Party Building and Player Agency

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

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PsychicMonk
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » April 8th, 2018, 4:44 am

Gizmo wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 11:20 pm
This sounds more like a PC having a Glove-Of-Karate-Chop... and not know how to do the strike without wearing the glove. :?

(And yet apparently a fighter can have an axe that gives a Chop attack... that they can somehow later learn to do without the axe.) :?
Yes, this makes me wonder how monks without weapons can be viable in BT4. I really like this class in RPGs. Do they also have to learn from weapons?

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Dork Mage » April 8th, 2018, 5:54 am

PsychicMonk wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 4:44 am
Gizmo wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 11:20 pm
This sounds more like a PC having a Glove-Of-Karate-Chop... and not know how to do the strike without wearing the glove. :?

(And yet apparently a fighter can have an axe that gives a Chop attack... that they can somehow later learn to do without the axe.) :?
Yes, this makes me wonder how monks without weapons can be viable in BT4. I really like this class in RPGs. Do they also have to learn from weapons?
Probably robes and gloves... maybe rings and necklaces.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Zombra » April 8th, 2018, 9:31 am

PsychicMonk wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 7:26 pm
To get (slightly) back on topic: What are everybody's thoughts about equipment possibly beeing at least as important as xp/level in BT4 ?
In general, I like to see character abilities outshine gear abilities in RPGs. If my sniper spends 40 hours honing his skills and can shoot the eyelashes off a house fly with a slingshot by the end of the game, I feel good, and that's what I'll remember about the game. I'm less excited about having, say, a pair of front line fighters and one of them found the Axe of Gandorf so he becomes the awesome hero of the group even though the guy next to him worked just as hard. Games where "I found power armor so that is my character now" are disappointing.

For BT4, since it the combat is very much based on building a "deck" of abilities, it makes sense and is kind of cool for found items to add new "cards" to your your choices for party build. I especially like that a weapon can teach an ability to the character wielding it, so the man holding the sword remains more important than the sword itself. Although the system is weird and new and a huge departure from the combat of the original Bard's Tale games, which is unfortunate, it does seem to give the player plenty of agency in how his team grows and performs.
Gizmo wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 11:20 pm
This sounds more like a PC having a Glove-Of-Karate-Chop... and not know how to do the strike without wearing the glove. :?
(And yet apparently a fighter can have an axe that gives a Chop attack... that they can somehow later learn to do without the axe.) :?
:lol: Good examples. This is certainly a very "card gamey" mechanic and hard to accept as realistic. If you squint real hard you might be able to visualize a Karate Kid training scene, where the weight and balance of the weapon make it natural to swing it in a certain way, and then the hero tries the same move with other weapons. It'll definitely require an effort of disbelief suspension, moreso than in many CRPGs, for those who desire a sense of realism.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 8th, 2018, 10:20 am

Dork Mage wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 5:54 am
PsychicMonk wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 4:44 am
Yes, this makes me wonder how monks without weapons can be viable in BT4. I really like this class in RPGs. Do they also have to learn from weapons?
Probably robes and gloves... maybe rings and necklaces.
Monks that are reliant upon material possessions. :roll:

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by ZiN » April 8th, 2018, 10:57 am

Zombra wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 9:31 am
In general, I like to see character abilities outshine gear abilities in RPGs. If my sniper spends 40 hours honing his skills and can shoot the eyelashes off a house fly with a slingshot by the end of the game, I feel good, and that's what I'll remember about the game. I'm less excited about having, say, a pair of front line fighters and one of them found the Axe of Gandorf so he becomes the awesome hero of the group even though the guy next to him worked just as hard. Games where "I found power armor so that is my character now" are disappointing.
Bards and Gadgeteers would disagree with you, as opposed to say, Rebecca Heineman, who introduced the Geomancer class in BT3: At the endgame, all the warriors who "worked hard" (eg. being meatshields) could become Geomancers, with spells like EAMA (AoE instant-kill, affecting even magic-immune opponents) so it was their abilities instead of their gear that won the day (as opposed to, say the Sword of Zar, in BT2). The "Gandorf" gear, nicely complemented this by allowing them to use these abilities at reduced costs, so the monks who didn't need too much gear could happily hoard your harmonic gems, for really tough situations. Yup, monks were untouchable carriers in classic BT, not to be underestimated in a deadly environment, with limited inventories.
While Spectre Snare, for example, was a totally "Gandorf" instrument, it was nevertheless hell a lot of fun to use.

