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Underworld Ascendant Update #14: Q&A, Physics, Playable Prototype Release Date

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Underworld Ascendant Update #14: Q&A, Physics, Playable Prototype Release Date

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 10 November 2015, 02:44:02

Tags: Joe Fielder; OtherSide Entertainment; Paul Neurath; Underworld Ascendant

Last month, we got out first glimpse of Underworld Ascendant prototype footage, with a promise that a playable version of the prototype would be released to eligible backers shortly. Although it ended up not coming out that month, we now have an official release date - late November, or more specifically, sometime shortly before November 26th. Furthermore, the prototype will eventually be released to a wider group of backers, not just to those who paid $300 or more for prototype access. Here's the relevant excerpt from the latest development update, which also makes an attempt at explaining Ascendant's physics-based design, though I suspect people won't really get this until they actually play the game themselves.


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?
  • Player might smash through weaker doors. If door is susceptible to fire, they might burn it to weaken it, then smash through.
  • Could pick the lock, or possibly smash the lock.
  • Might spike the door closed to prevent a creature from opening it from the other side.
  • Could listen at the door to try to hear what's moving around on the other side.
  • Use magic spell to unlock and open the door; or use magic to bind the door and block it closed.
This gives the player a bunch of options for just doors. This same physical approach extends to traps, chests, and rope bridges... pretty much anything you can interact with. Want to use that table to block a doorway. Go for it, if you can move it. Want to use that beam as a platform to span a subterranean stream? All those simple machines you remember studying in school - pulley, lever, screw, gears, and inclined planes - are tools at your disposal.

This simulation approach also ends up applying to other game systems. AI, communication, and even quest creation. Every system we look at we attempt to add common sense real world logic to it, at least within reason and with fun always in mind.

What is interesting about this type of simulation approach is as a player I just have a problem to solve or have a goal to achieve. I don't have to think about what the developer wants me to do. I don't have to worry about the 'right' thing to do. I might solve it simply, or go for a complex or challenging solution. Honestly both can be extremely rewarding.


We are excited to announce that we expect to have the First Playable Prototype build just before Thanksgiving, available to Backers in the $300 and higher Pledge tiers, who get special early access to this first build. A few weeks later we'll distribute this build more broadly. More details will be emailed out directly to Backers in the next week on how to download the build.
I also recommend checking out the interviews linked in the previous update, which are more interesting than the Q&A in the update itself. You can also just read my summary of the interviews here.

There are 26 comments on Underworld Ascendant Update #14: Q&A, Physics, Playable Prototype Release Date

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