Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Join the RPG renaissance! From the creators of Wasteland 2 and Torment comes the long awaited sequel to the Bard's Tale trilogy.
From the creators of Wasteland 2 and Torment comes the long awaited sequel to the Bard's Tale trilogy. Thank you for making this game a reality. The bard is back!
From the creators of Wasteland 2 and Torment comes the long awaited sequel to the Bard's Tale trilogy. Thank you for making this game a reality. The bard is back!
33,741 backers pledged $1,519,680 to help bring this project to life.

Update 38: Everything Old Is New Again

100 likes

TL; DR: Bard's Tale (2004) news, Backer Portal Update, Tuning Up the Legacy: Grid Movement, BT4 in PC Gamer, inXile at E3, Contest Winner, Crowdfunding Corner

The (Other) Bard's Tale Makes A Triumphant Return

Hi all, Paul here. The latest "big news" for inXile is the remastered (and "resnarkled") port of inXile's first title, The Bard's Tale! 

The Bard's Tale (2004)
The Bard's Tale (2004)

 

A spin-off of The Bard's Tale classic series, the 2004 PC, PS2, and Xbox title was an action RPG where you played as the titular Bard (voiced by Cary Elwes), star of the game and center of his own universe, complete with his own narrator voiced by the late, great Tony Jay. The game was praised in particular for its comedic elements and its soundtrack, most especially its rendition of folk classic "Beer, Beer, Beer, or An Ode to Charlie Mopps".

Recently, we partnered with our friends at Square One Games, who worked on the Android and iOS versions, in order to bring it to PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. You can get it now in North America and Europe via the Playstation Store. While it isn't directly related to the classic Bard's Tale trilogy, or The Bard's Tale IV, we're thrilled to bring the game to a new audience, and if you played the game back in the day and want to revisit it on PS4, now's a great time!

Backer Portal Update: Almost There...

You may remember from our last update that we're redoing our Bard's Tale IV backer web site in partnership with CrowdOx. We are working with them to finalize the transition. However, it's taken a bit longer than we anticipated on account of some required platform changes to bring over all the data smoothly. As soon as things are ready, you will receive an email prompting you to confim your pledge details, and of course, we'll also post an update to let you all know that's coming too. Once that happens, you will be able to once again track and access your backer rewards on CrowdOx, as well as change your contact and shipping information. 

And now to switch gears into Bard's Tale IV production news, I'm handing over the update to Greg Underwood, who's here to talk about interpreting classic series elements for the new game.

From Player To Programmer

Hi, my name is Greg Underwood and I’m a Senior Programmer here on the Bard’s Tale IV team.

I joined inXile specifically to work on The Bard’s Tale IV, because the game means a lot to me. In a very real way, the original Bard’s Tale is responsible for starting me on the path to my Games career. I played the original games when they came out for the Apple IIgs and back then I was a broke kid and games were a thing friends shared, either by lending or, well, to be blunt, copying. If you had a computer with two drives it was your duty to make copies for your friends! That’s how I originally came across The Bard’s Tale – a friend gave me a copy they’d made, hand-written label and all. Most of the other games in that exchange were soon forgotten as I played The Bard's Tale.

Over the next months I slowly mapped it out, working with other friends to figure out the puzzles and the exploits to gain levels (Catacombs level 3, the 36 Ghouls & 69 Wights fight over and over was a revelation). Eventually I got to the final level of Mangar’s tower and found the final room. I knew Mangar was in there - it was the only room I hadn't entered in the only map I hadn't finished. Even after figuring out it was the last room it took me a solid week to work up the courage to actually go in. What would this most epic of fights be? How could my party survive? Had I leveled up enough? Would my spells even be effective?

When I finally worked up the courage and entered the room... nothing. Crash. The pirated copy of the game just crashed!

No Mangar for you, Greg!
No Mangar for you, Greg!

I tried again – another crash. A third time – crash. Eventually it dawned on me that this was no accident, rather a deliberate copy protection mechanism. That set me back – how could the game know it was copied?! The earlier tricks of asking for street names was clever, but also easy enough to get around – when my friends and I were stymied by that we took an afternoon to go around to every square in Skara Brae and find out the street name and mark it on our map. But this – this was some next-level technical wizardry. I didn’t know then about the tricks games developers were using to prevent piracy – “empty” sectors on the drive that had very specific gibberish in it that the disk-copy programs would skip.

