Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

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Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by 90sgamer92 » March 19th, 2017, 7:47 am

I really haven't been paying any attention to the development of this title, so pardon me if this question gets asked a lot.

Anyhow, Wizardry 8 is one of my favorite games of all time, so I'd love to see a spiritual succesor. It has its flaws, but it's pretty much unmatched in its category due to it's unique mix of classic dungeon crawler structure with freeform movement. Will BT 4 be following a similar structure, or will it feature classic grid based movement?

Of course any revival project like this needs to stay true to the series' roots (cough cough BT 2004), but frankly I think that we're already covered when it comes to grid based dungeon crawlers, mostly due to the Shin Megami Tensei series and Japanese wizardry copies, but there's also indies and the new Might and Magic game (+the Grimrock games if you count titles with real time combat).
Of course there can never be enough grid based classic dungeon crawlers with turn based combat, and the Western RPG market certainly could use more of them, but I think that as an inXile title, BT4 is in a unique position to move the genre forward in a way that indie&Nintendo DS games with smaller budgets (&technological constraints) can't do. Wizardry 8 tried to modernize the classic dungeon crawler format and it largely succeeded, making the experience feel more immersive and corporeal while still retaining all the elemets of old school RPGs. It's innovations didn't catch on, but with something of a renessaince period going on in the CRPG scene, there's now a second chance to usher in the 2.0 era of party based dungeon crawlers.

Here are some key features of Wizardry 8 I'd love to see in BT4:

Deep character creation&party management, personable characters:
Diverse cast of classes and races to choose from
Assignable voices to characters that are distinctive, well voice acted and offer genuine choice between personality types (earnest&heroic, foolhardy&combative, cunning&wise, batshit insane etc). I can't stress enough how much personality these brought to the table, and how much more attached you became to your characters as a result!

Free form movement and 3-Dimensional level design
Ability to use the terrain to your advantage, tactical positioning, level design that uses the Y-axis

Immersive sound design
Different footstep sounds on different surfaces, combat sound effects that make you *feel* the spells, hits and misses of your party members&opponents
Subdued ambient soundtrack, cozy atmosphere

Freely explorable, visually diverse game world reminiscent of Dark Souls in its design
No handholding, nothing is explicitly explained, the game world has a sense of mystique to it, it draws you in to explore its secrets

To summarize, I love Wizardry 8 because it's a deep and cozy experience. The synthesis of the UI, sound design, music and first person based exploration of an open game world just help to create an experience that's profoundly relaxing and immersive to me. Equally important is the depth of the combat system and party management. The more choices you have, the more you can plan out different long term leveling strategies, the more you can customize the UI and experience to your liking, the better.
Wizardry 8 isn't perfect, but if you were to create a similar game with out its glaring issues (encounter ratio and level scaling etc), with even more options and depth (races, classes, spells and combat abilities, noncombat abilities, character portraits, character voices, optional bosses&dungeons, nonlinear level structure with shortcuts and optional content) and customizable UI, using Dark Souls as a template but keeping the turn based, party based classic dungeon crawler formula in mind, you might very well end up creating the ultimate CRPG.

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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by Ollieonly1 » March 19th, 2017, 2:36 pm

I know nothing of Wizardry 8 but plenty of the old BT series... agree with most of the above, particularly with emphasis on immersive sound to complement non restrictive stunning visual worlds. Those purchased elven boots should sound different to plain boots, walking should be quieter than running and give advantages in certain situations. Realistic weather sounds and effects too are highly desirable. Trailers so far look encouraging.

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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » March 19th, 2017, 3:06 pm

90sgamer92 wrote:I really haven't been paying any attention to the development of this title, so pardon me if this question gets asked a lot.
A question that gets asked a lot is why this title is straying so much from the original series. :)
90sgamer92 wrote:so I'd love to see a spiritual succesor.
A "spiritual successor" to the Wizardy series in a game called Bard's Tale IV? Why not a spiritual successor to the Bard's Tale series?
90sgamer92 wrote: Of course there can never be enough grid based classic dungeon crawlers with turn based combat, and the Western RPG market certainly could use more of them, but I think that as an inXile title, BT4 is in a unique position to move the genre forward in a way that indie&Nintendo DS games with smaller budgets (&technological constraints) can't do.
What does "move the genre forward" mean?
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by Drool » March 19th, 2017, 9:37 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
90sgamer92 wrote:so I'd love to see a spiritual succesor.
A "spiritual successor" to the Wizardy series in a game called Bard's Tale IV? Why not a spiritual successor to the Bard's Tale series?
Man, I thought we wouldn't have to deal with this since there's no Fallout...
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by Woolfe » March 19th, 2017, 11:13 pm

