Underworld Ascendant: Built With Unity

Character Classes

Paul Neurath was interviewed recently by PCGamesN, and the discussion of course turned to just how OtherSide Entertainment would be going about building Underworld Ascendant:

The Ascendant team is ten people strong, plus some outside production help. After spending a few years at Zynga, Neurath has learned that his ideal team size is “lean”.

“We’re bringing it back as an indie studio now, which is cool because the original game was developed as an indie studio,” he points out. “If you spend 20 million dollars to make art production, you get locked into that.”

Among Otherside’s number are veterans of not just the original Underworld but System Shock and Thief — as well as Looking Glass devotees who worked on Deus Ex, and concept artists from BioShock Infinite.

“We did a quick add-up and the tally was over two billion dollars worth of games we’ve developed and some thousands of Game of the Year awards,” said Neurath. “So we’ve got a team that can do it.”

Over the last four months they’ve built a playable prototype in Unity, designed systems for magic and combat, and drafted the narrative we’ll be “playing through and authoring”.

The visuals have “a long way to go”, but Neurath ensures us that the engine will eventually allow Ascendant to look “wonderful and gorgeous”. It’s a far cry from the tech Looking Glass built for the original [Underworld] games.

One notable takeaway here: the Ascendant team has some serious development pedigree, and is comprised of people who have experience with either the Underworld games directly or games that were in some way inspired thereby. (Presumably this includes some talent from the now-not-so-recently disbanded Irrational Games.)

And at least the prototype of the game is being build using the Unity engine; based on how Neurath explains it, it sounds like Unity will be the game’s engine throughout its production. Which, I’ll just note, makes it that much easier for Portalarium to share technology — and maybe even game assets proper — with the OtherSide team. You know…just in case Shroud of the Avatar and Underworld Ascendant are actually set in the same universe.