UPDATE: Crafting an Immersive Sim, PAX East, & More!

Sam Luangkhot


Hello everyone,

We had a wonderful time this month at PAX East having a small, select group of press and streamers play Underworld Ascendant behind closed doors — and we’ve released a bevy of new content as a result!

Let’s dive in:

Underworld Ascendant at PAX East!

Before having people play the game, we showed off a new trailer for Underworld Ascendant featuring new footage and the incredible vocal talents of Stephen Russell (Cabirus) and Fryda Wolff (Aelita), who we featured in the last newsletter.

You can see the trailer for yourself right here.

We threw everyone into the game’s first level to help them learn the underlying immersive sim elements of Underworld Ascendant.

As we’ve mentioned, we’ve been working hard to introduce players to the logic-based systems that make up the immersive sim in a way where we teach players to teach themselves — without direct hand-holding.

The opening level is a series of rooms that can be solved in multiple different ways — with some level of experimentation and thought. Internally, we’ve been calling it our “un-training level” level, because we’re attempting to break people of assumptions of how game worlds work in other games.

We’ve also trying to make it not feel like a tutorial level and just be fun on its own. So, that’s a big challenge! But we had more than a hundred people play it over the course of the show, and it garnered a lot of positive response and we gained some excellent feedback.

Many players were quick to pick up on familiar mechanics, and others had a fun time recognizing how real-life physics would matter in the game. For example, a number of players were surprised when they started to pay attention to the listed weights of objects that they were carrying, and finally started to piece together that heavier objects could not be thrown as far.

We also witnessed multiple solutions we’d never seen before. Just when we thought we knew all the possible answers to a problem, someone would come by and demonstrate a logical tactic that we hadn’t known was possible. Many solutions were born out of players testing the limits of the physics and, honestly, we couldn’t have been happier to witness them live!

Special shout-out to those who circled back to the room outside of their appointment time to give Underworld Ascendant another run through with an entirely different skillset and play style. We walked away from PAX East with an enormous amount of useful feedback on how to further refine the level further to make it more fun and the systems more responsive and intuitive to understand.

You can watch our B-roll of the training level here.

The Latest Look at the Stygian Abyss

We released a new selection of screenshots along with our demo at PAX East, highlighting some of the new lighting changes we’ve been working on, and a sneak peek at an opportunistic Outcast targeting a Skeleton…

Here’s some press highlights from those who dove into the Abyss:

* Flickering Myth: Underworld Ascendant takes the immersive sim forward in what looks to be a malleable, intuitive experience and we have been able to touch on a mere sliver of what’s to come. 

* GameInformer: Underworld Ascendant seems to be seeking to do more with its world than merely telling players to have at it, however, and is trying to be a game that uses its variety and openness to encourage replayability. 

* The Sixth Axis: OtherSide are serious about not simply following the same path as Ultima Underworld, [but also] introduce plenty of new aspects that fans of both immersive sims, and RPGs, are going to find hugely compelling.

* GameSpot: Classic Hardcore RPG Gameplay Makes A Big Return In Underworld Ascendant 

* Engadget: Underworld Ascendant that illustrates how the reborn dungeon crawler will work 

* Rock Paper Shotgun: An RPG that drops you into a space and gives you freedom to explore and engage with the inhabitants with as few restrictions as possible. I want that. 

* Destructoid: It’s time to put Underworld Ascendant back on my radar

Alienware Talks with Joe Fielder & Tim Stellmach
Tim Stellmach Joe Fielder Alienware interview Underworld Ascendant PAX EastWe also had the pleasure of being interviewed by Anna Maree from Alienware during PAX East.

Joe and Tim describe the basic premise of what you can expect from the game, and what goes into the design of a game based on highly emergent gameplay. Joe also walks through some elucidation on the magic system and examples of environmental manipulation, and we comment on future features not shown in released B-Roll.

You can watch the segment here on Twitch.

New Dev Diary: Crafting an Immersive Sim

We’ve also released the second installment in our popular Dev Diaries series, Crafting an Immersive Sim. In this episode, several members of the team — including lead engineer Will Teixeira, lead designer Tim Stellmach, and writer/director Joe Fielder — discuss the design points and mechanics that go into making an immersive sim game.

You can watch the first of the Dev Diaries here on YouTube , and watch the newest Dev Diary here.

New Insider Blog: Designing for Emergent Gameplay

Ever wondered how the tutorial level was designed to accommodate for so many play styles?

Justin Pappas, our Lead Level Designer, gives us for an inside look as to how the tutorial level was crafted in this month’s insider blog! Building for multiple play styles can be challenging, but incredibly rewarding for players. (And we find a lot of bugs along the way!)

Those returning to the Abyss should be advised that some areas of the tutorial may look familiar… consider this a spoiler warning.

You can read it on our site here.

The password is available here (for backers only!)

What’s Next?

In May, we’re going to be heads-down and working hard on our next milestone as we prepare for E3. Following that milestone, we’ll have more news to share about the Backer Alpha build for EXPLORER tier Backers and above ($50+).

As always, if you want to check in on our progress, we post a weekly update on our forums detailing what our goals for that week are and what we’ve worked on. If you haven’t made a forum account, now is an exciting time to join us!

We also occasionally post WIP gifs on our socials, like our puppetmaster experimentations on the skeletons.

Be sure to join our Steam community to see some of the latest content between newsletters and let us know what kind of media you’d like to see from us next!


The Team at OtherSide

In Other News…

In case you missed it:

* 35 Years of Influence – A Look Back at Origin Systems, Creators of Ultima and More via TechRaptor

* Denis Loubet, the original artist for the cover of Ultima Underworld®, is the artist for our Collector’s Edition of Underworld Ascendant! Consider becoming one of his Patreon subscribers here

* We were awarded the Marooner’s Rock Writer’s Choice Award for Underworld Ascendant at PAX East!