'Not Bards Tale'

For Bard's Tale IV gameplay-related discussion. May include gameplay details and spoilers.

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grumbold
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by grumbold » August 8th, 2018, 4:11 pm

ZiN wrote:
July 20th, 2018, 10:48 am
Spectralshade wrote:
July 18th, 2018, 4:31 pm
For all the PR talk they did with the kickstarter, this game is looking exactly like the rich kid in their kickstarter video was allowed to 'streamline' the project into a random generic thing.
Spectralshade wrote:
July 20th, 2018, 8:07 am
Because their words are worth nothing when THIS is what they produce based on what they promoted the kickstarter as.
This is one of the reasons I'm so sarcastic and skeptical. They were so big-mouthed about how old-school they are and about where publishers can shove their ideas of mainstreaming and dumbing-down games and chasing the mass market for $. And they're pretty much doing exactly just that.
This is very very far from the "true sequel" and "revival of the classic dungeon-crawl" they were going on about, so loudly. Even if it is not a bad game on its own, their campaign was very dishonest and I don't trust them anymore.

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"Nostalgia Vampires", that's what they are! : )
Sadly I have to share this sentiment. I know it's not fully justified based on the kickstarter pitch, but to be honest, rational or not, it feels like they went out there chasing dollars from people really enthusiastic about their original series, not the 2004 reboot, to back their game. Then they take that cash and go make something that is very unsympathetic to the feel of the original trilogy.

Of course now they're pushing hard to make the game sound great, their company profitability depends on it. It's also getting decent press from respected gaming sites whose journalists were barely in short trousers when Bard's Tale first shipped, so it deserves to succeed as a game, if not as a sequel. I don't want the game to tank because inXile are capable of making good stuff and making a loss just harms their ability to make other games in future. The bitterness I hear echoed here from many voices is precisely because, succeed or fail, there doesn't seem to be any way to steer inXile back to a more faithful Bard's Tale 5. It would effectively take a splinter group to set up as a new company and decide to make a game more in the style of BT1-3, like Devil Whiskey did in 2003. Of course it would inevitably lack many of the unique parts to avoid legal issues, so we get a more retro play style but not a Bard's Tale sequel.

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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Jalis » August 8th, 2018, 5:30 pm

grumbold wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 4:11 pm
It would effectively take a splinter group to set up as a new company and decide to make a game more in the style of BT1-3, like Devil Whiskey did in 2003. Of course it would inevitably lack many of the unique parts to avoid legal issues, so we get a more retro play style but not a Bard's Tale sequel.
Yes, but unfortunately, I think that game would flop by today's standards, and with today's audience. We are the few now; the kids all want their shiny graphics, instant gratification, action-oriented combat, etc. Some of that could certainly exist in a more 'true' experience, but I think we have to admit that that game would sell probably under 50,000 copies. Total guesswork number there, but keep in mind the kickstarter for this only did like 33k backers, who were more likely to be looking for that 'old school' experience.

Put that kind of turnout into a smaller dev team's hands, and you might be looking at a flop -- and do keep in mind inXile matched some or all of the money from the Kickstarter.

I *wish* we could get a trilogy style game, with updated graphics in the same style as the remasters, with some more modern trappings for the UI... but sadly, we are outnumbered by far by the people who want World of DiabloCraft: Dark Fort Souls Nite, featuring Nathan Fillion as the voice of Mangade, the bastard child of Cayde 6666 and Mangar's revived zombie. (And I'm a fan of Fillion, so I'd probably play it, too. ;) )

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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Jalis » August 8th, 2018, 5:31 pm

Though, the success of Octopath Traveler, with its unabashed 16-bit era graphics updated for today, and JRPG style combat... could prove wrong that theory that such an old school game would flop.

