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January 12th, 2018, 21:13
Recently Watcher Pessimeister was in contact with Community Manager Sam at OtherSide Entertainment as part of their Roundtable discussions for backers of Underworld Ascendant:

Pessimeister interviews Sam

Pessimeister: I asked him a few questions which partially cover some of my general concerns on the direction of the game from what we've seen thus far. To his credit, Sam got back to me incredibly quickly and covered some of my questions in detail. Watchers can view the full twitch broadcast of the Roundtable discussion here.

1) The graphical style of the game will certainly somewhat polarise fans if reading current threads is any indication. Do you think that by adopting the chosen style, a sense of menace in the dungeon surroundings is somewhat diminished? How is that sense of tension in exploration from the original games being maintained? I always loved the edgy uncertainty of not knowing what you'd encounter next in those games; which was amplified by resource usage (food, light etc) and being low level exploring where perhaps you shouldn't be!

Before I get to the heart of this question, I would like to preface this with a quick clarification about the screenshots we've released so far. You may have seen shots of the pre-alpha build released to backers in August, and a number of people have worried that the rest of the Abyss will be just as "well illuminated" and with areas that are "too large". That is not true! Just as there are areas with lots of activity (torches, mana-fueled lanterns, glowing creatures, etc), there will be levels that are quite dark and not as welcoming. Understandably, it's a little difficult to advertise screenshots of the game that aren't very well-lit, and we'd like to leave some of the darker areas a surprise for when you stumble upon them yourself. (Hopefully, you'll be prepared when you find them!) We've been extremely happy with the way the world has been shaped by the art direction. While some areas may seem welcoming and awe-inspiring, you should never let your guard down… for example, if you see a large clearing and no one else around…….

2) Aesthetically and mechanically I do wish the game moved more toward Arx Fatalis in mood and dungeon design influence rather than to Bioshock, Thief and Dark Messiah. Could you speak generally about dungeon design itself and the challenges it presents in making a game of this type?

Following up on my first response, you can still craft a challenging dungeon experience even in areas that are wide open and well-lit. The dungeons are made with MANY different processes made in mind, and one of the most important aspects is making sure it's fun. No, really! It's one thing to craft an area that FUNCTIONALLY brings your player from point A to point B and allows them to complete a quest, but we want to make sure it's actually fun to complete, should they choose to explore it. Additionally, we have to consider the many different player mobility and ability options, and we tweak certain areas accordingly to make sure one "class" doesn't have a large advantage over the other. (Class being the "warrior", "rogue" and "wizard" skill sets we've been designing for, but remember that you can mix and match these skills as you see fit, and you're not locked into any one role at any time.)

2b) Will there be an option to disable the icons/UI and have a clear HUD as in Arx for maximum immersion?

YES.

3) What other key RPG elements can the player expect to find from the original games? How are they being elaborated and expanded upon? (Stat manipulation? Character customisation?)

We are actually still working on if/how we want physical character customization to work in the final game, but we've already agreed upon how we'll be tackling "stats" and "skills". We talked briefly during the Roundtable about how skills are unlocked through real experiences, and how we want your actual skill level to be represented and improved upon ingame. For example, let's say you start your game and you're an excellent shooter/archer. After a few headshots and completing a quest or two, you'll be able to unlock a skill that basically gives you a "scope" to shoot at enemies from afar, and allows you to do even better shots. While I'm on the subject, I also want to echo what Chris Siegel mentioned, which is that when you start the game, you will be at "level 0" and not "level -10". In other words, your own skill level is your starting point. We won't be purposely ensuring some of your shots miss just because you "just started as an archer" in Underworld Ascendant. If you can pull something off right off the bat, we'll let you do it.


4) How goes the creation of ambience and music for this new vision of the Underworld? Any chance of George Sanger being involved? Dave Govett? Mr Schmidt or Blackley? Any intended nods to musical themes of the past that you can share?

Ambience in particular is very important to the Abyss, and our current musical score reflects that. There are a number of sound effect cues that hint at the presence of monsters, items, and even areas, so we want to make sure the music sets a mood but doesn't distract you from your goal. You may have noticed that Jim Bonney has joined us as our new Audio Director! There's still room and time to include musical themes from UW1&2, so we'll have to see about that.

5) With regards to lore and history; has there been any known retconning of ideas in the writing and design thus far? Will anything from "the memoirs of Sir Cabirus" be made invalid or contradictory?

Corby's account is a reflection of how he wanted Sir Cabirus to remembered. That being said, as you may recall, we have confirmed that Cabirus himself has returned in Underworld Ascendant… as for why (and how), you'll just have to find out.

