Paul Neurath Forms OtherSide Entertainment and Announces Underworld Ascension
Neurath is a big name in the game industry, as a veteran game designer and creative director. He founded both Blue Sky Productions (later renamed Looking Glass Studios) and Floodgate Entertainment. Before starting OtherSide Entertainment, he was Creative Director of Zynga Boston. His first computer game title, in 1986, was the adaptation of Ogre for Origin Systems, which was originally a board game by Steve Jackson Games.
The Ultima Underworld series began in 1992 with the release of The Stygian Abyss. Ultima Underworld was the first role-playing game to feature first-person action in a 3D world, beating Wolfenstein 3D out of the gate. Its sequel, Labyrinth of Worlds was released a year later, following the Looking Glass name change.
Although Ascension is a return to the Underworld series, the Ultima title is noticeably absent. With EA’s recent closure of Mythic, the uncertain fate of Ultima Forever, and their history of not allowing licenses of their intellectual properties, this is not surprising. However, Ascension seems to be giving homage to its predecessors, not only in the name (which is, of course, shared Ultima IX), but also in the logo for the game and the wording in the press release:
Underworld Ascension™, will mark the return of the groundbreaking and long fallow Underworld franchise.
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 Underworld franchise, 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.
I’ll be following this one, cautiously optimistic. A return to the Underworld is called for, and Paul Neurath is definitely the guy to do it. Watch his OtherSide Entertainment website for news about Underworld Ascension, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. And of course, we at the Ultima Codex will keep you up to date as well.