Old School Gamer Magazine talks with video game icon Brian Fargo, who discusses the newest addition to the Bard’s Tale series, Bard’s Tale IV, which is currently in development. Fargo also discusses InXile’s future Wasteland title, as well as Wasteland 2’s eventual release on the Nintendo Switch and how the classic RPG and Dungeon Crawling experiences he has become synonymous with is far from dead.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What has the development cycle for this game been like?
Brian Fargo: We’ve had a number of goals during the development cycle for Bard’s Tale IV and the most important has been to give us as much iteration time as possible. We’ve taken advantage of that time and continually honed the combat system. Combat is the most important aspect of these kinds of games and it’s important to be tactically deep, visually satisfying and to move quickly when the player wants.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want it to cater to both new and older fans of the series?
Fargo: We’ve been in constant communication with the fanbase since the Kickstarter campaign and there has been consistent feedback for what they like to see in an RPG and which elements of Bard’s Tale that they appreciated the most. The key things for RPGs in general, was the combat system, character progression and a compelling story. For Bard’s Tale fans they wanted a turn-based, party-based game that allowed them to re-live the glory of dungeon and city exploration. Our goal is to address the older fan tenets but not lose sight of modern-day changes to UI and visuals that are expected.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes this series so special to you?
Fargo: The Bard’s Tale series represent two important milestones in my life, first it was the involvement with bringing a D&D type experience to a computer. I cannot tell you how many thousands of hours of enjoyment I had playing D&D as a kid, I have such fond memories of those times. It was also my first #1 hit, the income from that allowed me to invest into Interplay so we could help finance games like Wasteland, Battle Chess and more. It was a pivotal game for us.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes this version so different from the previous games in the series?
Fargo: It’s hard to know where to begin but perhaps first and foremost are the visuals and sound. The early games were rudimentary in that regard, now the dungeons look and feel atmospheric with the help of ambient sound and music. Also, the early games were text-based as it related to combat, we could merely say there were 400 Berserkers in a single square and people would accept that. These days you must visually represent what the player is facing in combat.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What have you learned about yourself through the development of this game?
Fargo: The biggest takeaway so far is how much it’s reminded me how much I enjoy this genre. As creators, we try to make games that we truly like to play and this is truly one of those situations.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How important a game is this in the inXile portfolio?
Fargo: We want this game to do well because we want to continue with the franchise and making this style of game. Our fans have been requesting this classic kind of game for years and now… Here it comes!
Old School Gamer Magazine: Any hopes for a Nintendo Switch release?
Fargo: Funny you should ask that… we are looking into the feasibility, resources and budgets associated with that now. Switch owners have been quite vocal about their love of RPGs and Wasteland 2 is in QA now.
Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want this game to be remembered in a few years?
Fargo: Role playing has taken quite a number of different forms but the dungeon crawl experience led the way. I’m hoping that Bard’s Tale IV will be a reminder of how some of that classic gameplay is so rewarding and intrinsically interesting. Perhaps it will reignite the entire category.
Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?
Fargo: We always have projects we are anxious to get to but Wasteland 3 is a critically important game in which we intend to push the envelope with multiplayer and storytelling. Plus there will be a game announcement sometime soon that I’m certain will surprise people. There are still so many ways to innovate in the gaming space.
Old School Gamer Magazine: Anything else you’d like to add?
Fargo: I want to thank all the RPG fans who have supported us and allowed us to continue making these kinds of games. Let’s keep this RPG train rolling….
Old School Gamer Magazine: Where can people go for more information?
Fargo: You can get more detail and pre-order the game at https://bardstale.com/ now. Check it out!
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time.