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Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #31: World of Caith Teaser Video, Exploration and Gating Details
Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 29 September 2016, 01:11:52Tags: David Rogers; inXile Entertainment; Nathan Long; The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep
In the wake of Wasteland 3's announcement, inXile have decided to give The Bard's Tale IV a little nudge with a new Kickstarter update, the first one since July. And what a nice update it is. It's a got a new video showing off the idyllic yet creature-infested land of Caith, to the tune of Julie Fowlis' Gaelic singing. In the text, lead writer Nathan Long and lead designer David Rogers talk about the game's exploration, and the mechanics they use to gate it. I think it's the first update to really give us an idea of how the game will play on a macro scale. Here's the video and an excerpt:
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.
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.
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.
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’s have a look at the main ones.
David Note: Writers are always speaking in fluffy generalities. I'll be popping into this update now and then to give you some cold hard facts.
Level Keys - One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor
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.
David Note: This is one of the classic ways computer games keep you out of an area temporarily. The way level gating in Bard’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.
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.
Read the full thing there.