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Game News Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter Update #14: On the Improvisation Engine and Choice & Consequence


I post news
Staff Member
Jan 28, 2011
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: Chris Siegel; OtherSide Entertainment; Tim Stellmach; Underworld Ascendant; Warren Spector

Underworld Ascendant received its second weekly major Kickstarter update today. This update describes in further detail the environmental interaction capabilities of the game's "Improvisation Engine", and also its larger scale faction-based reactivity and choice & consequence mechanics. The latter is something we've less heard about, so I'll quote that part of the update, after the accompanying video:

Faction Influence: You Can't Please Everyone

Underworld Ascendant's
sandbox design also feeds into how you interact with the Abyss’ three factions: the Dark Elves, the Dwarves, and the Shamblers.

Each faction's outlook towards you is shared by all of its members, based on your reputation and prior actions towards them. Their outlook is influenced by choices in conversation, larceny, acts of overt hostility, favors (for them or their rivals), or actions that may even seem inconsequential at first.

For example, slaying a Tunnel Trapper blocking access to the mines might put you in good with the Dwarves, but harm your reputation with the Dark Elves, who herded it there earlier to thwart the mountain folk's prospecting efforts. Likewise, the bark of the carnivorous plant known as the Ripper is highly-prized by all three factions. The Dark Elves craft it into light, sturdy mail. The Dwarves utilize it as an alchemical ingredient. The Shamblers employ it as a fertile, living bed for the growth of spores. Killing one of the creatures may provide you with valuable items to trade the Dark Elves or Dwarves, but put you out of favor with the Shamblers.

Keeping on good terms with a faction may lead to special quests, access to unique items, and even to becoming adopted into their tribe; all of which greatly affect your gameplay experience. It’s all up to your choices.

A Dynamic, Reactive World

When we say that Underworld Ascendant will be a “living, breathing world”, we mean that there's a complex ecology of flora and fauna existing around you while you play. This ecology will be self-sustaining, designed to flourish and grow.

The player can impact the ecology. For instance, killing a pack of Shadow Beasts may mean the Lurkers living in the watering hole nearby won't have a food supply. Their new home may end up being directly in the path of your next quest, or adjacent to an encampment of Dwarven allies.

Conversely, if you decide not to hunt the Shadow Beasts, their nesting habits may attract Cave Worms, who love to lay eggs in Shadow Beast feces. More Cave Worms means more Dire Faeries, who view Cave Worms as a delicacy. Suddenly this area is getting pretty dangerous!

Opportunities will arise for you to take an active hand in altering the environment. For instance, transforming a damp, humid bog into a dry, arid plain by damming a nearby stream will drive out the native species. Invite in others that favor the altered clime, and tip the area out of the Shamblers' control and into the hands of the Dwarves or Dark Elves.

The more you play, the more you'll come to understand the web of interrelated systems playing out around you, and how you can play within those systems. That's what “freedom of choice” means for Underworld Ascendant.

Other than that, the update also reveals that OtherSide have recruited yet another old-time Origin/Looking Glass celeb - the artist Denis Loubet, who was responsible for all of Origin's iconic box art. Oh, and the OtherSiders are currently doing their Twitch LP of Thief: The Dark Project, which you can watch from the very beginning here. Looking Glass Studios veteran Randy Smith is the guest star.


Nov 8, 2012
Hummm... if all of this is supported by a generic system of rules instead of scripting, this could be serious incline. You changing the dungeon enviroment this way if it is really well done could be fucking amazing. Last time I heard things about dynamic flora and fauna was when Ken Levine was hyping Bioshock and we know how things turned out. Hope they manage it, because if they really do...


Jul 20, 2008
Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong
I'm glad they actually started talking about the game!
I can actually see holding this update back from the initial pitch, but yeah they should have had it out in the first week.

It almost seems like they expected any potential backers to just expect this style of gameplay and mind read them to know they were thinking the same things.


Nov 10, 2012
Finally a game world to get lost in and not scripted B grade movies called games that get shovelled out.
Last edited:
Oct 4, 2010
This is the stuff they should have shown some of in their pitch.
I don't know if they can pull it off, but it's suddenly interesting.

Vault Dweller

Commissar, Red Star Studio
Jan 7, 2003

Update #14 - instead of talking about something new it explains the bridge thing again. This time they also mention that destroying the bridge isn't an issue as you can get across in different ways. Different ways across are nice, removing the consequence - not so much.

They mention that specializing in bows makes you more effective at killing things from a distance, which is kinda to be expected.

Then they talk about the factions. Killing some things will lower your rep with the related faction, but the effect isn't explained. So what happens if I kill a bunch of things the Dark Elves hold dear? They stop trading? They stop talking to me? Hunt me down? What?

Then they mention that the world is dynamic and killing some beasts might force other beasts that eat the beasts you killed to move on and might even affect your future quest. Killing the bigger beasts will invite other predators and might make the area too dangerous. They also mention that you can alter the environment and turn a humid bog into a dry plain.

This sounds fucking cool BUT they dedicate to this exciting, rare, super awesome feature a couple of sentences, not an entire update or two. It's like selling Doc Brown's car and mentioning that it doesn't need roads without elaborating. It raises nothing but questions that remain unanswered which turns this potentially cool feature into vague promise of something awesome.


Feb 25, 2014
The consequences aren't removed in that scenario, since, unless yer a newb to CRPGs, you had to have acquired and enabled the items that open the possibilities first--if it's not a route navigable by the basic player character, or opening a dialogue with the right NPC and choosing the correct options so they open another pathway for you, or removing a barrier of any kind somewhere else to also create a circumventing path, and so forth.

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