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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by thebruce » August 8th, 2018, 6:04 pm

Jalis wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 5:30 pm
grumbold wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 4:11 pm
It would effectively take a splinter group to set up as a new company and decide to make a game more in the style of BT1-3, like Devil Whiskey did in 2003. Of course it would inevitably lack many of the unique parts to avoid legal issues, so we get a more retro play style but not a Bard's Tale sequel.
Yes, but unfortunately, I think that game would flop by today's standards, and with today's audience. We are the few now; the kids all want their shiny graphics, instant gratification, action-oriented combat, etc. Some of that could certainly exist in a more 'true' experience, but I think we have to admit that that game would sell probably under 50,000 copies. Total guesswork number there, but keep in mind the kickstarter for this only did like 33k backers, who were more likely to be looking for that 'old school' experience.

Put that kind of turnout into a smaller dev team's hands, and you might be looking at a flop -- and do keep in mind inXile matched some or all of the money from the Kickstarter.
That's why Kickstarter is great - a productions is a success if it's funded, and arguably if the funding community is satisfied. It's only a flop if the developers intend to sell afterwards, especially if they put more cost into the game than generated from the crowdfunding and need to earn it back through market sales.
I don't think anyone or at least most people were thinking "oh we have to back this so that it can sell to the mass market." We backed it to get the game they were proposing with the costs they were (and should have) been sticking to in order to succeed.

If the proposal had been funding to help launch the further development of a game with funding coming from additional sources in order to create a AAA game for the mass market, it would have been a very different campaign. That is to say, it's not that a company can't have in mind to sell afterwards, but ideally, everything after the 'success' of the project would become profit, on top of the project's success, not defining the project's success.

As for a game in general like these not succeeding, apart from the points raised above, you don't have to have a AAA mass market successful game that tops charts in order to be considered "successful". Look at the how many $1-$5 games are HUGE. A $50-65 game doesn't have to be made in order to be a faithful sequel to BT1-3. It just needs to be faithful and match the production and market goals.

As we continually intimate, it's not a Bad Thing to have a game within the Bard's Tale franchise not be part of a numeric series. The problem isn't that we don't think it'll sell. The problem we have is that most of us here (and arguably quite a lot more than we think out there) would either agree or be indifferent to the idea that this would work better as non-numbered Bard's Tale, rather than a direct sequel to the trilogy.
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Jalis » August 8th, 2018, 7:10 pm

Those are some good points, for sure... do you think that sites like IGN and the others giving good reviews to the beta, though, would give any real coverage to a true-in-style sequel?

Again, I want to make sure I'm clear that I'm an old school gamer myself, I buy and play most RPGs since the days of Bard's Tale, Ultima, Wizardry, etc... and I would *love* something even more like the remasters even, but the pragmatist in me just thinks that would be too limiting for a company of even inXile's size / status? Yes, if you kickstart it and fully get the costs of such a thing in that campaign, then you have some form of automatic 'success', but I gotta think that they had more lofty goals in terms of sales in mind, too? Otherwise would they have put their own money in, too?

Good stuff, no real answers, only inXile truly knows, but with their other successes, I think it's a bit expected to try to appeal a bit more to the masses... otherwise how else do we explain some of these design decisions? ;)

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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by thebruce » August 8th, 2018, 7:52 pm

Jalis wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 7:10 pm
Good stuff, no real answers, only inXile truly knows, but with their other successes, I think it's a bit expected to try to appeal a bit more to the masses... otherwise how else do we explain some of these design decisions? ;)
Right.
Well it's just like an artist making decisions about what to create. Are they making art to appeal to masses? Or are they making art as an expression from themselves for themselves? The latter tend to do MUCH better than ever expected; even if not appealing to masses. They could form a niche community of fans, even.
Success is only determined by some set bar, and if your standard is appealing to masses, then your success has a much higher hurdle (and cost) to overcome. If your success is merely to create and to entertain whoever might enjoy it - even if you decide to eat the costs - then you can still be successful if you don't technically make a profit.

You can usually tell when, especially in games, some developer is out to turn a tidy profit vs making a game for the love the game first, or only.

