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David Rogers, the lead designer on inXile's upcoming dungeon crawler The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep recently had a chat with VentureBeat about the game's prominent use of music, its nods to the original The Bard's Tale trilogy, and the reasons for leaving the memorable but rather annoying spinner traps behind. An excerpt:
“It’s all original music,” said Rogers, who was also the lead designer for InXile’s VR RPG, The Mage’s Tale. “We have Julie Fowlis, who is one of the main singers on the movie Brave.” (She sang the songs “Touch the Sky” and “Into the Open Air.”)
“It’s a ‘Who’s Who’ of Gaelic singing talent in Scotland.”
This applies to the voicework as well. Voice actors perform all of the lines for each of the characters you encounter (you can still make your own party, if you want a more traditional Bard’s Tale experience), and in addition to the narrative dialogue, they chime in from time to time, similar to how characters add flavor in other RPGs by commenting on their locations, their feelings, etc.
As as fan-supported project, The Bard’s Tale IV has plenty of references to the old games. You’ve got spells like Warstrike and songs such as Falkentyne’s Fury and Wayland’s Watch. InXile turned to the original MIDI recordings of the songs as it prepared its orchestrations.
“We took the old MIDI tracks and we brought them forward and orchestrated them, had our sound designers pour their love into it,” Rogers said. He went on to note that the games (they were on Apple II, Apple II GS, MS-DOS, Amiga, Commodore 64, and other formats) had different MIDI tracks, so the best depended on what platform you played on. He wasn’t sure what versions they used, but an InXile rep said over email that “some are from the GS and some from the Amiga. We picked and chose our fav[orite] ones.”