Hi, Paul Neurath and the team of OtherSide here, the folks making Underworld Ascendant. You can find out more information about us at http://www.underworldascendant.com. Doing an ask me anything!” So ask away.

Proof of AMA: https://www.facebook.com/OtherSideEntertainment/photos/a.1505657029646468.1073741828.1491323711079800/1597479100464260/?type=1&theater

Thanks everybody for showing up and asking great questions! We're cutting the live Q&A now, but feel free to still post your questions ...

Comments: 166 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

SergeEXE15 karma

How do you plan on differentiating Underworld Ascension from the myriad First Person "RPG"s that are on the market today? I ask this because I find it a shame that games like Skyrim, while quite impressive in their own right, have in my opinion dumbed down the genre a fair bit since the days of Ultima Underworld. Will that same depth and complexity be present in Ascension?

OtherSide_Ent15 karma

For one, we think we can get a lot more out of sandbox play than what other RPGs are doing these days. We're building tech we're calling the Improvisation Engine that should really open up players' ability to get super-creative with solving challenges, and finding their own approaches.

VTchitcherine10 karma

Will it be possible to play through the game with non-lethal or purely stealth means?

OtherSide_Ent11 karma

We're not sure about winning the game entirely without fighting, but certainly players can rely on stealth in many if not most encounters.

Astrobia8 karma

Sorry if this has been asked/debated before. What was the reasoning behind using the cliche tolkenesque/D&D dwarves instead of the slightly more original mountain-folk from the classic underworld and bumping the Abyss' Lizardmen from the core game to stretch goals in favor of never before seen dark elves?

OtherSide_Ent8 karma

We wanted to have a combination of familiar fantasy tropes as well as more out-there, original stuff. We also wanted to call back to the original games with the Lizardman stretch goal, the Lurker...

enderandrew427 karma

You've got an Avatar in the Stygian Abyss where we see the classic runes from the Ultima games, but this isn't an Ultima game. There are portals where this world has in the past connected to New Britannia from Shroud of the Avatar. And yet Ascendant is set in a new world. Can you clarify what the new IP is and how it correlates to other IP?

OtherSide_Ent16 karma

While we don't have the Ultima brand, we can use everything else from the original Underworld games. Spells, lore, backstory, an Upset Specter named Warren...

roasted_peanus7 karma

Just wanted to say thanks to you and the rest of Looking Glass for helping create some of the greatest games of my childhood. I chipped into the kickstarter mainly out of gratitude.

What do you think made Looking Glass such a creative and successful game developer?

How does your previous experience with Looking Glass shape creating this new group?

OtherSide_Ent5 karma

Many people didn't know that we were actually an advanced alien vanguard from Alpha Centauri.

Aside from that, it was passion for innovation and great games, more than anything.

pimpbot6 karma

Hi guys, I'm an old Looking Glass UU/SS superfan and really interested in this under-developed genre space. I have two independent questions concerning the design choices you face in this new title.

My first question is about leveling and skill progression; what mechanics do you intend to use? Are you going to borrow a boilerplate XP-reward system, an improve-through-use system like Elder Scrolls titles, or do you intend to approach the question of improvement/levelling in a more unique and innovative way? (I will say that I think ES improve-through-(successful)-use is inherently flawed; skills are learned by failing, not by succeeding).

My second question is about darkness. Since your entire game is set underground it seems reasonable to assume that there will be large, unlit regions. What sort of gameplay challenge/feature does darkness versus light pose in Underworld Ascendant? Let's say you run out of light sources, will this entail a desperate scramble to get back into a lit region at all costs, or will it merely result in a marginal decrease in ambient light level (DS2 I'm looking at you).

Thanks in advance. I'll be sure to be watching this KS very closely!

OtherSide_Ent3 karma

On character advancement, we're taking some elements from the original games, but then we're going to innovate. It won't be the same as any other current RPG.

On darkness, yes.

enderandrew426 karma

You have a stretch goal for mod tools which will allow players to make their own content and share them with other players. However, has OtherSide considered allowing crowdsourced assets in the main retail game?

OtherSide_Ent9 karma

Great question. We'd love to: it would come as part of the stretch goals.

K3m0sabe5 karma

Hi, excited about the prospect of playing again a proper first person underground rpg since Arx Fatalis.

Now for the question:

How important will story, quests and reactivity be in the game?

OtherSide_Ent11 karma

Absolutely important. But quests and story in the Underworld games are player-driven. We never want to put the player on a narrative rail.

K3m0sabe5 karma

If the game is successful can we expect some re-imagining of other former Looking Glass titles like System Shock and Thief? Say yes... please.

OtherSide_Ent5 karma

We've discussed other plans, but all of our focus is on Underworld now.

Piranjade5 karma

Hi OtherSide! Congrats on your kickstarter launch! Do you plan a DRM-free release?

