Singing For A Third Supper: Bard’s Tale IV Halfway Funded

Shame on all of you! I just came here to see Honk If You're Horny in peace

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.

32 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    MercurialAlchemist says:

    I’m a bit ambivalent about it after giving up on Wasteland 2 for want of interesting dialogue and engaging storylines. I hope the new Torment turns out better.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Dez says:

    FYI, the offer for a free copy of Wasteland 2, The Witcher or The Witcher 2 has been extended for another 24 hours (until June 4th, 6am PST, erm, whatever that is in British Time Units) according to the Kickstarter updates.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      To get it in corresponding BTU’s you have to multiply by 0.39 Tea Times. (the pint-pound constant).

  3. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    I backed it because it is inXile, not because it is Bard’s Tale. I do like the little puzzles to upgrade weapons and so on, the one shown looks rather Myst/The Room. I hope there are a lot of those. A new promising mix of point&click and RPGs maybe?

    • sear says:

      Those are some of our inspirations (we name The Room in some of our Kickstarter text and Brian’s mentioned it in interviews previously)!

      We will have a gameplay prototype video (over 3 minutes long) a bit later on, we’re still working on putting the finishing touches on it.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        Oh cool, I missed that in the text. Congrats on another successful KS (if we are allowed to celebrate the victory in advance. :)

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, that. It’s funny, I never played Wasteland and did play one of the Bard’s Tale games (I assume the first, since that’s my usual mode of operation, but I don’t recall), so you might think I would have been “meh” about Wasteland 2 and dying for more Bard’s Tale, but Wasteland was a design and a setting that still stand out today and directly inspired one of my favorite franchises of all time (Fallout), whereas I really didn’t like that Bard’s Tale game and there’s nothing about the series that seems to call out for a revisit to me. That said, I’m willing to trust that inXile will produce something worth $20, and technology should prove far less limiting than it did back in Bard’s Tale 1’s day. And I’m certainly not against a solid first-person party-based dungeon crawl, provided the combat isn’t real-time. (Which is why I don’t play Grimrock or its inspirations.) I just would probably rather a fresh game than an attempt to resurrect a franchise I have no investment in.

  4. ResonanceCascade says:

    Brian Fargo and company are forging out a nice little cottage industry. I’ll probably skip this one, since I don’t really have any nostalgia for the old ones, but Torment: Tides of Numununnunana is looking great.

  5. PancakeWizard says:

    I wish them luck but yeah, I’ve no appetite for this. The Bard’s Tale stuff just passed me by.

  6. balinor says:

    I didn’t plan on backing anything on kickstarter again after being a little disappointed with the communication from inXile with W2 but I’ve been playing Bard’s Tale for nigh on 30 years so yeah I was crying out for a new one. Backed.

    • sassy says:

      What are you talking about? Just a couple of days ago they sent out update #63. Every update had lots of information and they were transparent throughout the whole development process. If anything they gave too much information but if you weren’t interested in that then you don’t read the updates.

      • balinor says:

        I found some things were not made clear enough over the course of the project. You obviously didn’t find that and that is fine also.

  7. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    As mentioned above, the free game offer is still good until tomorrow. I almost never back anything on Kickstarter, but based on their previous success, I decided to back it. I’m very interested to see what they do with this.

  8. Moorkh says:

    Well, there were some people who clamored for a return of this series after all:

    link to web.archive.org

  9. Maxheadroom says:

    I backed but in hindsight it may have been the nostalgia goggles.

    What i liked about the original trilogy was their simplicity. They really were just computer versions of pen and paper RPGs. Encounters were represented with simple graphical images, your party were just names and stats, you just filled everything else in with your imagination.

    Nowadays with your fully realised 3D landscapes and your motion captured facial animations, everything is prettier but the magic has gone. It’s why a lot of people prefer books to film adaptations i guess

    So while im sure they’ll stay close to the originals i dont think they’ll recapture the same spirit

    Do i sound oul? I’m only 41!

