By Al Giovetti
Forgotten Realms: Descent to Undermountain
Almost two years ago, Interplay released Stonekeep, an updated dungeon romp that rivaled any Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game, and perhaps surpassed those games in story, and features. Stonekeep did for computer fantasy role-playing games what doom did for three dimensional shooters.
The core audience of of the computer fantsy role-playing game is small. Industry experts extimate the number who like the games to be somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 loyal fans. You make the game and they will buy it. Of course one of the big problems is getting the word out.
Another problem is just how finicky this audience can be. Many computer fantasy role playing games have been financial disasters because someone designed a game that was either buggy or did not have the right mix of features, play balance, and complex plot needed by the cadre of grognards. Some of the problems come from the expense, complexity, and sheer volume of code that these games require when compare to successes like "You Don't Know Jack," which has more stable and consistent sales than these flash in the pan wonders.
The stone belly of Undermountain below Waterdeep plays home to horrific monsters, dark magics and unspeakable evils. Experience these terrors and more in the first AD&D action RPG to offer multi-character development. In this spell-ridden maze of dungeons and rips in the very fabric of reality lies the ultimate threat... the Flame Sword of the Spider Queen Lloth.
Descent to Undermountain features...
The development of Descent to Undermountain has lead to a number of technical achievements that builds on the award-winning Descent 3-D graphics engine.
Because of this, Interplay has decided to delay the release from Jan. 97 to this
summer to continue to expand the detail and depth of Descent to Undermountain in
numerous ways. Among the enhancements that are now included in this exciting
new first-person 3-D action/RPG are:
-Added animation engine within Descent engine DTUM includes 7800 frames of animation!
The development of Descent to Undermountain has lead to a number of technical achievements that builds on the award-winning Descent 3-D graphics engine. Among the enhancements that are now included in this exciting new first-person 3-D action/RPG are:
-Added animation engine within Descent engine DTUM includes 7800 frames of
You choose your character from six races, including human, elf, dark elf, half-elf, dwarf, or halfling, male or female, and four classes or combinations of those classes: theif, mage, fighter and priest. Unlike Doom or Quake the character skills improve over time. Each monster killed and puzzle solved adds to statistics like strength, agility, charisma, constitution, hit points, piety, luck, and intelligence.
Melee (hand-to-hand) combat resembles Quake only superficially. Characters must duck and weave and then take a shot at the enemy and get away again. Fireballs and magic missiles are complete with flames that lick the walls and explode. There are traps to surprise you on doors and chests.
Puzzles are story based, built right into the plot.
Each of the 50 evil denizens in the game are composed of from 235 to 350 polygons with new textures on the walls and characters. The designers will be using three times more smaller 64x64 texture blocks. This allows you to provide a more varied texture when you design the overall block pattern and stack them on top of one another. There is over 500 MB of textures used in the game and many more complex polygons.
Some of the eye candy includes glowing lava, running water, exploding fumaroles, flickering torches, stained-glass doors, and very interesting heat vision effects for those characters who can see in the dark. The environment is enhanced with cobwebs, rats and other background creatures that add atmosphere.
AnimationThe engine is 200% faster than the older Descent engine.
When Dungeon Master, a single player game not unlike Doom, but with a plot, was released one of the artists at Faster than Light received an award for the best animated figure: a very large red dragon. Interplay is also trying for a special award in the large red dragon.
Multi-player FeaturesMultiplayer features are built right into the game, since the Descent engine was used to produce the game. The game is written to be a cooperative dungeon delve, even though you can complete it solo. Descent requires the same up-front planning that a traditional AD&D paper and pencil game. It seems that Interplay wants to build on the success of Diablo and bring first person perspective multiplayer games to the fantsy role-playing genre.
Cheats, Hints, Walkthrough
ReferencesAndrew Sanchez, Boot, volume 2, issue 9, May, 1997, pg. 66.
Please send us your comments and suggestions.