Which is more successful? A small game selling 5 million copies when expecting 100K at $1/ea which cost $50G? Or a major game selling 1 million when expecting 5 million at $50/ea that cost $10mil? It would depend who you asked and how 'success' is defined. Some media outlets might call it a flop because it undersold. Some would call it success because they made a major profit. Some would determine its success by comparing to other similarly classed games (also by some arbitrary definition of 'class').

Will BT4 be successful? In sales, I think yes, quite. In developers' expectation? It seems so, yes. In appealing to die-hard fans of the original trilogy? Arguably I would say more no than yes from what I read out there.

Long term prediction? I really don't know.

But this thread isn't "Will Bard's Tale succeed"
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Jalis » August 8th, 2018, 10:20 pm

thebruce wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 7:52 pm
But this thread isn't "Will Bard's Tale succeed"
True that, but in determining why this is or isn't Bard's Tale, I think it's a factor that has to be looked at -- what the devs thought would sell, as well as what they wanted to make. Technically, "not Bard's Tale" is a bit of an immaterial discussion; it simply *is* Bard's Tale because Brian Fargo / inXile says it is, and it *is* the 4th entry, regardless of what we think, etc.

All that said... I agree with almost everything. Doesn't feel like what we thought we were backing, still will likely be a good-to-great rpg anyway. Wish we got something a little more old school feeling, but also have to reserve full judgment for when the game is released, etc.

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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by thebruce » August 8th, 2018, 10:33 pm

I think that's the thing - most here would say (this is the sentiment) that, well yes, it is Bard's Tale, but in name only. So obviously the title "Not Bard's Tale" isn't implying it isn't technically, actually, Bard's Tale. Because it is. The implication is the more philosophical discussion of "What IS Bard's Tale?"
And clearly in this thread, the sentiment is that the BT4 we're getting is "not Bard's Tale". ;P
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Crosmando » August 9th, 2018, 2:12 am

But the thing is, we didn't pledge to the Kickstarter with our own money for a financially successful product, we pledged for a faithful sequel to the BT trilogy, regardless of whether such a game would succeed in the market or not. In the WL2 Kickstarter Fargo stated explicitly that he had pitched WL2 as a turn-based CRPG to everyone he could but none wanted to do it (at least, not unless it was an action game or shooter or whatever). So Fargo was at least prepared for WL2 only having a small niche audience and not getting very large sales, ie he was courting the small (but still substantial) CRPG audience that had been forgotten.

InXile should be willing to create a faithful successor to the BT trilogy even if that means it's a financial failure, BECAUSE THAT'S WHY THEY ASKED FOR OUR MONEY, our money is what is creating this game, if they wanted to create a casual dungeon crawler which would attract a broader audience then they should of said that, not just taken our money and then go all over the press doing interviews about how this is like Hearthstone or Dark Souls and how we're modernizing for a new audience, it's pure bait and switch, it's deception.
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by thebruce » August 9th, 2018, 5:44 am

*modhat on*
Let's keep away from charges of intentional misleading and malpractice. It may feel that way, but to claim that the business was intentionally misleading their community is uncalled for. Unless you can produce some internal memo explaining specifics for how the process of how misconception, lying, and purposeful misdirection was the plan all along. =P
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by miasma » August 9th, 2018, 6:19 am

Jalis wrote:
August 8th, 2018, 5:30 pm
We are the few now; the kids all want their shiny graphics, instant gratification, action-oriented combat, etc.
To be fair, those of us who were gaming in the 80s were pretty fixated on the "shiny graphics," too. While the original BT may not look like much now, I clearly remember that one of its selling points at the time was that it was a prettier version of Wizardry.
And the combat in BT4 isn't really action-oriented. True, it's flashier than the all-text combat of the originals, but it's still not something that relies on action and quick reflexes.