6) Please assure me that either a headless, lurker or wolf spider will positively terrify me when I first encounter one of them! Those creatures are the stuff of legend from the first two games…

I just peeked at a level that is being designed with the wolf spiders. Based on that alone, I am not sure if I want to see the final model of the spider… *shudders* We'd best tread carefully…(I'm afraid I can't confirm the headless and lurker at this time, but the Abyss is not a very forgiving place…)

7) Are there any Ultima-related easter eggs being implemented? Has there been any feedback or contact with Richard Garriott on the game? I don't need no stinking badge/password?

There will be Easter eggs. LOTS of Easter eggs. Good luck finding some of these…

As for Richard, yes, we've been in contact, and we're always excited to read up on the newest Shroud of the Avatar updates! There is no direct connection between UA and SoTA at this time. We believe the two games offer different but equally entertaining experiences. We hope you have fun playing both!


8) Will there be moments of severe disorientation? (Yes please!)

I cannot confirm this at this time.

8b) How well is the dungeon design connecting to the map marking mechanic which was so wonderful and useful in the original games? (Hopefully the QA/backers were/are using it…)

We were actually just discussing this on the forums the other day! We're interested in incorporating shortcut icons which you could assign your own Map Key to (ex: "Red chest means unopened chest I can't figure out how to reach yet. Gray chest means a chest I've opened"), as well as allowing you to type notes directly on your map. There's plenty of space to write in the map, and we were also considering adding several empty pages of map-parchment for players to fill out with whatever they'd like. (Diary notes about the adventure, reminders to self, a place for the player to track their expenses… etc). I'm afraid that's all I can say about the map marking mechanic right now, but hopefully I'll have more to share soon!

9) The Might and Magic games often awarded the player with a winning certificate for posterity whenever they completed a title. Is this something you would consider? Besides factional interplay and choices, what other ways are you looking at to incentivise players to replay the game?

I cannot answer this at this time… but between you and me, I really like Majora's Mask.

10) Can I make popcorn again? Go fishing? Experience hallucinogenic mushrooms in new found graphical fidelity and psychedelic splendour?

We're still in mid-alpha right now, so we haven't fleshed out the Fun Parts of exploring the Abyss, but I believe we're very intent on at least including cooking of some kind, and foraging. You'll just have to see for yourself once you enter the Abyss! (Just be careful… the wildlife here may have unexpected effects when consumed.)

Phew! I'm afraid I can't answer everything right now, but I hope I've settled some of your biggest fears. We can't wait to show you the full game! Every day that we work on it, we get closer to our ideal Abyss…

All the Best,

Sam

Community Manager

OtherSide Entertainment

More information.
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January 12th, 2018, 21:13
Thank you Sam & Pessimeister!
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January 12th, 2018, 22:50
Long interview.
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January 12th, 2018, 22:52
Sounds good, but still a very long way off. I'm guessing 2019 at the earliest.

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January 12th, 2018, 23:09
Originally Posted by you View Post
Long interview.
Short post.
--
Diddledy high,
Diddledy low,
Come brave blood sheep,
You've a goodly way to go.
- Brilhasti Ap Tarj
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January 12th, 2018, 23:15
I'm going to start calling it Duke Nukem Ascendant.
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January 12th, 2018, 23:39
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I'm going to start calling it Duke Nukem Ascendant.
Ascendant Forever?
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January 13th, 2018, 04:35
Ascendant Grimoire!!
--
If God said it, then that settles it!!

[email protected]
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January 13th, 2018, 08:13
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Ascendant Grimoire!!
If you say Grimoire three times it will summon Cleve.
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January 13th, 2018, 08:47
PLEASE, Cleve only lives down the road from me, a fairly short drive!! PLEASE, I beg of thee!!!!
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January 13th, 2018, 08:58
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Ascendant Grimoire!!
Shroud of the Ascendant Grimoire.

pibbur who in reality look forward to the Underworld wannabe game.
--
d++a63e++TU4567'!S'!89!A!WM!LuC++++u+++uF+++nR——nS ++++wC—-o++++wS——uLB++++

1. The cat is alive! And pissed!!!
2. It's been 82 years. The cat is dead, and the stench is unbearable!!!
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January 13th, 2018, 10:12
I have absolutely no expectation regarding this game. And I guess, that's a good thing in this case. When (If) it comes out I will have a look. What I have seen so far didn't excite me at all.
Also, why the brown-nosing towards SotA? Do they fear Garriott sues them over "Underworld?"
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January 13th, 2018, 14:18
Classy responses so far RPGWatch, well done all. You get my codex award of originality on the gags.

