RETURN TO ULTRAWORLD

 

NOTE: The original ULTRAWORLD is already available on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/331580/

ULTRAWORLD EXODUS – Coming Spring 2016 for Windows PC

The doors to ULTRAWORLD are open and beckon you to return. Come see what’s new in ULTRAWORLD EXODUS: a total revamp of the wildly abstract first-person exploration adventure you’ve heard so much (or little) about. The sole work of James Beech, a former Crytek/Sony AAA game developer, ULTRAWORLD EXODUS is a hybrid visual novel/Art toy/who-knows-what.
FEATURING

IMPERFECT: A highly revised redux of the original ULTRAWORLD story. Ponder Exoplanets and Artificial Intelligence while trying to assist a self-aware NPC in the midst of an existential crisis. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Feel free to decide for yourself.

EXODUS: A new continuation of the unusual sci-fi meta-narrative that could only be told in the medium of video games. A year has passed and ULTRAWORLD has changed. Your old pal is dismayed by your inaction, but this gives way to a new friend with an impossible plan. Embrace the hivemind!

VACATION MODE: A greatly expanded free-roaming mode where you’re the Artist. Change the colors, filters, particles, and rendering modes for infinite visual variety (and I do mean infinite). Then soar above the landscape, camera in hand, looking for the perfect picture. Every shot is a unique abstract painting, created by you, and fit to hang on your walls.

THE SOUNDTRACK: There are now double the songs to the highly praised original soundtrack.

VR SUPPORT: Vacation Mode can be setup to use VR devices.

FREE: If you own ULTRAWORLD, you’ll get EXODUS automatically. It’s my way of saying thanks to everyone who’s supported my bizarre art experiment. The original ULTRAWORLD is still available on Steam; feel free to buy it whenever you like, but don’t bother playing until EXODUS drops, as it improves virtually every aspect of the experience.

Now get out there and find your painting!

 

PRETTY PICTURE SECTION

 

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

WARNING:  ULTRAWORLD was built using the CRYENGINE, which has several strict requirements to run.  If you don’t have a 64bit Windows OS, at least 4GB of RAM, and a DirectX11 compatible graphics card then ULTRAWORLD will not run at all.  If you need assistance getting the game to run, check out my help page.  Here are the full requirements:

Minimum:

    • OS: Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 (64bit)
    • Processor: Intel Dual-Core 2GHz or AMD Dual-Core 2GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 400 series or AMD Radeon HD 6000 series
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card with latest drivers

Recommended:

      • OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 (64-bit), Windows 10
      • Processor: Intel Quad-Core (i5 2300) or AMD Octo-Core (FX 8150)
      • Memory: 8 GB RAM
      • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 660Ti or greater, AMD Radeon HD 7950 or greater
      • DirectX: Version 11
      • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
      • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card with latest drivers

ULTRAWORLD can be played using keyboard/mouse, or with a gamepad, (such as an XBox 360 controller).  The game is only available in English.

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SIX MONTHS LATER…

Well folks, ULTRAWORLD has been out for over six months now, and I figured it’s about time to drop the price.  That’s right, now you can jump into hypercolor, abstract vacationism for a mere MERE $10.  Grab it on this website, (and I’ll send you a Steam key), or grab it on Steam itself.

In other news, I was invited to show ULTRAWORLD at GDC, in the CRYENGINE booth.  So there I was, wearing the official ULTRAWORLD t-shirt (made completely from cut-n-paste screenshots of the game), showing off my hand-crafted Fine Art game/experiment within paces of the extreme high-tech futurism of Oculus, Valve, Google, etc.  It was fun!  I gave a brief talk on using the CRYENGINE for abstract/minimalist purposes, (as opposed the usual super-realism that it does so well).  And then I wandered the town, taking pictures and thinking up future game adventures!

As I demoed the game to show attendees, one question came up quite often: what about VR?  This is something I’ve been pondering for a while, and ultimately I’m waiting on the next version of the CRYENGINE which is said to support this, (current versions don’t).  I’ve heard numerous reports about having to design games from the ground up to maintain immersion while wearing a headset, so I’m uncertain how ULTRAWORLD will fare in this regard.  Truth be told, I’ve never seen the game running in any VR gear, so I have no idea how convincing it’ll be.  Of course, story-wise it absolutely makes sense to add this feature, but I won’t if the VR version instantly makes people sick.  I’ll keep you posted as time goes on, but I wanted to let you know where it currently stands.

In the meantime, go enjoy a virtual vacation!

uw_mainshot

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Thomas Kinkade Mode For ULTRAWORLD

Here at Neon Serpent LLC we firmly believe video games are the greatest Artform of modern times; we are in a renaissance of creative wizardy the Earth has never seen before, but we can’t forget that none of this would’ve happened without the pioneering groundwork of The Painter of Light TM, Thomas Kinkade.  With that in mind, I proudly present Thomas Kinkade Mode for ULTRAWORLD.  As you’re wandering the vast abstract environments, simply press ALT + F4 to convert any given scene to a Thomas Kinkade painting.  An algorithm searches from a database of thousands of his works and finds one that matches your current view.  A simple, free 200 GB download is the only thing standing between you and Artistic glory, so grab it NOW!

