The Bard Takes Some Questions!
TL; DR: Storefront news, Q&A, GDC Highlights, Bard's Tale Trilogy remasters update
Hi everyone, Paul here with the latest backer update! Hope you've been well! David, Jeff, and the team are taking in all the alpha feedback from backers and incorporating elements of it into our production, so a discussion of that feedback and our Wizard class preview will have to wait for next go-around. For now, though, something equally special: we have a pretty big update ranging across the entire history of The Bard's Tale! We've got a Q&A with The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep dev team based on questions from our forums, a look back at GDC (including some press coverage that you might have missed), and finally some big news regarding the remastered Bard's Tale Trilogy! There's a ton here so strap in and let's begin!
Making A Wishlist
Before we get to the Q&A, there is one big "we're getting close" milestone that we wanted to share with you: the store pages for The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep are live on both Steam and GOG!
Although our backers are already getting copies of the game, we ask that you please take a moment to "wishlist" the game for yourself (and encourage a friend to do so, too)! This helps with both sites' algorithms and increases the game's general visibility. Your support is a huge help for us as an indie studio, and we appreciate the assist.
Q&A with the Dev Team!
Thanks to everyone who sent questions our way! We obviously couldn't answer every single one, but don't fret if yours isn't here – we'll be answering more in the next backer update! If there's a question that you would like answered, please feel free to ask it in the comments section below! What follows is a dive into some of the more specific gameplay mechanics, so we hope you enjoy it!
Q: How many dungeons will BT4 have & how many locations/zones will BT4 have?
A: The combined count is 25 dungeons or dungeon-like areas. That said, it's a dungeon crawler - you always have to be on your guard!
Q: What races will be playable in BT4? The Trow have been mentioned as a new race, but what others are confirmed?
A: Dwarves, Elves, and Trow, and there are different variety of Human cultures (Baedish, Fichti, Einarr, and Outlander).
Q: Will it be possible to create your full party?
A: Yes, though not all at once. You start off with one character, and you'll be able to swap that one out during the introduction if you wish. Over the course of the game, you'll be able to grow your party up to six.
Q: Will BT4 be a continuous world where all locations connect together as one big world, or will it have a travel map between locations like Wasteland 2?
A: Yes, you can access the entire world by walking, or you can utilize our fast travel system to warp to previously explored areas. For those old school types, you are never required to use the fast travel system – it's just there for convenience.
Q: How many of BT4's monsters are from the originals or are directly based on the portraits from the originals?
A: For rank and file enemies, many of them were built to fit the current culture and story of this Bard's Tale. About a third of the monsters are from the original games, and the remaining are new, with most inspired by Scottish folklore and mythology (we covered some of them in a previous update). Some of our old major bosses are coming back as well. And no, we won't be fighting Nazis (sorry, Bard's Tale III fans), but a couple of fan favorites like Herb and the 99 Berserkers make a return!
Q: Does BT4 have time-sensitive puzzles? If so, do they take place in real-time or turn-based mode?
A: There are no Shadow Snare puzzles like in The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight - something which requires a real-time solution or you fail (and, in the case of the Shadow Snare, your party dies). While it was certainly an unique feature back in the day, it was a bit too punishing and there are other ways to challenge the player and provide that fun gaming tension.
Q: How many of BT4's bard songs are from the originals or are directly based on the songs from the originals?
A: The vast majority are songs from the original games. Out of the nine magical bard songs that the bard has access to, only the Song of Compulsory Cavorting is brand new. We took the core of what the songs did, or the role it played in the originals, and updated it to fit our combat & exploration systems. They even sound like the old bard songs.
Q: Will there be references to the other cities outside of Skara Brae (such as those you visit in The Bard's Tale II)?
A: Yes, there will be references to the other cities outside Skara Brae. You may even get to visit one.
Q: Will BT4 be akin to BT1 in forgoing automatic regeneration of SP/HP in dungeons, so there's an element of longer term resource consideration?
A: The answer is yes - HP does not regenerate over time like the originals. HP doesn’t regenerate over time automatically but can through the use of items and abilities. We also added checkpoints in the form of Luck Stones. These strategically-placed artifacts will save the game and restore your party's HP, if you can survive to reach them. This gives the game that feeling of tension as you delve deep into the dungeons, but without needing to backtrack all the way back to the Guild every time you need a breather.
Q: How will attributes work? Will we roll for random attributes like the originals or will we have a point +/- system like WL2? Will attributes go up automatically when a character levels up, or will we get points to raise the attributes of our choice?
A: Everything about your character, including your attributes, comes from your skill tree. Your starting attributes depend on your starting archetype, and you can customize them via the skill tree as you level up. Each time you level up you get to choose how you spend that skill point. You might choose to upgrade an attribute like intelligence, learn to craft a new potion, or learn a new passive ability. Some of these skills, however, are locked behind advanced tiers that only the Review Board can unlock for you.
Q: Will it be possible to permanently recruit monsters from random encounters?
A: While you will not be able to dominate enemies and have them join your ranks, you will be able to summon and keep a variety of monsters in your party.
Q: Will the player be able to fully customize their main character (class, race, gender, etc.), or will there be pre-defined settings (you're always a bard, you're always human, etc.)?
A: Yes, any character you create can be fully customized. You can pick your class, culture, portrait, and even your voice.
Q: Do enemies level scale in BT4?
A: Like the original, enemies don't scale. We set the level and difficulty of the enemy when we place them in the world. So you could come back to an older area and wreck shop because you're much higher level, or you could go into a higher level area and get your face stomped.
