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Underworld Ascendant Update #30: Officially delayed, new Prototype build coming February 2017

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Underworld Ascendant Update #30: Officially delayed, new Prototype build coming February 2017

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 1 November 2016, 17:50:38

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Paul Neurath; Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss; Underworld Ascendant; Warren Spector

October's Underworld Ascendant update was supposed to come out last week, but OtherSide decided to postpone it a bit to make it a Halloween thing. The update was expected to give us our first look at the game's Vertical Slice, but it looks like somewhere along the way their plans changed. Instead, yesterday's update announced that Ascendant has been delayed beyond its originally declared November 2016 release date (which is no surprise) and that a new Prototype build is due to come out in February. It's unclear whether this "Prototype" is the same thing as the Vertical Slice. Here's the announcement:

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.​

To make up for the disappointment, OtherSide have decided to unlock the game's Necropolis of the Ancients stretch goal, even though they never did reach the required $950k of funding. The update also includes a few words from Warren Spector about the development of the original Ultima Underworld, and some interesting details about Ascendant's spectral monsters, which I'll quote here:

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.

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.

Those choosing to play without the use of ranged abilities may find the Eidolon particularly vexing... until they develop new strategies for dealing with them.

Like all AI in Underworld Ascendant, they're designed to push you to constantly utilize The Improvisation Engine to come up with creative solutions to challenging situations.
OtherSide plan to finalize backer rewards such as developer roundtables and in-game backer content through Summer 2017, which gives us a lower bound on the game's release date. They also plan to unveil a new (and much needed) official website this month. I suspect we can expect ramped up production values going forward.

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