The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 11th, 2017, 8:00 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 11th, 2017, 7:17 pm
And this is where my concern is. One would think that you may need an automatic level validator to walk all paths along nodes in a level after the art team has potentially created obstacles that would be navigable via free-form movement but not via grid-based movement.
Sounds like someone's played Menzoberranzan. :lol:

(Or if not... That is precisely the issue in that game; obstacles navigable in the free movement mode, and impassible using the gridstep mode.)

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Ether » September 12th, 2017, 4:48 am

I don't know what this means. What does modern mean in this context?
FWIW, here's my [incomplete] two cents on making the series more modern:

1. More complex combat. I know this is an exaggeration, but don't think the vast majority of people want to see a return of AAAAHDD or something along those line. A more elaborate set up of resistances and vulnerabilities I think is a given also.

2. More detailed plot/story/background.
It doesn't have to be like games such as Skyrim, of course, but look at the difference between BT3 and the 1st two games to see what I'm talking about.

BTW, I love the graphic that Gizmo puts up with The Sage from time to time.

3. More customization and variability in characters.

4. Crafting and upgrading of equipment.
This I don't necessarily want to see. I'm cool with it if it's on a limited basis and doesn't turn into a timesink.

There's probably more, but that's all I have time for now.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by thebruce » September 12th, 2017, 5:53 am

Note you didn't list anything related to layout of maps and movement ;)
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Zombra » September 12th, 2017, 11:19 am

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 11th, 2017, 7:17 pm
Gunder wrote:
September 8th, 2017, 7:21 pm
We want BT IV to feel like a modern game
I don't know what this means. What does modern mean in this context?
Gonna take this question in a different direction and answer out of context, because it's an interesting one.

In 3 or fewer sentences, and in optimistic terms, what defines "a modern game" to you? In other words, what do you want a developer to mean when they say this?

To me, a good "modern" game is one that isn't clunky, slow, ugly, and frustrating to try to play; instead, it plays smoothly, has good pacing, projects its vision beautifully, and its systems, controls, and rhythms are engaging and comprehensible. It's OK if it's challenging, surprising, or outright hard, but the hard part is the game itself, not the communication/interface between player and game.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by demeisen » September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm

Ether wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 4:48 am
1. More complex combat. I know this is an exaggeration, but don't think the vast majority of people want to see a return of AAAAHDD or something along those line. A more elaborate set up of resistances and vulnerabilities I think is a given also.
Agreed 100%! That's probably my #1 hope for BT4: that it gives us interesting, deeply tactical combat. I loves me some BT1, but its combat system has not aged well at all. I'm cautiously optimistic about the BT4 system so far, even though we don't know too much about it yet. Early on InXile mentioned heading in a more tactical direction, maybe with a dash of MtG spirit in the recipe. We'll see I guess, but they were saying the right kinds of things.
3. More customization and variability in characters.
Yep.

My list would also include:

4. A more coherent feel to the world. The early BT's had a very random-number-generator feel. There was little rhyme or reason to which creatures you encountered where. "You face death itself in the form of: bizarrely random pile of things". Modern games tend to feel more like believable places, for lack of a better word. This area is a long abandoned necropolis infested with undead. This area is outdoors in the woods with a lot of wolves and bears. Etc.

5. Less grindy.

6. An auto-mapping option, which we're getting AFAIK. I've been down the hand mapped road, got the binders of graph paper to prove it. Don't need or want to do it again.

7. Leave behind some of the things that were technical limitations of the day. 2D animated creatures. Wrap-around dungeons. Samey feel of many different areas.

