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Join the original creators of Ultima Underworld on a 
quest to rekindle this legendary fantasy RPG series.
Join the original creators of Ultima Underworld on a quest to rekindle this legendary fantasy RPG series.
13,987 backers pledged $860,356 to help bring this project to life.

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Answers From the Abyss

Posted by OtherSide Entertainment (Creator)
35 likes

Howdy folks! This week sees the launch of a new feature for these updates: Answers From the Abyss. This is where we will answer questions posed to us on the forums from backers and followers like yourself, hopefully shedding more light on our development process and satisfying your curiosity on any Underworld Ascendant based subject that concerns you.

Before we get to that, however, we’d like to also announce that starting next week we will no longer be using Kickstarter for distribution of our weekly updates. Instead we will be moving the updates over to a direct email distribution method, which will give us more control of the format and contents of the updates.

We will still post occasional “update digests” to Kickstarter to ensure that folks who discover Underworld Ascendant via Kickstarter can still find out what’s going on with the game. But going forward our primary method for giving our backers and followers important information about the game will be via the weekly email updates.

For those of you who have backed the game via Kickstarter or our webstore, or who have signed up to the OtherSide Entertainment forums, you need do nothing to receive these future updates. We already have your email and so you will be automatically added to the distribution list. For those of you who have not backed the game nor signed up for the forums, and who do want to receive weekly updates on the game, we suggest you do one of those things in order to get added to the list!

We look forward to showing you the new look for our updates next week!

Answers From the Abyss

We’ll plan to do Answers From the Abyss every month or so going forward. In the week prior to each Answers From the Abyss update we’ll post in the forums a thread asking for your questions. We’ll pull from that thread the questions we think are most interesting and relevant for our readers and answer them.

So, without further ado, onto those questions!

“How much do you rely on (non-developer) playtesting in development? Are you bringing people in as early as the prototype phases?” –GameOutLoudRob

Some. Early on the team will be doing a ton of playtesting, some of the community, and of course our friends, family and other industry people.

One of the great things about going outside the inner circle for testing is you get fresh eyes. Fresh eyes are extremely important. When you are close to a game, you start accepting the warts and issues, and you have to be reminded they are still issues. Beyond fresh eyes, the more people that touch the game, the more ways we can see how people interact. What we want, and really what is our goal, is for someone to come up with ways of using all of our systems in ways we never thought of.

“What does the team envision for the soundtrack? Something akin to Arx? Something even more minimalist (I hope not)?” – CyberP

We haven’t yet sorted out just what we’re doing for music in the game. That said, we have talked about music being created around the factions and their homes. Dwarven Metal? Elvish bagpipes? Shambler…woodwinds? What do Shamblers listen to? Phish?

It would be great to ‘see’ the thing making the music; a minstrel, a choir, some weird dwarven contraption that plays crystals…

This adds to the whole Underworld experience. Ambient sounds become your symphony, sound and silence become important for gameplay and for atmosphere. And, maybe the deeper you go, the darker it gets, and the quieter it becomes. It’s where the real evil lurks, and you don’t know it’s there until….

“I’m curious how you are looking to scale the difficulty levels? Is it going to be similar to the system in System Shock, where there are certain sub-categories that can be scaled (eg Story, Combat, Puzzle) or is it just going to be one “Easy/Medium/Hard/Impossible” with the possibility of an Ironman mode?” - SirhcOran

This is a tough question, and not one we’ve put a lot of thought into yet. With the open-endedness at the core of Underworld Ascendant’s design, and the fact that most, if not all, situations can be resolved by means other than combat, the usual tropes of scaling the difficulty of monsters, for instance, probably won’t work for us.

Likely our difficulty scaling will entail dialing up the “bad” effects of numerous things across the spectrum of game play, not unlike the system from System Shock you call out. In harder difficulties players might regenerate mana/health slower AND endure greater effects from hot and cold environments AND find monsters to be tougher AND find monsters to have a higher awareness of stealth AND find NPCs harder to trick/sway/haggle.

