The Bard's Tale IV Interview

The folks at RPGWatch talked with inXile CEO Brian Fargo and and systems designer David Rogers about The Bard's Tale IV, the sequel to the well-regarded first-person turn-based dungeon crawling series that Fargo himself worked on during the 80s. An interesting excerpt:

RPGWatch: What sort of character attributes, stats and rule-set are you hoping to implement in The Bard's Tale IV? Will the game have a heavy pen-and-paper feel to it, or are you going for something different?

David: A question like this could easily have me writing a four-page answer. I get really jazzed when it comes to talking about rulesets and systems. Rather than getting really deep into the details that may ultimately change as we continue to iterate, I'll talk about or philosophy when approaching the game mechanics of The Bard's Tale IV.

We strive for game systems that feels thought provoking and strategic. We want players to be able to look at their party's capabilities, form a plan, and then execute that plan with some reliability. If the plan fails or succeeds, we'd like that to be a reflection of the plans' validity, rather than the product of a random number generator.

We take a lot of inspiration from pen-and-paper RPGs. They do such a good job of allowing you to express yourself in the game, giving you a lot of ownership over your experience. Much of that expression comes out of building synergies inside your characters, or building synergies with your fellow adventurers. Those combos are something that really defines your character's personality and play style. I really like those moments where I find a special strategy or skill combo so creative and powerful that I feel like I'm cheating. That's what makes me feel like a legendary hero.

That sense of creative expression also emerges from the solutions you are able to can enact while exploring a dungeon in a pen-and-paper RPG. Simple moments such as disarming a trap or climbing a ledge can be rife with opportunities to make you feel like MacGyver, particularly when you have to improvise. That kind of creative problem solving is something we strive to incorporate into our dungeon crawling. Free form problem solving is something that PnP RPGs excel at, and can be very hard for video games to replicate, but they act as a holy grail we can strive for. We want players to walk out of dungeons with a story to tell, where they feel like the star and not just a spectator.