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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Underworld Ascendant - An Evolving Stygian Abyss

Default Underworld Ascendant - An Evolving Stygian Abyss

February 15th, 2018, 11:15
An update on the evolving design for Underworld Ascendant.

Hey everyone,

Kind thanks for all the positive response to the new footage, screens, interviews, and press from PaxSouth! We’re deeply appreciative of your support! The game wouldn’t be here today without you.

In this month’s newsletter, we’re excited to tell you more about three key aspects of the game: the constantly evolving nature of The Stygian Abyss, player progression, and a bit more about narrative aspects.

An Ever-Evolving Stygian Abyss

Many of you have asked about our plans for Underworld Ascendant’s environments. For example, is it a hub-and-spoke model? Is it a large open sandbox world? Or maybe one-off, discrete levels? In Underworld Ascendant, we’re taking a similar route to Ultima Underworld 2. The player will accept missions and bounties, acquire skills, trade for provisions and equipment, and interact with Faction intermediaries in Marcaul, a Lizard Man settlement and hub of trade and intrigue. Once you’ve readied yourself for your next challenge, you’ll navigate The Circle of Portals outside of town to travel to levels.

The primary reason we’re using this design is because it maximizes the amount of time players are in interesting and relevant environments. Second, this design leverages our small team in the most optimal way (currently 14 internally) and allows us to focus on making great interactive and dynamic environments where you can track even small changes as the narrative progresses.




Exploration is an important feature of The Stygian Abyss and there will be plenty of dark tombs and labyrinthine caverns to explore, with the help of The Silver Sapling!

New quests are offered by the Factions each day in Marcaul, and these range in challenge, reward, consequence, and location. You may even return to a level area two or more times over the course of the game. However, each time you visit a level, you’ll encounter new opportunities, challenges, and more. Helpful creatures like Lizard Man allies may be present or a swarm of Lava Bats may now inhabit the area. Useful flora like the glue plants may have been harvested and replaced with Nether Moss, which causes Deep Slugs to leave a sight-blocking smoke trail. Movement options also change, as the Outcast tribe’s construction efforts expand or are destroyed.




We’ll talk more about the Outcasts and their relationship with the Factions (and you!) at a later time.

As the game progresses, the world state begins to decay, causing the local ecology to become even more challenging, as fierce creatures crawl up from the lower depths and thermal vents appear.

These are a few of the ways we’re working to ensure that not only are levels different every time you visit them, but that you can play through the game multiple times and have a uniquely different experience each time.

In future updates, we’ll talk about the world state changes in depth, as well as its driver: our main nemesis, Typhon.



[…]
More information.
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February 15th, 2018, 14:59
I’m excited about this game but not particular excited about what I just read in terms of design
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February 15th, 2018, 23:34
On the contrary, I think I'm even more excited after reading that. It's obvious they're putting a heavy emphasis on exploration and ways to make it interesting.
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February 16th, 2018, 00:53
Always leary when someone claims "evolving" or "innovation" or "agile". Mostly because they are overused buzzwords at the moment and its mostly bullshit.

In this case… pleasantly surprised
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February 16th, 2018, 01:05
Hmm, it just sounds different than what I expected. I was expecting a huge, interconnected and sprawling "open-world" to explore based on what they were pitching. The bit about evolving areas where difficult enemies start crawling out of the abyss sounds great, though.

Still very excited for it. It's high up there on my list of upcoming RPGs.
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February 16th, 2018, 03:03
I guess we will see. But how revisiting areas multiple times isn’t raising flags is interesting
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February 16th, 2018, 03:14
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
I guess we will see. But how revisiting areas multiple times isn’t raising flags is interesting
I'm still interested to see the total package, but I agree.

It's a bit disappointing because it was supposed to be a huge, connected labyrinth. I wasn't expecting a hub with faction representatives (which just seems weird) and portals to different levels. But it's due to budget and scope of the project, so whatever.

We will see, indeed.
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February 16th, 2018, 03:21
How would we know the world was evolving if we didn't revisit areas? Most RPGs have us revisiting at least some areas for one reason or another. The difference is that there usually aren't any significant changes.
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February 16th, 2018, 03:51
Arx fatalis had a hub type level design. In Arx Fatalis player was often forced to revisit previously explored areas and it ended up being a marvelous game. Imagine all the cool things that they can do with modern day technology.