Again, still early in the process. Once we have the game in a state where we can really start thinking about how we muck with difficulty we’ll surely try all sorts of different ways to do just that, and find the one that works best.

“Why do you think the streaming of the game world isn't used more by game devs in general? And what about the UA case? (well, ok, it's two questions )” - Ianael

In our case, it’s more a technical issue than a process one. With a constrained space like the Underworld, it would still be relatively easy to build it in individual levels with defined connection points, even if those were merged into one big world at run-time. However, a simulation-heavy game has to save a lot of object state, and streaming all of that in and out of memory can be a bit of a chore technically. It may be a solvable problem, but it’s not our top priority.

“Will there be damage types?” – Shadowtiger

Yes, absolutely. Crushing, slashing, fire, cold, etc. Some creatures and things will be more vulnerable or impervious to some types of damage, and players will be able to use this knowledge to good effect.

 “How involved is Paul with the game's design?” – CyberP

Very much, and he teaches us things every day. This is Paul’s vision.

Other Stuff

Last Wednesday we Twitched a play session of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Paul, Chris, Tim, Will and Scott had a great time discussing the very interesting combat system in this classic game. And Will sure did seem to like finding new ways to kill various guards, ghouls and pirates! Along the way we gathered some great ideas for use in Underworld Ascendant’s combat model. You can listen to the whole thing on Youtube:

Part 1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtR70tyEgzA 

Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tS2nIPcf80 

Part 3 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQPzehYLASM 

Part 4 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCv0RRT-FTs

Join us in a few weeks for another twitch session. We don’t know yet what we’ll be playing, but it will be fun!

The OtherSide Team

Do you believe in magic?

Posted by OtherSide Entertainment (Creator)
45 likes

Hello Under-lings! For this week’s update, Tim Stellmach has a lot of interesting tidbits on how the design of the Underworld Ascendant magic system will work. Then we have a first look at an upcoming stretch goal unlock: the Necropolis of the Ancients. Interested? Read on!

Making the Magic Happen

In this early stage of Underworld Ascendant development, the fundamentals of the core game systems are a major design focus. We are fleshing out systems for movement, combat, character abilities, object interactions, and more. Right now, I’m up to my elbows in the magic system. The details are constantly changing (here I am, changing them), but the goals and overall approach are constant. So this week, we’d like to share a little bit about our direction for the game’s magic system.

As longtime fans will know, players chose spells in Underworld 1 & 2 by selecting sequences of collectible rune stones. One such sequence could be prepared at a time, indicating a spell that could then be cast repeatedly (while the character’s mana held out). Each rune was associated with a meaning such as “light” or “harm,” and the rune formulas for different spells had a kind of logic based on those meanings. This helped it to feel that certain laws of magic underlay the system, and players could even guess a few undocumented spells based on rune meanings.

The magic system in the original Underworlds was very well received, and a lot of things about it still hold up well today. There are also aspects of it that didn’t work as well, and things people liked which we hope to do even better. So, Underworld Ascendant takes that magic system as its jumping-off point, changing and improving the system where it seems appropriate.

First, as with every other aspect of the game, we’ll be modernizing the user interface. I’m developing systems now to reduce the large mouse-clicking overhead, making casting more streamlined and making it possible to switch prepared spells more smoothly.

Yeah, we'll modernize this a bit...
Yeah, we'll modernize this a bit...

Other changes in our approach to magic reflect the wider context of what we’ve learned about character progression in our years of development experience. The skill and progression systems in the 90’s took a lot of cues from pen-and-paper RPGs that don’t necessarily work as well through the veil of automation. As a simple example, maybe you have to make a die roll to successfully cast a spell in a tabletop game. You can see all the die rolls, because you’re the one rolling. But on a PC, if you try to cast a spell and it doesn’t work, the veil of automation can make that failed die roll hard to tell from a lost mouse click. So in Underworld Ascendant, the whole character skill system will be getting an overhaul to reflect the last 25 years’ advancement in user experience, and the magic system is no exception.

