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Underworld Ascendant - All News

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Thursday - April 11, 2019
Friday - February 15, 2019
Tuesday - December 18, 2018
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Box Art

Thursday - April 11, 2019

Underworld Ascendant - Performance Improvements

by Silver, 07:42

A new update for Underworld Ascendant talks performance improvements.

Hi everyone, we’re happy to release Update 3 for Underworld Ascendant. We’ve been listening to your feedback and focused this Update on improving performance, fixing bugs and polishing various aspects of the game. We also added a bunch of fun new things as noted below.

Performance Improvements and New or Updated Features
  • Major improvements to frame rate and load times.
  • Lighting pass across the game to help players see deeper into the darkest corners of the Abyss.
  • Added Saurian Mage allies that have been captured by Typhon’s minions. Once you free these allies, they will aid you in battle against nearby undead.
  • Added the Outcast character Fane, an ally who, once freed, becomes a vendor selling adventuring provisions wherever Hapurkala sets up camp.
  • Added Talking Skulls (Bart and Bertha) to the Midnight Forum in Marcaul.
  • Increased the equipment that drops in the earliest part of the game and added several new types of gear.
  • Loot from chests is now placed more intelligently in the chest’s interior, to reduce unintended collisions.
  • Added a new, more appropriately-sized model representing smaller equipment items like helmets and boots.
  • Added confirmation text when Quick-Saving, including a notification if the player is in a situation where saving is not permitted.
  • You can now start climbing ropes and chains from swimming contact, not just jumping. Also, contact with water won’t break you out a rope climb.
  • Blast arrows no longer detonate without being fired (like, for example, when they’re sitting in a chest).
  • Rune formulas branded on wands with the Focus Mastery skill are now preserved around player respawn.
  • Added Goggles of Night-vision as a new item of headgear.
  • Added variation of scale colors to Saurians (rather than all defaulting to green).
  • Updated Aelita's vendor tables to offer a greater selection of gear usable with the Ceremonial Garb skill.
  • Updated the sfx that plays upon completing a quest.
  • Improved performance when things are on fire.


Friday - February 15, 2019

Underworld Ascendant - Player Journey & Gameplay Improvements

by Silver, 19:27

Update 2 for Underworld Ascendant has been released.

Update 2 - Player Journey & Gameplay Improvements

Underworld Ascendant
Update 2 Build Notes

Thank you for your continued support of Underworld Ascendant!

We have been hard at work on Update 2 and have focused our efforts on the overall structure of the Abyss, the player journey, AI and other gameplay improvements. We believe these changes will significantly improve the overall player experience, especially when starting a new game.

We hope you enjoy this update and please continue to provide your feedback.

The Stygian Abyss renovated

  • The world is now a series of interconnected levels, accessible through The Grand Staircase. Updated quest flow now focuses on important narrative quests that highlight both new and refined story and content, while allowing the player to freely explore the environment and optional side-quests.
  • As a result of this major change, we highly recommend that you start a new game to experience it. That said, if you want to start from where you left off, your old save games will still work and you will start at a roughly similar place in the new story progression.

Player experience improvements highlights

  • Updated enemy patrol paths and lighting pass in all levels to enhance tactical stealth gameplay, and enemy population overhaul/refinements on all main quests.
  • New and streamlined story elements along main critical path, with supplemental story elements moved to explorable space.
  • The Vault of Nyx, the final level encounter, gameplay and clarity improvements.

Meta Game updates

  • The Doom Counter has been refined to better ramp the type and difficulty of creatures that appear, and now allows players to complete the game without having to set it back more than once in an average playthrough.
  • Players no longer need to gain Faction Favor or Influence to trigger the final encounter of the game, though Faction Favor still provides benefits in trade.
  • New games can now choose a difficulty level. All old save games will be treated as “Normal” difficulty.

Save Game System

We made some additional enhancements and refinements to the save game system based on your feedback:

  • Players can now use F5 to quick save and F9 to quick load said quick save.
  • Players are now asked for confirmation if they are about to overwrite an existing save.
  • Clarity pass on the text in the Save menu to improve usability.
  • Also a load game panel clarity pass. It will also now show difficulty of each save game.


  • Updated enemy patrol paths and AI behavior models to improve their reaction to player actions
  • Enemies will no longer do more than one in-combat emote in a row, which makes them much more aggressive.
  • Enemies will flee less often than before.
  • Animuses now alert all nearby undead when they are being attacked.
  • Lizardmen casters will no longer cast while on the ground or getting up.
  • Lizardmen will now be more aggressive.
  • Better wandering for deep slugs and rats.
  • Skeletons will no longer attack torches that damage them. Also reduced torch damage radius for when creatures walk by them.
  • Enemies now have more personality in their idle time.

Loot and Items

  • Standard trunks are now smaller to reflect that they don’t hold treasure on the level of the mighty Typhon chests. Removed the sparkly “treasure” effect when you open a trunk. Celebrations are for actual treasure chests.
  • Trunks that are too low-level to hold much loot will now (rather than being so empty) have more filler items such as pots, which will sometimes contain coins.
  • Clarity pass on item descriptions to make it easier to understand what they do.
  • Magical items now have a different color name so they stand out more in your inventory.
  • Player’s speed percentage is now listed in the inventory screen so you can tell if items you have equipped are slowing you down (or speeding you up).
  • Item tooltips for equipment that improves the wearer’s armor percentage now include a notation about that.
  • Updated Aelita’s trade menu to make it easier to understand how much silver you will get for a trade, and how much silver Aelita has available to trade.
  • When you mouse over an item, it will be compared to the same type of item you have equipped, if any.
  • Right clicking on items in your inventory behaves the same as double clicking. This also applies to trade where it will move it to/from the offer table.
  • When moving a stack of items within their inventory, the player is no longer prompted to pick how many they like to move. To see that pop up, hold down shift and click on the stack of items.

Tuesday - December 18, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - New Save System

by Hiddenx, 00:11

PC Gamer reports that Underworld Ascendant is getting some enhancements:

Underworld Ascendant is getting an all-new save system and other big changes

Otherside Entertainment said it's aiming to make what's good about the game 'shine through more brightly.'

I'm still not settled on my game of the year selection for 2018, but disappointment of the year is an easy one. I half-expected that Underworld Ascendant wouldn't live up to my expectations, since they were so unreasonably high, but I did not expect a disaster, wrapped in a train wreck, inside a 25/100 review. It was a heartbreaker by any measure.

The good news, such as it is, is that developer Otherside Entertainment isn't just taking the "L" and walking away from it. The studio posted plans for two major updates today on Steam, the first of which will hopefully go live next week. It will bring an all new save system to the game that will enable players to save anywhere (with a few exceptions), make changes to combat to make it "more dynamic and responsive," tune player movement, and improve quests and levels. Full details will be released next week.


Thanks henriquejr!

Saturday - December 08, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - More Reviews

by Silver, 11:54

More reviews for the disappointing Underworld Ascendant.

IGN - 3/10

The Verdict

Underworld Ascendant is just broken. What little roleplaying game fun there might’ve been is taken off the table by technical failings, a save system that feels like cruel and unusual punishment, and a bland story that takes place in similarly repetitive environments. Not one of the core systems for interacting with the world, be it combat, magic, or stealth impresses on its own, and that’s when they even work right. Our beleaguered Ascendant is thus sent, over and over again, into buggy dungeons to complete fetch quests and assassination missions to the best of their unimpressive abilities. Underworld Ascendant is a swing and a miss so powerful that it knocks itself off-balance, and the seeds of interesting ideas fail to be realized at nearly every juncture.

Wccftech - 3/10

The immersive sim is a genre that is constantly under siege. Some developers seem nervous to work on such a title, while larger genres continue to blend its interaction with more mainstream successes. But when they strike the right chords they are wonderful. Even though Prey didn’t quite break through the mainstream, the game was a masterpiece of open ended puzzle solving just like Deus Ex and Dishonored. Unfortunately, Underworld Ascendant simply cannot be counted as one of these successes.

Eurogamer - Avoid

Perhaps the only "successful" immersive sim, then, is the one you can genuinely break. About an hour into my time with Underworld: Ascendant, I made a calculated hop onto a boulder and fell through into the very last level. I'd read that such a glitch existed, but I found the point of entry all by myself, and it's probably the most "meaningful" choice I've made in the Underworld. There I was with nothing but an Argos-brand wand and a bone club to my name, facing the Big Bad in a hellish cathedral surrounded by lavafalls. I couldn't complete the level without all seven keys, and struggled to make headway against its menagerie of spellcasters and spooks. But still - wasn't I, in fact, playing the game as its developers would like? Preying on the gaps in the stage machinery, osmosing through its facade? It wasn't much fun, either way, but in all my time with Ascendant, I have never felt more immersed.

Screenrant -1.5/5

It's hard to justify that Underworld Ascendant is a finished product. Indeed, the game released at 'version 0.3', and it shows. A horrific and nonsensical save mechanic sets the tone for a game rife with broken systems: terrible enemy AI, confusing map design, a shell of a plot, and a mountainous pile of bugs and glitches have mixed together into an abominable heap of problems that became Underworld Ascendant. Every mechanic to the game needs drastic improvements, and it's just plain unfortunate that Otherside Entertainment released the game as-is. The atmosphere can occasionally look pretty, but it's a fleeting moment. This game has plenty of ascending of its own to do before it's a worthwhile purchase.

Thanks Farflame!

Saturday - November 24, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Review @ MMORPG

by Hiddenx, 16:25

 MMORPG has reviewed Underworld Ascendant:

The RPG Files: Underworld Ascendant Review

I went into this game expecting great things.  It’s 2018 and we were just given a new Ultima-inspired game with the promise of bringing the amazing classics from Ultima Underworld into the era with upgraded graphics and mechanics.  I was super excited.  That is until I played it. Ladies and Gentlemen, strap in and prepare yourselves, this is our Underworld Ascendant review.
Does this mean everyone will hate the game?  No, not at all.  There are some people who will thoroughly enjoy it, whether it’s simply because it plays like a Thief game, or it’s just a random dungeon crawler.  But to me it’s a big letdown.  I’ve talked to others that have played it and they agree, which is sad.  This could have been a great game, but I seriously feel like it was just a quickly made cash grab.

In summary, Underworld Ascendant brings a whole lot of nothing new to the table.  It’s not the Ultima you remember and has its fair share of performance issues and bugs.  If you’re looking for a sequel to Ultima Underworld, look elsewhere, this is not the game you were looking for.

Score: 3/10

Wednesday - November 21, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Review @ PC Gamer

by Hiddenx, 20:10

PC Gamer picks Underworld Ascendant to pieces:

Underworld Ascendant review

Underworld Ascendant is the first game from OtherSide Entertainment. Established by the original founder of Looking Glass Studios, OtherSide is essentially Looking Glass 2.0, employing some of the same designers and seemingly sharing the same ideals about game design. Its legacy includes the likes of Thief, System Shock and of course, Ultima Underworld—three mighty pillars of PC gaming. Just take a moment and think about those games, how massively influential and ahead of their time they were. Imagine what those designers could do with today’s technology and tools. 

Now imagine the complete opposite. You’ve just imagined Underworld Ascendant.

There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Underworld Ascendant is phenomenally bad, a catastrophic mess of poor design ideas, woeful execution, and bugs the size of buildings.


Score: 25/100

Underworld Ascendant - Development Update

by Silver, 02:17

A development update for Underworld Ascendant from a tweet.

Thursday - November 15, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Release Day

by Hiddenx, 08:37

The dungeon crawler Underworld Ascendant will be released today:

Underworld Ascendant


Launching November 15th on Steam! From the creative minds behind the acclaimed Ultima Underworld®, System Shock and Thief series. In Underworld Ascendant®, Paul Neurath and Warren Spector's OtherSide Entertainment challenges you to think creatively in an interactive sandbox environment. Enter The Stygian Abyss, a dangerous, highly interactive dungeon world. Mix and match dozens of combat, stealth and magic skills to develop your own unique style of play.

Tuesday - November 06, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Launch Trailer

by Silver, 07:55

The release trailer for Underworld Ascendant ahead of its November 15th launch on Steam.


Launching November 15th on Steam! From the creative minds behind the acclaimed Ultima Underworld®, System Shock and Thief series. In Underworld Ascendant®, Paul Neurath and Warren Spector's OtherSide Entertainment challenges you to think creatively in an interactive sandbox environment. Enter The Stygian Abyss, a dangerous, highly interactive dungeon world. Mix and match dozens of combat, stealth and magic skills to develop your own unique style of play.

Sunday - October 14, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Backer Beta and New Narrative

by Silver, 13:44

The backer beta for Underworld Ascendant has been released. In addition the latest update informs of a new narrative, new enemy variants and announces the voice cast.


Our Backer Beta build is now available for Journeyman level backers and above! ($35+)

Please log into your BackerKit to access the Steam key under the Digital Downloads page. This is currently available for only Windows; we will update our Mac and Linux backers when a build is available!

Note that unlocking the Beta access on Steam does NOT mean you are locked into downloading Underworld Ascendant on Steam for your final digital download when the game launches. We are still in talks with GOG about a DRM-free release.

If you had access to the Backer Alpha/Pre-Alpha build, you do NOT need a new Steam key. The Underworld Ascendant app should update on Steam to the Backer Beta Build.

For more information on what’s in the build, what you can expect, and a feedback form, check out our site here.



Over the last several months, our narrative team (writer/director Joe Fielder and writer Crispin Boyer) have been working with OtherSide Austin studio head Warren Spector to further refine and finalize Underworld Ascendant’s story.

For example:

  • Several new roles have been added, as we’ve expanded the population of characters within the Saurian town of Marcaul to include mediators to the Factions and more.
  • The player’s nemesis Typhon is no longer a slumbering primordial nightmare, but is now an active taunting threat, full of menace and… wow, yeah, he’s actually really damn scary.
  • The game now includes VO support for Memora, which are captured memories from major characters detailing important events and secrets of The Stygian Abyss. These are found as quest items in main quests and also hidden in dark and often difficult to access areas that only the clever and capable can find.
  • Final recordings took place several weeks ago! Those have since been processed, implemented within the game, and delivered to our Localization team for translation.
  • We are currently bearing down on locking down all in-game text, including bits of series lore and lizardman graffiti hidden throughout the lower levels of The Stygian Abyss.

Saturday - September 15, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Interview with Paul Neurath

by Silver, 11:33

@bit-tech Paul Neurath was interviewed about Underworld Ascendant.

One thing I've noticed is that today there are quite a lot of games that apply the tenets of immersive simulation in play. With this in mind, what relevance does the immersive sim have in 2018?

I think part of it is just going deeper on that, really just taking out all the stops and going deep on it, so really letting the player have an enormous amount of choice and freedom, so the “open world”, not in the sense that I can run 100km across a landscape, but open world in terms of the choices seem infinite.

There's a lot of smoke and mirrors. Most of these games historically, the amount of true immersive simulation is actually pretty limited. You quickly run into, 'Oh well, we didn't actually simulate that, that's faked'. That happens a lot. Sounds simpler than it is, but if you could just open that up a lot more, it allows the players to experiment and try clever things, twofold, four-fold, eightfold. More than they otherwise could. And it just opens up a much richer experimentation in gameplay.

For Underworld Ascendant, it goes deeper across all those axes, so it's got deeper combat. It has more of a fantasy RPG root to it, so if you want to play a character who’s like a fighter and focussed on fighting skills, you can do that and go quite a bit deeper on that than, say, Thief would allow you to do. But at the same time it's offering a deep stealth tree, so you can do a lot of things in stealth games like Thief. It also has magic, so you can develop your magic skills. Or you can mix and match. We don't constrain you.


Thanks Farflame!

Tuesday - August 21, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Now November 15th

by Silver, 05:40

@Gamasutra Underworld Ascendant has been pushed back to November 15th.

CALABASAS, Calif. – August 20, 2018 – Underworld Ascendant, the fan-funded action RPG from independent game studio OtherSide Entertainment, co-founded by Paul Neurath (Ultima Underworld, Thief)  and Warren Spector (Deus Ex, Epic Mickey), will descend onto Steam for PC Thursday, November 15, 2018 for $29.99 USD, published by 505 Games. A new trailer unveiled today at Gamescom invites players back to the memorable fantasy dungeon of the Stygian Abyss, introducing the game’s main antagonist Typhon, father of monsters and nemesis of Zeus:


In Underworld Ascendant, players assume the role of ‘The Ascendant,’ summoned to the Stygian Abyss by a mysterious figure – Cabirus. There, they learn that Typhon, a threat to both their worlds, can only be stopped by the player. To defeat Typhon, players must uncover secrets of what happened to the inhabitants of the Abyss, gain favour with their descendants and share their knowledge and strength with them to defeat Typhon.

In a throwback to game industry veterans’ Paul Neurath and Warren Spector’s celebrated past, Underworld Ascendant boasts a gameplay experience that encourages different playstyles and rewards experimentation in a dungeon environment that reacts dynamically to player choices. Players can choose from a variety of items, skills and abilities that allow them to experience the game in many different ways. They must think creatively to devise unique solutions to overcome the challenges they face in the Abyss, with each decision holding great opportunity and grave consequence.

Qualified press can be among the first to experience a new level in Underworld Ascendant with hands-on behind-closed-doors demos at Gamescom. To book an appointment, please email Racheal Caswell (North American inquiries) or William Capriata (European inquiries).

Underworld Ascendant will be published on Steam for PC on November 15, 2018 by 505 Games. Players can Wishlist the game now at:

To learn more about Underworld Ascendant, please visit:

Also Developer Diary 3 released yesterday:


Thursday - August 02, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - The Doom Counter Ticks Down…

by Silver, 14:21

A new update for Underworld Ascendant shows off some screenshots and talks about what Otherside Entertainment are working on.

UPDATE: The Doom Counter Ticks Down…

July 31, 2018
Sam Luangkhot

Hey everyone,

We’ve been working on a lot of systems, features, and levels behind the scenes as we get ready for launch. Here’s a sneak peek at what we’ve been working on:


Saturday - July 21, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Screenshots

by Silver, 11:49

Worthplaying previewed Underworld Ascendant and showed off many screenshots.

We saw a slice of the gameplay, but it wasn't enough to get a feel for it. For combat, we saw some evil skeletons that I could thwack with a sword, but there was little feedback. It's unclear how the combat will function in the final game.

Likewise, the spells felt unfinished. For example, there's one spell that is a soul bind, which can either dominate enemies or chain them down, depending on whether they're spiritual or physical. The spell felt very iffy and difficult to use, and after some experimentation, I focused on the more reliable abilities instead. I had more luck with using fire, but the fire mechanic was still being refined, and setting something alight was an inconsistent process. It was fun to smash my way through a door rather than having to hunt for a key.


Thanks Farflame!

Thursday - July 05, 2018

Underworld - Warren Spector & Paul Neurath Interview

by Silver, 13:00

Warren Spector and Paul Neurath were video interviewed about Underworld Ascendant by Gamereactor.

"We're trying to take the immersive simulation genre and a little further, so the whole idea is it's you in this alternate world, we confront you with challenges and problems, but you get to decide how you're going to interact with them," Spector said. "So some people find that a little intimidating, and it's not like many other games where you keep moving forward like a shark killing everything that moves and you win; we ask people to think a little bit and decide how they wanna play, what sort of person they wanna be."

Wednesday - June 27, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Backer Alpha Release

by Silver, 12:32

The backer alpha has been released for Underworld Ascendant.

Backer Alpha Release

Hi everyone, our Backer Alpha Release of Underworld Ascendant for PC, Mac and Linux platforms is TODAY! We're excited to share the build with you and get your thoughts, suggestions and feedback. There is still plenty of time to have an impact in a number of areas of the game, particularly around moment-to-moment game play, world interactions and system simulations. We will review all feedback that you share with us, whether via the survey (linked in game), bug reports or posts on the OtherSide Entertainment forums[]. Please make an effort to keep your feedback detailed and constructive as that will be much more useful and actionable for us.

