UA Dev Roadmap


#1

Hi folks, you’ll see this update cross-posted in a few places (Steam, Discord, here, etc.). It’s not everything we need to do, but is a good step forward toward making this a better game:

We have some updates on our upcoming roadmap beginning with Update 1, which we plan to go live next week. Our goal is to address the biggest issues brought up by the community and to improve the overall quality of the game.

We have also included our plans for Update 2, which will go live early next year. Further details and timing are outlined below.

UPDATE 1 - Next week (Pending QA Review)
Save system
We’ve completely overhauled Underworld Ascendant’s save game system based on player feedback. The goal is to ensure your efforts as you adventure through the Abyss, particularly during quests, are saved.

Under this new system, you will be able to save your progress anywhere in the game (with a couple exceptions) from the Pause Menu.

When you save a game, you will retain your location in a level, whatever steps you’ve completed toward a quest and all items and equipment you’ve collected in your inventory. Enemy positions, health and more will also be saved.

A full description can be found in the Save Game Details section at the end of this post.

Combat
We have refined Combat to make it more dynamic and responsive and to add more variety to attacks.

First, we are changing the way directional attacks are being handled. Now, every player will be provided with these attacks at the beginning of the game. Instead of using skill points to unlock these attacks, skill points will now make these attacks more powerful.

A balance pass on weapon damage and enemy health has been made with an aim to making combat more engaging, particularly in early levels.

Some initial improvements to AI have been implemented and we have plans for bigger updates in the new year.

Quests and Levels
Many immersion-breaking holes and seams have been removed and levels have more refined and more varied enemy populations… Pluto’s Gate and Upper Eberus have received a number of enhancements to improve playability and make them feel more “lived in”.

Items
You’ll also see some weapon and loot changes in this update. An item’s wear will now be more apparent, with weapons showing damage wear over time as well as appearing broken when they have reached that state. We improved loot drops in the world as well as weapon availability in Aelita’s shop.

Player Movement
In update 1.03 we made changes to improve player movement. This included the addition of swimming, reduced keyboard and mouse input lag and better transitions into and out of water. Those fixes along with Update 1’s increased base player speed has helped make player movement more responsive and more fluid.

Other Improvements
We’ll give more details in the update Build Notes next week, but some highlights include saved key binding preferences, better visualization of which skills have been learned, the ability to learn skills sooner and more.

UPDATE 2
February 2019

Our overall goal for Update 2 next year is to continue to make the game more interesting, more fun, easier to understand, and more polished. We will continue to improve things like combat, AI and levels. We will also focus efforts on player progression, adding variety to the gameplay and improving the overall player journey through the course of the game.

Most importantly, we will continue to gather feedback from our fans and players after Update 1 to see other areas where we can continue to improve the game.

Here are highlights of what we are planning for Update 2:

Combat and AI
We will continue to make improvements to combat to make it more fun and engaging—please continue to give us detailed feedback as you play! On the AI front, we’re planning to improve behavior, responsiveness, communication to players and navigation. Our goal is to make enemy behavior more interesting and more natural to players.

Meta Game
We are evaluating ways to improve the overall player experience during a full play-through to better communicate requirements to complete the game and also reduce the complexity around what players are supposed to be doing to stop Typhon.

Levels
We will continue to look at improvements to levels, including adding more enemies, environmental storytelling and potentially streamlining the layout of Marcaul.

Quests
Our goal is to make quests more interesting and less repetitive. We are also scoping out improvements to player experience in the beginning of the game through enhancements to Pluto’s Gate and Saurian’s Challenge to expose players to fun gameplay elements more quickly.

Other
We’re looking to continue to make the game easier to understand (aka better tooltip text), improve performance, improve load times, and continue to fix bugs

There you have it, our roadmap for the next two updates. Beyond that, our plans will take shape as we gather more feedback from the community and evaluate the game’s progress. If you have constructive feedback on Update 1, please check out the discussion here.

Thank you!

The Underworld Ascendant Team


ADDENDUM: UPDATE 1 SAVE SYSTEM DETAILS

The following are the current build notes for the Update 1 Save System. Please note that some details may change between now and when it goes live.

You will be able to save your progress anywhere in the game from the Pause Menu.

The new system saves the following:

World State

[ul]
[li] Enemies, chests, doors, levers, chandeliers, torches, sconces, braziers, and water level will save their states and location[/li]
[li] All spawned items (e.g., weapons, food, etc.) including location and position[/li]
[li] Silver Sapling location and status[/li]
[li] Enemy Health[/li]
[li] Enemy status effect with durations[/li]
[li] Door damage[/li]
[li] Combustibles will remain lit[/li]
[li] Gate / Portcullis state (up / down / in transit)[/li]
[/ul]

Quest State
The new system will save and restore the current state of the quest, including the required items and enemies as necessary. If a player saves after finishing objectives, this objective will be saved.

