The Bard's Tale IVThe Bard's Tale IV news from inXile Entertainment2017-02-24T11:30:48-08:00 The Bard's Tale IV Update 34: The Mage and The Bard Hello Exiles, As you might have already seen, we just announced a new game we're developing: The Mage's Tale! This is a brand-new VR title coming to Oculus Touch, which we hinted at last holiday during our year-in-review video. The Mage's Tale is a first-person VR adventure set in the world of The Bard's Tale, where you play as a young mage (who else?), using tactile functions to craft and throw spells to defeat your foes. It is a separate stand-alone title, which means you... https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/the-bards-tale-iv-update-34-the-mage-and-the-bard/?act=view&id=64 <p>Hello Exiles,</p> <p>As you might have already seen, we just announced a new game we're developing: The Mage's Tale! This is a brand-new VR title coming to Oculus Touch, which we hinted at last holiday during our <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YtznmjJMSs" target="_blank">year-in-review video</a>.</p> <p>The Mage's Tale is a first-person VR adventure set in the world of The Bard's Tale, where you play as a young mage (who else?), using tactile functions to craft and throw spells to defeat your foes. It is a separate stand-alone title, which means you don't need familiarity with The Bard's Tale to play it. It is not directly tied to The Bard's Tale IV either, so it's not required for you to play The Mage's Tale to enjoy The Bard's Tale IV, or vice-versa. And it's <i>great news</i> for The Bard's Tale IV, for reasons I'll explain below! But first, the guys from <a href="http://www.tested.com/">Tested</a> came by our studio to try the game out, check it out below!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/SnNhVTgyjqE" width="640" height="360" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>As I touched upon in my <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YtznmjJMSs" target="_blank">year-end message</a>, the NOLA studio has grown quite a lot in the past year, and this project was part of what allowed us to do that - thus accruing more talent in one place, faster than we could have dreamed. But I also mentioned inXile works in a team structure, meaning nearly all our staff are fully dedicated to one project or another. Oculus Studios' publishing allowed us to hire a team for Mage's without affecting the team we were already growing for Bard's, a team that has been hard at work on things <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/the-bards-tale-iv/posts/1801716" target="_blank">we have already been showing you</a>. And I want to reiterate not a penny from our crowdfunding went into The Mage's Tale, in fact quite the opposite as we'll explain below. The crowdfunding monies has been fully earmarked for The Bard's Tale IV's team.</p> <p>So in a direct sense, The Mage's Tale does not affect The Bard's Tale IV. But there are some benefits... One benefit is that in creating The Mage's Tale, we need to become familiar with and develop technology and tools, just like on any other game. With each game, there is a time investment in getting up to speed on all of that. Since both The Bard's Tale IV and The Mage's Tale are being built on Unreal Engine 4, there is naturally a synergistic benefit between both of them.</p> <p>But here's the best news for backers: after having seen our videos and screenshots, we saw many of you asking how we're able to build a game this graphically polished on a $1.5 million budget. We're pleased to say that while both games are being worked on by separate teams, many of the environments, models, textures, animations, and other graphical assets that we've been able to use for The Mage's Tale are going back into The Bard's Tale IV. That means we can make The Bard's Tale IV look better, and frees us up to spend more resources to build on that art set, and this helps us get to the vision of what we wanted The Bard's Tale IV to be.</p> <p>Bottom line - the assets coming in from Mage's allow us to make The Bard's Tale IV a larger game than otherwise possible, with larger levels and more varied enemies. Of course, continued back catalog sales from our other games, and sales of Torment: Tides of Numenera, which is releasing this Feb. 28th, will continue to flow directly into our projects, allowing us to make them that much bigger and better!</p> <p>This asset sharing is limited to graphical assets, as the two games are very different in design - The Bard's Tale IV being a much more complex game, which is on track to be the rich turn-based dungeon crawler experience we've promised from the outset.&nbsp;</p> <p>Oh and by the way, all you dungeon crawl fans, we noted some saw the <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/the-bards-tale-iv/posts/1801716" target="_blank">last combat video</a> and thought we ditched grid-based movement. Not at all! We'll be excited to show more traditional, grid-based movement as well as other great features in updates to come!</p> <p>Brian Fargo<br />Your Leader in Exile</p> 2017-02-24T11:30:48-08:00inXile Entertainment The Bard's Tale IV Update 33: New Gameplay Video Greetings Exiles, I&rsquo;m excited to finally be able to show you our vision for how exploration and combat in Bard&rsquo;s Tale IV will be presented and played. Combat is the core of a dungeon crawler and our goal has always been to make sure that it is tactical, deep and pays off visually. We also knew to stay with our roots with combat being party based and phased based, yet we&rsquo;ve come up with a unique way to present this style of gameplay. You&rsquo;ll note tha... https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/the-bards-tale-iv-update-33-new-gameplay-video/?act=view&id=63 <p>Greetings Exiles,</p> <p>I&rsquo;m excited to finally be able to show you our vision for how exploration and combat in Bard&rsquo;s Tale IV will be presented and played.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/tdOlts5srGM" width="640" height="360" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Combat is the core of a dungeon crawler and our goal has always been to make sure that it is tactical, deep and pays off visually. We also knew to stay with our roots with combat being party based and phased based, yet we&rsquo;ve come up with a unique way to present this style of gameplay. You&rsquo;ll note that we still support six characters for the player to command along with two empty slots for summoned creatures.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/015/427/978/3468eba3f773117e273960322ccad004_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1486497808&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=883355393db218f7fec7d6ba477600e6" alt="" width="639" height="313" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://i.imgur.com/vcQFjea.png">Click for a larger version</a></p> <p>Obviously, this is still in development and there are things we&rsquo;re not in love with yet.&nbsp; Namely, the characters on the HUD are still at a first pass.&nbsp;We will be updating their visual look and likely not have them bouncing around as they speak.&nbsp;And the visuals will only continue to improve as we layer on more VFX for world atmosphere, spells and combat effects, add additional post processing, upgrade the materials for the character models and greatly dial up the ambient life in scenes. Already you can see small touches in our use of planar reflections in the puddles of water, and what you can&rsquo;t see is our system for dynamically corrupting the forest based on the actions of the player. We want you to feel the effects you have on the world constantly.</p> <p>Additionally, though the camera movement allows for and shows off free movement, we have laid the maps out such that you can snap into grid movement as well.</p> <p>Getting personality and character into games is paramount to me, and you get a small glimpse of one of the moments when the party runs across the goblins. Expect more of these small scenes that show the world operating outside of what the player chooses to do.</p> <h2 id="h:welcome-to-the-dunge">Welcome to the Dungeon</h2> <p>The video above is a select portion of the Fichti Forest, one of the areas we've been building for the game. Our goal with it is to show you a number of the game's elements and give you a feeling for how the it will actually play out. Doubtless, many of you are wondering about some of the things you're seeing. So I'd like to clarify a few of the points in the video. Many of these are aspects of gameplay we hinted at in previous updates, but now we're able to talk about them in more detail.</p> <h3><b>Exploration Tools &amp; Abilities</b></h3> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/015/427/967/64224e868da78a307c36212306b50fef_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1486497772&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=f0a6f045d3e3601eea3cb38cf8be2ccd" alt="" width="639" height="313" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://i.imgur.com/Kdf4THC.png">Click for a larger version</a></p> <p>One of the defining features of the classic Bard's Tale games was the use of exploration-focused songs and spells. This is a feature that will be returning in The Bard's Tale IV. Songs of Exploration and Adventurer's Tools were discussed in an <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/the-bards-tale-iv/posts/1693725" target="_blank">earlier update</a>, and can be thought of as specific puzzle-solving or traversal tools that you'll use when going through the world. This includes usable items you will collect, such as keys, torches, and more, as well as special bardic songs that you can play. The song you're seeing in the video, The Stone Remembers, allows the party to rebuild certain rune-emblazoned pieces of architecture, opening up new paths and routes.