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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by thebruce » August 9th, 2018, 6:31 am

miasma wrote:
August 9th, 2018, 6:19 am
To be fair, those of us who were gaming in the 80s were pretty fixated on the "shiny graphics," too. While the original BT may not look like much now, I clearly remember that one of its selling points at the time was that it was a prettier version of Wizardry.
And the combat in BT4 isn't really action-oriented. True, it's flashier than the all-text combat of the originals, but it's still not something that relies on action and quick reflexes.
No, but I'd be the first to turn off all the special effects and time-wasty animations. Note that BT1-3 had almost entirely no graphical bottlenecks (apart from load times) - I mean waiting for animations to complete, not waiting for graphics to load. On the contrary, animations would play on loop until loading was done or the user indicated to move on. These days, you can't skip a lot of animations and you're forced to watch them play out, either cinematically or in the literalized 3d world.

It's an interesting discussion. The originals may have been 'cutting edge' at the time, but it goes to show that in the end the thing that we all seem to have taken from it is the content and gameplay, not the graphic shininess. Which means that it's the content and gameplay that's timeless, and the graphics are obviously outdated. So, for a sequel, one would expect to have a game that focuses on the timeless aspects of the game being continued. But we're getting new flashy graphics and new gameplay mechanics foreign to the series, with some threads of connections and a few snapped strands here and there in the lore.

And with this presumptuously successful multi-generation leap forward, we're basically getting a new ship that someone is calling the Ship of Theseus without any real evidence that it actually was an active, viable ship for all these years...
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by ZiN » August 9th, 2018, 6:38 am

miasma wrote:
August 9th, 2018, 6:19 am
To be fair, those of us who were gaming in the 80s were pretty fixated on the "shiny graphics," too.
Indeed, especially the Amiga and IIGS versions (plus the C64 version of BT3) had an excellent art style and all the technical wizardry to fit those scores of animations on 512kB floppy disks. They were also pretty much bug-free. They definitely had both artistic and technical merit, as opposed to BTIV, which is a rather ugly and generic looking game by today's standards, in addition to its 40 GB size and unrealistic system requirements. There are also so many bugs, even for beta, that it will pretty much require another year of constant patching to be relatively bug-free.

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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Spectralshade » August 9th, 2018, 11:22 pm

I was thinking of ways to try and convey the best the problem of barrows deep being a completely different game than the previous bards tale games.

Let us imagine that a kickstarter was made for something called "Magic the Gathering 2019". (ignore licensing issues here, to be bear with me) Then after people had poured money into it, the company doing the kickstarter released something looking like "hearthstone" with the only connection to magic the gathering being in some of the spell names and lore references.

People would (rightfully) say: "wtf? this is not magic the gathering!"

That is how I feel about barrows deep.

When you take an established series and then only use the name to create something entirely different while selling it off as a numbered sequel, you are misusing the trust placed in the brand.

Or imagine a "Die hard 8" that was a slobby romance.

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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Themadcow » August 10th, 2018, 3:15 am

Spectralshade wrote:
August 9th, 2018, 11:22 pm
Let us imagine that a kickstarter was made for something called "Magic the Gathering 2019". (ignore licensing issues here, to be bear with me) Then after people had poured money into it, the company doing the kickstarter released something looking like "hearthstone" with the only connection to magic the gathering being in some of the spell names and lore references.

People would (rightfully) say: "wtf? this is not magic the gathering!"
This is a pretty good assessment. You can't argue that BT4 doesn't have what they mention in the pitch - dungeons, puzzles, tactical combat, party based and in the BT setting (well)...

But equally you can't argue that Hearthstone isn't a fantasy, turn based, card game with deck building. Yet it isn't MtG.

Anyway, we all know this is too late now. What's done is done,and I'm pretty sure inXile is going to lose a lot of goodwill and future backers as a result of BT4's direction. Thank god for the remasters.
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Jalis » August 10th, 2018, 7:07 am

In hindsight -- what specifically would have appeased us? Something literally more like the remasters, with the old school flat interface, looping 2d graphics? I'm not asking sarcastically or as though to disagree with any of the thoughts here that this is not a true Bard's Tale sequel in how it feels -- I agree, something is lacking.

