One of the most storied RPG (roleplaying game) franchises of all times is headed for a new installment, as InXile Entertainment launches a Kickstarter seeking $1.25 million (which the company will match if the goal is reached) to create The Bard’s Tale IV for PC, Mac and Linux. This follows InXile’s successful Kickstarters for Wasteland II and Torment: Tides of Numenera, and brings CEO Brian Fargo’s 30-year gaming career full circle to his original 1985 game. The first day of the Kickstarter isn’t even over yet, and the total raised is already over $600,000 as of this writing.
“The Bard’s Tale IV will feature labyrinths and dungeons chock-full of dangerous traps, puzzles, and challenges, as well as the winding streets of the city of Skara Brae and its outlying environments,” said the company’s press release. “Exploration will take place in the first-person dungeon crawler style of the original trilogy. Utilizing the Unreal 4 engine, The Bard’s Tale IV will also represent a graphical leap forward in the genre, immersing you in a highly detailed and lush world you’ll want to map to its farthest reaches. The Bard’s Tale IV enriches the setting from the original trilogy with Scottish culture, including a soundtrack inspired by Gaelic music.”
It’s been an amazing last 30 years and I feel so fortunate to continue in the games business for this long,” says Brian Fargo, CEO. “And it is only because of the incredible support our fans have given us that I’m still here today working on these great role playing games. After so many years, I couldn’t be more excited to revive the classic Bard’s Tale.”
Fargo spoke with [a]listdaily about The Bard’s Tale IV and the lessons he’s learned from his successful Kickstarters, and how the market has changed.
How has the Kickstarter process changed since you first succeeded so well with Wasteland II?
The sheer number of assets you need to prepare for the entire Kickstarter campaign is much more intensive than the early days. We’ve had several original songs created, a handmade reliquary box, a video of in game footage (coming soon), and high definition renders of the creatures. For Wasteland we had none of these things but we did create more for Torment but nothing like the video of in game footage. We certainly put more pressure on ourselves for these latter campaigns.
The Bard’s Tale is one of the iconic RPGs in the industry. so it’s easy to see why you think long-time game players will be excited to see it come back. How well do you expect it to appeal to gamers who haven’t experienced the original series, and why?
Our first priority always has to be to make sure we hit the right keys for the original players. Bard’s Tale was enjoyed because it was party based, because it was hard, and because people liked the more structured approach to design. These are all elements that are still enjoyable and I’m certain it wasn’t scrolling text, 3 frame animation and the inability to see what your characters looked like that was part of the thrill. Keep in mind that we play a lot of modern games like Shadows of Mordor or Demon Souls, so we plan to make things graphically advanced with UI’s that are appropriate for today’s gamer. If we accomplish the original tenets and make it look graphically outstanding I believe the new gamer will enjoy it as much as the old.
What are the key things you’ve learned about doing a successful Kickstarter, and how has that affected the Bard’s Tale IV Kickstarter?
I think of the more important things to consider is what kind of news or social media ideas you can roll out during the campaign. Our backers want us to succeed and bring in as much money as possible, helping us every step of the way. We have to consider ideas that are newsworthy post launch and can extend beyond the base. This is always easier said than done.
It sounds like you’re really taking a step forward with the audiovisual presentation of Bard’s Tale IV, and adding in the Scottish culture. Are you hoping this will help attract an even broader audience?
My focus is to make sure it is an engaging experience as possible and better graphics and sounds always allow that. Why show a small dungeon in the upper left hand corner of the window when you can make it full screen with atmospheric lighting and professionally created music A game with an over-the-shoulder sex appeal is always going to attract a broader audience, but it’s best to really focus on the experience. We’ve always made games for our core and let the chips fall where they may.
It looks like the Kickstarter for The Bard’s Tale IV is already off to a strong start, over halfway to your goal already. How will you be spreading the word about the Kickstarter, and do you have some surprises planned along the way?
We’re very happy to have achieved almost 50 percent of our goal in the first eight hours, good times. Our entire existence is based on the viral attention we have received from our fans and this will be no different. And as I teased above we have quite a few surprises in store to announce over the following few weeks.