Please do keep in mind that this is an Alpha and the build is representative of an unfinished game. Is it unpolished, buggy, and you might encounter some instability (i.e., game crashes). That's normal for a game like UA at this point. We've been spending a lot of time getting things into the game and now our focus is getting those things working well and working well together.

At OtherSide, we pride ourselves on the breadth of experience and talent at the studio. As a small team of 14, we are striving to deliver a quality game that fits our size and stature. As a result, this is not a AAA game in scope or scale. That said, our goal with UA is to push depth of gameplay variety and we hope it provides a unique array of playstyle options and deeper world interactions. We think you all are aware of that, but it seemed worth repeating.

The build you will play is just a slice of the full game in terms of content like levels, creatures, items and loot as well as features like spells, combat moves, interactibles and things like that. We will also be posting a longer FAQ / Build Notes that will go into more detail about what's in, what's not, some known issues (not a full bug list), etc. Please keep an eye out for a link to that tomorrow.

We will be distributing the build via Steam using the same "app" as the Pre-Alpha Build. So, if you have access to the Pre-Alpha Build already, you'll be able to download the new Alpha Build when it's ready. If you didn't have access to the Pre-Alpha Build, we will be sending you a Steam Key for this Alpha Build via BackerKit. Our plan is to send those keys around before the Alpha Build is available on Steam so you won't have to wait for the key.

Thank you again for your support and your feedback. We hope you enjoy this early look at Underworld Ascendant.

The OtherSide team

Saturday - June 02, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Trailer & September Release

by Silver, 11:32

@Worth Playing Underworld Ascendant will release this September according to the latest trailer.

Players will return to The Stygian Abyss, a breathtaking fantasy realm, rife with danger and full of intrigue. They are provided a wide array of tools to experiment with and create their own ingenious solutions to challenges. The story and world will react dynamically to player choices, challenging and rewarding their creativity and allowing them to author their experience.



Thanks Farflame!

Saturday - May 26, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - May Newsletter

by Silver, 14:57

The May newsletter for Underworld Ascendant has news on the backer alpha and some new screenshots of a grey lizard, fauna and a later level known as the Cathedral.

UPDATE: E3 Prep, Resherak, & More

May 25, 2018 Sam Luangkhot

Hello everyone,

We've been heads-down this month working on a lot of important systems, art, audio, and UI among many other things for the game. We also have some exciting news to share!

Underworld Ascendant at E3 with Alienware and the Backer Alpha

We're proud to announce that a segment of Underworld Ascendant will be available to play at Alienware's booth at E3! Catch us anytime on the show floor from June 12 - June 14 and have a sneak peek at the Abyss...

In addition to this, EXPLORER backers and above ($50+) will receive access to the Backer Alpha build during E3 (official date to be finalized). Our current plan is for the Backer Alpha build to include all of the content and features in the E3 build and an updated version of the tutorial level (aka "un-training level"). More information on this will be emailed to EXPLORER backers and above the week before the Backer Alpha is live, so make sure to check your email!

Access to the Backer Alpha will be unlocked on your BackerKit's Digital Downloads page.

Earlier this month, we were also in Los Angeles to present Underworld Ascendant for consideration for the 2018 Game Critics Awards!

Our publisher, 505 Games, put together an awesome setup for us, which is an opportunity for the judges to demo a number of games that will be shown at E3. Since there are so many games and it can be difficult for people to see them while also having meetings, this gives us an opportunity to showcase Underworld Ascendant for awards nomination consideration in advance of the show. The event went really well overall and we are keeping our fingers crossed!

Enter the Memoreum

We've received a ton of questions about the Memora system and how this ties into the narrative of the Stygian Abyss. What exactly has gone on in this world, and who can you trust?

In our February update, we mentioned how Memora can catalogue information by preserving memories, which has allowed Ishtass and his followers to share knowledge across generations of Lizard Men. As the Abyss has fallen deeper into ruin and becomes threatened by otherworldly forces, you will need to harness the power of the Memora to share what you've learned.

This is where Resherak comes in:

Resherak, one of the descendants of Ishtass's teachings and one of the rare Gray Lizard Men, is the Keeper of the Memoreum in Marcaul. The Lizard Man society is built off of shared knowledge, and Marcaul has become a hub where trade and the exchange of knowledge is highly encouraged. Resherak will reward you for sharing Memora of your traversals into the Abyss, and can allow you to access Memora across time and space to peek into the tactics of previous (and future) adventurers.


Wednesday - May 23, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - E3 Judges Day & Fire Arrows

by Silver, 03:08

A new update for Underworld Ascendant.

May 21 Weekly Update - E3 Judge's Day and Fire Arrows!

Walter and Joe are finally back from the Pre-E3 Judge's Day presentation we had last Wednesday, and things are looking positive! We were honored and excited to see several judges actually return to play the game after hours and some even challenged each other to improve. ("I finished the level in 20 minutes!" "Okay, but I played for forty minutes, unlocked way more Memora than you and already started investing in these skills. So I can fly now." "WHAT?!?!?! I want to try that...")

On the dev side, Chris M is back from his vacation in Hawaii, and we're back to working on optimization and tightening up the levels you'll see for the Backer Alpha build. One of our awesome contract animators has also been improving our puppetmaster system for the AI, which has been leading to some really interesting environment interactions. (People tripping over crates you chuck at them in the dark is ALWAYS funny.) I believe we're also working on upgrading to Unity 2018 because there's a bug we've been struggling with for awhile that can apparently be remedied by upgrading, so while we have a breather, that's the first thing on Will's to-do list today.

Lots of big stuff in the works that we an't share about yet either, but once those are further along, you'll be the first to see it! ;)

Also, we finally got to share that .mp4 of using a fire arrow to set another object on fire!

Next up, flarechess is going on vacation next week and won't be back until June 4, so there may not be a very fulfilling weekly update on the 28th. :( HOPEFULLY, you'll all be able to forgive us, since we're planning to post some content this week AND the week she's out to tie you all over... also, look forward to June! We'll have another big announcement coming then :D

Sunday - April 29, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Reinventing the Genre

by Silver, 09:59

PCGamesN outlines the case for why Underworld Ascendant is reinventing the genre.

Underworld Ascendant opens with a problem: you must escape from a series of chambers armed with absolutely no weapons. This area is designed as an “un-training level,” with the intent of teaching you how important physical properties are.

“We found in testing that if you give people a sword early they want to solve everything with the sword,” Joe Fielder, game writer and director, says. Without a sword, you are forced to use your intellect, which is where Underworld Ascendant passes over the boundary between being an RPG and an immersive sim.


But, like with its swordless opening, Underworld Ascendant is doing immersive sims differently. The first return visit to the Stygian Abyss in over 25 years promises not only to remind us of how the Underworld games birthed this ambitious genre in the first place, but also demonstrate that you can do them without being hooked up to a publisher’s seemingly ceaseless cash flow.


Friday - April 27, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Training Level Video

by Silver, 15:07

A new video for Underworld Ascendant shows off the training level for the first time.


First look into the training level of Underworld Ascendant! The opening level is a series of rooms that can be solved in multiple different ways – with some level of experimentation and thought.
Wishlist Today

Tuesday - April 17, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Preview @ Gameinformer

by Hiddenx, 00:23

Gameinformer checked out Underworld Ascendant:

Underworld Ascendant

Choosing Your Own Path In The Abyss

Underworld Ascendant is a game that, for better or worse, has the chains of history shackled to it. The new immersive sim from OtherSide Entertainment is a spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld, a 1992 game by many of the same developers who were more than happy to explain that it is often considered the first ever first-person action game. With that kind of precedent, the kind of pressure Underworld Ascendant is under starts to take form, though the game definitely seems willing and able to hold that weight.

To say the gameplay in Underworld Ascendant is player-authored might be selling it short. When we talked to OtherSide Entertainment cofounder and immersive sim luminary Paul Neurath earlier this year, he emphasized a desire to take the immersive sim genre further beyond its limitations. Circumventing limitations is the underlying foundation of the genre, after all.


Thanks Farflame!

Sunday - April 15, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - New Trailer

by Silver, 10:43

As shared by 'you' a new trailer for Underworld Ascendant has been released.


Discover The Stygian Abyss! Underworld Ascendant’s newly released trailer gives fans a deeper look into the game’s deadly environment, featuring panoramic shots of dungeon-esque surroundings and bubbling magma – not to mention varying weapons and skill sets players will have at their disposal to cleverly best lurking creatures and overcome physics-based traps. Featuring in-game character, enigmatic advisor Cabirus (Stephen Russell - Thief) and the voice of rogish ally Aelita (Fryda Wolff - XCOM 2, Fallout 4) – it shows off unique gameplay in the highly interactive dungeon, The Stygian Abyss. Coming to Steam 2018


Saturday - March 31, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - SXSW Gaming Panel

by Hiddenx, 11:07

PC Gamer interviewed Underworld Ascendant devs at the 2018 SXSW Gaming Panel:

Exploring ‘Underworld Ascendant’ with PC Gamer


OtherSide Entertainment’s Paul Neurath and Warren Spector join PC Gamer to discuss the upcoming release of Underworld Ascendant at SXSW Gaming. Known for their critically acclaimed work on Ultima Underworld, System Shock and Deus Ex and their contributions to the founding of the ‘immersive sim’ genre of games, Paul and Warren will take the audience through a journey of the world of the new Stygian Abyss to showcase one of the most anticipated PC titles of 2018.

Thanks Farflame!

Friday - March 30, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Paul Neurath Interview

by Silver, 09:12

Gameinformer interviewed Paul Neurath about Underworld Ascendant and immersive sims in general.

Let's talk about the immersive sim genre. Obviously, people you have worked with like Harvey Smith have carried it forward with games like the Dishonored series. I'm assuming you've kept up with immersive sims over the years as they have evolved and grown in their many permutations. Where do you feel that genre is at right now and what do you see as the possibilities?
I'm actually slightly disappointed that it hasn't gone further. The immersive sim category has taken some steps forward, but given the 25 or so years span that the category has been around, it's not leaps and bounds. You see areas, like the BioShock series, really pushed the linear narrative development. Deus Ex and Dishonored push more the "I can play stealth-like, I can be a fighter, I can use magic" – the three-triad approach to different gameplay. Broadly speaking it's been more incremental than I would have anticipated. What I want to do and what the studio wants to do is really push it and experiment. When we talk Underworld Ascendant it's not a sequel. It's not a retro kind of game. There are fictional elements, some characters from the Ultima Underworld games, it's set in the same place – the Stygian Abyss. But in terms of gameplay, the thing we're most honoring, which is the legacy that those games were innovative and trying to break rules at the time. So we're doing the same thing now. We're trying to push and see what works and what doesn't work in the immersive sim space. That's something that has always motivated Warren and me – to break the rules and see what happens. The industry needs that.


Monday - March 26, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Interview

by Hiddenx, 20:34

Farflame spotted an interesting video-interview about Underworld Ascendant at Worthplaying:

'Underworld Ascendant' - New Screens & Trailer


Featuring interviews from writer/director Joe Fielder, studio director Warren Spector and founder Paul Neurath, the behind-the-scenes video offers insight into the creative inspiration behind the robust fantasy realm that is The Stygian Abyss.


Monday - March 12, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Weekly Update

by Silver, 23:22

On the Underworld Ascendant forums there was a weekly update posted which announced that the end of Alpha is near.

Hey everyone!

I almost forgot to post today since I had just made one last Friday... thank you for the reminder @Flug!

So the first is a Mac and Linux update, which I posted about in this thread.
Here's the quote:

Quote from: sluangkhot on Today at 09:52:57 AM

We'll probably have to generate new Steam keys and set up a new list on BackerKit so that any Mac and Linux users will receive a key from the correct list.

Speaking of which, I have an update!

So the good news is that we're able to make a Mac and Linux build! The bad news is that there's some startup issues due to using an older Unity version with some bugs we have to hammer out, and there's no audio in the build because our wwise license expired. (We were using wwise, an external audio system, back in August to handle our audio for the Windows pre-alpha build, but now that we're building after the expiration, there's no sound...)

So we're in an interesting position. Alpha should be finished within the next 2 months or so, and it may take us 1 month or longer to make the pre-alpha for Mac and Linux playable. (We're in the middle/close to end of an important milestone in the office, so we can't focus too many resources on the Mac and Linux builds, even with my eyes on it.) This part of porting takes the longest because Unity thinks the game can "run," but when we open the build on an actual Mac/Linux, we see a lot of minor compiling bugs that take away from the experience. (Long periods of black screen, non-animated assets, etc).

I really appreciate everyone's patience as we work this out. At some point, we may be open to asking some of you to act as "external testers" to make sure the Mac and Linux builds are running, if at all. We only have one artist outside of the office who owns a Mac, and one friend-of-the-office who owns a Linux, so testing opportunities have been tough to coordinate.

So I know what I'm doing this week :') I also mentioned that we're nearing the end of Alpha and getting everything to rough Alpha draft or better. This means ALL the systems are in, ALL the characters are in, ALL UI... etc. We spent so much time on the mechanics and physics that we're finally catching up on other systems and roughing those out. (I mentioned hunger, trade, quest system, and the hub system last time, I believe?)

Of all the levels we have finished, the one we've spent the most time on recently is the "Basic Training" area/"Tutorial" space. It's been really important to us to make sure that systems, controls, and paths are clear, since this will be an introduction to the game. A lot of amusing feedback has come up, as well as fascinating "shortcuts" that we've decided to keep in. (Without spoiling much, one example is that about half the office plays "aggressively" and the other half likes to play "craftily," which has led to different approaches to testing the level. "I didn't have any trouble with this part, I just shot the lever with the bow & arrows I found after breaking down a pantry door." "I  thought we had to trick the Skeleton into opening the door for us! Where did you find the bow?!")

Our status from last Friday hasn't changed much, but here's what you can look forward to:
1. Our SXSW panel will bring some new shots and a reveal that I know Joe and I are REALLY excited about. We just finished wrapping up the final cut for that teaser today, and we hope you'll all visit the panel if you're able to in person!
2. After SXSW, we'll be posting the first of a series of videos that we made in collaboration with 505 Games. I won't spoil what it is, but it's been fun to make!
3. I'm polishing up the first draft of the newsletter, which I'm aiming to get out by the end of next Friday! There's a lot of topics we still want to cover before release, so I'm still coordinating with Joe on what we want to focus on, especially after some of our reveals after SXSW.

After all this filming, I've also been gathering some footage of areas and bugs I've come across recently. I just posted one on social today, in case any of you missed it! (Also... how's the darkness?)

Build-wise, we're working on finishing up some "secret stuff" (*cough cough* MAGIC SYSTEM) and the usual pipeline of "make a level, throw in some characters, tweak the animations, refine combat, make sure the level feels RIGHT, and then throw the level off to art to do an art pass, followed by a narrative eye". The next milestone coming up is due by the 23rd, so we're really nailing what's going into the final game at this point.

On a BackerKit-note, those of you who have Figurine access will have your BackerKit locked down on the 30th! Don't forget!!

I'll also be reaching out to more backers soon regarding rewards that require your input, so I'm in the midst of juggling forms and outline for that too. (ex: Custom Tabard, Statues with Your Likeness, Lordly Abodes, etc) Should be coming in the next month, if not sooner? *fingers crossed that everything gets approved quickly*

FINAL NOTE, I'll be posting our updated UA logo (and OSE logo!) either today or tomorrow. Phew!! I think that's my entire plate for today.

Thursday - February 15, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - An Evolving Stygian Abyss

by Silver, 11:14

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.


Thursday - January 18, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Pax South 2018

by Silver, 07:16

Recently Otherside Entertainment attended PAX South 2018 and showed off Underworld Ascendant.


Return to the iconic Stygian Abyss with Industry Icons Paul Neurath and Warren Spector. Video features new gameplay footage debuted at PAX South 2018.


Interview with Ceo and Founder of Otherside Entertainment on their new highly anticipated game Underworld Ascendant.

Friday - January 12, 2018

Underworld Ascendant - Interview

by Hiddenx, 21:12

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?


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,


Community Manager

OtherSide Entertainment

Wednesday - December 20, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - End of Year Update

by Silver, 21:44

The end of year update for Underworld Ascendant.

December Development on Underworld Ascendant

On the development side, we've been focused on fine tuning tools to ensure we can easily test out a lot of features at once. For example, Tim Stellmach added a command-line to extinguish all fires in a scene so we can easily tell what things will look like to the player who goes wild with water arrows. (The command is "smokeybear".) This will help us check the design of our layouts for stealthy players and make sure that they can still "see" certain areas (or give us ideas on what we can hide in the darkness...)

What is this?! A huge pile of... apples?

...and of course, fine tuning goes hand in hand with creating lots of accidental bugs.

One of our favorite examples of this was discovering that if players plucked something from the environment, such as a simple apple, it would result in an infinite amount of that object in the player's inventory. It was fun to traverse the Abyss with infinite distracting projectiles that also doubled as food, but we quickly patched it out.

Another bug we had fun with was crates would damage anything that touched them. We had recently tweaked the crates so that they would damage people if a crate was dropped on them. However, the crates became "over-sensitive," and suddenly, the levels became an obstacle course filled with wooden landmines. The Abyss had never been more dangerous!

Animation has also been a big feature these past few weeks as we've been constantly bullying our test dummies to see how they will react in different situations. We want them to react in a multitude of ways, whether it's "chase you for a while and then give up to return to their regular post," or "keep their distance because they know you have a sword and can avoid you from the higher ground." Recently, skeletons have been sliding across the ground to chase players instead of running because they've discovered it's the optimal way to catch up. While it's hilarious and slightly intimidating, it'll be patched out after the holidays.

On Joe's side, he's been locked away this month working on fleshing out the bestiary, lore, and writing out Cabirus' script for Stephen Russell's VO work. Backers who pledged at the EXPLORER tier or above ($50+) will be able to see (and hear!) clips of Stephen Russell working behind the scenes in the "Making of Underworld Ascendant" backer reward, and perhaps we'll be able to share something in the near future...

We've had a lot of meetings coordinating with artists, musicians, and other designers to work on Underworld Ascendant, which has been very exciting. One of whom we can now proudly announce...


Wednesday - November 22, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - New Website

by Silver, 00:59

The latest newsletter for Underworld Ascendant shares details on deep slugs and announces a new website for the game.

The level is comprised of spaces that are interesting to explore and areas designed to provide a bevy of options for combat, stealth, magic, and interacting with the environment. One of the most fun things to interact with in the world so far is the Deep Slug, which we've mentioned a bit before, but haven't previously shown you up close.

It's an example of what we refer to as an "ambient" creature, which exist in the environment, don't attack on sight, and have useful behaviors that the player can exploit. In short, a tool or toy.

In the Deep Slug's case, it's a peaceful creature that avoids conflict and has a few different useful trails. You can bait it with its favorite foods and its trails will change depending which one it devours.

For instance, if you feed it the fruit of a Ripper (a terrible tree monster), it'll leave behind a flammable trail. Bait it into the patrol path of skeletons or near a wooden platform, apply fire, and enjoy!

If you feed it a Nether Caps? It leaves behind a trail of sight-blocking smoke. Beyond that, we're not saying.

It's not only fun to experiment with, it's often vital when dealing with groups of foes to difficult to tackle one-on-one.

And, it's kind of adorable. In a gross way.


Saturday - October 28, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - Interview

by Hiddenx, 06:05

TGG interviewed with OtherSide Entertainment’s Joe Fielder:

Underworld Ascendant interview with OtherSide Entertainment and 505 games

As you might remember, back in August it became publicly known that 505 Games is to publish the long-awaited fantasy rpg “Underworld Ascendant” for PC. Well, since I just happen to have grown up playing “Ultima Underworld” 1 and 2. I simply couldn’t resist the urge to do an interview with OtherSide Entertainment and 505 games about “Underworld Ascendant“. So, that’s exactly what I did =) And that resulted in us talking about everything from the old “Ultima Underworld” games, old memories and the plans for “Underworld Ascendant”.

