Party Building and Player Agency

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

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » April 5th, 2018, 12:45 pm

Gizmo wrote:
April 5th, 2018, 12:31 pm
PsychicMonk wrote:
April 5th, 2018, 12:26 pm
With something like Dungeon Master I meant no real character generation at all like in Dungeon Master.
I remember that Cadash was like that/ (Wizard, Warrior, Priest, and Ninja); no customization.

It may actually be that they are all pre-made PCs; even with their own names. It's voiced dialog, does anyone recall if a PC spoke to any other by name?

EDIT:
I just checked, and when the warrior asks the bard for a song, he refers to her as 'Lass', so it's presumably a PC gender check, and he'd call a male bard, "Lad" (or "Laddy")—unless the PCs are all prefabricated, and their identities known, with the voice recording done to suit; I hope it is not done this way, but I suspect that with animated and voiced PC avatars, that it probably does not allow much (or any) user customization of the characters.

**Perhaps they could re-render the PC archetypes with false colors, that could be user altered in-game during character selection.
In Dungeon Master you chose your characters at the beginning in a small dungeon section called "Hall of Champions" from a pool of pregenerated chars. It just came to my mind because while watching the alpha videos I noticed that they "forgot" to list things like "race" in the character sheets, pretty much like in Dungeon Master where you could only guess a possible race from the portraits.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Zombra » April 5th, 2018, 1:54 pm

Gizmo wrote:
April 5th, 2018, 12:31 pm
Alternatively, they might have made five of each, and have sensibly only shown the ones in the demo, to the public. I don't expect a different voice for each PC of a class though; it'd be a pleasant (and welcome) surprise if they did.
As I've said elsewhere, my hope is that voice packs won't be race- or class-locked. You can have a guy who talks about demons all the time without explicitly mentioning his own magic powers; or a thick, sturdy Scottish sounding fellow who's not necessarily a warrior. As always, Wizardry 8 sets the standard.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 5th, 2018, 2:18 pm

That's good in theory—and can be done, but in practice, the voices will often (IMO rightly) have mannerisms of speech, and dialect to reflect their character class (or at least meant to effect a certain stereotype). It just sounds better that way, and better than having an Archmage that talks like Mongo, and Monk or Paladin that talks like Sheriff Bart (when using his character voices).

Baldur's Gate was very neat in the way it let the player choose their character's voice; providing several sets of themed styles. (And players could make their own. I had a Duke Nukem voice set—lacking anachronisms, and I had the Rogue's voice from Diablo.)

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by demeisen » April 5th, 2018, 2:50 pm

Gizmo wrote:
April 5th, 2018, 12:31 pm
This at least could let the PCs to have a red shirts or a blue
Do not pick the red shirt.

This is very important.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Zombra » April 5th, 2018, 4:51 pm

Gizmo wrote:
April 5th, 2018, 2:18 pm
That's good in theory—and can be done, but in practice, the voices will often (IMO rightly) have mannerisms of speech, and dialect to reflect their character class (or at least meant to effect a certain stereotype). It just sounds better that way, and better than having an Archmage that talks like Mongo, and Monk or Paladin that talks like Sheriff Bart (when using his character voices).
A stereotyped voice doesn't have to be locked to a character class, period. My latest Wizardry 8 party has a Psionic caster with a voice like a moronic gorilla. They even included spellcasting barks and everything. He never says "Well I am only a fighter so", he just says dumb stuff and goes back to casting spells. That was my choice and it's fun as hell.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 5th, 2018, 9:01 pm

Zombra wrote:
April 5th, 2018, 4:51 pm
A stereotyped voice doesn't have to be locked to a character class, period. My latest Wizardry 8 party has a Psionic caster with a voice like a moronic gorilla. They even included spellcasting barks and everything. He never says "Well I am only a fighter so", he just says dumb stuff and goes back to casting spells. That was my choice and it's fun as hell.
I agree with that, but the voice sets in BG1 & 2 were sparse... the BT4 character probably talk throughout the game. I bet that we don't get to pick the voices.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Zombra » April 6th, 2018, 12:59 am

Gizmo wrote:
April 5th, 2018, 9:01 pm
The BT4 character probably talk throughout the game. I bet that we don't get to pick the voices.
You may be right ... I hope not. :( That would be pushing "dealbreaker" with me.

