Gamasutra Interviews Paul Neurath About Game Design


Game design consultant Pierre-Alexandre Garneau interviewed OtherSide Entertainment’s Paul Neurath recently, as part of his ongoing series about “getting design from good to great”. Garneau gets right down to business…how’s this for a lead-in question?

PAG: When you’re in the early stages of a project and you’re trying to figure out where you’re going, what you’re going to do, how do you choose which direction to go in, which idea to pursue out of all the possible ideas you might have for your project?

PN: For a game such as Underworld Ascendant, it’s simpler to answer because we’re doing the next iteration of that franchise, so we had an anchor in Ultima Underworld and Ultima Underworld 2. That’s our starting point. We already figured out many years ago – in the early 90s – where we wanted to take those games and so that’s our starting material.

The question, though, becomes: how do you take it forward more than three decades later because time has moved on? A lot of games have come out since and the industry moved forward. It doesn’t fully answer your question, but at least you have a point of grounding to take it from.

A lot of our discussions in the early days, when we were doing our concept work last year, really boiled down to: what are the pieces that we want to inform the next generation Underworld that draw directly from the original games? What are the pieces that we want to preserve that we thought still rang true today, that connect with players today? And what are the pieces that we want to jettison? Or new innovations that we want to try, which we didn’t get to try with the first two titles? It’s really balancing those two aspects. It’s different than if you’re creating a game from scratch.

The discussion only gets more in-depth from there. Well worth a read in full.