So without further ado, please enjoy our interview with OtherSide Entertainment’s Joe Fielder.

Robin TGG
We always start off our interviews with having people introducing themselves to our readers. So please go ahead and do so =)

I’m Joe Fielder. Former game journalist, turned level designer, producer, and writer. I’ve worked on games like BioShock Infinite, The Flame in the Flood, BOOM BLOX, and [redacted]. I’m the game director and writer of Underworld Ascendant.

Robin TGG
Would you be so kind and explain what “Underworld Ascendant” is all about? (the story, etc.) And how, when, where and why did the project came to be?

Underworld Ascendant is a first-person, emergent RPG, where the player is plucked from modern-day earth and dropped into a deeply-immersive, fantasy world, full of conflict and intrigue.

The game takes place in The Stygian Abyss, an incredibly dangerous, underground environment on the borders of The Underworld. It’s a place where life shouldn’t exist. And without your help, it won’t much longer.

You may have visited before, in fact.

Underworld Ascendant’s the modern follow-up to Looking Glass’ Ultima Underworld series, which has been credited with inventing the “immersive sim” genre and influenced developers of such games as System Shock, Deus Ex, BioShock, Thief, Fallout 4, Skyrim… Even Minecraft.

It’s our goal to follow-up on Looking Glass’ legacy of innovation, to make a game takes the immersive sim forward in some intriguing, new ways.

The game promotes experimentation and rewards creativity using The Improvisation Engine, a series of interwoven systems that oversee and direct the player experience to keep the game challenging and fun.

As far as how it originally came together? Paul Neurath, who co-founded Looking Glass, helped create the Immersive Sim, and designed the opening levels of Ultima Underworld, started OtherSide a few years back with the intent to bring back classic series like Ultima Underworld, System Shock, and more. Not long after, Underworld Ascendant had a successful Kickstarter and recently attracted the attention of 505 Games.


Thanks Farflame!

Monday - October 02, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - The Ecology

by Silver, 23:35

The latest from Underworld Ascendant describes how the ecology is coming together.


We knew that Underworld Ascendant needed to be designed as an interactive world, but also one that lived and breathed when the player wasn't around. Everything from the lighting to the creatures' animations are all being considered as integral to Ascendant's world-building.

One element where this immersive ecology has been coming online is mana, which our lead designer Tim Stellmach describes as, "Not only is it the resource used to cast spells, it is actually concentrated in packets in the material world. Characters recover mana by touching and consuming these invisible free-floating bits of mana in the air."

How does that affect the world? The entire in-game ecology is based around it. Wisps - benign, ethereal creatures who float throughout The Stygian Abyss - feeding on mana in the environment and excrete "sunlight" (infrared, ultraviolet, and visible light).
They fill the role of "the sun" for the flora and fauna in The Stygian Abyss, they are an essential part of the underground ecosystem.

Meanwhile, undead creatures, rather than being seen as capital "E" evil, have a parasitic relationship with mana, devouring it to ambulate in a sad parody of life and giving nothing in return.

Another recent aspect of this in-game? This "sunlight" leads to flora, which is eaten by various fauna, like our "ambient" creatures, who generally mind their own business in the world, but have interesting behaviors that the player can exploit to their advantage.

Our current favorite ambient creature is the Deep Slug, who can be baited with certain types of food and leaves useful effects in its wake, like a flammable slime trail. Toss its favorite food into the patrol path of a few enemies or by a wooden support of an archer tower, add fire, and enjoy. (Feed it something else interesting? And discover the results...)

We recently peppered The Umbral Mire area of the Underswamp with Deep Slugs, loaded the level up, and soon came across a scene where we witnessed a few careening by in distress, pursued by angry skeletons. We'll have more visuals to share on the Deep Slugs soon!

We'll definitely need to tune interactions between different creatures, but it's nice to see the ecology starting to take hold.


Friday - August 18, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - 505 Games is Publisher

by Silver, 13:25

Otherside Entertainment announced that Underworld Ascendant will be published by 505 Games. There is a development update about Fort Evidius which shows off some screenshots here and a press release about the publishing deal also.



Indie Publisher Partners with the Talented Team Behind Iconic Underworld Franchise to Bring Next Generation of Their Esteemed Series to Fans Worldwide

CALABASAS, Calif. - Aug. 17, 2017 - 505 Games, a subsidiary of Digital Bros. S.p.A., announced today a partnership with development studio OtherSide Entertainment to publish fantasy RPG Underworld Ascendant, the next-generation sequel to the landmark Underworld franchise. The deeply experienced team at OtherSide studio - helmed by industry legends Paul Neurath (Ultima Underworld, Thief) and Warren Spector (Deus Ex, Epic Mickey) - has worked on many leading game franchises, which collectively garnered more than 200 awards and earned over $3 billion in revenues. Their current project, Underworld Ascendant, was first revealed on Kickstarter, where fans clamoring for the return of the storied masterpiece raised more than $850,000 for its creation.

"It's another big moment for 505 Games, having the opportunity to partner with this talented team on such an iconic brand," said Neil Ralley, president of 505 Games. "Ultima Underworld is among the greatest PC RPGs ever made, and we look forward to what Paul, Warren and their team will accomplish with the next generation of the franchise."

Sunday - August 13, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - Pre-Alpha Video

by Silver, 08:12

@Mr Lilac The pre-alpha has been released for play testing of Underworld Ascendant.


Exploring the new build of Underworld Ascendant, featuring Lizardmen, gravity games and a complete lack of understanding of the game's systems!

Friday - August 04, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - All About Interactivity

by Silver, 13:16

The latest Underworld Ascendant update describes its progress creating and transforming the world to make it an interactive playground.

Hello backers,

Joe Fielder, Underworld Ascendant's game director and writer, here again with the latest update straight from the development team.

The last month's been a pretty exciting time at OtherSide, because we've been busy...

Transforming the World Into an Interactive Playground

As you know, we recently stood up the core tenets of combat, stealth, and magic in an early area of the game called The Challenge of Ishtass. There, the player is first introduced to the array of choices available to them with The Improvisation Engine. We set the challenge, the solution is up to you, and we reward creativity.

Our recent milestone has been a key next step in inspiring and supporting player experimentation: turning the world into an interactive playground. The idea is that the systems that simulate this underground realm make sense. A wooden door can be burned down or chopped down, water can put out torches, physics act in logical fashion, and so on. So, when the player tests something out, they get expected results.

At its heart, this work has been about giving the player an abundance of options on how to equip their character and solve the challenge. We've expanded the playable area and added new skills and interactive elements. It's intentionally designed to be replayed. We want players to experiment with different solutions and find what works best for them.

In terms of visuals, it demonstrates our visual style done to a fair extent of polish and now includes an initial pass at UI elements, but we will continue to iterate further on both during development. Current creature animations are not representative of the game's visual target. This an important area we feel deserving of concentrated effort and we'll be locking our sights on it in subsequent milestones. Also, usability of items, skills and interactive elements is another area that we'll continue to hone and polish.

The reason that getting these core elements working clearly and well is absolutely essential is because it unlocks the magic sense of discovery the player gets from combining different systems together.

External playtesting is reliably eye-opening in this regard. For the choices people don't make, as much as the ones they do. Teaching players that they have choice (like, no, seriously, here are your tools, surprise us), after decades of games where they haven't, is a fun, interesting challenge.

To explain, first let's take a look at a few recent additions to the game world...

Wednesday - April 26, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - Progress Report

by Silver, 03:44

Underworld Ascendant progress report for April.

Underworld Ascendant Progress Report

The last few months have been very productive and it's clear we're onto something. There's much left to do, but we're making steady progress, and tapping into player-authored gameplay in exciting new ways.

That all feels particularly salient right now, since last month marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Ultima Underworld's release - an event which, by some accounts, is regarded as the birth of the "immersive sim."

Our goal is to create a logical, deeply interactive world where the player is inspired to tap into their creativity and enjoy the magic of experimentation.

Last month, we started out testing the latest build of The Challenge of Ishtass with our System Shock 3 and VR teams. As often happens with initial rounds of testing, it was immediately clear that while we knew how you could have fun in the game, it wasn't readily apparent to the uninitiated player. Since our goal has been for the player to be able to dive right in and quickly start experimenting and have fun, that was vital for us to nail. That meant readability and player feedback for picking up objects, the nuances of melee and ranged combat, and more.

From there, we did five more rounds of testing (from casual players to the Boston Indie Games Group, from devs at The Molasses Flood to Warren Spector), each time getting a little closer. The team was super focused and made solid progress each day, so we'd iterate, test, review, and repeat.

Over time, it became apparent that spells were where people were having the most fun, but they still weren't clear exactly on how they worked so they couldn't get to the more improvisational possibilities using combinations.

We put solving that problem squarely on lead designer Tim (Thief, System Shock) Stellmach's plate. It was a tough challenge, but within a few days he had the featured spells working clearly and reliably, so players could really start tapping into their creativity.

It was a pretty intense few weeks, but, whew!, it was fun. It's great working with a team of folks who have such a wealth of experience and can sort difficult issues in short order. There are still many hurdles left for us with Underworld Ascendant, but we came out of our recent milestone with a lot of confidence that the team can tackle any problem that comes our way.

When do you get to play? Next month we'll be announcing plans for rolling out the build to backers, after we complete another round adding more interactable objects and improvisational elements to the world.

We can't wait to hear what you think and see what unique, creative solutions you come up with. In the meantime, expect new shots and video soon...

A Peek at Combat, Stealth, & Magic

We don't want to spoil the fun of discovery in The Challenge of Ishtass, but we can tell you that you'll be presented with a bevy of options for combat, stealth, and magic.

Here are a few:

  • The player can use a LONG SWORD to perform a light quick chop, a slow heavy swing that can damage multiple opponents, and parry to deflect oncoming attacks. All are useful, because while the LIZARD MEN have clear tells for their attacks, they're tough and engage in group combat.
  • Using a LONG BOW, the player can launch FLINT ARROWS to attack or distract enemies or WATER ARROWS to put out torches. The Lizard Men use STUN ARROWS to momentarily stop the player in his or her tracks, which can be particularly troubling while you're attempting to engage in swordplay or escape... the MIND CRIPPLER
  • Some of the available skills include HEAVE to pick up and throw heavy objects (which can provide cover for projectiles, interrupt attacks, and damage foes), STEALTH STEP when crouched, STEALTH SIGHT to gauge visibility based off light levels, or MAGIC SIGHT to view magic-recharging streams of mana.
  • One of the more fun featured spells is GRAVITATE, which allows the player to raise objects and assemble them into useful shapes, like a bridge to cross a chasm. (We've also seen players manage to weaponize it in a number of interesting ways...)

The Challenge of Ishtass is where we first introduce player choice in the game, where you learn there's not a "right" selection of skills, ability, and equipment, only "yours." And that you must then use your wits to apply those selections with opportunities on the battlefield, in order to stack the deck against difficult opponents.

Thursday - March 23, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - A New Look

by Silver, 08:21

The latest Stygian Sentinel newsletter shows us the graphical improvements being made to Underworld Ascendant.

As you know, we've been focusing our efforts on The Challenge of Ishtass, where the player is first introduced to the bevy of choices available to them with Underworld Ascendant‘s player-authored Improvisation Engine gameplay.

We're happy to report that we've progressed into the bug-fixing and polish phase. The team has been feverishly addressing gameplay feedback by Paul and Warren. It's been at times challenging work, but we've been making tangible progress on combat, stealth, magic, AI, and more.

A New Look at Underworld Ascendant

We're deep in the thick of it all, so for this month's update we have a much-requested look at our art director Nate (BioShock, The Last of Us) Wells' latest headway on upping our visual bar.

The areas pictured below are still receiving additional polish, lighting, and VFX passes, but we hope you'll agree that they've come far since we first showed them off.

Thursday - February 23, 2017

Underworld Ascendant - The Evolution of Lizard Men

by Silver, 23:56

Underworld Ascendants latest update focuses on the evolution of lizard men from look to sound with interviews from the people responsible for both.

The Evolution of the Lizard Men - Part 1: The Look

We recently spoke with character artist Jed (BioShock, Rock Band) Wahl about his current modeling work on Underworld Ascendant's Lizard Men, his early efforts on the BioShock series, and how he got his start.

What originally got you into modeling for games?

I started making digital models at the MIT Media Lab, creating characters for interactive installations designed by graduate students. I got interested in pursuing 3d modeling professionally after participating in some contests held by the late, great Paul Steed at the website Polycount. Paul gave me a lot of encouragement and his book on using 3d Studio Max was a real godsend for me. I really owe that guy a lot.

What was your first game?

My first shipped game was Irrational's Swat 4, working as an environmental modeler. My favorite part about that project was coming up with the theme and decor of the serial killer's lair.

Did we hear correctly that you did all the character models for BioShock? Which was your favorite to work on?

I sculpted the high and lowpoly models for most of the characters, including the Splicers, the Bouncer, Little Sister, Andrew Ryan, Atlas, and the player hands.

My fav is definitely the Bouncer, designed by our own art director Nate Wells. As soon as we saw his ortho design, we felt it could become an iconic character.

My first pro character model ever was an early Splicer concept, also by Nate. This was before programs like Zbrush, so he was done using old-school box modeling methods in 3ds Max.

Something I wish we'd had time to put into the game involved rare Little Sisters dressed in outfits raided from an abandoned costume shop. Their expressions would be modded to suit their pretend identity; a cowgirl Sister could have referred to her Big Daddy as "Sheriff," while a space cadet could call him "Commander," for example. It would have been a fun way to add variety to the Sisters, but there was simply no time in the schedule to make them.

Can you walk us through the process of modeling the Lizard Man for Underworld Ascendant?

Since this was the first sentient character we've designed for the game, there was a lot of iteration and experimentation involved. We also wanted to find a good middle ground between the two major concepts that we'd shown in the backer poll some time ago: a design that was overtly lizard-like while also having the potential to appear intelligent and civilized.

Nate explored concepts via clay and I made a series of quick rough models in Zbrush that explored different proportions and features. A great tool during this process was Adobe's auto rigging tool Mixamo, which it allowed me to take these simple models and quickly get them moving so I could evaluate how their silhouettes looked in a variety of actions. I've included a small sampling of these experiments here, starting with a version inspired by our Blue Lizardman from the poll. From there we explored making him less chameleon and more iguana based, and you can see how he evolves from a more whimsical race to one with a build that can demonstrate equal amounts of strength, agility, and nobility.

Early modeling explorations by Jed

Once Nate was happy with the overall forms of the lizardman, he did a drawover of the model's face to define the kind of scale treatment he was looking for.

From there I refined the hipoly model in Zbrush. This is also one of our first characters done in the "authored style," so there's a lot of experimentation involved at this stage as well.

I generally approach it stylistically as though I'm making a fantasy miniature (which I've sculpted about two hundred of while working for the board game company Greenbrier Games), but still allowing for more detail that I know would end up being lost on a 28mm scale figure.

Low poly renders of the Lizard Man

I created a low poly model from that using the Freeform tool in 3dsMax. His polycount is about 18k, a far cry from the 4-6 thousand used in Bioshock. He was UV mapped in 3dsMax and his normal maps were projected in Knald. From there, I began texturing in Substance Painter.

Next time, we'll show the final pass at the Lizard Man, plus give a new peek at the Mind Crippler. Anything you want to tell fans about it?

The Mind Crippler has been great fun. It's much more bizarre and otherworldly than what I usually get to make. I've always loved/been repulsed by brain-themed creatures... One of my favorite toys as a kid was a cheap PVC figure of a Grell from Dungeons & Dragons. Working on this feels like a fun homage to that thing.

Sunday - December 11, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - Latest News

by Hiddenx, 21:30

Farflame spotted two December updates for Underworld Acendant -

UPDATE: Next Steps for Underworld Ascendant & More

Next Steps for Underworld Ascendant

Our current efforts on Underworld Ascendant are focused on creating a tight, polished experience that demonstrates its core distinctive gameplay.

As you know, Underworld Ascendant takes place in a deep, dark subterranean realm, set into the caldera of a volcano. Life exists there – improbably – but, there are sights of wonder.

An ancient map depicting the eight layers of The Stygian Abyss.

One  of them is Marcaul, a Tangiers-like neutral zone, a key nexus point for the player throughout the game. As you start our current level, you glimpse it in the distance, a beautiful vista, but are barred from entry.The inhabitants there want you to prove yourself first — before they’ll allow you inside. You’re sent to perform The Challenge of Ishtass in the caves below.

UPDATE: About Underworld Overlord


OtherSide Entertainment™ is proud to announce today’s release of Underworld Overlord™, an innovative action/strategy hybrid, made exclusively for Daydream, Google’s high quality, mobile VR platform.

“Be the bad guy” as a newly-undead evil wizard and protect your Virtual Reality (VR) dungeon realm against an onslaught of brazen adventurers. Place deadly traps, cast powerful spells, and command horrible monsters to thwart these so-called “heroes” and preserve your subterranean rule.

“We’ve been thrilled to work closely with Google to create Underworld Overlord as a ground-up,  original game for the Daydream,” says OtherSide Entertainment CEO and Creative Director, Paul Neurath.

“We designed it for maximum mobile-VR comfort and accessibility, without compromising a deep gameplay experience,” says Neurath. “The motion controller acts as your wizard’s hand and feels really intuitive. Underworld Overlord is made for and enhanced by VR, a mix of tower defense and ‘god game’.”


Wednesday - November 02, 2016

Underworld - Game Delayed & Prototype February

by Silver, 03:48

The latest development blog for Underworld Ascendant has some expected news for backers. The game was originally planned for a November 2016 release but has been delayed. There is instead a plan for a prototype February and the team at Otherside Entertainment have committed to developing the 'Necropolis of The Ancients' even through the goal hasn't been met.

A Special Word from OtherSide's Paul Neurath

It probably comes as no surprise, but it's taking longer than we'd hoped for Underworld Ascendant to come together. The release will extend beyond the original November 2016 date.

Our goal is to make a game that's not only wonderfully fun and super polished, but also genuinely innovative. We're pushing hard on the Improvisation Engine, going deep with making The Stygian Abyss feel like a living and breathing dynamic environment, on achieving the subtle interplay with the Faction politics, and more.

Innovating is hard work, and not an entirely predictable process. The team learned this lesson on the original Underworlds, and with Thief: The Dark Project and other games that pushed the envelope. We do feel that taking the time to make the game great is the right call.

Before we will be ready to share an updated release date, we want to get over the hump on the key innovations and know that they are working smoothly. In February, we expect to share a new Prototype build with Backers that shows much progress.

We are hugely appreciative of your patience and support, and in being part of seeing this game come to life.

A Rewarding Announcement

To thank our fans for their patience as we work to ensure Underworld Ascendant is everything it can be, we're providing two gifts...

First off, we've gone ahead and unlocked the current Stretch Goal for The Necropolis of The Ancients, a foreboding lower level location where the game's most powerful Undead, hidden secrets, and rarest arcane treasure can be found.


An Ecology Lesson of Underworld Ascendant's The Stygian Abyss

Since the start, we've discussed how The Stygian Abyss will be its own character. We're striving to create a world that's fascinating to explore, a place where you want to unearth every last secret and that remains constantly full of surprises.

Will O Wisps are harmless & helpful.

Part of that is narrative, but in Underworld Ascendant, the story is meant to always work in support of gameplay systems.

For instance, the Will O Wisp (seen left) is a creature that acts as "the sun" in The Underworld. It ingests Mana and excretes light, so is an absolutely key part of the subterranean ecology.

Without it, and the incursion of foreign environments through dimensional gateways, The Stygian Abyss would be a completely desolate place where life wouldn't exist.

But the presence of these factors has led to a thriving ecology to exist underground, allowing for rich flora and fauna, as well as towns housed by the three Factions (the Dwarves, Deep Elves, and Shamblers), Lizard Men, and more.