For me, I really wanted the breadth of class advancement, spells; and strategic combat (which we may have in its current format, jury's still out a bit). I'm old enough now to have forgotten much of the lore beyond the basics, so some of the retcon doesn't really bother me, etc.

But, what *exactly* would have appeased you for this game to have been? Something more akin in style and presentation to the trilogy, truly, or Devil's Whiskey?

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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by thebruce » August 10th, 2018, 7:20 am

Less literal creep.
For me the desire to be more visual has invaded most every aspect of the game. BT was very abstracted. Now the maps are, while gorgeous, highly complex, and it's hard to even imagine how it would look abstracted, let alone grid-locked. Combat is much more literal. Puzzles (and weapons) are visual and hands on. Dialoguing with characters is visual and literal. I didn't mind the expansion of combat from the 2D layout (distance) to 3D (with horizontal positioning) - to me that (in and of itself) seemed like the kind of next-gen enhancement appropriate for a sequel.
Generally, to me it seemed they went too much with a literal 3D game style, with the abstract nature of BT dropped to 2nd tier, at best, which makes the game seem like a different style, not in line with a sequential sequel.
So to answer the question directly: Start from an abstracted world gamepoint; think tabletop with a graphical interface, not 3D FPS/RPG with multiple characters; and don't tack on the option for abstracted gameplay as an afterthought to appeal to nostalgia if that mode didn't influence (or drive) the development of the game content.

Yeah that's vague, but literal creep is the term I coined some time back during the dev cycle, and it just seems to eek into most every aspect of the game like a poison that makes my bardic skin crawl. :P
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Themadcow » August 10th, 2018, 7:59 am

Jalis wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 7:07 am
In hindsight -- what specifically would have appeased us? Something literally more like the remasters, with the old school flat interface, looping 2d graphics? I'm not asking sarcastically or as though to disagree with any of the thoughts here that this is not a true Bard's Tale sequel in how it feels -- I agree, something is lacking.
Basically what Grimrock did for Dungeon Master/EOTB. Specifically:

- Nice modern graphics (but still tile based movement)
- Complex and deep party creation systems, but made easier due to modern UI's
- Likewise with spells and abilities - lots of variety, but UI's that make selection easier
- Challenging dungeons that force you to manage your spellpoints and hitpoints in order to go further each time (risk and reward), but maybe offer an option to 'pause' the game with a suspend save (like FTL) so that you don't have to play in 3 hour sessions...
- Fast paced and challenging combat. Strategy was never that big a deal in BT - your main strategy was deciding how many spellpoints to blow or save in order to make encounters harder/easier
- More variety in random encounters. The idea of 'big bads' wondering around the map in Etrian Odyssey that drop items for creating more powerful gear is great... why not use that?

Stuff I don't think was that big a deal:
- Puzzles, because the internet has pretty much made them redundant
- Exact replication of lore. Scara Brae moving isn't huge for me, but it would have been nice to keep it as it was

Modernise, not transform.
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Crosmando » August 10th, 2018, 12:39 pm

Just imagine what BT4 could of been if the "modern inspirations" the devs took were from games like Elminage Gothic, Stranger of Sword City, Grimoire, Lords of Xulima, as well as classic blobbers like Wizardry and M&M. What a waste man.
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Re: 'Not Bards Tale'

Post by Gizmo » August 10th, 2018, 1:11 pm

Themadcow wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 7:59 am
Jalis wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 7:07 am
In hindsight -- what specifically would have appeased us?
Basically what Grimrock did for Dungeon Master/EOTB. Specifically:

Modernise, not transform.
That's about as precisely on point as is possible, I think.
Why couldn't they think of that; way back at the outset? :evil:
Crosmando wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 12:39 pm
What a waste man.
It is. Sadly the exact same thing happened with FO3. :cry:

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