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 6th, 2018, 11:47 am

Gizmo wrote:
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. ;)
I'm too lazy to check but I'm pretty sure that there was no difference. All created characters started with the same experience.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 6th, 2018, 12:16 pm

I started a new game (in Pool of Darkness), entered the training hall, and made a new thief character, and she started at 16th level.

Next, I started a new game in Bard's Tale 3, using the default party, and they were all 2nd level characters.
(But I removed one, and made a new warrior to replace him, and that PC started as a level 1 character.)

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » April 6th, 2018, 1:08 pm

Gizmo wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 12:16 pm
I started a new game (in Pool of Darkness), entered the training hall, and made a new thief character, and she started at 16th level.

Next, I started a new game in Bard's Tale 3, using the default party, and they were all 2nd level characters.
(But I removed one, and made a new warrior to replace him, and that PC started as a level 1 character.)
The difference is that even in the GB series new characters only got a fixed amount of xp at the beginning. The scaling in BT4 would mean that at any given time a new character would get the same xp that the main character currently has. This is even worse in a game with skill trees and different builds per class like BT4. You can constantly create optimized dummy chars that perfecly fit any given situation. "The enemies in this dungeon level are weak against these abilities/spells/weapon types? I better create some dummy chars that focus on exactly those abilities/spells/weapon types and remove them after they have served their purpose..." The only thing you most likely can't insta level with this is the stupid "learn abilities from items" mechanic (this might be a reason why it's even in there)

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Drool » April 6th, 2018, 2:54 pm

Zombra wrote:
April 3rd, 2018, 5:41 pm
Well, back in July 2015 we had this update which stated:
inXile wrote:First off, we have read your arguments regarding expanding the party, and heard you! So we have decided to expand the player party size to six, one of which will be a companion NPC. Additionally, you will have summoned creatures and the like to aid you, which will not count against your party cap. Currently, our plan is to allow you to summon as many additional creatures as there are available grid slots.
Random thought: I wonder what happens when an enemy uses a knockback attack when you've got a party of 8.
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.
So, completely gutting every single mechanic in the game along with thrashing the story and world is fine, but voices is where the line is...
Gizmo wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 11:22 am
**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.
Each Gold Box game had a minimum and maximum level. Pool of Radiance went from 1 to 6. Curse went from 5 to 10 (or so). I believe you start at level 9 in Secret of the Silver Blades. This held in the Krynn and Savage Frontier games (and, I believe, the Buck Rogers games too since they were the same engine). That said, NPCs also had set levels, so if you did some grinding, they were pretty unremarkable by the time you found them.

Set levels in NPCs can be a good thing. I have vivid memories in BT3 with Hawkslayer. When I first met him, he was massively more powerful than me and carried my party through Arboria. By the time I next met him, I'd been power leveling and he was a punk. It gave me a real sense of accomplishment.
PsychicMonk wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 11:36 am
Also you didn't get the nice equipment.
Didn't if you carried over, either, at least not in the Radiance series where the games kept conspiring to steal all your equipment.
Gizmo wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 12:16 pm
Next, I started a new game in Bard's Tale 3, using the default party, and they were all 2nd level characters.
(But I removed one, and made a new warrior to replace him, and that PC started as a level 1 character.)
BT3 took a different tactic. The entire point of that first dungeon and killing Brilhasti is so a new player can level up a party to the level of one carried over. Or was supposed to. Turns out, killing Brilhasti sets your level at 30 or so and makes all your mages ready to be Archmages with all spells from the 4 base classes.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 6th, 2018, 3:21 pm

Drool wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 2:54 pm
Set levels in NPCs can be a good thing. I have vivid memories in BT3 with Hawkslayer. When I first met him, he was massively more powerful than me and carried my party through Arboria. By the time I next met him, I'd been power leveling and he was a punk. It gave me a real sense of accomplishment.
I remember recruiting a SlathBeast into the party
Image
It was fairly early in the game, and it outmatched the party IIRC. He was a pretty neat fighter—until he tried to eat the party. :lol:

**Until recently, I was fully looking forward to something like that happening again in BT4, but I don't see how anything like that could fit in the UI slots.
Drool wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 2:54 pm
Turns out, killing Brilhasti sets your level at 30 or so and makes all your mages ready to be Archmages with all spells from the 4 base classes.
Yeesh... Image