8. Better inventory and item equipping systems.

Mostly, I feel they're heading in a decent way so far with BT4. I'm sure I'll find things I wish were done differently once I get to play it, but that's gonna be true for any game at all. Mostly I desperately plead to stay away from slapstick, and from making it some kind of single-char FPS mechanic. I can forgive a range of lesser sins :lol:.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by demeisen » September 12th, 2017, 2:22 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 11th, 2017, 7:27 pm
Gunder wrote:
September 10th, 2017, 11:46 pm
Now, if you have questions about the gory technical details of the grid generating system, or my thoughts on the C++17 proposed standards that were just accepted,
I'd be happy to hear more detail on the grid generating system (or the C++17 standard, though I'm barely caught up on the C++14 standard - lambdas, yah - the language has evolved quite a bit since my Stroustrup-autographed The C++ Programming Language (Third Edition)).
Good old C++ lambdas, only 60 years behind John McCarthy :D

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by thebruce » September 12th, 2017, 3:34 pm

demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
Mostly I desperately plead to stay away from slapstick, and from making it some kind of single-char FPS mechanic.
With this much I most definitely concur!
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 12th, 2017, 5:49 pm

Zombra wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 11:19 am
In 3 or fewer sentences, and in optimistic terms, what defines "a modern game" to you?
Made in the year it's described.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Drool » September 12th, 2017, 6:02 pm

Gizmo wrote:
September 11th, 2017, 10:31 am
I don't agree here... To me that can be somewhat akin to a [film] director being given or inheriting an established (say...a science fiction) property who has never heard of it, who might not even like the genre, and doing whatever they please with it.
See: Paul Verhoven's Starship Troopers
demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
Ether wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 4:48 am
1. More complex combat. I know this is an exaggeration, but don't think the vast majority of people want to see a return of AAAAHDD or something along those line. A more elaborate set up of resistances and vulnerabilities I think is a given also.
Agreed 100%! That's probably my #1 hope for BT4: that it gives us interesting, deeply tactical combat.
I'd say this is the thing I dread the most, but I've already given up on simple combat. Looks like every single combat is going to be a tedious slog of dancing around and juggling enemies. Which either means the game is going to be blink-and-you-miss-it short, or a horrible, soul-crushing grind of combat micromanagement.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 12th, 2017, 6:07 pm

Drool wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 6:02 pm
Gizmo wrote:
September 11th, 2017, 10:31 am
I don't agree here... To me that can be somewhat akin to a [film] director being given or inheriting an established (say...a science fiction) property who has never heard of it, who might not even like the genre, and doing whatever they please with it.
See: Paul Verhoven's Starship Troopers
What's odd about that? Didn't he do Robocop? It would seem right up his alley.

As for combat... I would prefer a system closely derived from Bard's Tale, rather than some unrelated system that is also phase or turn based.

As example: Just imagine FO3 (or 4) as it could have been... without VATS, and with combat that essentially plays out like SuperHot.
*But note that this is a 'make the best of a bad deal' solution. I'd have much preferred an updated instance of the proper combat system from the series; like FO Tactics had—if you ignore its abominable continuous turn combat mode, that they set as default for some silly reason.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 12th, 2017, 6:52 pm

I don't know what this means. What does modern mean in this context?
FWIW, here's my [incomplete] two cents on making the series more modern:
None of what you list actually says what modern means in this context, unless you are trying to provide your own definition by example - in which case it looks like a list of personal preferences more than a coherent definition. I was really asking the developer what his use of the word modern meant, in case he cared to respond.
Zombra wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 11:19 am
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 11th, 2017, 7:17 pm
I don't know what this means. What does modern mean in this context?
Gonna take this question in a different direction and answer out of context, because it's an interesting one.

In 3 or fewer sentences, and in optimistic terms, what defines "a modern game" to you? In other words, what do you want a developer to mean when they say this?
We've heard at various places in this forum what some players think modern means, either by example or by attempt at an actual definition. At this point, I am very interested in what people like Brian Fargo and Greg Underwood think is modern, why they think it is relevant to this game that they are producing, and how they intend to apply the notion to said game.