@ Darkheart
I don't think it's "brown-nosing" at all, but rather merely a case of being polite and respectful given the history of Richard and Ultima's connection to the original games. Richard supports the project clearly and OtherSide have the rights to use the lore, characters and everything outside of the Ultima brand and framework. (Which is EA territory anyway…)

This "interview" actually arose from unique circumstances. As a strong backer for the game, I expressed some mild angst regarding my perceptions of its direction on the kickstarter page and was pleasantly surprised to receive a direct response from OtherSide. Sam also did this very quickly after my initial email, so I'm very appreciative of this fact.

Personally, given the scope and ambition of the game from an interactive point of view, I don't mind the extended delays - I've got more than enough games to catch up on in the meantime. I just want the best possible Underworld experience and a successor to the genre inspired by not only the original games but to some degree Arx Fatalis aswell. No games around at the moment for me really touch on or elaborate upon this particular unique dungeon crawling style.
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You've a goodly way to go.
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January 13th, 2018, 18:25
Given the nature of the game I wonder if they will be incorporating VR as an opton for release?
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January 13th, 2018, 19:49
That's an interesting question for sure, Terry. There's been a few forum members asking about it as well. Here's a thread discussing it: https://www.othersideentertainment.c…hp?topic=887.0

Also from the Kickstarter itself:

Anyway, based on these considerations we are not prepared to make a decision yet as to if we might support VR for Underworld Ascendant. We will be staying on top of upcoming advances in the technology, and spending a bit more time doing experiments over the coming months. But until we get to a point where we are confident that the hardware is ready, and that we could deliver a great experience, we need to wait and see.

We will continue to solicit feedback from our fans to help gauge interest, and keep you up to date with any new VR developments. We might put out a prototype with VR support to get more direct feedback down the line.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects…/posts/1148942
--
Diddledy high,
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Come brave blood sheep,
You've a goodly way to go.
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Last edited by Pessimeister; January 13th, 2018 at 20:34.
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January 13th, 2018, 21:28
I hope they avoid VR and focus on the game mechanics et all without VR. I like what I see so far but it is hard to judge the scrope of the game from what has been shown.
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January 14th, 2018, 06:19
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
PLEASE, Cleve only lives down the road from me, a fairly short drive!! PLEASE, I beg of thee!!!!
Its funny… in New Zealand a "short drive" is 5 minutes, anything longer is considered
"a grueling road trip of epic proportions."

In Australia, a 1 hour drive can be considered "just down the road" and 3 hours doesn't get you to pavement in some places.

Awesome how that works
--
How about all games have a single huge lootbox you pay for up front that contains all the options, items, skins, unlocks etc? I'd pay for that!!
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January 14th, 2018, 07:54
Originally Posted by Wisdom View Post
Its funny… in New Zealand a "short drive" is 5 minutes, anything longer is considered
"a grueling road trip of epic proportions."

In Australia, a 1 hour drive can be considered "just down the road" and 3 hours doesn't get you to pavement in some places.

Awesome how that works
Hehe, same in Germany. It's always funny to see what Americans consider weekend trips when they are over here.
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January 14th, 2018, 11:05
I'm really looking forward to this project and I hope the end product ends up being something as great as Arx Fatalis.

As for Richard, yes, we've been in contact, and we're always excited to read up on the newest Shroud of the Avatar updates! There is no direct connection between UA and SoTA at this time. We believe the two games offer different but equally entertaining experiences. We hope you have fun playing both!
There are just few points I want to make.

1. Please stop the bs. No one aside Portalium devs and their cult members is "excited" to read news about SotA

2. Please keep this project 10 feet away from SotA mess. Let there never be any connection between these projects. I hope you're still developping a singleplayer rpg and not a money grabbing scheme.

3. I hope these games don't offer equally entertaining experiences, since I'm struggling to understand the enjoyment factor of playing something like SotA.
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January 14th, 2018, 14:52
Thanks Dez. I feel the same way.

Recently Underworld Ascendant showed up on the Scam of the Avatar update as a "Project to Support"

I swear even this much connection between the two games was too much for me. UA should realize whats going on with Scam and stay 3000 miles away from it if they hope their project won't be tainted by BSery.

We’ve been following the development of Underworld Ascendant for a while now, ever since it appeared on Kickstarter. New updates have been posted as the game approaches a launch in the second half of 2018:

Underworld Ascendant is the next-generation follow-up to Ultima Underworld, the critically acclaimed series credited with creating the ‘Immersive Sim’ genre and influencing such game series as Bioshock, Deus Ex, Dishonored, Elder Scrolls, and even Minecraft. OtherSide Entertainment, which includes original creators of the Ultima Underworld series, is innovating upon the series’ signature player-authored gameplay in bold new ways.

Underworld Ascendant will be published on Steam for PC. Players can Wishlist the game now at: http://store.steampowered.com/app/692840.
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How about all games have a single huge lootbox you pay for up front that contains all the options, items, skins, unlocks etc? I'd pay for that!!
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