We're Off To See The Wizard
TL; DR - Wizard class preview, Q&A, Album Box winner
Hi all, Paul here with the latest backer update. There's a lot here, so let's get right to it. We're leading off with Creative Director David Rogers.
Hi everyone, David here with the promised look at the Wizard class. The Wizard is a subclass of the Practitioner that focuses on summoning and maintaining allied minions through a variety of spells, passives, and stat boosts. These minions have a lot of different uses – they can split up enemy focus, deal damage, tank hits, buff one another, or even be used to heal the caster. In a lot of ways, they’re full-fledged party members that show up exactly when and how you need them to.
Obtaining the Wizard: Novice skill will grant mastery in the Gate ability. Gate summons a Shadowy Wraith, an elemental who uses Spell Points to deal damage to enemies. It’s one of a few abilities that can be cast in several ways: the longer you channel this ability, the stronger the minion it’ll create by granting more Spell Points. A Wraith will vanish back to the ether it came from when its Spell Points run out, so starting with a high number can let your elemental throw out a couple extra spells before dissipating. With this style of casting, you can plan more effectively around how long you expect a fight to last and be ready for whatever situation you’re in.
Passing the Wizard: Journeyman skill, a Constitution boost that allows you stay in the fight and boss your new friends around a little longer, the Wizard: Master skill will grant mastery in the Prime Summoning ability. Prime Summoning raises two Skeletons to join the party, either as Warriors or Archers. Warriors have an armor-boosting ability, Deflect, and can be put to good use protecting the rest of your party. On the other hand, Archers go down a little more easily, but can put out devastating punishment with their bows if you protect them. Figuring out how best to utilize your bony friends presents some interesting choices.
Wizard: Master also teaches the Sacrifice Minion ability. Another Multi-Function ability, this spell is effectively three in one. Coalesce Essence kills one summoned minion to bolster another, transferring the original’s stats over. Release Bonds sets free the target minion, weaponizing their essence in a True Damage attack against a target enemy. Absorb Soul sacrifices the target, reabsorbing their magic to heal the caster. These abilities let you get the most out of your minions, letting them fight for you while they’re strong and die for you when they’ve lost their usefulness. You can even combo the spell with itself, using Coalesce Essence and then Absorb Soul to create one big minion and then drain them, gaining an even bigger heal. We here at inXile don’t recommend getting too attached to your minions – killing them is sometimes even more fun than creating them!
At the end of the skill tree, having demonstrated time and again your mastery of minions, players can pick up Grand Summoner and another hefty Constitution boost. The skill grants a passive by the same name that shows your minions who’s in charge, buffing all summoned combatants with Armor. After all, they should be protecting you, not the other way around. This passive is especially helpful with Skeleton Warriors: stacking Armor on them and letting them shield you can be a great way to keep your squishy Practitioner safe. Hey, 11 Armor here – not bad!
Thanks for reading along, and looking forward to seeing what your party builds looks like once the backer beta comes out!
Q&A - The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep
Hi all, Paul back to take you through the rest of the update. We received a number of questions for both The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep and The Bard's Tale Trilogy remaster.
With the backer beta due out very (very) soon, we've truncated the number of BT4 questions answered (since the beta will answer many of them) and added in some BTT questions that you've asked us.
Q: Will there be different instruments to play, all with their own renderings of the songs?
A: Each bardic song plays a different track played on a different instrument when cast. We worked with Kurt Heiden, who was the composer for The Bards Tale III: Thief of Fate. Each version of the game had a different MIDI track for each of the Bards songs, and we picked our favorites to recreate. They were scored and then recorded in Scotland by Ged Grimes and his crew of talented Celtic folk musicians.
Q: In regards to the "Will it be possible to create your full party?" question, can you clarify a bit how that works? You start with one character but soon get more? Can you have all characters you made or do you have to have any written NPCs?
A: We get you straight into the game, absorbing the story and the world, as soon as you start a new game. We give you a default character, a bard obviously, but almost immediately let you make your own character if you prefer. The combat and character progression systems in The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep are deep, so we didn't want to ask you to make six characters right out of the gate before you even engaged in your first combat. The first section of the game is basically a quest to recruit your starting party, so we quickly ramp you up to four party members. You meet three narrative characters at the start that join your party: Dalgliesh the Dwarven fighter, Wringneck the Trow Rogue, and The Green Lady, an Elven Practitioner. Similar to the starting character, you can choose to continue adventuring with them, or spend Mercenary Tokens to create custom characters to replace them. No one character is required to be in your party.
Q: Does weather impact the gameplay in any way?
A: No. Any weather in our game is purely cosmetic and just helps to set the mood.
Q: Another question: how much depth will there be in intra-party interactions? Is it just occasional banter or will party members develop running feuds, flirtations, etc. over time (or based upon in-game events).