To reiterate what I've said elsewhere, I believe the following things are now at a higher standard than they were 25 years ago and can be applied to the sequel (here's your 3 sentences, Zombra):
  • Our improved understanding of good UI design and good UX can be applied to the game by streamlining various tasks, such as inventory management, keeping in mind that this is not blank check to create a user experience which is utterly foreign to the originals.
  • Our graphics technology has improved substantially, allowing for us to display much higher definition animated portraits of characters and monsters, where each is unique to a particular type, and to render beautiful, detailed 3D environments as part of the game world, while keeping in mind that these need not be free-form but can be grid-based and show visual grid-like cues in keeping with tradition and ease of manual mapping.
  • Our audio technology has improved substantially, allowing us to play lengthy, beautiful musical scores and high fidelity sounds to help immerse the player in an adventuresome environment for long periods of time.
To me, a good "modern" game is one that isn't clunky, slow, ugly, and frustrating to try to play; instead, it plays smoothly, has good pacing, projects its vision beautifully, and its systems, controls, and rhythms are engaging and comprehensible. It's OK if it's challenging, surprising, or outright hard, but the hard part is the game itself, not the communication/interface between player and game.
Agreed. I think this is in line with my thoughts on user interface and user experience. There are many learnings over the past 30 years to be had in that area and applied. But, none of that implies that the fundamental structure or systems of an earlier game need to be thrown out, as we are seeing happen with BT IV.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 12th, 2017, 7:17 pm

demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
4. A more coherent feel to the world. The early BT's had a very random-number-generator feel. There was little rhyme or reason to which creatures you encountered where. "You face death itself in the form of: bizarrely random pile of things". Modern games tend to feel more like believable places, for lack of a better word. This area is a long abandoned necropolis infested with undead. This area is outdoors in the woods with a lot of wolves and bears. Etc.
I wouldn't regard this as being part of a definition of modernity in a game, but I do agree on the point, as a matter of personal preference and don't think it is particularly antagonistic to the spirit of the series.
demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
7. Leave behind some of the things that were technical limitations of the day. 2D animated creatures. Wrap-around dungeons. Samey feel of many different areas.
This argument has come up from time to time in this forum, where someone believes that defining characteristics of a game must be ditched, just because they were allegedly born of technical limitations. I don't buy this argument.
  • 2D animated portraits can exist in a game today and be really nice - what's the problem? They dovetail nicely with the abstracted combat space of the original series, which one would also expect to see in a sequel.
  • I'm not sure why a wraparound dungeon would be considered a technical limitation, but, regardless, I find them to be fun in some cases and see no reason to not include them in a contemporary game.
demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
8. Better inventory and item equipping systems.
Yes, this is the example I usually cite when arguing for improved UX in a sequel. Of all the things listed above, I would consider this to be an area where there are applicable advances.
demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
Mostly I desperately plead to stay away from slapstick, and from making it some kind of single-char FPS mechanic.
With this, I heartily agree.
demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:22 pm
Good old C++ lambdas, only 60 years behind John McCarthy :D
Heh. Indeed. I've programmed in various Lisps (particularly Scheme) over the years and there's a lot to be said for them. The main problem one runs into with them is usually performance, due to non-locality. (Chasing pointers all over the heap isn't a great way to keep pages in cache and returning copies of everything isn't either.) No one said lambdas were a new invention, but it is nice to finally have them in languages that do other things well.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Zombra » September 12th, 2017, 8:49 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 6:52 pm
There are many learnings over the past 30 years to be had in [user interface and experience] and applied. But, none of that implies that the fundamental structure or systems of an earlier game need to be thrown out, as we are seeing happen with BT IV.
Strongly agree. To "modernize" a game should mean to streamline the interface (e.g. no more clicking through 6 screens to cast 1 spell), not the game systems or structure.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Woolfe » September 12th, 2017, 10:37 pm

Zombra wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 11:19 am
In 3 or fewer sentences, and in optimistic terms, what defines "a modern game" to you? In other words, what do you want a developer to mean when they say this?
A modern game. What is the difference between a modern game and just a good game?

OK. I could do 4 sentences(The first 2 are similar but not the same), with an example/clarification for each.

Reduce complexity of action, not complexity of thought. So keep the deep spell system, but reduce the menu clicking.

