You've done it! The Lizardmen have been unlocked, and are moving into the Underswamp as we speak!
And, since we passed the $725,000 mark as well, we'll also be adding the Dire Grove to the Underworld. A natural home for the Lizardmen, the Dire Grove is also home to the swamp willow, a tree that bears fluorescent berries with magical properties.
Next Up, Companion Creatures + Enhanced Music!
Exploring the Stygian Abyss can be a scary experience, so why do it alone? If we achieve the current $800,000 Stretch Goal, you won't have to! With the Companion Creature feature added to the game, players will be able to have a faithful little buddy tag along on their adventures. Companions might be useful in a fight, or in boosting skills and abilities, but they can also help the player in other unexpected ways.
We've been listening to our fans and have decided to move Enhanced Music down from the $850,000 stretch goal to the $800,000 goal, alongside the Companion Creatures. This will help ensure that more music tracks and more elaborate scores are added to the game. The music of the original Underworld games is memorable even to this day, and now we will be able to create music to inspire the next generation of CRPG gamers!
In addition when we get to $775,000, halfway through the Stretch Goal, we will build in the Stygian Abyss a new area, the Necrotic Graveyard. This dark and foreboding locale seems to hold an allure for the various monsters and creatures of the Stygian Abyss who, upon arriving at the graveyard, pass away only to be reanimated as the undead. It is for the player to learn the purpose in this and to perhaps stop this terrible curse from inflicting the denizens of the Underworld.
We've learned a lot during this Kickstarter, that's for sure. None of us had run a Kickstarter campaign at anything close to this scale. It's been a joyous ride, humbling, and enlightening. We've grown during this time, learned new things, and have developed a relationship with our fans. We have been reminded, everyday, why we started this incredible adventure. Inspired to create the most amazing game we can.
As the Avatar, you too will learn from your successes and failures. While you may have humble beginnings, starting out with no more than the clothes on your back, it won't be long before your abilities will begin to grow. How this happens will depend entirely upon how you approach the game, what your goals are, and what kind of hero you want to be.
Over the course of your adventure you will be able to shape your character in almost any way you like. Underworld Ascendant will have a multitude of different skills and perks you can learn. Become a master of hand-to-hand combat; learn how to sneak through the shadows unseen; tap into the arcane arts to learn powerful magics; or any mix of these. Any direction you choose will see your character become a reflection of the type of player you want to be.
Dungeons and Dire Berries
Soon we will be in the final 24 hours of our campaign. Ready for the Dungeons and Dire Berries Challenge?!?
Starting Thursday, March 5th, at 9am EST, for every $10,000 that gets added to our pledge total from then till the end of our Kickstarter campaign, we will give all Kickstarter backers one of the famed Dire Berries. These berries, which grow on the strange swamp willows of the Dire Grove, give those who eat them a modicum of healing and a boost to energy. Used by wizards and warrior alike to prepare themselves for battle, these berries are coveted throughout the Stygian Abyss.
In addition, starting at noon EST, our very own Chris Seigel will be running a MUD-like dungeon crawl in the Comments section of our Kickstarter page. All backers are invited to join us for this old-school romp as Chris GM’s you all on a fun text adventure of tricks, puzzles and danger. Backers can join in and drop out any time during the event, no need to be present for it's entirety!
Chris' dungeon, The Labyrinth of Dreams, holds great treasure that will be shared with the entire community if it is found. If the players succeed in reaching the end of the dungeon and overcoming the final obstacle bt 9pm EST, they will uncover the lost Chalice of Cabirus, a magical artifact which grants any who drink from it a temporary increase in knowledge of the Stygian Abyss! If the community finds the chalice during Chris' adventure, all Kickstarter backers will be given this in-game, Kickstarter exclusive item!
