inXile Entertainment Are Working on The Bard’s Tale IV

inXile Entertainment’s next game — which, yes, will be coming to Kickstarter in a couple of weeks — will be a fourth entry in the The Bard’s Tale series. They’ve even put up a website for it, with a snazzy countdown clock ticking down the hours until said crowdfunding campaign begins.

PC Gamer has published a few details about inXile’s plans for the game:

The new Bard’s Tale is a true sequel to the original Bard’s Tale trilogy, and, title notwithstanding, unrelated to the 2004 action-RPG release. That game came about in part because [Brian] Fargo had the trademark, but not the copyright; since then, he’s been able to strike a deal with EA, and now he has both. “This is a proper sequel,” said. “This is what you guys are hoping for and wanting.”

The game will take place a century or so after the events of Thief of Fate, the third (and decidedly final) game in the trilogy. That temporal distance will let developers “call back” to the original games without being shackled to them: Much like Wasteland 2, prior Bard’s Tale experience won’t be necessary to enjoy and understand this one, but players who have it will at times have a deeper insight into what’s going on.

“We recognize that there’s a group of people that played these games and for them, it’s like they finished it yesterday. They want to go into something where they feel like it’s a continuation, to some degree, of what they’ve finished. So I’m very attuned to making sure we hit the right points for people who are real fans of the original series,” Fargo said. “But it’s a bonus for people who play. We never force that [prior] knowledge on anyone.”

The Bard’s Tale will be a decidedly old-school experience, but inXile is working to ensure it’s flexible enough to engage and satisfy players who want a more contemporary dungeon crawling experience as well. Die-hards looking forward to a new opportunity to draw out cleanly geometric maps on grid paper will be able to do so, but it will also be possible to “break off the grid,” as he put it, and look and wander freely, in real-time.

Fargo also sat down with Rock, Paper, Shotgun for an interview about The Bard’s Tale IV, which is also worth a read if you’re hungry for every possible scrap of detail. Interestingly, inXile are moving away from the Unity engine for this project; they’ve chosen to build this new game using Unreal Engine 4.

Added reading: This might be a good time to mention both Steve Englehart’s brief summary of a proposed plot for a fourth The Bard’s Tale game (which he helped put together back in 1992), as well as Jennell Jaquays’ lengthy Facebook post — with images! — about the same project.

As well, why not check out this prototype video of an altogether different attempt to make a fourth The Bard’s Tale? This was Contraband Entertainment’s 1998 attempt to revive the series, and…well, it didn’t go anywhere, for reasons that will become apparent.