OtherSide_Ent15 karma

Yes! We will have a DRM-free release.

remontoir4 karma

How do you cope with your legendary renown ? :)

OtherSide_Ent6 karma

Paul gets no respect on Alpha Centauri.

remontoir4 karma

No mention of first-person perspective on the Kickstarter page ! Am I correct to assume it's so obvious it wasn't worth mentioning ?

OtherSide_Ent9 karma

Yes!

uhng4 karma

Will there be a minimap? (Please, say no!)

OtherSide_Ent6 karma

We liked the auto-map from the original games, which was a different thing. We want to use the strengths of that in a modern UI. And we won't hold players' hands!

NashMuhandes4 karma

Please tell us more about what was really happening with Ultima Underworld's infamous "Object List Error" - why does it happen, and what were the coding mistakes that lead to it?

OtherSide_Ent5 karma

Well, even advanced Alpha Centaurians aren't perfect.

Fenyx43 karma

How involved with Warren be?

Advisor could be anything from "We give him a 15 minute phone call once a season" to "He lives under the lead developers desk and calls the version control servers his 'precious'." :)

OtherSide_Ent7 karma

Precious? We think Warren plays a better upset specter than he does Gollum.

Warren's been a closely involved creative adviser since we got underway. He provided a LOT of creative insight, and will continue to do so.

ReBlinds3 karma

In the pitch video, I think it was Tim that said "other opportunities that were cut short when looking glass closed its doors." Were you guys talking about the canceled Deep Cover and the next generation Siege Engine that was in the works and the game was intended to be developed on?

After Underworld Ascendant what is the next step for Otherside Entertainment?

Also, what engine and development tools are you working with? Namely for level design.

OtherSide_Ent3 karma

Not so much specific projects, as innovations and new directions to take our games in.

Backhorn3 karma

What I remember most fondly about Ultima Underworld 2 was getting lost. It was as if the world wasn't made FOR me, I was just stuck in it. Finding a new area after hours of searching and being all excited only to find the remains of a previous explorer who lost hope at the same dead end...

With all the internet guides and videos now available, do you plan on making the world more linear to guarantee your content will be seen, or risk making it like a maze where someone who knows where to go can clear the level in minutes?

I would love to get lost again, but I can understand why most games now put the player on rails.

OtherSide_Ent9 karma

Heavens, no. We think it's fun to get lost. We do it all the time. We don't like rails. Not a fan.

-SD-3 karma

Just a quick engine tech query:

Will Ascendant use global illumination?

OtherSide_Ent3 karma

Yes. Current prototype doesn't have it yet. It is an Underworld, so there will be a lot of dark areas.

Astrobia3 karma

If the co-op stretch goal is reached, since players represent "the Avatar"... Is there going to be an in lore explanation for a different "the Avatar" showing up in your game is it more going to be handwaved because as players we know it's a multiplayer caveat?

OtherSide_Ent5 karma

Interesting question. Split personalities?

When your friend joins, they're an ethereal doppleganger, not their actual full Avatar self.

Ashnobe3 karma

Hello and thank you for doing this AMA. I am curious about one thing: With all innovations that UUs brought to VGs (and are standards now), what and how do you want to innovate things now?

OtherSide_Ent5 karma

Looking back the two decades since we did the Underworlds, there's actually less innovation in gameplay than we would have thought. Videogames are still a new medium, with lots of room to innovate still. It's what we love to do!

CyberP13 karma

Hello! Things are looking good for the future.

Feel free to answer only what you are comfortable with:

  1. How do you plan to innovate combat in terms of melee mechanics? The old simplistic ways still present to date in games such as Skyrim no longer cut it.

  2. Will interaction systems be based upon the improvements made in Arx Fatalis (the most advanced Immersive Sim in terms of simulated interaction IMO)?

  3. What is the final word on the magic system: UU interface rune clicking, Arx rune drawing, or something else?

  4. Do you intend to take simulated interactivity to the next level with UA?

  5. Is there anything from the original set of games that in retrospect you'd like to move away from? Puzzles, platforming, secret areas, NPC interactions, RPG systems, orienteering/exploration in a vast labyrinth, no handholding, simulation, I hope it all is retained, only expanded upon.

OtherSide_Ent4 karma

  1. We'd like to get away from the D&D-style stats, old-school character classes, the original user interface (though great for its time), saving the princess...

thomcom3 karma

At the Pioneer Kickstarter backer level, do I actually get a copy of the game or do I just get a $20 discount on the retail release of the game? I'd like to back the project but it isn't clear what the $20 backer level is worth.

OtherSide_Ent3 karma

Yes, you get a digital copy of the game.

OtherSide_Ent3 karma

We're going to wrapping up live Q&A in ten minutes.