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » April 6th, 2018, 3:34 pm

Drool wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 2:54 pm
PsychicMonk wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 11:36 am
Also you didn't get the nice equipment.
Didn't if you carried over, either, at least not in the Radiance series where the games kept conspiring to steal all your equipment.
I'm pretty sure at least some equipment carried over from e.g. death knights to dark queen.
BT3 took a different tactic. The entire point of that first dungeon and killing Brilhasti is so a new player can level up a party to the level of one carried over. Or was supposed to. Turns out, killing Brilhasti sets your level at 30 or so and makes all your mages ready to be Archmages with all spells from the 4 base classes.
I hated that fight. Since I had lost most of my old saves when I got BT3 on the C64 I had to start with a low level party. I still remember how happy I was when I finally found an old BT2 char on a disk with dynamite.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Drool » April 6th, 2018, 4:18 pm

PsychicMonk wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 3:34 pm
I'm pretty sure at least some equipment carried over from e.g. death knights to dark queen.
Mmm... could be. I didn't like the Krynn games as much, so only played them through once. Death Knights was the only good one in the bunch; Champions was trying too hard to reference stuff, and Dark Queen was just an absolute mess.
PsychicMonk wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 3:34 pm
I hated that fight. Since I had lost most of my old saves when I got BT3 on the C64 I had to start with a low level party. I still remember how happy I was when I finally found an old BT2 char on a disk with dynamite.
Mmm. I found two ways to deal with that (well, three if you count "character editor"): a lot of grinding to make the fight easy or very creative use of spells and songs. Going the non-powerlevel route led me to using some previously ignored spells. I used LUCK a lot in Gelidia.
Gizmo wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 3:21 pm
Drool wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 2:54 pm
Turns out, killing Brilhasti sets your level at 30 or so and makes all your mages ready to be Archmages with all spells from the 4 base classes.
Yeesh... Image
Honestly, it worked really well. If you were playing it safe and taking your time, you were probably close to that anyway. I only noticed when I did the fight way under leveled with very underpowered mages (a Magician/Sorcerer and a Conjurer/Wizard) that only had half the spells of their second class, so the sudden jump up stood out. Every other time, my mages were on their third class anyway (or one was already a Chronomancer), so it didn't register.

And, well, with non-mages it doesn't stand out regardless.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » April 6th, 2018, 5:26 pm

thebruce wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 10:17 am
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.
thebruce wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 10:17 am
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 :(
Indeed. Of course, Cranford also said that he was experiencing the game the same as the GDC audience members and yet inXile was trumpeting his involvement with the game a few months earlier. The way information flows out of this company is very, very strange to me, when it flows at all.
PsychicMonk wrote:
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
Amen.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Zombra » April 7th, 2018, 8:19 am

thebruce wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 11:14 am
Don't like scaling. It's not BT.
Agreed; it's also just not that great for RPGs in general. No one likes to have a tough time fighting giant rats at level 1 and then have a tough time fighting the same giant rats after returning from defeating dragons.

I'm going to throw out a radical observation though that has nothing to do with the classics, so brace yourself :)
It seems like in a "card-game-like" combat environment, and I want to stress that this is my opinion, character level (more hp, bigger damage) shouldn't be the focus at all. Advancement should primarily come in the form of acquiring new abilities to improve your "deck" and give you a bigger toolbox to build your maneuver set with. Of course new abilities might include higher damage attacks or damage absorbing passive powers, etc. but that's different from simply inflating numbers. We kind of already have this with the skill trees and don't really need character levels. Please remember what I just said about this being an opinion. ;)
Drool wrote:
April 6th, 2018, 2:54 pm
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.
So, completely gutting every single mechanic in the game along with thrashing the story and world is fine, but voices is where the line is...
:D There's no line; it's more a question of doing things well. Lack of faith to the classics, while damnable, doesn't mean the game can't still be of good quality. I'm OK with a whole new combat system for example as long as it's being done well; and it seems like it is - it's not inferior to combat in older games, it's just different. Doing voiced characters is also cool as long as it's done well ... and doing it well includes providing a wide selection of voice packs so I can have a strong sense of ownership for my created characters (which incidentally is not only important to myself but also a banner goal of inXile's own BT4 touch points document from oh so long ago). Having a smaller selection from that of a 2001 game would be simply inferior.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » April 7th, 2018, 9:39 am

