What is is about these games?

Discussions and help for Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight
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What is is about these games?

Post by Saxon1974 »

What is it about these games that makes them so addictive?

I can't seem to put my finger on why, but I have been addicted to these games over the last few weeks.

I think its probably the survival exploration aspect that does it, but there is so much more than that I think.

There is an atmosphere in these games that is greater than its individual parts. It's the monster portraits combined with the music, the gameplay, the combat challenges and the puzzles i guess.....

These games just have a cool "feel" to them that Im not sure how to describe.

I mean these games are so simple compared to games made today, but most of those don't hold my interest for more than one day much less weeks and months...

What are your thoughts?
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Post by dragonbait »

Theres lots to like about the BT games. I've always liked the character generation part. The fact that your character can be Half-Orc or Hobbit was great! Rerolling and rerolling the dice until you've gotten a warior with 18 Str and 18 Con. Assembling your team and watching them progress. (after you've discovered where the elders are hanging out of course) & the coolness of the 2D graphics. I've always enjoyed the style of the apple ][e, and the C64 versions, though the Apple IIGS version is pretty snazzy too. Going door to door and kicking it off the hinges to fight monsters and just all the thought and detail that went into these games. Ordering wine at the scarlet bard tavern, the statues that come to life, going up&down portals. Ooh here's a good one. Learning and using all those 4 letter words. heheh. No not those words, I mean ARFI, WAST, STFL, MACO etc. The animated monster images, Grid mapped mazes, The ability to switch to another mage class after you've learned all you can from your current class. The classy bard songs you can listen to and the cool effects that they do, the ability to recruit wandering monsters or cast illusionary monsters to join your team. Oh and Dopplegangers and party attacks! I'm sure I left out allot. What do you guys like about these games?
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Post by Horpner »

I enjoy the process of mastering the unknown. These games seems flat-out impossible at first. In the first game, you pretty much don't know where to start, you're in a huge town with strange things all around that you must learn about to survive, while a bunch of hostiles are trying their best to murder you.

Every new dungeon level creates a little bit of that same feeling. And as a wonderfully orderly looking map slowly emerges (or... whatever it is non-mappers do), you begin to become master of that particular dungeon level. Even the truly frustrating mazes eventually are fully explored, and all their secrets revealed.

The random drop system is often a pleasure, too, as unknown items become yours to experiment with, or as powerful, coveted artifacts finally make their appearance.

There are a lot of games in the archives that can provide the above experience, but Michael Cranford was especially good at it, I think. There's no comparison between the triumph of finally ordering that first bottle of wine from the Thieves Tavern, and the comparably mundane way in which you enter the Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, for example.

The Ultima III and IV games are other favorite of mine, but their pacing isn't nearly as good as the Bard's Tale games. I've usually fully mastered them long before they finally, belatedly, end.

For a more modern burst of RPG joy, I highly recommend Wizardry 8, by the way. It takes character creation and development in a fascinating and complex direction. Bard's Tale falls down nearly flat in the character development arena, with almost everything decided either by fiat, or by a random dice roll. The only joy to be found is in guiding the development of your spell-casters.
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Post by Saxon1974 »

You guys make great points, all very good ones!

I think one of things about these games that stand out for me is similar to what you said horpner about "Mastering the unknown." There's just something special about marching your party down into a dank, dark and dangerous dungeon holding your torch in front of your face wondering whats around the next corner.

However all the little touches you mentioned dragonbait just make it all the more sweater. It's the only game I can recall that had songs that actually provided bonus's during game play. Why have Bard's been so mistreated in other games? I can't recall another game where they were this much value.

Oh the Doppleganger! Man that part is so cool, first time I encountered one I wasn't sure what was going on and couldn't tell who was attackning me :roll: Very cool touch.

Alot of the older games had slower progress through the game, in these games you have to put some work into them to get anywhere and I think that makes it all the more rewarding when you do find that magical sword down on the bottom of the dungeon guarded by the Wolfmen. Modern games are just to easy and dont make you think enough.

A couple of things I always really liked;

-The C64 intro to the Destiny Knight. This was my introduction to the Bard's Tale series. My friends brother had the game and played the intro and when the Knight combined the pieces of the scepter and his muscles grew, I thought I have to play this game. :lol: Not the mention the intro music was sweet. I wish the other versions had the intro movie.

-I really like the little poems as well;

Beyond the Bard's Tale, as was told,

An epic great will now unfold

And in the quest, before they sight,

A mortal man becomes the Knight.

Great stuff, Im glad to see this board getting a bit more active, it makes playing through the games more fun :wink:
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Post by Darendor »

I think for me it's because these games were a major part of my childhood.

Rush home from school, wolf down supper, retreat to my room where the C64 was and boot up Bard's Tale II. I cannot tell you how many years I and my friends anguished over the "value of rote actions"... :?

I played II first, then later learned of the existence of I, where my friends and I were like..."this is the slowest loading game ever"...where we'd make a party, get killed outside of Garthe's shop, and reboot the system and spend the next 2 hours making a new party, only to be slain promptly again...:?

And Bard's Tale III I saw on a shelf during Christmas of 1989 while we were on vacation on the east coast. I begged my dad to buy it for me and he did ($69.95). As it turned out, my friend beat it on me while I loaned it to him for 2 weeks while I banned from the computer. :?

Oh well.
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Post by Chaney »

For me, it took my imagination and made it playable. It was sometimes so difficult, that you felt like giving up, but something about it wouldn't let you. It had so many character classes, with their own strengths, that you got a chance to pretend that you were dozens of different heroes.
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Post by Brian the Fist »

Many years ago when I was young I even missed to go to school from time to time - because I had played BT all the night.

In all my life (now, almost 16 years later) I never had such a strong addiction to a game like to BT in my youth - even World of Warcraft did not change that.
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Post by ssfsx17 »

For me, there are specific factors that made the games great for me:

1. Difficulty. Michael Cranford is one of the greatest RPG game designers ever! He knows how to graduate the difficulty across two games in just the right way, so that when you get your party killed, you feel like the only thing wrong is your strategy.

2. Simplicity. The BT has few features compared to other games like Wizardry 6, Might & Magic, etc. Yet, the BT doesn't really need any of those features! Rather than wasting time clicking on Swing or Thrust, manipulating magic fountains that give you experience levels, etc., you can almost keep the whole game in your mind and thus develop long-term strategies.

3. Ambience. The 2nd-generation BT1 and BT2, and the 1st-generation BT3 are able to produce a very haunting atmosphere that rivals modern "horror" games like Doom 3, F.E.A.R., etc. It's a combination of the writing, the appearance of the enemies, the names of the enemies, the special events that describe the environment, etc. that really made the mood.
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Post by ManicWonk »

BT2 is the game I always return to when I want to become engaged in developing strategies that incorporate lots of off-line information, such as hand-drawn maps, spell lists, items lists, etc.

I enjoy the difficulty of testing what works and what doesn't, to defeat monsters, to find hidden areas, to find hints. Developing good combat tactics has been very rewarding.

I didn't realize that the gameplay of the bard's character was very unique, as people have pointed out. That's a great asset to the game. I must confess that I prefer not having to squint at the screen to see what's going on, the low-res of it all.
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