Eurogamer Interviews Paul Neurath about Underworld Ascension
There’s a new interview with OtherSide Entertainment’s Paul Neurath over at Eurogamer, in which the former Looking Glass co-founder elaborates on the nature of his agreement (with EA) to use the Underworld IP:
Neurath is making a new game called Underworld Ascension, a project he got the surprise nod from brand holder EA to go ahead with not long before it was announced at the beginning of July. “It was a surprise to us,” Neurath tells me in an interview. “EA had the rights and I’d been having discussions with them going back 20 years about doing a new Underworld. And finally the stars aligned and I was able to get the rights to be able to move forward with the franchise.”
He doesn’t have the go-ahead to use the Ultima licence, he clarifies, but the original Underworld game was designed without Ultima in mind, and having no fiction to adhere to may grant more creative freedom anyway.
To be clear: Neurath doesn’t own the Underworld brand, he’s leasing it, but he has what sounds like creative free reign.
“There’s no sign-offs or approvals or anything like that,” he assures me. “We have the rights to do anything in the future with the franchise. I guess the term would be ‘it’s leased’, but we can do what we want – what we feel is right – with the franchise going forward.”
As is noted in the interview (it’s in the part I cut out of the quote, above), the original plan for Underworld didn’t involve an Ultima connection at all; that came later. And as has been pointed out, the Underworld 3 story document that Pix brought to light a couple of years ago made no mention of Ultima either.
As to the state of the game…well, it’s still early on in development:
Underworld Ascension as a project is brand new. The studio making the game, Otherside Entertaiment, “It’s only been around for a few weeks,” laughs Neurath. He landed the Underworld rights and scrambled to make a studio, which has around a dozen people and some names we will apparently know, although he won’t yet say who.
In scope, Underworld Ascension will be a much more modest production than a blockbuster such as Skyrim. Its focus will be on gameplay above graphics, which isn’t to say it will look rough, and it will take a small team “a while” to make. “Not next year!” blurts Neurath when I ask about release. It’s a PC game primarily but other platforms are a possibility.
All of which sounds to me like something we could see on Kickstarter; he has a known brand, he himself is a known name and his experienced team could presumably put together a solid pitch. I ask whether that’s the plan and he says he’s undecided, and that he’s looking at three or four possible funding options for the game.
Obligatory closing statement about reading the whole thing goes here.