Zombra wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 8:19 am
I'm going to throw out a radical observation though that has nothing to do with the classics, so brace yourself :)
It seems like in a "card-game-like" combat environment, and I want to stress that this is my opinion, character level (more hp, bigger damage) shouldn't be the focus at all. Advancement should primarily come in the form of acquiring new abilities to improve your "deck" and give you a bigger toolbox to build your maneuver set with. Of course new abilities might include higher damage attacks or damage absorbing passive powers, etc. but that's different from simply inflating numbers. We kind of already have this with the skill trees and don't really need character levels. Please remember what I just said about this being an opinion. ;)
I don't this is all that radical of an observation. However, it does feel a bit out of place in a discussion about Bard's Tale games. Looking at the path to this thread I see "The Bard's Tale Series" -> "The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep" -> "BT: Gameplay Discussion [Spoliers]". But, if we accept it as a pleasantly off-topic diversion from the grim business of telling inXile how hard they are screwing over old-school BT fans, then I have no problem with this kind of design in a non-Bard's Tale game. I would argue, however, that character level is a discretized reflection of increased abilities. That could mean new abilities/skills or improvement on existing ones. In the original BT, it meant both: more attacks (improvement - Warriors, Paladins, and Monks), more songs (improvement - Bards), better critical hit chance (improvement - Hunters), better AC (improvement - Monks), new spells (new abilities/skills - mages).

If you are arguing for a more free-form skills progression, I don't have a problem with it - for a non-Bard's Tale game. It's possibly even something I could see the series evolve towards over time, but inXile first needs to prove that it can be faithful to the originals before I would even consider trusting them to manage such an evolution. (I play and enjoy plenty of other games that have a more free-form skills progression, be they HoMM-likes, such as HoMM, Disciples, AoW, or Civ-likes with their national research. But, I also like the original BT progression mechanic pretty well the way it is and don't have an ardent desire to see it changed.)
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 7th, 2018, 10:04 am

Zombra wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 8:19 am
I'm going to throw out a radical observation though that has nothing to do with the classics, so brace yourself :)
It seems like in a "card-game-like" combat environment, and I want to stress that this is my opinion, character level (more hp, bigger damage) shouldn't be the focus at all.
This is written in a way that some will mistake it for an asserted epiphany. (Which it is not meant to be; I had to read it three times to see that.)
Zombra wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 8:19 am
:D There's no line; it's more a question of doing things well. Lack of faith to the classics, while damnable, doesn't mean the game can't still be of good quality.
That can be said of anything worthwhile, but merit alone is not enough; a trained seal cannot win a dog show, and shouldn't be accepted into one.
I'm OK with a whole new combat system for example as long as it's being done well; and it seems like it is - it's not inferior to combat in older games, it's just different.
As above; this is reason enough to disqualify it.

The system need not be a 1:1 copy of the original, but it should be obviously evolved from it, such that a veteran player of the series can immediately recognize it, and know where the systems derive their mechanics. The experience of playing the game should never be unfamiliar enough to question it; it should come across as an expanded improvement of the previous games... ideally adding to the game some of what players always wanted in the earlier titles. Are there any Bard's Tale players in here that always wanted immortal PCs, with reduced character options, and card combat mechanics?

This practice of surgically grafting alien gameplay onto established game series—in the transparent hope of wearing their earned reputation while providing no evidence of it... is nothing less than Bait & Switch; and it's like playing "The Price Is Right", with the rules of "Family Feud"; "One hundred people surveyed, most thought this product cost—how much?", "Good Answer!—now spin the wheel!".

FO3 did this in spades. Every part of it that was plucked from the IP, is presented contrary to the intent of its original context; even core tenets like free choice—but with permanent consequence. All but a very few consequences in the game are forgotten in three days. (And the ones that ARE permanent have no practical significance—or reason to have occurred... Like blowing up Megaton on a whim).

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Zombra » April 7th, 2018, 11:21 am

Reminder to everyone that I already know and agree that it would be better for BT4 to be a faithful sequel to the classics. You don't need to keep telling me as if we are arguing about it. We aren't. It would be kind of nice if every single thread and discussion did not become only about that one subject.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 7th, 2018, 11:57 am

Zombra wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 11:21 am
Reminder to everyone that I already know and agree that it would be better for BT4 to be a faithful sequel to the classics. You don't need to keep telling me as if we are arguing about it. We aren't. It would be kind of nice if every single thread and discussion did not become only about that one subject.
I agree; but I also know from experience that holding certain arguments and beliefs for granted—and kept out of the posts because they are assumed to be understood... results in conversations that have a hidden thread to them; often lost for newcomers who are following it without benefit of knowing the previous arguments.