</p> <h3><b>Party Chatter</b></h3> <p>Part of our expanded CNPC system stretch goal for the game comes in the form of our party chatter system. As you explore the world, your characters will banter among themselves, offering personality-filled insights into the events you are seeing. You can also bet some of these will feed into side content, like hidden treasure or secret rooms and puzzles in the depths of our dungeons.</p> <h3><b>Combat System</b></h3> <p>This is what many of you have been waiting to see. We talked about some of our high level ideas in <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/the-bards-tale-iv/posts/1562643" target="_blank">previous updates</a>, specifically with respect to our grid-based system. Now you are seeing it in action. On the game HUD, you can see your party occupying 2 rows of 4 spaces each. Enemies will line up on the opposite grid with the same number of slots. The exact positioning of enemies, as well as your own party, will determine which attacks can land, and which will swing wild past their mark.</p> <p>Another system you are seeing in place is opportunity. The blue and yellow gems on the HUD represent your party's and your enemy's opportunity. Opportunity is a shared resource that each side has, and it is granted each turn in combat. Unlike some other games where you will be forced to use action points for each character (or skip their turn), opportunity is a bit like a shared action point pool. The flexibility of this system means that party members can set up multi-hit combos, reposition for multiple attacks, or evade danger more effectively.</p> <p>One thing that is harder to see in the video is our input queuing system. When you take an action in combat, you can begin ordering another party member before the action has played out. Although we intentionally slowed things down for the video to keep it a bit easier to follow, in practice this keeps the flow of combat moving along faster than a traditional turn-based system.</p> <p>There's a lot more to talk about here, from the way elements like health, mana, and armor interact with each other, how channeling abilities and focus work, the way that temporary status boons can affect a character's functionality, or how positional tactics can let you set up more devastating damage. These open up a lot of subtle possibilities, but we'll save more of those details for future updates.</p> <h2 id="h:crowdfunding-shout-o">Crowdfunding Shout-Outs</h2> <p>It seems it's crowdfunding season again, and a number of great projects have been taking off lately.</p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/015/426/075/255af7be74de7367ff3cfb64c1ae1cb3_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1486488612&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=7e630b93d428b69c40dd0e43375376cf" alt="" width="639" height="359" /></p> <p>The first is Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, by Obsidian Entertainment, whose <a href="https://www.fig.co/campaigns/deadfire" target="_blank">crowdfunding campaign just launched</a>. Pillars shares a certain party-based, fantasy-oriented lineage with The Bard's Tale, albeit from a different sort of perspective. We loved the first one and are excited to see what Pillars II will bring to the table. The campaign quickly passed its goal but it's still possible to back if you are interested.</p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/015/426/077/a0885d36187e5d9a48cb32973810a9f2_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1486488624&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=bd627747f46c691b962411a5f3600c02" alt="" width="639" height="328" /></p> <p>I also wouldn't want to leave you without a quick mention of The Banner Saga 3, which has <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stoic/banner-saga-3" target="_blank">recently launched on Kickstarter</a>. Stoic Studio has made a name for itself making these gorgeous turn-based tactical RPGs over the last few years, and now they want to finish the trilogy. Many at inXile are fans of the first two games and this next one is looking great as well, so take a look!</p> <p>Brian Fargo</p> 2017-02-07T12:46:46-08:00inXile Entertainment The Bard's Tale IV Update 32: Year-End Message from Brian, A Monstrous Menagerie Hi, all! Nathan Long here. With the end of 2016 nearly upon us, I wanted to share a video from Brian Fargo where he discusses inXile's work over the last year, Bard's Tale IV included. He also has a hint of what we are planning to show you on the game shortly after the winter holidays, so please enjoy! To whet your appetite for now, I'd also like to give you monsters you'll be facing in The Bard's Tale IV. You might recognize a few of these faces from media we've shown be... https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/the-bards-tale-iv-update-32-yearend-message-from-brian-a-monstrous-menagerie/?act=view&id=62 <p>Hi, all!</p> <p>Nathan Long here. With the end of 2016 nearly upon us, I wanted to share a video from Brian Fargo where he discusses inXile's work over the last year, Bard's Tale IV included. He also has a hint of what we are planning to show you on the game shortly after the winter holidays, so please enjoy!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/9YtznmjJMSs" width="640" height="360" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>To whet your appetite for now, I'd also like to give you monsters you'll be facing in The Bard's Tale IV. You might recognize a few of these faces from media we've shown before or brief mentions in earlier updates, but this time we're going to go a bit deeper.</p> <p>Just as we've crafted the story of The Bard's Tale IV by combining the lore of the first three Bard's Tale games with the legends and folktales of Scotland, so have we taken from those sources for the harrowing host of creatures and characters you'll face when you enter the land of Caith. What follows is just a sampling.</p> <h2 id="h:bards-tale-monsters">Bard's Tale Monsters</h2> <p>We haven't kept all of the monsters from the first three Bard's Tale games. There were a lot - A LOT - and to be honest, some were a shade on the goofy side, but we're incorporating the coolest and most iconic into The Bard's Tale IV. And there is none more iconic than our first contender...</p> <h3>Berserker</h3> <p>In the original games Berserkers were famed as much for their numbers as their battle rage. You never encountered just one. In The Bard's Tale IV, berserkers are worshipers of Vidlsvin the Boar, the Einarr god of War. While the rest of the Einarr people are content to be fishers, farmers, shepherds, and good neighbors to their Baedish and Fichti cousins on the mainland of Caith, the Berserkers crave a bolder, bloodier life. Whipped up to a frothing fury by the priests of their cult, they seek to bring back the ancient Einarr traditions of raiding, pillaging, and slaughter, and thus restore the lost glory of the Jarls of the Stanish Isles.</p> <h3>Dragon</h3> <p>Dragons in the first three Bard's Tale games came in many colors - blue, green, copper, white, etc. - and there will be quite a variety in the Bard's Tale IV as well.</p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/014/965/517/ac43754d7ab5652925f51cd9db43f73a_original.JPG?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1482443261&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=f79d2e348cdadee09a71f1d22da2108c" alt="" width="639" height="308" /></p> <p>Dragons are originally natives of the realm of the Dwarfs, and one of the reasons that dwarfs build underground. (Castle walls aren't much use when a dragon can drop right into the courtyard, are they?) Unfortunately, a few of these monsters escaped into Midgard, the human realm, during Ragnarok, the war of the gods, and they and their offspring have been menacing humankind ever since.</p> <p>The dragons of Caith are not, however, sentient beings. They're just the alpha-predators of all alpha-predators. Fire-breathing, mountain-dwelling stealers of cattle, killers of men, and wreckers of village, town, and castle. They fear nothing, and vigorously defend their territory and their kills. Worse, they are not immune to corruption, and their simple animal minds can be taken over by practitioners of dark magic and made into living weapons. That is when you really need to fear them.</p> <h3>Skeleton</h3> <p>Another nasty and numerous enemy in the three original Bard's Tale games was the skeleton. In The Bard's Tale IV, skeletons are the servants of necromancers, summoned to fight and die to protect their masters. They are merciless, relentless enemies who feel no pain and know no fear, and worse, if you see a skeleton, you know a necromancer isn't very far away.</p> <h2 id="h:scottish-monsters">Scottish Monsters</h2> <p>Scottish monsters have a grotesque, nightmarish quality about them unique to the land. Maybe it's got something to do with whisky being Scotland's national drink, or sheep intestines its national dish. Whatever it is, you will not find a more twisted, bizarre collection of creepy-crawlies in Western mythology.