Player State

[ul]
[li] Position, rotation, crouching[/li]
[li] Current health/damage[/li]
[li] Current Mana[/li]
[li] Status effects[/li]
[li] Inventory[/li]
[li] Hotbar[/li]
[li] Stash[/li]
[li] Known spells[/li]
[li] Faction Favor[/li]
[li] Influence[/li]
[li] Completed quests[/li]
[li] Skills[/li]
[li] Held items[/li]
[li] Player session stats associated with level progress (e.g., enemies killed)[/li]
[li] Existing player stats associated with prior level progress[/li]
[/ul]

A few things are not saved:

[ul]
[li]Arrows that are not at rest[/li]
[li]Spells in the middle of being cast[/li]
[/ul]

Important Notes:

[ul]
[li]Saving is disabled when the player is off the ground or within 15 meters from enemies.[/li]
[li]We are still working on saving in Marcaul. It currently does not save player position or world state, but does save inventory, stash, skill point changes, etc. in addition to saving quests completed (as a result of Hap sending you to the Midnight Forum), but you will start at the Ring of Portals when you re-load. [/li]
[/ul]


#2

Linux and OSX is not on the roadmap. Are they part of your development planning? Are they planned for after Feb 2019?


#3

Did MacOS / Linux support officially get terminated, or is that intended to be addressed after the end of this roadmap?


#4

I didn’t see the reply to this very question in https://www.othersideentertainment.com/forum/index.php?topic=6148.msg37199#msg37199


#5

Thanks for giving this much attention to your final product. It’s nice to see teams who care.


#6

Nice to know a proper save system is on the way.

The disabling of saving while in the air makes sense, and there are a number of games which don’t want you to save when you are in combat, but why is it disabled at 15 meters from an enemy? That seems like a pretty long distance (almost 50 feet away?). What if the enemy is not aware of you? I can envision some annoying hypothetical situations where an enemy is 48 feet away from the player, through a wall in a room where the entrance is very far away, and the player can’t save because of it.

Since saving in Marcaul is still being worked on, does this mean full save state in Marcaul definitely will not be in Update 1? What about in Update 2?


#7

Re: saving and enemy proximity, we were wanting to do it based on aggro. I.e., if you had it, couldn’t save in the moment. In practicality, the 15m seems to be okay and since the other idea was going to take longer to figure out, we went with it.

We’re hoping to get full save state in Marcaul for Update 1, but it needs more QA and bug fixing. It’s more complicated there due to quest completion / acquisition and story progression and VO. There’s not so much world state to worry about though. Fingers crossed we’ll have it for Update 1. If not, maybe hot fix to have it out before Update 2.


#8

Yes, I am pleased to hear this.

I very much look forward to hearing from the folks here after this update comes out!

I agree with Dawn, this is really nice to see.


#9

As I said on Discord, I’m very pleased to see this communication with players, and I think you’ve got the priorities fairly straight.

One thing in particular got my attention, though:

This is certainly a good idea. For example, from the player character’s perspective, why is a “Doom Counter” a thing that exists?

My only gripe is that I don’t think this one aspect – adding content that clarifies for players “how do I win?” – is enough to really say you’ve addressed the meta-game. A common objection among the Underworld fans is that UA feels more like a game than a world (and I think some newer players feel this as well, even if they can’t quite articulate it). Just adding content to make a mechanical goal more obvious doesn’t make UA feel more like a world… but changes and additions that relate UA’s mechanics and dynamics and aesthetics to each other, where everything makes sense individually and in connection to many other content elements, give players a better explanation of Typhon and much more besides. For the price of increasing immersiveness in general, explaining Typhon’s ticking clock is just one benefit among many.

So I’d suggest dedicating some real time to this “meta” goal. In fact, this sounds a lot like the whole-game, holistic, make-everything-consistent-and-connected pass through the content I starting bugging y’all about back in April of 2015:

I understand that the schedule forced a post-release focus on bugfixes and high-priority quality-of-life changes (such as a more complete save function). But if you’re planning updates after those, I could well be wrong but I believe you’d be well-served to prioritize immersiveness improvements. “Meta” enhancement of UA really needs to mean more than just better explaining how Typhon has the game on a timer.

Naturally, if that’s already how you’re thinking of it, consider this whole comment one fan’s approval. :wink:


#10

Better late than never, but I’m still pissed that you refused to hear your backers in alpha/beta that told you a proper saving system was needed, and your answer was dodging and saying it was impossible. Now guess what, with an additional month of work, it wasn’t so impossible… right.

But yeah, it is going in the right direction. It’s just too late to save the game on PC IMO. Maybe consoles will fare better.


#11

Ok looks like a whole slew of issues will be addressed with update 1 that I have noticed. Looking forward to a fresh play-through after the update. Will make some notes on any issues I find and post them in the appropriate thread. Thank you dev team for sticking with it! (And I’m glad you have a budget to keep doing it too.) :slight_smile:


#12

Not for someone who hasnt played it yet.

