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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: The Bard's Tale IV

IHaveHugeNick

Arcane
Joined
Apr 5, 2015
Messages
1,870,231
I'm still quietly optimistic about WL3. TTON was a trainwreck from start to finish but BT4 at least has some bits of good game in it, even if they're buried under pile of shit. If they go back to basics and use a proven WL2 formula instead of experimenting as was largely they case with TTON and BT4, it might turned out decent. Plus, it has Ziets.
 

MRY

Wormwood Studios
Developer
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,717
Location
California
agris Avellone wasn't the lead on TTON. I don't know what role he actually played in crafting the high-level story (I know he consulted with Colin), but it was limited, as was his role in the actual writing. Colin did a lot of the high-level story stuff, and a lot of the actual writing (I think more than any other writer) -- probably the majority of the former and a plurality of the latter -- but not remotely the same level of centralization of PS:T. Just to give one example, there was a fragmentation between the main story (Colin), the Tides concept (Adam), the main hub's history and factions (George), and the game's themes (inherited from PS:T and thus Chris). Meanwhile, I was tasked with writing three of five "Tidal Meres." Take the Gold Tidal Mere, which is set in Sagus Cliffs. If that Mere fit well with Sagus Cliff's history and factions, with the game's themes, if it foreshadowed the main story or explicated the Tides, that was really a matter of happy coincidence or, in some instances, top-down editorial guidance. Contrast that with a sensory stone, which would have been written by the guy who picked the factions, conceived the main story, elaborated its themes, etc. -- there's every reason to expect that the sensory stone would not only by design but by inevitable force of personal authorship advance and cohere with the rest of the game's content.

That's why PS:T feels simultaneously focused and overflowing, like a virtuoso composer/performer putting on "variations on a theme" -- it's all springing from the same place, exorcising the same demons, grasping toward the same understanding, reworking the same life experiences, telling the same story, etc. There was no way Avellone could provide that service on TTON given the role he had. Colin did as much as he could in that regard, and I think he's a great writer/designer, but the circumstances were not remotely the same. This wasn't "disappear into a hole for 18 months and emerge with TTON" it was "sit around a conference table with other writers and develop TTON." Even if Colin had authority to be a auteur/trogolodyte, I don't think it would've been responsible for him to do so given that, unlike the young Avellone, Colin's a committed husband and father.
 
Self-Ejected

theSavant

Self-Ejected
Joined
Oct 3, 2012
Messages
2,009
I wished they made all these "NewAge" experiments (Unreal Engine 4, new Studio, unexperienced Team) with WL3 and not BT4... Blobbers already had a heavy burden to carry, but now it's just another nail for the coffin. The coffin for a whole genre :mad:

Might & Magic Heroes kind of games were already put into the coffin, and now Blobbers as well... Brave New World of RPGs, consisting only of Pillars of Eternitys and Skyrims.
 

ScrotumBroth

Arcane
Patron
Joined
May 13, 2018
Messages
1,292
Grab the Codex by the pussy Insert Title Here Strap Yourselves In
No way of knowing for sure, but I think Fargo has best intentions, just doesn't seem to always work out the best. Is there any evidence available or employee testimonials that he is a snek like Ferg?
 

Zeriel

Arcane
Joined
Jun 17, 2012
Messages
13,519
Quick note to "cash grab" theorists: y'all know that Brian Fargo is from the Fargo family, right? Wells Fargo? The bank? He already has money beyond your wildest dreams of avarice. You can say a lot of things about him but scamming backers for $ does not hold up.
There's a difference between having money and making money. You see a lot of people ruin themselves in this way, they want the "thrill" of success and being someone who matters. Remember that in the 90s Fargo was a big deal, he had a thin golden time when he got a taste of what the big boys experience all the time. It's probably hard to go from being printed up in the newspaper as a local boy who made good as an executive to just sitting in your McMansion waiting to die.
That's my point. Fargo wants to recapture his glory days of making awesome games. He's sincere about wanting to do good work again, and he'd love to get rave reviews and sell millions of units. This is apparent over the whole development cycle of Wasteland 2 and that of TTON. The theory that this time he deliberately cut corners to sell an intentionally subpar product for one last big cash-in is laughable on its face.

I think he's more interested in making popular games than good games. He wants to go to an award show and be popular with IGN, not be some obscure developer with a cult fanbase. It just seems like he lacks the production values to make what he wants to do reality, so you get this awkward middle-ground where he verbally panders to a cult fanbase he doesn't actually deserve, then tries to make a mainstream game without mainstream budgets.

