My conclusions on update 2: things i like and things which annoy me


#1

First of all I want to thank you your efforts at trying to get the game in good shape, as a programmer myself I have some understanding of the situation you devs must have been through lately. You just need to see all this from another perspective, not a failure but an opportunity for great personal improvement. It’s not the time to give up all the hard work of years. When time passes on youll get off the current mindset and it will make sense. Just be strong and find happiness in overcoming the problems as they appear. Also don’t take it too personal, the press, the raging voices… they didn’t develop the game to understand it as you do, and furthermore such attitudes are not helpful for anyone.

After dumping the game due to being unplayable at release time, came back recently to play update 2 and finded a mixed experience which was way superior to the release.

I’m not making this post a bug report nor a very thorough analysis, just wanted to pinpoint which things are working for me in this game and which are turning me away from it.

Things i’ve liked:
The feeling of exploring a vast interconnected dungeon with many ramifications and decisions to make like wether take one or another corridor to reach a point. The staircase you added was the best feature you could come up with in relation to this.
The looting of powerfull or just weird items with very specific ways of impacting my way of playing.
The possibility of different playstyles, the enviroment killing approach, the stealth approach, the plain combat or the use of magic.
The rune system of magic, discovering new spells as you explore the enviroment via rune combinations.
The many secret areas to come later when you have the specific key.
The finding of lore pieces as graffitis or memoras.
The feeling of loneliness and sometimes even despair of not knowing what to do to solve situations at firsthand, and having to learn through trial and error, dying and advacing the doom counter. (This is why the tutorial makes the game look worse than it really is, I didn’t need that voiceover compelling me to do things, it feels sooo better when I figure something out myself)
The doom counter mechanic itself, as long as you have a way to stop it advance so you can engage in exploration.
The enviroment graphics are very nice, specially if you take the lighting in account.

What has hindered my gameplay:
-The UI is a bit awkward: if you have full inventory and try to pick up an arrow you have to drop an item so that arrow will stack in one of your piles. Drag and drop equipment to equip it over another already equipped one doesnt seem to work and have to double click instead.
Picking an object makes the light from my crystal to go away and then moving it in the dark is annoying. Also when you open the Compendium it would be nice that it opened on the page of your last discovery, because thast probly why you are opening it anways. I could write many of these small things which put together makes you “fight” against the game while playing it.
-The performance has very noticeable spikes, my frames vary from 50-130 depending on the area.
-There are glitches in the lighting, with light sources traspassing solid things as walls.
-There are physics glitches, with dead bodies making very strange movements like they are bumping against the ground or enviroment.
-There are sound glitches, of sounds not matching animations. I can hear skeletons “bumping” noise against things when they are already dead and totally still.
-The characters animations look a bit robotic and unnatural, to me character graphics are much less polished that the environment which truly looks great.
-The AI is improved, but you can still see many critters doing strange things like letting you kill them without even move, flying, bumping againts objects and killing themselves without the player doing anything for that to happen.
-The loot could be vastly improved to make it look more thrilling and relevant. Think about removing the duplicated runes in chests, so when you find one is really a yaaaay!
-The walking got a lot better, with just some ocasional stuttering. However climbing chains still looks unnatural, it took me time to realise that pressing W was making me to climb up, seemed that there was no movement, though I heared a chains-moving sound effect.
-About features I miss: The lack of any interactive dialogues makes for a more lonely and despairing adventure, but it would be nice that you can interact with some spare characters in your journey, like friendly inhabitants of the dungeon to learn things, to trade. Or even in the hub, like finding a piece of lore would open a dialogue or a side quest to further inmerse yourself in the game, making the world look alive. Being too static takes part of the inmersion away.
It could also benefit from more variety of foes, not relying so much on skeletons so you have to use different strategies and approaches.

Conclusion: I see what you tried to do here, maybe you lacked time or funds to get alll the pieces together, but there’s potential in this game. I would even say it could be a great experience if all the glitches and bugs go away. Strange design decisions which make you hate the game more than further loving it should also corrected. Think this is not your game, you didnt code nor play it, you dont know how things are going to unravel. What would keep you playing the game? What would make the player frustrated? What would be felt as doing repetitive stuff over and over again?


#2

Yes, dialogs. Dialogs and NPCs.


