Post Beta Impressions Here Please


#49

Things I’d like to ask the inhabitants of Marcaul:

Are you hostile/friendly/neutral toward me?

Have you been in contact with Cabirus (he’s talking to me and probably sent me here for a reason)? What is your attitude toward him?

Is there a way to contact Cabirus or is he just talking to people without a backchannel being possible?

Who is Resherak, what role is he supposed to play?

Are you being threatened by Typhon? Did he attack the town in the past?

Have the skeletons been summoned by Typhon? Are the harrassing/besieging Marcaul? (would explain the rotating swords, they might be like mouse traps, easy to avoid by a living creature, but deadly obstacles for the less dextrous undead)

How is Marcaul organized? Take me to your leader!

Have your people ventured further in the abyss? What am I to expect, where should I go?

What do I have to do to deafeat Typhon or who might possibly help me (other than the voice of Cabirus)?

What other intelligent beings (factions) do you know in the abyss? Are you at war/peace with them? How can I reach them?

Even if there are still technical problems, I’d find it very interesting to explore these things, learn more about how I came here and why, what the hell is going on and what to do now.

Sadly this is not possible at all because there is no dialog with anyone and there is also no other way to find out anything except very short graffity and the voices (no scrolls etc.).


#50

I’m having a serious issue with the colours. They are so blown out in parts that it hurts my eyes, but if I turn my brightness down then I can’t see a darn thing in the dark areas. The colours really need to be balanced.

V/Os are meh. Typhon gives me Ultima 8 vibes.

I’m using an ultrawide monitor and I’m constantly missing the first line of text for all the hints and whatnot displayed in the upper right. I’ve tried all the available resolution settings with no improvement.

Also, please tell me the menu system is a placeholder. It feels very unfinished and doesn’t suit the atmosphere of the game at all.

The game is fun to play and I’m interested in the story, but item interaction is janky and, honestly, the colour situation is limiting the time I want to spend playing it.


#51

Things I hate about the linked beta let’s plays -


The authored look. Special shout out to the water.

The stupid grunting.

Cabirus voice over.

Typhon voice over.

Object highlights.

Interaction highlights.

The UI. It’s all awful. Where are the boxes within sacks and sacks within backpacks? And where’s my paper doll? I want to SEE my character and armour changes etc. frownsconsiders authored looked ramifications……i-i think.

The UI move to hot key(?)
sound effect.

‘writing’, on the map.

Map doesn’t appear to fill in even on narrow corridors.

feats

‘mission results’. Ugh.

spell effect graphics

noob throwing arc

noob pushing/pulling indicator

breaking sound effect

running sound effect

grab icon. An intuitive interface shouldn’t even require an icon.

sparkling looting effect

clumsy-arse physics

The exhaustion sound effect.

the bleeding(?) graphic when he’s punching the door?

the horrible, horrible combat.

Not having to put away or at the very least ‘unready’ a bow when mantling. It’s immersion breaking. Especially in an immersive sim, which quite clearly, despite alllllllllll the claims, this isn’t.

The horrible, gaudy colour palette.

Considering the antagonist is the father of monsters, you’d figure he’d have the kids over more often.

‘Instant’ arrows.

no torch

no lurkers

and I suspect no headless…‘es’? Is the plural of headless just headless? I think it might be. Just like I think they won’t be in the game. Please note glitching missing heads don’t count.

the short bus ai

Resherak animation. Resherak lip sync. Or maybe he’s a ventriloquist. Or maybe whoever has their hand up his arse is forgetting to work the mouth mechanism.

Comical looking bad guys/NPCs. Whoboy, just when I thought those skeletons were too toy story, you whack it out of the park with the lizardmen.

NPC interaction, or lack thereof. And the small bits that seemingly do exist look like they belong in a pre alpha not a beta. Take Aelita for example: with the trade/barter UI open, she’s twisting back and forth (what the lickety split) in her massive eyesore blue highlight with a big ‘talk’ button underneath the inventory screen. WHO thought this was acceptable?

message/bulletin/job/mission board.

graffiti. You know, occasionally scrawled on or scraped into walls would be perfectly fine, but all that billboard’esque signposting is just unimaginative. Where are the scraps of parchment? The scrolls? Books, diaries?

No ultrawide support. It’s not like trying to colonise Mars. The technology exists. I’ve seen it in my study.

Things I like about the linked beta let’s plays -


Ultima Underworld music at menu screen

‘excreting starlight’. I know the feeling. blush


#52

Yeh! :slight_smile:

But why was it modified and not taken in the original form? Made it a lot worse.


