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Underworld Ascendant Update #40: Deep Slugs of Upper Erebus

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Underworld Ascendant Update #40: Deep Slugs of Upper Erebus

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 22 November 2017, 00:35:44

Tags: Joe Fielder; OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

The latest Underworld Ascendant development update continues to chronicle the game's progress towards release sometime late next year. This update describes OtherSide's work on a new level called Upper Erebus, which is apparently adjacent to the previously mentioned settlement of Marcaul. Among its inhabitants are the peaceful creatures known as Deep Slugs, who have a variety of uses. I quote:

“HOW’S EVERYTHING IN THE STYGIAN ABYSS?”

Joe Fielder, here. That question above was a message a friend and external tester sent me earlier this week. I was happy to relay that, for an incredibly dangerous environment on the borders of The Underworld, it’s quite well, in fact.

We’ve recently completed a Milestone where we allow the player to enter the settlement of Marcaul, make a choice of six, unique different quests in our Upper Erebus level, complete it, and return to town to collect their reward, grow their character, and choose another quest.

Since Upper Erebus is a level the player wouldn’t encounter for a few hours into the game, we provided a few choices of demo-only “hero kits” that represented growth and equipment choices they might’ve made by that point. Each mixed combat, stealth, and magic skills in a different, interesting ways.

While those kits won’t be in the final game, they let us hop in and quickly have fun and start experimenting in the simulation. One kit provided combat skills, the ability to heave heavy objects, a few movement options for tough-to-reach locations, and a Create Fire spell. Another focused on stealth skills, like soft step and a combat bonus for attacking enemies while undetected. The third was a combination of a little stealth and a lot of magic, with spells including those you’ve seen before (like Gravitate and Slow Time) and a few you haven’t…

The level is comprised of spaces that are interesting to explore and areas designed to provide a bevy of options for combat, stealth, magic, and interacting with the environment. One of the most fun things to interact with in the world so far is the Deep Slug, which we’ve mentioned a bit before, but haven’t previously shown you up close.

It’s an example of what we refer to as an “ambient” creature, which exist in the environment, don’t attack on sight, and have useful behaviors that the player can exploit. In short, a tool or toy.

In the Deep Slug’s case, it’s a peaceful creature that avoids conflict and has a few different useful trails. You can bait it with its favorite foods and its trails will change depending which one it devours.

For instance, if you feed it the fruit of a Ripper (a terrible tree monster), it’ll leave behind a flammable trail. Bait it into the patrol path of skeletons or near a wooden platform, apply fire, and enjoy!

If you feed it a Nether Caps? It leaves behind a trail of sight-blocking smoke. Beyond that, we’re not saying.

It’s not only fun to experiment with, it’s often vital when dealing with groups of foes to difficult to tackle one-on-one.

And, it’s kind of adorable. In a gross way.

Since hitting that milestone, we’ve been doing another round of external testing so we can get key feedback on how to further refine our core experience (combat, object interactions, spell interactions, and more). Ensuring that the logic underlying the game’s simulated systems (physics, physical properties) is clear – without overt handholding – is a key part of creating an immersive sim.

We’ve also been digging into VFX, expanding our bestiary with the Lich and Outcasts, adding new spells and skills, and design work on multiple levels, including the Necropolis and… well, a space that fans of Ultima Underworld will definitely appreciate. We’re holding back in-depth looks at those for a bit, both to refine and so it doesn’t get lost among news of holiday releases, but we’ve been making much progress and will have much new to share.

Last, but not least, we have some exciting news on the narrative front: the game’s script is approaching completion and we’re recording with Stephen (Thief, Fallout 4, Dishonored 2) Russell in a just few weeks.
Once again, things sound more fleshed out than ever before. It really feels like this game didn't enter full production until two years after its Kickstarter campaign, but better late than never I guess. OtherSide seem to be in good shape now, in general. Thanks to their new publisher 505 Games, they've finally got a decent-looking website for Ascendant. They've moved into new offices and have shut down crowdfunding too, so I guess money isn't a problem. Maybe the alpha and beta will be out sooner than we think.

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