Underworld Ascendant brought to you by Zombie Looking Glass


Hopefully Shock3 is a larger team. My general feeling is that UW:A tried to do too much with too few people. They were all strong veteran developers, but an immersive/emergent RPG with a “tons of verbs” core design is just too much for a small team.


Stusser kinda nailed it. The thing that sucks about games–more than film, music or books, is its so damn long to get another swing at the plate.
Most of us at one time or another have been involved in a non-optimal project for whatever reason. It sucks its painful, and hindsight is 20:20 on what happened. Frankly in the middle of it as a dev-it is hard to see. Too focused on the small picture, not the big…a strange spot for me since my career has been ‘big picture’. The biggest guilt I have is leaving the producer role for a dev role.
Anyway all you can do is Pick your self up, dust off and get back at it. I will say, the game is better after Update 2. We basically redid the whole guts of the game-how it progresses, missions, exc. Movement, combat, AI improved. After clearing our heads post launch…and post public beatings…there has been a bunch of things by pretty much every developer like ‘how the hell did that get in there like that’ The bane of rushing to a date, and a bunch of other stuff. It wasn’t particularly fun. As for this that or the other on how or why–I just am not saying. Wait for the book. :)
Stusser also nailed it with ‘too small team’ yeah, that was the biggest ouch. Shock is far larger.


That list of substantial changes to Ascendant covers my complaints, so I’ll definitely give the game another shot when update two releases. I’m very interested to see how how the fundamental mission structure evolves from the initial launch. I hope the game world feels more like a contiguous space.


Is it really that impossible to see the game objectively when you’re in the thick of it?


I’m a programmer but I don’t make games…
It can be remarkably difficult to see the forest for the trees. When you spend months of your life staring at the single pieces, moving them around, changing their color, clicking through the menus a gazillion times. It just affects your perspective. It can be really difficult to step back. It usually takes a total break where you don’t look at a project, touch it or think about it for a few weeks to regain that.

You become too emotionally attached to the project. You’ve poured blood and sweat into it for aaages. That impairs your judgement too. You can’t be impartial anymore. If you’d spent 3 months building an intricate feature but it’s just “not fun” - how would you feel to rip it out. It might improve the project but man… all that work, wasted.


You also get really used to and numb to annoyances like user interface failures, unresponsive input, etc. Especially when it should be somebody else’s job to fix. Then the game comes out, everyone complains and you realize you hate it too but you’ve just been suffering through habit for two years and forgot it didn’t need to be that way.

It’s hard to imagine when it’s on the scale of UA but in a general sense it’s really easy to fail to realize that the game you’re working on isn’t good.


As stated above, definitely. I’m a software developer. Not working on games. But I’ve seen the same issue occur more than once on large projects. You get to the point where you are trying to work with and improve what’s there rather than wondering whether it should be there. Without an unlimited budget, you can’t just go back to basics indefinitely.


Short answer yes it is.
When the deadline is in stone, you have more work than hours available…yeah it is hard to pick your head up and look.
like I said, I’ve always been in the big picture role- producer, manager whatever…I never thought I would lose that perspective…but it happened. I guess as a dev, I just had to run on faith that other people are watching that. So being in the trenches personally was interesting, and I learned a ton, but I’m going back to 10000 feet ASAP, that is where my real strengths are.


Update 2 live:
Underworld Ascendant
Update 2 Build Notes - 2/14/19 - 12pm PST

Thank you for your continued support of Underworld Ascendant!

We have been hard at work on Update 2 and have focused our efforts on the overall structure of the Abyss, the player journey, AI and other gameplay improvements. We believe these changes will significantly improve the overall player experience, especially when starting a new game.

We hope you enjoy this update and please continue to provide your feedback.

The Stygian Abyss renovated

The world is now a series of interconnected levels, accessible through The Grand Staircase. Updated quest flow now focuses on important narrative quests that highlight both new and refined story and content, while allowing the player to freely explore the environment and optional side-quests.
As a result of this major change, we highly recommend that you start a new game to experience it. That said, if you want to start from where you left off, your old save games will still work and you will start at a roughly similar place in the new story progression.

Player experience improvements highlights

Updated enemy patrol paths and lighting pass in all levels to enhance tactical stealth gameplay, and enemy population overhaul/refinements on all main quests.
New and streamlined story elements along main critical path, with supplemental story elements moved to explorable space.
The Vault of Nyx, the final level encounter, gameplay and clarity improvements.

Meta Game updates

The Doom Counter has been refined to better ramp the type and difficulty of creatures that appear, and now allows players to complete the game without having to set it back more than once in an average playthrough.
Players no longer need to gain Faction Favor or Influence to trigger the final encounter of the game, though Faction Favor still provides benefits in trade.
New games can now choose a difficulty level. All old save games will be treated as “Normal” difficulty.

Save Game System

We made some additional enhancements and refinements to the save game system based on your feedback:

Players can now use F5 to quick save and F9 to quick load said quick save.
Players are now asked for confirmation if they are about to overwrite an existing save.
Clarity pass on the text in the Save menu to improve usability.
Also a load game panel clarity pass. It will also now show difficulty of each save game.


Updated enemy patrol paths and AI behavior models to improve their reaction to player actions
Enemies will no longer do more than one in-combat emote in a row, which makes them much more aggressive.
Enemies will flee less often than before.
Animuses now alert all nearby undead when they are being attacked.
Lizardmen casters will no longer cast while on the ground or getting up.
Lizardmen will now be more aggressive.
Better wandering for deep slugs and rats.
Skeletons will no longer attack torches that damage them. Also reduced torch damage radius for when creatures walk by them.
Enemies now have more personality in their idle time.

