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

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

Post by sear » December 22nd, 2017, 1:41 pm

Hi all,

In this holiday Bard's Tale IV backer update, we give you a status update on development, a look at things we'll be showing you early next year, a second vote towards the next archetype we detail, and some new screenshots and wallpapers!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/in ... ts/2073616

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Season's Greetings, citizens of Caith! Chris Keenan, VP of Development, here to provide a status update on the production of The Bard’s Tale IV. As you have seen in our previous updates featuring puzzle weapons, grid based movement, classes, etc., the Bard's Tale is hitting and passing a major critical milestone of all features and sub-features being completed and implemented into the game. Most of the elements of the game are built and where they need to be.

Now we are at the fun part of getting a feel for the game in its entirety, and most importantly in 2018 we are upping our QA efforts to minimize all blocker bugs, hangs, and crashes. We are proud to say that we wanted to get all community backer content into the game as soon as possible, and have been aggressively tackling everything from backer items, to item descriptions, to modeling our barfly heads! This also includes our stretch goal promises, and we continue to deliver those items as production rolls along. Furthermore, to our other backer promises, key team members are now focused designing our physical goods. Paul Marzagalli has done excellent job of collecting everyone’s information and bridging the gap of backers’ requests with our production team. One example of your fellow design backers is Scott Brown aka “Scorcherer”, who has backed several inXile’s projects including The Bard’s Tale IV. In this game, Scorcherer is an informative ghost NPC in the world of Caith.

Here is small quote from Scott Brown about his "Design a NPC" character:

“It was really fun working with Paul and the Bard’s Tale team to create my NPC Scorcherer. While I used that name for characters that I built in other crowdfunded games, this was a coming home party in a way – Scorcherer was the name of my main character when I played the original Bard’s Tale games as a kid. I decided what was most important to me was that it was actually my old character here to pass along his wisdom to the new adventurers of Skara Brae and I let the team choose what fit best. We had a few conversations and they came up with the idea of him being a ghost, which I think is truly fantastic. Now Scorcherer will live for eternity!"

I am very excited about these upcoming months. This is the best part of game development: furthering the “fun factor." We have all our puzzle systems in, we're polishing the core combat loop, we've turned a corner, and now we're just playing the game and making it more fun. Lastly, with this year-end update, the team wanted to provide some new "stocking stuffers", give a look ahead to what you can expect for both backer updates and the game itself, and to get all of you as excited about 2018 as we are!

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season!

Chris Keenan
VP of Development
You can check the link above for all the details!

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

Post by Zombra » December 22nd, 2017, 2:22 pm

Nice update. Wow! Six subclasses for the Bard, this is madness. Looking forward to the detail updates.

I'm interested in the different subs for every main class, but I voted Rogue next because I'm interested to see what the subtypes mean as they may have a major impact on party building. Traditionally in dungeon crawling games, rogues and thieves have a very specific role: noncombat environmental skills such as lockpicking and trap detection. Will the party be able to open chests without a Rogue? If so, why would I need a Rogue? If not, will I be "forced" to recruit one? Will some subtypes (e.g. the "Locksmith", the "Burglar") be good at this specialty while others (e.g. the "Robber", the "Con Man") are terrible at it?
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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 22nd, 2017, 2:32 pm

Six Bard classes....

The description of the Jester seems more like what I would expect of a Rogue. Given the breadth of this archetype, I wonder how much overlap we'll see with classes in the other archetypes. I could see some overlap with Practitioner as well.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by demeisen » December 22nd, 2017, 2:35 pm

Cool. Cute one-eyed monster thingy :).

That second screenshot is pretty nice: the peaked-roof buildings certainly evoke the BT1 building style.

I'm liking the class archetype idea. Seems like it'll add to replayability, too.

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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 23rd, 2017, 10:15 am

The only thing I'm concerned about with regards to classes is the overload. There are SO many with all the sub-classes, and if they're all somewhat exclusive, that's very different than the handful of vastly different classes from the classics. In the other thread it was mentioned, how much overlap will there be between the classes? Or exclusive and unique will the subclasses within an archetype be, and will there be some practical overlap in skills across archetypes?
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Zombra » December 23rd, 2017, 11:24 am

thebruce wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 10:15 am
The only thing I'm concerned about with regards to classes is the overload. There are SO many with all the sub-classes, and if they're all somewhat exclusive, that's very different than the handful of vastly different classes from the classics.
I am usually sympathetic to "make it like the classics as much as possible", but having many different ways to assemble a viable party is fundamentally good for any RPG. Please don't step on build choices.
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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 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.

