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Underworld Ascendant Update #29: Bestiary Design Principles

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Underworld Ascendant Update #29: Bestiary Design Principles

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 27 September 2016, 18:41:32

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

The folks at OtherSide Entertainment continue to work on the Underworld Ascendant pre-alpha Vertical Slice release, which increasingly looks like it's not going to be out before the end of the year. The game's latest monthly update has some news on what they've been up to recently, plus a short treatise on the design principles of its bestiary, which is appropriately systemic and hierarchical:

As mentioned before, we're holding off on showing our work on the Underworld Ascendant Vertical Slice until its far along and polished. In the meantime, we thought you'd be interested in a peek under the hood at the design work involved.

When you interact with a denizen of The Stygian Abyss in Underworld Ascendant, you're encountering many hours of work involved in bringing it to life... Modeling, animation, AI, and -- what we'll cover a bit today -- a core set of underlying design principles that dictate its role in the game.

The inhabitants come in three main forms:
  • CATALYSTS - Beings who possess robust behaviors, advanced combat tactics, and, if intelligent, can converse, trade, or engage with the player. (Ex: The Lizard Men.)
  • CONFOUNDERS - Creatures who enhance or detract in combat, like The Wailing Haunt or Lich, or act as environmental hazards, like The Ripper or Lurker.
  • COLLABORATORS - Inhabitants with useful behaviors that the player can exploit, like the Earth Clot, a bulky, gelatinous mass that can be prodded down hallways to break traps or act as cover.
One of the core design principles of Underworld Ascendant is to educate the player about the rules of the simulated dungeon world without overt hand-holding. The goal of "teaching players to teach themselves" underlies the game's level design, narrative, and even the combat design.

For instance, there are four tiers of CATALYSTS, whose roles in combat...
  • TIER 1 - Teach the player the basic moves & skills of the CATALYST.
  • TIER 2 - Make sure the player is paying attention
  • TIER 3 - Challenge the player.
  • TIER 4 - Provide a fight to remember.
In the Vertical Slice, the player will not only face creatures from each category, he/she will find that a mix or an entrant from a higher tier can make for a much different encounter.

Next month, we'll give a fresh behind-the-scenes peek at the making of the Underworld Ascendant Vertical Slice. This time, about the game narrative...​

The update also has a list of the new personnel OtherSide have hired over the past few months, two of which are QA guys. Ascendant might not be coming out anytime soon, but it doesn't appear to be due to lack of funding.

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