#53

I didn’t particularly care that it was modified. I heard the familiar strains (or tink tinks), and appreciated the nod.


#54

I only played a few hours, but I was a bit surprised how barebones and janky the game still is. If it were to launch in anywhere near this state, I think it will be received very poorly. And another thing to consider is that November 15 is still pretty close to Red Dead Redemption 2 and everyone has been running for cover from that, so maybe a few months off would be better time to release a game than competing with not only RDR 2, but also all the titles that have been postponed because of it.

Anyway, here’s a few issues I had with the beta demo, in no particular order:

Basic movement is still way off. Jumping out of water, moving over any sort of an obstacle (especially stairs), climbing ropes, etc, should not take as much effort.

There’s some issues with sound where torches burn really loudly and sounds don’t seem to propagate correctly. A few times I’ve heard a loud stuttering sound that seemed to come out of nowhere and the portcullis’s grinding sound seems to come from odd places sometimes too.

Opening a chest creates a light source. Should this really happen? I mean, it’s a nice nasty surprise for a player who wants to snatch some treasure right in front of a monster, but it does strain credulity. Maybe instead have some chests have traps that create light and sound upon opening?

You seem to be able to kill lizardmen with impunity. For example, I killed one in front of Resherak and he seemed pretty unfazed. Also, they should be a bit more sturdier, perhaps… at least to the point of not keeling over from being jumped into a few times.

I think the NPCs should spout their lines when the player interacts with them. Otherwise it gets old hearing the same lines over and over again and this way the player can choose if and when to hear them. And, if they do talk unbidden, at the very least they should also be saying things that don’t directly concern the player, like maybe hum a tune or gossip with each other. Would make the world seem more alive and less about the player directly. Also, running into them or damaging them could at least elicit some comment.

Speaking of the saurians, they seem a bit silly with their mouths open. Maybe have them closed instead?

I found a few wood walls that for some reason did not seem to be burnable at Upper Erebus.

I bought a few things from Aelita that immediately disappeared from my inventory and they didn’t go to the equip slots either.

I wish the bow was more like in Thief.

The world seems kind of dead. Dark Souls had a world that was quite literally dying, but even they had some bugs run on the walls and floors (basically just decals). And it’s not just the little finishing touches that would make the world seem more alive that are missing, a lot of the worldbuilding seems to be as well. How does the threat of Typhon affect the world? Are there refugees? Food shortages? What’s the saurian society like? Do they have power struggles, philosophical differences, misfits, troublemakers? I think the side-story of the two outcasts told via graffiti helped a bit, but there needs to be much more of things like that. Things that make it feel like a living breathing world.

Quite a few proofreading issues still. Spelling mistakes, double articles, a sentence that seemed to make no sense whatsoever, etc.

On the plus side, there were some definite improvements over the alpha. The runic spell casting is perhaps the most promising of the systems I’ve seen so far. Also, the atmosphere has improved a lot and the added darkness was welcome, though I felt that the game is perhaps even a bit too dark at times. And the skeletons seem like more of a threat now. I wouldn’t yet say they’re fun to fight, but they’re getting closer.

Anyway, it feels like the promise is there, but the game still needs more time to execute on that promise.


#55

I’m only now starting to realize how horrible the mission system is. You can only accept one mission at a time. While you’re in the middle of doing a mission in a level, you cannot save, you need to either finish the mission ( which can take a long while considering the size of levels ) either backtrack to Marcaul to get another one. This is pretty ridiculous.

Especially considering the first time the mission system opens up at Aelita’s and you see 5 of them ( 6? ) on the board. They all lead to the same level, Upper Erebus… so logically, you should be able to accept them all if you wanted to, visit the level, do your mission(s) there, maybe even some unknowingly by finding an item/spot by accident, then go back to Marcaul when you’re ready to progress the main quest.

But nope, that’s not how it is, and it makes no sense to me. Litterally.


#56

Ok, I admit it…I chuckled through Vas Defcon1’s comments, not least because A)They overlap with my polite form and B) They also contain some harsh elements of truth.

MasterLobar’s questions are also good examples of simple logical holes - the why, the where, the when…

As someone else said, who is the game for? It’s clearly not for fans of the originals (this is nothing to do with copyright/franchise limitations). Despite everything it still very clearly seems aimed at a younger audience…teens-through-twenties? The tone says this, the VOs, the colour-schemes. Perhaps if we went back to petitioning for dirt and grime? (whatever happened to that?)