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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 23rd, 2017, 5:11 pm

Zombra wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 11:24 am
thebruce wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 10:15 am
The only thing I'm concerned about with regards to classes is the overload. There are SO many with all the sub-classes, and if they're all somewhat exclusive, that's very different than the handful of vastly different classes from the classics.
I am usually sympathetic to "make it like the classics as much as possible", but having many different ways to assemble a viable party is fundamentally good for any RPG. Please don't step on build choices.
The classics would have served as a good starting point, rather than coming up with this archetype-class, class-subclass, or class-specialization system, whatever you want to call it. I am all for variety, but it does make balance more difficult. (Not saying the classics were all that balanced in some respects, but we at least know where the issues are rather than creating new issues that may not become apparent until later.) The more classes to choose from, the more likely that there will end up being some classes that are better than others overall. Maybe some people will take that in stride from a role-playing perspective, but building characters is often one of the funner aspects of RPGs and the availability of known inferior choices can dampen that some.

My concern has more to do with overlap across archetypes than overload. If the Bard: Jester ends up being almost identical to the Rogue: <X>, then that cheapens to apparent variety.

Also, calling potions magical booze doesn't do much for me (Brew Master <-> Alchemist); it evokes the 2004 game more than the classics, imo.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Zombra » December 23rd, 2017, 5:27 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 5:11 pm
The more classes to choose from, the more likely that there will end up being some classes that are better than others overall. Maybe some people will take that in stride from a role-playing perspective, but building characters is often one of the funner aspects of RPGs and the availability of known inferior choices can dampen that some.
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.

As for "known inferior choices", my solution is simple: don't read guides. That may sound glib, but I'm being sincere - it works. If you don't take an Assassin, you'll never know he's 15% more efficient than a Jester unless someone tells you. Meanwhile, you can beat the game with your Jester and enjoy it the whole time. Obviously if balance is truly horrible you may end up with a completely unviable build, but I doubt there's any chance inXile would let that out the door.
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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 23rd, 2017, 5:35 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 5:11 pm
Also, calling potions magical booze doesn't do much for me (Brew Master <-> Alchemist); it evokes the 2004 game more than the classics, imo.
Agreed; but this is probably deliberate, don't you think? (Marketing hook)
Zombra wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 5:27 pm
As for "known inferior choices", my solution is simple: don't read guides. That may sound glib, but I'm being sincere - it works. If you don't take an Assassin, you'll never know he's 15% more efficient than a Jester unless someone tells you.
Imagine if the Bard was strictly an NPC... Kind of like a fellow who trots along behind the party singing—"Brave Sir Robin"; no control of which Bard the player gets. :lol: Just a needy NPC; and a requirement to have one's exploits count... IE. to become public knowledge; a song, or it didn't happen. **Even an XP penalty if you didn't bring the Bard back alive; (to sing about it). :twisted:

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

Post by Zombra » December 23rd, 2017, 5:45 pm

Gizmo wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 5:35 pm
Imagine if the Bard was strictly an NPC... Kind of like a fellow who trots along behind the party singing—"Brave Sir Robin"; no control of which Bard the player gets. :lol: Just a needy NPC; and a requirement to have one's exploits count... IE. to become public knowledge; a song, or it didn't happen. **Even an XP penalty if you didn't bring the Bard back alive. :twisted:
XP bonus for keeping the Bard alive is obvious. Think about a guy training in a quiet room. Now think about a guy training to "Eye of the Tiger". Which one's gonna win the fight?
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by demeisen » December 23rd, 2017, 7:13 pm

Zombra wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 5:45 pm
Think about a guy training in a quiet room. Now think about a guy training to "Eye of the Tiger". Which one's gonna win the fight?
The first one, because one belting out Eye of the Tiger is gonna get backstabbed by his own party members before getting anywhere near his first combat. :lol:


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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 23rd, 2017, 9:43 pm

Zombra wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 5:27 pm
As for "known inferior choices", my solution is simple: don't read guides. That may sound glib, but I'm being sincere - it works. If you don't take an Assassin, you'll never know he's 15% more efficient than a Jester unless someone tells you. Meanwhile, you can beat the game with your Jester and enjoy it the whole time. Obviously if balance is truly horrible you may end up with a completely unviable build, but I doubt there's any chance inXile would let that out the door.
:)

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. While I hope there won't be any completely unviable builds, I'm mostly hoping I won't be in a situation where I have to figure out that the Assassin is 15% more efficient than the Jester either, especially when I'm halfway through the game. Some people can role-play their way through that situation, but I know it will chafe at me too much.
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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 23rd, 2017, 11:40 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 9:43 pm
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.
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.