We have chosen the slogan for the Kickstarter Exclusive version of the Underworld Ascendant T-shirt. We had lots of awesome entries posted into our forums, and among the finalists were Browncoat Jayson, h4pwn, myerlon and 7th-Key to name a few. But, ultimately there can be only one winner:
"Kickstarter Backer" (written in runes) - by Sark
We think this is going to make a snazzy looking shirt that we all will be proud to wear. Congratulations, Sark, you will receive a free T-shirt of your chosen size. And the heartfelt thanks of the community!
We will be hosting our another OtherSide plays LookingGlass Twitch session this Wednesday, March 4th, from 11am to 2pm EST. This week Paul, Tim and Chris will be playing Ultima Underworld, with special guest appearances from Richard “Lord British” Garriott, Stephen Russell, the voice of Garrett the Thief, and others. Please join usin the fun.
While our Kickstarter is coming to an end, there is another awesome looking game that is still ramping up. If you haven't heard there is a new MMO in town and it’s named Crowfall. An innovative take on the MMO genre by master creators Gordon Walton and J. Todd Coleman, Crowfall is already funded and well into their stretch goals. We can't wait to play! Head over to their Kickstarter and give them a look!
Another 2 days, another stretch goal reached! We welcome Tracy to our community, and can’t wait to see the story he will be weaving for us to read.
Tracy's book, telling the tale of how the Dark Elves arrived in the Abyss, will not only help in establishing the backstory to Underworld Ascendant, but will also provide readers with important clues as to the workings of this enigmatic faction.
Available in digital or physical formats as an Add-On, this is a must read for all fans of Underworld Ascendant!
If you go to the Add-On section of our Kickstarter page you can see the books. To choose one, go to the MANAGE your pledge button, at the top of the Kickstarter page (while you are logged in.) Then add the cost of the item (plus $15 shipping if you choose the hardcover and live outside of the US) to your pledge. At the end of the campaign you will get a survey to fill out and can allocate these additional funds for the items selected.
As a special bonus for our backers, as part of reaching this milestone we’re also gifting a digital copy of Sir Cabirus’ portfolio. It will be given as a KICKSTARTAR EXCLUSIVE free reward to all backers in the JOURNEYMAN pledge tier or higher.
Next Up, the Lizardmen!
The next stretch goal, at $750,000, is to unlock the Lizardman. The Lizardmen are fierce hunters who worship the Underswamp and its wild magics. The crafty Lizardmen prefer luring their prey into traps to immobilize their future dinner. What better creatures to guard the secrets of the Underswamp?
We've already funded their home with our first stretch goal, the Underswamp. So now let’s get them to settle in. Besides, they’re the only intelligent creatures that would actually like to live there.
To help induce the Lizardmen to move in, let’s unlock the Dire Grove, a special area within the Underswamp. The Dire Grove is dominated by a massive species of swamp willow. These willows make fine roosts for Lizardmen treehouses. They also bear a fluorescent green berry, which is said to have an odd magical effect if consumed.
Upon our Kickstarter reaching $725,000 in funding, halfway to bringing the Lizardmen home, we will add the Dire Grove to Underworld Ascendant.
As we head into the final days of the Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter campaign, a few of us were reminiscing about what it was like when we first got OtherSide underway, a little over a half year ago. The studio began with little tangible; no office, no desks, no computers. But we had our skills and experience, and passion and perseverance, to chase our vision. We didn't know for certain what lay in store for us in the months ahead, but we knew it would be an adventure.
The beginnings of our studio mirror, perhaps in a way, what is in store for the Avatar at the start of Underworld Ascendant. Stepping through a Runegate and hurled through space and time from their earthly home, the player lands deep in the gloom of the Stygian Abyss, a dark and hostile underworld.
Equipped with little more than some clothes and a pair of sturdy shoes, the player will need to gather their wits, and learn to survive in their strange, new home. And those eyes, those red unblinking eyes that stare out from the dark.
Finding a weapon will likely be at the forefront of a player's thoughts. Perhaps a yellowed thigh bone from some long dead creature, uncovered in a dark nook, will provide a crude club. A nail to stick in the end would be a godsend. A piece of twine and a patch of leather from a shoe could make a sling, useful for throwing stones into the dark, to keep the things making that chittering noise at bay.