</p> <p>Of course, The Bard's Tale IV versions of these horrors are not exact translations of their Scottish kin. The artists have re-interpreted them to fit the tone of the game, and we writers have adapted their lore so that it weaves smoothly into the world of Caith and Skara Brae.</p> <h3>Fachan</h3> <p><b><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/014/965/521/c93f8d0e05885bfccde358a71df1b04c_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1482443316&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=dce44e7accfc57e4ac46e4d5f457646a" alt="" width="457" height="407" /></b></p> <p>There are actually few mentions of the Fachan in old Scottish lore, save one tale where Murachadh MacBrian, the King of Ireland, won a footrace against one of them, and a suggestion that they might have come from muddled tales of druids standing on one foot while they cast spells. In all the tales, however, they are described as fierce creatures having one leg, one arm, one eye, and a stiff tuft of hair sticking up from their ugly heads.</p> <p>Our Fachan are twisted monsters of corruption and darkness, the result of a botched summoning by the Fichti outcasts known as the Siambra Du. No one knows how their numbers have multiplied since that first malignant mistake (perhaps by regeneration from severed limbs?) but now Fachan are seen all over Caith, and populate the hellish realm of Malefia too, from whence evil conjurers can call them forth to fight for them in battle.</p> <h3>Red Cap</h3> <p>In the traditional tales, Red Caps are short, wiry old men with sharp teeth and hands like claws, who wear caps soaked in the blood of their victims, and who enjoy killing people with pikes. They are also supposed to be so fast that you can't outrun one. One tale has an evil lord summoning one and making a pact with it to protect him from his people. Naturally, the Redcap killed on the lord when he violated the terms of the pact, then turned his body over to his subjects. That's the way things go in folk tales.</p> <p>Our artists have taken some liberties with the traditional conception of the Red Cap, making is more of a monster and less of a man, but it still has its red cap, and you still can't outrun it, no matter how hard you try. In Caith, the Red Cap is a demon of Malefia, and is one of the swiftest, most deadly creatures a conjurer can summon.</p> <h3>Ghilli Dhu</h3> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/014/965/527/ea9f91154cb4722755159628b9e22156_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1482443365&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=1cc29d5f2dd12dd5c33e15fe201dd87c" alt="" width="475" height="501" /></p> <p>The legend of the Ghilli Dhu is much more recent than the other Scottish tales we've plundered, and may have some basis in an actual incident. In the 1800s, a young girl got lost in the woods and was cared for and returned to her village by a shaggy person who might have been a hermit. Out of this grew the idea of the Ghilli Dhu as a benevolent forest spirit, wild of aspect, but gentle in manner, a caretaker of the forest.</p> <p>In The Bard's Tale IV, the Ghilli Dhu are exactly that, gentle giants who watch over the forest and those who travel through it. Unfortunately, some Ghilli Dhu have been corrupted by the Siambra Du outcasts, and are now the opposite of everything they once were. Now they spread corruption and death, and attack all who enter the forest, and shall continue to do so until the curse that poisons them is lifted.</p> <h3>Anthropophagie</h3> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/014/966/769/ee045bc8092ba08fc5cbf5b02cff4a5f_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1482453206&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=bc2e99bc66e8a994253934918203aa7f" alt="" width="486" height="479" /></p> <p>Also known as Blemmyes, Anthropophagie are not as particularly Scottish as the other monsters on this list, but we liked them too much not to use them. They come from medieval books such as the Otia Imperialia, a "book of wonders" that presented garbled translations of earlier works about far off places and peoples. The Anthropophagie were said to be giant headless cannibals from Syria whose faces were in their chests.</p> <p>For The Bard's Tale IV, we have made them denizens of Malefia as well - monsters out of your worst nightmares who can be summoned to fight against you, and our artists have really emphasized their hellish aspects, with not just their mouths displaced, but hands, teeth, and eyes. Horrifying.</p> <p>So, there you are, a broad and bloody bestiary of brutal bogies for you to battle - and just a sampling of the monsters you will find and fight in The Bard's Tale IV.</p> <p>Until next time, happy adventuring!</p> <p>Nathan Long<br />Lead Writer</p> 2016-12-23T08:56:50-08:00inXile Entertainment The Bard's Tale IV Update 31: New Video & Exploration Greetings, Adventurers! Nathan Long here, lead writer on Bard's Tale IV. Today I'm here to present something special to you. It's been a while since we last showed you video of the game, and now we want to give you a brand new glimpse into the world of Caith running in-engine. This clip is meant to illustrate the tone that we are looking to capture for our environments and creatures in The Bard's Tale IV &ndash; a captivating and expansive landscape for you to explore, and... https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/the-bards-tale-iv-update-31-new-video-amp-exploration/?act=view&id=61 <p>Greetings, Adventurers! Nathan Long here, lead writer on Bard's Tale IV. Today I'm here to present something special to you. It's been a while since we last showed you video of the game, and now we want to give you a brand new glimpse into the world of Caith running in-engine.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ylU1-_L3SrY" width="640" height="360" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>This clip is meant to illustrate the tone that we are looking to capture for our environments and creatures in The Bard's Tale IV &ndash; a captivating and expansive landscape for you to explore, and a menagerie of creatures inspired by myth and Celtic folklore. We&rsquo;ve also been feverishly working on the combat system and have made some amazing progress, but we don&rsquo;t want to show our hand on it quite yet. For now I hope this gets your imaginations running wild and sets the mood for what I'd like to talk to you about today.</p> <h2 id="h:a-grappling-hook-in">A Grappling Hook in My Hand and a Song in My Heart</h2> <p>Recently, lead designer David Rogers and I have been working on what we've been calling the "Adventuring Tools and Content Keys" systems for the game, and for this update we thought we'd share some details about how it all works.</p> <p>Basically, what the adventuring tools and content keys do is give us some control over how you explore and experience the world of Bard's Tale IV. Now, right from the beginning, we made the decision that BTIV would be a game of free exploration. You'd be able to go in any direction you chose, ignore the main story to do side quests if that's what tickled your fancy, or just noodle around and find cool stuff. We therefore made Skara Brae and the land it resides in, Caith, big places with lots of space and lots of story, scenery and secrets to get lost in. Skara Brae is a city now, with multiple levels of sewers, catacombs, and crypts below it, while the lands that surround it are vast and varied, with broad fields, haunted villages, deep forests, treacherous fens, and looming mountains, all riddled with caves, ruins, dungeons, and hidden places, all ripe for exploration.</p> <p>However, another decision we made early on was that we didn't want you to be able to grind through any of these areas all in one go. We wanted there to be doors you couldn't open the first time you found them, or rivers you couldn't cross, or ruins you could see but not reach. We wanted there to be mysteries that you couldn't unlock until you'd traveled to new areas and learned new things. We wanted to make sure there were always places you wanted to come back to, and that returning to previously explored lands would always be rewarding and fun, unlocking new areas, secret content, interesting lore, and of course, awesome loot.</p> <p>So how to have it both ways? How do we make a world with a good amount of free exploration that at the same time keeps some content hidden, and do it in a way that doesn't feel artificial or unfair? Well, there are lots of ways, some simple and direct, some more subtle and writer-y, (I get to do those bits!) which act as the gates and keys of Bard's Tale IV. Let&rsquo;s have a look at the main ones.</p> <p><strong>David Note:</strong> Writers are always speaking in fluffy generalities. I'll be popping into this update now and then to give you some cold hard facts.