Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

For all discussion on all the previous Bard's Tale games: the classic 1980s games (Bard's Tale, II: Destiny Knight, & III: Thief of Fate) & the humorous Bard's Tale (2004) spin off.

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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Zombra » January 29th, 2018, 11:50 am

Gizmo wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 11:25 am
Dungeon crawlers aren't cRPGs. They are about crawling a dungeon. Exploring those maps are the paramount activity.
Whatever you say. Just going on record that looking at something and writing it down and then looking at something else and writing it down and then looking at something else and writing it down and then looking at something else and writing it down and then looking at something else and writing it down and then looking at something else and writing it down and then looking at something else and writing it down and then looking at something else and writing it down and then looking at something else and writing it down is 100% absolutely not what I liked about the original BT series.

I am happy to do that kind of office work but I expect $20/hr plus benefits.
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Gizmo » January 29th, 2018, 12:49 pm

It does depend on the game. If the art style, gameplay, and/or dialog script is nice, but the maps are crap (like Menzo), then I'd download the maps too. But if the maps are brilliant, then I wouldn't insult the developer by not puzzling it out by hand (if/as intended); and —doubtless would enjoy figuring it out. (But of course, one can't know this the first time in the game.)

While exploring a dungeoncrawler, there is —hopefully not just for a lucky few— no separation between what one sees in the game, sees in their thoughts, and sees on their maps, and notes.

Only in games like EoB and Bard's Tale can the player truly know the fright of being suddenly attacked while considering the map, and its questionable accuracy. :shock: The mind switches modes when contemplating maps and speculative ideas; it's wholly different, and removed from the typical reactionary state one normally has when playing video games. Games with a dedicated automap screen tend to pause the game; unfairly preventing just this sort of surprise.

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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Zombra » January 29th, 2018, 2:30 pm

Gizmo wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 12:49 pm
Games with a dedicated automap screen tend to pause the game; unfairly preventing just this sort of surprise.
Sounds like the problem here is the pause, not the automap. There are a dozen ways to make me uncertain about where I am without making me map the whole game by hand.
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Drool » January 29th, 2018, 3:53 pm

Gizmo wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 12:49 pm
But if the maps are brilliant, then I wouldn't insult the developer by not puzzling it out by hand (if/as intended)
Yeah, I don't play video games to help the self actualization of the developer.
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Gizmo » January 29th, 2018, 4:54 pm

Zombra wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 2:30 pm
There are a dozen ways to make me uncertain about where I am without making me map the whole game by hand.
Being uncertain of location, was not the expressed or implied point. :?
Drool wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 3:53 pm
Gizmo wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 12:49 pm
But if the maps are brilliant, then I wouldn't insult the developer by not puzzling it out by hand (if/as intended)
Yeah, I don't play video games to help the self actualization of the developer.
I would feel insulted if I spent a year on a game map, and people ignored the puzzles & secrets by searching out the answers online, or by dissecting the level scripts.

*I doubly know this—because this actually happened to me.

**As for me (a for instance): When I first bought Fallout:New Vegas, I had not finished FO3 (and still haven't), but I had GECK-editor projects in both games. I made a staunch point of not inspecting the game maps, or scripts that could reveal the campaign or campaign challenges; at least not until after I'd completed the games.
Last edited by Gizmo on January 29th, 2018, 5:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Drool » January 29th, 2018, 5:00 pm

Then what was the point? Please be direct and succinct, preferably without any asides or anecdotes.
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Gizmo » January 29th, 2018, 5:09 pm

Drool wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 5:00 pm
Then what was the point? Please be direct and succinct, preferably without any asides or anecdotes.
With Zombra's interpretation? It was never about being [virtually] lost, or unsure... The original point was about losing one's self in concentration and speculation when mapping areas in the game (figuring out how they work; checking the maps for mistakes), and occasionally being surprised (or outright startled) by a wandering monster. Also that that this cannot happen in a game with a static auto-map—like Grimrock.

It could (and did) happen in EoB (in real-time), and even the BT's—despite the phased based combat.