To be honest, these "card-game" and "learn from items" concepts sound like complete bullshit to me, that have absolutely nothing to do, with dungeon-crawling, "blobber" RPGs and Bard's Tale, and just show me, that InXile has no idea WTF they're doing. Sorry.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by demeisen » April 8th, 2018, 11:21 am

Zombra wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 9:31 am
I especially like that a weapon can teach an ability to the character wielding it, so the man holding the sword remains more important than the sword itself. Although the system is weird and new and a huge departure from the combat of the original Bard's Tale games, which is unfortunate, it does seem to give the player plenty of agency in how his team grows and performs.
I agree; it's new, but a nice idea (and new does not imply it shouldn't be in the game, if it has merit). For one thing, it'll provide some incentive to use a range of weapons. In many RPGs I end up using one kind of weapon, or it's natural successors (long sword, long sword +1, +2, +3, long sword of absurd awesomeness, long sword of smiting everything into wee little bits...) throughout the game. If you can learn weapon skills from using certain weapons for a while, that'll be a reason to both stick with one for a while, and also change sometimes to build well rounded characters. Basically it gives some importance to a matter beyond simply "which weapon has the best stats?"

Sounds like a good mechanic. Like anything it'll depend on its balance and feel in-game, but I'm in favor of this one.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 8th, 2018, 11:33 am

demeisen wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 11:21 am
In many RPGs I end up using one kind of weapon, or it's natural successors (long sword, long sword +1, +2, +3, long sword of absurd awesomeness, long sword of smiting everything into wee little bits...) throughout the game.
I really liked the way that Baldur's gate 2 had some late game enemies that were immune to magical weapons. Most players have long discarded all conventional weaponry by then, and they suddenly find themselves pitted against protected golems that are only affected by conventional blunt weapons. :lol:

(My twin Katanna wielding sword-saint was hopelessly out of their comfort-zone, running away, while scavenging everywhere for a cheap cudgel—that they had no training in the use of...)

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by demeisen » April 8th, 2018, 12:01 pm

Gizmo wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 11:33 am
I really liked the way that Baldur's gate 2 had some late game enemies that were immune to magical weapons. Most players have long discarded all conventional weaponry by then, and they suddenly find themselves pitted against protected golems that are only affected by conventional blunt weapons. :lol:
Agreed - devious (in a good way). Similarly, anti-magic zones in BT1, where suddenly your casters were twiddling their thumbs and you had only melee to get you out of a tight spot.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Zombra » April 8th, 2018, 12:10 pm

ZiN wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 10:57 am
Bards and Gadgeteers would disagree with you
Gadgeteers obviously are more identified by their equipment than the average profession; I mean it's right there in their name :) and there's nothing wrong with different classes being defined by their gear to a greater or lesser degree (monks being at the other end of the spectrum). I disagree with Bards, though. Wizardry tied the class much too strongly to equipment in my opinion. A Bard should be about his skill at performance, his knack for poetry and the songs he knows ... not whether he uses the Saxophone of Gandorf or the Sousaphone of Rondalf when he plays them. Good equipment makes a difference, of course, but I bet you can name a lot more famous musicians than famous instruments ;)
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 8th, 2018, 12:22 pm

demeisen wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 12:01 pm
...anti-magic zones in BT1, where suddenly your casters were twiddling their thumbs and you had only melee to get you out of a tight spot.
If they have those in BT4... Of what use is the mage PC within them? If they have no attacks, then they probably become ignored, and the opportunity points would get used on the other characters... but those could be on cool-down, and the player might have to end their turns with many unspent points.

By the looks of it, if they have them at all, it will play the same as if the spellcasters were unconscious; (since death is no longer a possibility).
*Also: It wouldn't make sense to be able to regenerate spell points in an anti-magic zone.

__

I would highly recommend implementing a use for unspent points. The points count as potential action, ending with unspent points counts as —doing nothing when you could have acted. Fallout accounted for unspent action as passive defensive ability. The PC could raise their armor class by conserving their potential to act; all unspent APs were added directly to their AC.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by demeisen » April 8th, 2018, 1:04 pm

Gizmo wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 12:22 pm
If they have those in BT4... Of what use is the mage PC within them?
Little to none, similar to BT1. But I think it should be a rare situation, encountered in a select few areas with some in-world justification.
I would highly recommend implementing a use for unspent points. The points count as potential action, ending with unspent points counts as —doing nothing when you could have acted. Fallout accounted for unspent action as passive defensive ability. The PC could raise their armor class by conserving their potential to act; all unspent APs were added directly to their AC.
Agreed. Also: some games let you carry over half the unspent ones to the next round. Though I like the ideas you raised too (shunting off to better defense or something like that).