Alas, this happened quite a lot on Bethsoft for me. It got to the point that new members would appear every few weeks, and either argued, or asked me direct questions that I was at real risk of being banned for answering them... simply for having answered the same questions a few months before; and in fact over several years. :evil: (Spamming the same content—was the moderator opinion.)
Last edited by Gizmo on April 7th, 2018, 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » April 7th, 2018, 12:06 pm

Zombra wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 11:21 am
Reminder to everyone that I already know and agree that it would be better for BT4 to be a faithful sequel to the classics. You don't need to keep telling me as if we are arguing about it. We aren't. It would be kind of nice if every single thread and discussion did not become only about that one subject.
I don't perceive anyone preaching at you about it. I can't speak for others, but, in my case, it is more along the lines of providing a disclaimer in case someone from inXile should read my remarks and fall under the erroneous impression that I have condoned their game design choices and am moving forward from what they have implemented. I treat any discussion which involves their current design as conjectural or as a thought experiment rather than acquiescence to how they've ruined the series. And I disclaim it as such.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » April 7th, 2018, 12:09 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
April 7th, 2018, 12:06 pm
...it is more along the lines of providing a disclaimer in case someone from inXile should read my remarks and fall under the erroneous impression that I have condoned their game design choices and am moving forward from what they have implemented.
BINGO!

This is exactly it. The posts are targeted at more than one reader.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Zombra » April 7th, 2018, 12:31 pm

To disclaim a comment is fine, but when a post is primarily about the sequel issue, as so many are lately, that's not a disclaimer, it's campaigning. (Which is fine ... in its own thread.)

It's getting to the point where I'm seriously considering making a "Faithful Sequel?" thread and moving all posts there when that's what they're mainly about. Nobody wants to see that happen, but if conversations on other topics continue to be constantly flooded and disrupted in this way I am likely to do so. It's fine for thread topics to wander a bit but for so many threads to be drowned in a single message is neither respectful nor reasonable. Let's show some restraint or start a dedicated thread ... or I will. Note that this is not an invitation for debate.
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by thebruce » April 7th, 2018, 3:49 pm

Here's the thing, whenever anyone says "this game mechanic is great" - that may be true, but this IS a discussion about Bard's Tale, so evne if everyone's in agreement that it's great, people will and should speak up if they feel that it is not relevant to the series. That 1] helps keep th discussion relevant, 2] informs anyone reading of the importance of the series, and 3] critiques ideas and helps to shoehorn them into the series theme. So if you keep posting "but this is good", without relating to how "this is Bard's Tale", then yeah, you sure will continue to get pushback =P

You made clear in another post that your priority for the "Bard's Tale" brand is lesser than producing a good game. We know that... so while you disclaim your comment is an opinion, remember our disclaimer that replies will be from the "Bard's Tale" perspective, despite your opinion ;) And that our pushback towards the series brand is not a statement that an opinion is invalid or even in disagreement. It's returning the goalposts to the original positions - in this case, "Bard's Tale IV"
(and by 'you' I do mean anyone, as I'm sure Zombra does not stand alone in the gamer-verse)
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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by PsychicMonk » 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 ?
(I just reread the kickstarter update 30 and equipment really seems to be the only source for most combat abilities in the game. Also according to the update: "Your gear accounts for a major chunk of your adventurer's attributes")

I must have totally forgotten about this update (it's from jul 2016!) and could have sworn that before the alpha videos I knew nothing about getting abilities from items and that pretty much all items modify attributes

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by ZiN » April 7th, 2018, 10:56 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 ?
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, as finding one suddenly makes the party so much more powerful. Cranford (and later Heineman) made sure to provide the player with tools, which help them overcome the very hard challenges of their games and also finding and using them is very satisfying.
Unlike InXile, they knew their own game in and out, so their itemization and acquirement progress is near-perfectly tuned and the limited inventory makes great opportunities for thoughtful decisions by the player.

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Re: Party Building and Player Agency

Post by Gizmo » 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.) :?

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