Fire. Fire is a necessity, both for warmth, and to light the way as the player explores this brooding labyrinth. Maybe the player learns a simple spell for throwing spark, or procures a flint. Moss, pulled from the walls, provides fuel for a torch.
Perhaps, the player stumbles upon a well-worn path in the caverns, which leads to a settlement. A small community of other exiles with food, and some lore to share. If the player can convince them to take him in, for a short while at least, he will have time to learn about this world, and begin to uncover its secrets.
The player may start out in a humble state. But with skill, clever choices and perseverance, over time they will rise to become a master of their new world. It’s a hero’s journey. It is your journey.
Speaking of exploring the Stygian Abyss, paintings made Sir Cabirus have been discovered! Besides being the founder of the first colony of men in the Stygian Abyss, he had a gift for painting. It was known that he painted a visual diary of his explorations deep into the Abyss; but only now, more than century later, have a sheaf of his paintings been found.
Upon reaching $700,000 in Kickstarter funding, a digital copy of Sir Cabirus’ portfolio revealing a half-dozen exotic locations in the Abyss will be gifted as a KICKSTARTAR EXCLUSIVE reward to all backers in the JOURNYMAN pledge tier or higher. This visual travelogue is part of the lore we are fleshing out for the game, together with backstory we plan to draw from Tracy Hickman’s novel.
Once past the Tracy Hickman goal, lies the Lizardmen. To help induce the Lizardmen to come to the Abyss, we want to unlock the Dire Grove, a special area within the Underswamp we are sure they would enjoy. The Dire Grove is dominated by a massive species of swamp willow. These willows make fine roosts for Lizardmen treehouses. They also bear a fluorescent green fruit, which is said to have an odd magical effect if consumed.
Upon our Kickstarter reaching $725,000 in funding, we will add the Dire Grove to Underworld Ascendant.
Rube Goldberg Would be Proud
Jeff and Will, our industrious engineers, have crafted a Rube Goldberg contraption within the Underworld Ascendant prototype, designed to deal with some pesky giant spiders. It illustrates how physics can be your friend!
Brian Fargo on Underworld Ascendant
Brian Fargo, founder of InXile, and behind of such games as Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenara, is psyched for Underworld Ascendant. He was kind enough explain why:
We will be hosting another OtherSide plays LookingGlass Twitch session this upcoming Wednesday, March 4th from 11am to 2pm EST. This week Paul, Tim and Chris will be playing Ultima Underworld, with special guest appearances from Richard “Lord British” Garriott, Stephen Russell, the voice of Garrett the Thief, and others. Please join us in the fun.
Finally, this past weekend we reached the 10,000 backers necessary to guarantee a free Chattering Bart for all our Kickstarter backers, as well as 5 fan-created quips for Bart. Here are some quips posted by fans which are on the short list for inclusion in Bart's repertoire:
Zenm: “Be a pal and help me with an itch on my no...oh, that's right; I no longer have a nose!”
Descann: “We'll make it; I can feel it in my bones. Wherever they are.”
Failboat: “Couldn't you have pledged a few more gold to unlock the ‘Bart has Legs’ stretch goal?”
In high-school I played a fair bit of Dungeons & Dragons, probably more than was good for my grades. During one session while dungeon mastering for friends, it struck me that it might be great fun if the dungeon they were exploring could be made visible in front of their eyes.
A few weeks later I constructed a contraption similar to a photographer’s light box. It had a frosted pane of glass on the top surface, a flashlight under shinning up, and between these a cardboard sheet. The cardboard had cutouts for the rooms and corridors the players were walking through. As the beam of the flashlight tracked the path the party took, it illuminated a circle of light around their position.
It was a tiny step forward in offering tangible visualization, but still quite abstract. What I really wanted was some sort of holograph that would display the animated scene in 3D right on the table, so that players could sit around and watch the action as it unfolded. Keep in mind this was several years before the first Star Wars movie was released, with the ‘Let the Wookiee Win’ scene. But even after Star Wars came out, this seemed a far future pipedream of a concept.
