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Veteran developer Paul Neurath is reviving Ultima Underworld with a new studio

Paul Neurath, co-founder of the extremely influential Looking Glass Studios, has now created OtherSide Entertainment, a new studio with the mission of “bringing to core gamers reboots of classic game franchises.” First among those classic series is the Underworld RPG, coming back in the form of Underworld Ascension. (via GI.biz)

Not to be confused with the Kate Beckinsale films about vampires versus werewolves, the two Underworld games were a spin-off of the prolific Ultima RPGs. Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss has been cited as the first RPG to use the first-person perspective in a fully 3D environment, introducing technical innovations like looking up and down and a dynamic physics engine. The developers called it a “dungeon simulation” rather than a straightforward RPG, and so the world was designed to encourage non-linear exploration and emergent play, anticipating recent blockbusters like Skyrim by 20 years.

Neurath most recently served as creative director for Zynga Boston, but is best known for co-founding Looking Glass Studios in the early 90’s. Under his creative leadership, Looking Glass created such influential titles as Thief and System Shock 2. Former Looking Glass developers went on to create modern classics like Fallout 3, Guitar Hero, Half-Life 2 and BioShock. Among the most prominent of the studio’s alumni, BioShock series creator Ken Levine cites Ultima Underworld as a major influence on his career:

Underworld had a transformative effect on my understanding of what games were. It was the first time I ever felt ‘inside’ of an imaginary world. It was the game that primed all of my creative ambitions.”

The Boston-based OtherSide Entertainment is now recruiting, in case any stray ex-Irrational Games developers are still looking for work. Neurath provided no release date yet for Underworld Ascension.

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