Drool wrote:
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
90sgamer92 wrote:so I'd love to see a spiritual succesor.
A "spiritual successor" to the Wizardy series in a game called Bard's Tale IV? Why not a spiritual successor to the Bard's Tale series?
Man, I thought we wouldn't have to deal with this since there's no Fallout...
*Nods in frustrated agreement*
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by 90sgamer92 » March 20th, 2017, 8:28 am

Wizardry is the grand daddy of Bard's Tale anyways ;) Following in the footsteps of Wiz8 does not mean you'd have to copy all of its characteristics, you could reimagine Bard's Tale in its style.

I doubt that BT 4 will be 100% faithful to BT 1-3 whether it takes design cues from Wiz 8 or not, the developers will have to make concessions and modernize the design due to the financial realities of the market, just as they did with Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera.
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote: What does "move the genre forward" mean?
Evolve the genre mechanically and technically - there were technical limitations in place in the 80s that don't limit modern developers, or even Sir-Tech in the late 90s. Like said, getting just one more game in the classic style is a blessing in and of itself, but there's potential for more. Tile based design is old hat, freeform movement (within this context) is largely uncharted territory, so it has the potential to take dungeon crawlers to the next level and inspire other developers to follow in BT4's wake.

With Wizardry 8 style freeform movement, you can incorporate positioning to combat better and make the level/world design more intricate and 3 dimensional. And with more games experiementing with the style, you could start to hone out the kinks of Wiz8's movement system, add more tactical depth to it (terrain affecting the footing of each individual character, boots&carry weight&statistics affecting your ability to stand in difficult terrain...) etc.
Though admittedly, when you move away from tile based movement, you loose the hand mapping thing, which is a major part of the experience as well.

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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by Zombra » March 20th, 2017, 9:35 am

I don't know how far along BT4 is and how much it can make use of these suggestions, but I agree that at least some of them are appropriate. Good sound design for example is hard to argue with, it adds so much yet can be so easily neglected.

I actually find it somewhat disappointing that they went in the direction of voiced personalities - I think "blank slate" type characters would have been more faithful - but since they did, they need to take as many cues from Wizardry 8 as possible.
* Many voices to choose from
Wizardry 8 had 36 voice packs (18 per gender). No backsliding please. Move the standard forward by having this many or more. Fewer options 15 years later is not acceptable; having more options is expected. Sir-Tech weren't billionaires either. Make it happen.
* Do not attach any voice to a particular race or class
It's OK to "slant" a voice to make it sound "like", say, a dumb fighter, but you better put in voice lines for spellcasting on that dumb voice. I guarantee someone will want to use it for their Sorcerer. Let them!
* Diverse voices with distinct and memorable personalities
No explanation needed. If it is, go play Wizardry 8 for chrissake and listen to the voices.
* Situation-specific chatter
The first time the party sees the unique Skull Castle, a party member should say something specific about how ominous Skull Castle is. Every voice pack needs to have a line for this. There should be several dozen of these one-time lines throughout the game, and every voice pack needs to have a line for every one.

Also, in an ideal world the player should be able to add customized portraits to the game, just like in Wiz 8*. (Yes, even if they are animated as I hope they will be.)

*Hopefully without having to decompile and extract impenetrable file formats.
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by thebruce » March 20th, 2017, 11:50 am

90sgamer92 wrote:Wizardry is the grand daddy of Bard's Tale anyways ;) Following in the footsteps of Wiz8 does not mean you'd have to copy all of its characteristics, you could reimagine Bard's Tale in its style.
Yeah... I don't want a reimagining of Bard's Tale in a different game's style... =/

90sgamer92 wrote:I doubt that BT 4 will be 100% faithful to BT 1-3 whether it takes design cues from Wiz 8 or not, the developers will have to make concessions and modernize the design due to the financial realities of the market, just as they did with Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera.
No game sequel is really 100% faithful to its predecessor - else it would most likely be an 'expansion' :P
However, you could replace any game in that sentence as the source for 'design cues' and make the same argument. It's not merely about being inspired by other games' design ideas. Being faithful is about towing that very fine line of determining what it is about the original that makes it what it is, and not some other game.
IMO, much of what you posed as ideas are wonderful ideas, but that just aren't Bard's Tale.

90sgamer92 wrote:
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:What does "move the genre forward" mean?
Evolve the genre mechanically and technically - there were technical limitations in place in the 80s that don't limit modern developers, or even Sir-Tech in the late 90s. Like said, getting just one more game in the classic style is a blessing in and of itself, but there's potential for more. Tile based design is old hat, freeform movement (within this context) is largely uncharted territory, so it has the potential to take dungeon crawlers to the next level and inspire other developers to follow in BT4's wake.
If you haven't been reading the updates, this is the idea. They are retaining BT's grid-based maps and ability move on the grid, while designing the level to be more literal than abstracted (as the classics) and explorable with free movement. We have yet to see how this will play out in gameplay and whether locking to the grid provides a vastly different (and/or incompatible) gameplay experience than free roaming.
IMO the different is not just aesthetic - it's a completely different mindset. No one moves in 10' cardinal direction leaps in real life; and so this really only plays well in an analogous gameplay mechanic (classic BT). Being able to switch to free movement means a mental state change as well - you're now in a literal environment with actual physical location; angles matter, height matters, speed and distances are more present factors, etc. Designing the map to work both ways can't be a simple challenge. One of the modes will have to be not exactly what one would expect.
(if literal, you may feel bound and restricted by locking to the grid; if grid-locked, you may feel limited in how to more precisely explore the world or interact with its inhabitants; it's the difference between being shown everything and having the world implied to you to so your imagination fills in the gaps - and that's a big difference (and btw definitely not a fundamental technological limitation)

90sgamer92 wrote:With Wizardry 8 style freeform movement, you can incorporate positioning to combat better...
Well that's subjective :)
90sgamer92 wrote:and make the level/world design more intricate and 3 dimensional.
Sure, for a literal environment. BT was never literal. Plenty of RPGs are not literal visual games. I may even argue that fantasy RPGs do better when the player fills in the gaps - especially so with tabletop games.
90sgamer92 wrote:Though admittedly, when you move away from tile based movement, you loose the hand mapping thing, which is a major part of the experience as well.
I'd argue one of, if not the best gameplay element of the style ;)


Zombra wrote:I actually find it somewhat disappointing that they went in the direction of voiced personalities - I think "blank slate" type characters would have been more faithful - but since they did, they need to take as many cues from Wizardry 8 as possible.
That I can agree with. =/
Zombra wrote:Also, in an ideal world the player should be able to add customized portraits to the game, just like in Wiz 8*. (Yes, even if they are animated as I hope they will be.)

*Hopefully without having to decompile and extract impenetrable file formats.
Yes! :lol:
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » March 20th, 2017, 5:15 pm

90sgamer92 wrote:Wizardry is the grand daddy of Bard's Tale anyways ;)
Wizardy 8 isn't. ;)
90sgamer92 wrote: I doubt that BT 4 will be 100% faithful to BT 1-3
Based on everything I've seen from inXile thus far, I doubt that it will be even 5% faithful. Pardon my pessimism.
90sgamer92 wrote: the developers will have to make concessions and modernize the design due to the financial realities of the market, just as they did with Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera.
What does modernize the design mean?
90sgamer92 wrote:
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote: What does "move the genre forward" mean?
Evolve the genre mechanically and technically
Are you proposing evolution or revolution? I don't think that anyone has a problem with higher resolution, more detailed graphics or with better sounds and more of them. But, if you tamper with the presentation of information, the combat mechanics, etc... too much, then you risk infidelity to the original series.
90sgamer92 wrote: Tile based design is old hat, freeform movement (within this context) is largely uncharted territory, so it has the potential to take dungeon crawlers to the next level and inspire other developers to follow in BT4's wake.
What's wrong with tile-based design? Why would anyone care if it is "old hat" - doesn't that mean that there is more experience doing it and people are more likely to get it right?
90sgamer92 wrote: Though admittedly, when you move away from tile based movement, you loose the hand mapping thing, which is a major part of the experience as well.
You lose a lot more than hand-mapping. You lose the abstraction of space. Maybe a tile was loosely interpreted as 10' by 10' in the original series (based off the range of lights), but units of spatial measure didn't really mean much when fighting 8 dragons or 396 barbarians in the same tile or looking at the portrait of a giant. With free-form movement, the relative distance of things from one another matters more and that means that the relative sizes of things matter more.
thebruce wrote:
90sgamer92 wrote:and make the level/world design more intricate and 3 dimensional.
Sure, for a literal environment. BT was never literal. Plenty of RPGs are not literal visual games. I may even argue that fantasy RPGs do better when the player fills in the gaps - especially so with tabletop games.
Right on.
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by ZiN » March 21st, 2017, 4:02 am

90sgamer92 wrote:Immersive sound design
Different footstep sounds on different surfaces, combat sound effects that make you *feel* the spells, hits and misses of your party members&opponents
I definitely want to feel the power of that dreadful Mangar's Mallet or Gotterdamurung spell, and listen to the master bard songs played on different instruments (Wiz8 had many, nicely done instruments also).
90sgamer92 wrote:With Wizardry 8 style freeform movement, you can incorporate positioning to combat better and make the level/world design more intricate and 3 dimensional.
Perhaps, but they have already decided (and showed) that combat will be grid-based. Abstracted on a 4x4 grid, with a maximum of 16 participants face-to-face, as opposed to BT 2-3's 1x10 grid with 396 + 7 participants @ 10-100'.
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
90sgamer92 wrote:Though admittedly, when you move away from tile based movement, you loose the hand mapping thing, which is a major part of the experience as well.
You lose a lot more than hand-mapping. You lose the abstraction of space. Maybe a tile was loosely interpreted as 10' by 10' in the original series (based off the range of lights), but units of spatial measure didn't really mean much when fighting 8 dragons or 396 barbarians in the same tile or looking at the portrait of a giant. With free-form movement, the relative distance of things from one another matters more and that means that the relative sizes of things matter more.
Indeed, Gizmo showed other good examples here and here.

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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by Crosmando » March 21st, 2017, 4:11 am

I think expecting voice-acting in BT4 on par with Wiz8 is a mistake, it's a miracle that Sir-tech managed to have so many good voice-actors on a limited budget (the company even went bankrupt during development).
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by Zombra » March 21st, 2017, 5:38 am

Crosmando wrote:I think expecting voice-acting in BT4 on par with Wiz8 is a mistake, it's a miracle that Sir-tech managed to have so many good voice-actors on a limited budget (the company even went bankrupt during development).

I think Sir-Tech's genius wasn't in the actors, but in the direction and engineering. They caught lightning in a bottle with Jagged Alliance, then caught lightning in a bottle again with Deadly Games, then caught lightning in a bottle again with Jagged Alliance 2, then caught lightning in a bottle again! with Wizardry 8. New actors were brought aboard with every title yet the magic never wavered. Wiz8's excellent voice work wasn't a fluke or a miracle - they knew what they were doing.

Sir-Tech may have set the bar dizzyingly high, but that's where the bar is now and I expect inXile to make an honest jump for it.
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by Crosmando » April 17th, 2017, 6:30 am

Zombra wrote:
March 21st, 2017, 5:38 am
Crosmando wrote:I think expecting voice-acting in BT4 on par with Wiz8 is a mistake, it's a miracle that Sir-tech managed to have so many good voice-actors on a limited budget (the company even went bankrupt during development).
I think Sir-Tech's genius wasn't in the actors, but in the direction and engineering. They caught lightning in a bottle with Jagged Alliance, then caught lightning in a bottle again with Deadly Games, then caught lightning in a bottle again with Jagged Alliance 2, then caught lightning in a bottle again! with Wizardry 8. New actors were brought aboard with every title yet the magic never wavered. Wiz8's excellent voice work wasn't a fluke or a miracle - they knew what they were doing.

Sir-Tech may have set the bar dizzyingly high, but that's where the bar is now and I expect inXile to make an honest jump for it.
From WL2:DC and what I've read on this forum of T:ToN, InXile do not seem to be rather good at either voice-acting direction or voice-acting budgeting for that matter...
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by Drool » April 17th, 2017, 10:49 pm

Crosmando wrote:
April 17th, 2017, 6:30 am
From WL2:DC and what I've read on this forum of T:ToN, InXile do not seem to be rather good at either voice-acting direction or voice-acting budgeting for that matter...
I've been thinking about this, and I wonder if the reason so much VO is bad (inXile's hardly unique in this) is that games are written more like novels than screenplays. You can take even a well written book, read the dialog out loud, and it sounds... weird. Unnatural. That's because speech that's designed to be read flows differently than speech that's designed to be read aloud.

Add potentially hiring B or C rate voice actors (or grabbing Phil from Accounting) and it's easy to see why VO can quickly go off the rails. I mean, WL2 and T:ToN weren't as bad as House of the Dead 2, but few things are. And I'd argue that wraps back around to awesome.
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Re: Wizardry 8 is amazing - how similar will BT4 be?

Post by paultakeda » April 18th, 2017, 12:49 am

Drool wrote:
April 17th, 2017, 10:49 pm
I mean, WL2 and T:ToN weren't as bad as House of the Dead 2, but few things are. And I'd argue that wraps back around to awesome.
I'm fairly sure you meants HotD 2 VO was one of those that were so bad they wrapped back around to awesome. Because HotD 2's VO is exactly that.

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