Last year dropped the first hints that the technology to pull this off might be around the corner. Augmented Reality, AR for short, is a new approach for melding a digitally synthesized 3D image into the actual world around us. Several companies have been making announcements about their consumer AR endeavors. Couple of videos to check out:
AR headsets project into your eyes a digital image, which gets seamlessly merged with your view of the physical world around you. Potentially these images can look more solid and real than any hologram. A key part of AR is not just in the visuals, but also how the devices can read your hand motions precisely, so as to enable you to manipulate the virtual images in a natural and tactile way. It is the combination of the visual projection into the real world and tactile interaction which makes AR so promising.
Keep in mind that these consumer AR devices are still in development. It may be some time before they are consumer ready.
AR is not the same as VR, and does not provide VR’s deep immersion. It offers a different way to interact, especially suited to having virtual space in the real world around you to examine and touch. VR and AR will co-exist, offering different advantages.
For OtherSide, both technologies are an opportunity for us to explore innovative ways to extend the play experience of our games.
There are many ways one might use AR in a game such as Underworld Ascendant. One example would be to use the same sort of mechanic we already have working in the prototype for when you lock pick a treasure chest. Currently the player uses the mouse to turn a lock tumbler displayed on the laptop screen. In the AR version the tumbler would be floating a foot in front of the player, and they would use their hand to rotate the tumbler until they heard the satisfying click of the lock springing open. It’s a parallel game mechanic, but made much more tactile.
As with VR, we will be experimenting with AR to see if it might be a strong fit for Underworld Ascendant. It will be further down the road before we’d have anything to demo, but when we do, we’ll share what we have.
The original 1992 Ultima Underworld pioneered the category of immersive games, featuring the first 3D texture-mapped world to run around, several years before Doom. 3D texture-mapping on a monitor is decades past being cutting-edge. But our spirit of innovation continues, and these emerging technologies of VR and AR may enable us to yet again reinvent how players engage with games. Stay tuned!
I introduced Shaddy Safardi the other week, one of the talented concept artists working with us. Here Shaddy offers some insights into how he goes about his craft.
Over 1,500 new backers joined our community the past 4 days, double the pace of the prior days. We are looking forward to the pace picking up even more over the 4 final days of the campaign.
Having the new backers is wonderful. At the same time, we will also need to have at least some of our existing backers step up further on their pledges if we are to reach not just the Tracy Hickman novel, but up through the Lizardmen stretch goal. We have a soft spot for the Lizardmen, I think it’s fair to say that many in the community do as well.
The average pledge per backer now stands at $57. By way of comparison, two other Kickstarted games, Star Citizen and Shroud of the Avatar (both ‘cousins’ to our game, being new versions of the same 1990’s class of Origin System’s franchises), between them reached $74 average by the end of their campaigns. This is not a competition, but we hope we can get close to what these games achieved.
We fully understand that many of you have already pledged what you can afford. We are deeply appreciative. For those of you who are able to step up… If half of our now 11,500+ backers were to raise their pledge by an average of $10 each, the additional $57,500 alone would push us through an entire stretch goal.
As community reward, for every dollar over our current $57 average pledge per backer reaches by the end of the campaign, we will add a Silver Piece into an in-game purse for all of our Kickstarter backers at the PIONEER tier or higher. For instance, if we reach a $67 average, you will receive an in-game purse with 10 Silver Pieces. C'mon folks, let's break the (digital) bank! Please note that this reward won’t unbalance the game in for starting players, as a handful of Silver Pieces is a modest amount of currency in the Stygian Abyss, although more than pocket change.
We won’t be making any more appeals for the remainder of the campaign asking to up your pledge. These final days are all about enjoying the culmination of this wild ride we are on!
This Monday, March 2nd starting at 6pm EST Tracy Hickman and I will be conducting an AMA on Reddit. Tracy will answer questions about his background, and the book he is ready to write for us. If game story is your thing, make sure to join this AMA!