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"IT'S A NICELY DESIGNED GAME AS LONG AS YOU DON'T WANT ANY MEANING IN YOUR LIFE."-TIM

Poll

If you had known how the game is going to turn out, would you still have backed it in the KS?

Yes
- 19 (34.5%)
No
- 35 (63.6%)
Undecided
- 1 (1.8%)

Total Members Voted: 54


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Author Topic: Poll: Knowing what we know today, would you have backed UA?  (Read 2119 times)

Flug

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Re: Poll: Knowing what we know today, would you have backed UA?
« Reply #45 on: January 12, 2019, 05:08:54 PM »

I was reluctant to accept the idea of some 'big catastrope' being behind things, especially during the the release window (it seemed too easy, too tabloid, too distracting from the game) but nothing else really explains the gulf between beginning-design, middle-design (and all the other crossed-out designs and features) and end-design (even excluding game-play).

It's as if someone came along and over the course of many months, simply began erasing whatever was on the whiteboard, while jotting 'Thief', 'Dishonoured', 'Social media' and other head-voice thoughts down as they popped-up. And no-one seems to have said 'Don't be so silly...next'. Perhaps worst of all, no plan for an actual Underworld game...but to be replaced by a mixture of quotations: some fuzzy, some plain gaudy advertising, some naffly aspirational....most of which betraying a lack of self-awareness as far as game design goes, or an idea of what made the originals tick.

7th nails it - Ascendant is just not an interesting game to play, and ironically, not immersive. You're playing a laboratory experiment, and aware of this fact. And the tone of it is....well, we said on the day certain features were even being mooted. And again when they didn't sound very good. And again when implemented (instead of those which should have been). And still they sailed confidently on, even though they couldn't have been more inappropriate. In fact, we took some for a high-spirited joke by the devs. Little did we know the atmosphere of the first playable build (and its destructible skeletons) was the high-point, giving way to lizard mankinis...make that lizkinies. And Cabirus, and Aelita (Jar Jar was away on holiday, presumably receiving aspirational quotes from Warren via telepathic graffiti).

There were big hiccups and warning signs and things that just did not add-up...for instance, only after pushing for an explanation did we find out that things had veered off down a side-street for 6 months for Overlord; but nothing signalled the wholesale destruction of *ideas*, or at least juvenilia, like Feats/Aelita and all the Thief imports untilthese started making their presence felt (and those game references seemed, and still seem, like apanicked admission of failure, some group-speak or 'best of...').

Something, or some things, most definitely did happen (not infoil hat necessary)...if not then the remaining conclusion is even sadder....

While this may sounds harsh, it isn't if you've been around the forums since the beginning...it is just the irreducible conclusion you're left with now the dust has settled. Now even the idea of moving the genre forward and 'immersive sim' seems ancient, almost quaint. Underworld-ish game would have sufficed, minus the 'ground-breaking' stuff (which, it turns out, is not) . As for all the other stuff we discussed, heh....

Detail-wise, too, it doesn't make sense. How can that voice-acting, the neon 'pull me' levers, for instance, sit easily alongside the one redeeming success of the game; spells? It's no coincidence that spells do not seem to have altered signicantly from the first two games. That fact seemslost on the devs, largely, but is singular across all forums and review sites.

The answer is obviously 'No' to the backer question for the simple reason that this is not an Underworld game, or remotely any sort of sequel.

To praise it as some sort of 'well, we had to try' and 'let's keep the immersive flame alive, even though we're having trouble agreeing what that flame is'....is not okay, especially when it's at the expense
of a much-loved property. I mean this to certain fans, as much as the devs. Do that with your own game, not the Underworld. As for 'valiant failure' and risk-taking dare-devilry...where did that go? Feats? Portals? VOs? This is clutching a mothy old teddy-bear, hardly pushing the envelope. A countdown clock?

This should have been a low-ish-key sequel, concentrating on the foundations, with flare where possible. But in the end it seems to have believed its own publicity and slogans (we accept they're a necessary evil for funding and advertising and excitement, to some extent) and lost any sense of reality. Post that jargon stuff by all means, but don't - whatever you do - believe it. It's naff kiddie guff. It always was, and always will be, without any meaningful game or enclosure to put it in. Walk, then run. Bake your cake, then icing if there's time.

I can take or leave the fact that the same lip-service is given to 'listening' today as it was during development (i.e. very little...and in testing, too, by all accounts)...but I'm baffled as to what purpose this serves, apart from protecting egos and feelings? Surely one of the benefits of getting older is that it's easier to tell the truth, and to be told the truth? There are still intimations (and the odd dev tidbit here and there) that 'stuff' happened, that conditions were difficult, that money was insufficient, that fans expected too much (and even a little annoyingly, had the temerity to expect an Underworld game) . All of which screams: scale back the ambition, or go nuts in entirely new ways and fail grandly. But neither of these happened. It limped out, and what limped out is not really worth the effort of patching beyond basic functionality.

And no, none of this can be answered by being less or more 'polite'. It simply needs some honesty, and laying out in honest terms. The concensus on most forums seems to be 'at least give us that'. Also, people seem okay with the idea of it being ditched...they don't want the scab picked endlessly. They want some reality.

Personally, I think the reality should be here in this forum. We can piece together snippets of 'what happened' from various other forums (and the stuff there is reasonably alarming once you add it all up, if for no other reason than its disjointedness, and plain 'head- in-the-sand-edness) but I'd like to think there was enough maturity for one or two older names to step forward with a bit more truthiness.

