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The Demise of The Bard's Tale

Gamasutra highlights a portion of a Rebecca Heineman interview where the Interplay cofounder (as William Heineman) lays out the reasons for the demise of The Bard's Tale series. Her fourth game in the RPG series had to be renamed due to a licensing conflict with Electronic Arts, and ended up being called Dragon Wars, the clichéd title all the odder since the game featured no dragons. Sales of Dragon Wars turned out to disappointing, and EA eventually cancelled the "official" fourth The Bard's Tale game, and when she later pitched a different The Bard's Tale IV to EA, she was told the franchise was "too old." A Brian Fargo-designed installment in The Bard's Tale was eventually released, which she disavows as not being true to the series: "In my opinion, the Bard's Tale that Brian released was The Princess Bride," she said. "It even had Cary Elwes as the bard; the humor and everything was The Princess Bride and was not Bard's Tale. ... Now, the game that was shipped was one Brian wanted to make, so that's fine. But to me that Bard's Tale game, I would disavow any connection." The full feature has more on her game résumé and the early days of game development, and for even more on this, you can check out the YouTube Matt Chat interview series that spawned the article (thanks Ant): Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.

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11. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 28, 2010, 20:44 venomhed
 
Bards Tale was great, a really fun game, but:

Wizardy was my first and really started it all, followed by Ultima 1-3 which engaged me more than the Bards Tales did. But BT was awesome and did it better than Wizardry at least.

My favorite of that time was Alternate Reality: The Dungeon, now that was a fucking fantastic game. I played AR The City and ported my character over but The City was mindless and crap, The Dungeon was mind blowing!
 
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10. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 28, 2010, 10:55 Darks
 
Has anyone had any issues getting Fargo's "Bard's Tale to work on Windows 7 x64? I cant get mine to work. keeps crashing on start up. Anyone know of a fix?  
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Creator of the Neverwnter Nights Eye of the Beholder Series of Mods.

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9. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 28, 2010, 04:05 Armengar
 
I remember bards tale as one of the last games on the spectrum I owned (I got an amiga the same year).  
Its not the cough that carries you off but the coffin they carry you off in.
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8. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 28, 2010, 02:32 space captain
 
The Magician wrote on Dec 28, 2010, 00:40:
Great interview. Makes me want to bang Fargo's head into his desk until he lets someone do a new Wasteland

i feel like fallout was a very worthy successor

and face it, people dont make games that open and complex anymore.. the only hope is indie stuff and theyve had plenty of time to do it
 
Go forth, and kill!
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7. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 28, 2010, 01:27 Ant
 
Even though I wasn't into these games, it was fascinating to listen to her as a gamer. Her life and stories were interesting. I love how she got her nickname!  
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6. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 28, 2010, 00:40 The Magician
 
Great interview. Makes me want to bang Fargo's head into his desk until he lets someone do a new Wasteland game.

Wasteland was, imo, the pinnacle of 8-bit RPG, the absolute top of the line. Neuromancer was also a very, very fine game. In an era where "Electronic Arts" and "Interplay" were both synonymous with "freaking kick ass games". Bard's Tale II and III were absolutely amazing too - although 3 was a bit too hard at the end. The final dungeon kicked my ass, I never got through it. By the time Dragon Wars came out, Interplay was losing it's goodwill with the gamers, which they didn't really get back until Descent.

 
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5. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 27, 2010, 22:44 Shok
 
That interview article with Rebecca Heineman is really interesting if you are an original Bard's Tale fan.

Damnit I might have to get an iphone now:
right now I'm taking my old Bard's Tale code and porting it to iPhone.
 
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4. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 27, 2010, 22:27 Burrito of Peace
 
Good call, AW.

Ultima 7 and the original Pool of Radiance were probably some of the pinnacles of CRPGs.

 
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3. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 27, 2010, 22:18 AW
 
BT was my first RPG also. I love it to pieces, but it was outclassed by the later Ultima's and Gold Box games. I think EA was right when they didn't release another.

What made people love them, I think ultimately were their downfall. Too hard for novices and too intensive for casuals. The Might and Magic series was able to find a better mix of challenge and ease of use. Which is why it continued to succeed in the 90's.
 
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2. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 27, 2010, 22:11 Burrito of Peace
 
The Bard's Tale was the first RPG I ever played on a PC. Previous to that, I played Dungeon Master on the Atari ST.

I had a whole pad full of graph paper that we used to chart out the game as we played through.

It was an amazing game but the rest of them weren't as engaging, to me, as the first.

As for Fargo's "Bard's Tale"...it sucked donkey balls, wasn't particularly fun and was clearly nothing more than a cash-in on the name.
 
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1. Re: The Demise of The Bard's Tale Dec 27, 2010, 22:03 talmand
 
I have fond memories of the Bard's Tale series. I would say they were my first real exposure to CRPGs. I even bought an Interplay pack years ago for the sole purpose of getting the series on CD.

I also played Dragon Wars. I would have to say it deserved the sales figures it received. It simply did not live up to the name of Bard's Tale. The name change was a blessing in disguise.

I have no comment on Fargo's "Bard's Tale".

I do find it odd that a sequel-centric publisher such as EA claiming a franchise is too old for further sequels.
 
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