Loot and Items

Standard trunks are now smaller to reflect that they don’t hold treasure on the level of the mighty Typhon chests. Removed the sparkly “treasure” effect when you open a trunk. Celebrations are for actual treasure chests.
Trunks that are too low-level to hold much loot will now (rather than being so empty) have more filler items such as pots, which will sometimes contain coins.
Clarity pass on item descriptions to make it easier to understand what they do.
Magical items now have a different color name so they stand out more in your inventory.
Player’s speed percentage is now listed in the inventory screen so you can tell if items you have equipped are slowing you down (or speeding you up).
Item tooltips for equipment that improves the wearer’s armor percentage now include a notation about that.
Updated Aelita’s trade menu to make it easier to understand how much silver you will get for a trade, and how much silver Aelita has available to trade.
When you mouse over an item, it will be compared to the same type of item you have equipped, if any.
Right clicking on items in your inventory behaves the same as double clicking. This also applies to trade where it will move it to/from the offer table.
When moving a stack of items within their inventory, the player is no longer prompted to pick how many they like to move. To see that pop up, hold down shift and click on the stack of items.

Gameplay Including Movement, Combat, Stealth, Magic and More

Additional refinements to combat feel and responsiveness, including removing an animation step so that players aren’t moving forward after an attack ends, which tended to interrupt combat flow.
Creatures may be knocked down during combat and get back up to continue the fight. Make sure to finish your foes!
Several creature types now have small weaknesses to extended melee combat. This will make encounters a bit more eventful in cases where the player’s attacks are underpowered for their foe.
Chains and ropes will be much easier to swing on.
Fixed issue where you would get stuck on chains in certain situations.
Removed some lights that didn’t have an extinguishable source and were making stealth difficult in spots.
Further refinement of player movement
If the player walks into a heavy object (like a table) it no longer knocks over. Instead the player will step on top of it. This also applies to crates! Running into stuff will still knock it over, of course.
There are more mana motes in the world. Use the Mana Sight skill to spot them and keep your supply full!
Player’s maximum mana is increased.
Fixed the Blink spell getting stuck on light obstructions (e.g. crates), and made it more reliable in general. Adjusted it to Level 3 instead of Level 2.
Fixed the Magic Fist spell’s collision with physics objects to apply forces as intended.
Fixed Outcasts’ fleeing behavior so they don’t smoke bomb away from the player if they are allies (as with summoned or charmed Outcasts).
Fixed long-press of the interact button on doors (as if you were trying to pick the door up), to lock or unlock them.
Friendly lizardmen now show up on the map. You will also get a warning saying “Saurians are your allies!” if you accidentally hit one.
General pass on tooltips to ensure they appear where expected and make sense.

Levels and Quests

Players will be able to reach the lower depths of the Abyss more quickly in the game’s overall progression, if they choose to do so.
Removed the intro sequence with Cabirus so players can get to the action faster.
Implemented subtitles for the ending cinematics.
A lighting pass across the entire game to better support gameplay.
More improvements to the main quest line to make sure there are no dry spots.
Narrative and clarity pass on the Vault of Nyx so players can better understand what needs to be done to complete the final mission in the game.
Players who miss the “Cautious First Steps” feat in Pluto’s Gate can still qualify for it by running any subsequent quest undetected.
Removed the “Weaponless” Side Bounty from the rotation as it’s not applicable to the new Quest flow.
New challenges and rewards to discover in all levels!
Lots more holes filled!


Fixed the Haste skill so only characters with the skill get its benefit.
Some special attacks now knock the targeted enemy back.
Skill Points are now called Skill Points on the Skills screen, (not Memora).
Clarity pass on skill descriptions to make it easier to understand what each skill does and how to use them.
Known issue: the Mighty Blow, Cleave, and Fists of Iron skill chain descriptions sometimes leave out that they apply to axes & maces, swords, and unarmed attacks respectively.
Added a reminder on the Skills screen that the player needs to perform Feats (found in the Compendium) to earn skill points.
Fixed the Unseen Dash and Dash Farther skills’ handling of rough terrain. Unseen Dash should skim over terrain, while Dash Farther will hop over gaps entirely.
Increased the bonus to mantel height granted by the Athletic Ascent skill.
Improved clarity for skill descriptions and skill panel.


General performance improvements to improve load times, increase FPS and reduce hitching.
Players can now cycle through hints on loading screens by hitting the E button.
Brightness bar on character creation extended so you can make the game even brighter.
A Compendium now appears in the Tab menu. The Hints and Secrets tabs have been folded into the Compendium. In addition, one section lists all the available Feats in the game and tracks which feats have been completed. Another section will track all of the foods the player has eaten and their effects.
New VFX on Memora.
New VFX on Animus Hearts.
Players will no longer sound like they are plunging deep beneath the water when they splash through a puddle.
Fix for “Bark & Bite” achievement not firing right (the Ripper was getting the achievement instead).
(Trade) Fix for splitting stacks during trade destroying stacks.

Seems like a huge update, interconnected levels in particular are a massive deal. Plan to check it out when I finally finish Far Cry 5.


Thanks for sticking with this. I’m anxious to look at the improvements.


Sounds like I should finally install this but would there be another big patch coming in the future? I could afford to wait for that.


They put in a full three months fixing a game that definitely didn’t sell well, and this latest patch clearly took real effort. My guess is this is it, barring minor fixes, but maybe they found the resources for a No Man’s Sky type turnaround.


You mean millions of dollars in pre-orders? Not happening.



Guess it goes into my play list this weekend then!


They already had that money in-hand, so it would be difficult to justify spending it to satisfy existing customers with over a year of development. A couple months, sure. Then again, who knows?


There is one more update on the way.


After that, I’m in.
I’ve spent more on less promise before. The current update sounds good.


Now $7.49 for a limited time on Steam. I’m in.