At odds with this fragile habitat are The Undead, who drain Mana to ambulate in a sad parody of life. They're not necessarily "evil," but have a parasitic relationship with the environment, only taking and giving nothing back.

You've seen some of The Undead before and may have even fought a few in our Pre-Alpha Prototype, but we wanted to show you previously-unrevealed concept art of another: The Eidolon.

These floating spirits are part of the "Confounder" AI class, meaning that they enhance enemies or detract from the player in combat. In the case of the Eidolon, they attempt to keep their distance, using their abilities to raise fallen allies and convert the bodies of fallen foes into Undead.

Tuesday - September 27, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - Bestiary

by Silver, 06:17

The latest issue of The Stygian Sentinel for Underworld Ascendant looks at the games bestiary and announces some new hires at the developer.

A Look Inside the Underworld Ascendant Bestiary

As mentioned before, we're holding off on showing our work on the Underworld Ascendant Vertical Slice until its far along and polished. In the meantime, we thought you'd be interested in a peek under the hood at the design work involved.

When you interact with a denizen of The Stygian Abyss in Underworld Ascendant, you're encountering many hours of work involved in bringing it to life... Modeling, animation, AI, and -- what we'll cover a bit today -- a core set of underlying design principles that dictate its role in the game.

The inhabitants come in three main forms:

CATALYSTS - Beings who possess robust behaviors, advanced combat tactics, and, if intelligent, can converse, trade, or engage with the player. (Ex: The Lizard Men.)
CONFOUNDERS - Creatures who enhance or detract in combat, like The Wailing Haunt or Lich, or act as environmental hazards, like The Ripper or Lurker.
COLLABORATORS - Inhabitants with useful behaviors that the player can exploit, like the Earth Clot, a bulky, gelatinous mass that can be prodded down hallways to break traps or act as cover.

One of the core design principles of Underworld Ascendant is to educate the player about the rules of the simulated dungeon world without overt hand-holding. The goal of "teaching players to teach themselves" underlies the game's level design, narrative, and even the combat design.

For instance, there are four tiers of CATALYSTS, whose roles in combat...

TIER 1 - Teach the player the basic moves & skills of the CATALYST.
TIER 2 - Make sure the player is paying attention
TIER 3 - Challenge the player.
TIER 4 - Provide a fight to remember.

In the Vertical Slice, the player will not only face creatures from each category, he/she will find that a mix or an entrant from a higher tier can make for a much different encounter.

Tuesday - June 07, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - June Update

by Silver, 10:53

Underworld Ascendant have updated their blog and are now focused on producing a vertical slice. They also announce a third project for Google Daydream Underworld Overlord.

Next stop? Vertical Slice!

We've completed test levels and our Pre-Alpha Prototype. We've proven out our magic system, our movement system, our art style, and the basics of combat.

Over the course of building the latest few areas, we've learned what works, what doesn't, and what still needs further experimentation to perfect. There's still refinement on the art style and a shift to more economical ways of building, using materials, and streamlining the development pipeline.

But, now? We can finally focus on building The Stygian Abyss. Not just a slice or a corner, but one of the actual levels.

We decided for our Vertical Slice (aka "a section of the game that spotlights all major elements"), we'd focus on Level 2, our second smallest level.

Want a peek at some of the key locations that Level 2 will feature?

Here's a one-line description of Marcaul:

"A Tangiers-like neutral zone, this settlement features areas that represent all three major Factions."

We'd love to see what you pick up from just that simple sentence.


What? A third project?! Are these OtherSide folks crazy? Well, yes. We are a bit nuts...
We're very excited to announce Underworld Overlord, an exclusive title for Google Daydream.

Blending proven tower defense and "god game" simulation mechanics, Underworld Overlord immerses players in an incredible VR setting steeped in the fantastical Underworld mythos.

In it, the player commands a dungeon full of monsters, traps, and treasure, during an onslaught of so-called 'heroic' adventurers. Action takes place from a virtual 'puppeteer's' perspective as the player pulls the strings, directs forces, and builds defenses in a dynamic VR environment.

As our creative director Paul Neurath puts it, "The Underworld franchise has a rich history of pioneering immersive video games, so bringing the franchise to VR is a natural fit."

It's a stand-alone game, developed by a team of VR and Android experts and specifically tailored to the capabilities of the Daydream platform, but it connects to Underworld Ascendant, sharing creatures, characters, and lore.

Tuesday - May 17, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - May Update

by Silver, 03:03

In this update Otherside Entertainment write about the reaction to the Pre-Alpha gameplay demo of Underworld Ascendant.

It's been great seeing the reactions to this latest prototype build - especially comments from folks who weren't so sure about the game's new "Authored Look," but are on-board now that they've seen it up-close and in action.

It's always nerve-wracking having your work go out to the public. As developers, we're so close to the project that sometimes we can't be completely objective. That's one of the reasons we've decided to be so open with the development progress. Your feedback has greatly helped us to refine the game as we roll forward. Many thanks!


A few questions/comments from the forums:

"The constant head bob is annoying." - nodezsh

Yep. Tim's already fixed the headbobbing. (Technically, it's still there... just slowed down by a factor of 1000.) It's worth noting that movement in general will be a work-in-progress for some time. Since it's the spine of any first-person game, it takes a lot of tinkering to get just right.

"It still feels like I would prefer some way to target my spells." - Jenuall

Non-targeted spells are in there on-purpose right now. We plan on having another rune modifier for spells, one of which would be targeting. The idea is that a novice is tapping into the great power of spellcasting and doesn't yet have the skill to correctly harness the power. They can cast the spell, but it is still a bit 'wild.'

Later on, if the player puts skill into casting, they become more and more refined and controllable. It's like learning how to do anything... At first, you might be able to throw a ball. With practice, you can hit a target with it.

"I was disappointed that hurling a pile of crates at the strong skeleton using the move air spell didn't knock it off the ledge... or even slow it down at all. Also that throwing swords did nothing." -Vanyelxp5

This is one of the features that didn't make it in. Yes, thrown objects will do damage. Thrown swords might become a skill. (Think "Long Distance Sword Impale of Awesome.")

Some more general responses to common observations...

"Collision/getting hung up on objects"

That will be fixed soon. Stealth also wasn't supported. (Though 'crouch makes you invisible' might be in the build.)

Friday - April 29, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - Gameplay Sneak Peak

by Silver, 03:36

IGN shows us a sneak peak of Underworld Ascendants gameplay.


We walk through a test level of the Ultima Underworld successor with art director Nate Wells (of Uncharted fame).

Tuesday - April 26, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - Pre-Alpha Prototype Soon

by Silver, 11:23

From the Stygian Sentinel Newsletter #23


It's true. You learn much going back and refining what you have already done. Over the past several weeks, we've been working hard to bring the Improvisation Engine's player-driven gameplay into a level crafted in game's new "Authored Look."
An early peek at first-person combat in Underworld Ascendant.
Our current "Pre-Alpha Prototype" also includes:

  • Both spells and swordplay are available.
  • Objects in the world are reacting to fire, air, earth, and plant spells, allowing for fun experimentation.
  • New collectables, loot, and runes are hidden throughout the map, often in randomized places. (Some are deviously hard to get to, but we have faith in your abilities.)

Since last month's screenshots showing of the game's new "Authored Look," we've made the space a bit darker and moodier and also added areas that are reminiscent of a classic 10×10 corridor dungeon crawl to show the contrast between an open space and a more intimate area. The shader has been tweaked, the reflectivity map has been updated, and much more.


Also, while we've concentrated on the spell system and laying the groundwork on combat, there's one more elusive skillset that we haven't talked too much about... Something particularly near and dear to Tim and I's heart.

Yep... Stealth.

We won't be doing a 1:1 version of LookingGlass' Thief: The Dark Project, but will provide stealth skills that let you short-circuit encounters through avoidance, escape, and trickery. For a thief, the success or failure of a melee encounter is often determined by how it begins. Preparation is hugely important. Stealth skills often call for careful preparation to take advantage of specific circumstances, requiring you to plan ahead in order to make your abilities count.

Of course, AI is a big part of making stealth gameplay work. Tim has already created the basic groundwork of the system, which is following pretty closely the original Thief model: speed matters, light matters, and sound is also important. Many baseline beasties might react like the guards in Thief, but you never know if some of the other fantastic creatures in this world will be fooled by your skulking ways.

What aspects of stealth gameplay do you like most? Share with our devs and other fans on our forums.

Monday - April 04, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - Art Style

by Hiddenx, 21:25

PC Gamer reports that the art style of Underworld Ascendant will be more whimsical than gritty realistic:

Underworld Ascendant studio reveals "authored look" art style

“There’s a ‘reality bug’ going around in TV, film, and games, where fantasy has become inundated by gritty photo-realism,” Nate Wells, the art director at Underworld Ascendant studio OtherSide Entertainment, said in a new update on the game's progress. “With Underworld Ascendant, I want to bring back more whimsy and less brooding.”

To do that, the studio is using what it calls an “authored look” for Underworld Ascendant, which aims to recreate the “fantastical feel” of tabletop gaming with miniatures. “I asked myself, ‘What if the world bore the authorship of a tabletop game?’” Wells said. “Think of the old lead figures and miniature play fields… Everything appears hand-crafted, as if sculpted by an artist, with a genuine sense of levity and naiveté to the art.”


Sunday - April 03, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - Warren Spector Interview

by Hiddenx, 01:08

David Barr Kirtley interviewed Warren Spector about old games and his work on the upcoming RPGs Underworld Ascendant and System Shock 3:

Warren Spector Interview


Thanks Couch!

Tuesday - March 29, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - 925k Stretch Goal

by Silver, 22:34

Underworld Ascendant has reached the $925k stretch goal which unlocks the Wailing Haunt. The next goal for the game is the Necropolis of the Ancients at $950k.

Remember this (wonderfully) horrible, undead creature?


wailing haunt

Here's a quick refresher:

Wailing Haunts are spectral creatures who possess a piercing cry that can deafen the player and attract other undead. While blind in the conventional sense, they can sense the motion of the living and are drawn to it. If the player remains absolutely still, they may pass right by unawares, but those who run will find a shrieking specter close on their heels.


$950,000 Reward Tier - The Necropolis of the Ancients

Deep in the eldritch darkness of The Stygian Abyss lies the foreboding Necropolis of the Ancients. Teaming with the restless dead and wandering spirits of a long-forgotten people who once lived and thrived in The Underworld, these catacombs pulsate with malevolent intent for those who still cling to life.

For those unfrightened by the cool dry grasp of the grave, there are untold secrets to uncover in this decrepit place. Hidden deep behind the Necropolis' crumbling walls and below its dusty floors lies the tragic history of its once-great residents, crying out in warning to the rest of The Underworld.

Who dares to hear what it says?

Tuesday - March 15, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - Development Update

by Hiddenx, 19:44

Eye spotted a short progress report for Underworld Ascendant:


Our previous update focused mainly on the newest addition to the OtherSide crew, the one-and-only Warren Spector. This time, we thought we'd dig into what the team's been focusing on recently on Underworld Ascendant.

In short, A LOT!

We're making steady progress on combat swordplay; our first creature in our art director Nate Wells' new "authored look" is in-game and actively engaging the player; and further refinements and learning are being made on level design.

All of this will go into a playable build that we'll share with Backers who have Prototype Access in April. (If you haven't gotten Prototype Access yet, you can do so here.)


Tuesday - February 02, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - Prototype Updated

by Silver, 00:33

The prototype for Underworld Ascendant is getting an update. This means a change in the movement and combat system with the visual look getting an update too.

On Movement:

When a game has great movement controls, like the old Id games Doom and Quake, they become an extension of the player. No thought is needed for basic navigation, and it opens up for players to become more creative and skilled at getting around the world. In recent memory Mirror's Edge did this especially well. The Parkour skills chain together so beautifully and when you master the game it is like a ballet moving around the game world.

Tim and Will have put together the bones we can build on for a robust movement system. They have decided - at least for the moment- to have full body awareness. This means that the body of the player can be seen by the player, and it also reacts like any other physical object in the world. Momentum matters. Run faster you jump further. Chain jumps together you keep your momentum going, stop for a second and your momentum is lost. Jumping wall to wall if you pause you start sliding down the side of the wall. Sliding down a slope is fast, running up a slope is slower than on a flat plane.

Just these motions give us some pretty interesting ways of navigating the environment...

On Combat:

Second, we've stood up the beginnings of combat. There are 3 attacks so far: a light swing, an overhead swing and a stab. There is a bad guy wandering about who just wants to be hit.

...but with more robust tactics, movement and use of the 3D space than was technically possible in the original games. Enemies with have 'tells' so the player can learn to react to them properly. We are still looking at other complexities like locational damage, status effects, dodging and blocking. How complex we push the AI in combat is being experimented with, but we expect them to have options, not just 'ARRGH kill the player' and 'oh no I'm hurt! Run away'. If they have spells they will use them, if they are carrying a magic weapon it will be equipped.

The new look:


classic underworld staircase

Tuesday - January 12, 2016

Underworld Ascendant - New Years Update

by Silver, 00:59

The latest update  for Underworld Ascendant details what they have been working on and what to expect from the coming year. There has also been a kickstarter update that reviews 2015s accomplishments.

In 2015, we were successful at our first Kickstarter, assembling the core team, and erecting all the scaffolding that games are built upon. The groundwork for the key systems are in place: character building, magic, movement, and combat. We've also tackled the pre-production for the narrative and key characters, the three factions and denizens of the deep you'll encounter, the lay of the Stygian Abyss, and the other fantasy world design elements that go into The Underworld.


As the New Year begins, we're busy making the transition to full production. The focus shifts to building out all the game play elements. Right now, we're barreling along on two tracks: art and design.


                                I think I had this guy as a miniature in 1986.

The other track is art. After Nate Wells joined us as Studio Art Director late last year, we revisited the look for the game and decided to evolve to something that would be more distinctive. Something that captured the vibe of an old school dungeon crawl, but at the same time brought something new to the genre. Nate arrived at what he terms an "authored" art style, where The Stygian Abyss looks as if it were crafted by mages of yore who more-or-less terraformed the environment by their mighty mystical hands. The art team is busy working on the evolved look. A couple of sneak peeks are shown here, but we should have a playable build with the new look to share soon enough.



In Other News


We decided to hold back the second round of updating the Prototype build until today, in order to make sure Steam was in a good place after the recent snafu. It should be updated and ready to try out by the time you read this. Remember, if you haven't gotten access to the Prototype, you get it via an Add-On on BackerKit. To learn more details, go HERE.

Sunday - December 27, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Prototype Released

by Aubrielle, 06:47

Backers now have exclusive access to a prototype build of Underworld Ascendant.  You can still get in on it if you want.

Thanks, Couch.

Recently, OtherSide Entertainment has been in the news for another announcement they made, that they are working on System Shock 3. However in that hoopla, what may be forgotten is that they are also working on another title that they crowdfunded, a little thing they called Underworld Ascendant. Underworld Ascendant is a sequel to the Ultima Underworld games that some of their staff created back in the 90s, and raised over $860k back in February of this year. Unlike many similar circumstances, OtherSide owns the rights to the Underworld series, and can use assets and elements from them as long as they do not pertain to the Ultima license, meaning it is a true sequel and not just a spiritual successor. Work on Underworld Ascendant has been progressing, with some backers getting early access to a prototype of it, which OtherSide is now opening up to more backers if they want to join in. 

There is a bit of a catch there thought. While the Prototype is available to all backers at the Pioneer ($20) level or above, it is a bit of a weird Add-On. Those who have backed can, via Backerkit, purchase the Prototype Access as an Add-On and be able to play it, but they’ll also earn $5 coupon towards a future pledge or other Add-On. Essentially with that you can pick up some of the $5 Add-Ons or if you wish to pledge more, and can pick up things like other copies of the game. At the $5 level, the available options are a digital copy of the Underworld Ascendant novel by Tracy Hickman, a Dark Elf Kinsman Badge (A crossover item with Shroud of the Avatar), or a Jabbering Bertha, another crossover item with Shroud of the AvatarThis is in addition of course, to the Prototype Access, which is a special early pre-alpha build. Do note, that the coupon expires March 31st, 2016.

More information.

Source: TechRaptor

Wednesday - December 23, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Combat Update

by Myrthos, 13:57

There is something to smash now in the current state of development of Underworld Ascendant.

The foray into combat has begun! We've got an internal Prototype where you can now smack things with... well, at the moment, a stone axe. Not glamorous, but does the blunt work.

As with the other game systems, our goal with combat is to give the player a range of interesting choices on how to approach a problem. At the same time, we don't want seventy-five buttons for the player to memorize. The trick is in striking the right balance between tactical depth and keeping the system streamlined enough so that players can readily get a handle on combat.

We also realize there are different types of gamers out there. Some love moving though a 3D space like an over-caffeinated ninja. Others prefer to be more careful and slower-paced about their actions. On the team, Chris is a twitch gamer. His idea of perfection of movement is Ninja Gaiden or running around in Mirror's Edge and Titanfall. Tim isn't as much a fan of twitch gameplay, preferring more paced and tactical thinking in his combat.

Since we're a role-playing game at heart, we'll be leaning more towards tactical pacing for Underworld Ascendant.

Their Early Access prototype is available to backers now.

Tuesday - December 22, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Prototype Update

by Aubrielle, 04:58

Otherside Entertainment has begun to tackle combat systems in Underworld Ascendant.  In their latest update, they discuss their progress as well as the challenges involved.

Thanks, Couch!

The foray into combat has begun! We've got an internal Prototype where you can now smack things with... well, at the moment, a stone axe. Not glamorous, but does the blunt work.

As with the other game systems, our goal with combat is to give the player a range of interesting choices on how to approach a problem. At the same time, we don't want seventy-five buttons for the player to memorize. The trick is in striking the right balance between tactical depth and keeping the system streamlined enough so that players can readily get a handle on combat.

We also realize there are different types of gamers out there. Some love moving though a 3D space like an over-caffeinated ninja. Others prefer to be more careful and slower-paced about their actions. On the team, Chris is a twitch gamer. His idea of perfection of movement is Ninja Gaiden or running around in Mirror's Edge and Titanfall. Tim isn't as much a fan of twitch gameplay, preferring more paced and tactical thinking in his combat.

Since we're a role-playing game at heart, we'll be leaning more towards tactical pacing for Underworld Ascendant.

Seems appropriate considering the rocky terrain, don't you think?

A good example of more tactical pacing would be the sword fight from the film Princess Bride. In it, two masters use both their skills and the environment in an intense match, but don't fly around a la Iron Monkey.

One way to introduce some twitch gameplay into the system is to have a handful of 'twitchy' abilities deeper in the skill tree. This way, players who enjoy these aspects can get it, if they work for it.

One concept we're diving into is "running combat": battles that span across spaces, where terrain, elevation and obstacles paly into the tactics. Objects can become part of the fight; from picking up and throwing a wine bottle to causing a stalagmite to fall on your enemy. Sometimes disengaging and moving off is the best idea. What we're trying to avoid is what we call "chopping wood" combat. Where you stand there, click the button and... whack, whack, whack, the enemy dies.

More information.

Source: OtherSide Entertainment

Saturday - December 12, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Interview

by Myrthos, 00:01

On Made With Unity, Eye found an interview with the devs of Underworld Ascendant.

One key difference between Underworld Ascendant and the titles that spawned is it is that the team is ditching the pen-and-paper RPG mechanics from the original games. "No more rolling dice to see if you get 18 Strength," says Neurath. "With the original games, we felt we needed to keep an anchor in the pen-and-paper games to ensure the games felt suitably familiar to RPG players. Now we're free to design fully for interactive and immersive experiences that can stand on their own."

