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Bard’s tale construction set logo

Interplay * £29.99 * 071-700 1857

Bard’s tale construction set Hands up who remembers The Bard’s Tale? Good, now put your hands down, because a) you look stupid, and b) it was only a sort of metaphorical gambit designed to draw you into the review. The point I am making is that Bard’s Tale is getting on a bit. It was one of the first RPGs to reach the mainstream, but with the like of EOTB2 and the upcoming Hired Guns, it is doubtful anyone would now want to build their own dungeons, let alone find anyone else who would want to play with them.

Nevertheless, this is what BCTS is for. Entire new maps, monsters, items and spells that can be created and saved out as a complete executable game. In something approaching foresightedness on Interplay’s part, they have seen to it that you do not need a copy of the original game to run this one. Hooray.

The most interesting part is the Monster Editor, because here you can be the cruellest. You basically have to fill in the blanks and make sure you do not make the giant spider so darn tough it is impossible to kill it. Each type of monster has a picture associated with it, which can also be changed. There are about 30 preset, but you can draw your own and import them if you want something more exotic, such as a Davro Troll or That Bloke From the Werther’s Original Advert Skeleton.
When it is all working together fairly well (you can test the game at any time), choose the Build Game option and it is all saved out in one runnable lump. And that is ll there is to it.

You would have to be a pretty serious Bardhead to want The Construction Set. Planning a world is a time-consuming task, and unless you have got a friend who would want to play it, there really is not much point. Come to think of it, your friend would have to be fanatical too; the graphics and gameplay are primitive by today’s standards. And although there is nothing complicated about using The Set, its presentation is not exactly sophisticated, being mostly text-based and of a typed-in-from-a-BASIC-listing appearance.

As far as it is, BCTS is a good piece of software that does its job well, but you cannot help feeling that an Eye of the Beholder 2 Construction Set would have been a better idea.
Ed Ricketts

Verdict: 66%

Amiga Format, Issue 45, April 1993, p.65


Bard’s tale construction set logo  A1200 untauglich

Tja, so ändern sich die Zeiten: Vor genau einem Jahr hatten wir das Preview zur Barden-Bastelei noch im User Club, nunmehr finden sich Interplays fertige Do-It-Yourself-Dungeons im Reich der Spiele wieder. Und warum?

Bard’s tale construction set Na, weil es einfach viel zu viel Spaß macht, sein eigenes Rollenspiel zu schnitzen, als daß man diese Perle von einem Programm vor die Anwendungs-Säue werfen dürfte! Außerdem sollen hier ja richtige Spiele erstellt und anschließend natürlich auch gespielt werden – komplett mit Items, Monstern und ihrer natürlichen Umgebung, den Dungeons. Wie der handliche Baukasten in der Praxis funktioniert, wollen wir nun mal am Beispiel der Unholde etwas näher ins Auge fassen:

Ein Mausklick auf der Menüpunkt „Monster-Editor“, schon kann man entweder eines der eingebauten Viecher samt Porträt laden und abändern oder gleich ein ganz neues Maul-und-Klauerntier erfinden. Name, Rüstungsklasse, Magieresistenz? Hit Points oder Verhalten im Kampf? Wer ein bißchen mit den Einstellungen herumexperimentiert, wird bald auf all diese Fragen die passende Antwort am Screen haben. Schließlich wird bei einer kleinen Durchsicht der reichlich vorhandenen (teils animierten) bestien-Pictures festgelegt, wie das Neugeborene aussehen soll, und das war an sich schon die ganze Kunst. Wem mehr künsterlisches Blut in den Adern wallt, der darf freilich auch mit D-Paint ein eigenes Bildchen malen und in das Game einbinden.

Mit den items funktioniert die Chose ziemlich ähnlich, wenden wir uns daher dem interessanten Gebiet der Dungeon-Architektur zu. Dem schöpferischen Geist stehen grundsätzlich beliebig viele, bis zu 22 Felder im Quadrat große Baustellen zur Verfügung, die mit vier verschiedenen Grafiksets (zwei Untergrund-Outfits sowie Stadt und Wilderness), gefüllt werden wollen. Ein automatisches 3D-Fenster läßt erkennen, wie die engeklickten Wände oder Türen im fertigen Spiel aussehen würden, und über eine editierbare Specials-Liste kann man nunmehr an den Rätseln stricken. Die berühmte Gilde wäre ein solches Special, aber auch NPC-Begegnungen, böse Feinde, besondere Funde, gewöhnliche Schatzkisten, hinterhältige Fallen und vieles mehr sind denkbar! Die Definierung dieser Sonderfelder erfolgt über ein sehr flexibles, aber nicht immer ganz simples Programmierschema, das jedoch im (leider anspruchsvoll englischen) Handbuch prima erläutert wird.