Aside: Another common problem is that the auto-maps provide perfectly accurate —and illustrated recall of even areas that were run though while fleeing pursuit.
Last edited by Gizmo on January 29th, 2018, 6:01 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » January 29th, 2018, 5:13 pm

Drool wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 5:00 pm
Then what was the point? Please be direct and succinct, preferably without any asides or anecdotes.
You ask for the impossible. :lol:

There's a reason I don't respond to someone on this forum anymore.... Got sick and tired of the ever-twisting, ever-turning conversation as he digs himself into deeper holes in the face of logic and reason, while making increasingly irrelevant remarks and then insisting that everyone else doesn't get it or that he was agreeing with them all along in spite of the last 10 pages of asinine disagreement.
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Gizmo » January 29th, 2018, 5:24 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 5:13 pm
There's a reason I don't respond to someone on this forum anymore.... Got sick and tired of the ever-twisting, ever-turning conversation as he digs himself into deeper holes in the face of logic and reason, while making increasingly irrelevant remarks and then insisting that everyone else doesn't get it or that he was agreeing with them all along in spite of the last 10 pages of asinine disagreement.
I don't expect a response :mrgreen:

Just because a reader doesn't understand an expressed point, doesn't mean that there isn't one, nor that it's nonsensical. It can mean that the reader didn't —or in some cases initially cannot— understand it... as in cases where it is conceptually alien to them; enough so that the intended meaning (and perception of its implied aspects) wouldn't occur to them. So then it doesn't make sense to them, and they compartmentalize it as junk; along with the person who wrote it.

Some choose to include derisive jabs at the author about it. Some attempt to jest with others about it, at the author's expense. ;)

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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Zombra » January 29th, 2018, 6:52 pm

Gizmo wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 5:09 pm
It was never about being lost, or unsure... The original point was about losing one's self in concentration and speculation when mapping areas in the game, and occasionally being surprised (or outright startled) by a wandering monster.
In other words, distracting me with busywork so that when the game itself actually happens, it takes me off guard?
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Gizmo » January 29th, 2018, 8:04 pm

Zombra wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 6:52 pm
... distracting me with busywork ...
Have you ever played a word-find; or tried to solve a cypher? (rhetorical, of course ;))

I don't see mapping as busy work; especially not if the maps contain elements that are not meant to be obvious. The first three levels of 'Eye of the Beholder' are a sewer; the box came with a sanitation department map from the city of Waterdeep. The second level had a nondescript button in it that changed the layout of the entire level—it altered the drainage pathway for sewer overflow. This was meant to be a shock to the unsuspecting player. The level is full of the undead—some of them locked in the closed passages that get opened by this change.

So how would an auto-map handle this? Suddenly the whole map (just traversed) is now unexplored, but the player doesn't know this yet. The auto-map would either re-occlude the passageways, or would replace them with the new layout, or do so as it was explored anew; in each case this would announce the change to the player ahead of time. Solving this sudden, and unexpected conundrum, is part of the game; and it's made into busywork with an auto-map that makes it immediately obvious and pointless, rather than a sudden mystery to be solved. There were more of these to come.

Later on there is a trap with a figure-8 hallway that would be immediately revealed in an auto-map... The player wouldn't even be caught off guard by it; the impossibly accurate map would display the true layout of the halls—ostensibly drawn by a party of adventurers who have only just noticed it, and aren't really sure yet of what they've just noticed. This wasn't the first or last of these either, there were some devious teleporter/spinner traps traps in the EoB series. **One such, is listed on the sanitation map as a gas leak. :lol:

The advent of the detailed all-seeing auto-map (while cool in some respects) was the death knell of the clever map; because it points everything out. At least Grimrock's doesn't identify secret doors until they are found & opened. But even in Grimrock (in the campaigns), the auto-map will reveal the destinations of blind teleportation, and at their relative places on the map; even to and from different floors. :? This is information that is impossible for the party to know. There is no hiding an architectural puzzle from a magic atlas. :( The enjoyment of solving it isn't even an option... It's like being told who won the Sugar Bowl before you get a chance to watch it; "Oh, so that's how it is".

Grimrock does allow disabling of the auto-map at least; at the start of the game. It is common on their forums, for new modders to ask how to forcibly disable the auto-map in their mod; it's because they have something to hide—for [as long as it takes] until the player figures it out.
Last edited by Gizmo on January 30th, 2018, 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by thebruce » January 30th, 2018, 6:48 am

Gizmo wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 11:34 am
It's unfortunate that most of the market audience —to whom they must sell, expects a map, and can't be bothered to make it themselves.
I heartily agree.
Though perhaps doing something like that will be seen as a 'new' gameplay mechanic (revived from the olden days), and if it's done right it could be seen as groundbreaking or unique (to a new generation). If done right. Key.
unless the game auto-generates most of the map-layouts for each install of the game (making each install unique); and in the case of user created maps...new maps for each newly created party. This is possible to do in one's own maps made for Grimrock 2; though it's not a turn-key option in the LoG2 editor. It must be scripted.