The game’s Improvisation Engine is fantastically ambitious. The idea, essentially, is to attempt to create a setting where player will be able to approach scenarios in their own way; the thinking behind these improvisational options is to capture the sense of those pen-and-paper D&D sessions, where one’s own wild ideas aren’t limited by what’s been programmed, without the dice. “[The Improvisation Engine] comes from what we learned on games going back to the original Underworlds, through System Shock, Thief, and various team members’ work on more modern games such as BioShock Infinite,” Neurath says. Across these games, he points out, the team has in various shapes and forms experimented with technologies and design approaches that enable players to make clever choices; the Improvisation Engine builds on that experience, and then nudges it forward with some new ideas. “Our goal is to set a new high water mark with player choice, and sandbox, emergent gameplay.”

Thursday - December 03, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Interviews

by Myrthos, 12:08

PCGamesN interviewed Paul Neurath about Underworld Ascendant and the games industry.

Neurath emphasises the physicality of the environment; it’s a character you’ll be interacting with, a place you’ll become intimately familiar with.

“From the Underworlds through System Shock and Thief, one of the things we did that was very distinctive from a lot of games today was we created these very close and richly interactive spaces. You could reach out, there were things you could move or shift, or levers you could pull, or things you could jump on or swing on and ropes you could climb, there was a lot of rich interaction with the space around you, then you use that space and those kinds of interaction as part of solving any challenge or riddle you were faced with.”


“One of the things which is great is that myself and other team members have been in the games industry for quite a long time now, and we’ve developed a community over the years. So I've worked pretty closely with Richard Garriott and Chris Roberts and Brian Fargo and others and so when we thought of Kickstarter, I went to these colleagues who had already done Kickstarters and they were very generous in providing insight and sharing what they would do if they had to do it again. So there really is this community.”

Garriott provided more than advice, it turns out, as Shroud of the Avatar and Underworld Ascendant are now inextricably linked through their fiction, just as Ultima and Ultima Underworld were. The Dark Elves from Shroud’s New Britannia travelled through a portal and found themselves in the Stygian Abyss, and Neurath also points out that players in Shroud will be able to find a Dark Elf shield that glows with a mysterious light if the player has a character in both games. It will glow “with the bond of friendship between the two worlds,” he says.

Then there is this interview with Chris Siegel about the game.


It had to be cut short, due to audio problems, but the complete audio file can be found here.

Thanks Eye

Tuesday - November 24, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Dungeon Playground

by Myrthos, 12:37

The first dungeon prototype will be made available to backers of Underworls Ascendant, who backed the game at a high enough level.

In the last Newsletter we talked about physics-based world for Underworld Ascendant. Now we're ready to show what this means with an early peek...

Tomorrow we're releasing the very first build to Backers at the Lore Seeker and higher pledge tiers, who get as one of their perks early access to play these first prototypes. In a few weeks we will roll this build out more broadly to Backers at the lower pledge tiers. Details will be emailed out directly to Backers on how to download the build.

The Playground prototype all about physics-based puzzles set in a corner of the Stygian Abyss. The visuals have been intentionally dumbed down, since we're avoiding trying to set any sort of visual bar with this prototype, and instead want to focus on just the gameplay aspects. So be forewarned, it looks as plain as vanilla can ;)

The fun is in the physics puzzles, where we challenge you to solve tricky bits using an early pass of the Improvisation Engine. Even at this early stage, there are dozens of ways to solve challenges, some which I'm sure our team has not yet discovered. Will you? The prototype also features a first pass on the magic system, which likewise feeds into the open-ended nature of solving challenges.

In addition, a new Studio Art Director, Nate Wells, has joined the team.

Nate has joined the OtherSide team as our Studio Art Director. Nate has been the Art Director on some pretty impressive titles, like Irrational's Bioshock & Bioshock Infinite, Naughty Dog's Last of Us and most recently the new Rise of the Tomb Raider. Nate got his start back at LookingGlass as a level designer and artist on Thief & System Shock 2. We are thrilled to have another one from the LookingGlass fold!

Thanks Kristoph.

Wednesday - November 11, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - The Use of Physics

by Myrthos, 12:04

On the Underworld Ascendant site, an explanation is given of what Physics is and how it is used in the game.

We hear this a lot. Physics have been an accepted part of games since the late 90's. Karma and Havok both made physics engines widely available for game developers. PhysX is built into every NVidia card. Not exactly revolutionary technology. Yet few games go deep in their use of physics and gameplay. Underworld Ascendant does...

Let's take the simple door as an example. In most games doors are just things you open or close. Opening the door is usually just playing a simple animation and turning its physics collider off so that you can walk through it.

A door in the Underworld is physically modeled out as a heavy wood or metal object attached to pivoting hinges, optionally with a locking mechanism. Doors have parameters for physical strength, resistance to fire damage, resistance to magic, their acoustic blocking factor, strength and complexity of any lock. What does this mean for when a player encounters a door?


Thanks Kristoph.

Wednesday - October 28, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Interview @ Gamespot

by Myrthos, 22:16

Gamespot interviewed Paul Neurath and Joe Fielder about Underworld Ascendant.

Is every situation going to have an elaborate, contextual solution like the lava we saw in the demo?

Neurath: We're designing those spaces with dynamics and things you can, what we call "frob." In this case, we're showing some lava flow going through, but in the actual game, we would have multiple things going on. You might also have other fluids, a subterranean stream that you could dam up or redirect. There could be a landslide that you could start. There could be a creature that you could charm and [have] fight on your side, if you had some magical skills.

In the original Thief, one of the things that was very important to that game was, we allowed you to manipulate the environment. If you had some corridor you had to traverse that was patrolled and it started with a set of torches, you could use a water arrow to create a corner of shadow that you could then take advantage of. That's a very important step, because the player is now looking around the environment and saying, "What can I change in this environment to give myself an edge and an advantage?"

Fielder: We'll also allow the player to fail. It may be that, "There's a finite amount [of lava], and I'm using it to try to open up a door, and I've accidentally diverted it to the wrong place and now it's gone. I can't go in there now." Other than say like Dark Souls, I can't think of too many games that have done that.

Neurath: There have to be consequences. You have player choices; the choices have to matter. I think that's the unique power of games, as opposed to a film or a book. That's the lens we look through: "Does this empower the player to craft their own experience?"

Fielder: We're not going to create a super-high difficulty curve. There's often many solutions, and so [with] trial and error, at least, you'll probably get there.

Neurath: If you slam one door in your own face on accident, there's potentially another one around the corner, if you just look for it.

Thanks Eye.

Tuesday - October 27, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Interviews

by Myrthos, 12:41

The latest update for Underworld Ascendant brings us links to several interview and a Q&A the devs did with their fans.

The Links:

  • Quarter to Three Podcast - An in-depth discussion about Underworld Ascendant with OtherSide's Paul Neurath and Joe Fielder and QT3's Tom Chick. (Starts around 07:09.)
  • RadarRadar Podcast - GamesRadar's Ludwig Kietzmann talks with Paul and Joe about Underworld Ascendant's player-authored gameplay and much more. (Starts around 41:27.)
  • An Early Look at Underworld Ascendant - IGN's Jared Petty gives his thoughts on the game after seeing the latest footage and chatting with Paul and Joe.

And one of the seven answers to fan questions:

slayerming2: In the original Kickstarter, you called a certain character a thief, but it seems like in the more recent video, it's called a rogue. Are you moving away from the original idea? How stealth focus can you play, if you want to be as stealthy as possible?

We don't have specific character classes in Underworld Ascendant per se, such as a Thief or Rogue class. Rather players can gain skills and abilities that fall broadly into combat, stealth, or magic categories. The player can choose to bear down in one those categories; creating a character who is very adaptable in physical combat situations, or is able to creep into areas to get the lay of the land and sneak past tough opponents, or unlock the "source code of reality" with runic magic. Or they could mix and match, say, creating a powerful mage sort who also had a few stealth skills, enabling them to better sneak into an area, see what challenges await, and prepare just the right spell.

It's all about player choice -- and since you can't exceed at everything, you'll have to decide where to focus. Skills and abilities will be distinctly different enough where you can play through multiple times and potentially have a very different gameplay experience. (Paul and Joe talk about this more in the Quarter to Three podcast here.)

On your question of stealth focus, stealth in our game will feel a little different than in other games, thus the use of the term "rogue." We'll get into exactly how later on, but since our lead designer Tim Stellmach was the lead designer on the original Thief at Looking Glass, I think we can safely say stealth will be a distinctly fun experience in Underworld Ascendant.

Thanks Kristoph.

Wednesday - October 21, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - An Early Look @ IGN

by Myrthos, 12:56

IGN has written a short article about Underworld Ascendant, based on a hands-off session with the demo the developers gave the author.

Graphically, the team behind the new Underworld isn't trying to compete with the huge art budgets and resources available to triple-A developers. Instead, the design philosophy focuses on creating a player-authored role playing experience. The developers took me through an early demo featuring an unarmed thief/mage character eluding a Shadow Beast. The monster hates light, so the player used the natural lighted systems of the dungeon to predict its route and lead it into danger. The player carefully followed a flowing lava stream to stay in the relative safety of illumination while the monster conversely attempted to destroy light sources and gain the advantage. The thief eventually lured the Shadow Beast into a lethal trap, and I enjoyed seeing how an enemy could be taken down effectively without a single waving of a sword. Extrapolating  how the systems in the demo could potentially interact in unscripted ways made me wonder what might be possible in the broader scope of a complete, sprawling dungeon.

Thanks Eye.

Tuesday - October 13, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Prototype Video

by Myrthos, 23:43

On the official Underworld Ascendant site, a video is published showing the latest prototype of the game with developer comments.

We are excited to share with you our first real in game footage. The Prototype is a snapshot, as of September, of the recent progress we've made on Underworld Ascendant. It's a video of a walk-through made from a running build of the game.

The Prototype is tightly focused around highlighting key areas of recent progress:

  • We wanted to have a big step up on the visual bar from the rough prototypes we showed during the Kickstarter. The final game will look even better of course, but this snapshot shows a lot of progress.
  • Finding the right look of the Stygian Abyss. We looked at classical artists like Dore, 18th century impressionists, and even some surrealists out of Russia. We wanted to show a couple of different types of play spaces, so we are showcasing a few signature spaces in the Abyss, such as the colossal caldera, with a towering lava vortex, and a more typical hallway and natural meld you could expect to see while travelling in the Abyss.
  • - In the gameplay department we're showing some fun stealth gameplay, but flipped on its head of what we designed for Thief. Here a stealthy monster, the Shadow Beast, is stalking the player. Our protagonist is a virtually unarmed rogue who must rely on her wits to defeat a deadly Shadow Beast. This interaction highlights the capability of the Improvisation Engine, from manipulating the lava flow and lighting torches to change the light levels to keep the beast away.
  • Then there is the immersive audio soundscape to help deepen the immersion, as well as select voice overs to convey the game's narrative. If you listen closely to the soundscape you will hear some 'musical' beats happening. We have some ideas on how to work with sound as a game system and to enhance the character of the Underworld itself. We learned a ton of lessons about sound and its importance on Thief and System Shock 2. Just to be clear, the VO of the rogue in the prototype is there only as a narrative piece to explain what the player might be thinking. There will not be player VO in the final game, as it's a true role-playing game and we don't intend to speak for the player.

The Prototype covers just a tiny corner of the Abyss, and is focused on just the single encounter between a rogue character and the Shadow Beast. In the actual game there will be a lot more going on, and many more choices for a player. Regardless, we think the Prototype shows great progress since the Kickstarter and we hope you agree. We will be updating the Prototype about monthly going forward, showing more gameplay and features at each step. Right now in the alchemy lab Tim is whipping up the spell system, Will is working on a new playground for development and testing, and others are off on secret quests for the time being.


Thanks Kristoph.

Sunday - October 11, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - More than a spiritual Successor @ The Escapist

by Hiddenx, 21:27

The Escapist tells us why Underworld Ascendant is more than a spiritual successor of the Ultima Underworld games:

Underworld Ascendant is More Than a Spiritual Successor

The Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter was a great success, and the team at Otherside Entertainment looks to be hard at work on the shared vision of an RPG based on player choice, rather than stats and single-solution puzzles. An interesting twist to this Kickstarter success story is that Otherside was able to acquire the rights to much of the original Ultima Underworld games, excepting the Ultima brand itself. Ascendant is going to be a narrative sequel to the early 90s classics, rather than a spiritual successor, and Otherside wants to celebrate the innovative roots with Ascendant.
Otherside is hoping to make Ascendant more about player ingenuity than grinding levels and gear. Character progression isn't going away, but instead of incremental stat increases, your character levels will be primarily about gaining skill points to unlock new abilities among the three class trees; Fighter, Mage, and Thief. This progression is akin to the open character class system of recent hits like Skyrim, in that you never have to commit to a single class, instead spreading your points between the three class trees to suit your playstyle.
A player focused on stealth would want to commit primarily to the Thief tree, but a bit of magic can go a long way, so dabbling in the early Mage trees would be able to offer extra utility, especially with the customizable spell system. Magic in Ascendant is making some changes to the standard spellbook. The system has been done before, but customizing spells has always been a personal favorite feature, so it will be interesting to see how it develops. A couple of examples offered were a heat-seeking fireball and a light spell that reveals undead. Depending on the depth of the customization options, it could lend itself to a uniquely personal experience, as your creations could be entirely novel, offering new options for solving puzzles and defeating encounters.

Otherside is working now on the Improvisation Engine, which is the core of the choice-based gameplay the team is striving for. The idea is that any given obstacle or encounter should be approachable by multiple gameplay styles. A fighter might want to hack and cleave his way through an encounter, while a thief will prefer sneaking past by sticking to the shadows. An example from the Kickstarter is trying to cross a river inhabited by a hungry lurker. If you're tough enough, you can fight it toe to toe (though a common theme in my conversation was that the combat route was generally incredibly difficult), but if you're looking to get around, you might distract it by throwing a lurker delicacy upstream a bit to lure it away, or even charm a cave spider nearby to carry you to the other side.
The concept of an open-ended solution to any given situation is absolutely incredible to think about, but it remains to be seen just how well it is executed. If Otherside manages to get this working, it will be a huge leap forward for RPGs, but we've seen similar claims before, which universally resulted in a handful of pre-determined solutions to a given encounter, rather than a genuinely open-ended system that will give you the sensation of tabletop RPGs. If you've played D&D, you've probably tried to convince your DM to let your 18-strength fighter roll a strength check to throw your halfling rogue across the river. If Otherside manages to make an engine that can offer that kind of choice, it will truly innovate the RPG genre. Even if it's not entirely freeform, it sounded like there would be a wide variety of solutions available, even if they're finite.

Underworld Ascendant is targeting a Q4 2016 release, so we've got plenty of time to see how it's developing. If you're looking for more, the game's website has an abundance of information.

More information.

Underworld Ascendant - Paul Neurath, Joe Fielder Interview @ RPAD.TV

by Hiddenx, 10:15

Our Eye spotted this 10 min interview with Otherside Entertainment founder & CEO Paul Neurath and design director Joe Fielder:

Underworld Ascendant Paul Neurath & Joe Fielder Interview

The followup to the highly influential Ultimate Underworld games from the early ’90s, Underworld Ascendant aims to dazzle gamers with an atypical style of fantasy role-playing. The original games were lauded for their sense of immersion; they are considered the first RPGs to offer first-person action in a true 3D environment. While many modern RPGs bombard players with millions of words of text, Underworld Ascendant will attempt to captivate gamers with environmental immersion and unscripted player-driven narrative. In many ways, the game is a throwback in the sense that the developer wants the player to put himself or herself in the game, as opposed to following the adventures of a heavily scripted character.

Underworld Ascendant will give players all kinds of choices, whether it’s character development or puzzle solving. As far as character creation goes, there are three types of skill sets that players can draw from: fighter, rogue, and mage. The skills can be mixed and mashed, accommodating a wide variety of player styles. Similarly, encounters with monsters and environmental puzzles can be handled in drastically different ways. Again, the emphasis is on player choice. You’ll be able to play Underworld Ascendant with the character you want to be, adventuring in the way you want to adventure.

Occupying the Stygian Abyss are three rival factions. There are dark elves, dwarves, and shamblers to encounter. The developer was quick to note that these races don’t fit into typical RPG trappings. For example, the dwarves in Underworld Ascendant will not have Scottish accents. The shamblers are particularly interesting — fungus-like creatures with mushroom heads that operate in a hive-mind society. The way you interact with and help (or not) these factions will alter how you experience Underworld Ascendant.

The interview below was lots of fun for me on several levels. First off, Otherside Entertainment founder & CEO Paul Neurath is a frickin’ legend. The man founded Looking Glass Studios, one of the all-time great game developers. Looking at the list of games Paul has worked on is mind blowing. He should be put on exhibit at The Smithsonian. Also in the chat below is design director Joe Fielder. I met Joe in the late ’90s when I was a corporate hack at Ziff-Davis and he was heading up GameSpot. He was one of the first videogame journalists I met and it’s awesome watching his career in game development burgeon.

Anyway, check out my chat with Paul and Joe below for more details on Underworld Ascendant, as well as lots of gameplay footage.


Thursday - October 08, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Overhauled Gameplay Footage!

by Silver, 02:53

Indie Retro News reports on Underworld Ascendant releasing some gameplay footage recently.

After this years Kickstarter success for Otherside Entertainment's overhauled RPG of ' Underworld Ascendant ' which raised $860,356 in pledging, The creative team behind the original Ultima Underworld and System Shock have today released a very early footage video showing actual gameplay of this modern take on the classic Dungeon Crawler.


Thanks to rune_74 for noticing this!

Tuesday - September 29, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Discussions During Lunch

by Myrthos, 12:19

We all have them occasionally, discussions about topics that go off the deep end at some point in time. At Otherside Entertainment, where they are working on Underworld Ascendant, they have disscussions like this as well that sometimes even bring something new to the table. They have collected two of these discussions in their devblog.

"What can you do with a giant mushroom?"

As part of our early prototype of the game, we had a character cast a Grow Mushroom spell to block a swarm of spiders coming down a passageway. We thought that was an interesting and different use for such a spell. Naturally, it immediately got us talking about what other uses there might be for giant mushrooms, or their caps...

A spongey shield, a comfortable helmet, a boat for crossing water, an umbrella for when it rains in the Underworld (?!?), a trampoline for jumping up to secret ledges, a Frisbee for...uh...playing ultimate mushroom, snowshoes for when traveling in the ice caves, a sled for traveling even faster in ice caves, a plug for spider holes, a Shambler costume, a signpost ("Caution, Lurker"), a drum, a pillow.

Then someone brought up that magic mushrooms would likely have some special properties. This opened up a whole new line of thinking:

A fireproof mushroom boat for crossing lava, a mushroom to eat and make you small, a mushroom to eat and make you big, glowing mushrooms to light up a room, super big mushrooms to dam a river, super big fireproof mushrooms to dam a lava flow, super big mushrooms to build a house from, singing mushrooms as alarm systems, exploding mushrooms as booby-traps, and psychic screaming mushrooms as clocks.

Turns out, this might just be the most important spell in all the Underworld!

What do you think? Have anything to add to either of these conversations? If so, head on over to the forums and tell us!

Wednesday - September 23, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Podcast with Tim Stellmach and Chris Segel

by Silver, 10:47

There is a podcast @Unwinnable where Underworld Ascendants Tim Stellmach and Chris Segel discuss their new project.

Jason welcomes Tim Stellmach and Chris Siegel to the show this week. Tim and Chris are former Looking Glass employees responsible for some of the highest rated and respected PC games ever designed. (Ultima Underworld, Ultima Underworld 2, Thief, Thief 2 and System Shock, just to name a few) On this episode we discuss their new project (Underworld Ascendant), designing for emotional engagement, how much freedom is too much and a bunch of other cool stuff.


Tuesday - September 15, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Development Update

by Myrthos, 12:48

The Underworld Ascendant site has been updated with the following information about its development:

We've been extra busy the past 2 weeks working on the next iteration of the playable prototype. So apologies for not having much news to share.

