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Footage from a 1998 Bard's Tale IV prototype revealed for the first time

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Footage from a 1998 Bard's Tale IV prototype revealed for the first time

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 27 February 2013, 12:20:29

Tags: Electronic Arts; Interplay; Mythic Entertainment; Origin Systems; Rebecca Heineman; The Bard's Tale IV (EA)

Kenneth Kully of the Ultima Codex was recently granted permission to dig through the digital archives of EA subsidiary Mythic Entertainment. Two days ago, he informed me that he had found in it a very strange video. See for yourself:

Wow. It''s...pretty shitty, actually. But what the heck is this game and why is there footage of it in a Mythic archive?

We know that Mythic Entertainment are the caretakers of Ultima Online and the entire Ultima legacy at EA. As such, they have inherited materials that originally belonged to Origin before that company's final shutdown in 2004. We also know that back in 1998, Brian Fargo had not yet recovered the rights to Bard's Tale, which he eventually used to make his own modern take on the series, 2004's The Bard's Tale.

So, did Origin set out to create their own Bard's Tale sequel? Considering how busy they were in 1998 with the disaster that was Ultima IX, that doesn't seem likely. Luckily, the powers of Google supply an answer to our conundrum.

A forgotten interview from 2000 with original Bard's Tale trilogy developer "Burger" Bill Heineman at defunct fansite reveals:

Scott: Well I sure hope that someday the saga will continue. If you were allowed to produce BT4, do you have any new ideas in the back of your mind on things you might do differently this time? ​

Bill: We have a whole game design document and even a prototype of the engine. We pitched the idea to EA about a month ago but they were not interested.​

Scott: Oh, that is a shame!!! With your new engine, has the game been enhanced a lot, or does it still look basically the same? ​

Bill: Completely new game. It has more of an Everquest look to it but all the art and sounds have a Bard's Tale feel to it.​

Scott: Do you have any story ideas for Bard's Tale 4 yet? ​

Bill: As I said before, we have a whole game design document. It takes place after Bard's Tale III and begins the tale again. We hope it's the first part of a three part saga.​

Tsk, tsk, Rebecca! Of course, this still doesn't answer the question of what this video was doing in an Origin archive. Perhaps somebody at Origin was tasked by the suits at EA with examining the prototype and determining its quality. Hopefully, somebody will step up and provide the last remaining pieces of this puzzle.

There are 61 comments on Footage from a 1998 Bard's Tale IV prototype revealed for the first time

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