Update 2 Build Notes - 2/14/19


#1

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

[ul]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[/ul]
Player experience improvements highlights

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

Meta Game updates

[ul]
[li]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. [/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]New games can now choose a difficulty level. All old save games will be treated as “Normal” difficulty.[/li]
[/ul]
Save Game System

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

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

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

[ul]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]Clarity pass on item descriptions to make it easier to understand what they do.[/li]
[li]Magical items now have a different color name so they stand out more in your inventory.[/li]
[li]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).[/li]
[li]Item tooltips for equipment that improves the wearer’s armor percentage now include a notation about that.[/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]When you mouse over an item, it will be compared to the same type of item you have equipped, if any.[/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[/ul]
Gameplay Including Movement, Combat, Stealth, Magic and More

[ul]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]Creatures may be knocked down during combat and get back up to continue the fight. Make sure to finish your foes![/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]Chains and ropes will be much easier to swing on.[/li]
[li]Fixed issue where you would get stuck on chains in certain situations.[/li]
[li]Removed some lights that didn’t have an extinguishable source and were making stealth difficult in spots.[/li]
[li]Further refinement of player movement[/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]There are more mana motes in the world. Use the Mana Sight skill to spot them and keep your supply full![/li]
[li]Player’s maximum mana is increased.[/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]Fixed the Magic Fist spell’s collision with physics objects to apply forces as intended.[/li]
[li]Fixed Outcasts’ fleeing behavior so they don’t smoke bomb away from the player if they are allies (as with summoned or charmed Outcasts).[/li]
[li]Fixed long-press of the interact button on doors (as if you were trying to pick the door up), to lock or unlock them.[/li]
[li]Friendly lizardmen now show up on the map. You will also get a warning saying “Saurians are your allies!” if you accidentally hit one.[/li]
[li]General pass on tooltips to ensure they appear where expected and make sense.[/li]
[/ul]
Levels and Quests

[ul]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]Removed the intro sequence with Cabirus so players can get to the action faster.[/li]
[li]Implemented subtitles for the ending cinematics.[/li]
[li]A lighting pass across the entire game to better support gameplay.[/li]
[li]More improvements to the main quest line to make sure there are no dry spots. [/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]Players who miss the “Cautious First Steps” feat in Pluto’s Gate can still qualify for it by running any subsequent quest undetected.[/li]
[li]Removed the “Weaponless” Side Bounty from the rotation as it’s not applicable to the new Quest flow.[/li]
[li]New challenges and rewards to discover in all levels![/li]
[li]Lots more holes filled![/li]
[/ul]
Skills

[ul]
[li]Fixed the Haste skill so only characters with the skill get its benefit.[/li]
[li]Some special attacks now knock the targeted enemy back.[/li]
[li]Skill Points are now called Skill Points on the Skills screen, (not Memora). [/li]
[li]Clarity pass on skill descriptions to make it easier to understand what each skill does and how to use them. [/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]Added a reminder on the Skills screen that the player needs to perform Feats (found in the Compendium) to earn skill points.[/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]Increased the bonus to mantel height granted by the Athletic Ascent skill.[/li]
[li]Improved clarity for skill descriptions and skill panel.[/li]
[/ul]
Misc

[ul]
[li]General performance improvements to improve load times, increase FPS and reduce hitching.[/li]
[li]Players can now cycle through hints on loading screens by hitting the E button.[/li]
[li]Brightness bar on character creation extended so you can make the game even brighter.[/li]
[li]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.[/li]
[li]New VFX on Memora.[/li]
[li]New VFX on Animus Hearts.[/li]
[li]Players will no longer sound like they are plunging deep beneath the water when they splash through a puddle.[/li]
[li]Fix for “Bark & Bite” achievement not firing right (the Ripper was getting the achievement instead).[/li]
li Fix for splitting stacks during trade destroying stacks.[/li]
[/ul]


#2

Really appreciate the hard work on this. This all sounds really good. I look forward to digging into it tomorrow.


#3

Gave it a try and played half an hour earlier today.

I appreciate that you’re trying, and it’s definitely going in the right direction, but there are still a lot of issues remaining.

The second skeleton I fought was incapacitated on the ground, I was at 100% hitpoints, charging my sword attack to finish him off. No enemies around, no traps, nothing visible… and I just died out of the blue. Instantly. Not sure what happened.

The Grand Staircase needs to remove “Grand” from its name. “Cupboard Staircase” would be more appropriate to its look, no offense :slight_smile:

I did like the visual polish pass ( lighting ) and the level design changes. No issue with performance either, although this time I did not burn half of a level :slight_smile:

I also did like that you moved the main NPC ( forgot her name ) to lie at the entrance of each level to give the main quest. It’s a good step into populating levels with “some” NPCs. But to reach everybody’s expectations you need to add more random NPCs with their own subquests, not in Marcaul, but in the various levels. Which means new art assets. New monsters ( the game still has a serious problem with monsters diversity, and part of the reason going deeper into the levels isn’t that exciting ).

Also, is it me or the game has become far easier ? My character feels like it’s been jumping far higher, and skeletons die in 3 hits instead of the dozen+ before. Combined with the sappling tree and the quick save, the game has absolutely zero challenge left. In terms of design, there’s some serious difficulty balance work to do. Unless my old save was broken, not sure. But I certainly didn’t manually change the difficulty level since I played last year.

Finally, although I definitely appreciate the steps forward making an interconnected world, the loading times are still horrendous ( 3+ minutes ) and kind of devalue the grand staircase. Nobody would use it compared to the teleporters when to go 3 levels down, you’re in for a 10 minutes trip, as I discovered myself when I tried to. Still it’s a welcome change for immersion reasons and to make the world feel more coherent.


#4

Maybe there could be an elevator (or potential for making an elevator) in the stairs room.


#5

To truly appreciate how correct the Grand Staircase is in its realization in this game, you probably have to see the original. From my notes when first encountering it:

NICE! The doorway for the portal for the Grand Stairway... I love you guys :D It looks recognizably like the Underworld one!

The downside is that when carrying a light gem it really is cupboardy, as you can see the back wall - it needs to fade to black, with fog or “darkness” lights, or replacing the back wall with blackness, or something.

But renaming the Grand Staircase, or significantly changing the look of the door, would be to lose something to those who love the original games.

And then there’s this archway: it seems super familiar and Ultimaish, but darned if I can put my finger on where from :frowning:


#6

I didn’t catch that the new Grand Staircase was clearly modeled on the original. Nice catch, Dewi, and nice job, UA artists!


#7

I can’t wait to meet that Staircase and fondly reminisce.

Also, some kind of special props for the funniest entry in a Patch Notes I’ve seen in a while.

Fix for “Bark & Bite” achievement not firing right (the Ripper was getting the achievement instead).
I coughed up some kind of food laughing.