</p> <h2 id="h:level-keys-one-does">Level Keys - One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor</h2> <p>Some areas won't be locked away behind an actual physical door, and you won't need a physical key to get into them. They'll just be too much for you to handle at your current level. If you walk into a new area and find that you're getting your ass handed to you by every enemy who gives you the stink-eye, that's a clue to come back later, once you've toughened up and upgraded your gear. Of course you might be a sneaky sort, able to dodge your way through enemy patrols to snag some serious swag, but you do so at your own risk. We accept no liability for any party wipes that may occur if you go around trying to punch above your weight.</p> <p><strong>David Note:</strong> This is one of the classic ways computer games keep you out of an area temporarily. The way level gating in Bard&rsquo;s Tale IV differs from other RPGs is our willingness to have a pockets of high level enemies living inside low level areas. Consider them a signpost, letting you know that there are high level rewards to come back to once you're strong enough to fight your way past the gatekeepers.</p> <p>And to elaborate on sneaking and patrols, in BTIV, enemies will often be found guarding various locations, walking patrol routes, or hiding in ambush. These enemies have zones of perception that show where their attention is focused, and these zones can be tip-toed around by an adventuring party with good timing, or stealthed through with the help of a sneaky rogue. If you're spotted, enemies will get the jump on you, putting you at a disadvantage. However, you can get the jump on them by attacking from behind, causing front row enemies to switch to the back row and back row enemies to switch to the front, exposing their weakest group members and putting their melee troops out of range. Ambushing in this way also guarantees your party the first turn in combat.</p> <h2 id="h:tool-keys-the-right">Tool Keys - The Right Tool For The Job</h2> <p>When exploring dungeons, some secret passages, shortcuts, or hidden rooms require a certain tool to enter. Sometimes it'll be a simple key or lock-pick kit. Other times it will be something rarer or more unusual. An inaccessible ledge becomes scalable only if you equip a grappling hook. A ten-foot pole sets off the traps that keep you from getting to the door at the end of a hallway. Igniting some Demon Dust blows a hole in a weakened sewer wall, revealing a new area. Once you learn what tool you need to bypass each obstacle, you'll begin to see other instances of that obstacle scattered throughout the world, and you'll know what to stock up on the next time you visit Garth's Equipment Shop.</p> <p><strong>David Note:</strong> These kinds of keys, what we're calling Adventuring Tools, are how we lock off hidden content. When visiting a vendor, we want you to think about purchasing some of these tools before delving into your next dungeon, on the chance that the reward for using them will be greater than the investment, or that it will make an otherwise difficult fight easier or entirely avoidable.</p> <h2 id="h:song-keys-music-will">Song Keys - Music Will Set You Free</h2> <p>As befits a game with Bard in the title, music plays a large part in all aspects of BTIV's gameplay, from combat to puzzle solving to storytelling - and also, of course, exploration. From the Highroad Whistle that allows you to travel from one circle of standing stones to another, to the Smuggler's Lament, which grants you access to secret passages known only to members of the criminal underground, songs will get you into and out of all kinds of places. Some will reveal secret caches.</p> <p>Some will open portals to new worlds. Some let faction leaders know you're a friend, so they'll show you their secret stores. Some are musical spells that cause waters to recede or broken bridges to reassemble, allowing you to cross into new areas.</p> <p>The trick is finding and learning these songs. Some will be taught to you by your companions. Some you'll learn from quest givers, or find written out in ancient books. Some you will have to fight through the deepest dungeons to acquire. They will all be worth it. The more songs you learn, the more the world will open up to you.</p> <p><strong>David Note:</strong> So, there's an actual system to this, which we're calling Songs of Exploration. You have a song book (basically an inventory) where songs you've learned are listed, and when confronted with a broken bridge, or a bit of Trow graffiti, or a circle of standing stones, you can open the book and click on the appropriate song. The song then plays (a quick little riff) and the bridge reassembles, a cache opens, or the standing stone quick travel menu appears. Ta-da!</p> <h2 id="h:lore-keys-knowledge">Lore Keys - Knowledge Opens Many Doors</h2> <p>The final kind of key is the key of knowledge. Histories read in books, rumors overheard in conversations, or relics found in ancient chambers, all can give the clever player answers to puzzles or riddles they can find nowhere else. Temples, sacred crypts, storehouses of powerful weapons and spells, all might be locked away behind a question or a map or a diagram, or a rune which requires translation. The knowledge needed to solve the puzzle will be out there somewhere. You only have to find it - and figure out what it means.</p> <p><strong>David Note:</strong> To spell this out, there is side content in the game that you will not be able to complete - or even find! - without reading the lore you find and using your brain to figure out what it means and how it applies to the world and the puzzles that abound in it. Lore comes from readable books you find in the game, as well as notes, drawings, ancient songs, inscribed weapons, and murals painted on dungeon walls, all of which can be examined up close and in detail. Nothing along the main storyline is hidden behind these more esoteric puzzles, but plenty of cool stuff will be. Cleverness will be rewarded.</p> <h2 id="h:happy-exploring">Happy Exploring</h2> <p>Thus, to sum up, there are four kinds of keys in Bard's Tale IV - physical, musical, mental, and straight up being strong enough to fight your way in - and mastering all four is the best way to unlock and explore all of the wide, wild, wondrous world of Caith.</p> <p><strong>David Note:</strong> Good luck, Adventurers! The world of Caith awaits!</p> <h2 id="h:shout-outs">Shout-Outs</h2> <p>Before we leave you, we also have a few words to share about some other crowdfunded projects.</p> <p>First, the Torment: Tides of Numenera team is finalizing its work on that title for when it releases early next year. Their next game will be Wasteland 3, and to help make it happen, we'll be crowdfunding it using Fig.</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13908203"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/908/203/ccbcff15a22be785e2f121e8304b9932_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1475096578&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=ee93dd4854f8b4bc4ecdbe09e9105f75" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Wasteland 3 will be launching its campaign on October 5th, 2016, and if you would like to lend your support, we would most certainly appreciate it. You can <a href="https://wasteland.inxile-entertainment.com/" target="_blank">check here</a> to sign up for future news and get notified when the campaign launches.</p> <p>Next, there's another nostalgic project on Kickstarter we wanted to direct your attention to. Those of you who are old-school PC gamers will, like ourselves, fondly remember titles such as Jazz Jackrabbit, Commander Keen and more. <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1093001909/rad-rodgers-the-return-of-the-90s-era-apogee-platf" target="_blank">Rad Rodgers</a> is a side-scroller inspired by those classic games of the early 90s which aims to revive this genre!</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13908262"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/908/262/128a481b83df39788a2c70d39f9f398f_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1475096841&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=08f312365d289c3595ff3836302eda77" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Their campaign has just about a week left to go and has managed to fund, but you can still get in for some of their stretch goals if you act now.<br /><br />Signing off,<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/Nathan_R_Long" target="_blank">Nathan Long</a><br />Lead Writer &ndash; The Bard's Tale IV <br /><br /><strong>Follow Us:</strong><br /><a href="https://www.facebook.com/TheBardsTale/" target="_blank">Facebook</a> <b>|</b> <a href="https://twitter.com/inxile_ent" target="_blank">Twitter</a></p> 2016-09-28T14:25:00-07:00inXile Entertainment The Bard's Tale IV Update 30: Character Progression Howdy citizens of Caith. David here, back to share some juicy details about The Bard's Tale IV. Taking a short break from combat mechanics, during this update we'll be covering a subject that I'm sure is very near and dear to all RPG lovers' hearts - character progression. Specifically, we'll be talking about character advancement: gaining experience, specializing your adventurer, being judged by the Review Board, and lastly the role equipment plays in your character's growth... https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/the-bards-tale-iv-update-30-character-progression/?act=view&id=60 <p>Howdy citizens of Caith. David here, back to share some juicy details about The Bard's Tale IV. Taking a short break from <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/the-bards-tale-iv/posts/1562643" target="_blank">combat mechanics</a>, during this update we'll be covering a subject that I'm sure is very near and dear to all RPG lovers' hearts - character progression. Specifically, we'll be talking about character advancement: gaining experience, specializing your adventurer, being judged by the Review Board, and lastly the role equipment plays in your character's growth. The details we go over are all subject to change as we continue to playtest and tune the game, but should provide a good sense of the overall direction of The Bard's Tale IV's character progression system.