The Bard’s Tale IV Update 19: Two Days Left! But Wait, There’s More!

kickstarter2015-07-08 13:53:47

We're entering one of the most important periods of any Kickstarter, the last two days! New eyes will come to our project, which is why we offered a campaign recap a few updates ago for people who have not been keeping a very close eye on things. Give it a look!


Help Spread the Word!

We hope you enjoyed our little video, we had fun making it, and feel like it highlights many of the best reasons to back us. In these final days, spreading the word is vital. So we want to give our very successful social media achievements one final kick into high gear…

In these final days, if you get us 500 retweets of this tweet and 100 shares of this Facebook post we will unlock a special new reward: The Lute of Compulsory Cavorting, a special flavor item which when played will make certain characters in the game do a little dance, whether they want to or not!

Of course our other social media achievements are still ongoing. You're closing in on room 20, and through the shadows you can see the treasure you're after: in room 20, you will unlock the all-new Exclusive Brian Fargo Bard Skin for use in the game for all backers! Always wanted to play as Bardic Brian? Well now you can!

This one took quite a bit of nagging and cajoling to get Brian to agree to. He is not a fan of the idea, but personally, I think it will be hilarious. We can finally get him in a kilt and give him some glorious, flowing long hair. Besides, isn't it slightly more funny that he's uncomfortable with it?

Hanging Out With Brian

This morning just a few minutes before posting this update, Brian was able to talk with Kickstarter during one of their new Creator Hangouts events. As one of the first guests on this new series, we were honored that Brian could attend. During the Hangout, Brian answered fan questions and discussed Kickstarter. The Hangout's finished, but you can still view the archived video on YouTube here:

Sulphur Springs

One of the great things about the world of The Bard's Tale IV is being able to return to locations from the first three games. Sulphur Springs was a map in The Bard's Tale III and it will play a pivotal role in our story in The Bard's Tale IV as well. This wasteland of toxic Sulphur pools is a breeding ground for some of the nastiest creatures in our world. No human dares to live there and few who venture in ever return.

The only question you need to ask yourself is, are you brave enough to enter?

Front and Back Rows in Combat

And now, a quick design fireside chat. This one is something many of you have been asking about.

Many dungeon crawls, including the original Bard's Tales, make use of a front row/back row system within combat encounters. This type of system allows you some tactical choice to how your party is presented in combat. For example, you can shield some “softer” characters like ranged casters in the back row, which allow them to be protected by stronger adventurers like a warrior. The rules generally state that if there are player characters (PCs) in the front rows, they will take short melee damage before the PC's in the back do. Of course, ranged weapons and spells can hit back row PC's regardless of the front row. Commonly this would also apply to the player's attacks, the back row only able to use spells and ranged attacks.

This system has been used many times prior, with varying levels of modification and effectiveness. It has been rooted in dungeon crawl history and so we will of course have it as a core mechanic in BT4 combat, but there's also some improvements we can make. For example, it tends to introduce an overly limiting “hard rule set” to the type of party you can make, restricting your choices during character creation. As stated in a previous update, an overarching design goal is to allow players to experiment with many different party make-ups.

To that end, we've been working on a system that satisfies the following design goals:

1) Stays true to the spirit of the front/back row positional system

2) Doesn't overly limit the positions that various PCs are “supposed” to occupy

3) Increases the strategic elements of PC positioning by designing class skills that promote positional movement

4) Feels dynamic while not turning into a chore

First, a vision image of the (WIP) player positioning system. Do keep in mind that at this point in pre-production, nothing is set in stone, but hopefully this will give you an idea of where we are generally pointed…

The large square is representative of a single grid square that the PC's will occupy (in 1st person POV) while moving around the world. Inside the large grid square are sub-grids. While we haven't decided on our large grid sizes yet, for the purposes of this explanation, let's assume it's 12' x 12'. That would mean each sub-grid is 3' wide by 5' long, with a 2 foot “neutral zone” left to fill in the remaining large grid square.

Notice the facing direction pointing up. If you were in combat with enemies, there would be an identical but mirrored grid, but facing down. This leaves a theoretical 4' of a neutral zone in between the two battling groups. While we have some interesting ideas for things that can occupy the neutral zone, the PC's will not be able to do so as a usable position. The neutral zone would be a great spot for things like magical shields or other non-player character physical spells.

With 6 party members taking up “sub-grids”, that leaves at least two sub-grids free for summons. During combat, you might want to move a casting character to the front row to execute a short range, but particularly devastating spell. The trade-off is that your caster is now sitting in a vulnerable position. If the user interface is smooth and elegant for moving your adventurers during combat, this could give some interesting strategic options in addition to your party's skills and spells.

With an easy to understand UI element based on PC positioning, we have a huge opportunity to play with some exciting design ideas based on where PC's are in the sub-grid. Paladin buffs could give additional bonuses to PCs in adjacent sub-grid slots. Rogues could be masters of movement, swapping places with other heroes or summons, giving more positional freedom. Some skills or spells could even require you to have an open sub-grid slot in front of your PC to cast. We love to hear your ideas on different skills and spells from the Bard's Tale universe that would be unique to a system like this. Please head over to our forums and let us know what you think!

Thank you all for following along with us on this journey. I couldn't be more excited to finish up the Kickstarter and push this project into high gear!

Chris Keenan
Project Lead – The Bard's Tale IV