Again, Wizardry 8 had 18 voice packs per gender, not locked to classes or races, and characters talked throughout the (100+ hour) game with a pretty small development team (count the credited employees in the manual. Don't overlook duplicate entries). I'm not saying it's easy, but it is doable and this should be the standard they are shooting for. They're in California for chrissake, how hard can it be to find cheap acting talent? OK, I just said it's easy.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by ZiN » April 6th, 2018, 3:55 am

Zombra wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 12:59 am
Gizmo wrote:
April 5th, 2018, 9:01 pm
The BT4 character probably talk throughout the game. I bet that we don't get to pick the voices.
You may be right ... I hope not. :( That would be pushing "dealbreaker" with me.
Interesting. For me it's just a drop in the bucket, besides all the things they are doing, in order to make this a non-old-school, non-Bard's Tale game.

There are ~ 8 races, ~ 8 classes (if we don't count the mage specializations, which indeed had different portraits in the classics), which means, a minimum of ~32 portraits.
That is roughly the amount Wiz8 and M&M X had, both with 20ish voice packs. M&M X also had different expressions for hurt, poisoned, insane, etc. conditions, while Wiz 8's ones were nicely animated (much higher quality of art, than the ones in the BT4 demo, I might add), plus the customization of voice packs.
M&M X had well-drawn inventory paper-dolls, while Wiz8 had these cool, stylized dolls, based on gender and race. Needless to say, both were ages ahead of the ugly, soulless, cheap-asset-quality 3D ones we've seen in the BT4 demo. As I've mentioned before, we're at shovelware MMO quality and with a Q4 2018 target, I doubt there will be any significant improvements.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » April 6th, 2018, 9:58 am

ZiN wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 3:55 am
[...] Needless to say, both were ages ahead of the ugly, soulless, cheap-asset-quality 3D ones we've seen in the BT4 demo. As I've mentioned before, we're at shovelware MMO quality and with a Q4 2018 target, I doubt there will be any significant improvements.
The release is even earlier (Q3 2018) if nothing changed. With less than 6 months left I'm beginning to wonder why we haven't gotten more informations about the game yet.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by thebruce » April 6th, 2018, 10:17 am

New article from Mercury News, included one paragraph relevant to party creation and some discussion here:
What’s interesting is that players can bring along party members crafted by inXile or they can add their own characters. The thing that matters is that party members scale up with the foes and main character. That means players can freely choose, which hero to bring along and craft parties for different scenarios.
Firstly, I'd love to know if gameplay details are being revealed to media before backers, or whether article authors (this isn't the first) are inferring certain gameplay mechanics on their own; and whether their inferences are accurate.

Secondly, what does "scale up with" mean? I really hope it doesn't mean that enemies will always be around your party's skill level, just so that there's never too easy or too hard encounters. I don't want to return to the cellar many levels later to fight little spiders that can now poison me in 10 seconds, when I should just be able to step on it. Or goblins that suddenly have 10x the dexterity they had earlier to match my fighter's advanced melee abilities... Creatures strengths are stats should be static through the game, with difficulty based on where you're going, not dynamically based on how advanced your characters are! nonono

Thirdly, this author does seem to confirm that you start with a defined character and can either add other pre-defined characters or create your own.

These are the sorts of details I'd hope/expect to see in KS updates, for clarity and accuracy, rather than 2nd hand from reporters who've never played BT before :(
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by demeisen » April 6th, 2018, 10:28 am

Gizmo wrote:
April 5th, 2018, 11:57 am
This shouldn't matter, because we paid for the game before they had even begun to develop it..
I seriously doubt we did though. It's hard to imagine that the $1.5m they got from the KS will fund a game with the kind of detailed 3D environments they showed in the first KS teaser video. At least for a studio in the USA - I might imagine it if you developed it in Eastern Europe. Obviously I don't really know, but I suspect they must consider post-release viability, not only what a pretty small number of us players of the classics think.

