I don’t know. Iiiiiiiiiiii ddddddddddon’t kkkkkkkkkknow. A Wasteland sequel seemed like a fantastic idea, given the divisive actiony direction Bethesda took Fallout in. A Planescape: Torment follow-up was absolutely giving literate roleplayers what they wanted (hopefully, anyway – that one’s not out yet). Bard’s Tale, though? I know it’s a landmark cRPG, but it’s not one I’ve heard many people crying out for a new sequel to. I guess I worry a little that it’s old-school roleplaying for old-school roleplaying’s sake, and I’d prefer something stone-cold new. But what do I know, given inXile’s The Bard’s Tale IV Kickstarter campaign (their third to date) has rounded up $800,000 of its desired $1.25m in less than a day? Clearly there’s an appetite, and clearly The Bard’s Tale IV is going to happen.
That said, at least part of the reason for that $800k surge is that the campaign offered a free copy of Wasteland 2, The Witcher or The Witcher 2 to anyone backing $20 or more within the first 24 hours. An unfair advantage perhaps, and further muddies the waters in terms of ascertaining who the audience is, but it’s also a heartening sign of the RPG side of games working together rather than being bitter rivals. That window’s now closed, and there’s still the best part of half a million to be raised over the next 37 days, but I entirely expect it to pan out, given RPG comebacks still seem a Kickstarter dead cert.
There’s only the merest glimpse of footage in this pitch video – which revisits the foul-mouthed-child-as-cynical-publisher concept of the Wasteland 2 campaign, as well as attempting to ambush concerns that the developers are already rolling in money – but a more meaningful look is promised soon.
It’s Unreal 4-powered (very prettily so, claims our Richard of the glimpse he saw) and with more of an emphasis on Grimrock-esque dungeon crawling, but The Bard’s Tale IV is nonetheless a more traditionally-themed cRPG than Wasteland 2 or Torment: Tides of Numenera (whose mouthful of a name, with pleasing self-awareness, is lampooned in the pitch video). Like the original Bard’s Tale series, it does pair its fantasy setting with a Gaelic theme, however. Kilts and songs and Scottish castles, basically.
Richard chatted to inXile boss Brian Fargo about the whys and wherefores the other week, which will give you a better sense of what all this is about, but key questions are probably:
a) Why go back to Kickstarter? InXile claim that “The Bard’s Tale IV is not a mainstream title, and even if we could bring it to publishers, we enjoy the independence and integrity that comes with crowdfunding and doing it our way, without compromise. In our experience, fan funding is something special that allows us to preserve our creative integrity without any undue outside influences. That’s how games are supposed to be made.”
b) Is this like the original 80s series or the contentious 21st century comedy reboot? Fargo says he’s still proud of the latter, but “I think you’ve got to put it over on one side, and now we’re doing the real sequel that everyone’s been waiting for.”
So there you go. I’ve never played a Bard’s Tale game so the number in its title is essentially meaningless to me, but hey, more RPGs from just outside the mainstream is probably a good thing. As much I like Dragon Age: Herb Collection and The Witcher 3: Herb Hunt, I do find the singleplayer MMO trappings that seem to be becoming TripleALand’s design touchstones a little wearisome.
The Kickstarter’s open until July 11th. There are various stuff and things, both digital and physical, to be had depending on how much money you decide to throw at ’em. $20 minimum to get a copy of the game upon release, or $105 minimum to get alpha access when it’s available.