So I did what had to be done – it was time to buy a copy. I scraped together what cash I could, did a few chores for a bit more, skipped lunch at school for a day or two and finally had enough cash. I went to Microcenter and bought a copy of the game. That act – actually paying money - my money! - for a game got me thinking. I had just given someone at the store money for a game. I didn’t understand all the ins and outs of games industry commerce but presumably that meant the store then gave some of that money to the people who made the game. Someone had just gotten paid, indirectly, by me, to make a game! This was a revelation and opened a new world of possibilities. Perhaps… some day … that person who got money to make games … could be me?

I spent the next several years playing more games (including, of course BT 2 and 3) and learning more about computers and software. When it came time to do my Senior project in high school I made a game based loosely on both The Bard’s Tale and Might And Magic (another favorite of mine at the time). That got me nominated for a scholarship, and I believe helped get me placed directly into the College of Computer Science when I went to university the next year. The Bard’s Tale also helped influence the people I became friends with – more than once I connected with people over having played the games. While earning my degree I continued playing as many games as I could get my hands on and working on all kinds of game projects on the side. The plan hadn't changed and as I approached graduation I started applying to game companies. But I was caught in the classic catch-22 when new to a field – they all wanted to see experience before they would give me a job that would let me get the experience they wanted to see. I found my solution in the form of doing some contracting work on flight simulators for the US Air Force – I figured that military simulators are pretty close to games, so maybe that would work. Since then, I’ve worked for a number of companies both in the games industry including EA, Ubisoft, United Front Games, and outside games at places like Dreamworks Animation. Some of the most notable projects I've been on would be some of the Command and Conquer games, FIFA soccer, Need for Speed, SimCity, and a movie credit in Sharktale. I’ve worked in a wide range of positions one a wide array of projects. All because having to buy The Bard’s Tale got me thinking...

Which is also why I backed the BT IV Kickstarter as soon as it came out! I paused for a second on the “Absolution” level contribution, but then remembered I had (eventually) actually paid for my copy, so didn’t require it. And later, when the backer email came out saying they were hiring… well, I had to apply. These were some of the people who shaped... well, my entire life. I wrote what I hoped wasn’t too much of a fan-boy cover letter and hit send. And what do you know? After some back and forth on the details and time...it worked out and now here I am! It has been an amazing journey so far!

Tuning up the Legacy: Grid Movement

What are the duties of a Senior Programmer on Bard's Tale IV? Well, it varies a lot from day to day. A lot of the code I’m working on is plumbing-level stuff – handling loading and in-memory storage of game data, building the components we’ll use to make the puzzles and traps in game (kind of like Lego-bricks for code), save and load of game data, etc. I also range up to do some UI implementation or bolt in the occasional player ability. Another aspect of my job is to act as a voice for the fans on the team – my experience as a player and fan of the original games is part of why they hired me. And so far, they’ve been great about listening to my suggestions and working to incorporate them. A few of those are in the works and today I'd like to introduce you to the first returning mechanic: grid movement.

RPGs back in the day were built on a grid, both because it was familiar (via table-top games like D&D) and because computers and software wouldn’t be able to handle proper 1st person free movement for another 10 years or so.  Early RPGs like The Bard’s Tale not only used a grid, but the fact that it was a grid was often part of the puzzle of the game.  You knew there were hidden areas on the map because it was a grid and your careful mapping (on graph paper, no less!  No automappers yet) shows there’s a spot you can’t see how to get to.  That’s an aspect we wanted to bring forward into this new Bard’s Tale game, so supporting a grid-based movement mode has always been a high priority.