More fundamentally, we’d like to capitalize on the strong concept of the game’s rune language. As evocative as it was in the original Underworld games, players were ultimately still limited to a set of pre-authored spells. In Underworld Ascendant, we’ll be experimenting with using the runes as a true language for varying different aspects of players’ spells procedurally. For example, some Underworld spells had more powerful versions tagged with the “Vas” rune. But what if you could change the power level of any spell? Maybe change the way a spell is delivered to its target, or how it draws its mana? We have a number of ideas to try out, and these kinds of tests are a great opportunity afforded to us by our early access backers.

Finally, what it even means to be a wizard has changed as our culture has developed new ideals about adventurers of every kind. Gamers in the early 90’s had never seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. We can’t help but be influenced by Thief and the explosion of other stealth-action games since 1998. Truly fantastic abilities in RPGs are no longer the exclusive domain of spell casters. So the whole spell list is being reconsidered top to bottom, to make sure that each character building strategy has its own distinctive style and advantages. Hint: spider climb will not be a wizard spell, but not to worry, they’ll have other options of their own.

Hope you have enjoyed this look into our thought process on magic. Let us know what you think of this design direction in the forums!

Until next time!

Lead Designer Tim

Welcome to the Necropolis

As of the writing of this update, we are just $7,648 away from reaching our $900,000 stretch goal of language localization for Underworld Ascendant. This stretch goal is important in allowing our fans from across the world to have a better experience playing the game.

So, with reaching the localization goal almost a certainty, we can look forward to what’s next on the horizon at the $950,000 funding level: the addition of the Necropolis to the Underworld.

concept art we showed during the Kickstarter
concept art we showed during the Kickstarter

Deep in the eldritch darkness of the Stygian Abyss lies the foreboding Necropolis of the Ancients. Teaming with the restless dead and wandering spirits of a long-forgotten people who once lived and thrived in the Underworld, these catacombs pulsate with malevolent intent for those who still cling to life.

New concept art fresh from Dave!
New concept art fresh from Dave!

For those not frightened of the dead nor the cool dry grasp of the grave there are untold secrets to uncover in this decrepit place. Carved with moans into the Necropolis’ crumbling walls, and scrawled into its dusty floors with sighs, is the tragic history of this once great people. What messages reside there? What admonishments? The Necropolis is crying out a warning to the Underworld, who dares to hear what it says?

Other Stuff

OtherSide is happy to announce that Joe Fielder, who’s been helping shape Underworld Ascendant’s narrative the last few months, has come aboard full-time as Design Director. Joe’s worked as a writer, designer, producer, and creative director on games like BioShock Infinite, BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea, Lost Within, The Black Glove, BOOM BLOX, and the Medal of Honor series. He’ll be helping guide Underworld Ascendant’s player experience (the place where level design, systems design, and narrative all meet), digging deep into the game’s world-building elements, and more.

Next Wednesday, May 20th from 1pm to 2pm EDT we will be Twitching a play session of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Join Paul, Chris, Tim and Scott as we delve in to this game’s lauded combat system. What are the lessons to learn from Dark Messiah’s motion based combat mechanics? What parts should we aspire to use in Underworld Ascendant? What should we avoid? All good questions that will (hopefully) be answered while we play this classic fantasy game from 2006!

The OtherSide Team

Does that hurt?

Posted by OtherSide Entertainment (Creator)
52 likes

With all the talk of lava, traps and fire we’ve had in our last few updates, it only makes sense that this week we discuss how these things will actually damage players and the environment. Here are the thoughts of Jeff, our lead engineer, on how the damage system will work in Underworld Ascendant:

Doing Damage

Two weeks ago, when I talked about making things look like they were burning, I promised I’d talk soon about the other side—the actual effect that fire has in game.

A few weeks back Tim and Chris described how we are using physics to allow arbitrary interactions with thing like traps. By having a physics model of objects and forces applied to them, we can resolve most physics situations.

