save spot is a type of respec but for recent actions, if you want to try something differently, whether you die or you're not happy. A character recreation, effectively, is that same sort of mechanic if it's incorporated into the game. Want to try something different? Okay, just change everything about your character to your heart's desire.

From a development standpoint, if the story is heavily influenced by your character - not just choices you make but actual properties of your character, then changing that mid-game can have an effect on the story. And a storyteller doesn't want the listener to just change things they don't like willy nilly. There's a story to tell. Let the teller tell it. It's that, or it's a choose your own adventure (whether it's actions or character properties).

So IMO, it really boils down to how a respect is implemented, if at all, because that does define the type of game that's being made; it does influence developer decisions, and designer and programmer decisions.

If you want a 'cheat' app, people can make that after the fact :P If the devs want to make a flexible story and game mechanic, then an accessible respec would be feasible.

Another alternative, once you've finished the game, you can unlock the ability to jump to certain parts of the game and try things differently or use different characters. You've completed the intended experience, now the world is your sandbox. Other games do this in a way by letting you replay chapters.


IMO, leave respec out, or provide a hacker/cheat app or construction set, or let people play with the meta game stuf only after the intended experience is completed. Don't provide a standard, accessible respec in the main playthrough, at least without heavy cost.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Themadcow » January 9th, 2018, 1:33 pm

Quick comment - balance is massively overrated. Most of the best games I've played have been terribly balanced, including BT and Wizardry series. Balance lives in competitive online games and MMO's. Min maxing and cookie cutters are a cornerstone of Blobbers.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Drool » January 9th, 2018, 4:58 pm

So you're saying the absolute mess that was Might & Magic X was good?

Personally, I'm not much interested in having a bunch of classes where 90% of characters and compositions make the game nearly unplayable.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Zombra » January 9th, 2018, 8:13 pm

Themadcow wrote:
January 9th, 2018, 1:33 pm
Most of the best games I've played have been terribly balanced, including BT and Wizardry series.
Maybe, but that's not what was good about them.
Themadcow wrote:
January 9th, 2018, 1:33 pm
Min maxing and cookie cutters are a cornerstone of Blobbers.
Ugh. No thank you.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by ZiN » January 10th, 2018, 2:24 am

Class balance is one thing, there are other types, such as risk vs reward, or time investment vs reward.
For example grinding for hours, for a +1 attack is imbalanced and bad game design, as is casually acquiring superpowers and legendary artifacts in a couple of hours.
If from 100 spells / abilities 90% is useless, that is also imbalanced and boring.
The amount of gameplay time, should be balanced between combat and exploration. Too much or too little combat is bad. Not all dungeons need to be super complex, with multiple floors, but every dungeon being the same simple corridor-walking simulator is even worse. (Moreso when littered with trash-fights.)
Lastly I would like to mention the balance of scripted content vs gameplay. Cutscenes, voice-acted narratives, movies should be kept at a reasonable level, which in my opinion, is no more than ~10% of playtime, especially in the dungeon-crawler subgenre. Do anyone think that's being too generous?

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Zombra » January 10th, 2018, 3:20 am

ZiN wrote:
January 10th, 2018, 2:24 am
Lastly I would like to mention the balance of scripted content vs gameplay. Cutscenes, voice-acted narratives, movies should be kept at a reasonable level, which in my opinion, is no more than ~10% of playtime, especially in the dungeon-crawler subgenre. Do anyone think that's being too generous?
10% is way more than I would want. 4 hours of cutscenes in a 40 hour game? Geez Louise that would be awful.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by thebruce » January 10th, 2018, 6:23 am

Yep balance is a toughy. I think that's why we have so many "endless" games these days. Balance can be thrown out the window when there's no final goal. If it's really easy to get through the first 50 levels for someone, the next 50 will be harder; then harder; until that person reaches their bar. Someone else it might be 10 levels. The players determine the balance point.
In a story-driven campaign style game, balance is much more important because you want all your player base to have as similar an experience as possible (you're a storyteller) while giving them enough agency to make the game playthrough their own.
As ZiN said, there are many ways a game can work on balance.
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