Putting the 'role' back in role-playing games since 2002.
Donate to Codex
Good Old Games
  • Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.

Game News Jennell Jaquays on EA's cancelled Bard's Tale IV project

Infinitron

I post news
Staff Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
Messages
98,071
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: Bard's Tale IV (EA); Electronic Arts; Jennell Jaquays

Brian Fargo recently announced that his company's next project would be Bard's Tale IV, the first sequel to the classic franchise in 27 years. Back in the early 90s however, Electronic Arts were developing their own Bard's Tale IV - a project which would never see the light of day. Veteran RPG designer Jennell Jaquays, formerly known as Paul Jaquays, was one of those contracted to work on it. Last night, she revealed on Facebook what happened to the EA Bard's Tale sequel, finally bringing some closure to this small mystery. She even included some original plot documents! I quote:


The attached script is my last plot outline for Bards Tale IV, based on art assets that were already completed or near completion for the game.

25 years ago, Electronic Arts was working on a sequel to Bard's Tale III. As the owners of the license, they were able to call it ... well ... Bards's Tale IV. The version of the game that Interplay was making ended up having to be called Dragon Wars. Dragon Wars did something important to games that Bard's Tale IV did not: It was completed and shipped.

I was one of the last designers who worked on the game. The original story apparently came from Steve Englehart (primarily know for his work in comics), with later development by David Arneson (aka the Father of Roleplaying), and Elizabeth Langosy, a writer whose previous background involved working in games in the Zork series.

I was contracting to EA at the time on another RPG title and was pulled over to work on Bards Tale IV during one of my visits to work in house. I became the last designer on the game, in the role of script doctor and continuity editor to try and bring all the other contributor's work together, streamline it and write a final concluding scenario setting.

BT4 had changed the core direction and play of the Bards Tale series from a game about a party of unique characters created by the player to a scripted story line involving only pre-created characters (the sort of thing that's great for novel tie-ins).

While I worked on the project, it changed producers and lost it's tech lead.

My attempts to salvage and tighten ended up being pointless. The game's data engine was buggy. The graphics were already dated-looking and over complicated (three separate 2D graphic presentations, a first person point of view for for exploring, a side view or shadow box format for resolving encounters, and an isomorphic view for exploring the city. Each view required that characters be redrawn and re-animated (using EA's D-Paint software). And the project was over budget.

While I was working on script revisions, the producers made the decision to put it down. EA's Bard's Tale IV was put to rest.

The policy decision that EA made about contractors had a profound impact on the rest of my career. They would no longer work with independent contractors who didn't bring a full production team to make games. I didn't have those resources. EA had been my primary source of income for over a year. I chose to turn away from computer game design and focus on illustration and never worked for EA again (though five years later, I would be back working in the computer game industry at id Software).
The timing of this leak is, I suspect, no coincidence. Jennell's current company, Olde Skuul, which is led by Bard's Tale series programmer Rebecca Heineman, recently announced plans to create their own Bard's Tale quasi-successor - Dragon Wars 2. We'll post more about that once they actually have something to show, but in the meantime you can follow the discussion about it on our forums.
 

Infinitron

I post news
Staff Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
Messages
98,071
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Some commentary: It seems like back in the early 90s, EA attempted a strategy of publishing games made by outside developers while taking ownership of their IP, and then later producing their own sequels in-house using contractors, on the cheap. It would appear that this strategy was not very successful, if this project and Fountain of Dreams are any indication.

It takes talent to slam dunk. :slamdunk:
 

DeepOcean

Arcane
Joined
Nov 8, 2012
Messages
7,399
I was scared as fuck when I read this thread name, for some reason I only read EA cancelled Bard's Tale IV project and imagined they fucked up InXile. I guess it was my reflexive "EA is up to do some really dumb bullshit." reaction I have everytime I read EA is involved on something.:lol:
 

PotatoElemental

Educated
Joined
Jun 15, 2014
Messages
47
Location
Land of the Rising Potato
BT4 had changed the core direction and play of the Bards Tale series from a game about a party of unique characters created by the player to a scripted story line involving only pre-created characters (the sort of thing that's great for novel tie-ins).

(the sort of thing that's great for novel tie-ins)

EA - proudly doing the devil's work, no matter the decade.
 

MurkyShadow

Glittering gem of hatred
Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2012
Messages
353
Location
ye olde europe
Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Insert Title Here RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In Codex+ Now Streaming! Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong BattleTech Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. My team has the sexiest and deadliest waifus you can recruit. I helped put crap in Monomyth
Dragon Wars - I remember having good times with it on my olde trusty C-64. Although I barely was able to grasp
what was going on at my age. I was wandering around in Purgatory, wondering what the hell I had to do and
getting roughed up by that one giant. Humongous I think he/it was called.