A: Different characters have different interactions and relationships. Narrative NPCs, like The Green Lady, have fully fleshed out scripts, but the custom characters you create will also have their own personalities and interactions based on the voices you pick for them, so making your own characters won't mean you're missing out. Party Chatter isn't a dynamic system in that you can't, say, make two characters fall in love, but different characters do have different relationships and will interact in special ways.
One fun anecdote to illustrate this is that I made a character and gave him the Volatile voice pack, making him super aggressive. When Dalgliesh the Dwarf joined my party all of a sudden my character kept trying to goad him into an arm wrestling match to prove he was stronger than a dwarf. This exchange probably went on for forty seconds and I was cracking up the whole time.
Q&A - The Bard's Tale Trilogy
And now, we're turning things over to our friends at Krome to answer your questions about their upcoming Bard's Tale Trilogy remaster!
Q: Will the games play like the originals?
A: In tackling this project, we extensively researched each game across different platforms. In doing so, we realized there were many subtle (and sometimes large) differences between them. The goal of the remasters has been to reconcile these differences into one uniform, evolving play experience over the three titles - one heroic narrative across three chapters, with some extra quality of life improvements. Toward the back half of the Trilogy’s development, though, we will be circling back to build out what we’re calling Legacy Mode - a system of optional settings that make the games play closer to how they original 1980’s versions did.
Q: What was your philosophy behind your approach to updating the graphics, particularly the character/monster art?
A: The artists have worked to keep as much of the original character as possible during the uprezzing process, and have made artistic choices where they felt were necessary. Each time we get a new batch of art in, we find ourselves smiling. We’re looking forward to you finally having an opportunity to experience this for yourself!
Q: When will we be able to play?
A: We're planning to release the trilogy with a fully-playable Bard's Tale 1 on July 24th via Steam Early Access!
Q: When will I have access to Bard's Tale II and III?
A: We know people are excited to check out the remasters, so we're aiming to release The Bard’s Tale II: The Destiny Knight in an early access version when it can be completed (with some bugs) and likewise with The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate. We don’t have a current ETA on that, but The Destiny Knight will be sooner rather than later at this point. We will then continue to clean up the games for their final release.
Q: Can I get the remasters on GOG?
A: There will be a GOG version without DRM (with no GOG Galaxy), but will be done when the game is complete, after early access on Steam. Please keep in mind that if you want to get the game on GOG instead of Steam, you'll need to wait until the final release to claim your game key.
Q: Will I be able to press a button and have the game to revert the changes?
A: The Bard's Tale Trilogy remaster is a rebuild of the original games, including the visuals and code, so it's not as simple as us adding a graphics toggle key. Instead, we're devoting our efforts towards offering more improvements to the remastered elements. For example, 70% of the dungeons in The Bard’s Tale III use the same tileset, despite it being a dimension-hopping adventure, and that's something we're hoping to address more directly as part of the remastering efforts.
Q: Will it be a huge grind to level so we can finish the game?
A: We've discussed game balancing and pacing extensively during development, and came to the conclusion that most players would benefit from an experience that cuts down on some of the grinding time. However, we expect Legacy Mode will support those players who want to have that particular experience.
Q: Is Legacy Mode going to be just like the originals?
A: As discussed above, there are many differences across different versions of the game, some of them small and some of them larger. Legacy mode isn't going to be a 1:1 copy of any specific original version of the game, but it will include elements like 1-6 + S for Bard's Tale 1, etc. Legacy Mode won't be coming until later in the Early Access period, so we also hope to use that time to get your feedback on how to refine the trilogy going forward.
Q: Can I use saved games from the original versions in the remaster?
A: With all the differences and bugs from the original games, this was something we thought about but decided against in terms of production time and resources. Instead, we concentrated on making sure the party importing mechanism worked as intended for all of the games in the remaster. That leads us to our next question...
Q: Will I be able to transfer saves across all three games?
A: One of the biggest risks with playing the emulated versions was avoiding problems when trying to port your save file and party across all three games. One of our key goals with the remaster was to improve on the import process by treating the trilogy as one story played across three chapters - you create your party in the first game and then bring that party, changing it as you see fit, across all three games without any problems. That way, you have the full, epic journey as the original Bard's Tale teams intended, no fuss.
Album Box Winner
Thanks to everyone who voted in our Album Box poll! The nostalgia was strong with this vote, and we're pleased to announce that the winner was option C (the choice that most closely matched the original three game boxes)! Here's your album box, now with the sub-title added in! It looks awesome, and for those of you who have the original game boxes, it will definitely look fantastic on the shelf next to them.
Spotlight: Character Creation
Finally, in case you missed it, we posted a spotlight video yesterday highlighting character creation in The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep! Take a look and start thinking about the kind of party that you want to build today!
That's it for now, but with the backer beta just around the corner, you will be hearing from us again very shortly!