This touches on a point made by SupremeSkill…so, to answer that… if some/many of us here since the beginning are not who the game is aimed at (the ones attracted by the words ‘Ultima Underworld’ in the title) then who is it aimed at? Casual players who just happened to hear about it…? Seriously, with the physics systems, Lizard language and runic magic system…? They qualify as ‘casual’? Or older farts who fondly remember classic RPGs? Well, that would be us, again. Or those who like Thief and Oblivion and other closer-to-home genre games? Us again, in many cases. And we like modern games too, if they’re good.

In trying to nail what’s missing so far, I’d have to say quite a lot in terms of fundamental game design and pacing (the last thing I ever expected to say with some of these names onboard) but mostly…commonsense. There needs to be a basic commonsense filter applied to so many things. There is a certain headlessness (and yes, they must be in) to the design in terms of answering fundamental questions…and this is not forthcoming in terms of game pacing. In fact, plotting and pacing seem largely absent in the excerpts I’ve seen. The first thing the original games did (both) was put you in situations that got the ball rolling in interesting, but opposite ways. Not only that, but through each new level.

Once again, we come back to MasterLobar’s entirely simple and logical questions…and incidentally, I thought these questions of dialog would all be answered by systems present in this beta…

…perhaps these elements qualify as spoiler entries and they’re not on display yet, or not ready yet? (…but it’s a beta). Both reasons are alarming in their own way.

…or take a step back, and perhaps we’re just expecting too much from a tiny team of 14? I’ve seen more in an art department for some games…

In which case I’d choose consistent working RPG elements over any amount of named Authored Look or Voice Over content, to be brutal…because I don’t associate either with an Ultima Underworld game, necessarily. In fact the VOs in this game, to me, represent a hazard, a how-to-avoid game in itself. I’m not sure any intrusive voices could really work come to think of it, no matter how good the dialog or how well-voiced. To be kind, it’s an unfair burden on those tasked with doing it, because in many ways it just doesn’t belong, and that’s becoming clearer with each passing update.

Vas Defcon1…the music is modified for copyright reasons…and I really like what they’ve done. But why the hell isn’t it in the game instead of noodling in the menu background? It’s totally wasted there.

…and yes, what is it with that levitating lizard? (is he sympathising with the occasional levitating chair?) Even the fact that your mind is drawn to these things suggests the game-world is not holding your attention sufficiently, because it’s not believable as a game-space, it’s not pulling you in enough…yet.

Believe me when I say no-one wants to be picking silly holes in it one month from launch, or saying the writing is (almost) on the wall. We should be discussing plot-lines and details and how-to-solve things, not fundamental game elements. That still concerns me.

One question that’s puzzling me: are all systems now in and working? I’m thinking specifically of NPCs and dialog…


#57

Starker…I am genuinely surprised by your comments (this is not a watered down dig, just inc ase it reads that way). I expected a much, much, brighter outlook for some reason.

Do any of the old faces here see a November release? Dawn? Flatfingers? Quick straw poll time…


#58

I would also like to make special note of Starkers comments. I appreciate your post Starker, I respect your approach to your playthrough, I suspect it was in line with what I would have tested.


#59

The game looks good in 4k, but looks jagged in 1080p. Strangely, it runs (including some weird hitching) about the same in 1080p as it does in 4k. Not sure what’s going on there.

The movement and controls are getting better, but they’re not ship-ready yet IMOP. I still feel a bit like I’m walking through concrete. Movement reactions like jumping are a bit sluggish. I also seem to have a little mouse latency. Not sure if that’s related to the renderer or to the controls. Object interaction feels a lot better than the alpha.


#60

I know I’ve already pretty much made my opinion clear on this earlier in the thread, but it warrants repetition. This game will not fare well if it releases in November (of this year). There’s just no way that I believe Otherside can get this game from it’s current Beta (Alpha) state to being ready for release in just 4 weeks, and I do not mean that as a jab at Otherside in any way. No team of their size could do what this game needs in a matter of 4 weeks.

At an absolute minimum, the following things need to be done to the game for it to be in a releasable state:

* Improve the save system: At least add the ability to use the Silver Sapling as an actual save point, and the ability to save and quit anywhere the way I heard Bards Tale IV lets you do it.

* Improve the NPC interactions/dialogue conversations: Add the ability to have a conversation with NPC’s. This can be text-based without voice if it really needs to be. MasterLobar has offered up some excellent examples of conversation topics that would really improve ones ability to properly learn about the world and get acquainted with the inhabitants. Toning down the voices in our heads would also help.

* Improve the quest system: Add the ability to take on more than one quest at once, and only distribute quests from the mission board if they’re really simple side quests. Distribute most quests in other ways, such as talking with NPC’s and things like that.