And I say this as someone who actually enjoys AAA games from time to time, brainless production value games can be fun for what they are, but you do need money to make them happen.
 
Self-Ejected

theSavant

Self-Ejected
Joined
Oct 3, 2012
Messages
2,009
No way of knowing for sure, but I think Fargo has best intentions
I think so too, but this makes it even sadder.

I think he's more interested in making popular games than good games. He wants to go to an award show and be popular with IGN, not be some obscure developer with a cult fanbase. It just seems like he lacks the production values to make what he wants to do reality, so you get this awkward middle-ground where he verbally panders to a cult fanbase he doesn't actually deserve, then tries to make a mainstream game without mainstream budgets.

And I say this as someone who actually enjoys AAA games from time to time, brainless production value games can be fun for what they are, but you do need money to make them happen.

Yeah, probably @ popular games.

Where we are again at the core issue: what does this game want to be? Does it want to be mainstream or niche? Does it want to be modern or oldschool? It simply doesn't know. It has a little bit of everything but not enough of something. Also when he wanted a wider audience, then he should've made it more mainstream - say "easier". Why then was the game cluttered with repetitive, annoying puzzles every 2 meters? Why was it artificially stretched to three times its healthy length? Why the annoying Savesystem? I'm sure most mainstream customers are throwing the towel before even reaching the midgame. These design decisions do not make sense. But maybe they weren't even Brian's decision.

Btw. LOL, when you now re-watch the first 3 minutes of the kickstarter video with "The KID", the "consultant" who was very skeptical, he maybe should have listened to him. Oh man, the irony...
 
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SausageInYourFace

Angelic Reinforcement
Patron
Joined
Dec 28, 2013
Messages
3,858
Location
In your face
Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. My team has the sexiest and deadliest waifus you can recruit. Pathfinder: Wrath
No way of knowing for sure, but I think Fargo has best intentions, just doesn't seem to always work out the best. Is there any evidence available or employee testimonials that he is a snek like Ferg?

I asked our leading authority on inXile a question about Fargos true intentions.

MLMarkland said:
Yes, I believe Brian truly cares about making something great. He still has a chance to. It is not too late for anyone involved to reform themselves, their companies and their industries on both the game and movie front.

As opposed to the highly paid apologetics above, this is from a man who hated the development of TToN so much that he publicly stated it made him consider commiting ritual suicide.
 
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SausageInYourFace

Angelic Reinforcement
Patron
Joined
Dec 28, 2013
Messages
3,858
Location
In your face
Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. My team has the sexiest and deadliest waifus you can recruit. Pathfinder: Wrath
Also, with regard to the discussion of TToN writing, Avellone and CMC here, lets consider these two statements from that thread:

MLMarkland said:
1) No clear treatment of story during pre-production. All story related discussions were gibberish. Colin McComb was not qualified to be the lead writer, partly because he was in Michigan, approximately 2,000 miles away.

MLMarkland said:
ga♥ said:
Was Chris Avellone involvment having the same issues with Colin, telecommuting and stuff?

No. Avellone is 100%
 

Ulrox

Arbiter
Joined
Jul 18, 2014
Messages
363
I haven't read the thread yet, and I will, but I have to say something first

I am DEEPLY TRIGGERED by the fact that noone seems to realise intelligence increases the strenght of certain practitioner spells, making it a very useful statistic. My build in the game relied solely on practioners going apeshit with spells that deal terrible damage due to high int.

Also, I wonder how someone can play through the entire game of bards tale 4, and not realise that intelligence works like this. I know it's not mentioned anywhere, but it's pretty obvious, since the elves deal quite a lot more damage with spells compared to the other races. In fact, elves are completely overpowered in this regard.
 

Themadcow

Augur
Joined
Feb 17, 2012
Messages
314
I dunno, it's probably because the game does a terrible job of signposting the correct use of Int vs Str and for most people it goes completely against everything they've come to expect from similar games (and no, I don't count PoE as similar). Why... why the fuck didn't they just call Strength "Power" instead? The whole thing is retarded as why... WHY... would picking up a new weapon suddenly make you stronger anyway?