@Fluent Have you played Arx Fatalis btw?
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February 16th, 2018, 04:34
Arx Fatalis hmmm. Great game hampered by very some serious issues and benefits from equal doses of revisionist history by rpg fans.
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February 16th, 2018, 05:27
@Dez, Nope, not yet, although it's been one I've been wanting to play forever now. I remember years back firing it up on a whim (and I mean years back, probably pirated it on a weak Windows 95 machine, dunno ), and figured it was some linear thing. It wasn't until years later I learned more about it.

Going to have to play it soon but I have so many games already. Is there anything I should know in terms of patches before going in?
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February 16th, 2018, 05:31
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
How would we know the world was evolving if we didn't revisit areas? Most RPGs have us revisiting at least some areas for one reason or another. The difference is that there usually aren't any significant changes.
True. I just personally am not a big fan of the idea of a "hub and spoke" design as mentioned in the article. But I'm not writing it off, it will depend on how well they design it.
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February 16th, 2018, 06:16
I'm a bit leery about some of the recent information on this game, but for now I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. What I find most disconcerting is the apparent mmo stench that might be wafting off this product, but again, I guess we'll have to see what it looks like at release.
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February 16th, 2018, 08:08
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
@Dez, Nope, not yet, although it's been one I've been wanting to play forever now. I remember years back firing it up on a whim (and I mean years back, probably pirated it on a weak Windows 95 machine, dunno ), and figured it was some linear thing. It wasn't until years later I learned more about it.

Going to have to play it soon but I have so many games already. Is there anything I should know in terms of patches before going in?
I think you will love it. It is a proper old school rpg. There is so much of that wonderfull world interactivity, plenty of hidden things to discover, some clever puzzles to solve and great number of magic spell formulas to learn!

I cannot just now recall specific things as it has been quite some time since I played it, other than warning you not to throwing away looted items recklessly because the game just doesn't mark items as quest items. So items which seem entirely useless, may have some use with a quest later on. And be sure to save often.

Also you will likely get stuck few times, but that is expected. The game doesn't always give you enough direction and it has few puzzles which can really give you a headache. There are some good guides online though.

I will also mention Arx Liberatis which could be helpfull for running AF in modern systems. And some links related to it:

http://arx-libertatis.org/
http://wiki.arx-libertatis.org/FAQ
http://wiki.arx-libertatis.org/Download#Windows
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February 16th, 2018, 08:44
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
I'm still interested to see the total package, but I agree.

It's a bit disappointing because it was supposed to be a huge, connected labyrinth. I wasn't expecting a hub with faction representatives (which just seems weird) and portals to different levels. But it's due to budget and scope of the project, so whatever.

We will see, indeed.
I'm with you on this one. I thought it would be one big interconnected underworld. (I imagined the underdark from Forgotten Realms.) This hub and levels business feels different from what they pitched.
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February 16th, 2018, 09:48
I haven't been following this closely, but it's not what I expected either. Having said that, I don't mind them reusing levels if it's done in an intelligent way, and they say exploration will still be an important factor.

I'm a bit more dubious about the sound of these daily "faction quests" - they don't sound particularly interesting and have a whiff of procedural generation about them (in terms of "kill X in level y" and "find X in level y" etc). Does anyone following the game more closely know anything more about this? Is there more to it?
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February 16th, 2018, 15:23
I'm curious if you had any knowledge of Ultima underworld that you would be surprised by this.
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February 16th, 2018, 15:49
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
I'm curious if you had any knowledge of Ultima underworld that you would be surprised by this.
I didn't play the originals - I tried them recently but found them a bit dated. I hate saying that because it doesn't bother me so much in other games, but I really felt it with these. I really wish I'd gotten into them back in the day to be honest, people clearly love them but I'm a bit too late for the party.

So "surprise" isn't really the right word I guess, I'm just interested.
Last edited by Pongo; February 16th, 2018 at 16:57.
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February 16th, 2018, 16:30
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
It's a bit disappointing because it was supposed to be a huge, connected labyrinth. I wasn't expecting a hub with faction representatives (which just seems weird) and portals to different levels.
I feel the same. It looks like they focus more on the challenges and carefully crafted levels with different means of "solution" and less on compelling worldbuilding or immersion into the world. If you have one hub with portals to different locations it will be harder to create immersion that you freely explore huge abyss and delve deeper and deeper into more and more dangerous areas. I hope that there will be more important cities below and you wont get most quests from the hub world.

EDIT: I also dont think its good idea in RPG to meet all main factions in the initial hub world. It would be much better to explore and meet them gradually during the game.
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February 16th, 2018, 17:06
half the charm of an RPG is getting from A to B - exploring and getting ambushed etc. Portals sound pretty streamlined to me. But I'm buying this anyway.
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