OtherSide Entertainment is thrilled to debut the new “authored look” for Underworld Ascendant, the modern follow-up to LookingGlass’ influential Ultima Underworld series.
This art style, which attempts to replicate the fantastical feel of hand-sculpted tabletop miniatures, is the vision of OtherSide’s studio art director, Nate Wells.
“There’s a ‘reality bug’ going around in TV, film, and games,” says Wells, “where fantasy has become inundated by gritty photo-realism. With Underworld Ascendant, I want to bring back more whimsy and less brooding.”
Wells, who joined the company last fall, honed his artistic skills on immersive games like System Shock 2 and BioShock, before becoming art director on visual marvels BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us, and Rise of the Tomb Raider.
“I asked myself, ‘What if the world bore the authorship of a tabletop game?’” Wells says on the look’s stylistic origins. “Think of the old lead figures and miniature play fields… Everything appears hand-crafted, as if sculpted by an artist, with a genuine sense of levity and naiveté to the art.”
“The authored look is a unique counterpart to Underworld Ascendant’s Improvisation Engine,” says OtherSide creative director and founder Paul Neurath. “It’s a look that invites the player to interact and explore with the world in a more tangible way.”
“This will be an Underworld for the 21st century,” notes OtherSide Austin studio director Warren Spector, who worked with Neurath on the original Ultima Underworld and System Shock games. “It’s a modern continuation of LookingGlass’ design tenets, where players are empowered to tell their own stories.”
OtherSide completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for Underworld Ascendant early last year and has continued crowdfunding on its web-site. Those interested in seeing more of the new look can check it out first-hand when the game’s latest update is released to backers with Prototype Access later this month.