Two Weeks to Bard's Tale IV; Quirking It Up
First up: hopefully you’ve heard that we are all set to launch our Kickstarter funding campaign for The Bard's Tale IV on June 2nd, 2015. Check out the site to follow the countdown timer along with us, keep an eye on Kickstarter, or sign up for an email notification when we launch. We've also got a sneak peek at the reward tiers for our Bard's Tale IV campaign on our forums, and we'd love for you to check them out and let us know your thoughts before we go live!
The Bard's Tale IV is a special project for us. The game was Brian Fargo's first major release and got Interplay off the ground 30 years ago. At inXile, The Bard's Tale was reimagined for consoles in 2004, and also found great success on mobile later on. Now, we're thrilled to bring you a true sequel to the original trilogy with The Bard's Tale IV. It'll be a game that goes back to the classic dungeon crawling style, and we are excited to share it with you as we bring it to life through the power of crowdfunding.
If you're familiar with our development practices at inXile, you'll know that it's been our strategy to gear up preproduction on one game while another is in full swing. This methodology has the advantage of letting us set up a small early design and prototyping team, while the rest of the company is working on a game in full production. So once the production is complete on Torment: Tides of Numenera, that team of artists, engineers, animators, writers and designers can roll onto The Bard’s Tale IV. This means we don’t need to go through the cyclical layoffs that happens all too often in game development when a large project is finished. Crowdfunding is critical to helping us achieve that vision.
Wasteland 2: Game of the Year Edition
If you missed our last announcement, we just recently revealed that the heavily upgraded GOTY edition will be free to all owners of Wasteland 2. This is our way of thanking you for making Wasteland 2 happen.
Our work on the Wasteland 2: Game of the Year Edition is moving forward at a phenomenal pace. As more of our features get some well-deserved polish, we’re seeing the whole package coming together quite nicely.
Today we’re going to show some of our interface updates, the overhauled character creation process, and discuss some details of our brand-new Quirks system. Take note that the screenshots below are not final art, and show off our new controller interface. They will still be tweaked as we get closer to release (and we'll be changing this further for keyboard/mouse as well).
The Gang’s All Here
The first thing we wanted to do with the GOTY Edition is make it easier to jump right into the game and get up to speed with a squad that can tackle the dangers of the wasteland. To do so, we've added the Squad Overview interface.
Now, you'll have a better picture of your entire squad at a glance, so you can identify changes to make before starting on your mission. Your attributes, skills and traits are displayed here to help you identify your Ranger squad’s strengths and weaknesses.
When you dive into each squad member's details, there's more new stuff to see. We've rearranged the layout of the Character Creation process significantly. Now, you customize your character's appearance, portrait, and bio as the first step. This provides a more natural progression, letting you establish your character's style before you think about what stats to give them. We've also added some quality of life improvements, such as an improved portrait gallery.
From there, we move on to the Customize Ranger screen, where you edit all your stats and skills. It works just the same as before, but it's been visually upgraded to match the rest of our art changes and reorganized to be a bit easier to digest.
We all have a few Quirks, right?
The idea of a unique defining quality for your character has been a common and well-loved one in CRPGs for many years now. Quirks have great role-playing value by letting your characters have distinct personality elements from each other, which give them a special bonus that only they have. In a party-based game, we think it's important that all your characters feel unique, and that's what quirks will let you do.
When we approached quirk design for Wasteland 2, we wanted to achieve a few different goals. It was important for us to avoid quirks that you "have to pick" in order to play your character the right way, or create quirks that are so good you'll always want to pick them on all your characters. By giving each quirk both an upside and a downside, we can make sure that they are interesting to play without becoming overpowered. This also means that quirks are optional – you can choose to go quirk-free if you want to, and you won't feel disadvantaged in doing so.
We also wanted to have quirks that go beyond your typical stat tweaks, and act as fun or unpredictable gameplay modifiers. While some of our quirks take a simpler approach, some will give you a more radical change to gameplay that might require you make careful trade-offs and considerations. Of course, giving them a unique or compelling personality-based theme also means you'll definitely want to try them out.
One such example is Repressed Rage. Some people are more mild-mannered than others, but sometimes it's the quiet ones you need to be careful about. With this quirk, you'll keep your anger bottled up inside, but you can only keep it that way for so long. When you take a critical hit in combat, you become enraged and gain a heavy damage bonus, in addition to a higher chance of scoring a critical hit. But on the flip side, your mild-mannered self won't be able to inflict "normal" critical hits. Obviously, this will have some implications for how you choose to build your character throughout the game.
Another quirk we've had a lot of fun making is Two-Pump Chump. With this one, you live life fast – but perhaps a little too fast at times. You'll start combat racing for the finish line, and on those crucial early turns will have some bonus Action Points and a higher damage output to help you eliminate the enemy quickly. But after a few turns, your character will start to lose stamina and will suffer decreasing effectiveness over time. You'll want to make sure your initial zeal is powerful enough to take care of business before you become much less useful.
And that's just a very small sampling. We have 20 quirks in total, and we hope you'll have as much fun building out your squad with these new modifiers as we had coming up with all of them.
There have been some impressive Kickstarters making the rounds, showing once again the format is still strong. We'd like to give a shout-out to Yooka-Laylee, a 3D platformer from the creative talent behind Rare classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country. People were starving for another platformer of this type and it shows, as this Kickstarter is doing very well indeed!
Next, there's Independent By Design, a book project about indie game development that documents the success stories about some of the highest profile independent game developers out there. We are also honored to be featured in the book among the ranks of some great developers, including Vlambeer, Introversion and many more. They're a little under halfway to their goal, so be sure to check them out and show your support.
That's all for now! It's going to be a crazy next few months for both Wasteland 2 and The Bard's Tale IV, and we hope you'll join us for this wild ride!
Project Lead – Wasteland 2 / The Bard’s Tale IV