Don’t believe me?  Check out Thomas Kinkade Mode in action:

kinkade_simulator01 kinkade_simulator02

EDIT: Surprise, this was an April Fools joke.  I know you know already, but I’m legally obligated to mention it 😛

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ULTRAWORLD AT GDC 2015

ultra_montage

Just wanted to spread the word that ULTRAWORLD will be on display at GDC 2015.  Stop by the Crytek booth in the expo area and try it out.  I’ll be there to show off the game, but I’ll also be giving a talk about Art History and the CRYENGINE.  Specifically, I’ll be talking about the history of graphics vs the history of painting, followed up by an in-engine demo of some of the abstract lighting/coloring techniques I used in ULTRAWORLD.  It should be cool, so come check it out!

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ULTRAWORLD In The Year Two Thousand and Fifteen

Welcome to 2015 and a quick ULTRAWORLD update.  I recently spoke with the cool folks over at BigSushi.fm about all things indie; you can check out that podcast here:

http://www.bigsushi.fm/episode-178-ultraworld/

Meanwhile, ULTRAWORLD snagged The Terence McKenna Award from The Stoned Gamer.  If you’re like me, you might not know who Terence McKenna is, so check out this description from the award page:

“Terence McKenna believed that at some point in our future, humanity will reach a fully-realized state but only through a symbiotic relationship with technology. Specifically McKenna insisted virtual reality was the only way in which humanity can replicate the alternate universes created through ingesting psychedelics. He believed the realms obtained from taking heroic doses of substances like DMT were not hallucinations at all, but actual realities that could be visited if one were ambitious enough to pay the cost of admission.”

Interesting, right?  So ULTRAWORLD is a living embodiment of those alternate universes; I can dig that interpretation.  Thanks to The Stoned Gamer for the putting together some very thoughtful awards.  You can read their whole round-up here:

http://thestonedgamer.com/news/item/447-behold-the-stoned-gamer-2014-game-awards-have-arrived

Finally, I updated the company website with a ton of my fine art work.  Bits and pieces from all this stuff slowly led me to ULTRAWORLD, so it might be worth a look:

http://neon-serpent.com/

And that’s it for this update.  Hope y’all are having a great New Year!

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ULTRAWORLD Now On Steam

Three months to the day after launching ULTRAWORLD direct, it’s now hitting the big leagues.  Steam is the top dog in terms of digital videogaming goodies, and ULTRAWORLD is now home there as well.  Head on over to check it out: http://store.steampowered.com/app/331580/ and, y’know, buy it if you wanna.  Tell your friends, tell your family, and tell your cat, (who knows already).

I’m even running a launch week special: the game, and it’s soundtrack, are 15% off.  Nothing says awesome stocking stuffer like a cryptic key-code written on a post-it-note; way cooler than a hand-knit sweater from Aunt Agnes.  Be sure to read up on the minimum requirements first, and also this important announcement regarding a quickly-fixable bug unique to the Steam version. It’s a slight downer, but honestly, the fix takes less than 5 minutes and the game should work fine forever-ever after.

And finally, thanks again to all those who supported ULTRAWORLD and voted for it on Greenlight!  Couldn’t have done it without you!

James Beech, Neon Serpent LLC

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ULTRAWORLD Coming to Steam

After a hard-fought battle through the Greenlight process, ULTRAWORLD is finally coming to Steam on December 5th, 2014!

You can check out the store page here:  http://store.steampowered.com/app/331580/

For those who supported this crazy abstract experiment directly, I’m working on getting you some Steam keys.  For those who bought via The Humble Store or Fireflower Games, I need to contact them and figure out how to get them some keys too.  One way or another, when Dec. 5th rolls around, you should have a key.  Of course, the game is still for sale here 😉

As for other ULTRAWORLD news, here are some articles that have sprung up over the past month or so:

Preview on Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Interview with Crytek

Review on GameSkinny (contains spoilers)

Interview on GameSkinny

Preview on Kotaku

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VACATION MODE PATCH

This update is less about bug fixes, (although I did squash a few), and more about an additional way for players to experience the world I built: Vacation Mode. This mode let’s them skip right to the end-game state of the world, where they’re free to walk around with a camera, taking pictures. This mode removes the writing, and just let’s them relax.

Let me be honest with you: the story has been getting mixed reviews. Some people love it, some people don’t, and it seems some people really don’t know what to make of it. It’s probably bad PR to even bring it up, but hey, part of the fun of being a one-man studio is that I don’t have to follow any corporate mandates, (most developers at big studios are quite literally forbidden from posting to the public). Anyway, I actually enjoy seeing all these different reactions to the story, (it’s what I was hoping for; those of you who’ve beat the game probably understand why), but I also wanted to give people the option to take in the world without context. Or I should say, Vacation Mode allows users to create their own context, if they aren’t interested in what my characters have to say.  ULTRAWORLD’s audio-visual side is more than strong enough to stand on it’s own, and taking a, “virtual vacation,” was one of the games themes already, so I figured why not. For those who love the story, it’s a cool bonus.  For those that don’t, it’s an alternate way to enjoy this abstract world.

Of course, the story is the true heart of the game; it’s raison-d’être, and to me it’s the preferred way to play.  So naturally it’s still in there, completely unaltered, but now in the main menu, under, “start from scratch,” you can choose Vacation Mode as well. This mode never saves your progress, so you don’t have to worry about losing your place in the story if you want to try a vacation. An unfortunate side-effect of this addition is that users patching up to this version will have their saves broken. If you’re in the middle of the story I recommend finishing it first, before updating, as the bugs fixed in this patch are minor, and most likely won’t affect you.

The patch is available here:  Vacation Mode Patch

Place it in your main ULTRAWORLD folder, right click on the patch, and choose, “extract here,” and then click on, “yes to all,” when it asks if you want to overwrite files. