long vs. short term resources in BT4

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demeisen
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long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by demeisen » April 8th, 2017, 4:10 pm

I haven't played BT1 since it came out (what was that, 1985 or so?), and my memory is probably clouded by years and nostalgia, but I have fond memories of difficult situations that arose from needing to manage my party's resources over an entire dungeon dive. I felt that a strong component of longer term resource consideration led to particularly compelling gameplay (as opposed to Diablo-style post-fight auto-regeneration).

The BT1 dynamic led to a lot of memorable situations where your party would barely survive to fight its way back out of a dungeon. It made dungeons feel dangerous (provided you were not over-leveled for them) in a way very few modern games seem to pull off successfully. Many modern RPGs feel really hand-holdy to me, like they are carefully designed so that there's no chance I can ever back myself into a resource exhaustion corner. However, in removing those possibilities, they also remove the satisfaction of overcoming them. The BT1 style play also felt more like an expedition: you had what you had, and you must make efficient use of it over the long haul to survive. Often I knew I could only survive a small part of a dungeon, and had to come back when I was stronger, even though I could win any individual fight. Poking my nose into a new area felt genuinely scary because of it. I never knew if I'd get lost or teleported and suddenly find myself in sheer panicked survival mode.

Lastly, I feel that regeneration of HP/SP/whatever devalues smaller fights. Those fights are given importance and interest if they all contribute their own little bit to the process of the dungeon grinding you down to the bone. They were fun in BT1 because they were part of the entire arc of your dungeon experience. Sometimes you'd encounter "weak" groups when you were barely still alive, and they were truly dangerous to you in your state of battle weariness. I remember things like reshuffling my group order, using magicians as emergency tanks because they still had a few HP left... carefully balancing remaining HP and SP... things that really put your back against the wall and made you struggle to survive to see the light of day, even when fighting groups you could wipe the floor with at full strength. That was enormously more satisfying than having the outcome against those lesser groups served to you on a platter.

I really hope BT4 continues in the BT1 tradition of making me think about more than one fight at a time. The details should be appropriate to its own combat mechanics of course, but much of why I think BT1 was brilliant came down to it not trying to hold my hand too much. It let me get in over my head and back myself deep into no-win situations. It didn't use gameplay dynamics to try to save me from myself.

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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by ZZGO » April 8th, 2017, 7:24 pm

+1

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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Ether » April 8th, 2017, 8:55 pm

Largely agree, though a lot of that peril goes away once you learn APAR and can teleport out of a dungeon.

My apologies if this has been brought up, but this is my one concern with the priest/cleric class. If that class gets all the healing spells, and bt 4 keeps the same hit point mechanism, then we have no choice but to include one in the party. Not something I'm completely keen on.

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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Crosmando » April 9th, 2017, 8:59 am

Good sentiments. It also depends on how InXile is going to go about potions and other consumables.
Ether wrote:
April 8th, 2017, 8:55 pm
Largely agree, though a lot of that peril goes away once you learn APAR and can teleport out of a dungeon.
If the SP costs are appropriately high, and such a spell was high-level (so you only got it late-game) it would be OK.
My apologies if this has been brought up, but this is my one concern with the priest/cleric class. If that class gets all the healing spells, and bt 4 keeps the same hit point mechanism, then we have no choice but to include one in the party. Not something I'm completely keen on.
Bards will probably have healing songs, Paladins traditionally have Lay on Hands and lesser healing (I'm talking about fantasy RPGs in general). There's no reason why regular mages won't have a healing spell or two, just not as powerful as Clerics.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Ether » April 10th, 2017, 12:35 pm

True. And I certainly abused the Bards healing song once I found a Bardsword.

Finding that right balance will be a challenge for developers.

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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Drool » April 10th, 2017, 8:45 pm

I wouldn't object to a Bardsword-type weapon (there was also a couple instruments that did it in 3) being pushed to much later in the game. In BT1, you could get it pretty darn early, which essentially made the Bard a mage with infinite spell points. Frankly, that kind of thing fits more as a relic/artifact level. Even making it do pathetic damage wouldn't counterbalance it's power, even with the ridiculous party limit.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Crosmando » April 11th, 2017, 12:58 am

Drool wrote:
April 10th, 2017, 8:45 pm
I wouldn't object to a Bardsword-type weapon (there was also a couple instruments that did it in 3) being pushed to much later in the game. In BT1, you could get it pretty darn early, which essentially made the Bard a mage with infinite spell points. Frankly, that kind of thing fits more as a relic/artifact level. Even making it do pathetic damage wouldn't counterbalance it's power, even with the ridiculous party limit.
I think having unlimited songs would make the bard too powerful, even if the weapon was acquired late-game. Perhaps making such a weapon just double the amount of songs you can sing before returning to the tavern.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by demeisen » April 11th, 2017, 7:51 am

I wonder if I'm the only one to play BT1 without using a bard :D. The class never appealed to me, and it was before you could look up strategies and hints on the internet or compare classes with online info, so I never took one along.

That Bardsword does sound sorta imbalanced.

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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Ether » April 11th, 2017, 10:00 pm

demeisen wrote:
April 11th, 2017, 7:51 am
I wonder if I'm the only one to play BT1 without using a bard :D. The class never appealed to me, and it was before you could look up strategies and hints on the internet or compare classes with online info, so I never took one along.

That Bardsword does sound sorta imbalanced.
I thought you needed one to solve one or two of the puzzles?
Can't remember.....guess not.

Fwiw, I didn't realize till last year that a Bardsword had that power. I mainly used my Bard for the ac bonus song and the fire horn.
And it does seem silly for me to play the Bards Tale and not have a Bard.

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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Crosmando » April 12th, 2017, 1:58 am

Ether wrote:
April 11th, 2017, 10:00 pm
demeisen wrote:
April 11th, 2017, 7:51 am
I wonder if I'm the only one to play BT1 without using a bard :D. The class never appealed to me, and it was before you could look up strategies and hints on the internet or compare classes with online info, so I never took one along.

That Bardsword does sound sorta imbalanced.
I thought you needed one to solve one or two of the puzzles?
Can't remember.....guess not.

Fwiw, I didn't realize till last year that a Bardsword had that power. I mainly used my Bard for the ac bonus song and the fire horn.
And it does seem silly for me to play the Bards Tale and not have a Bard.
I believe you can get past them with Phase Door and Apport Arcane.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by rakenan » April 12th, 2017, 3:49 pm

demeisen wrote:
April 11th, 2017, 7:51 am
I wonder if I'm the only one to play BT1 without using a bard :D. The class never appealed to me, and it was before you could look up strategies and hints on the internet or compare classes with online info, so I never took one along.

That Bardsword does sound sorta imbalanced.
So do melee weapons! You can attack with them every round and depending on class, they can instantly kill an opponent or hit up to 8 times. Without limit! Or maybe the ability to use something constantly can be balanced based on the power of what that thing is...

The Bardsword was balanced - at least sort of, as well as anything in BT1-3 at least - because Bard songs were actually pretty lame. There were only a half dozen or so, and they were mostly pretty limited in utility. I mean, a full party AC bonus is nice, and so is healing every round for an extremely small amount, but I'd submit that unlimited Bard songs were the only thing other than scripted game events that made it worth bringing them along into a dungeon instead of a competent fighter who can kill an enemy every round in combat.

Saying anything in the classic Bard's Tale series other than mages was OP or imbalanced seems kind of weird. The strength of your party in those games was almost strictly based on the number and level of mages you could cram in and keep alive. A Bard with a Bardsword maybe did less "nothing useful" than a vanilla warrior type, at least in late BT3, but not by a lot. He was still there mostly as a meatshield to keep your mages from getting gibbed in melee.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » April 12th, 2017, 5:10 pm

Ether wrote:
April 11th, 2017, 10:00 pm
demeisen wrote:
April 11th, 2017, 7:51 am
I wonder if I'm the only one to play BT1 without using a bard :D. The class never appealed to me, and it was before you could look up strategies and hints on the internet or compare classes with online info, so I never took one along.

That Bardsword does sound sorta imbalanced.
I thought you needed one to solve one or two of the puzzles?
Can't remember.....guess not.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » April 12th, 2017, 5:18 pm

rakenan wrote:
April 12th, 2017, 3:49 pm
The Bardsword was balanced - at least sort of, as well as anything in BT1-3 at least - because Bard songs were actually pretty lame. There were only a half dozen or so, and they were mostly pretty limited in utility. I mean, a full party AC bonus is nice, and so is healing every round for an extremely small amount, but I'd submit that unlimited Bard songs were the only thing other than scripted game events that made it worth bringing them along into a dungeon instead of a competent fighter who can kill an enemy every round in combat.
The AC bonus from The Traveller's Tune would improve every few of dungeon levels, as would the light from The Seeker's Ballad. Also, the effects from some songs would stack in combat, iirc. You could really wind up your melee combatants with a few successive playings of Falkentyne's Fury. Also, when exploring a light negation zone on platforms that didn't display the "Darkness!" message (ahem, Macintosh), being able to cast unlimited light spells was a good way of determining the extent of the darkness region.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by rakenan » April 12th, 2017, 6:33 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
April 12th, 2017, 5:18 pm
rakenan wrote:
April 12th, 2017, 3:49 pm
The Bardsword was balanced - at least sort of, as well as anything in BT1-3 at least - because Bard songs were actually pretty lame. There were only a half dozen or so, and they were mostly pretty limited in utility. I mean, a full party AC bonus is nice, and so is healing every round for an extremely small amount, but I'd submit that unlimited Bard songs were the only thing other than scripted game events that made it worth bringing them along into a dungeon instead of a competent fighter who can kill an enemy every round in combat.
The AC bonus from The Traveller's Tune would improve every few of dungeon levels, as would the light from The Seeker's Ballad. Also, the effects from some songs would stack in combat, iirc. You could really wind up your melee combatants with a few successive playings of Falkentyne's Fury. Also, when exploring a light negation zone on platforms that didn't display the "Darkness!" message (ahem, Macintosh), being able to cast unlimited light spells was a good way of determining the extent of the darkness region.
I didn't intend to claim that Bard songs were worthless. Only that they were nowhere near enough to make you Bard's primary function anything other than "Stand in front of your mages so they don't get gibbed in melee." Even in BT3, where you could actually cast Trebuchet every round with a Bard, your bard was still an also-ran compared to your mages. Especially when the mages now include potentially front-line Geomancers.

I have no idea if BT4 will re-balance classes enough to make unlimited Bard songs an actual balance issue. But in BT1-3, they weren't. If anybody was running more than one Bard in a party, I hadn't heard of it. Quite often, the number was zero, because the melee power and resilience of other fighter types mattered more than even unlimited Bard songs, and even that mattered a lot less than keeping as many mage types in the back rows as you could reliably protect.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Drool » April 12th, 2017, 11:26 pm

rakenan wrote:
April 12th, 2017, 6:33 pm
Even in BT3, where you could actually cast Trebuchet every round with a Bard, your bard was still an also-ran compared to your mages.
I beg to differ:
TREB
Cost: 10
All Foes

Trebuchet - Fries all foes with wickedly hot flames for 150 to 600 points.
Every round. For free. And if you didn't want to go there, you could run Sir Robin's Tune.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Ether » April 13th, 2017, 12:25 am

Well, the game said you could only have one Bard song active at a time, so that would reduce the practilcality of having two Bards.

Again, the Fire Horn....Which was easily obtained from the Ateam.....made the Bard indispensable in the early part of Bt1, as it easily outclassed your mage spells early on. And an unlimited healing spell is very handy when your mages don't have any healing spells, the Temple is far away, and you're lacking the gold to pay the priests anyways.

Now later in the game, yeah, the power balance shifts. Same thing in the sequels, but that's another story.

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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by thebruce » April 13th, 2017, 5:43 am

The bard's strength in combat came in stacking songs. At the beginning a fight could be very dangerous, but if you could survive long enough with your bard piling on buff effects, that's where their value came from. (if of course you used that strategy)

I think that's the beauty of BT in regards to "balancing". I think it woul dbe impossible to completely, 100% balance the classic games. But depending on which strategies you used and which characters you focused on, a sufficiently specialized strategy would become a super-power. It was a jack-of-all-trades or master-of-none style of game balancing. We hear that based on the various party makeups people have tried; whether stacking with tanks, or stuffing with powerful spellcasters, etc.

I think too much balancing in a game can actually hurt it. Leave open those special routes where if you figure out 'the trick', then you can 'master' it. If the game always senses 'hey you're too powerful, here's something your own skill' at every possible turn, then it can reduce that sense of accomplishment and pride. Or at least, provide a different version of them.

I guess what I'm saying is - there should be a good balance of game balancing ;D

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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by rakenan » April 13th, 2017, 7:04 am

Drool wrote:
April 12th, 2017, 11:26 pm
rakenan wrote:
April 12th, 2017, 6:33 pm
Even in BT3, where you could actually cast Trebuchet every round with a Bard, your bard was still an also-ran compared to your mages.
I beg to differ:
TREB
Cost: 10
All Foes

Trebuchet - Fries all foes with wickedly hot flames for 150 to 600 points.
Every round. For free. And if you didn't want to go there, you could run Sir Robin's Tune.
Sounds awesome, and it's certainly better than the one kill per round your other fighter types could manage, much less the one kill every 2 (or more) rounds your Rogue could manage. Still peanuts compared to the utility and firepower brought by your mages. And there's, what, 8 total Bard songs in BT3, and fewer in earlier games?

Thought experiment: consider beating BT3 without any Bards. Now consider beating BT3 without any mages. Ignore puzzles that strictly require one or the other. I'm quite sure which will be easier, by an enormous margin. And BT3 was the entry in the series with the *BEST* balance between mages and Bards. As you point out, Trebuchet every round for free or nearly free is finally something worth bringing a Bard for. But it's only worthwhile because it transforms your Bard into a weak but high endurance mage who can wear good armor and thus survive on the front lines where your mages will be killed. He can thus displace a more traditional fighter type, but he's no competition for an actual mage, and is arguably inferior to bringing an extra Geomancer.
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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by demeisen » April 13th, 2017, 8:00 am

thebruce wrote:
April 13th, 2017, 5:43 am
I think too much balancing in a game can actually hurt it.
I tend to agree with that, at least within reasonable limits. You don't want all classes to be equivalent, such as trying to make them all equally soloable for instance. I've seen that approach sorta turn all classes into a blurred mess in some games, to appease player bickering about which class is more powerful than which.

OTOH, I feel they should all bring something important or fun to the table - it's unfortunate if one class is a strict superset of another such that there's little or no reason to use the worse one.

My memory of BT1 is really rusty, and I might think differently if I played it again in modern times, but it seemed to me that you wouldn't fare well in BT1 with a party of all mages, for instance. So even though they had a lot of offensive power, you wanted to (1) keep enemies from hitting them too much, and (2) save magic for the fights that needed magic, and handle smaller fights exclusively with melee.

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Re: long vs. short term resources in BT4

Post by Ollieonly1 » April 13th, 2017, 9:15 am

I always had a Bard in BT1, regardless how useful/less he turned out to be. Heck, its called The Bards Tale - if there aint no Bard, there aint no tale... for me at least. Moreover, I would go as far as to force every party to contain a Bard in BT4 before selecting the rest.

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