Thoughtful(Micro?)Management that can be as deep or shallow as you want. Removing "management" altogether removes the associated weight to the decision making. Some might be happy clicking an "Autofill" button exclusively, but some may want to carefully select how many potions of healing or quivers of arrows, or days of food. Not everyone sees these things as a "chore".

Multiple solutions to problems. The days of not being able to open a wooden door because you don't have a key, but do have an axe, should be gone.

Be open with how things work, but do some things under the hood. Stats are great, but don't give all the information for every little thing. When players know every intricacy, they will min max, by keeping some of the workings hidden a certain degree of mystery remains. Allowing for "random" effects without being as arbitrary as an RNG. We have these amazing computers that can do complex variable crunching in a very small amount of time. Use it.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 12th, 2017, 11:10 pm

A modern game, is one that takes into account the reduced attention span, and increased sense of player entitlement found in its biggest potential market, and then streamlines out anything that might irritate them (even at the cost of pleasing the lesser sized niche markets). This may include crippling or removing RPG mechanics...and anything else that might seek to restrict options, or be seen as a punishment (in the most inclusive sense imaginable)... And seeing as it is a core principle to restrict the player to the character in an RPG, this is why we get almost zero actual RPGs in our modern era, though we get plenty of games posing as them—it's a very marketable term.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by thebruce » September 13th, 2017, 7:07 am

Drool wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 6:02 pm
demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
Ether wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 4:48 am
1. More complex combat. I know this is an exaggeration, but don't think the vast majority of people want to see a return of AAAAHDD or something along those line. A more elaborate set up of resistances and vulnerabilities I think is a given also.
Agreed 100%! That's probably my #1 hope for BT4: that it gives us interesting, deeply tactical combat.
I'd say this is the thing I dread the most, but I've already given up on simple combat. Looks like every single combat is going to be a tedious slog of dancing around and juggling enemies. Which either means the game is going to be blink-and-you-miss-it short, or a horrible, soul-crushing grind of combat micromanagement.
Yes, this. Some say BT classic combat is WAY too simplified for "modern" culture. And so, we get a highly complex lengthier battle mechanic? Can there not be some balance in between? Quick simple combat isn't ..not.. "modern", it's just a game mechanic. The answer isn't that slow and drawn out complex combat is "modern". That too is just a mechanic. The problem is deciding which mechanic is more appropriate for the game being designed and target audience.

I mean really, in an era of $2 mobile games earning billions, "speed" is not the outdated bottleneck here - it's implementation.

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 7:17 pm
demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
7. Leave behind some of the things that were technical limitations of the day. 2D animated creatures. Wrap-around dungeons. Samey feel of many different areas.
This argument has come up from time to time in this forum, where someone believes that defining characteristics of a game must be ditched, just because they were allegedly born of technical limitations. I don't buy this argument.
  • 2D animated portraits can exist in a game today and be really nice - what's the problem? They dovetail nicely with the abstracted combat space of the original series, which one would also expect to see in a sequel.
  • I'm not sure why a wraparound dungeon would be considered a technical limitation, but, regardless, I find them to be fun in some cases and see no reason to not include them in a contemporary game.
Yes. Plenty of "modern" games still use 2D/animated graphics. It's artwork. It's not a technical limitation unless the original devs WANTED to do 3D. Even so, the resulting product was one which was perfect for 2D imagery anyway, so it's certainly not a techinical limitation. Technology has grown to allow 3D, but just because it can doesn't mean it should, and plenty of major development companies know this. No reason why BT4 must be 3D (which isn't me saying it shouldn't, just arguing the point).

Also, I'd say wraparound dungeons are actually a technical achievement, not a limitation. Really, it would take more code to allow recognition of party location being outside the bounds of a map and then adjust the position to the other end. Likewise, the mechnic's provision allows for non-wraparound maps by simply dropping wall at the boundaries. So no, wraparound maps aren't a limitation, they are an advanced concept in the game's technical context.


