Paul Neurath Forms OtherSide Entertainment and Announces Underworld Ascension

Today, Paul Neurath announced that he has formed a new studio, OtherSide Entertainment, who’s first game will be a return to the Underworld series!

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.

5 Responses

  1. GolemDragon says:

    Paul worked on Omega (Origin Systems Inc), Descent (Interplay), The Thief games (Eidos Inc), and Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri (Looking Glass Studios). He sure has been around the industry on many amazing awesome games. still gonna tease ya Browncoat for beating me to posting about this. 😛

    <3 ya dude….

  2. They’re unlikely to get the rights to put this in the Ultima universe officially. Why not reach out to Portalarium and maybe put this in NB as a Shroud of the Avatar title?

  3. Lee says:

    Such a title brings a question: what is ascending from the underworld? Gargoyles? The Codex? Another demon? The player? Murky waters?
    Anyway, I sure am exited! ^^

  4. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    This is awesome news, but something I’ve been considering when thinking about our old favorites and what made them great is how much of that is regularly present in modern games. For example, what level of interactivity in the Underworld games is absent from recent Elder Scrolls games? For decades I lamented the absence of features like attacking friendlies, throwing objects around, sailing the high seas and firing cannons, but one by one all these features are being implemented in modern games. I wonder what new or better features could be brought to the table by a new Underworld game. Maybe it all comes down to recreating that initial mood UU put us in, of darkness, exploration and danger. Seems almost intangible now, like a dream.