The (original) Bard's Tale
The (original) Bard's Tale

 

Pictures courtesy of The Bard's Tale Online
Pictures courtesy of The Bard's Tale Online

 

 

However, time has moved on and we want to take advantage of the many benefits of free movement, too.  For instance, it allows for more natural, organic, outdoor areas.  It also helps areas you wouldn’t think of as being overly organic or natural, like castle or dungeon interiors.  A nicely laid out building interior has a lot more soft corners and curves to it than you’d at first think based solely on the floorplan.  More importantly, while parts of the building align on a grid seldom do level designers align the entire floorplan to a grid.  Finding a system that works with both a free-flowing world and grid based movement presents some interesting challenges.  Take for example this screenshot of the interior of one of the castles:

Note: This shot is set up with debug lighting to make it easier to see what's going on - final art will look much less plastic!
Note: This shot is set up with debug lighting to make it easier to see what's going on - final art will look much less plastic!

 

As you can see, the floor plan might be a straight hallway with 90 degree turns, but the art team has done their job in decorating the area and making it feel lived in. This landing with columns, candle stands, benches, and the stag statue create various obstacles to the movement grid system (visualized here as black squares with the yellow arrows connecting them). This layout is a first pass, partially automatically generated using a system I built to take some of the workload off our designers. This allows us to spend more time later on fine-tuning the level to our satisfaction.

You can see how the grid of nodes coming up the stairs wouldn't work well continued down the area between the columns. We will most likely adjust the grid to have a single path go down the center of the columns, and it may or may not line up cleanly to let you walk between the columns in grid movement mode (I've drawn the likely path in red below).

 

Another concern is how combat relates to movement nodes. A natural assumption is that combat can only happen on a movement node, but movement nodes and combat placement have somewhat conflicting requirements. Movement needs to feel regular and natural, following halls and turns. Combat needs to be placed such that all enemies can line up on their combat gird positions and not be placed inside of a wall. So we decided we needed to split out a separate combat placement grid from the movement grid. I then built tools to help identify if a given combat placement would have concerns with overlapping props or be too close to a wall. This lets the art and design teams go through a level and adjust the placement or collision settings on various objects and make sure there are viable combat start positions available.

Here is an example of the movement grid (changed to green lines here) and combat grid (red, with obstructions noted by the yellow lines). This particular area obviously still needs some attention from level design and art to clean up so combat can be sure to have enough space to start.

 

 

As you can see, even with a tool that generates nodes for you, there's still a fair bit of work to make it all fit and feel just right, something worthy of those players who remember the graph paper days. This is just some of what I've been working on for The Bard's Tale IV and I'm looking forward to talking about more in the weeks and months to come.

-Greg

ICYMI: An In-Depth Look at The Bard's Tale IV in PC Gamer

Hi everyone, Paul here again. Shortly before E3, PC Gamer visited inXile's Newport studio to take a look at The Bard's Tale IV. Their coverage of that visit appeared in this article. It is a great read for those of you who may have missed it when it came out.

The Bard Tells Tales at E3

In June, the inXile crew hit E3, led by Bard's Tale IV team leads Jeff Pellegrin and David Rogers. For inXile, E3 was mostly behind-the-scenes meetings with business partners, but the team found time to hit the expo floor and meet up with some fans and old friends. Here are a few pictures from the event.

Hanging out with fellow Louisiana devs Pixel Dash (based out of Baton Rouge)
Hanging out with fellow Louisiana devs Pixel Dash (based out of Baton Rouge)

 

Pictured with representatives from LED and GNO Inc., two of the economic groups that are helping drive Louisiana's tech growth
Pictured with representatives from LED and GNO Inc., two of the economic groups that are helping drive Louisiana's tech growth

 

Jeff with Final Fantasy XIV Producer Yoshi-P
Jeff with Final Fantasy XIV Producer Yoshi-P

 

"Don't mind us, fellas. Just borrowing the dragon for Bard's Tale IV. We'll bring it back!"
"Don't mind us, fellas. Just borrowing the dragon for Bard's Tale IV. We'll bring it back!"


And the winner is...

You may recall in our last update that, courtesy of the generosity of one of our backers, we offered up folks the opportunity to write an item description for something in the game. After the random drawing, we are pleased to announce the name of our winner...

*drumroll*
*drumroll*

...Dean Ferguson!

Dean, please check your inbox here on Kickstarter. We've dropped you a note! Looking forward to working with you!

And the winner will be...

We have to admit:that we were overwhelmed by your support and the sheer number of entries. We loved the excitement and comments the contest generated, and so did the backer whose generosity allowed for it. Thanks to your enthusiasm, we are running the same contest again - not courtesy of another backer, but serving it up like the bard's favorite drink: this one is on the house!