</p> <p>Experience is a concept that RPG fans should be very accustomed to. Besting foes, solving ancient riddles, and rediscovering forgotten parts of the old world all grant experience, which naturally leads to leveling up. In The Bard's Tale IV, our goal with character advancement is to find a balanced system that always provides a meaningful amount of growth at even its smallest increments, while also being fun to use. For us, this centers around our skill tree.</p> <p>The original Bard's Tale trilogy had a character progression system closely tied to your starting class, plus the fascinating idea of evolving into different types as you reached higher levels. A budding Conjurer could progress down that track, or change professions and learn to be a Magician, Wizard, Sorcerer, and ultimately an Archmage. We are retaining this strong class-based focus in The Bard's Tale IV. We&rsquo;re also opening up this more in-depth character progression to all the classes, allowing each class to specialize into their own set of sub-classes. By merging the sub-class concept into a tree structure, we are better able to give each adventurer meaningful and impactful choices each time you level up.</p> <p>Each class has access to its own unique skill tree. From here, your adventurer is able to learn how to wield new gear, gain attribute points, learn new abilities, and gain passive effects. Basically, your character can be fully described through their skill tree. At a glance, you can tell a Sorcerer from a Wizard, a Thief from an Assassin, and a Vanguard from a Commander, all just by looking at their skill tree. Each time one of your Adventurers levels up, they are granted a single point to spend on their skill tree, with each skill costing exactly one point.</p> <p>While skill trees can have a lot of options, their complexity grows along with the adventurer. The very first view you might have of your skill tree as a Fighter might look a little something like this, showing only a smaller number of skills to unlock:</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13140474"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/140/474/7bdfceaf41b7e294fe1892c60185c098_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1469193387&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=a9829103b13fb551033091519f691e65" alt="The image above is a mockup using placegolder art, but should give you a sense of what this might look like in the game." /> <figcaption>The image above is a mockup using placeholder art, but should give you a sense of what this might look like in the game.</figcaption> </figure> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the above image we see the player has a few choices to pick from for their fledgling Fighter: learning to wield more advanced one handed weapons, learning to wield great weapons, gaining access to battle standards, wearing more protective armor, gaining bundles of attribute points, learning a new passive, or learning to craft basic potions. You'll notice that many of those choices also carry along with them some increased attributes as an added bonus.</p> <p>For those of you thinking that's all there is, don't worry. You'll be able to view your entire skill tree from the get go. For simplicity's sake we set the default view to show you only what you have available at a given level, and what's just beyond the horizon. However, you can always zoom out to see the full number of options available to your adventurers as they grow into heroes of legend.</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13140478"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/140/478/27e616c87c695b97615d610eda900bd2_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1469193430&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=3e7d28ba4df4378e9e084afad19c8498" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>As you unlock new skills, you'll begin to also unlock the next tier of options in your skill tree. That's displayed by the counter under each tier header, with each tier requiring a total number of skill points spent character-wide. The adventurer above, for example, has so far unlocked seven out of nine skills needed to progress to Tier 3. These tiers play a role in a character's growth in a few ways, some more obvious than others. First, it helps create big milestones in the career of your adventurer. Just as you've advanced your progression towards one or more sub-classes and your options have begun to taper down, you unlock a new tier and your available options explode out again. It also provides incentive to each adventurer to acquire skills they might not have otherwise, encouraging exploration within your build. Lastly, it allows us as designers to deliver a more balanced experience because we can better ensure that at least some minimum number of points were spent towards defensive and offensive skills in one form or another during the early stages of the game. What kind of armor and fighting style you adopt and eventually specialize in later on is entirely up to you.</p> <p>Once a character has spent the needed number of skill points to reach the next tier within their skill tree, it's time to visit the Review Board. For those of you who are new to The Bard's Tale series, the Review Board is a returning oldie but goodie &ndash; it is a milestone in your journey as an adventurer. We ask you to perform a pilgrimage of sorts back to Skara Brae to come before the Review Board and be deemed worthy (or not) of their blessing. If found worthy, the next tier in your skill tree unlocks, and along with it a whole world of new possibilities.</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13140488"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/140/488/ca95c3670be7f31ad57c03cdafe1b6b4_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1469193489&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=bb46f191acea87be8339582ff890e572" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>In older Bard's Tale games you visited the Review Board each time you wanted to level up. Since we'll be traveling far beyond the borders of Skara Brae, into distant lands and realms far from home, we wanted to keep the game moving forward by requiring you to return to the Review Board less frequently while still staying true to this staple of the series. We also know that when you level up, you generally want to spend your new skill points immediately rather than having to wait till you leave a dungeon to see the Review Board.</p> <p>As you progress through an adventurer's skill tree you'll encounter an increasing amount of choice, some of which comes in the form of mutually exclusive branching. This is when a pre-requisite line branches and selecting one branch causes the other branch to lock, like so:</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13140498"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/140/498/dbf05be024ccda6326288ffc4e52c3af_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1469193521&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=cc860e11630ed6567d29cb290b2b9d92" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>Here we see that this Fighter is seeking to continue their training in armored combat. They could continue their training in Medium Armor, or she could choose to begin training in Heavy Armor. Medium Armor tends to provide a well balanced mix of offensive and defensive attributes, while also granting special passive abilities that make you a more flexible and supportive fighter. Heavy Armor, on the other hand, tends to be more defensive than offensive and can provide unique buffs to how you move around the battlefield, even allowing you to push allies and enemies around with your sheer bulk. Once that choice is made, the remaining branch is locked off and cannot be selected, and as you continue to invest points that will naturally lead you in directions that play towards certain sub-class archetypes. This will encourage you to make your character choices wisely and specialize your roles throughout your entire party, and will mean that even if you have multiple characters of the same class, they will still end up feeling significantly different.</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13140503"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/140/503/e1e62d73fe9eeabe2b9688e25c1adb34_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1469193558&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=304260cfa2c0b1a3f84f56813a68980c" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>Reaching the end of one of these prerequisite skill tree paths is the goal for many an adventurer. Much like how Conjurers can specialize to become Wizards, Magicians, Sorcerers, and ultimately Archmages in the classic Bard's Tale games, our other classes are also able to specialize and attain titles of their own to evolve their capabilities. The Fighter, for instance, is able to become a Vanguard, Veteran, Commander, Champion, or Defender &ndash; each carrying with them their own game-changing abilities, gear, and passives.