Progress on the prototype is coming along nicely. The creature AI is now solid, with creatures being able to track you, maneuver across a range of challenging terrain, and close in and attack if they are so inclined. We've got a fun twist on the sort of stealthy AI we did with Thief, here where it is you being stalked by a stealthy predator.

We've been pushing Unity 5 hard, and extending the engine with some new capabilities to handle our particular needs for Underworld Ascendant. Together with the talents of our now half-dozen strong art team, we're raising the visual bar for sure.

An initial round of voice acting has also been completed, and are doing some cool things with ambient audio, which you'll hear in the playable. Along with this we've been refining the narrative elements.

They also have a cross promotion with Crowfall.

Together with our friends at ArtCraft, we are delighted to announce a Crowfall / Underworld Ascendant special cross-promotion. Fans who have pledged at least $30 towards each game, or make new pledges of at least that amount over the next 2 weeks, will receive a pair of $10 coupons good for future pledges in each game.

The coupons can used towards upgrading your current pledge tier, or for any Add-on. Coupons valid through September 25th, so get 'm while they last.

Thanks Cristoph


Tuesday - September 01, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - 25 Years

by Myrthos, 17:19

The Underworld Ascendant site commemorates the 25 year anniversary of the original Underworld games by reflecting on 3 things that have changed in this period of time.

PC's Have Come a LONG Way

The original Underworlds were designed to run on 20mhz 386 processor class PC's. The smartphone in your pocket would crush a PC of that era without breaking a sweat.

These PC's also lacked any sort of graphics card. You had to do all the rendering in software. That was a huge hurdle to doing real-time 3D texture mapping. Even with some super clever code running in optimized assembly language, we could barely achieve a playable framerate.

In some ways having these performance constraints was helpful, as it compelled us to find creative work-arounds. For instance, there was no way to render fast enough an over-the-shoulder view that would show the player's character in the foreground and world beyond that. Solution was first-person view, which ended up working well for us, and many games to follow.

Today's PC's are ludicrously powerful in comparison. Graphics cards and modern game engines now provide all the building blocks to do sophisticated 3D rendering. The focus has moved from simply trying to get 3D to run, to tweaking the higher end bits of the rendering pipeline to achieve refinements on advanced visual effects. Like getting the fur on that creature to look even more natural than it did in a game from a couple of years ago.

Another notable evolution in the PC hardware is advanced displays and peripherals. The original Underworlds worked with just a keyboard, optionally a mouse if you had one. And the display was a mere 256 colors 640x480 pixels.

Today we have 4K displays. Then there is VR and AR coming into play, which are paradigm shifts in how players get immersed. Not just with their visuals, but with interfaces such as 'wands' that enable a more tactile experience in how you reach out and interact with the game world.

This level of incredible fidelity and immersion compels us to evolve our thinking on how we build games. For example, we can now consider mimicking the sort of physical manipulations a thief would do to pick a lock, instead of abstracting it as a mini-game.


Monday - August 17, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Breaking Free of Fantasy Tropes

by Myrthos, 23:32

The devs of the Ultima Underworld remake, Underworld Ascendant, updated the site with an editorial on fantasy tropes.

As we've mentioned in our previous update, the team at OtherSide has been feverishly working on our latest demo. While we'd love to give you peeks at all the recent progress, we'd rather hold off for a bit and until it's ready for the full reveal.

In the meantime, we thought we'd share further details on how we're approaching Underworld Ascendant's world building and story.

Part of the challenge in tackling the fantasy genre is there are a few high watermarks that are extremely influential, and a bevy of well-worn tropes. That leads to questions such as, how do you present races like dwarves in new and interesting ways?

I find a good way to start this process is figuring out interesting creative challenges. If you can come up with an idea that you find so compelling that it requires your absolute best work to pull off, then it'll motivate you to give it your all throughout the long, sometimes exhaustive, development cycle. The thinking is also, if you're engaged, your audience will hopefully be as well.

Another key part of the process is research. The old maxim of "write what you know" is spot-on but incomplete, since it leaves out the part where you can actually learn new information.

One of the things I learned from working on Irrational's BioShock series is that research is absolutely essential to good world-building. It's also incredibly fun. By digging through primary historical sources, you get a real sense of how people spoke, thought, went through their daily lives, and more. You pick up little details that make a world feel real, which then in turn helps make the fantastical elements of your setting seem more believable.

We also learn that the $900K stretch goal has been unlocked.

Thanks Christoph.

Tuesday - August 04, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Pillars and Prototypes

by Hiddenx, 07:06

The devs are working on the first playable prototype:


Exciting times in the OtherSide dojo! We have been up to our ears in concept art, models, level design, and AI creatures running about. We are on the cusp of seeing our world come alive for the first time in the coming weeks.

We are currently midway into our first playable prototype. A playable prototype is small, working corner of the underworld. . It includes everything from character movement, to the look of the place, to core systems. It is designed such that we can stop, take a look at it, test it out, and decide what works well and what not so much.

It starts with ideas, which we call 'core pillars'. Currently we have decided on 3 core pillars for our prototype.

  1. We are an Underworld game. What ties us back to the past?
  2. Player authored experience.
  3. Create a fantastic magical world.

Pretty broad right? We break that down further of course and pick a couple of key pieces from each pillar that we would want to prove out.

For example, for the player authored experience, we have already played around with physics, but have not spent too much time on magic, or physical object reactions such as burning things, smashing things and other generally ways of using the environment. So we have decided for the first prototype to focus on a couple of spells, using the actual bones of a real spell system, and ensuring that our design practices have objects in the world understand their physical state.

An example of this is a rope. For our vertical slice, our rope will think 'I'm a rope. I can bend and flow because of weight, and other environmental things like wind. I don't like fire and will burn when it touches me.' As with most of the Underworld, this is not canned, but reactive. Rope and wood burn. You can use that to your benefit, or your detriment.

So we have our core pillars and we start thinking about the layout of a map where we want to have gameplay. Design writes a script for the area, our thoughts of what this area is, and what will be going on in broad strokes.



Tuesday - July 21, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Shadow Beast Interview

by Hiddenx, 07:35

A new dev update and an interview with a returning star: The Shadow Beast

The Shadow Beast. One of the more memorable terrifying moments from the original Ultima Underworld was the encounter with one of these horrifying beasts on level 7. But what were these creatures? Where have they been since then? Our esteemed producer Chris sat down with one of the shadow beasts that are finally making a triumphant return in Underworld Ascendant.

Producer Chris Siegel (CS): Hey thanks for spending a few minutes with me before getting to work in the new Abyss. What should I call you?

Shadow Beast (SB): Shadow Beast is fine. We don't like to reveal our real names to outsiders. This is why we always ask to get paid in cash, so we don't have to reveal our personal information people.

CS: I see. (Shifts in his seat) Let's talk a bit about your history to get started. Even back in the original game you were mysterious. Let me read you the excerpt from the Memoirs of Sir Cabirus 'There is little we can say about this entity, or family of entities - we obviously cannot see that which is invisible, so we do not know how many there are. The Shadow Beast is thought to be immensely powerful, more than a match for any single warrior. When attacked by unseen adversary, first look up (for a flying attacker) and down (lest a small worm or other foe is striking) - if none of these be the case, then suspect the Shadow Beast and begin to strike in all directions!' Not much to go on there. If I remember correctly you liked to sneak...

SB: Stalk.

CS: Excuse me...Stalk up on players when they entered your lair.

SB: Yeah. The reaction of those half a million humans screaming and running away still brings a smile to my face...

CS: But they kept coming to your lair, you owned one of the best weapons in the game isn't that correct?

SB: Dirty thieves. That sword was a family heirloom. Same thing with the armor. Never ceases to amaze me on players thinking that everything is there for them. Smash the door, take the vase and break it on the ground, light bridges on fire, take the gold from the table and anything else that is not nailed down. Bunch of vandals is what they are. (Laughs)

CS: It's been a long time since players have seen you in Ultima Underworld. What have you been doing since then?

SB: Finding a new lair after the end of UU was surprisingly difficult. I tried Hyrule, but they already had a Shadow Beast, same with Wizards 101. I tried to find a home with a pop band too, that also did not work out. I guess I don't work well with others, and trying to play guitar with these hands is difficult. I was too late for the call for Brutal Legend, and Diablo II. I would have loved to move into one of Horny's dungeons in Dungeon Keeper. We had a few lunches and some chats on the crystal balls, which would have been perfect situation. Alas, none of that worked out.

CS: But now you are back! New and improved! Can you tell us a bit about how you fit into the new Stygian Abyss?

SB: Sure, I don't want to give too much away of course. First let's be clear about this. Shadow Beasts are smart. We are not really just apex predators, we have communities. We have a natural camouflage mechanism that causes us to take on the coloration of their surroundings. Moreover, we also have an innate magical ability that occludes us from easy detection (they appear dimly, if at all, under light or detect spells-Ed.). Lurking in the far corners of the Underworld, we use our stealth to waylay the unwary. We have been known to take contracts from other factions and races to...remove obstacles forcefully. (I think he means they hire out as assassins-Ed.)

CS: Interesting. Tell me more about your communities.

SB: We live in small familial communities in the darkest, most secluded parts of the Underworld. We don't like visitors. No one has ever discovered a shadow beast clan home. Or at least none have lived to tell the tale. (Laughs) We usually build our clan homes in cool, dark and dry areas. But we are everywhere not just in the dry regions, and when hunting for food will range into other biomes of the Underworld, including hot caverns and the fungal forests. One thing we dislike is the stench of the Underswamp. (Makes face. Pinches nose).

CS: I see. How do you get along with other races of the Underworld?

SB: We are very territorial and clannish and live by an 'eye for an eye' credo, so sometimes a particular shadow beast group will take umbrage with one of the Underworld factions, or another shadow beast clan, sparking a short lived but violent dispute. If we are angry with a faction we do not attack outright, but from the shadows, always from the shadows.

CS: This seems very different than the brute from the old Abyss.

SB: We all have our roles to play. They hired me to be brutish, so I played brutish. There are a group of shadow beasts out there that have mutated and are mindless. Maybe there are some of those still lurking about. Those guys are brutish and not as cunning as us.

CS: What do you eat?

SB: We beasts live on a wide range of foodstuffs, and will eat most anything when times are tough. Our favorite is Earthclot, with a single one of these creatures being able to feed a clan for a week. We also hunt Rippers, and I think we may be the only ones tough enough to eat them.

CS: Thanks again for sitting down with me and chatting. It was a ton of fun.

SB: Anytime. Speaking of food, I'm feeling a bit peckish... mind if we turn out that light?


Thursday - June 25, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Answers from the Abyss #2

by Arhu, 15:30

The website of Ultima Underworld I & II's upcoming sequel, Underworld Ascendant, has been updated with Answers from the Abyss #2, in which some community questions get adressed.

Some excerpts:

"Why abandon PnP-inspired RPG systems in favor of perks?" - CyberP

For Underworld Ascendant we want the focus of the game to be on the world and your interactions with it. Anything that might get in the way of this, anything that might put itself between the player and the experience of living in the Underworld, is something we have to seriously consider before including in the game.

So, how does this relates to perks and character progression? Our preference is not to have players spend a lot of time in a system or UI where they are studying stats and points or worrying about whether to increase strength over dexterity. We'd prefer, instead, to have character progression consist of a smaller number of meaningful decisions, such as choosing a new attack or movement ability, rather than numerous numerical tweaks, as allocating skill points every level.


"We know creatures in the ecosystem are going to function within it (i.e food needs, survival, and whatnot). Will this affect NPC's in the factions as well? Can I go hunting with Lizardmen?" - SteveC

Yes, NPCs and factions will be positioned in the ecosystem alongside the flora and fauna. This means that NPCs and members of factions will have needs and desires that hinge on accessibility and conditions of the environment: access to food, protection from predators, warmth, and so forth.

Day-to-day routines of NPCs and factions will also be in the game as much as possible, including those that draw from and/or impact the ecosystem. So, yes, lizardmen will be seen hunting and, depending upon your standing with them, they might even allow you to tag along.


"Are NPC's/creatures going to have other needs besides food in the ecosystem?" - SteveC

Absolutely. While food may be the strongest need for many creatures, other things will also factor into their behaviors and motivations. For instance, creatures will have a predilection for the kind of environment they want to live in - lava bat want to live in hot areas, preferably with some lava flows. If that environment changes then the creatures will have a desire to migrate to a new location that more suits their needs.

We expect light and darkness to play a real role in creature behaviors as well. To feel safe some creatures or NPCs may be more comfortable in well-lit parts of the Underworld, while others may prefer the darkness in which to hide. Light levels is an atmospheric state which can be readily changed by the player, or even by happenstance, and which will have a big impact on the lives of creatures and NPCs.

Saturday - June 06, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Update on Biomes

by Aries100, 16:16

The team behind this game has another update to their website this telling us about What's in a Biome?  There will be caves, underswamp and fungal biomes. A quote about the Underswamp:

We can imagine the Underswamp biome being almost the polar opposite of the hot cavern biome. Here, water is everywhere, and darkness and shadow. Finding sustenance is easy in the Underswamp and therefore is a less important skill to have. Being able to defend against your predators starts to become paramount. And in the Underswamp there are plenty of predators...With so much food to be found growing in the Underswamp, from lichens and plants to trees and mushrooms, it is here we start to see the first true herbivores and grazers in the Underworld. 

Saturday - May 09, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Kickstarter Update # 43

by Aries100, 16:29

The team behind this game has just updated their Kickstarter page. This time telling us
about how we'll deal damage.  
A quote, then, about the damage system

In our damage system there are two fundamental types (or classes for you programmers out there) of objects: ones that do damage and ones that take damage. Objects that do damage send a message to the objects they interact with that says how much damage they do. Objects that take damage receive that message and change their state based on it. Each is a property of the object in question, so these features are represented as Components in Unity. Many objects will have components for both doing and taking damage.

Saturday - May 02, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - May Kickstarter Update

by Couchpotato, 06:03

The latest Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter update this week has more information form producer Chris Siegel about  prototyping, and experimentation using Unity 5.


Testing Unity 5.0

Over the last month or so we have been working hard on analyzing our engine options for use in Underworld Ascendant. One engine we have been checking out is Unity 5.0. Here’s Chris to let us know what engineers Jeff and will, and lead designer Tim, have discovered.

Preproduction in Unity 5.0

After the Kickstarter we spent a couple of weeks putting Unity 5.0 through its paces. Partly to see what was new, what was updated and what looked better. Most importantly though, to discover if Unity will do what we need it to. Underworld Ascendant will be a very systems heavy game. Our design philosophy is about building a game with real world systems under the hood to bring common sense expectations to the player. The goal is to give players new and interesting ways to interact with our world, and the engine we use to make this game needs to support all of this.

Wednesday - April 29, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Fire Update

by Couchpotato, 06:46

OtherSide Entertainment released another post-funding update a few days back that is a continuation of the last topic about lava, but talks about how fire will work.

In our last update, Chris talked about lava in all its different forms, and how it might be used in Underworld Ascendant. Well, where there is lava there is inevitably fire, so this week Jeff would like to discuss how fire will work in the Stygian Abyss.

Wednesday - April 22, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Lava Update

by Couchpotato, 05:49

OtherSide Entertainment talks about lava in the next post-funding update.

Last week Chris talked about how we want to build a living, breathing ecology for Underworld Ascendant in which players will be able to adventure and explore. This week, Chris wants to discuss how we can burn it all down...

Lava. In games lava is most often usually done simply as a static river or pool of red liquid. Deadly to step into, but otherwise just a passive barrier to walk around.

Which is weird. Actual lava is an odd substance. It destroys pretty much anything it touches, but at the same time creates land. It is most often flowing, unpredictable, and violent. Sure, there are slow flows on the big Island of Hawaii. But as a game element, how much fun is that? It’s only good as a jump puzzle or perceived danger. So how can something like lava be used in a game world in a more interesting way?

There are two types of lava we will want to play with, basically thick and thin. Thick lava with high viscosity flows slowly and builds up on itself. This type is called A’a’, Hawaiian for stony rough lava.

Sunday - April 12, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Consequence of Ecology

by Couchpotato, 04:50

A new post-funding update was released by OtherSide Entertainment that talks about the Consequence of Ecology, or to put it in simple terms designing the game world.

Last week we looked at how we might be using physics in Underworld Ascendant, particularly when it came to traps. Lots of great comments on the article from our readers in the forums! This week, our indefatigable producer Chris wants to talk ecology simulation. And who are we to stop him?

Wednesday - April 01, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Laying the Groundwork

by Couchpotato, 06:08

OtherSide Entertainment's next weekly kickstarter update for Underworld Ascendant talks about how the developer will lay the groundwork for the game's development.

We have a ton going on! First, we’re are doing another OtherSIde Plays LookingGlass Twitch Session, this Thursday April 2nd at 11am EST to 1pm EST.

We will be playing Ultima Underworld II, with Tim, Paul and some special guests. One of those guests is Dorian Hart, who had key design roles on System Shock, Ultima Underworld II, Thief, Thief II, Bioshock, and others.

Part of what we have been doing is the less thrilling stuff. Setting up payroll, filing corporate taxes, getting in development equipment, and other business stuff that has to be done. This has consumed a big chunk of Paul’s time. Steve and Scott have spent their time with the backend, working to make the website store, and Backerkit integration.

Saturday - March 28, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Game Update

by Couchpotato, 20:12

OtherSide Entertainment posted the next update for Underworld Ascendant with news on why the surveys are delayed, forum badges, and the new lizardman look.

When Simple Things Aren't

Last week we promised that the backer survey would go out this week. Well, that didn't happen. Delays in importing and organizing the data, as well as the usual bugs, has caused our timeline for the survey to be pushed back a bit. Right now we plan on getting the survey to you by next week.

We are truly sorry for the delay. We know folks are eager to allocate their pledge money, hoping to upgrade their pledge tier or even snag some add-ons they've had their eyes on. We want this to happen too! A few more days and we'll all get what we want, we promise.

Why It's Taking So Long to Get Your Forum Badges

On a similar vein of data management, Jeff has been working on getting all our backers their forum badges. This is taking a bit longer than anticipated as well, and Jeff thought he'd write a blog post explaining why. Here is an excerpt:

“On a very high level building our data pipeline is what I've been doing for about the past week, along with Steve the IT-God. The tricky thing about building a pipeline like this is figuring out what steps you need to put the data through to get it from where it starts to where it needs to be, and then writing the programs to do it all. It takes familiarity with a number of different tools and their data formats. And, quite simply, it takes a lot of trial and error til it all works right. “

Head over to our website to read the full blog here.

Meet the New Lizardman!

Our redo of the Lizardman Look vote has come to a close. With a clear margin of victory over it's rival, Lizardman Concept B walks (creeps? skulks?) away the victor! This is now the look we will use as the basis for lizardman modeling going forward. We can't wait to meet them in-game! Hopefully on friendly terms...

We had LOTS of participation in this vote, which was fantastic to see. Stay tuned on our forums for more community-sourced design decisions soon!

Sunday - March 22, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Survey Incoming

by Couchpotato, 04:25

OtherSide Entertainment's next update for Underworld Ascendant is about a survey.

Next week we will be sending out to all our backers the Backerkit Survey. This email will be the mechanism by which we gather some information from you, such as your address for shipping of physical goods, as well as answers to important questions such as in which OS you'd like your copy of Underworld Ascendant, or what your forum ID is so we can assign you the proper forum badge for your pledge tier.

Also via this survey you will be able to indicate which add-ons you would like to apply your pledge dollars to, or even up your pledge amounts to get an add-on or two you were on the fence about during the Kickstarter campaign.

Once you have completed the survey you will then be able to log into our backerkit site at any time to make changes to your account. This will be useful if your address changes before the game ships, or if you have a change of email.

So, next week please keep an eye out for the survey, and try to take the minute or so to fill it out as soon as you can.