Please let us know in the comments section of this update by September 15th if you'd like be considered, and we'll have another drawing. 

Crowdfunding Corner

This month, we feature two Kickstarter projects that caught our eye. The first one is in its final stretch: a sRPG called The Iron Oath which promises tactical combat and a narrative with reactive depth. Click on the picture to check it out.

 

The second game features another tabletop initiative from our pals over at Obsidian. They've teamed up with indie developer Danny Zondervan to create Scrimish, a fast-paced card game that utilizes Obsidian's "Pillars of Eternity" characters and concepts. Click on the pic for gameplay demos and details.

 

That's it for now! See you again as soon as the Backer Portal goes live!

Until next update,
Paul Marzagalli 
Public Relations & Community Manager
@phimseto

Follow Us: 
Facebook | Twitter

D-Boy, Geoff May, and 98 more people like this update.

Comments

Only backers can post comments. Log In
    1. David Fernandez
      Superbacker
      on September 14

      Seeing El Cid and Brian The Fist on that party roster in the video game screen shot takes me back to ancient times in the 1980s, I remember those party screen shots from the 1980s screen shot promos.

    2. Mike McGown on September 12

      Please enter me in the item description contest. Thank you.

    3. Pierre-Alexandre Sicart on September 10

      I'll be winning this item description contest. Thank you.

    4. Missing avatar

      Daniel Vestler on September 10

      Hello, I would like to be considered for the Item Description Contest (Redux) please.

      Many thanks.

    5. Throwontax on September 10

      I'd love to take part in the new item description contest ! Please count me in.

    6. Steve Leadbeater on September 9

      I still have my maps from playing BT1 on C64 (Hardcore tape version no less).
      I'm up for crack at a description too.

    7. Missing avatar

      Steve Oliver on September 8

      Another reason why I loved the grid-based games is my wow factor was blown out when 1st person, 3d environments were developed. Does anyone remember the Ultima Underworld games? I and II blew me away as I could actually look around, interact with items. Man, them were the days. I find myself now days buying games from steam only to play them for a little bit and drop them. I find myself playing games looking for something to keep my interest. Either games can no longer hold my attention, or I am, indeed, close to being put out to pasture. :(

    8. Missing avatar

      Steve Oliver on September 8

      Another random kickstarter junkie for the drawing!

    9. Missing avatar

      Tony Lee on September 8

      I skimmed through the comments and didn't see any referring to Greg's story. Just wanted to give him a shout out to his journey.

      I too played the Bard's Tale games on my Apple ][ (e for me, then later on an Amiga). Along with the Ultima games, these games were what started my love of computer games and RPGs in general.

      Reading how much BT meant to him brought back lots of amazing memories for me. Cheers to Greg!

    10. meganothing dread bard of torment BOSB on September 8

      Excellent update.
      I also read the pcgamer article and wow, it sounds great: Combat, especially the new ideas with opportunity points and focus damage, the weapons influencing your ability selection, the puzzles, the puzzle weapons.

      I didn't expect such a clever update on the old blobber combat formula could even exist.

    11. Robin Furr
      Superbacker
      on September 8

      Heck, yeah, I'd like to write an item description. In fact, literally the last post I made on Facebook (about ten minutes ago) was basically a snarky item description, about a set of Morris bells.

    12. Missing avatar

      craig mooney on September 8

      I'm drawn in!
      .....haha!
      He....he
      .....I'll get my coat.

    13. Torger083 on September 8

      No XBox One Port? Disappointing.

    14. Missing avatar

      fetznschaedl on September 8

      Please include me in the draw.

    15. Missing avatar

      Scott Mc on September 8

      As a user of good words, and proudly still have my copies of The Bard's Tale and The Bard's Tale Construction Set, I feel ready to except the challenge of describing something.

    16. Jeremie Lariviere
      Superbacker
      on September 7

      Thanks for the wonderful update; it is a great sneak peak into the development!
      I'd be glad to offer ideas or suggestions for describing if you're ever short of any help :-)

    17. Matthew Lords on September 7

      Please sign me up. Not to brag, but I have described things before (just nothing so formal).