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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 24th, 2017, 1:39 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 5:11 pm
My concern has more to do with overlap across archetypes than overload. If the Bard: Jester ends up being almost identical to the Rogue: <X>, then that cheapens to apparent variety.
Honestly, I can manage flavor-differentiated overlap.

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.

I'd rather have the Jester and Rogue X be effectively the same (after all, Warriors and Paladins were pretty interchangeable in the originals) than have Jester make the game easy and Rogue X lead to rage quitting and uninstalling.
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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 24th, 2017, 2:48 pm

Drool wrote:
December 24th, 2017, 1:39 pm
than have Jester make the game easy and Rogue X lead to rage quitting and uninstalling.
This is the concern I expressed as well in my other comments. I think we are in agreement here. The problem with functional overlap is that it can lead to this very situation. So, in addition to cheapening the actual variety available, it can create the "X and Y do the same thing, but X does it better" problem. Maybe some people can immerse themselves enough in the role playing to not be bothered by this. But, for someone, such as myself, making "optimal" party builds is part of the fun and if one realizes that certain classes are generally less viable then it is tempting to feel a bit cheated by the game.

Anyway, I think we'll have to see the other classes before determining if this turns out to be a real issue or not. (I personally don't think most RPGs can support more than 7 or 8 classes without running into overlap or balance issues. Maybe inXile will prove this notion wrong.)
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Crosmando » December 25th, 2017, 4:12 am

The Jester could have a "trickster who distracts enemies with pseudo-magic craziness", pulling a rabbit out of a hat type stuff.
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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, 2:08 pm

Zombra wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 11:24 am
thebruce wrote:
December 23rd, 2017, 10:15 am
The only thing I'm concerned about with regards to classes is the overload. There are SO many with all the sub-classes, and if they're all somewhat exclusive, that's very different than the handful of vastly different classes from the classics.
I am usually sympathetic to "make it like the classics as much as possible", but having many different ways to assemble a viable party is fundamentally good for any RPG. Please don't step on build choices.
Oh don't get me wrong, I'm not against expanding class options in the slightest.
But let's take two sides of the coin:
On one hand, you have few classes - each specializes in unique abilities within the game, with a broad smorgasboard of things to learn, achieve, and grow into, without (relative) limitation. Each class is a spectrum of ability, and you can advance whichever way you like, becoming a master of one or jack of all trades; no game-mechanic restriction within these widely defined and few classes.
On the other hand, you have many classes, each with sub-classes and rail-style progression along routes you choose which once chosen are no longer free for crossing over and trying different, yet relevant, things. Here you gain more of a focused and intentional choice for directed progression through a character's 'journey'. More room for intentional character development, plot, story, etc, because the routes are pre-laid out.

Both, IMO, are perfectly legitimate RPG mechanics. The former is more akin to the classic BTs, the latter is more akin to modern story-driven RPGs. I don't mind a good selection of classes and strategies, but I don't want to be weighed down by "what if"s by locking into one of an astronomical list of possible specialties. I'd like my in-game choices to define my character, not the game to define what my character can do. To a reasonable degree, of course (that's what classes are) - and I'm fully aware this is entirely subjective :)
When I refer to overlap, that's sort of my way of imagining how many many classes can still be effective if maintaining agency in the characters' abilities. Just like in the spell classes, quite a number of spells over different classes performed the same or similar effects, but for different costs, or slightly different parameters. Variety, but a lot of crossover, with context and theme being primary difference, really.

I'm also fully aware that this subject has already been discussed, and IIRC, enthusiastically debated, in another thread from earlier this year :lol:

tl;dr:
More classes? Yes.
Archetype, class, sub-class, ability overload? Please no...
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 40: Season's Greetings from The Bard's Tale Team!

Post by Zombra » December 26th, 2017, 4:59 pm

Good post thebruce, but I'm confused. Did character builds exist in BT1? 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. There were stats, but that didn't particularly represent choice, did it? You didn't spec a "Dodge Hunter" or a "Crit Hunter" - all Hunters were about crits. Same with every other class, they had the things they did and got better at all of them as they levelled. Am I wrong?
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