Underworld Ascendant at The Boston Festival of Indie Games

Web Admin

Hello backers,

With the dog days of summer far behind, we’ve been busy planning elaborate Halloween costumes, loading up on pumpkin beer and cider, and unpacking warm clothes in preparation for the unpredictable seasonal wonders that Boston weather will soon bestow on us.

And, of course, we’ve also been hard at work at…

Underworld Ascendant at The Boston Festival of Indie Games

Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the OtherSide booth at the recent Boston Festival of Indie Games, the first public showing of Underworld Ascendant. Attendees reported they had a great time playing the Pre-Alpha Prototype build and provided valuable feedback, which will be applied to the game’s upcoming Vertical Slice.

As a nod to the past and an example of before/after, Ultima Underworld was on-hand at the booth as well. A few attendees (adorably) mistook it for a retro-style indie game, while others exclaimed, eyes-wide, how it was their all-time favorite game. (One even offered to hug all present when we mentioned that our Austin studio is making a new System Shock game.)


It was great fun meeting with fans, watching them play the game, and hearing their hands-on thoughts and input. We’re definitely looking forward to showing new builds of Underworld Ascendant at future, to-be-announced public events.

Enormous thanks to the volunteers responsible for putting on the Boston Festival of Indie Games. Everyone at OtherSide appreciates the hard work you put in for the Boston area game community.

A Look Inside the Underworld Ascendant Bestiary

As mentioned before, we’re holding off on showing our latest work on the Underworld Ascendant¬†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.

The Ripper definitely counts as an “environmental hazard.”

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.