Of course, I hope they throw us everything they possibly can... especially when doable without upending the whole cart of apples, which I'd guess covers quite a few of the suggestions that've been floated around in these threads. E.g, your "damage to subsequent waves" idea, which seems like it can fit in nicely with what we've seen so far, and provides some of the classic's dynamics where a spell can damage many enemies at once, a little bit each. In fact, the more I think about that idea the more I like it.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 6th, 2018, 10:42 am

demeisen wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 10:28 am
I seriously doubt we did though. It's hard to imagine that the $1.5m they got from the KS will fund a game with the kind of detailed 3D environments they showed in the first KS teaser video. At least for a studio in the USA - I might imagine it if you developed it in Eastern Europe. Obviously I don't really know, but I suspect they must consider post-release viability, not only what a pretty small number of us players of the classics think.
But do you mean that they would intentionally do the game at a scope that would put them well in the hole (into debt) on the speculation that they could have future sales of the game to pull them up again (into being profitable)?
...That they could never do the proposed game for the amount that they asked for?

My (possibly mistaken) impression is that somewhere along the way, they decided to shift the tone of the game away from the BT style towards a trending style, in the hope of having an additional market to sell it to... and that this comes at the cost of compromise; compromising for the sake of additional sales to people that had no interest in funding the proposed game.
ZiN wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 3:55 am
Needless to say, both were ages ahead of the ugly, soulless, cheap-asset-quality 3D ones we've seen in the BT4 demo.
I haven't been particularly impressed or enthused with the PC avatars that we have so far seen.

3D and 2D are just the medium used to depict the subject. There can be good and poor examples of each; each can be done painterly or graphically. It's only the end visual result of the artwork that matters; with the exception of a real need in some instances for using one method over the other, for performance reasons. I've even read that Unreal struggles behind Unity3D when used for 2D games on various platforms. I guess that it is just not optimized for anything but showing 3 scenes.

For depicting the party members in the UI, I am fine with real 3D avatars, or 2D video-clips, or even 2D skeletal animations. Whatever works best for the developers is fine by me.
*But I've always had a personal peeve of when the low detail version of a thing, does not match a down-sampling of the high detail version of that same thing. To me the 3D party members in the character screens don't look like the UI avatars.
_______
On a side note:
It's interesting that Fallout 1 is as slow as it is—even today, because it has to load a vast amount of 2d sprites to assemble its level maps.... but they did it that way because they could not get fast enough detail & performance on the target machines when using 3D polygons. They did consider doing it 3D, and chose not to. But the Fallout art assets were very much done in 3D; some of it was even sculpted by hand in clay, and then imported into Lightwave 3D using a digital scribing tool. The end result was 2D rendered sprites made from the original 3D art.
Last edited by Gizmo on April 6th, 2018, 10:54 am, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » April 6th, 2018, 10:42 am

thebruce wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 10:17 am
New article from Mercury News, included one paragraph relevant to party creation and some discussion here:
What’s interesting is that players can bring along party members crafted by inXile or they can add their own characters. The thing that matters is that party members scale up with the foes and main character. That means players can freely choose, which hero to bring along and craft parties for different scenarios.
Firstly, I'd love to know if gameplay details are being revealed to media before backers, or whether article authors (this isn't the first) are inferring certain gameplay mechanics on their own; and whether their inferences are accurate.

Secondly, what does "scale up with" mean? I really hope it doesn't mean that enemies will always be around your party's skill level, just so that there's never too easy or too hard encounters. I don't want to return to the cellar many levels later to fight little spiders that can now poison me in 10 seconds, when I should just be able to step on it. Or goblins that suddenly have 10x the dexterity they had earlier to match my fighter's advanced melee abilities... Creatures strengths are stats should be static through the game, with difficulty based on where you're going, not dynamically based on how advanced your characters are! nonono

Thirdly, this author does seem to confirm that you start with a defined character and can either add other pre-defined characters or create your own.

These are the sorts of details I'd hope/expect to see in KS updates, for clarity and accuracy, rather than 2nd hand from reporters who've never played BT before :(
To me this sounds exactly like my worries come true: One "chosen" main char + either some NPCs with personality or some generic created henchmen like in POE.