OtherSide_Ent3 karma

Thanks again! Great questions, everyone!

skner2 karma

In my experience, many Unity-powered PC games, especially those with a big world to explore, have suffered from poor optimization and performance issues. I can't imagine someone realize a dynamic and huge underworld with first-person view in Unity without those issues.

Is Unity the engine for the final game, or only for the prototype purpose?

OtherSide_Ent4 karma

We've got some tricks up our sleeves. We understand the importance of achieving good performance.

NashMuhandes2 karma

Will we be able to write notes on the automap, just like the old games?

OtherSide_Ent3 karma

We get a lot of fond comments about notes on the automap! We want to keep the strengths of that system, whatever we do.

Isvulfe2 karma

Congratulations on the Kickstarter campaign, it sure looks promising :)

I have a question regarding the visual fidelity of the current ingame footage. How close to the final product you're aiming for would you say it is, say on a scale from 1 to 10? Also I see you're using the Unity engine for the prototype. Is Unity 5 the target engine for the final product, or are you considering other engine options as well (UE4, CE3 etc.)?

OtherSide_Ent4 karma

Don't know about 1 to 10, but it's an early prototype, with a lot of focus on proving gameplay concepts. We don't spend time doing fancy graphics until we get gameplay rock-solid.

Astrobia2 karma

The $200 Avatar tier says it includes all "digital kickstarter addons for free" however...

It already says it includes all of the above digital tiers, including the all digital stretch goals rewards from the $75 tier. There are kickstarter exclusive digital rewards in the more expensive tiers below it (silver and gold trim cloaks, jade dagger) and the only other thing on the page that says addons is the Shroud of the Avatar tie in item which clearly states you need to pledge to shroud of the avatar to receive.

So what exactly does the "digital kickstarter addons for free" line pertain to?

OtherSide_Ent4 karma

We're planning to reveal some add-ons during the campaign, and for any that we do, folks who pledge at the $200+ tier will get any of the digital add-ons automatically for free.

Fenyx42 karma

Do you guys have any plans for an official wiki?

OtherSide_Ent6 karma

We're happy leaving that to the fans!

MaidenMadness2 karma

Just one question. Saying that (heaven forbid) your Kickstarter doesn't meet it's goal, do you guys have a plan B or?

OtherSide_Ent3 karma

Yes, Plan B from Outer Space.

We hope we won't need Plan B, but we do have something in mind. Rather not spend time thinking about that now.

uhng2 karma

Ultima Underworld is my favorite game of all time, and I've played everything worth playing since the Commodore 64 days. I also think Looking Glass Studios was the best studio to ever exist in the West. If Underworld Ascendant succeeds, what's next? Maybe a Deep Cover revival?

OtherSide_Ent8 karma

All our focus is on Underworld Ascendant for now. If we hit our expectations on that, we'll explore other games.

NashMuhandes2 karma

Do the source codes to UW and UW2 still exist? Is there any chance of those ever being released so that people can make modern source ports?

OtherSide_Ent8 karma

We do in fact have the source code. We're actually offering digital PC copies of the original Underworld 1 and 2 also, on pledge tiers $75+

Scoiatael2 karma

Is there a specific time period that this takes place in terms of the ultima series history?

OtherSide_Ent6 karma

Play the game to find out!

cave_rat2 karma

To be honest, I never played original Ultima Underworld but I know it influenced games I like: Thief, Deus Ex, Arx Fatalis, Dishonoured... (Ralph Colantonio always goes on and on about how great Underworld is and how it inspired him to work on games). I wanted to ask, how hard it will be to players like me to get into Underworld Ascendant? Will be it oldschool (which means fun, but sometimes quite difficult) or more modern, with lots of convenient features like mini-map etc?

OtherSide_Ent3 karma

We do want make it easy for our new fans to get up to speed. At the same time, the game will have less hand-holding than many modern games, and the challenges will ramp up.

enderandrew421 karma

Underworld 1 and 2 were linear games with levels.

Will Ascendant be linear as well, or more of an open-world design?

OtherSide_Ent5 karma

Definitely more of an open world design. The spirit of our games is for the plot structure to be the arena for a player-driven story, not a linear theme park ride.

Astrobia1 karma

Are we going to be facing an impending Armageddon event such as the Slasher of Veils losing his bonds more and more the longer we putter around or will be just be relying on things like hunger mechanics to create that sense of impending peril if we don't keep pressing forward?

OtherSide_Ent2 karma

More the impending armageddon kind of thing.

enderandrew421 karma

Obviously this is a spiritual successor to the previous Underworld games so those are influences. And you speak about how Underworld inspired other games.

But what non-Looking Glass games are now inspirations for Ascendant?

OtherSide_Ent5 karma

Actually, it's essentially a full sequel. We can use everything from the originals but the Ultima brand.

Astrobia0 karma

If a Reaper falls in the Abyss and nobody is around to hear it, does it leave any loot?

OtherSide_Ent5 karma

The loot gets picked up by one hand clapping.