* Polish. This includes things like ironing out the physics more, ability to turn off the excessive object highlighting and trails, and fixing the players longstanding feud with the terrain.

* Enable keybinding.

Additional things that would really help the game, but I can’t quite bring myself to add into the absolute necessity list.

  • Feather pen cursor for the map and the ability for map notes to be written directly upon the parchment like in the original games.
    (Side not: Currently, the notes I make on one level are applied across the maps for every level. So a note I made on the map in Plutos Gate is visible on my maps of Marcaul and Upper Erebus.)

  • Add in a few more non-skeleton enemy types which are not just re-skinned variants of existing creatures. Really.

  • Remove the end mission stat screens. Or at the very least don’t have Cabirus comment on it. Please.

  • Add in readable bits of parchment and / or small books as items.

[size=12pt]I recommend a healthy delay of 6 months minimum.[/size]


#61

I have always been giving nothing more than my honest reactions. If you go look at the feedback I gave for the alpha, you will find a post that’s not much different from the above. And the way it looks to me, the game needs a lot more work to be worthy of an immersive sim (based on the demo).

And also, the game really is quite promising. I was surprised to find I could not only make several combinations of spells just from two runes, but would also have to find out the effects myself. That’s some great immersive sim material right there. The game just needs some polish on its mechanics and more things to draw you into the world.


#62

Yes I’d assumed the music was modified due to cppyright, which is why I said I didn’t particlarly care it had been and that I was just happy to hear it. In fact I was surprised they were even able to use the telltale parts they have tbh. And I agree an option to have it in-game (or no) would be nice. I think in-game it would add atmosphere if used sparingly and accordingly.

Also Flug old bean, I don’t think my comments are necessarily ‘impolite’ (as you may have alluded…or might not have), rather they’re just to the point and matter of fact. Harsh? In some cases perhaps but they’re an honest opinion. I’ve been issued a warning in the past by a moderator via pm that a previous comment of mine describing what I’d seen (up unto that point) as ‘Ultima Underwhelm’, as not being ‘constructive enough’ or some such thing, which I thought was kind of ridiculous. I understand the good folk at Otherside are people with feelings but my comments aren’t personal attacks…w-well…there was that whole dartboard thing but that was entirely tongue in cheek, I assure all engrossed in reading THIS particular comment that all previous and ensuing ones (barring a banhammer) are only critiques of the game - positive or negative. As an example, I think the english football erm…‘PREMier’ league is about as premier as a homebrand hot sauce but I’m sure the people are lovely.

At any rate I don’t think what is currently being presented (to anyone who played either or both of the originals) is what they would have envisaged when way back in…2013…14(?) we were told a new Underworld game was being made by a team that included many of the industry alumni who bestowed upon us the first two masterpieces.

Oi and stop calling me vas defcomonez, william wordsworth.

narrows eyes


#63

Keen to try the Beta on Steam… but this build crashes 2-3 seconds AFTER the ‘made with unity’ logo disappears into black. Seems to be some unity progress bar which then stalls with a memory error.

All previous builds loaded fine, Prototype and the Alpha.

No other crashes in system. Windows 8.1 Pro, Nvidia GTX1080, i7, 16GB ram, clean install, re-verified etc. All other games (including those in unity) working fine. Even tried the Alienware FX item in the blog.

Any thoughts ?


#64

I have not played much of the beta yet, I’ve only gotten to the first skeletons, but so far it’s done nothing to make me want to play more.

A lot of people have already said this game is not immersive. From what I’ve seen, they’re right.
And a lot of the problems here are the same things that killed Thief 3. Chopped up maps, big glowing interaction markers, sparkling items, etc…

This game is not subtle. And that right there is what kills immersion. I am CONSTANTLY reminded that I’m playing a video game.

The voice overs are hammy and intrusive. Whispers would have been far more fitting for your ghostly guide. And he starts talking EVERY time i find graffiti to read. It’s comical, and irritating. The booming villain is just grade A cheese.

The light blooming effect is way overused. Everything from the opening text onward looks like someone smeared Vaseline on the camera lens.

And seriously, every time I pick up a water bottle it shatters. Usually due to some nearby object, but several times it just explodes at the touch. “EXPERIMENT!” he says, as I’m reduced to a choice of water arrows or water arrows.

I know you’ve got a small team, and I sympathize, but I’m not seeing this end well.


#65

Another let’s play. The player is generally positive about the game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkfacbhjS_I


#66

There are a lot of things I don’t know:

Are interactive dialogs with NPCs a planned feature? That’s something that, by itself, requires a lot of time. And recording VO for every dialog option isn’t cheap if you have a lot of dialog.