</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13140510"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/140/510/f7135f8345f6d8da0ccda3f52f697757_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1469193590&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=8b45929874b34d21ca073adbe29cea8a" alt="We'll have a number of sub-classes for each main character class available on the skill tree. Here's some directions a basic Fighter might be able to evolve." /> <figcaption>We'll have a number of sub-classes for each main character class available on the skill tree. Here's some directions a basic Fighter might be able to evolve.</figcaption> </figure> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That said, an adventurer can still be a master of many aspects of their chosen profession. While it's impossible to gain every title and master every skill line, a true adventurer of legend may eventually master two or three. This is one of the many important ways we ensure that even max level characters of the same class feel very different from one another. A fully unlocked skill tree looks like this:</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13140632"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/140/632/38a3f6ccbfc2e74e7ffbc09866072bed_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1469194370&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=0bfd78260f2e2c667ec41c8d92ca2f8f" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>For those of you looking closely at the skill tree descriptions, which I'm confident many of you are, you might be wondering where you get your combat abilities from. Many of them, in fact, do not feature in the skill tree directly &ndash; instead, the place you acquire abilities is actually from your equipment. As you progress down the skill tree you unlock the ability to wield new and more exotic weapons, off-hand items, and trinkets. You may unlock access to a single item, such as a battle standard, or an entire category of items, such as Tier 2 great weapons. These items each have a specific ability or abilities. By wielding a great club you'd be able to use Lumbering Strike during battle, while wielding a battle standard would allow you to rally your allies with the ability "To Me, Brothers." As a certain weapon is used, an adventurer will eventually master its abilities, allowing them to keep using those abilities even without needing the weapon equipped. This will let you naturally unlock a vast amount of tactical flexibility over the course of the game.</p> <p>And lastly, equipment such as your helm, armor, and boots also play a major role in your character's growth and progression. Through the skill tree you're also able gain access to increasingly powerful and exotic armor, robes, costumes, garbs, habits, and accoutrement. Your gear accounts for a major chunk of your adventurer's attributes. How many blows your character can withstand, how able he or she is to focus the eldritch forces, and their mental fortitude is heavily influenced by what mystic equipment they've found and learned to use throughout their journeys. These items can also grant you unique passive abilities that can help you form powerful combos. Itemization is an important aspect of The Bard's Tale IV and we've only given you a cursory glance, so we'll be touching on it more later.</p> <p>By the good graces of the Review Board, wise choices made in your skill tree, and only the most potent of enchanted war gear, your adventurer can become a one of a kind hero whose deeds will be chronicled through song for an age.</p> <h1 id="h:rpgwatch-interview-n">RPGWatch Interview, Necropolis</h1> <p>Since we last spoke, I had an interview at RPGWatch, covering a variety of topics from systems design to dungeon design. <a href="http://www.rpgwatch.com/articles/the-bards-tale-iv-interview-374.html" target="_blank">Give it a read if you want to know more about the game</a>!</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="13140520"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/013/140/520/6c906071bdd28596883639a6595de0bb_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1469193684&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=64cce4b4d28e25264f7911020e9f3eb0" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>We also wanted to take a moment for our friends at Harebrained Schemes, who you might remember successfully Kickstarted their Shadowrun series of games. Now, they have just released their newest title, Necropolis. This co-op roguelike combines Souls-like combat, dungeon exploration and RPG elements. Is it any surprise we had to struggle to pull ourselves away when we got the chance to check it out? If that sounds interesting to you, you can check Necropolis out on <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/384490/" target="_blank">Steam</a> or <a href="https://www.gog.com/game/necropolis" target="_blank">GOG</a>.</p> <p>I hope you enjoyed this look into the character progression system of The Bard's Tale IV. As always, I'll be eager to read your comments. Your feedback is so valuable to us, as is your support. We couldn't, and wouldn't, do any of this without you. Cheers, and until next time!</p> <p>David Rogers<br />Lead Systems Designer<br />inXile Entertainment</p> 2016-07-22T07:07:55-07:00inXile Entertainment Torment Beta Now Available to Applicable Bard's Tale IV Backers Some of you may have noticed that yesterday, we announced our release plans for Torment: Tides of Numenera as well as opened the beta version up to all of the game's backers. We received some questions about it, so to clarify: yes, if you are a Bard's Tale IV backer and your pledge rewards include Torment: Tides of Numenera, you can also start playing right now on Windows via Steam (an option to switch to GOG and Mac&nbsp;and Linux will come later). &nbsp; To get your... https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/torment-beta-now-available-to-applicable-bards-tale-iv-backers/?act=view&id=59 <p>Some of you may have noticed that yesterday, we announced our release plans for Torment: Tides of Numenera as well as opened the beta version up to all of the game's backers. We received some questions about it, so to clarify: yes, if you are a Bard's Tale IV backer and your pledge rewards include Torment: Tides of Numenera, you can also start playing right now on Windows via Steam (an option to switch to GOG and Mac&nbsp;and Linux will come later).</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="12686089"> <figure><a href="https://cdn.inxile-entertainment.com/torment/img/pages/media/backgrounds/renders/lazaret/nologo/1920x1080.jpg"><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/012/686/089/223b17a6f08dcac3c5eae23bf7a15cea_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1465424301&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=156dcdfd4bfde592c13a6a280acd4533" alt="" /></a></figure> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To get your Torment beta access if you reward included it, just visit your<a href="/user/private/rewards"> Rewards page</a> on your backer account (on the Bard's Tale site,&nbsp;<em>not</em> the Torment site!) and look for the "Keys" button to the right-hand side of your reward package listing. Click it, follow the instructions and you can begin playing Torment's beta version on Steam right now!</p> 2016-06-10T07:26:00-07:00inXile Entertainment David Rogers Interviewed by RPGWatch on Bard's Tale IV Long-standing community site RPGWatch interviewed our Systems Designer on The Bard's Tale IV, David Rogers, about a number of aspects of the game. The full article is a great read for fans, so take a look. RPGWatch: Dungeon-crawl RPGs are known for great length and plenty of time investment in order to craft your ultimate party. How long do you think the game will run, and will there be a lot of side content in the form of side quests to add length to the game? David: It... https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/david-rogers-interviewed-by-rpgwatch-on-bards-tale-iv/?act=view&id=58 <p>Long-standing community site RPGWatch <a href="http://www.rpgwatch.com/articles/the-bards-tale-iv-interview-374.html">interviewed our Systems Designer on The Bard's Tale IV</a>, David Rogers, about a number of aspects of the game. The full article is a great read for fans, so take a look.</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>RPGWatch: Dungeon-crawl RPGs are known for great length and plenty of time investment in order to craft your ultimate party. How long do you think the game will run, and will there be a lot of side content in the form of side quests to add length to the game?</strong></p> <p><strong>David:</strong> It is too early to say how long the game will be until we have locked down content and gameplay, but we always strive to hit the right balance between lengthy games with a lot of depth while still delivering a highly polished experience.</p> <p><strong>RPGWatch: Approaching content in any order that you would like is important to get a more "open" feeling game. Will there be multiple dungeons to tackle at once, and will the player have options as to which dungeon they should explore next?