Q: Are the party's total action points based on party size?
A: Your party gets more opportunity as a quest reward for completing major plot points. You tend to get larger parties as you get more opportunity, so while they aren't directly linked, they do develop along a parallel track.
Q: The AP system shown in the alpha seems to be favor smaller parties. Is it still worth bringing more party members?
A: More characters is generally always better (except in a few rare circumstances), as it provides more HP on the battlefield to soak attacks, more abilities to chose from, and more people in the right place at the right time to perform key plays in combat.
Q: What is the maximum party size?
A: Six is the max party size. We also leave open two slots for summoning creatures if you have a full group. It can be 6+2, 4+4, 5+3... whatever party configuration works best with your play style.
Q: Are all the conversations fully voiced acted?
A: They sure are!
GDC 2018 Highlights
If you follow us on social media, then you'll know that The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep had a great reception at this year's GDC, something we were very excited and grateful about. It was warmly received by the crowds there, we had a few VIPs stop by, and of course a number of fans and backers stopped by to say hi and chat about the game with David and Jeff! Here are a few pictures from the event.
The team had good crowds for all three days of the expo! Jeff, David, and Art Director Maxx Kaufman all had their hands full getting as many folks access to the demo as possible.
A highlight was when Michael Cranford swung by to get his first look at the game in a while. He had a great time checking out the demo, and when I spoke with him later that day, he was absolutely thrilled with how the game was coming along and had developed since his last check-in with it. That kind of affirmation was really awesome, especially coming on Day One of the expo.
Another series vet also stopped by. Kurt Heiden was the audio point person on Bard's Tale II and Bard's Tale III. Barrows Deep marks a return for Kurt, as well. He arranged/composed some of the Ability and Exploration Bard tunes that you will be using in the game!
In case you missed it, here is some of the press coverage from that week:
- Ars Technica: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/03/hands-on-with-bards-tale-4-the-first-proper-series-entry-in-30-years/
- Game Informer: http://www.gameinformer.com/games/the_bards_tale_iv/b/pc/archive/2018/03/26/a-classic-dungeon-crawler-returns-with-new-dgc-sensibilities.aspx
- Gamespot: https://www.gamespot.com/gallery/25-coolest-upcoming-games-you-probably-havent-hear/2900-1917/5/
- Hardcore Gamer: https://www.hardcoregamer.com/2018/04/02/the-bard-is-ready-to-tell-a-new-tale-in-barrows-deep/295182/
- Kotaku: https://kotaku.com/bards-tale-ivs-special-weapons-are-also-puzzles-1823988857
- PC Gamer: https://www.pcgamer.com/booze-makes-you-a-better-wizard-in-the-bards-tale-4s-great-rpg-combat/
For long-time series fans (or backers curious about The Bard's Tale IV's roots), GDC also hosted a Classic Game Post-Mortem on The Bard's Tale and The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight, featuring series creator Michael Cranford. Courtesy of GDC Vault, you can watch that talk here. It's well worth a look.
The Bard's Tale Trilogy Remasters Update
Finally, some long-awaited update news on the original trilogy remasters. As you may remember, when we did our original crowdfunding campaign, we were approached by Olde Skuul and told that they were working on a remasters project. Due entirely to your requests, we agreed to offer these remasters as bonus extras in addition to your backer rewards when they were done.
The project was a large one, and was taking longer than anyone was hoping for. After discussing the situation with Olde Skuul, we agreed to part ways on this. However, the entire inXile development team – from Brian on down – wanted to see this project realized for both the backers and for a new generation of players, so we undertook a search to find the right partner for this project. That journey led us to Krome Studios, and we could not be happier with the work that they are doing so far. It is my pleasure to introduce Lindsay Parmenter, Head of Development of Krome, to walk us through a little of what they have in store for you.
The original Bard's Tale games hold a special place in our hearts - many of us here at Krome Studios, especially Design Lead James Podesta and myself, played the games back in the 80s and are also backers of Bard's Tale IV.
After some casual conversations with the inXile team, the opportunity came up to put something together that we think will be really great for the Trilogy remaster. Not only are we updating the games to work natively on modern systems, but we're also putting on a fresh coat of paint, to give a new generation of role-playing and dungeon-crawling fans an easier opportunity to experience these classic games.
As a short list, our goals for the Trilogy remaster are:
- Up-res the original art, but keep the art in theme with the originals (the original examples are from the Amiga version of Tales of the Unknown):
And obviously it wouldn't be much good doing an up-res of character and enemy images if we didn't animate them!
Add in various audio throughout the games for attacks, spells, and more.
- Add some quality of life improvements, such as the automap, tooltip popups in the UI, etc.
It's fantastic to be able to share with you some of the work that we've been doing on The Bard's Tale Trilogy. We know everybody's been waiting a while for this, and we look forward to updating you all with the progress in the months ahead.
That's It for Now
Paul here again to wrap things up. Thanks to Lindsay and Krome for this quick look at the original trilogy remasters. Right now, the plan is to complete work on the first Bard's Tale game and then release that to all of you to play while work continues on the next two games. We're hoping to have that for you this summer. Once work has completed on the other two games, the entire remastered trilogy will be made available to you via your CrowdOx rewards. This project is our way of delivering an extra thank you to all of you who backed The Bard's Tale IV, our other crowdfunding projects, and our other games through the years. We're grateful to have you as fans and we're excited to bring you The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep later this year!
Until Next Time,
Public Relations & Community Manager