Has a release date been mandated by 505? If they’re saying, “no more cash after that,” then additional development time is not an option. Note that what I’m saying is that I don’t know whether 505 has or has not defined the release date. I’m noting that if they have, then suggestions for postponing the November release date are moot.

How long do OSE believe the typical player will take to complete a quest? If they think most of UA’s players will knock out quests in a few minutes (say, no more than 30 minutes), then the Silver Sapling instead of a full save feature is possibly OK. If many players will spend an hour, or two, or more in a non-Marcaul level – I’ve spent three hours in a level exploring all the bits and bobs and frobbing everything, partially because I was testing but also because I enjoy that kind of play – then maybe a full save feature is more than just a nice-to-have, and the design of the game should take that into account.

There are still so many important gameplay questions to which I don’t have answers that I’m not yet willing to give a definitive thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

That said, I have formed some tentative conclusions:

  1. UA is clearly more “gamey” than the originals. In particular the use of “feats” to deliver skill improvement points feels intrusive. This isn’t a criticism, since this feature is clearly not going to be changed; it’s just an observation… but I think it fairly raises the question of whether it was wise to tie UA thematically to the original Underworld games and their much more “dungeon simulator” styles of play, even if that seemed useful for marketing.

  2. I’m apparently a lot less graphics-focused than many others here. I’m less concerned about whether the colors and shapes fall within this or that style than with whether they’re consistent. For the most part, I think they’re quite consistent, so I take the art style as its own thing and I’m enjoying it. (I do think the Lizard Men seem slightly more shiny and bright than the environment warrants, but this is a minor complaint for me.)

  3. The runic magic is fun! I didn’t expect anything less from Tim, and I’m happy to see others are agreeing with this. I wish I could do a runthrough with all runestones and magic skills maxed out, but as a power progression each new magic ability feels satisfying. I do have to say I find exploring spells somewhat annoying because it’s often hard to figure out what a spell actually did; also, the spell UI still needs some work. But these are implementation quirks; spellcasting in general is just super-satisfying. And, importantly, this is one feature that feels like its counterpart in the original games, only better.

  4. I think there’s been an enormous amount of progress made between the Alpha and Beta builds in polishing both active features and graphical/audio assets. Whatever we may think of the game’s overall design, its implementation is looking miles better than a few months ago. However, I have to agree with those who think one month seems insufficient to add the additional polish needed before releasing this game to the general public. From the content I have seen, there are still a lot of things that need work, ranging from level cleanup and graphics finalization to some performance issues to some active features flat-out breaking. It’s hard to imagine even a large team nailing all this down in just one month.

Overall, while I’d have liked UA to be another dungeon simulator, I understand that this wasn’t an option and so I see no value in fussing about it. I’m trying to take UA on its own merits. On that basis, I think it’s maybe 80% of the way to feeling like a complete, consistent, fully playable game. It might not be the game many of us wanted, but as a starting point (Underworld Overlord aside) for the OtherSide Entertainment studio, that’s OK as long as it’s a good game. It just needs that remaining 20% to stand as an enjoyable game in its own right.


#67

I have no game design or writing experience, but I would say it isn’t that much work to create dialogs with NPCs. If we look at UU2 for example, you have perhaps 40 or 50 NPCs in the whole game (not counting guards etc. who don’t say much). Each on average has perhaps 3-4 pages font size 12 double spaced text (some don’t have very long dialogs). Add to that perhaps 1 page of player questions.

The story, lore, NPC characters and roles are already defined (I assume), so it would be all about creating some nice text for conversations.

I’d say an experienced writer can do that in 2 weeks.

As far as I’m concernd, it wouldn’t need to have full VO. Text is absolutely ok.


#68

I gotta say-ayyyyyyyyy…I’ve just been watching this extended beta let’s play of a mission proper (something about slugs - which I initially thought must have something to do with the loading times - budda boooom, budda bing) and it has piqued my interest a little.

Lack of rats, rotworms and spiders aside - and unfortunately not lacking in flourescent flora and ubiquitous jank, I still found it a shedload more compelling than the tutorial play throughs. Don’t get too excited, because I found the tutorial to be as compelling as prepkit c.

Please note, the included link is a let’s play from razorfist, so those in the know will be expecting politics, tourette’s frequency f-bombs, death metal discussion and something something about liberals being lame, and those not in the know - well, now you do.

Spoiler alerts etc, maybe start at the 2:41:00 mark if you wish to avoid watching the tutorial again, which you do.

https://youtu.be/zkfacbhjS_I

Edit: Sorry MasterLobar, didn’t realise you had posted the same link. Anyway comment still stands about my interest being piqued.