  10. ninnyjams says:

    I feel like there’s no safe place on the Internet for me to say that I actually enjoyed “that” Bards Tale game for what it was, and had a lot of fun playing it.

    • sassy says:

      I did too.

      I think a lot of people did but it’s became cool to hate on it.

  11. Hedgeclipper says:

    What ever happened to those “kick it forward” promises?

  12. mgardner says:

    Thanks for posting this, +1 backer here. Seems like a decent price for Wasteland 2 (plus GOTY edition when it is available), regardless of how the BT game turns out (I liked 1-3 well enough to play them when they were new, plus replay them on an emulator 10 years ago).

  13. Themadcow says:

    Bards Tale 1 has remained in my top 5 rpgs of all time (alongside Wizardry 6, Pools of Darkness, Suikoden 2 and Dragon Age Origins) since it was released so this was an easy back. Just a shame I have all the free 1st day backer games already.

  14. racccoon says:

    I love the idea of this new game
    I do not see why a team that’s been BEGGING for years and made a massive profit out of it freely with no ties, needs to BEG again.
    it seems like they are far too relaxed and complacent about BEGGING again that it now comes natural to BEG for more.
    I think once you go out into the streets and see low lost people with a bowl or hat it becomes redundant to us as we pass them by and not giving because there are many poor people today. Most people on the streets BEGGING are really POOR, HOMELESS and JOBLESS.
    These guys though are the absolute opposite they are wealthy and its very much in your face out there that they obviously have no morals so they just keep on BEGGING. Shameful

    • Poison_Berrie says:

      Is the capitalization of words an emphasis or am I correct in not taking you seriously in this?

    • Zallgrin says:

      We will keep in mind, that requesting FUNDING is the same as BEGGING and that InXile are amoral bastards for EXPLOTING its poor fans! The fans might receive the game for their money and technically it’s almost the same as a preorder… But nevermind, it’s still very SHAMEFUL.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Please calm down, you’re scaring the chrilden.

  15. Hidden Thousand says:

    I am rather excited about Brian Fargo bringing back the good games (nevermind me not being of proper age to see, let alone play Wasteland or Bard’s Tale).
    I wonder if Hunted: The Demon’s Forge will get some attention. In ten years or so. It was a decent co-op experience, and it deserves, in my opinion, to get better.

    • malkav11 says:

      A good first step would be making it not crash to desktop the moment it’s launched.

  16. Themadcow says:

    Brian’s probably overstating the difficulty of the original game, although 2 and 3 were harder. Those first few levels in BT1 where you were either outmatched by Barbarians (oh noes, another trip to the temple) or even worse… withered (OLD) by catacombs residents (temple=KER CHING!) were by far the hardest parts. Sure, you could bust out the Fire Horn of instand death but you knew it had only so many charges. You carried a Monk because you knew they’d become uber, but in those early game dungeons they were a liability.

    Once your casters got up to MIBL level and had some decent healing capability you were on much safer ground. Sure, fights like 4 x 99 Berzerkers were a challenge but nothing that a firebreathing summon and some AoE spells couldn’t handle because your frontline was almost bulletproof.

    • jrodman says:

      Yeah, people saying Bard’s Tale 1 was hard are simply deluded / misremembering / didn’t like mapping.

      So long as you were persistent, and willing to take notes, you were going to win that game, no real questions. The first few levels could be frustrating (I remember crying in frustration at age 12 or so because I thought the Run function was buggy — it gives you no feedback when run fails) but you can always just reload, or transfer your money & items to your next new character. You’ll level up sooner or later, and pretty soon the game becomes fairly straightforward.

      I played through it again (again again) last month, and the only challenge I had was figuring out how to win the final fight of the whole game.

  17. MrNash says:

    I’ll keep an eye on this. Don’t see this having any trouble getting funded, so figure might as well wait till it’s complete and see how it is. Kinda tempted to play the early games again, but the versions I have come from the last Bard’s Tale game from 2004 or whatever, and don’t run well on my PC. =S