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Drool » April 8th, 2018, 1:09 pm

PsychicMonk wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 7:26 pm
To get (slightly) back on topic: What are everybody's thoughts about equipment possibly beeing at least as important as xp/level in BT4 ?
With their FFT-inspired skills, I'm going to say gear is going to be paramount.
ZiN wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 10:56 pm
Sure, it is like that in most RPGs, including classic BT: Nospin Ring, Speedboots, Mage's/Conjurstaves, Frost/Flame Horns, Sword of Zar, Stoneblade, Bardsword and so on. These are pretty much game-changers
They were mostly utility items, though. They made your life easier, yes, but they still didn't give you the keys to the kingdom. And, hell, on the PC port of BT3, the Stoneblade didn't work. Frankly, I'd say the Nospin was probably the single most important piece of equipment while the rest you could take or leave. The character's innate stats and abilities were still the most important thing.
demeisen wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 12:01 pm
...anti-magic zones in BT1, where suddenly your casters were twiddling their thumbs and you had only melee to get you out of a tight spot.
I... don't remember that. I remember squares that would terminate your continual spells, but I don't remember zones where mages couldn't cast in combat.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by ZiN » April 8th, 2018, 2:40 pm

demeisen wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 12:01 pm
Agreed - devious (in a good way). Similarly, anti-magic zones in BT1, where suddenly your casters were twiddling their thumbs and you had only melee to get you out of a tight spot.
Not to mention the Grey Crypt in BT2. My 3 Archmages definitely had to prepare for that: Hunting around, spellbinding a few dragons with powerful breath attacks, plus power-levelling a hunter was fun, but I still ran from everything I could: Even mighty dragons would go down in the course of a few fights, without the powerful healing provided by Archmages.
Zombra wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 12:10 pm
A Bard should be about his skill at performance, his knack for poetry and the songs he knows ... not whether he uses the Saxophone of Gandorf or the Sousaphone of Rondalf when he plays them. Good equipment makes a difference, of course, but I bet you can name a lot more famous musicians than famous instruments ;)
Good point, but it is very hard to do well in a CRPG. I don't trust InXile, of all developers, could do it. Just look at how currently bard songs are "heal 2 points of damage to your party" and "mark enemies to take increased damage", etc. Obsidian had a honorable attempt, with their Chanters in PoE, but still not quite there. I highly enjoyed my double-bard melee juggernaut party in Wiz8 though.
Drool wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 1:09 pm
ZiN wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 10:56 pm
Sure, it is like that in most RPGs, including classic BT: Nospin Ring, Speedboots, Mage's/Conjurstaves, Frost/Flame Horns, Sword of Zar, Stoneblade, Bardsword and so on. These are pretty much game-changers
They were mostly utility items, though. They made your life easier, yes, but they still didn't give you the keys to the kingdom. And, hell, on the PC port of BT3, the Stoneblade didn't work. Frankly, I'd say the Nospin was probably the single most important piece of equipment while the rest you could take or leave. The character's innate stats and abilities were still the most important thing.
I'd say it was nicely balanced between the abilities (eg. spells) and the gear. Even Michael Cranford said that Mage's/Conjurstaves were essential. A level 1 bard, with a Bardsword could cast unlimited bard songs, or with a frost horn could 1-shot groups of foes, that would otherwise mop the floor with the party. And so on.
Drool wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 1:09 pm
demeisen wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 12:01 pm
...anti-magic zones in BT1, where suddenly your casters were twiddling their thumbs and you had only melee to get you out of a tight spot.
I... don't remember that. I remember squares that would terminate your continual spells, but I don't remember zones where mages couldn't cast in combat.
It's either you have played the PC version, or you remember wrong. There was no in, or out of combat spellcasting allowed on antimagic zones whatsoever.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Drool » April 8th, 2018, 2:56 pm

ZiN wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 2:40 pm
It's either you have played the PC version, or you remember wrong. There was no in, or out of combat spellcasting allowed on antimagic zones whatsoever.
Certainly possible I don't remember. Or that I darted out of antimagic squares before getting jumped.
ZiN wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 2:40 pm
I'd say it was nicely balanced between the abilities (eg. spells) and the gear. Even Michael Cranford said that Mage's/Conjurstaves were essential. A level 1 bard, with a Bardsword could cast unlimited bard songs, or with a frost horn could 1-shot groups of foes, that would otherwise mop the floor with the party. And so on.
Again, my experience is primarily with 3, but I think Michael's overstating things. Reducing SpPts costs was definitely useful, but more a quality of life issue than anything; I still consider Nospin more essential. Getting a Bardsword at level one would be a bit of a trick. Also, Bardswords come and go in their utility: as your Bard gets more and more songs per level and as your party gets tougher, having unlimited songs eventually becomes less useful. Also (at least in 3) there were other items that had the same functionality at higher levels and arguably more useful slots (instruments). Likewise, the Frost Horn's utility drops as the party levels.