But even then (with a randomized map)... If the game (or the game mod) takes a determinable seed value for the maps... people would still upload walkthroughs & maps, along with the seed and how to use it. :(
I think that would be a very very small portion of the demographic who would go to that extent just to get everything done for them. If it were a static universal map, perhaps, but if say the maps were generated based on a seed by your party's makeup (internal unique ids of your characters, not based on anything you as a player can change), then maybe there'd be a 'hash table' style resource for maps, but reverse engineering the seed would be ... extreme, I'd think. Someone would do it for fun, but I think the mass market would still play the game as intended. (I have high expectations, yes =P)
I remember once opening a paper-back book in a thrift shop, many years ago, and finding a hand drawn map on graph paper. It was unlabeled, but I quickly recognized it as the temple layout in Raaka-Tu (a text based adventure that pre-dates Bard's Tale). The design of one of the hallways (with its trapped cherub) was a big tip off; as was the chamber with an invulnerable gargoyle —that required a poisoner's handiwork to pass. 8-)
I played a text-based MUD in high school, and I'd make maps of the levels and regions, which were not text based, and not always 1-1 'room' movement. Those are fun to map.
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by thebruce » January 30th, 2018, 6:55 am

Zombra wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 11:50 am
Whatever you say. Just going on record that looking at something and writing it down and then.......looking at something else and writing it down is 100% absolutely not what I liked about the original BT series.
Yeah it depends on what you're enjoying about the game. For me it was more about exploration, so every something looked at and written down was something new I -- *I* -- was documenting. So for me, that tedious work scratching away at a mystery, uncovering it all step by step, and I enjoyed it. And as gizmo said, there was still the element of time and risk (if you didn't pause the game with each jotting). There was certainly a lot more player agency in the exploration aspect of the originals. Not everyone wants that amount of agency, and I can understand that. So just as you might not want that at all, we might want the ability to employ that amount of agency.

As in other threads, I don't mind if there's an automap -- if I don't have to use it, and if it doesn't heavily influence the game mechanics and level design. Heck even if it's relegated to a 'hardcore' mode. Or, I know many people playing today wouldn't use the grid-lock option, but dagnabbit you bet I will! (and hopefully that doesn't lessen the general experience, as cited in other threads where grid-walking might be unexpectedly hindered by level architecture you could otherwise freewalk around)
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by thebruce » January 30th, 2018, 7:00 am

Seems the discussion is moving back into the merits of automap vs hand mapping... should we point to the other relevant thread(s) (such as this one) so this one about general signature elements isn't overrun by only automap talk? ;)
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Gizmo » January 30th, 2018, 8:14 am

thebruce wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 6:55 am
I know many people playing today wouldn't use the grid-lock option, but dagnabbit you bet I will!
As will I.

I mentioned once before, that Menzoberranzan was not tested well enough, and shipped with a map bug. There were areas with freestanding obstructions (like stalagmites), that would block hallways to the party if playing in grid-step mode; yet they were expected to be passable. I didn't notice them for days; assuming they were dead end hallways. They were easily side-stepped by switching to free-roam. If that was deliberate—it was beyond silly.

I mentioned it then, in the hopes that no such thing could accidentally happen in BT4; (under the assumption that the game's development was focused on free-roam; with grid-play simply tacked on—as an assumed 'grognards only' mode).
thebruce wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 6:48 am
...but reverse engineering the seed would be ... extreme, I'd think. Someone would do it for fun, but I think the mass market would still play the game as intended.
That's the point. ;)
Someone would do it for fun—and upload it with their walkthrough advice; with instructions to use it.