Damage is an analogous problem. Some things in life count as “dangerous”—fire, swinging axes, big rocks, etc. In some cases such as the rock, and to a lesser extent the axe, damage is a direct result of its mass, shape and speed. In other cases, such as fire, the damage is just an innate part of “what it does”. Just like the game has a physics system to decide how much force is applied to whom and what the result is, the game will have a damage system to decide how much damage is applied and what the results are. I did some work on that this week and have a little demo movie to share and discuss.

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In our damage system there are two fundamental types (or classes for you programmers out there) of objects: ones that do damage and ones that take damage. Objects that do damage send a message to the objects they interact with that says how much damage they do. Objects that take damage receive that message and change their state based on it. Each is a property of the object in question, so these features are represented as Components in Unity. Many objects will have components for both doing and taking damage.

We realized early on that not all damage is the same. If I crush something, it has one kind of effect on an object, but if I burn it that can have a very different effect. To allow for this, a damage message has two parts. One is a number indicating the amount of damage, and the other is a damage type. Currently we have Fire, Electrical, and Kinetic (physical) damage types in the system but that list is designed to grow as we build out the game.

The swinging axe in the video has a component called DoesCollisionDamage. This component figures out damage based on the weight of the axe, its relative speed at the time of collision, and a hand tweaked multiplier that models the effect of a blade versus a blunt surface. It sends a kinetic damage message to the crate it is hitting every time it collides.

The crate actually has child game objects each with their own component to receive damage messages. This component can have a list of “resistances” that reduce the damage taken. Each resistance applies to one of the damage types and has a number to be subtracted from the damage and/or a percentage to reduce it by. Resistances might represent an object’s innate toughness, armor or magical resistance. Every child object also has its own pool of hit points to which to apply the damage.

The crate starts with only the first child enabled and visible. When the hit points of that child reach 0, it disables itself and enables the next child-object in a pre-defined sequence. Thus the box goes through 3 states of increasing damage before eventually being destroyed by the axe altogether. You can imagine how, in game, you might temporarily block a trap this way, but you has better get through it before the object is destroyed and the trap starts working again!

We have another message in the system called took damage. This gets sent by component to its own object after resistances have been calculated with the final damage taken (if it is more then 0). In Will’s trap video last week, the red screen flash when he ran into a trap was the result of a component that receives the 'took damage' message and flashes the screen in response.

Ouch, that hurts!
Ouch, that hurts!

In addition to the axes, the demo video shows two more crates next to each other, a red one and a brown one. The red one is “explosive”. This is an example of a game object that both takes and does damage. Receiving any took damage message will cause it to explode, in turn doing more fire damage to all other objects within a set radius.

The truly important thing to realize throughout the demo is that none of the inter-object interactions were hard coded. Each object only knows its part of how to react to the situation. The results come from their proximities and interactions. All we need to do, for instance, to make objects burn in the final game is give them the combustible component. You can expect that a great many things will be burnable in the Underworld, not always where and when you want. You will be able to pile up burnable things and make bonfires, burning defensive lines or ad hoc torches. You will be able to jam things in traps, but they had better be strong enough to survive the trap damage or they won’t last long. You will be able to drop heavy movable things on creatures or other objects and damage them.

Like everywhere else in UA, we provide you with the parts that make up a sensible world. What you do with them will be up to your own imaginations. We are looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Lead Engineer Jeff

Other Stuff

OtherSide Entertainment is elated to announce that Dave Flamburis has joined our team as Art Lead! Dave is an industry vet having worked with studios such as Harmonix, Papyrus and Demiurge. He has worked on over 30 shipped game titles, including Bioshock Infinite, Rockband, Borderlands, Medal of Honor, and most recently contributed to the upcoming Adrift game. Dave is especially expert in 3D modeling and environments.

Dave has already amazed us with his early takes on what the Underworld will look like, and we can’t wait to share his vision with you all over the coming weeks and months. Please join us in welcoming him aboard this crazy train!