Regarding the scaling:
I'm not sure if enemies will scale but this sounds like the NPCs and player created Henchmen will automatically scale to the level of the main character. So if you create a new Henchman then he/she will automatically get the experience the main char currently has and if you choose to bring along another NPC then he/she will also get the experience. This can be easiliy exploited by creating Henchmen optimised for excactly one specific encounter. Also in the article they sound like they think creating characters on the fly for a specific game situation is a good game mechanic...

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 6th, 2018, 11:03 am

PsychicMonk wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 10:42 am
So if you create a new Henchman then he/she will automatically get the experience the main char currently has and if you choose to bring along another NPC then he/she will also get the experience.
Baldur's Gate handled this well enough. Recruit-able party members scaled to the Party's level—the first time they were added.

Also/or... if there is an XP system with D&D style leveling, then a new PC won't stay level one past the first fight with a high level party—if they survived it.

It may be that BT4 copies Shadow Run, in the way the NPC's improve... This wouldn't exactly be terrible, but it's not at all like Bard's Tale should be.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » April 6th, 2018, 11:07 am

Gizmo wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 11:03 am
Baldur's Gate handled this well enough. Recruit-able party members scaled to the Party's level—the first time they were added.
This would be ok but it seems that in BT4 scaling is always on so you can create additional characters on the fly for any specific game situation and NPCs will also scale all the time. I hope this is not their idea about how to get along with the reduced spell list per character: If I need another 5 spells in any situatiuon then I have to create a dummy char with those spells.
Last edited by PsychicMonk on April 6th, 2018, 11:24 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by thebruce » April 6th, 2018, 11:14 am

Don't like scaling. It's not BT.
If you had super powerful characters by the time you picked up an intended NPC in the OG BT, that character would be weaker than you. That's the way it should be. Your path was focusing on improving your party more than expected. That NPC didn't magically improve along with you without having even met you. If you're weak, let them join being super-strong in comparison; if you're super strong, they should stay weaker. That's the benefit/result of your own gameplay choices.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 6th, 2018, 11:22 am

thebruce wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 11:14 am
Don't like scaling. It's not BT.
If you had super powerful characters by the time you picked up an intended NPC in the OG BT, that character would be weaker than you. That's the way it should be.
That's also the way it was in the SSI games; and that is my own preference as well... although... this always assumes that the new character is fresh off the wagon, and just starting their adventuring days.

**Actually the later GB games start your characters off with several levels already earned. I don't recall (yet) if making new PCs in the later games started them at level 1.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » April 6th, 2018, 11:26 am

thebruce wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 11:14 am
Don't like scaling. It's not BT.
Pretty much the whole game is not BT if you ask me

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » April 6th, 2018, 11:36 am

Gizmo wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 11:22 am
thebruce wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 11:14 am
Don't like scaling. It's not BT.
If you had super powerful characters by the time you picked up an intended NPC in the OG BT, that character would be weaker than you. That's the way it should be.
That's also the way it was in the SSI games; and that is my own preference as well... although... this always assumes that the new character is fresh off the wagon, and just starting their adventuring days.

**Actually the later GB games start your characters off with several levels already earned. I don't recall (yet) if making new PCs in the later games started them at level 1.
In the GB series your party was only new and unexperienced in the first game of each series. Any sequel assumed that the chars were the same that solved the prequel but if I remember it correctly then new chars started with a little less experience than you could earn by finishing the prequel. Also you didn't get the nice equipment.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 6th, 2018, 11:42 am

I could have phrased it better... what I meant with the last bit about making new characters, was making replacement characters after the game was already begun; using the initial party. Do you recall if any new PCs made in the hall began with experience, or were they level one?

**I'm going to check this now and see. ;)

edit: It's funny (and sad) as hell to me that while the DOSBox 0.74 installer is less than 1.5 MB, and Pool of Darkness (installed!) is about 3.5 MB... GoG's installer for the game makes the download 44 MB. :shock: :shock:
Last edited by Gizmo on April 6th, 2018, 11:56 am, edited 4 times in total.

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