It was quiet the change of pace from playing the original Bard's Tale series, I can't say how useful the skills where,
it may very well be that I upped my own handicap level quiet a bit with that. But what the hell, I survived years
of drawing maps for Bard's Tale, Pools of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds, I was not gonna give in!

Well, obviously I never finished it. :lol:
 

Infinitron

I post news
Staff Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
Messages
98,071
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Jennell Jaquays said:
I was contracting to EA at the time on another RPG title and was pulled over to work on Bards Tale IV during one of my visits to work in house.

This might be the "another RPG", from a 2014 post: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=576483695776960&set=a.150277605064240.33808.100002460043864

HFZyoom.jpg

Throwback Thursday: Once again, not a pic of me, but of things that I did. My first project for EA's Story Group around 1990 was development on an urban horror-themed CPRPG with a working title of "Necroscope." The late Christopher Erhardt was the producer who brought me into the project. This is a sketch idea for a game map. The game would primarily be played in an isomorphic view, not too dissimilar from Wasteland (or perhaps Diablo). The game was shelved so I could throw my skills behind Bards Tale IV, which needed help (and it too became vaporware).

Jane Avriette Nothing to do with the Brian Lumley/TOR book of the same name?

Jennell Jaquays I don't think so. But I've not read the books to know if there's a link other than a similar name.

Jennell Jaquays Read the synopsis of the story ... no connection.

And more on cancelled Bard's Tale IV, from 2013 posts: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?...=a.428670480558283.1073741825.100002460043864

Nt9cYS7.jpg

In the early 90s, I worked as a contractor to thee Electronic Arts (EA) story game group. At that time, it was headed by the late Chris Erhardt. One of the titles that I worked on was ... Bard's Tale IV. The game ultimately ended up vapor-ware. But while sorting my art files recently, I came across two color printouts of game characters that survived. The characters in the first row with the PCs in the player's party (it was a single player game), beginning on the left with the Bardling (your main PC). Each character in that row played a part in the story that I helped craft. The rest were NPCs and monsters.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?...=a.428670480558283.1073741825.100002460043864

UQoKqkv.jpg

More creatures and characters from EA's Bards Tale IV, a game that never was.
 

LESS T_T

Arcane
Joined
Oct 5, 2012
Messages
13,582
Codex 2014
Aw, she should do a separate blog on these things, rather than using inaccessible Facebook.
 

Infinitron

I post news
Staff Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
Messages
98,071
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Matt Chat interview with Susan Manley: http://mattchat.us/?p=910

Matt: Before anyone kills me, we’d better find out about Bard’s Tale IV. So you were part of the development or design team for that project?

Susan: I was the project manager. But with my art background, I could look heavily at what they were doing. With Bard’s Tale IV, they were trying to take three different game engines and meld them together. So you had, basically, a forward dungeon crawl scrolling hallway engine. Then, Chris Erhardt, who was the producer on this project, wanted it to switch into a sideways viewpoint when you went into combat, so you could fire arrows or fight with a sword. That was an entirely different game engine that needed to load, and would need similar looking artwork. Then there was going to be a topdown strategic view of the map where you were adventuring, so you could scroll up and see where you were. Nobody had really done that yet. There had been some minor work like that—such as the little windowed projects we did at SSI, where you scrolled through a hallway, and it’d load up pictures. But no one had done three different applications.

It was pretty intense from a technical point of view, but what they hadn’t realized…They had an assistant producer doing most of the design. Unfortunately, since he’d never done it before, he didn’t realize he needed transition art between the different viewpoints so that the parts melded—so you wouldn’t be in an ivy covered hallway and suddenly in a stone dungeon.

When I pointed this out—when you add the transitional art, the art budget is doubled. That means a lot more time, more overhead, more loading…It was an intense nightmare. They never did quite figure it out.

By the way, that was the first internally developed project from Electronic Arts that hit one million dollars. That was a lot of money back in those days.

About five or so months into it, we had a high level meeting with management, and I said there’s only one person I know who could sit down and logistically figure it out—to get a product out of it. That was Victor Penman, who I worked with SSI. Victor had product and process managed art and design together at SSI. They called him up, and asked him, and he thanks and hates me for that. It was hard. It was one of the highest end products they had then.

Matt: I wonder what happened to those assets.

Susan: I couldn’t tell you. About seven or eight years ago I threw away several boxes of disks.

Matt: Uh oh!

Susan: I know. I did some art for that game. I did an animated horse—

Matt: It had horseback riding?

Susan: Yes. I didn’t like what they had done, so I went in and fixed their horse character.
 

As an Amazon Associate, rpgcodex.net earns from qualifying purchases.
Back
Top Bottom