And because I really want to emphasize this:
_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 7:17 pm
demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
Mostly I desperately plead to stay away from slapstick, and from making it some kind of single-char FPS mechanic.
With this, I heartily agree.
I already heartily agreed, but I will once more :)

Woolfe wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 10:37 pm
What is the difference between a modern game and just a good game?
OK. I could do 4 sentences(The first 2 are similar but not the same), with an example/clarification for each.
And also agree with all of these!
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Gizmo » September 13th, 2017, 8:57 am

thebruce wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 7:07 am
No reason why BT4 must be 3D (which isn't me saying it shouldn't, just arguing the point).
I think that a modern BT4 could probably have been made using the Build Engine, and—provided there was a good game to it, it could have been just fine.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by Zombra » September 13th, 2017, 10:11 am

thebruce wrote:
September 13th, 2017, 7:07 am
Some say BT classic combat is WAY too simplified for "modern" culture. And so, we get a highly complex lengthier battle mechanic? Can there not be some balance in between? Quick simple combat isn't ..not.. "modern", it's just a game mechanic. The answer isn't that slow and drawn out complex combat is "modern". That too is just a mechanic. The problem is deciding which mechanic is more appropriate for the game being designed and target audience.
Well ... if we can accept that they didn't want to do the old combat model, I'd rather their new take be something they have a strong vision for instead of a halfhearted "kinda like the old system but messed up and different a little bit but not too much". For good or ill, Brian saw Hearthstone and started getting cool ideas. I'm sure we'd all prefer a fun, robust system that reminds us of the originals. Given a choice between really fun and robust or like the originals? Easy decision. I don't want them to force retro design if they aren't enthusiastic it'll be good.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by thebruce » September 13th, 2017, 10:51 am

Agreed
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update #38: Everything Old Is New Again

Post by demeisen » September 13th, 2017, 1:23 pm

Drool wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 6:02 pm
demeisen wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 2:15 pm
Ether wrote:
September 12th, 2017, 4:48 am
1. More complex combat. I know this is an exaggeration, but don't think the vast majority of people want to see a return of AAAAHDD or something along those line. A more elaborate set up of resistances and vulnerabilities I think is a given also.
Agreed 100%! That's probably my #1 hope for BT4: that it gives us interesting, deeply tactical combat.
I'd say this is the thing I dread the most, but I've already given up on simple combat. Looks like every single combat is going to be a tedious slog of dancing around and juggling enemies. Which either means the game is going to be blink-and-you-miss-it short, or a horrible, soul-crushing grind of combat micromanagement.
Hmm. Could be we legit want very different things, or also could be we're more aligned than it sounds like, but talking along a different axis. I definitely don't want "blink and you miss it short", nor single combats (outside some exceptional cases such as boss/miniboss fights) that last super long. I don't want each fight to be the length of a chess match, but it needs to have enough rounds to allow for some complexity to unfold.

To me endless repetitions of very similar tactics are what ends up "soul-crushing". What I'm hoping for is combat that's tactically deeper than BT1 was. I'm wanting a system with more meat on the bones precisely so it's not a slog of reacting almost the same way in fight after fight. I don't even have much of a preference about how it might work. I'd be fine with a wide range of possible systems, provided whatever they invent requires me to be mentally engaged, think past the current round, react to my enemy's tactical shifts as they react to mine, play to my strengths and my opponent's weaknesses, etc. Stats should matter, and the superior force should hold an advantage, but (within reason) I should also be able to best a superior force if I'm the more clever leader who can better frustrate my enemy's plans while denying them the ability to frustrate my own.

I believe mental engagement is the antidote for grind or tedium, and that requires a deeper system to provide the variety and the tactical possibilities.

But if we really do want almost opposite things... fair enough, and respect for your desires also. Game designers have a rough job: they can't make everybody happy. I honestly do feel for you if BT4 ends up dashing any of your hopes. I'm in that boat a bit with POE2, with it moving in directions I'm not keen to see after I loved the first installment, so I can empathize.

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