    18. Ian 'Smurf' Murphy
      Superbacker
      on September 7

      I'd Like to be in the Draw as well please,
      I still draw dungeon maps like that.

    19. Missing avatar

      De Winter Urbain on September 7

      @ Stephen Tonkli, indeed drawing the maps was part of the fun.

    20. Stephen Tonkli on September 6

      The picture of the Bards Tale II booklet and hand drawings of the dungeons brings back a lot of memories about the original game.. Great update - Count me in for the draw please.

    21. Missing avatar

      Ian on September 6

      Great work. Add me to the draw please.

    22. Bahasa Inggeris
      Superbacker
      on September 6

      Sign me up for the drawing please!

    23. Matthew on September 6

      Sounds really promising!

    24. Jacob Carlton on September 6

      Loving these updates. Keep up the good work!

    25. James Arthur Eck on September 6

      Item descriptions are my life! Count me in!

    26. Missing avatar

      Jacob Blegen on September 6

      Definitely interested in making something. Excellent progression on the game, really looking forward to everything is has in store for us

    27. Missing avatar

      Jacob Blegen on September 6

      Definitely interested in making something. Excellent progression on the game, really looking forward to everything is has in store for us

    28. Leewelo Lorekeeper
      Superbacker
      on September 6

      In for the contest.

    29. John Pritchard on September 6

      Please consider me for the contest.

    30. Paul Cook
      Superbacker
      on September 6

      Nice update.. makes you think..
      I still have folders full of graph paper maps buried somewhere :P ..and may I have one contest entry too :)

    31. Missing avatar

      Joseph Szupiany on September 6

      One contest entry please... or 10 if you can :P

    32. Jani Jereb on September 6

      In for the contest. I can describe things like some item describing... thing.

    33. MattyV1973 on September 6

      Those old-school copy protections were something else, fondly remember the ones from Wasteland & Bard's Tale! I'm in for the contest too!

    34. Missing avatar

      Robert Garrow on September 6

      That shot of the graph paper definitely brought me back in time! +1 for the contest!

    35. Niels van Meerendonk on September 6

      Awesome news & great chance!

    36. Corey Squire on September 6

      In for the contest.

    37. GroovyDad and the Slap Me Some Skin Kids on September 6

      Pick pick pick pick pick pick pick pickle me me me me me me me me me me me mem...crap...me me me me me me...

    38. Missing avatar

      Joseph on September 6

      Throwing my name into the barrel for the item description

    39. Missing avatar

      Neo on September 6

      I also want to leave it here - looks like "Remastered" version in fact is not remastered:

      https://www.reddit.com/r/PS4/comments/6wn8ob/psa_dont_buy_the_bards_tale_remastered/

    40. "Wystan" - Bill C.
      Superbacker
      on September 6

      This is a comment to try to assist with an Item Description. It appears to shimmer slightly and has a red hue when looked at from the right angle...

    41. Missing avatar

      Neo on September 6

      TO ALL: PLEASE CHECK REMASTER VERSION!

      DID THEY FIXED THAT SLOW MOTION BUG - when FPS dropping hard during cut scenes?

    42. Missing avatar

      Neo on September 6

      PEOPLE! PLEASE TELL ME! I'm the only who watched tons of videos and DID NOT see the difference between the original "The Bard's Tale (2004)" and new "Remastered" version?

    43. Rik Kendell on September 6

      I definitely want in on the contest! :D

    44. Max Power on September 6

      Oh go on then, I'll grab my gorgeously emroidered floppy silk descriptive hat and don it with grace, elan, and a mischevious grin.

    45. MiniatureAddict (needs to paint) on September 6

      I made similar graph paper maps back in the days... did I miss the BT trilogy remake that was included for backing?

    46. Missing avatar

      Christi S on September 6

      Please include me in the contest.

    47. Mentoliptus on September 6

      Hi, I'd like to make a description for an item...so random number generator please randomly choose me :)

    48. Missing avatar

      Stephan Kemmerling on September 6

      That update was overdue, but nice thought with the new competition. Count me in please !

    49. Stoz on September 6

      I would like to be considered for the item description contest. Thanks!