I mean... would you rather have FADE, REST, and MIBL, or... a bardsword and a frost horn? To say nothing of NUKE or EAMA or WIFI.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by ZiN » April 8th, 2018, 3:15 pm

Alright, if you put it that way, obviously I would take the dozens of powerul spells. Along with enough harmonic gems to cast them. ; ) Unless I'm in an anti-magic zone. : P But still, the items in the classics had more imagination to their mechanics, than, say the unique puzzle sword, that after unlocking its power now does freezing damage. Believe it, or not, Michael and Becky had a much tighter vision of game mechanics (including itemization), than the random, trendy stuff InXile seems to be haphazardly putting together.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by thebruce » April 8th, 2018, 7:04 pm

Drool wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 2:56 pm
I mean... would you rather have FADE, REST, and MIBL, or... a bardsword and a frost horn? To say nothing of NUKE or EAMA or WIFI.
Both. I'd want the bard so every round I can sing and drop my party AC by 2. Additive. SO MUCH USEFUL. Survive the first couple of rounds and you could become all but invincible. I found great use for the bard, even high level, with unlimited songs.


As for weapon gear, my little input...
In BT the functional bonuses of items were abilities - spells, or added attacks, or nullification of game effects. They didn't provide a character the ability to 'learn' a new ability. They were all or nothing do it not.

I think inxile's finding that middle ground between item-enables-ability-X and use-of-item-allow-character-to-improve-personal-skill. Like, give your character a swordfighting skill, and that skill is improved when you wield a sword-- as opposed to monk has no swordfighting skill but wield Gandorf helps them improve their swordfighting skill.

I'd say it's a difference between skills and abilities. Items can grant abilities, but as tied to the item, and only as strong as it is with that item. Characters specialize in skills that can improve over time. Whether they're improved by leveling up at a review board, or by using items or performing actions successfully relevant to that skill is the real question.

I don't want to see character only able to learn any skill by using certain items (ie, not even saying that this char is a fighter and has therefore begun learning sword skills). The classes should begin with certain skills. Those skills should be improved either by active use or by review board bumping.

Having some kind of generic sword-swing skill only usable and improvable with sword of Gandorf doesn't make sense to me. But, if there's something special about the sword that provides a unique ability, then wielding that sword can grant that ability. That seems like a natural progression along the lines of say the Fire Horn. It's assumed that the bard has musical instrument playing skills, so is able to play the horn; the bard doesn't learn or improve the Fire Horn attack, it's an ability that's granted and tied to that item, as its static strength, not tied to character skill.

Skill and abilities, there's a distinction. :)
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Lord of Riva » April 9th, 2018, 7:05 am

To be honest, these "card-game" and "learn from items" concepts sound like complete bullshit to me, that have absolutely nothing to do, with dungeon-crawling, "blobber" RPGs and Bard's Tale, and just show me, that InXile has no idea WTF they're doing. Sorry.
This is by no means unheard of, of the top of my head actually it is very reminiscent of the SaGa series, Riviera: the promised land, final Fantasy IX / tactics and Growlanser.

While i actually do not know of any "blobber" who does that (i mean they are rather rare) there are a lot of TBS/RPGs with Dungeon crawling elements with mechanics like this.
Last edited by Lord of Riva on April 9th, 2018, 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by thebruce » April 9th, 2018, 7:53 am

...#obligatory...
But it's not Bard's Tale
;P
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Jademonk » April 18th, 2018, 4:12 am

Character creation in BT4 should be handled EXACTLY as it is in 1-3! No ‘main character,’ npcs who scale up, or any other such nonsense. And we should be able to create as many characters as we wish, with room for at least six in the party. Some aspects of gameplay have to be (and are being) modernized, but some others need to be sent back to the 80’s faster than you can say Mangar’s Mallet. Party building belongs to the latter category. This isn’t something that should be compromised on.

And did I read that your characters won’t be able to die?. Please tell me I read that wrong.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by ZiN » April 18th, 2018, 4:29 am

Jademonk, please head over to the Alpha item voting thread, where you can vote for various changes, like bringing back death and making a full party, etc. Casting your vote doesn't take more time, than creating a party for BT and every bit helps! PsychicMonk already did, so please follow your brother's example and vote! : )


ps. I suggest Image or Image as your avatar! : )

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