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Paul Neurath to develop Ultima Underworld spiritual successor: Underworld Ascension

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Paul Neurath to develop Ultima Underworld spiritual successor: Underworld Ascension

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 1 July 2014, 16:41:12

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Paul Neurath; Tim Stellmach; Ultima Underworld; Underworld Ascendant

Unexpected good news! Paul Neurath, co-founder of the legendary Looking Glass Studios, has announced his intention to create a successor to the Ultima Underworld series, by the name of Underworld Ascension. His new company, OtherSide Entertainment, sent out this press release today:

July 1st, 2014 – Boston, USA – OtherSide Entertainment, a new independent games studio, today announced its formation. Fronted by game pioneer Paul Neurath, OtherSide Entertainment revealed that its first title,Underworld Ascension, will mark the return of the groundbreaking and long fallow Underworld franchise.

Paul Neurath, Founder and CEO of OtherSide Entertainment, is renowned for his creative direction spanning three decades, notably leading the development of such classic franchises as Thief™, System Shock™ and the acclaimed Ultima™Underworld.

Underworld Ascension marks both the series and Paul Neurath’s return to his RPG roots, with OtherSide Entertainment aiming to innovate and revitalize the fantasy genre in the same way that its predecessor did in 1992. “With Underworld Ascension,” said Neurath, “we are excited to be bringing back the Underworldfranchise, making it more vital than ever before.”

The original Underworlds transformed the traditional dungeon crawl into a truly immersive experience. Players felt as if they were actually walking through the great underworld halls; and encountering a living community of underworld dwellers.

Ultima Underworld inspired a generation, and its influence is still seen today in titles as diverse as Deus Ex™,The Elder Scrolls, and BioShock.

OtherSide Entertainment will reveal more details on Underworld Ascension in the months to come. To keep updated, visit our website at www.othersideentertainment.com.
There's some more information scattered across other sites. GameSpot, for instance, has a short interview with Paul that confirms that this is indeed a PC game:

Why is now the right time for Underworld to return?

Paul Neurath: Underworld has been fallow for two decades, isn't that long enough!

A lot has changed since 1992 in the RPG space; how are you designing Underworld Ascension for the modern RPG fan?

PN: We've just gotten underway on the Underworld reboot, so we have a ways to go before reaching a fleshed out design. The team has played many of the modern RPGs; worked on some of them too. So we think we have a good sense of where the genre has evolved over the years, and where there is room for further innovation. We’re definitely going to get the franchise up to date, then push into new territory.

What are some of your overarching ambitions for Underworld Ascension?

PN: More than anything, bring the franchise roaring back and more vital than it ever was. We’d like the game to connect with the fans who have fond memories of the originals, but also draw in a new fans.

The original Underworld games have a special place in many RPG fans' hearts; how are you planning to push the franchise forward while also retaining the essence of what makes it unique?

Some of us worked on the originals and so they hold a special place in our hearts. Also, there was a much done well in the originals that we don't want to mess with. Beyond the now dated visuals, the games hold up surprising well all these years later. the same time, we are explore areas where we can extend the original experience in new ways, and hopefully ways that will feel like natural extensions of the original games, but will make for an evolved experience.

What stage of development is Underworld Ascension in now and when are you planning to release it?

PN: Just got underway a few weeks ago, so still in concept phase. Don't have a release date as yet. We’ll keep you updated.

What platforms are you looking at for Underworld Ascension?

PN: PC for sure. Still sorting out other potential platforms.
It wasn't so long ago that Mr. Neurath was singing the praises of mobile gaming from his position as Creative Director at Zynga. I wonder what's changed since then. Whatever the case, he's off to a good start, with Ultima Underworld 2 lead designer Tim Stellmach already on board. The "immersive sim" first person RPG genre has thus far been overlooked by the Kickstarter retro revival movement, but maybe that's going to change now. We'll be following this project closely.

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