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Underworld Ascendant Update #32: New Year Progress Report

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Underworld Ascendant Update #32: New Year Progress Report

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 18 January 2017, 20:43:13

Tags: Chris Siegel; OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

Many backers were upset with last month's disappointingly brief Underworld Ascendant update, so for this month OtherSide promised they would try harder. The new update was published a few hours ago, and while there's still no ETA on the Marcaul vertical slice, there is a bit more to chew on here:

Like we’ve mentioned last month, our current efforts on Underworld Ascendant are focused on creating a tight, polished experience that demonstrates its core distinctive gameplay.

To do that, we’ve targeted an area on the second level of The Stygian Abyss, where the player is first introduced to the Improvisation Engine — the array of tools that allow you to experiment and create your own ingenious solutions to challenges.

The premise? The Lizard Men allow none entry to the key settlement of Marcaul, save the able. To gain access, you must prove yourself by completing The Challenge of Ishtass — a familiar character from Ultima Underworld, whose influence is felt throughout Underworld Ascendant.

In it, we provide you choices in combat, stealth, and magic. How you use them — to engage, evade, or manipulate the Lizard Men and horrific Mind Crippler — is up to you.

How’s it coming along? Long story short: We’ve been VERY BUSY!

On the visual front, our art director Nate (BioShock, System Shock 2, The Last of Us) Wells is working closely with our team of modelers, creating concept reference for key characters and props, and digging into the look and layout of the level.

Besides designing BioShock’s iconic Big Daddy character, Nate was responsible for creating the stunning opening levels of BioShock and BioShock Infinite, so we look forward to sharing his progress on upping our visual bar, once we complete our polish and lighting pass. We’ll report that it’s moving toward a darker, dangerous aesthetic, closer to that in the original Ultima Underworld.

On the gameplay front, our lead designer Tim Stellmach and lead engineer Will Teixiera have been dedicated to the unique combat skills, stealth abilities, and magic spells that you’ll be able to choose from.

Those among you who are fans of Looking Glass’ Thief games may recall that Tim was the lead designer of both The Dark Project and The Metal Age. We’re understandably excited to have one of the developers responsible for inventing the stealth game genre working on the stealth aspects of our game AND collaborating with the incredibly industrious Will, a former gameplay programmer on Dungeons & Dragon Online and participant in countless indie game jams.

On the narrative front, our project director and writer Joe (BioShock Infinite, The Flame in the Flood) Fielder recently recorded our script with voice performer Stephen Russell, who you know from such memorable roles as Garrett in Thief, Nick Valentine in Fallout 4, and Corvo in Dishonored 2.

In Underworld Ascendant, Stephen plays the spirit of Cabirus, founder of the failed utopia seen in Ultima Underworld. His character is a mix of Marcus Aurelius and Captain Nemo and provides insight into The Stygian Abyss’ storied past and its unique role in the universe. The session with Stephen went phenomenally well and we can’t wait for you to hear his VO in-game.

Our current sprint is aimed at improving combat, refining stealth mechanics, animation and audio support to provide clear readability for those systems, implementing the narrative aspects, and perfecting the look of the Lizard Men and Mind Crippler.
The update includes a couple of WIP renders and pieces of concept art, as well as an insightful interview with OtherSide level designer Justin Pappas. The truly nerdy among you may want to help Tim Stellmach develop the Lizard Man language, an element of the original Ultima Underworld which will have a larger role in Ascendant.

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