History is a brutal storyteller. Even if the launch was a mess, the future will remember how they dealt with it and most importantly the final product. I havent played the game yet, and I am not saying anything speculative about that other than they still have time to make a “better” final historic statement.


#13

I don’t mean the game couldn’t be saved/improved for individual players like you. I meant, as a commercial and financial success. No Man’s Sky turned it around but they had a commercial success at launch ( mostly due to Sony’s marketing ), unlike UA.


#14

Flatfingers, I needed to be a bit vague in the “meta” game part until we finalize our specific plans (lots of time spent last week on it, going through final scoping now). But I probably also could have worded it better. Your comment that UA feels more like a game than a world is spot on. For example, we’re looking at how we can restructure the levels so that it feels more like one contiguous dungeon (with load screens of course) without forcing players to go back to Marcaul between quests, taking away players’ choice about what to do next. The simplification of the meta could come from removing faction favor and influence so that your journey to stop Typhon follows the storyline quests without all of the forced repetition through levels (and favor could become a thing for folks to earn to get better gear in the store, for example). My vote is also to obfuscate the Doom Counter, which to your point feels too much like an obvious game mechanic.

Anyway, don’t hold me to this stuff yet, but let me know what you think. Also, all of this said, being realistic to those of you that though we were making something closer to the original UWs, I don’t think we’re going to be able to address all of the things that make it feel less like the original UWs, but we’ll definitely make the game better. Thief + System Shock in a fantasy dungeon is still my go to simple description of the game

Nyast, you might be right re: PC, unfortunately, but we need to make the game better on PC regardless of the other versions. It does put more weight on the console versions. Of course, any work we do for PC is going to help those as well as Mac/Linux.

One last point about this update. It’s a big step in the right direction, e.g., levels do feel more populated, loot is more rewarding, combat is better, etc., but we have more work to do. Most of the engineering time for Update 1 was spent on the save game system so we’ll now have those guys able to spend more time on things like AI. The design and art teams can spend time “restructuring” things and make it feel more lived in.


#15

Thank you, Walter. I appreciate that not only is “meta” harder to describe (by both critics of UA and its developers), it’s further out from what you feel are more pressing needs.

I just left some related thoughts on Paul’s recent comments in that thread here. I hope that clarifies a bit what I’m thinking… for whatever value that has. :smiley:

My enthusiasm for OtherSide as a studio, and for much of what was delivered in UA, is undimmed. Thanks to the whole team (including the contractors who pitched in) for what you accomplished with this game, and good luck to you as you move forward.


#16

This is very consoling. I am not bothered by a sparsity of dialogue (though some degree of choice would be nice, along with restrictions like having to pick your replies carefully. Dialogue trees that let you pick every option are like narrative encyclopedias. Not interactive, and not fun. Shadowrun series and VTM: Bloodlines are two modern examples of dialogue trees done right.) but the two biggest elephants in the room are a non-continuous world, and the lack of persistent changes within levels.

I think it was FlatFingers that brought up how timers run contrary to both pacing and exploration. Mechanics should exist in symbiosis–if this is a game about exploration, then the mechanics need to support this style of play. I don’t mind one timed mission, or certain conditions under which the quest can be failed, but that should hinge on the player, not on artificial limitations like a countdown.


#17

Beg to differ. Dialogue is crucial, for lots of reasons. Will post when I have more time.


Conversation Trees: Necessity or Option?
#18

I’m not saying it’s not. However, modern games like Dark Souls have convinced me there is more than one way to tell a story. Mind you, I haven’t played the final product, as I am waiting for further patches, but that is my present assessment of what is integral to UA. In a sim, actions should speak louder than words. I want a system of actions and reactions where the repercussions of my early actions can be felt later on in the plot, in the exploration, or in the RPG layer. Dialogue is a part of that, but even more integral is a non-static worldstate where your choices are saved in future expeditions into the same areas, and a world that feels more dynamic and holistic (i.e. “interconnected”) than level-based. I am gonna lay this flat on the line, however–from what I am reading, the design choices wired into this game are too flawed to be corrected by a patch. You’d be redesigning the game from scratch. And I don’t think a team of four should spend that much time and resources on diminishing returns. Patch this mess, then pack your bags and do better next time.


#19

Some really good changes promised I’m these updates which is good to hear. In all honesty I’m probably going to wait until at least Update 2 before going back in as I’m burned out after the alpha/beta/initial release and suspect I will just bring too much baggage to a new playthrough.

The key for me is the game Vs world issue at the moment. It doesn’t feel like a world worth saving, and the players reason for saving it (and the process) involved in doing so just seems very unclear and poorly communicated at this point. Having reapawning enemies and repeated quests is a tough ask in itself, but for the game to offer no reason even why this is the case is just baffling - there’s no explanation why the levels reset, and why do I care about any of these things they want me to do?

Finally I think some presence, or evidence of former presence, of the races and factions has to go in to support making this feel like a real world and not a set of challenge dungeons.


#20

We’re targeting releasing Update 1 at 2pm-ish ET today. Build Notes coming shortly