Of course, posts like this may not make anyone feel like discussing the details, but the game-as-conceived is kind of asking for it,never mind how it plays.

Why, for instance, is it so narrow and imaginatively devoid? What lead to this, exactly? Was there a wholesale loss of confidence early on? Think of this as a head-start on the inevitable Gamasutra article...
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 05:32:07 PM by Flug »
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Sandro

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Re: Poll: Knowing what we know today, would you have backed UA?
« Reply #46 on: January 13, 2019, 11:27:01 AM »

Little did we know the atmosphere of the first playable build (and its destructible skeletons) was the high-point, giving way to lizard mankinis...make that lizkinies. And Cabirus, and Aelita (Jar Jar was away on holiday, presumably receiving aspirational quotes from Warren via telepathic graffiti).

 ;D

You still got it. :p
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MasterLobar

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Re: Poll: Knowing what we know today, would you have backed UA?
« Reply #47 on: January 14, 2019, 08:26:35 AM »

Why, for instance, is it so narrow and imaginatively devoid?

That's the key question. I retract my ealier statements that this game is made for 12-year-olds. It certainly has elements that are likely meant to appeal to younger gamers (e.g. Aelita, some design choices like the saurians etc.), but it is also certainly not made for kids only.

But I reiterate my opinion that these choices were made for commercial reasons. The last thing they wanted to make was to make another game that attracts a cult following but sells only 80,000 copies.

That's a concern I am having for quite a while: Will UU- and SS-like games ever be made again in times of ever diminishing attention spans among younger people?

SS/UU appeal mainly to people who wish to think about the games, to dive into the story, to play the game like one would read a novel. That's a rather small segment of gamers.

I do not believe the game the ~60% who voted "no" here would like to have seen would appeal to a broad audience of gamers, especially not at the younger end.

So, yes, Flug, I also think something went wrong and plans were different, but even if everything had been ok, plenty of money and time etc., the game would still have been - in your words - "narrow and imaginatively devoid."

They never wanted to make a real UU successor, and my concern is that such a game (not necessarily connected to UU, but the UU-like type of game) will never be made again.

Grimrock isn't that type of game, Elder Scrolls is neither. The type of game the 60% here (including myself) want has gone extinct.
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"In our days of beginning, we must stick together and not allow petty grievances to stand in the way of respect" -- Writ of Lorne

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Dewi Morgan

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Re: Poll: Knowing what we know today, would you have backed UA?
« Reply #48 on: January 14, 2019, 11:38:57 AM »

I explored this on Steam forums a little. The conclusion I've come to is that the team made what they (as uberfans of ImSims) perceived UW to be, because that's what they got out of the UWs. The story- and character-driven part of the dev team that weren't completely focused on that part of the game, weren't involved in this game. If you read interviews with Paul Neurath about his tabletop gaming days, what he came away with from D&D was "look what a world the players can make together!" - the fact that the game was 50% a module written by game designers, and 40% the work of the DM, was not of interest to him: that 10% of creation that the players did, in exploring the world, was what blew his mind at the time, and he has ever since been trying to recreate that feeling in computer games.

So you got "UW: ImSim edition".

The metaphor I drew was that, in the same way, if a team of people who only loved cooking had remade the UWs, you'd end up with "Cooking Mama: Rotworm Stew Edition". Because that one aspect would be what had really appealed to them.
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DawnrazorDCLXVI

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Re: Poll: Knowing what we know today, would you have backed UA?
« Reply #49 on: January 14, 2019, 02:23:37 PM »

I may be guilty of using platitudes. But I believe in second chances.
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"The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist." -Charles Baudelaire

Flug

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Re: Poll: Knowing what we know today, would you have backed UA?
« Reply #50 on: January 14, 2019, 05:23:29 PM »

Dawn...yes, so do I...but preferably on the back of a good, hard look at not just what went wrong, but why.

Also,I dont subscribe to the view that the game was necessarily a casualty of the times in which it was made. To some extent you make the audience for each game. There was no exact template when the originals were made, beyond genre conventions. And so it is now. So why fall prey to the easy choices...the visible go-tos like Thief arrows and the like? (the easy bits....story and narrative is hard, when tied-into a game world, especially an existing one with many cobwebs).

Story is key, and an involving backdrop of NPCs and dialog...this is inescapable in an Underworld game, and doesn't mean you can't drop in your own mini-episodes or that it negates player agency.

So why harp on these points? Two reasons: if the lessons aren't properly learned then they will be repeated. And to some extent that meand a sea-change in attitude. To some extent the devs simply thought they knew best (not all, but some). Was that simply a cloth ear, or something else?

And the next property is equally big - SS3. Who wants the same lab experiment-gone-wrong performed on that?

These properties carry weight and memory, and not least -imaginative baggage/expectations. If you're going to tweak people's 'nostalgia excitement' then you better have a fairly definite link to the originals, not just some self-justifying and grandiose tropes that might not come off. In this case they didn't just not 'come off' they weren't even hitched  to the right wagon, which points to a lack of daylight and air at the planning stages (and dare I say it, management...whosigned off onallthese questionabledesign elements? Who signed off on the multiple changes of direction, and why? Was the process itself to blame, even outside of personnel)

That's why an honest assessment is key, two-fold. Besides, most of us would still kill for a proper Underworld game.
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