</strong></p> <p><strong>David: </strong>There absolutely will be free choice involved.&nbsp; There will be times when you have multiple quests and dungeons that need your attention and it'll be up to you to decide which order you tackle them in, or if you tackle them at all.</p> <p><strong>RPGWatch: Party management is great fun in a dungeon-crawl RPG, especially when status-altering effects and other factors come into play. What sort of "game within a game" mechanics can we expect while we're diving into these dungeons? What factors will we have to manage along the way?</strong></p> <p><strong>David: </strong>There are some tried and true mechanics you'll be playing as you crawl through a dungeon.&nbsp; We'll ask players to manage a finite number of consumables to ensure they're in peak fighting condition when a combat occurs.&nbsp; This could be health potions, anti-venoms, or even things relating to trap avoidance and secret discovery, such as lock pick sets.&nbsp; We're also asking players to decide if and where to make camp after a hard day of adventuring.&nbsp; We're all RPG fans here, so we don't necessarily try to re-invent the wheel at every turn.</p> <p>With that said, there are also elements about our game that should feel really unique to The Bard's Tale.&nbsp; We want to incorporate music into our gameplay in a major way.&nbsp; We have some major talent, both on the writing and musical front.&nbsp; We want to bring those big guns to bear by having the player gleam insight about the various cultures of Caith through its music, and then be able to sing the magically attuned songs of Caith that they've learned in order to interact with the world.</p> </blockquote> 2016-05-30T14:17:16-07:00inXile Entertainment High-Res Wallpaper + Map Add-on is Now Available Due to user&nbsp;requests, we've added an all-digital add-on package for the High-Res Wallpapers and High-Res Map items. Priced at $4 (400 points), this package&nbsp;will grant you access to some exclusive rewards previously&nbsp;found only at higher digital and physical pledge levels. If you backed at a lower pledge level and would like to add these items to your reward collection, you can visit&nbsp;the Rewards page. https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/highres-wallpaper--map-addon-is-now-available/?act=view&id=57 <p>Due to user&nbsp;requests, we've added an all-digital add-on package for the High-Res Wallpapers and High-Res Map items. Priced at $4 (400 points), this package&nbsp;will grant you access to some exclusive rewards previously&nbsp;found only at higher digital and physical pledge levels.</p> <p><a href="/pledge/codex/rewards?id=52"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://cdn.inxile-entertainment.com/bardstale/img/products/52.png" alt="" width="200" height="200" /></a></p> <p>If you backed at a lower pledge level and would like to add these items to your reward collection, you can visit&nbsp;the <a href="/user/private/rewards">Rewards page</a>.</p> 2016-05-13T15:33:52-07:00inXile Entertainment The Bard’s Tale IV Update 29: Glorious Combat Hello Citizens of Caith. My name is David Rogers, and I'm the Systems Designer on The Bard's Tale IV. I know I don't have to tell any of you that combat is a core pillar of The Bard's Tale. It's where all of our choices about race, class, gear, and party composition combine with our own sense of strategy, leading to either glorious victory or humiliating defeat. Combat design is what I've been primarily focused on, and what I'm here to chat with you about. Before we dive into... https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/the-bards-tale-iv-update-29-glorious-combat/?act=view&id=56 <p>Hello Citizens of Caith. My name is David Rogers, and I'm the Systems Designer on The Bard's Tale IV. I know I don't have to tell any of you that combat is a core pillar of The Bard's Tale. It's where all of our choices about race, class, gear, and party composition combine with our own sense of strategy, leading to either glorious victory or humiliating defeat. Combat design is what I've been primarily focused on, and what I'm here to chat with you about. Before we dive into the real meaty bits, I need to give the obligatory disclaimer that what you're about to see is all a work in progress, and changes may occur between now and the final release of the game.</p> <h2>Combat Basics</h2> <p>One of the great things about designing for a dungeon crawler is your ability to quickly build the game on paper before you build it out digitally. We've put a big emphasis on proving out our designs by playing them out on the tabletop. Similar to playing a game of D&amp;D, we're able to play out the bard's tale on the tabletop and make sure what we're doing is fun, strategic, and ticks all the boxes we're looking for in The Bard's Tale IV. We started from a foundation of classic blobber combat, distilling down the parts that truly compel us. But we also make note of missed opportunities for rich strategic decision-making, and brainstorm how to capitalize on them.</p> <p>One area we really want to improve on is the kind of decisions the player has to make during combat. It was a common trend in older blobbers that most of your decisions were made out of combat and once you entered combat you did the same actions over and over again. That old chestnut of "attack, attack, attack, defend, defend, fireball" is something we want to disrupt. Gaming has come a long way since the heyday of old school dungeon crawlers and we're dead set on bringing the genre back into the spotlight.</p> <p>We discussed our 4x4 battlefield grid in a <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/the-bards-tale-iv/posts/1288136" target="_blank">previous Kickstarter update</a>. Accentuating the role that the battlefield plays in combat is one element we're focusing on. To briefly recap, during combat our battlefield is a 4x4 grid where the players' party occupies one half of the grid and the enemies' party occupies the other half. Because we want to show your enemies (and the bloody pulp you beat them into) in all of their glory, their half of the grid exists in 3D space. Your party, in classic blobber fashion, lives on your HUD. It looks a little something like this:</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="11056829"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/011/056/829/38d3db8ff414ea7fdd5e80c2f962dd27_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1462036759&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=76aeeda8069cc6b0665c8b838052a25b" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>This is what our board looks like while we're playtesting our paper prototype. After our art director gave it a little love it started to look a little something like this:</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="11056832"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/011/056/832/8cce35196d99ca699568c18fa9c1b777_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1462036770&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=b0f73506ea49962150e455473bfc9576" alt="This is an example mockup, not an in-game screenshot, but should give a sense for our intended combat presentation." /> <figcaption>This is an example mockup, not an in-game screenshot, but should give a sense for our intended combat presentation.</figcaption> </figure> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There's a lot to talk about, so let's start with the grid. As you can see, the grid does a great job of blending the 3D space and the HUD together into a single battlefield. Where your character sits on this grid in relation to the enemy is of vital import. For instance, by positioning a resilient warrior in front of your frail conjurer, you can protect him from direct physical attacks, allowing him to spell-sling with relative impunity. Even beyond the classic front row/back row dynamic, characters can generally only attack enemies that are in front of them. Of course, there are exceptions to this, particularly when we start talking about magic. This heavy emphasis on your party's position has a lot of really cool implications that makes each combat a real strategic puzzle to be solved.</p> <p><i>Which characters should I use to tank damage from each enemy? If an enemy is charging up a powerful attack, should I try to move someone into position to interrupt him or should I move everyone out of the way? Should I move my character into position to attack a critical target next turn, or should I just stay put and attack whoever is in front of me this turn? Should I cluster my team together to share short range buffs, or should I spread them out to avoid AOE damage?</i></p> <p>These are choices we've not been able to present in past Bard's Tale games and we're finding them to be really fun and rewarding.</p> <h2>Designing Attacks</h2> <p>Positioning is one component of combat, but where things really start to get interesting is how attacks can tie into things like battlefield positioning. To give you a better idea of what I'm talking about, let's talk about the anatomy of an attack.