With over 375 votes cast in the “What type of character do you anticipate playing?” poll in the forums, we think it’s safe to say that thief-style characters are the clear favorite. Sneaking through the Underworld and picking some pockets along the way is clearly a play style people enjoy. Throw in some backstabbery and trap disarming and, for 32% of you anyways, we’ll have made the perfect game!

Wizards were also high on the list, with 26% of you wanting to master the arcane arts. Judging from the comments, a lot of folks actually want to combine the two archetypes into a magical-thief type character. We can’t wait to see the Underworld’s equivalent of the Gray Mouser!

Fighters came in the lowest, with 17% of our fans wanting to smash their foes with huge battleaxes and yell fearsome battle cries. Most people, it seems, want to blend their fighter-y characters with some thievery or magical means, making them a bit more well-rounded.

Luckily, the Underworld Ascendant character creation system will give players great leeway in creating characters from any or all of these archetypes, so all preferences will be supported. It’s great to see folks already thinking about what they want to be in the Underworld, and this poll has helped us internally to realize how strong and desired our “open ended” character creation system is as a feature.

So, we’ll give you the tools…amaze us!

The OtherSide Team

Testing Unity 5.0

Posted by OtherSide Entertainment (Creator)
48 likes

Over the last month or so we have been working hard on analyzing our engine options for use in Underworld Ascendant. One engine we have been checking out is Unity 5.0. Here’s Chris to let us know what engineers Jeff and will, and lead designer Tim, have discovered.

Preproduction in Unity 5.0

After the Kickstarter we spent a couple of weeks putting Unity 5.0 through its paces. Partly to see what was new, what was updated and what looked better. Most importantly though, to discover if Unity will do what we need it to. Underworld Ascendant will be a very systems heavy game. Our design philosophy is about building a game with real world systems under the hood to bring common sense expectations to the player. The goal is to give players new and interesting ways to interact with our world, and the engine we use to make this game needs to support all of this.

Here’s a little video of me walking through the demo level we built in Unity 5.0:

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First, let’s talk about the textures. Textures? Isn’t that a bit mundane? I’ve been in the industry for about 15 years now and started with 256 color pixelated awesome bitmaps.

A bunch of textures from Doom
A bunch of textures from Doom

They still look pretty awesome.

Now, these new PBR or Physically Based Rendering Textures…wow. This technology is a game changer. When I used to be a level designer if I wanted to do panels on top of a wall, it was a pain. Extra geometry, decals all sorts of way around it. Now, I just put this texture down and adjust some settings for depth, reflection and some other stuff. Doesn’t look like a flat surface does it?

Actual textures used in our Unity 5.0 Underworld Ascendant demo
Actual textures used in our Unity 5.0 Underworld Ascendant demo

So what is going on here? Well I’ll quote Jeff Russell: “Much of what makes a physically-based shading system different from its predecessors is a more detailed reasoning about the behavior of light and surfaces. Shading capabilities have advanced enough that some of the old approximations can now be safely discarded, and with them some of the old means of producing art.” So think of this a more scientific way of dealing with surfaces in 3d art. A marriage of Artist and Engineer.

If you want to read more I suggest you real Jeff’s basic article on the subject here: http://www.marmoset.co/toolbag/learn/pbr-theory

As an Indy team that cannot afford a 100 person art team, this technology if used correctly will allow us to have a look that can compete with AAA titles. Every time I personally mess with this I see 100 new possibilities.

While I was drooling over the new texture technology, Tim continued his experimentation with physics traps. Pendulums, spinney gear and spring traps, evil saw blade traps, a swinging door, some moving beams traps, shooting object traps, wall spikes. Jeff then added a simple damage model, and Will placed them in the world for us to play around with.

What was stunning from a producer’s point of view is how quickly these were generated, and populated. No time spent on connecting scripting for each trap, dealing with triggers, setting up rigid controls. Self-contained physical traps that react to other physics. Impressive. And really the core of that system is now done. Now the designers can expand out from that basic model and move on to more interesting interactions with the traps and physical world, and building a better deathtrap…I think I’ll apologize to you ahead of time.

