Ultima Underworld - Paul Neurath's Retrospective

Ultima Underworld, the progenitor of the rather clumsily named immersive sim genre, remains a highly influential title even to this day, over 30 years since its original release. And if you wouldn't mind knowing more about the game's rather turbulent development, as described by its creative director Paul Neurath, you should check out this GameDeveloper article that also ties into Otherside Entertainment's upcoming "player powered" immersive sim - Argos: Riders on the Storm.

A quick excerpt to get you started:

Neurath suggests that Spector’s involvement may have made an even bigger impact on the game’s eventual release than its revised financial plan. He more effectively communicated the team’s vision to Origin, particularly the pessimistic sales and marketing groups.

Spector also helped overhaul the narrative beyond its original skeleton, which freed Neurath to focus on level design for the game’s first two levels, out of eight. "I did that because pretty much the rest of the team had never made a commercial game before," Neurath admits, though he makes clear that Spector and the rest of the team chipped in on other major design decisions.

Neurath concedes that his team’s juggle of UU and Madden ’93, which financially paid off, took its toll, particularly in the form of 80-hour work weeks for the staff: "I had my hands full, and I made a lot of mistakes, and it's fine. That's what entrepreneurs do." He still regrets that the game adopted D&D-styled stats for characters, like strength, dexterity, and intelligence, which he conceded to play nicely with the Ultima brand.

His original vision revolved around the player’s choices impacting how well an action played out, instead of points on a page. (Run and charge to make an attack more powerful, instead of relying on extra points on a spreadsheet, as an example.) He tells fans to look at how creation and development systems worked in the 1994 game System Shock: "That’s really what we wanted to do with Ultima Underworld."