</p> <p>At the core of our design for The Bard's Tale IV is the idea that all attacks and abilities should be interesting to use. We are trying to move away from giving every character the same basic<i>attack ability</i> that just does damage. While doing single target damage is effective, there isn't a lot of strategy revolving around the choice of whether or not to attack your enemy. The answer is generally yes. That's an example of a missed strategic opportunity we wanted to capitalize on. Your weapons, spells, and abilities will offer their own unique attack types that often have different built-in properties to set them apart. You're saving the world, gosh darn it, so you'd better do something heroic! These differences can be minor or major, but the point is that each attack is designed to shine in different scenarios. Throughout your adventure you'll encounter enemies using new abilities and tactics. You'll need to keep evolving your strategy to be victorious.</p> <p>When examining the anatomy of an attack and making it interesting to use, we have a number of qualities at our disposal. These include Attack Pattern, Damage, Damage Type, Special Effect, and Cost (Just to name a few). In this update, we'll cover Attack pattern, Damage, and Special Effects. We'll cover the other elements in a later update. Let's start by breaking these down one at a time.</p> <p>First is attack pattern. Keeping in mind the influence the battlefield plays on our gameplay, each attack has a pattern associated with it that dictates who the attack will affect. An attack pattern may look something like this:</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="11056838"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/011/056/838/4e085664568ed843bc7812ad32423b45_original.png?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1462036858&amp;auto=format&amp;lossless=true&amp;s=e058ab36cb4b7b60f73ad2b897895d45" alt="" /></figure> </div> <p>This attack pattern is something you'd find on a sword thrust attack, and indicates it will attack forward, striking the closest enemy directly in front of it, up to two grid squares away. Other abilities may be able to pierce multiple targets, may strike from different directions, or be able to directly target an opponent regardless of their position (this is especially true of magical attacks). In game, you'd see a helpful targeting indicator show you the range of your attack, along with who'll ultimately be affected.</p> <div class="template asset" contenteditable="false" align="center" data-id="11056841"> <figure><img class="fit" src="https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/011/056/841/941f7b88c42bde877b74d41b528bf63e_original.jpg?w=639&amp;fit=max&amp;v=1462036873&amp;auto=format&amp;q=92&amp;s=6cc3bbb49393e2687d67a33902572117" alt="Once again, example mockup, not an in-game shot." /> <figcaption>Once again, example mockup, not an in-game shot.</figcaption> </figure> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our attack shown in the image above has a range of 2. Since our Warrior is in the front row, he can reach all the way to the enemies' back row. That enemy ogre is in for some poking the likes of which he's never seen! Had the Warrior been sitting in his back row, he wouldn't have been able to reach the ogre. The Hunter, positioned behind the Warrior, has long ranged bow attacks that can strike up to three grid squares away and is more than capable of sniping the ogre from relative safety.</p> <p>Like we've said in previous updates, we want to allow player to experiment with multiple party compositions, including ones that might not conform to the tank + DPS format. One way this grid system supports that goal is <i>evasion based defense</i> and <i>enemy disruption</i>. Evasion based defense is the idea that I can attack with a character and then move that character in such a way that it makes it difficult for my enemy to effectively re-position themselves to mount a concentrated counterattack. Rogues are particularly good at this sort of hit and run tactic. Enemy disruption is similar, in that some classes are capable of throwing their enemies around the battlefield, disrupting their formation and making it difficult for them to effectively strike back in their following turn.</p> <p>Now that we know who we're attacking, let's talk about the bloody part: Damage. Damage is a pretty simple calculation. Damage comes from the character's stats, which are sourced from a variety of places including gear, skills, level, etc. Most of the time, damage is a fixed amount instead of a random range. This really allows you to plan out the perfect combo, that will for sure take that ogre down before he crushes your skull in. There <i>are</i> some abilities that do random damage, but that random element is something special about the ability that makes it unique.</p> <p>Once damage is dealt, then we apply any additional effects. This is where attacks start to get more interesting. An effect might knock an enemy to the side, exposing that frail caster he was protecting. Another effect might be a poison that damages an enemy over time. Yet another might be a debuff that reduces a target's armor, softening it up for your allies. You get the idea - effects open up a world of possibilities for us to play with.</p> <p>To give you a more real-world example of how attacks can synergize in interesting ways, during our playtesting, one of the synergies that the warriors have been using is a bleed and bash combo. Axe-wielding warriors can cause their target to bleed, which causes them to take damage whenever they move around the battlefield. You can imagine them exerting themselves and gushing blood, leaving a red trail behind them as they bleed out. Once that effect has been applied, shield and club wielding warriors get to work. These blunt armaments can often knock an enemy from one grid square to the next, throwing them out of their ideal position and opening up attacks to the more vulnerable glass cannons they've been protecting. The nice thing is, when you forcibly move an enemy, it also triggers the bleeding effect. If done right, you can get a nice ping-pong combo by bashing a bleeding enemy back and forth between warriors, each time causing them to take bonus bleed damage.</p> <p>Now, hopefully, you can see how all these elements come together into a really fun and thought-provoking combat system rife with opportunities for combos and counter play. We're continuing to tune and iterate on it, of course, making adjustments constantly based on playtesting.</p> <p>There are a lot of things we didn't go into here that will also play a huge role in combat; things such as Mana management, combat stances, charge up attacks, and more. However, this should give you some insight into the depth we are building into The Bard's Tale IV. Stay tuned for Glorious Combat Part 2, where we'll cover the even more advanced and unique features of the Bard's Tale IV's combat system.</p> <p>For now, let us know what you think! We've touched on combat before, but this is the first time we've shown anything in this much detail, so we want to hear your ideas. Also, thanks for supporting The Bard's Tale IV. All hail the Sword Father.</p> <p>David Rogers <br />Lead Systems Designer</p> 2016-05-02T08:11:23-07:00inXile Entertainment PC Gamer Interviews Brian Fargo at GDC At this year's GDC, PC Gamer sat down to talk with inXile head Brian Fargo, as well as Obsidian Entertainment's Josh Sawyer and ArtCraft's Gordon Walton. In this extensive and candid interview, Brian discusses his creative role at inXile, taking&nbsp;player feedback and how it's used to improve our games,&nbsp;and drops some tidbits about The&nbsp;Bard's Tale IV. As a fun extra, we&nbsp;also learn that Josh Sawyer's first RPG was the original Bard's Tale. How do you compare... https://bardstale.inxile-entertainment.com/community/news/pc-gamer-interviews-brian-fargo-at-gdc/?act=view&id=55 <p>At this year's GDC, <a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/brian-fargo-josh-sawyer-and-gordon-walton-on-the-history-and-future-of-rpgs/">PC Gamer sat down to talk with inXile head Brian Fargo</a>, as well as Obsidian Entertainment's Josh Sawyer and ArtCraft's Gordon Walton. In this extensive and candid interview, Brian discusses his creative role at inXile, taking&nbsp;player feedback and how it's used to improve our games,&nbsp;and drops some tidbits about The&nbsp;Bard's Tale IV. As a fun extra, we&nbsp;also learn that Josh Sawyer's first RPG was the original Bard's Tale.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>How do you compare designing games today, when you have these communities online, either your Kickstarter backers or just people on forums and your own website, constantly giving you feedback on the game as you&rsquo;re developing it somewhat openly, versus ten, 20 years ago when it was kind of, you made the game and then you put it out there?</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong>BF</strong>: I would be scared <em>out of my mind</em> to do it the way we used to do it today. Think about it. Like, think about Fallout, right? We work on it, we give it to a QA department, which are a bunch of people that we&rsquo;re paying to play the game, so it's not exactly gonna be the most objective feedback as much as you beg them to give it to you, right? And then you just ship it out and keep your fingers crossed and hope they like it. That&rsquo;s scary as hell. Right now we&rsquo;re able to take their temperature all along the way. I wouldn&rsquo;t replace it for anything.</p> 2016-04-10T13:02:25-07:00inXile Entertainment