Another piece of physics that Will messed around with was ropes. Part of what we want in our game is motion. Lots of motion. Part parkour, part Indiana Jones. So, rope swinging, platforms hanging by ropes and chains, rope bridges. All swing, all can be interacted with, and of course, set on fire.

There is a development rule I’ll share with you. Everything is better on fire. Hence why Jeff spent some time researching fire.

Lastly, we played around a little with Unity 5.0’s flagship feature: lighting. There are two strong parts to Unity 5.0s lighting features, but we really only looked into one at this time. Unity 5.0s Global Lighting model, which in a nutshell has light reflect off a surface but it then picks up some of the properties of that surface, wasn’t something we could dive into at this juncture, but it’s really cool so I want to tell you about it. Think of when you are wearing a bright red shirt and walk near a white wall. You would notice some of the red reflected from your shirt to the wall. Unity can do this naturally now, but that kind of reflection in real time is going to take some serious research by the artists to make look good and not gimmicky or frankly a jumbled mess.

What we did focus on is Real Time lighting. The whole test level that you saw in the video is lit by lights in the world, torches, braziers exc. No baked in lighting model, no hidden light sources. I’m very happy to see that textured lighting is back in Unity. I spent my whole level creating Quake 2 days using nothing but texture lights. I’m glad they are back as a serious feature. For example a torch as a light source will look roughly orange and red with some white. If you tell that texture to be a light it will have all those color properties. For our purposes in the Underworld this will really help the ‘underground’ feel of the game.

So far what we have played with in Unity 5.0 is very promising. The engine is leaps and bounds ahead of 4.6. There are a few things I’d like to behave better, but they are not mission critical systems more like nice to have things. Between development preproduction and working out the backstory and fiction, everything is humming along very nicely!

That’s all for now.

Producer Chris

Other Stuff

Here’s yet another reminder for everyone to fill out their Backerkit surveys! So far 92% of you have successfully done so, which is great, but that number is unchanged from last week. We need those last few holdouts to take a few minutes to finish the survey and help ensure everyone is ready to receive all their backer rewards.

If you haven’t gotten your survey via email, then please check your spam filters. It is likely stuck in there someplace. If not, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly at support@otherside-e.com.

Our new poll on character classes has been up for only a week, but we are already starting to see some trends in the numbers. For one thing, it seems most people prefer to play a Thief type character, with Wizards and Multi-Class characters coming in a fairly close second. Does this align with how you plan to design your first Underworld Ascendant character? Head over to the forums and let us know!

The OtherSide Team

It's Getting Hot in Here!

Posted by OtherSide Entertainment (Creator)
38 likes

In our last update, Chris talked about lava in all its different forms, and how it might be used in Underworld Ascendant. Well, where there is lava there is inevitably fire, so this week Jeff would like to discuss how fire will work in the Stygian Abyss:

WATCH THE WORLD BURN

Some men just want to watch the world burn.” -Alfred (Michael Caine), The Dark Knight

Last week Producer Chris waxed eloquent on how flowing lava is a major part of our thinking for the environment of Underworld Ascendant. Lava does more than flow, however, it also burns.

Other things burn too, like fireballs.

We want the world of UA to react as much as possible like the real world to such events, which means making anything that should be able to catch on fire, actually able to catch on fire. There are two parts to this. One is the logical level… how do things catch on fire and how does that fire burn other things. That gets into a general damage system, which is something I’ll write about more in the future. The second part, though is making burning things look like they are burning. I put some time in on that this week and have had some promising results.

To understand why this is tricky, you need to understand how game engines typically simulate fire. The basic technique for fire is called a “particle system” and was invented by the Lucasfilm Computer Group (which later became the CG arm of ILM) for the movie “Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn”. It was fairly primitive by today’s standards, but no one had done anything like it before.

You can view a little documentary about it HERE.

Particle systems have become more sophisticated over the years, but the technique is still basically the same. A particle system is an optimized render of a whole bunch of little tiny polygons or “particles”. Each particle is obeying a set of very simple physics rules to move it every frame. Anything that moves like a fluid is well represented by a particle system. Smoke, fire and fog are all things that particles represent well. The NVidia examples of water and fluid Chris shared last week are also particle systems, just made up of a lot more particles packed a lot more densely.

