inXile show off combat in The Bard’s Tale 4

Torment: Tides of Numenera is almost upon us (February 28th) but let’s not forget the crowdfunded retromancers at inXile Entertainment have another game on the go. A new video shows progress on The Bard’s Tale 4, inXile’s revival of the old fantasy RPG series, including a bit of wandering and a first peek at its combat in action. Point your peepers this-a-way:

inXile explain more of the workings in an accompanying Kickstarter post, including this explanation of some fighty bits:

“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.

“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.

“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.”

The Bard’s Tale 4 is tentatively scheduled for launch later this year.

20 Comments

  1. TheDreamlord says:

    This looks superb, I am very much looking forward to this game! I am glad they explained that action can move on a bit faster than what is shown in the video. I also hope the walking speed can switch between walk/run, as the speed shown in the video while walking around is a tad too slow.

    • DancesWithSheep says:

      It looks interesting but I’m not a fan of those shaking avatars when someone speaks, makes it look cheap. Something more subtle like a simple highlight would be much less distracting.

      • WombatDeath says:

        Bah, my first reply ended up in the wrong place. Try again:

        The Kickstarter backer update stated:

        “Obviously, this is still in development and there are things we’re not in love with yet. Namely, the characters on the HUD are still at a first pass. We will be updating their visual look and likely not have them bouncing around as they speak.”

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Cheap? I think it makes them look like (DancesWith)Sheep.

      • JackMultiple says:

        When those dwarves (or whatever) are talking, I imagine they sound like those two Scots from “Burnistoun” on Netflix after inhaling some helium. Funny stuff!

        In fact, isn’t there an episode where the polis pull over a driver and make him inhale helium?

        Anyways.

  2. Gothnak says:

    I thought the whole thing looked like a long rendered sequence, most of which won’t feel like in game at all, apart from the structured combat section which looked interesting and could work. They are showing off a hell of a lot of animations & dialogue per enemy which means one of three things:

    1. It’s a lie, most enemies won’t have that much.
    2. It’s a bloody expensive game to make.
    3. There aren’t many enemies.

    That group of goblins searching the ground was weird, they’d have seen you so how do you instigate combat as the world doesn’t look tile based it’s going to be quite jarring.

    Sure that creature sees you at the end, but where did the others come from? In old Bard Tales it was from walking onto a square, which can’t be the case in a 3d world.

    • KillahMate says:

      The world apparently actually is tile-based, and you can alternate between a free-look camera and traditional Dungeon Master (or Bard’s Tale, I suppose) per-tile movement. Legend of Grimrock 2 managed to look pretty damn nice while being grid based, so I’m keeping my hopes up.

      • Gothnak says:

        Ah LoG2 wasn’t a mix of turn based and real time though, it used the basics of games all the way back to Dungeon Master, it’s a real time game with phases.

        This game has you wandering about in reral time, but then suddenly jumps to turn based. What if there is an enemy to your left when you are fighting something in front of you? How do you determine if you can creep past an enemy (As with the first eye) instead of triggering into it (like in the second example.

        Other dungeon crawlers like Wizardry 5 were just turn based, meaning enemies take turns like you do to walk around, and it’s a distance thing to trigger combat, but that isn’t how this looked to trigger.

      • Janichsan says:

        The world apparently actually is tile-based, and you can alternate between a free-look camera and traditional Dungeon Master (or Bard’s Tale, I suppose) per-tile movement.

        That actually doesn’t seem to be really decided yet. From the backer update that came with the video:

        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.

        So, while the map they showed in the video is built on a grid, the engine would allow for fully free movement. Similar to Wizardry 8, I could imagine.

    • bbl says:

      They are showing off a hell of a lot of animations & dialogue per enemy which means one of three things:

      1. It’s a lie, most enemies won’t have that much.
      2. It’s a bloody expensive game to make.
      3. There aren’t many enemies.

      This was my first thought too. And as inXile has a bit of a history of overpromising such things (see the Torment Stretchgoal debate and the amount of bugs in Wasteland 2), I would set a bet on a mix of option 1 and option 3.

  3. anon459 says:

    The motion blur is making me sick. Looks like they’re using it to cover up poor optimization. That’s certainly solvable, but Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture opted not to solve it and to just keep the blur, which made it unplayable for me. Hope that’s not what’s happening here.

    • Janichsan says:

      Keep in mind this is a very, very early version. They won’t have spent much time for optimisation, if any at all.

      • Gothnak says:

        This really isn’t the game actually running, it’s a scripted video. All of the camera movements are on splines rather than controlled by a player, it’s all far too smooth, therefore the motion blur is likely linked to the tool they are using to capture it than the game itself.

        It could be the game engine running animations, but not the player & ai logic imo.

  4. jj2112 says:

    But is there an option to turn and run away from kobolds?

  5. Darth Gangrel says:

    “When you take an action in combat, you can begin ordering another party member before the action has played out.” That sounds really great, allowing for some tactical options.

    With that said, I will forever mourn that no one used the system of the KotOR series, where you could pause the game and hand out 4 actions to each of your party members. I usually deleted the actions the two AI-controlled companions had already planned and gave them new actions. Worked really great, but all games I’ve played since (not that many, prefer playing solo) only allow your party members one action in advance.

  6. Maxheadroom says:

    Mechanically it’s impressive enough but despite assurances to the contrary back at the start of the kicketarter, this looks less like a sequel to the original classic trilogy than the god awful 2004 version.

    “That was an ‘uplifting’ tune!” and the banter between the kobolds espically all gave it a ‘kids tv’ feel I wasn’t keen on at all.

  7. Simbosan says:

    That looks pretty awful, that combat is a no-no for me. Slow and painstaking fights where every action takes ages is not something I can put up with. I got fed up with that in Divinity:Original Sin where fights took over 5 minutes each and I groaned every time I had another encounter. Then came Pillars, another grindingly slow game. Nah, I loved the last Bard’s Tale I played it was fun, this is just drudgery.

    Also the old Bard’s Tale had a sense of humour, this is just forced and try hard

  8. racccoon says:

    I don’t know what it is but after b2 is all down hill, I do not know where these devs are with the games name! its like they are using for gain and not actually thinking. They all seem to be so messed & ruining a great game name & story! I prefer the old version original a story of tales and drive from a life living in the pub, using tunnels through the town and actually doing something with a true value & meaning.
    The interface in this game looks poor and kind of rubbish, time is too slow, the only good thing is environment is well created & models are cool.
    They(devs) really just need to re play the original game and get and make it for today’s 3d gaming development skills. Not just play about with a name to gain rewards.

  9. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    I have to note that balancing a bipedal creature with a solid upper body without any counter-balancing parts (i.e. arms, tail) is extremely hard.
    Also, I’m a bit disappointed about the look of the goblins, I just don’t like that style (possibly it was taken from the original, which even I am not old enough to have played)

  10. mercyRPG says:

    Very nice particle effects, superb environment graphics and top notch monsters. The 2D crap characters break immersion!