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Game News Underworld Ascendant Update #4: Answers from the Abyss #2


I post news
Staff Member
Jan 28, 2011
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Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

With the game's development beginning to ramp up, the Underworld Ascendant team have wisely decided to switch to a biweekly update schedule, with updates being published every other Monday. The first of these biweekly updates was published yesterday. It's the second in a serious of monthly Q&As called "Answers from the Abyss", the first of which was published last month, but was not incredibly interesting. This one has more meat on its bones, conclusively answering the question of what sort of character system OtherSide plan to use for Ascendant, among other things. Here's an excerpt:

"Why abandon PnP-inspired RPG systems in favor of perks?" - CyberP

Great question and one we've been thinking a lot about as we start to delve into the character progression system.

Clearly there are benefits to both methodologies; a more traditional RPG system in which players have more finite control over skill points and stat advancement allows players to create and fine tune their characters exactly to their liking.

For Underworld Ascendant we want the focus of the game to be on the world and your interactions with it. Anything that might get in the way of this, anything that might put itself between the player and the experience of living in the Underworld, is something we have to seriously consider before including in the game.

So, how does this relates to perks and character progression? Our preference is not to have players spend a lot of time in a system or UI where they are studying stats and points or worrying about whether to increase strength over dexterity. We'd prefer, instead, to have character progression consist of a smaller number of meaningful decisions, such as choosing a new attack or movement ability, rather than numerous numerical tweaks, as allocating skill points every level.

This also will likely mean that many parts of character progression will happen more organically. So, a player who is casting a lot of spells will tend to gain advancement and abilities in spell casting versus a character who becomes more skilled in melee weapons because that is his preferred method of combat. A player who wants their character to use a bow, for instance, is probably going to be using a bow quite often. Our thought is, why make the player actually go through the work of putting "skill points" into bowmanship if it can just happen automagically without interrupting the game experience?

"We know creatures in the ecosystem are going to function within it (i.e food needs, survival, and whatnot). Will this affect NPC's in the factions as well? Can I go hunting with Lizardmen?" - SteveC

Yes, NPCs and factions will be positioned in the ecosystem alongside the flora and fauna. This means that NPCs and members of factions will have needs and desires that hinge on accessibility and conditions of the environment: access to food, protection from predators, warmth, and so forth.

Day-to-day routines of NPCs and factions will also be in the game as much as possible, including those that draw from and/or impact the ecosystem. So, yes, lizardmen will be seen hunting and, depending upon your standing with them, they might even allow you to tag along.

"Are NPC's/creatures going to have other needs besides food in the ecosystem?" - SteveC

Absolutely. While food may be the strongest need for many creatures, other things will also factor into their behaviors and motivations. For instance, creatures will have a predilection for the kind of environment they want to live in - lava bat want to live in hot areas, preferably with some lava flows. If that environment changes then the creatures will have a desire to migrate to a new location that more suits their needs.

We expect light and darkness to play a real role in creature behaviors as well. To feel safe some creatures or NPCs may be more comfortable in well-lit parts of the Underworld, while others may prefer the darkness in which to hide. Light levels is an atmospheric state which can be readily changed by the player, or even by happenstance, and which will have a big impact on the lives of creatures and NPCs.​

Hmmm. I'm okay with the idea of dumping the statty stuff in favor of perks, as it was pretty superfluous to the experience in the original Ultima Underworld games. Not sure how exactly learn-by-use fits in with that, though. In other news, in the previous update, OtherSide announced that they were adding a Tyball lich (and liches in general) to the game to sweeten the $900k funding goal, which they've been (quite unsuccessfully) trying to reach since funding on Kickstarter. Don't think that's going do anything until they have a good-looking gameplay demo to entice pre-orders, though.

resilient sphere

Nov 27, 2014
Everything in this update makes sense assuming Underworld Ascendant is the new sequel to that old Looking Glass Studios classic, Morrowind :hug:

Crooked Bee

(no longer) a wide-wandering bee
Jan 27, 2010
In quarantine
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Ultima's stat system was always a joke anyway, but learn by use is not the kind of solution I prefer. Still, we'll see I guess.


Dec 31, 2013
Why do you hate obsessive-compulsive fun so much, Infinitron?

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