A good looking fire typically has orange and red particles for the flame itself as well as grey particles to simulate the smoke. Here is a particle system simulating the flame of a torch from a scene Will is working on right now:

Particle systems use controlled randomness in order to simulate the unpredictability of the motion of particles in nature. One place that randomness is used is in deciding where a new particle starts out. Your typical particle system uses a simple geometric shape like a box, cone or sphere and starts the particle at some random place inside it. We call this shape the “emitter”. Will’s torch, for instance, uses a cone emitter.

In most games, burning things have to have particle systems specifically set up for them when the level is built. Like Will’s torch above, the emitter is specifically chosen, sized and positioned to produce a good looking flame that you believe is coming from the torch. Even moving things, like a fireball, have the particle system carefully configured for size and shape and only the position changes during game play. In the Underworld however, where anything that can burn might burn, it would take a great deal of time and effort to set up individual particle systems custom configured to look good for every object. Instead, this week I wrote some code that can make any 3D object look like it is burning without having a custom tailored particle effect.

To make an object seem to burn, I need to create fire particles at the surface of that object. The surface of any object is defined by one or more meshes of triangles, so those meshes become my emitters. The process for creating each particle goes like this:

1. Randomly choose one of the burning object’s meshes.

2. From that mesh, randomly choose one of its triangles.  

3. Randomly choose a point somewhere on that triangle.  

4. Tell the particle system to create a particle there.

The end result, as you can see in the little movie below, is flame (or any other particle effect) that seems to come from the surfaces of the object. The randomness makes it dance around, coming from different parts of the object moment to moment, much as a real fire would.

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With this technology plus the damage system, players will be able to start fires with their fire spells, burn bridges with lava, set creatures ablaze, and generally torch the underworld. Will they use it to solve problems, or create new ones for themselves in the process? That, will be up to them.

Jeffrey Kesselman, Lead Engineer

Other Stuff

Here’s another reminder for everyone to fill out their Backerkit surveys! So far 92% of you have successfully done so, which is great! But we need those last few holdouts to take a few minutes to finish the survey and help ensure everyone is ready to receive all their backer rewards.

If you haven’t gotten your survey via email, then please check your spam filters. It is likely stuck in there someplace. If not, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly at support@otherside-e.com.

In addition, we have been working with BackerKit to add the ability to add funds to your BackerKit accounts using Paypal as the payment source. BackerKit has a beta feature setup now but it takes four steps to use.

1. Log in to your BackerKit account/page and leave it open in a browser tab.

2. Open a new browser tab and go to; https://underworld-ascendant.backerkit.com/backer/paypal_pledges (note: this page knows who you are from the BackerKit page open in the first tab)

3.  Add whatever funds you want to your BackerKit account using the above PayPal page.

4.  Now return to your BackerKit page and use the funds you just added via Paypal to get add-ons or whatever.

Last Wednesday we Twitched our play-through of Stalker: Clear Sky. The purpose of playing this particular game was to investigate the faction system the game utilizes and spark questions and ideas on how we will implement our own faction dynamics.

HERE is a link to the 1st of 4 videos of the session.

It didn’t take long for Paul, Chris and Tim to realize how a faction system based solely on combat and antagonistic behaviors can quickly become repetitive and one dimensional. And having EVERYTHING a player does have an immediate impact on a faction, good or bad, is probably not a good thing; let the players breath a bit as they explore and try new things!

All in all a good session that left us with some real questions to chew on. Join us soon as we play other games we think we can learn from as we continue our design of Underworld Ascendant.

We’ve started up a new poll on the forums and we’d like your input! Underworld Ascendant will have a class-less based character system which will allow players to customize the skills of their avatar in any direction they like. So, which direction will you take yours? Let us know!

Head to the Poll HERE and have your voice heard.

The OtherSide Team