I was going to eBay my BT4 collectors edition box but I watched a couple already listed and no fucker is interested :/
 

V_K

Arcane
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Messages
7,714
Location
at a Nowhere near you
the criticism direct at Fargo is often personal (about his life or lifestyle) or framed as his being a liar or a fraud or an embezzler
Well, he did run three extremely high-profile kickstarter campaings (I'm not sure if TToN's record has ever been beaten) squarely on empty promises and beloved franchises without showing any finished product. It did at one point look a lot like a ponzi scheme where each new kickstarter could be used to finish a previous game that mismanaged its own funds. Add to that all the scandals around Wells Fargo and its machinations, and it's not hard to see how people can become suspicious of Fargo's financial integrity.
Then there're his strategies of creating and maintaining hype, both during and after the kickstarter campaigns. The whole first year of TToN's "development" consisted of nothing but developers giving out interviews in spades. When you create that sort of hype and fail to deliver on it, there bound to be consequences.
 

felipepepe

Codex's Heretic
Patron
Joined
Feb 2, 2007
Messages
17,284
Location
Terra da Garoa
I am DEEPLY TRIGGERED by the fact that noone seems to realise intelligence increases the strenght of certain practitioner spells, making it a very useful statistic. My build in the game relied solely on practioners going apeshit with spells that deal terrible damage due to high int.

Also, I wonder how someone can play through the entire game of bards tale 4, and not realise that intelligence works like this. I know it's not mentioned anywhere, but it's pretty obvious, since the elves deal quite a lot more damage with spells compared to the other races. In fact, elves are completely overpowered in this regard.
We had an argument about this on the other thread. BT4 is such a GLORIOUS work of art that stats work differently depending on the class. Supposedly Intelligence affects Mind spells, but that's true only for Practicioners. For a Rogue or a Fighter, Mind Spells are still controlled by Strength.

Couple that with the total lack of in-game information and the fact that the game is extremely easy and you have your answer. No one cares, not even InXile.
 

Diggfinger

Arcane
Joined
Jan 6, 2014
Messages
1,215
Location
Belgium
Couple that with the total lack of in-game information and the fact that the game is extremely easy and insanely difficult you have your answer. No one cares, not even InXile.

Reminds me of Grim... Eh I mean another game I know

giphy.gif
 
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Grampy_Bone

Arcane
Joined
Jan 25, 2016
Messages
3,719
Location
Wandering the world randomly in search of maps
Still not sure I get all the dislike for Fargo.

ehhhh. Lemme explain.

Those kickstarter pitches for wasteland 2 and numanuma, he is portraying "business suit" publisher guys as clueless buffoons, trend-chasing nitwits, and literal children. "Oh har har har, those clods don't know how to make real gamez!! Hurr duurrrr."

Except, Brian Fargo was a "suit." He ran Interplay. He had games pitched to him, he rejected them for dumb reasons. He forced changes on games to chase trends and drive up sales. He did all that stuff. He knows why they do it too.

Also in those videos, he says, "I'm so glad I don't have to deal with that ever again. Now Kickstarter lets me make the games I actually want to make." What? Nigga, please. You're Brian Fucking Fargo. You're telling me you can't get a pitch meeting with any major studio, whenever you want? You're not some indie dev with four guys in a garage, making a game in between two real jobs, desperate to get noticed. Oh boo hoo, you have to give up the IP to publisher, tough cookies. You know how the game works.

You can't tell me he went to EA or Activision and asked for $900k to make WL2. No, he went and asked them for 50 million, and they said okay, but they wanted oversight, and the IP rights, and they wanted it to be a mainstream genre. Standard stuff. He said no and walked. Fair enough. Then he goes to Kickstarter, makes these videos, acts likes a jackass, gets his piddly million bucks, and struts around like he won the fucking superbowl. I bet EA was just baffled. "You only wanted a million dollars? We could have cut you a check!"

At the end of the day, Brian Fargo didn't want to make a game, he wanted to make a game, and make all the money from the game, and retain the rights to the game. He couldn't do that under the normal rules, so he went to kickstarter. Fair enough. I actually liked WL 2 a lot, more than most codexers seem too. But don't settle for a consolation prize and act like you never wanted the grapes you couldn't reach.
 

Brozef

Savant
Patron
Joined
Aug 1, 2017
Messages
231
Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Finally a full review! Maybe it ins't that bad. MAybe I can play it after finishing Pathfinder. I need more Blobbers in my life.


"a modern take on dungeon crawlers, with gorgeous graphics, tons of puzzles and a Hearthstone-inspired combat"
"Hearthstone-inspired combat"
"Hearthstone-inspired combat"
"Hearthstone-inspired combat"
"Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat""Hearthstone-inspired combat"
:what:
:rage:
:flamesaw:
:negative:

I need a drink
 
Self-Ejected

theSavant

Self-Ejected
Joined
Oct 3, 2012
Messages
2,009
After I finished the game myself I agree with every point made in the "Codex review". Literally every point. It says all there is to say. Well done review.
TrumpYes.png
 

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