#3

+1 : is there some update 3 sheduled with NPC and dialogs ? This was a big feature of UU1 and UU2 !

thanks

cyril


#4

Not as it stands. Nothing has been mentioned. I think the chances are slim to zero, given the structural work that would be needed.

But we live in hope.


#5

For me, opting to “ditch” dialog trees because they “didn’t like” them was the single greatest misstep in their whole development process.

But I think agree with Flug that it’s likely too late to add significant amounts of dialog in, now. To be voiced, that’d mean many thousands of dollars for voice acting and recording studio time in all regionalizations, and even unvoiced it’s still need the same amount of dev time to write the conversation system, the writer time to create the characters and their trees, the translator cost and time, and the QA time to debug them. It wouldn’t be a simple fix, and none of this is playing on the strengths of any of their dev team.

More significantly, dialog trees would bring nothing to the game as it is currently. It might let the four existing characters (Haprukala, Cabirus, Aelita, Resherak) dish out a little more lore and personal background, and give them more personality, but that’s it.

To make it worthwhile, they’d need to, at the very least, move from billboard to speech for sidequests, to having the faction mediators give out the quests - which is something they did at one point appear to write voice actor lines for, so they might have recorded those in at least some languages, and have the audio lying around?

But even this would just be a move from paper billboards to speaking billboards. The plethora of characters from the Underworlds simply can’t be added at this point. Both Underworlds had around 70 character portraits if my memory serves; even if the faction mediators started talking, UWA would have only 10% of that number. Adding another 60-odd characters would mean writing essentially an entirely new game; far more than can be done in a patch release.


#6

Spoken dialog doesn’t really suit the Underworld, for whatever reason (nostalgia for the originals is nothing to do with it). That’s the crux of the issue, even before voice costs (and translation and localised re-voicing). We spent over a year discussing this, and why…way before the what and the how. It’s a pyschological ‘personal journey’ if you want to pin a cliche on it.

All we need are the dialogue trees we had first time round, in a nice scrolling ,errr, scroll.

But that’s a lot of work I suspect, even if there are enginen hooks and devices in place.You still need a scheme, triggers, embedding branches, and a lot of testing.

Bit of a sore point, really, for fans of the originals. Without it you can do a lot of things, but you struggle to make an Underworld come alive…whenever it’s made.

It’s not a manpower, technological ask, if you keep it basic. It’s a ‘design…or what made the Underworld Underworld’ ask when combined with the other elements.

Still, I’d guess that the chances for dialog in UPD3 are less than 5%.
I’d be over the moon to be 100% wrong on this.


#7

Jorico, great feedback, thank you.
Flug / Dewi, we know :frowning: We are looking at how we could potentially do some, but I totally get how some does not get us to the feeling of a more living and breathing world that the original evoked. That’s a long topic of discussion though and you guys have said a lot about it here already (I’ve read all of the posts). Maybe we should do a conf call some time and talk about it.

I’d much rather receive quests from a “person” than a bulletin board too, even if mechanically it doesn’t really do anything different. It just feels more personal that way.


#8

…Ignore all the lizard grammar stuff (it got carried away) and the working bare bones are there. The difficulty, as I see it, would not be the dialog…cod-thee and cod-thou standard conventions would do…but bending the game’s story around it so that it is incorporated naturally. And getting it to work within the existing framework.

I guess it depends what’s already there (if anything) in unfinished form.

But even a limited form would guarantee some renewed interest.


#9

I’d be happy to, though I’m sure there’s little I could say that you haven’t already chewed over thoroughly yourselves :smiley:

I did think that “some” would make a hell of a difference, but you totally proved my wrong just by adding a little bit of interaction with Haprukala to the main questline’s paper quests. Didn’t even replace the quest description fliers or anything! And that really did make a difference, far larger than I would have predicted. So I’m a bit of a convert.

My post above was certainly not intended to dispirit you from making the attempt to go further with interactive NPCs, if you want to. It was just to put in my 2c about how we shouldn’t expect (and it’d be unfair to ask for!) those changes, given the scale of the work involved.

I’d love to see some of the characters I saw in the string table come to life :slight_smile: But we can’t expect it. And if it does somehow happen, we can damnwell appreciate the amount of work it took to make it happen! :smiley:

And if it doesn’t… well, it’s a Unity project, so may be reasonably moddable with existing tools. This is the Underworld fanbase, not unfamiliar with such challenges. Once you stamp it “done”, the fun begins!