Work on remastered Bard's Tale trilogy has reportedly stopped

One of the backer rewards for the 2015 Kickstarter for The Bard's Tale 4 was the original Bard's Tale trilogy—Bard's Tale, Destiny Knight, Thief of Fate—updated for modern machines by Olde Skuul, the studio founded by Bard's Tale 3 programmer and designer Rebecca Heineman. But a recent status update posted on inXile's forums says that plan has been put on hold, because Old Skuul has stopped working on it and doesn't seem likely to resume. 

The campaign originally promised emulated versions of the trilogy, which were delivered to backers some time ago. But shortly after the campaign went live, Olde Skuul contacted inXile about remastering them completely. "We were a bit reluctant, as we had concerns about Olde Skuul completing development, however, we agreed on the condition that inXile would provide payment on completion of the project," inXile's Brother None, aka Thomas Beekers, explained. "Because of this, our wording around the BT remasters was a bit more tentative."   

That's a reference to the studio's statement in the relevant Kickstarter update that, "As we're not working on these versions ourselves we cannot give an ETA or guarantee on their release, we'll all be waiting for Rebecca to deliver us an upgraded version worthy of the name!" That may have been a wise bit of forethought: Beekers said Heineman has recently implied, such as on this October 2016 episode of Shane Plays, that she's stopped working on the project because she hasn't received payment—even though, according to Beekers, "we agreed no monies would be due until completion." 

"There was some initial work done on the remasters, and we released some of those beta builds to you as a way to keep you guys involved during BT4's pre-production stages, as well as to help fuel development and get feedback for Olde Skuul. Unfortunately, Olde Skuul's progress slowed and eventually stopped. Our emails and IMs would sometimes take weeks or months to get replies," Beekers wrote. "During this period we even provided internal and external QA resources at our own expense to help push development along, but those efforts didn't help much either. At this stage, we feel it's unlikely that Olde Skuul will finish development on the BT remasters." 

The remastered Bard's Tale trilogy has been removed from the Bard's Tale 4 backer's site, although the emulated versions remain available. Beekers said inXile isn't happy with the situation, but wanted to clarify things for its backers; it is presumably still possible that the remasters will be forthcoming, but it sure doesn't seem very likely. 

I've reached out to Heineman for more information, and will update if and when I receive a reply. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.