Wednesday - March 11, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Outlook for 2015

by Couchpotato, 03:20

Producer Chris Siegel of OtherSide Entertainment talks about the development outlook for Underworld Ascendant for the rest of 2015 in a new website update.

As producer guy, I now have to step up to the plate. My job, well my primary job, is to keep the whole thing on track. I know people have already been asking for release dates for the game and alpha builds. There is no set in stone dates yet. Let me explain why.

We will use agile principles for development. Everyone on the team is familiar with them already, so we should be able to jump in pretty quickly. Also with the size of our team we should be able to stay really lean when it comes to some of agile's busy work... i.e. I'll be doing the paperwork.

Now according to agile principles, the worst day to make a decision is the first day. Why? Think about it; This is the day we have the least amount of information. We know what the project is, but we don't know much else. We don't know peoples workload, we don't know all the systems we need to build, etc. etc. The more you know, the more concrete a decision you can make.

Makes sense right? That is not to say a line in the sand is a bad idea. Of course it's not. If you don't have one you end up in the dreaded endless development cycle. That is no fun for anyone.

So, I'll put two lines in the sand:

Prototype build sometime during Q4 2015.

Pre-Alpha build sometime during Q1 2016.

Now, I can hear a couple of my developers going 'pfft, we can be ready before that' but my job is to plan for every eventuality, including the unexpected and unknown. The prototype is at the end of this year because I want the team to not feel any stress while in pre-production. This is one of the most important phases of development. What are we building? What are we trying to achieve? What is the backstory of our races and how does that effect development? 1000 exciting questions we have to answer in the next few months before we put pixel to program.

And going forward we'll try to keep you in the loop as much as possible about just what those answers are.

Saturday - March 07, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Campaign Finished

by Couchpotato, 05:52

The Underworld Ascendant kickstarter is finished and has managed to earn $859,056. Also two more update were posted. The first update is about Music, and SFX.

You guys continue to be simply amazing! With less than 1 hours to go, we have passed $850,000! This incredible achievement means Dynamic Music and Sound Effects have been unlocked, as well as the Resonant Cave!

Now we will be able to add more sound effects to the game, as well as a more sophisticated dynamic contextual in-game audio system. These additions will help make the Stygian Abyss a world of audio wonder.

The last update is a huge thank you to all backers who helped fund the game.

After we here at OtherSide take a few brief moments to collect ourselves and perhaps raise a toast in celebration, it will be right back to work with the continued development of Underworld Ascendant.

The first thing we want to do is outline for you, our backers, just what our outlook is for development through the rest of this year. On Monday we will be posting this outline to all members of our forums. We think this will give all our backers the confidence that we mean it when we say we WILL deliver this game in a timely manner, we WON'T get bogged down in feature creep and this WILL be the best CRPG since the first Underworlds.

In addition, sometime in the next week or so, we will be having our first post-Kickstarter community vote. This time we want to lock down the look of the Lizardmen and we know you want to help us. Stay tuned to our website for information on what the looks we are debating are, and how you can help us determine another important design point in the game!

Friday - March 06, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Final Hours

by Couchpotato, 05:17

The Underworld Ascendant is ending today, and the developer OtherSide Entertainment posted two more updated  today. The first update is about getting more funding.

Starting on Friday, March 6th, we will begin accepting PayPal as a form of payment for pledges to the game.  This will be done via our website.  So for those of you who use PayPal exclusively and have not been able to pledge so far to Underworld Ascendant, be sure to head over tomorrow and get on board the pledge train!

The latest update has news the game made another stretch goal today.

The Stygian Abyss just became a friendlier place! With Companion Creatures ready to tag along, your adventures you can take comfort in knowing there is at least one creature in the Abyss that doesn't want to eat you.

In addition, when we send out our backer survey once the Kickstarter is over, all backers at the Adventurer tier and higher will be able to choose which Companion Creature they would like for free, the huggable but acerbic Vorpal Bunny, or the aloof yet loyal Mini-Brain.

Along with our furry friends, this Stretch Goal also unlocked Enhanced Music for the game. This will help ensure that more music tracks and more elaborate scores are added to Underworld Ascendant. The music of the original Underworld games are memorable even to this day, and now we will be able to create music to inspire the next generation of CRPG gamers!

And, for passing the $775,000 mark along the way, the Necrotic Graveyard will be added to the Stygian Abyss! This dark and foreboding locale seems to hold an allure for the various monsters and creatures of the Stygian Abyss who, upon arriving at the graveyard, pass away only to be reanimated as the undead. Don't let your Companion Creatures too near this cursed place!

Thursday - March 05, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Lizardmen Unlocked

by Couchpotato, 04:46

The Underworld Ascendant kickstarter has thirty hours left , and has managed to reach its second stretch goal. What that means is the game will now have Lizardmen.

You've done it! The Lizardmen have been unlocked, and are moving into the Underswamp as we speak! And, since we passed the $725,000 mark as well, we'll also be adding the Dire Grove to the Underworld. A natural home for the Lizardmen, the Dire Grove is also home to the swamp willow, a tree that bears fluorescent berries with magical properties.

Exploring the Stygian Abyss can be a scary experience, so why do it alone? If we achieve the current $800,000 Stretch Goal, you won't have to! With the Companion Creature feature added to the game, players will be able to have a faithful little buddy tag along on their adventures. Companions might be useful in a fight, or in boosting skills and abilities, but they can also help the player in other unexpected ways.

We've been listening to our fans and have decided to move Enhanced Music down from the $850,000 stretch goal to the $800,000 goal, alongside the Companion Creatures.  This will help ensure that more music tracks and more elaborate scores are added to the game.  The music of the original Underworld games is memorable even to this day, and now we will be able to create music to inspire the next generation of CRPG gamers!

In addition when we get to $775,000, halfway through the Stretch Goal, we will build in the Stygian Abyss a new area, the Necrotic Graveyard. This dark and foreboding locale seems to hold an allure for the various monsters and creatures of the Stygian Abyss who, upon arriving at the graveyard, pass away only to be reanimated as the undead.  It is for the player to learn the purpose in this and to perhaps stop this terrible curse from inflicting the denizens of the Underworld.

Don't forget to read our new Q&A if you missed it yesterday.

Wednesday - March 04, 2015

RPGWatch - Underworld Ascendant Q&A

by Couchpotato, 04:02

Last month you guys had the chance to submit your questions for a new Q&A with some of the OtherSide Entertainment developers. Here are their answers.

CouchPotato: Richard Garriott stated on the Shroud of the Avatar website that he will be helping you with the story & Lore, and I was wondering if you could talk more about how this will work?

Tim Stellmach: Richard’s team is co-developing back story with us. If you look at the three main factions in Underworld Ascendant, it’s kind of symbolic: there’s one (the dwarves) from the original Underworld games, one (the dark elves) that’s a crossover from Shroud of the Avatar, and one (the shamblers) that’s wholly new. We even have Tracy Hickman (bestselling author, and SotA story developer) on board to develop the connection with an Underworld Ascendant novel, telling how a clan of dark elves made their exodus to the Stygian Abyss.

Underworld Ascendant - Humble Beginnings

by Couchpotato, 03:38

OtherSide Entertainment posted one more kickstarter update this week for Underworld Ascendant. The update talks about the games humble beginnings.


As we head into the final days of the Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter campaign, a few of us were reminiscing about what it was like when we first got OtherSide underway, a little over a half year ago. The studio began with little tangible; no office, no desks, no computers. But we had our skills and experience, and passion and perseverance, to chase our vision. We didn't know for certain what lay in store for us in the months ahead, but we knew it would be an adventure.

Tuesday - March 03, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - News Roundup

by Couchpotato, 04:39

OtherSide Entertainment posted two more kickstasrter updates this week for Underworld Ascendant. The first update is about the Underswamp Stretch goal.

In just 2 days we’ve reached the Underswamp! Considering it’s a weekend, that’s amazing progress!

The second update is about using a new device called the AR.

AR headsets project into your eyes a digital image, which gets seamlessly merged with your view of the physical world around you. Potentially these images can look more solid and real than any hologram. A key part of AR is not just in the visuals, but also how the devices can read your hand motions precisely, so as to enable you to manipulate the virtual images in a natural and tactile way. It is the combination of the visual projection into the real world and tactile interaction which makes AR so promising.

They also released two videos, and the first one is with Artist Shaddy Safardi.

Introducing Shaddy Safardi, one of the talented concept artists working with us. Shaddy offers some insights into how he goes about his craft.

The second video is with Narrative Designer Joe Fielder.

Introducing Joe Fielder the narrative designer for Underworld Ascendant.

And for last Paul Neurath gave his opinion on the recent Kickstarter backlash.

A series of press stories were circulated widely the past week which, more-or-less, trash talk games that have been funded through Kickstarter.

Games are much like any other creative endeavor. Any film or book can come up short on expectations. Happens often enough. More than a few are cancelled by their studios or publishers before they see the light of day. Does that mean that most film makers and writers are out to scam their fans?

Monday - March 02, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - The Underswamp

by Couchpotato, 03:45

After getting funded last week Underworld Ascendant is close to making it's first stretch goal, and so the developers have released an update about The Underswamp.

We are less than $10,000 away from the Underswamp stretch goal!

Crouched on the confluence of two slow-moving subterranean river systems, the Underswamp is a miasma of odd fungus, twisted trees and creeping lichen. Dank and full of life; a menagerie of deadly toothed and venomous predators roam the spongy terrain. But there is also strange beauty to be found, such as shimmering fluorescent air plants floating above the dark waters. Deep within the Underswamp lie ruins of the temple of Ishtass. This extensive complex, nearly a league across and half sunk in the swamp, is said to hold ancient secrets.

With the Underswamp comes the Rotworm Skin Boots, which give adventurers extra speed wading through the swamp. Let’s all put on the boots and make a final sprint to bring the Underswamp home to the Sygian Abyss!

Update: The game has made $650,035 so the Underswamp stretch goal was made.

Saturday - February 28, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Game Funded

by Couchpotato, 05:58

I'm sure this is old news by now but Underworld Ascendant was finally funded on Kickstarter, and OtherSide Entertainment posted a new update with the news.

Today we reached our base funding goal of $600,000. What to say…  


     Honored to have your support.

     To be honest, a bit relieved that we did in fact reach this milestone.

Incredibly excited that we can now make the game we have so passionately wanted to make for twenty years, and do it together with you.

The team will celebrate and enjoy for a long moment… then right back to work! We are relishing climbing up into the stretch goals over the next 6 days of the campaign. Let’s enjoy that together. Then we can have an even bigger collective celebration.

Friday - February 27, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Final Week

by Couchpotato, 05:29

OtherSide Entertainment's next kickstarter update talks about how combat will work in Underworld Ascendant, and mentions the campaign is entering the final week.

Today we are entering the FINAL WEEK of our campaign. It’s been a wild ride. There are now more than 10,000 of us strong on this ride, and more coming in every minute. Yesterday was the best day the campaign has seen in over 2 weeks!

With this being the final week of the campaign, it’s time to shift into a higher gear…

We’ve got some awesome stretch goals, which many in this community want us to reach. We can deliver on at least some of these stretch goals if we can make a big push during this final week.

We have been holding steady at an average of $55 pledged per backer, with less than a dollar swing since the first week of the campaign. Some folks have already pledged all they can afford. We are humbled and deeply thankful to them for doing so.

Others folk are able to step up to higher tiers. As of this morning, we are less than $35,000 from reaching the $600,000 in base funding. If half of the 10,000 backers each stepped up their pledges by $10, we’d be well past that mark and into the first stretch goal overnight.

Getting past the $600,000 mark helps motivate those fans who are hesitant to pledge until the base goal is met to join us. We are virtually certain to reach the $600,000 at least a few days before campaign ends. Each day sooner that this happens is another day sooner to pull in these waiting-in-the-wings fans, which will in turn give us more momentum to reach higher stretch goals.

So please consider stepping up during this final stretch. It’s the most tangible way today you can leave your mark on what we are together building with Underworld Ascendant.

Thursday - February 26, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - T-Shirt Contest

by Couchpotato, 04:33

Well here is the next update this week for Underworld Ascendant, and its about a new T-Shirt Contest to raise more funds to help the game on Kickstarter.

Today we have added a new Add-On, one which a bunch of our backers have been requesting for a while now. An Underworld Ascendant T-Shirt!

It has the Underworld Ascendant logo on the front. On the back we will put a slogan written by one of our fans. That slogan will be selected from fan submissions on our forum, found HERE. If you have an idea for a witty and appropriate slogan please post it by this weekend. The slogan we choose from the submission will be used for a limited run, only available to Kickstarter backers who choose this Add-On. Once the Kickstarter is over, we will continue making t-shirts, but never again with this slogan. Get yours before the run ends!

The writer of the chosen slogan will receive a free t-shirt, and the hearty thanks of the entire Underworld Ascendant community.

They will need the money as the game has eight days left to get funded. Also the RPG Codex published a new interview with OtherSide Entertainment yesterday.

Wednesday - February 25, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Magic Update

by Couchpotato, 02:23

OtherSide Entertainment released another kickstarter update this week for Underworld Ascendant with information about the games runic magic system.

We wanted to do a deeper dive into one of the core game systems in Underworld Ascendant, magic. Can’t have a fantasy game without magic!

Magic in Underworld Ascendant springs from the original Underworlds. As with the originals, magic is built on rune stones. Scattered around the Abyss is an alphabet of rune stones, each inscribed with a runic letter. The Avatar discovers these stones as they explore the Abyss, over time building a vocabulary of spells.

To cast a spell, the player lays outs particular combinations of stones. For instance, the pair of stones IN LOR casts a dim magic light. A much more powerful version of this spell using 3 rune stones, VAS IN LOR, casts the brightness of daylight. Learning new spell combinations is part of the fun. You feel as if you are growing in arcane knowledge --- which of course you are!

Underworld Ascendant explores a new dimension of runic magic. As players master the lore they will uncover hidden powers, and learn how to magically transform their runes. For instance, a mage might learn how to transfigure the runes for a Fireball, POR FLAM, to enlarge its blast radius. As the mage’s knowledge deepens, to make the Fireball dance around the chamber, seeking out each nearby foe in turn. Or perhaps instead, to burn with a violet aura, which clings to foes longer and with more terrible effect. Ultimately, a mage can craft their own repertoire of unique and powerful runes.

The game is still not funded, and sits at $538,223 with nine days left.

Tuesday - February 24, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Banner Update

by Couchpotato, 04:42

Here is the next kickstarter update from OtherSide Entertainment that talks about the games graphics from the alpha video, and posted a video about the games engine.


There has been a lot of chatter about the in-game visuals in the Underworld Ascendant early prototype. Some have called them downright homely.

We take no insult.

As with the games we developed at LookingGlass, our philosophy is to avoid putting a lot of time into making pretty in-game visuals during early development. This enables us to iterate fast early on, rapidly improving game play. The tradeoff is having less impressive visuals to show off with a prototype. For fans who want to see gorgeous visuals upfront, this can be a hurdle.

Good news is that we can and will dramatically step up the visual bar. Not at the expense of gameplay, and not to try to chase AAA games that have tens-of-millions to throw at visuals, but we'll deliver a great-looking indie game.

Monday - February 23, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Chattering Bart Update

by Couchpotato, 05:12

OtherSide Entertainment's next update for Underworld Ascendant announces the game has finally reached he $500,000 mark, and talks about a few other topics.

We fibbed. We said there would be no Update this weekend. But we simply could not contain our excitement on reaching the $500,000 funding milestone. The support of our community for Underworld Ascendant is extraordinary. We are humbled, and triply motivated to make a wonderful game for you.

Onward to the $600,000 milestone!

We also had to share that our community has grown to over 9,200 strong today! This means all our Kickstarter backers will get a free Dark Elf sling, with 5 special purple splatter seeds and at least 2 bonus seeds too. Let’s see if we can reach at least 9,300 Backers by noon (ET) tomorrow, for another bonus seed.

On that note, the most important thing we can do as a community over the coming week is to bring even more backers onboard. We know the original Underworld games have been played by well over a million players. There are even more RPG gamer fans who, while they may not have played the original games, would surely enjoy the amazing game we’re making.

Yet the vast majority of these folks are still utterly unaware that this Kickstarter is underway. At OtherSide we have engaged two PR firms to help get the word out. We also have our friends at Shroud of the Avatar, Star Citizen, Torment, and other projects helping get out the word. Events such this past week’s play of Thief on Twitch reached over 15,000 viewers! We’re also enlisting the full spectrum of social channels to spread the news.

Saturday - February 21, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Greenlit on Steam

by Couchpotato, 05:28

OtherSide Entertainment's next update for Underworld Ascendant announces the game has now been Greenlit, and shares a new video introducing more team members.


As some of you already know, Underworld Ascendant has been Greenlit on Steam! Only took a week. Not sure if that’s a record, but mighty fast. Huge thanks to all the fans who gave the game a big YES and helped bring us to the attention of the tens of millions of players on Steam. We are still in early prototype development, so many months to go before we’d have a build for Steam. But sweet that we’ve got a slot warmed up and waiting, for when we do.

Wanted to introduce you two more on the OtherSide team. Chris Siegel is the Senior Producer on the project. His job is to keep the rest of us in line, and wrestle any stray raccoons that wander in from the street. Chris worked with me at LookingGlass on Thief and several other projects, and then did an extended stay at Turbine working as producer on several of their leading MMOs. Steve Pearsall is our jack-of-all-trades, wearing a half-dozen hats at any time. Steve also worked with me at LookingGlass, including as Producer on Thief Gold. Between these two they have shipped over a dozen award-winning games, so they know how to deliver.

Friday - February 20, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Tracy Hickman Novel

by Couchpotato, 04:41

OtherSide Entertainment posted another kickstarter update this week with news author, Tracy Hickman will be writing a new novel for Underworld Ascendant.


We are thrilled to announce that Tracy Hickman is lined up to write a novel for Underworld Ascendant. Tracy is a best-selling fantasy author, known for the Dragonlance series, the Death Gate Cycle and Apogee of Fear to name a few. He also co-wrote with Richard Garriott, Blade of the Avatar, the book that tells the story behind Shroud of the Avatar.

Tracy’s talents as a fantasy author, together with his deep experience with gaming and close collaboration on Shroud of the Avatar, a world connected to ours, make him ideally suited to write the Underworld Ascendant novel. The novel is going to be set several generations before the game takes place, and tell the story of how a band of Dark Elves from the land of the Shroud of the Avatar passed through a magic portal to make an exodus into the Stygian Abyss. It will tell of their trials in this harsh and dangerous underworld, and of how they carved out a place for themselves.

The game still needs to get funded first, and has 14 days to go.

Thursday - February 19, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Update #13 & #14

by Couchpotato, 05:07

OtherSide Entertainment released two more kickstarter updates this week for Underworld Ascendant. The game still isn't funded, and has made $472,668 of the $600,000 goal.


The OtherSide Entertainment team describes player authored experiences and the vision for the Underworld Ascendant improvisation engine.

The kickstarter campaign still has 15 days left to get funded.

Tuesday - February 17, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Update #11 & #12

by Couchpotato, 05:05

OtherSide Entertainment released two more updates this week for Underworld Ascendant, and the first update has more announcements about the game.

We’re having a great weekend so far, pushing past the 8,000 backer goal for the week. As of noon Sunday there are 8,078 of you strong! That’s a small army… growing into a larger army. This also means everybody who backs this Kickstarter will receive gratis the exclusive ‘Little Friends’ digital reward, which our dwarven smiths are busily crafting.

The latest update is about naming a new monster.

This massive, semi-translucent ooze feeds by cramming it gelatinous bulk into tight dungeon passageways, absorbing detritus and any creature unwary enough to get in its way. We’ve been using the placeholder name “Tunnel Trapper” for this oddball beast, but we know you can come up with something better! Go to our forums HERE to submit a more suitable name. Then in a week's time we’ll select the one that we feels fits best.