Schlußendlich testet man alles gründlich aus und kleistert es mit dem „Build Game“-Befehl zusammen. Wer beim Basteln keine Denkfehler gemacht hat, verfügt nun über ein unverkennbar bardenmäßiges Rollenspiel Marke Eigenbau – und wer erst gar keine Fehler machen will, vergnügt sich halt mit dem Fertig-Abenteuer „Star Light Festival“. Zwar wird nur in Gilden gesaved, und die Chronomancer gibt es auch noch nicht, doch dafür winken gewohnt solide Optik, höllisch magische Barden-Sounds und himmlisch eingängige Handhabung. Nur schade, daß der Barde nicht am 1200er singen will... (jn)

Amiga Joker, February 1993, p.48

BARD’S TALE CONSTRUCTION SET
(ELECTRONIC ARTS)
ROLLENSPIEL - BAUKASTEN
82%
"MONSTRÖS GUT!"
Amiga Joker
GRAFIK
ANIMATION
MUSIK
SOUND-FX
HANDHABUNG
DAUERSPAß
68%
33%
38%
26%
81%
88%
FÜR GEÜBTE
PREIS DM 89,-
SPEICHERBEDARF
DISKS/ZWEITFLOPPY
HD-INSTALLATION
SPEICHERBAR
DEUTSCH
1 MB
3/ERFORDERLICH
JA
SPIELSTÄNDE
NEIN


Bard’s tale construction set logo

If you build a better Bard’s Tale the world will beat a path, etc.

Game: The Bard’s Tale Construction Set
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Author: Interplay
Price: £29.99
Release: Out now

T Bard’s tale construction set he great thing about construction sets is that they more or less review themselves. (I don’t like the sound of this – Ed). If the game they are based on is okay, then the construction set most likely will be too. But if the game was a bit naff, there won’t be a lot of point in constructing your own versions of it. All you really need to know, then, is what the game is like and whether the construction side of things works as it should.

Let us start off with The Bard’s Tale itself. It is something I felt I really ought to be familiar with, but, although the name rang all sorts of bells, I could not actually put a game to it. So I did a bit of background reading and discovered that there are actually three Bard’s Tales: The Bard’s Tale,The Bard’s Tale II and The Bard’s Tale III, the last of which (to my immense relief) was reviewed in issue 1 of AMIGA POWER. It scored 67 percent.

Although I probably should have guessed it, I also found out that the Bard’s Tales are RPGs. They are rather primitive ones, too, with a token 3D display of the view ahead, an emphasis on fighting rather than puzzle-solving, and all the underlying dice throws and lists of numbers laid bare. But what they lack in presentation and atmosphere they make up for with lots of action and places to go.

They are ripe for the construction set treatment, then. And yes, The Bard’s Tale Construction Set gets the job done just fine. You can specify all the things you would expect to be able to – monsters, items, spells and map layouts. You can import DPaint images to represent monsters. And you can define specials: lists of commands (i.e. programs) to be executed when certain points on the map are reached. This is not as bad as it sounds – the commands are simple things like ‘Have monster named X leave party’, ‘Print “You are dead”’ or ‘Regenerate 25 spell points’. Using them you can build up the puzzle side of the game.

Trouble is, I found the whole business enormously tedious. I am a borderline case RPG-wise at the best of times, and when I am faced with one as crudely laid out as this I tend to baulk. The construction set is even more basically presented than the games, with page after page of text and no graphics beyond the title screen and those you draw yourself. Mainly for that reason, I never got as far as writing The Bard’s Tale IV. (I just tweaked the supplied sample scenario a bit).

But, although I am probably in the overwhelming majority, that still leaves a small minority who will be delighted to see this RPG construction sets are pretty thin on the ground (in contrast to wargame construction sets, which are everywhere). If you are one of them, well, go for it. I say. As long as you know what to expect, you won’t have the least cause of complaint.
JONATHAN DAVIES

Amiga Power, Issue 23, March 1993, p.69



"It gets the job done just fine"


Upper UPPERS Well, it works, and the guts of The Bard’s Tale are a pretty good basis on which to build your own RPGs.
Downer DOWNERS Only pretty good, mind. You won’t be writing the next Legend, I’m afraid. Not with this. It is noth cheap, either…

THE BOTTOM LINE
Now you can buy a construction set for The Bard’s Tale. That is all there is to it, really.
62

P E R C E N T



Bard’s tale construction set logo

Exclusive – CU Amiga’s resident adventure expert, Tony Gill likes the Bard’s Tale Games so much that he has bought the company!

Bard’s tale construction set W ell, maybe the exclusive is being a little ‘economical’ with the truth, but I have done the next best thing, I have bought the software which built the Bard’s Tale games.

If there is one thing that is more fun than playing games, it is creating your own. But, there is one tiny problem associated with writing your own computer games – it is damn hard work. Of course, you can let someone else do the difficult bit for you, and Interplay has done just that. There have been many game construction packages on the market in the past and it is got to be said that it is a bit of a game just trying to use most of them. The trick which must be achieved by a construction kit is to give you enough different building blocks to create a game which is unique to yourself, but at the same time to keep the package simple enough for the average user to handle.

