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Game News Underworld Ascendant Update #35: One More Month

Infinitron

I post news
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Messages
97,700
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Tags: Joe Fielder; OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

These no-show Underworld Ascendant monthly updates are getting frustrating, but this latest one is kind of interesting in my opinion. In addition to promising a release date for the vertical slice next month (for reals this time guys), the update goes into some detail about what the team has been up to for the past several weeks. It's clear that they want this to be a polished product.

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…​

The update also includes what I think is our first real description of Ascendant's moment-to-moment gameplay, which features Thief-style elemental arrows among other things.

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.​

In addition to the vertical slice announcement, OtherSide are also promising to release the developer blog and developer roundtable backer rewards next month. Maybe things really are finally coming together now.
 

Aenra

Guest
I just noticed they removed the donations tab.. you can't see the grand total anymore.
As such, am assuming there's no hope for that modding kit ever making an appearance.

Which just goes to show how fucking conflicted i am about this game. On the one hand, i got a fuckload of complaints, including the relevant conclusions one can only draw from them. On the other, lol, here i am wondering about the modder kit.
So much sense. Yessir.
 

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
470
I really want this game to be good.
Isn't this set in the same universe as Shroud of the Avatar?
Cause I also really wanted to love that game, despite the fact that it hits me in the face with its crashes, mechanics and "micro"-transactions all the time.

These Ultima remakes sure know how to make you feel like a battered housewife.

:negative:
 

MicoSelva

backlog digger
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I want to be wrong, but it kind of seems like feature creep will leave them without money and forced to abandon the project before they even reach early access.
 

Metro

Arcane
Beg Auditor
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
27,792
The concept of this game sounded great but I knew it would be another ten year development semi-vaporware kind of deal.

And Infinitron seems to be personally invested in this one~

Pay us $50 now so in two years you'll get a 'vertical slice' lelwtfisthat? I bet this doesn't see a beta until 2020.
 

Zep Zepo

Titties and Beer
Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Messages
5,233
Anxiously awaiting the announcement of the announcement that was announced previously!

:bounce:

:troll:

Zep--
 

Zep Zepo

Titties and Beer
Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Messages
5,233
Hey man, it's been about a month, hasn't it? Where's the announcement about the next announcement announced previously in a past announcement?

:bounce: :dance: :bounce:

:troll:

Zep--
 

Darkzone

Arcane
Joined
Sep 4, 2013
Messages
2,323
Zep your comments alone are worth the waiting. Hopefully you will comment also on the SS3 thread. How about bashing also BTIV or WL3 or i don't know.
 

Zep Zepo

Titties and Beer
Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Messages
5,233
Already did on Sleepy Warren's SS3.

I have no idea what BTIV or WL3 is, though I am sure they are shit.

Zep--
 

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