Also as a reminder the game has only made $457,661 of the $600,000 goal.

Sunday - February 15, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Steam Greenlight

by Couchpotato, 05:13

Underworld Ascendant is now on Steam Greenlight, and needs your vote.

In 1992, Ultima Underworld changed the rules of what a fantasy RPG could be. It introduced the concept of 3D immersion, a player-authored experience, and a richly dynamic world to explore. Its influence led to a whole generation of games such as Thief, Deus Ex, BioShock, Skyrim, and Dragon Age.

Underworld has been hidden away in the deepest vaults of its publisher for two decades. Only now have the original creators unchained the franchise, freeing it to innovate yet again.

So nothing new here just a shout out about the game on Steam.

Saturday - February 14, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Update #9 & #10

by Couchpotato, 05:20

OtherSide Entertainment released two more updates this week for Underworld Ascendant, and the first update has another video with two team members.


While the game designers and artists frolic and have all the fun, somebody has to make the software actually run. Let me introduce you to a couple of the software engineers who are doing the heavy lifting on Underworld Ascendant’s technical bits… 

Jeffrey Kesselman has worked on a host of PC and console games, including being in senior engineering roles on GEX, The Horde and Duke Nukem 3D. He is also a pen-and-paper D&D player, going back to time before the game was published in hardcover.  

Will Teixeira is a comparative newcomer to game engineering, having been coding games for a mere half-decade. But in that brief time he grew into a senior role on Dungeons & Dragons Online, as well taught college courses in game development. 

The second update talks about the backer rewards.

Today we have reached 70% of our base funding goal! Also, we are now fewer than 225 new backers away from reaching our 8,000+ goal for this week, which will unlock the special weapon.

We appreciate all the advice and feedback you’ve been sharing. It’s fair to say that our team is more experienced making games than running a Kickstarter campaign, but with your help we are improving our approach daily. We are listening and learning from the community’s collective wisdom.  

Our goal underlying all of this is to make, together with you, the best possible game we can. On that we are unwavering. 

As folks who have followed a lot of Kickstarters know, most every game project goes through a slowdown of funding during the middle weeks of its campaign. Underworld Ascendant is not immune. We do have an array of big announcements, more details on the game, and events coming up over the next 2 weeks that should help keep the momentum going regardless. Some of these incorporate the feedback you’ve provided, others we’ve been keeping in our back pocket for when we entered the slower period.

And a short reminder the game has made $420,912 of the $600,000 goal

Thursday - February 12, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Kickstarter Update

by Couchpotato, 05:17

The Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter has made $403,911 of the games $600,000 goal, and OtherSide Entertainment released three more updates with more information.


Got a lot of things to share today.

  • Game was selected as a Staff Pick on Kickstarter! We are honored by the recognition. 
  • Reached #1 on the Kicktraq HOT list today, ahead of Exploding Kittens no less. Click here to check it out!
  •  Just 6 days in, and we’ve gone past the $400,000 milestone in funding! Our backers are an amazing bunch. Now less than $200,000 to reach our base funding goal. By the end of this week???
  • The $20 early-bird PIONEER pledge tier has nearly reached its limit of 5,000. Get’em while you can! This tier includes a full digital copy of the game at an extra low price. Once this closes, the $25 PIONEER’s PROGENY tier has the same stuff available at a still below full retail price (which we anticipate will be more than $30, so you are still saving $5 or more with this tier.)
  •  Over 7,400 backers! Within spitting distance of reaching 8,000 and unlocking the Little Friends backer exclusive for us all.

We've got momentum!

Wednesday - February 11, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Interview @ RPS

by Couchpotato, 05:08

Adam Smith of RPS interviewed Paul Neurath about Underworld Ascendant.

Underworld Ascendant has some big shoes to fill. Big shoes of Nostalgia +8. As a continuation of the Ultima Underworld series, with a team led by Looking Glass veteran Paul Neurath, Ascendant is picking up where the immersive first-person RPG left off a couple of decades ago. The game is currently well on its way to a $600,000 Kickstarter target and I spoke to Neurath about the project, and how it’s possible to move forward while looking to the past.

“This isn’t Looking Glass 2.0,” he says, even though Looking Glass 2.0 seems like a hell of a good thing to be. “We’re not just looking back and trying to recreate something from the past. We’re hoping to be part of the future.”

Tuesday - February 10, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - New Team Update

by Couchpotato, 01:07

The next kickstarter update from OtherSide Entertainment for Underworld Ascendant has two videos to introduce us to two team members, and talks about the stretch goals.

Meet Scott Kimball


Introducing Scott Kimball, veteran game designer (Civilization: War of Two Cities, Indiana Jones Adventure World, Chomp!) and Lead Systems Designer for Underworld Ascendant

Meet Tim Stellmach


Introducing video game design veteran Tim Stellmach (Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Thief). Tim discusses his origins at Looking Glass Studios, and his journey back to Underworld Ascendant with OtherSide Entertainment.

And lets not forget the stretch goals so here you go.

On another topic, I want to talk about getting the word out about Underworld Ascendant. Back at LookingGlass we made some great games that fell under the radar. For example, our System Shock games were largely ignored when first released. Only years later have these games been broadly recognized as classics. Ultima Underworld fared much better, but even then it took nearly a year following release to get wide attention.

The Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter lasts but a month. We can’t wait a year for a larger audience to find us.

While we’re well along towards reaching our base funding goal for the project, it’s still up in the air how many of our stretch goals might get funded. We would love to do them all! They include some great extensions to the Stygian Abyss, and to gameplay. Also some wonderful innovations.

To reach more stretch goals the community of Backers will need to steadily grow over the next couple of weeks. You are the vanguard who first recognized the vision for Underworld Ascendant. It's your voice that will ring loudest with friends and colleagues to join us. Let’s make sure they don’t miss out on this great game.

Sunday - February 08, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Interview @ IncGamers

by Couchpotato, 05:52

Peter Parrish of IncGmaers interviewed Paul Neurath of OtherSide Entertainment.

IncGamers: In the Kickstarter pitch video [for Underworld Ascendant] you imply that Ultima Underworld was in a publisher’s “deepest vault.”

Paul Neurath: That’s right.

IG: Is there a story behind that? You presumably wanted to do this project earlier, but … is it getting hold of rights, or the name? What’s the story there?

PN: The story there is, when we developed … the original [Ultima Underworld] game was developed by the first studio I had going, which was called Blue Sky Productions. Back in 1990 we started that project, and finished the first one in ‘92.

Origin was the publisher – Origin Systems. Richard and Robert Garriott’s studio. They were independent when we were doing that. Around the time that game was done, I don’t remember exactly, very soon after they were acquired by Electronic Arts (EA.) And so that added a layer of complexity, because suddenly EA had to make decisions about what projects got approved and greenlit and funded and all that.

Saturday - February 07, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Meet The Team Update

by Couchpotato, 05:50

The Underworld Ascendant kickstarter has almost made half it's funding in two days, and  OtherSide Entertainment next update introduces the team members.


I wanted to start introducing some of the folks helping to make Underworld Ascendant a reality. First up, our concept artists. These are the superbly talented guys who help envision the look of The Stygian Abyss and its inhabitants.

Finally, thrilled that on the third day of our campaign we have over 5,000 Backers. You are the vanguard! The fans who recognized the vision of this game, and stepped up first. We are honored. All the help in spreading the word and sharing the vision is greatly appreciated.

Friday - February 06, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Questions Wanted

by Couchpotato, 21:33

All right everyone  I contacted OtherSide Entertainment, and got the okay for a new interview. So here is your chance to have your questions asked.

Do keep in mind I don't want to ask more than twenty questions so try to keep them to a minimum of two or three per member, The deadline is this Wednesday on the 11th.

Thursday - February 05, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Update & Interview

by Couchpotato, 05:05

A new kickstarter update for Underworld Ascendant was posted today with information from Paul Neurath who thanks every backer of his game for a good first day.

Halfway through our first day and already over $165,000 pledged towards Underworld Ascendant! Crazy cool. The team and I feel humbled, and hugely thankful for your support.  

Wonderful to see how many of you are reaching out with your comments, suggestions, and thoughts on where we should go with the game. When we were developing the original Underworlds we did it largely in isolation from our fans. Much better this way! We encourage you to keep the dialog coming.

Most of all, we are thrilled to have you along with us on the creative journey to shake up the fantasy RPG genre once again.

I also found a new interview today on PC Gamer with Paul Neurath.

Wednesday - February 04, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Kickstarter Live

by Couchpotato, 15:35

OtherSide Entertainment has launched their new kickstarter thirty minutes ago, and is asking for $600,000 to fund development of Underworld Ascendant.


In 1992, Ultima Underworld changed the rules of what a fantasy RPG could be. It introduced the concept of 3D immersion, a player-authored experience, and a richly dynamic world to explore. Its influence led to a whole generation of games such as Thief, Deus Ex, BioShock, Skyrim, and Dragon Age.

Underworld has been hidden away in the deepest vaults of its publisher for two decades. Only now have the original creators unchained the franchise, freeing it to innovate yet again.

Backing the game grants you unprecedented front row access to the creation of the next epoch of this storied masterpiece, Underworld Ascendant. With your help, here's a glimpse at what we can together build:

  • Exquisitely Realized Underworld – Plunge into The Stygian Abyss: dark, ripe with dangers, full of ancient secrets to discover. A vast subterranean fantasy world made startlingly real and alive.
  • Dynamic Factions – Become embroiled in an epic plot, as rival factions vie for dominance in struggles that ebb and flow across The Stygian Abyss. Your choices will alter the outcome in subtle and dramatic ways. 
  • Improvisation Engine – Delight in player-authored gameplay taken to a whole new level, with a suite of technologies that empower you to solve challenges with astonishing ingenuity. Be the ‘MacGyver’ of a fantasy world. 
  • Hero to Call Your Own – Jump right in as a Fighter, Thief or Mage. Then as your Avatar grows, freely mix and match across any skills to develop a unique hero, tailored to your style of play.
  • Pushing Boundaries – Stretch Goals will innovate on co-op play with a friend; letting you build your own corner of The Stygian Abyss; and more.

Tuesday - January 27, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - New Interview

by Couchpotato, 06:15

Forum member Xian sent me a link to new interview with Paul Neurath on GameWatchers where he talks about his studio's upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

GameWatcher: Was the intention always to run a Kickstarter campaign for Underworld Ascendant? Was that your planned model from day one?

Paul Neurath: Well last Fall we as a team talked about how we could bring this project to the fans. I did have a chance to talk to Richard Garriott, Chris Roberts, Brian Fargo, other people who have used the system very successfully. This is all kind of new to me, so I had to learn what it was all about. We ended up making the decision to take this to Kickstarter because we felt that as an indie studio we wanted to see our vision through, take some creative risks like we did with the original game. I think that’s a big part of being a game designer, not just making prettier graphics and more of the same content. I hope there’s a lot of gamers out there who appreciate some innovation and risk-taking, and also want to be involved in all that. Rarely do fans get to feel part of that process.

There’s an unknown of course, we don’t know exactly how things will turn out, but that’s no different from any other project I’ve worked on over the years. You need some space to be creative and to experiment, and Kickstarter is a larger part of reaching out to fans and inviting them into that process. Sometimes it’s messy and unpredictable, but it can be a lot of fun. Previously there’s always been a wall between us and the fans, but now we can distribute early builds, ask for feedback, ask what they want in the game. That’s great. It’s better for us to have the fans right there from the start.

Sunday - January 25, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Interview @ PCGamesN

by Couchpotato, 05:37

Jeremy Peel of PCGamesN had the chance to interview Paul Neurath about kickstarting his  Ultima Underworld sequel, and other topics if you're interested in reading it.

From Ultima, Underworld had taken the Avatar and the idea that the player had literally escaped, through a portal, from real-world mundanity into a fantasy realm. It was an allusion to classic literature that Neurath had always liked. When EA agreed last year to license Underworld and its fiction but keep hold of the Ultima name, he seized the chance.

“I’ve gone back to Electronic Arts a number of times over the last two decades,” said Neurath. “There were too many hurdles, but the stars kinda aligned and we were able to find a way to bring it back.

“We can basically take anything from the original games, like monsters and locations and items and some of the NPCs. But we can’t use the Ultima brand. In a lot of ways that’s okay because the Underworlds weren’t really designed to be Ultima - it was more of an incidental connection back in the old days.”

Friday - January 23, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Funding Clarification

by Couchpotato, 01:12

Along with the announcement about Richard Garriott collaborating with the story of Underworld Ascendant the games developer also explained their funding goals.

The $1M Kickstarter funding figure for Underworld Ascendant is what we hope to reach between our base funding AND initial stretch goals.

This was a response to an  IGN interview which said the developer needed $1M.

Thursday - January 22, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Shared Fiction with 'Shroud of the Avatar'?

by Killias2, 21:21

There is a new rumor going around that Underworld Ascendant may somehow be connected to Richard Garriott's own Kickstarted project, the Shroud of the Avatar.  In the same way that Ultima Underworld and the mainline Ultima titles are connected, Underworld Ascendant may be set in the same universe as Shroud of the Avatar.  There has yet to be official confirmation from Otherside Entertainment, but Richard Garriott has said the following on Twitter:

We are still working together on joint fiction, so we continue history together!

Obviously, given the historical connection, this is interesting if true.  Any thoughts on this?  Does this increase or decrease your excitement for Underworld Ascendant?  For Shroud of the Avatar?

Wednesday - January 21, 2015

Underworld Ascendant - Kickstarter in February

by Killias2, 17:17

Underworld Ascendant, Paul Neurath's return to the style found in the Ultima Underworld series, is coming to Kickstarter on February 4th.  In addition, the game once known as Underworld Ascension has had a slight name change.  The full statement can be found here, as well as some concept art, but we have a few choice excerpts below:

...Over the years I’ve tried without success to raise the Underworld series back up. Just now have the stars aligned so this can happen.

I started OtherSide Entertainment an indie studio to rekindle this classic. Joining me is an incredible team of developers, who will be introducing themselves over the coming weeks.  Some worked with me on the original Underworlds, along with Looking Glass favorites like System Shock and Thief. Others contributed to more recent classics including Deus Ex and BioShock Infinite. We have deep understanding of the genre, and share a passion for bringing Underworld back.

The newest incarnation of the franchise, Underworld Ascendant, will retain the distinctive fantasy RPG gameplay of the originals. We already have an early prototype running on the PC.  At that same time we will be pushing forward with new innovations --- I can’t wait to tell you more about what we have planned!...

Sunday - January 11, 2015

Underworld Ascension - Infomation In-coming

by Couchpotato, 01:25

OtherSide Games announces on Twitter more details for Underworld Ascension are forth-coming. It has been a while since the game was announced so I can't wait.

Hey Ultima Underworld fans, hold on to your socks, we're preparing to show you some awesome stuff within the next month.

Monday - January 05, 2015

Underworld Ascension - Progress Update

by Couchpotato, 20:26

Thanks to ultimacodex I found news about Underworld Ascension. You may remember it was announced earlier this year, and not much has been said since then.

We haven’t heard much from OtherSide Entertainment’s Underworld Ascension project in a while…at least, not in terms of project news. (On both their Facebook and Twitter profiles, they’ve been posting Ultima Underworld trivia questions and other bits of nostalgia for quite some time now.)

But last month, in reply to a question about progress, Sara — evidently, OtherSide’s community representative — posted this small update:

"Rest assured, things are progressing very well. And please accept our apologies for not getting info out to you. We did have a few art pieces that we wanted to go back to the drawing board on. Like you all, we are very protective of the game’s legacy and want to be sure we’re 100% satisfied that the images live up to our vision.

As you suggested, we are also working on some infrastructure pieces that are difficult to show at the moment. However, in the coming weeks, we’ll be able to show some things that we think you’ll be excited about."

Wednesday - July 30, 2014

Underworld Ascension - Interview @ Eurogamer

by Couchpotato, 18:17

Eurogamer has a new interview for Underworld Ascension, and talk about how Paul Neurath took 20 years to make it. It also mentions why it's not named Ultima.

Role-playing games changed forever when Ultima Underworld launched in 1992. Here was a first-person adventure set in a fully 3D simulated world - an experience like possibly no other before. Skyrim takes all the glory today but The Elder Scrolls series was still two years from appearing on shelves back then. And it's not just Bethesda's games that were inspired by Underworld: prolific and celebrated designers such as Ken Levine, Warren Spector and Richard Garriott all highly regard it - and the man in charge of Underworld, Paul Neurath, worked with most of them. Now all of a sudden he's back - and so is Underworld.

Neurath is making a new game called Underworld Ascension, a project he got the surprise nod from brand holder EA to go ahead with not long before it was announced at the beginning of July. "It was a surprise to us," Neurath tells me in an interview. "EA had the rights and I'd been having discussions with them going back 20 years about doing a new Underworld. And finally the stars aligned and I was able to get the rights to be able to move forward with the franchise."

He doesn't have the go-ahead to use the Ultima licence, he clarifies, but the original Underworld game was designed without Ultima in mind, and having no fiction to adhere to may grant more creative freedom anyway.

Friday - July 11, 2014

Underworld Ascension - Interview @ MMORPG

by Couchpotato, 04:13

MMORPG had the chance to interview Paul Neurath about his new game studio Otherside Entertainment, and his new game Underworld Ascension.

Last week we got the chance to sit down with Paul Neurath, long time game designer who had worked on such titles as Ultima: Underworld, Thief, and System Shock. Paul is now part of Otherside Entertainment which is a new studio looking to bring new life into classic RPGs that we grew up with. The studio is beginning their first project with Underworld Ascension which will bring players back to the classic Underworld franchise. The team obviously cannot use the Ultima name, but you get the hint. With the return to so many RPG styles in PC gaming, a return to Underworld looks very interesting. 

Paul explained that the team founded the company and was given the chance to bring the Underworld IP almost twenty years later his team jumped at the chance. Underworld had set the stage for some serious games like Deus Ex and Bioshock. It is heralded as a classic now and deserves a solid reboot for RPG fans. The team had released two Underworlds and had plans for a third which never came to light. Paul said that the basis for this third title is what the team will be using as blueprints for the new RPG.

Saturday - July 05, 2014

Underworld Ascension - Interview @ Gamespot

by Couchpotato, 05:49

Gamespot took the time to ask a few questions with Looking Glass Co-founder Paul Neurath on his new game Underworld Ascension.

Why is now the right time for Underworld to return?

Paul Neurath: Underworld has been fallow for two decades, isn't that long enough!

A lot has changed since 1992 in the RPG space; how are you designing Underworld Ascension for the modern RPG fan?

PN: We've just gotten underway on the Underworld reboot, so we have a ways to go before reaching a fleshed out design. The team has played many of the modern RPGs; worked on some of them too. So we think we have a good sense of where the genre has evolved over the years, and where there is room for further innovation. We’re definitely going to get the franchise up to date, then push into new territory.

What are some of your overarching ambitions for Underworld Ascension?

PN: More than anything, bring the franchise roaring back and more vital than it ever was. We’d like the game to connect with the fans who have fond memories of the originals, but also draw in a new fans.

The original Underworld games have a special place in many RPG fans' hearts; how are you planning to push the franchise forward while also retaining the essence of what makes it unique?

Some of us worked on the originals and so they hold a special place in our hearts. Also, there was a much done well in the originals that we don't want to mess with. Beyond the now dated visuals, the games hold up surprising well all these years later. the same time, we are explore areas where we can extend the original experience in new ways, and hopefully ways that will feel like natural extensions of the original games, but will make for an evolved experience.

What stage of development is Underworld Ascension in now and when are you planning to release it?

PN: Just got underway a few weeks ago, so still in concept phase. Don't have a release date as yet. We’ll keep you updated.

Information about

Underworld Ascendant

Developer: OtherSide Entertainment

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced

Regions & platforms
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2018-11-15
· Publisher: 505 Games