All of the games you can create with this system will look similar to one of the legendary Bard’s Tale role playing games. The main screen will be identical and all of the options will be the same. The combat sequences and the spell casting techniques will also operate just as they did before. There are a limited number of graphic tiles available to be used as walls, doors, trees, houses, etc. with which you will be able to construct your dungeons and cities so, yet again, the graphics of your game will be identical to every other one.

In the main you will also use the library of pictures for the monsters and the fighters provided, simply because they have supplied you with approximately 30 great mug shots which you probably could not better yourself. You can import graphics from the likes of Deluxe Paint but, surprisingly, this kit does not make it as easy to do as should be.

WHAT’S NEW?
So, what can you bring for a game of your own creation? For a start, you can design the actual layout of the world, placing monsters, secret doors and ‘specials’ wherever you like. You can create new spells and decide who can and cannot use them, You can also decide which sound effect goes with these new spells and choose from a large list of options what effect the spell will have. However, it is in the ability to create ‘specials’, that you will have the power to put your stamp on the game. When you design your world using the map editor, you can place ‘special points’ wherever you like and then decide what will happen to the player when he arrives at that point. Each ‘special’ will have a name, and you will be able to choose (from an option list) what the game should do when the special square is entered. The option may be a single effect, such as a message being displayed (e.g. ‘Turn Back or you will be sorry!’), or you can have up to 20 lines of complex logic taking place, including graphics and sound effects.

With many game creators it is this part of the job where things get tough. There has to be some way in which you can tell the computer what you want to happen, and this generally involved typing something resembling a piece of computer language. Being human, it is here where things always go wrong. Either you mistype something, or you simply cannot work out what you should type to implement your great idea.

Consequently, when you test your creation the game either goes loopy and hangs up, or it gives out some meaningless message in techno-speak. To get around this problem, the Bard’s Construction Set forces you to select each line of code from a long list of options which the designers have worked out to deal with most eventualities. The only bits you will be allowed to type yourself are those which will not make the fame fall over. You may decide you want a monster to appear at some special place and steal some of your gold. In that case you will select which monster you wish to appear, which graphic screen will be shown for it, what line of text it will say, and how hard the monster will thump, should you decide to select the option ‘No’ to its demands. You won’t be able to type in a semi-colon in the wrong place which will make the whole thing go ‘phut’!

MANUAL OPERATION
Surprisingly, the manual is only 42 pages long which initially looks encouraging, but experience soon proves that it could have done with being bigger to answer all of the questions which you have. A picture is worth a thousand words and in this case the package includes a small game which you can take to pieces to see how it sprockets and springs go together. There is a ‘Test Game’ section which allows you to jump into your creation at any point and try out a section, but I was surprised that it does not include any test options which would allow you to monitor and set ‘flags’ or other variables which you will want to inspect.

CONCLUSION
This game creator is much easier to use than most of the others I have come across, which means that with a bit of effort you will actually be able to create a finished game. The ‘downside’ is that all of the games will superficially look the same. All creation requires perspiration, and to create a game which really has something different in it, you will need to spend a long time wrestling with the more awkward aspects of the package, namely the graphics and the ‘special’ logic sections. This type of open-ended software is what computers are really about. It is unlikely that you are ever to create a game which will make you money, but the weeks of creative fun contained in the box will be its own reward.

CU Amiga, March 1993, p.p.68-69

THE TRILOGY
Set in the remote island of Skara Brae, the Bard’s Tale games are a legend with role-playing gamesters. The graphics were crude and the combat was not ‘real time’, so what did they have which made them sell in their hundreds of thousands all over the world? For a start each game is played over a huge world map containing countless dungeons and cryptic puzzles which will keep the imaginative player hacking away for months. The simple graphics meant that there was lots of space to fill up with spells which could have unusual effects on your team, but did not have to have complex sounds and graphics to accompany them. The combat system allows the player to carefully plan each ‘round’ and not simply rely on the speed of the mouse response, which meant the games appealed to the older and more cerebral player.
When Dungeon Master and the Eye of the Beholder games came along the appeal of the Bard’s games waned and died as younger players demanded more and more special effects and the feeling of ‘being there’. Few of the older style games are still around.

EA: £29.99
A500
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£29.99 ELECTRONIC ARTS, 90 HERON DRIVE, LANGLEY, BERKS SL3 8XP. TEL: 0753 549442
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
TEAM:
CONTROLS:
NUMBER OF DISKS:
HARD DISK INSTALLABLE:
MEMORY:
JANUARY
GAME CREATOR
INTERPLAY
MOUSE/KEYBOARD
3
YES
1Mb
GRAPHICS
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PLAYABILITY

70%
70%
60%
80%
…easier to use than most of the other game construction kits.
OVERALL: 75%