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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Zombra » January 30th, 2018, 10:29 am

Good posts thebruce. There's certainly a market for hand mapping. I felt the need to vocally oppose the idea, to show that it's not a universally desired feature. An automap that can be turned off, and level design that doesn't rely on either playstyle, would be great. This is a case where a menu option would be ideal.
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by thebruce » January 30th, 2018, 11:01 am

Gizmo wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 8:14 am
Someone would do it for fun—and upload it with their walkthrough advice; with instructions to use it.
Yep. It's the internet. That's guaranteed, ain't no fighting it. Thankfully as players we have the choice to look at the internet or not. =P
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Drool » January 30th, 2018, 5:29 pm

Gizmo wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 8:04 pm
The advent of the detailed all-seeing auto-map (while cool in some respects) was the death knell of the clever map
So do better design work.

Ever played Bard's Tale 3? Ever tried to solve Malefia? It's more than possible to make a complete and total maze even with an automapper.

Of course, considering your numerous posts on how games should callously and pointlessly punish players for having the temerity to bother playing the game, perhaps this longing for hand mapping is more petty cruelty and mean spiritedness than an actual desire for quality game design.
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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by Gizmo » January 30th, 2018, 6:01 pm

Drool wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 5:29 pm
Gizmo wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 8:04 pm
The advent of the detailed all-seeing auto-map (while cool in some respects) was the death knell of the clever map
So do better design work.
Ever played Bard's Tale 3? Ever tried to solve Malefia? It's more than possible to make a complete and total maze even with an automapper.
Did you read my examples? Every auto-map that I have seen reveals information that is impossible for the party to know; be it detailed layouts of rooms passed through in an instant, secret doors they haven't found yet, or marking locations the party cannot know—relative to the rest of the map; sometimes to places where they were blindly teleported. Not all auto-maps are guilty of all of these, but many a guilty of at least one or more.
In other cases, the auto-map either reveals this information (which could plainly reveal spinner/teleport traps or illusory walls, and teleport targets)—or it lies to the player about them. Grimrock's auto-map is good about secret doors, in that they are unmarked until opened.

To the quote: Yes it is possible to do; no, I have not seen it done... No, I haven't played BT3 yet; and I do not know what Malefia is.
Of course, considering your numerous posts on how games should callously and pointlessly punish players for having the temerity to bother playing the game, perhaps this longing for hand mapping is more petty cruelty and mean spiritedness than an actual desire for quality game design.
If this were not your own post, would you have given them a warning? It is baiting, and petty insult; don't you think? (Not to mention baseless, and untrue IMO.)

It's certainly not something that I would ever have said towards you—even if I had thoroughly believed it as truth; and had I accepted moderator status when it was offered—and had you not have. Personal jabs are (always) uncalled for.

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Re: Bard's Tale trilogy signature elements

Post by ZiN » January 31st, 2018, 12:13 am

These constructive automap vs no-automap discussions always remind me the most important part of dungeon-crawlers: Level design (as mentioned by the other veterans here).
Indeeed, level design is very important. Complex dungeons, with many interactions and puzzles are what make a classic dungeon-crawler. I have played BT, Wiz7 and EoB, with automap and they were quite challenging and enjoyable and the presence of the automap didn't ruin the experience, due to great dungeon design.

Vertical travelling between levels were utilized to create mind-bending puzzles in several places:
BT3 had Malefia, which was truly evil. It combined vertical travelling with teleportation.
Wiz7 had Gran Melange the Palace of Dreams in Munkharama, which struck me as very weird, but fun.
EoB1 had the drow levels, they really felt claustrophobic and being lost, with many illusionary walls, secret doors, locked doors and keys, stairwells and a portal nexus.

Another evil thing are invisible walls (I'm not talking about artificial level limits), but "glass" ones like in HP Lovecraft's Walls of Eryx:
BT3, Grey Tower... 5x5 maps with one-way, invisible walls. Pure evil.
Wiz7, City of Sky, wasn't that bad, it was mostly used for conveying a strange, future concept, with buildings of glass.
BT4, could do these well, with a good automap, and with the UE4 engine. Glass wouldn't be completely invisible, but a glass maze would look very strange and disorienting.

Grimrock's dungeons and bestiary felt very mediocre and generic compared to these classics, to be honest. It's a decent game, but really not that great that I'd set it as an example to be followed.


Another signature element is encounter design. Remember that BT dungeons had a host of monsters specific for each, which were even more diversified by random encounters. Wiz7 also had a great bestiary. Grimrock again was, very scarce and generic in this regard, alas. So that is my seconds point: Encounters and creature design that fit the mood for each dungeon and has synergy with exploration.

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