By Al Giovetti
The Bard's Tale
inXile Entertainment was formed in late 2002 by Brian Fargo. inXile says on their website that "We are located in beautiful Newport Beach just blocks from the beach. We have assembled a team of some of the most talented people in the software industry so that we can bring the highest quality games possible to your home videogame and computer systems. Our goal is to remain focused on very few titles so that the inXile name becomes one you can count on for quality games."
The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight was released on the Commodore 64 in 1986 (DOS 1987, Amiga 1988, NES 1992, Commodore 64 (Germany) 1988). The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate was released for the Apple II in 1988.
Looking though The Computer Show archives we found our press copies of the three games in a box in the back room where the lights were out. I used my flashlight in the mouth as I go through the box to find the original disks with the yellow and red Demo Copy Not for Resale stickers on the game folders.
All the games released by Pony Canyon Inc for the NES had a nice graphic look and feel when compared to the original pixilated games on the other platforms.
From The Bard's Tale website we obtained the following about The Bard's Tale features:
Coming to the PC and next generation game consoles!
When we spoke with Tom Richardson, the marketing director of inXile Entertainment and asked for more information about the game, he referred us to the John Keefer GameSpy Preview referenced at the bottom of this page. "in a nutshell, The Bard's Tale was a million selling game in the mid to late 80's, produced by Brian Fargo. Brian started and ran Interplay for many years, building it into one of the biggest PC game makes around, and now started inXile entertainment. inXile is focused on producing one quality title a year instead of growing as large as possible. The Bard's Tale is a very promissing title. I took the position of director of marketing because I was so impressed with it (I used to work for Atari). You can also find some good company and title information at www.inxile-entertainment.com.
Brian Fargo is insistant that this game will not be Bard's Tale IV. Like most games many things are being cut from the game that don't function well. Brian promises to leave in enogh of the original personality and special touches that make the game what it is. The design document for the game was over 700 pages which in part included the dialogue from the game.
The dialog or screenplay was written by professional screen writers. Brian has used his time in the Los Angeles area to familiarize himself with the movie industry and knows how to use the resources of this mega industry that sits right on his doorstep. Brian has written the dialog for a number of award winning games and has used writers like Ken St. Andre, Liz Danforth, and Michael A. Stackpole.
According to Matt Findley, president of inXile, the dialogue, maps and quests took about six months to write and design. A modern multimedia product like a game requires songs, sound effects, graphics, animation and music to round out the game.
The story begins in the ruins of Skara Brae, which is on the Orkney Islands off the northern tip of Scotland. The area is a rich mix of Norse, Scottish and Celtic people. The Orkney islands myths were the source of much of J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. The game will revolve around the main character who is a bard. Were you surprised? Well the game is called The Bard's Tale. Who did you think the story was about?
The Bard is more of a con artist than a thief, resorting to trickery rather than out and out dishonesty. The Bard will not be a chosen one charged with saving the world, country, universe, civilization or insert your favorite realm from an evil wizard, scientist, crime lord, or insert your favorite baddie who has endless hordes of henchmen that you will have to kill over and over again. While the bard may not be the choosen one, he is fated to run into hordes of other ill fated adventurers that have been convinced that they are the chosen one tasked by some diety or whoever to do their bidding to save the whatever from some other whoever.
Following the model of Alice McGee, the game will be dark and twisted with smart-ass cynic for a bard. The bard is just the kind of person who sees the irony and humor in many situations and who is spoof and spurn the traditional role of saving damsels in distress, and the innocents slaughtered by evil minions.
The game will use the Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance engine (released December 2001 for PlayStation 2, X-box and Nintendo Game Cube), which does an admirable job with this game from Snowblind studios. Each character shows details such as stitches and imperfection in their clothes, armor and weapons. The characers show animated facial expresssions, well articulated animations, and mouth movements that lip synch with the dialog quite well.
A scottish accented narrator will take over from the twisted, smartaleck, cynical, con-man bard to fill in background. It would be nice if the bard and the narrator would have some kind of cute sarcastic back and forth banter like the narrator in the Rocky and Bulwinkle cartoons. But hey! you can't have everything.
Voice actors will feature Orkney, Scottish, Irish and English accents to be consistent with the northern Scottish setting for the plot.
The production team has written and is recording songs. The intent is to have songs themed to the locations in the game like the taverns and shops that the players will frequent. The songs, like the dialog, are often humorous as well as informative.
If the sound effects are like those in Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance look forward to sword clanking, vermin movement, and the swish of weapons as well as ambient background noises, such as dripping water and other sound effects, to increase the suspense.
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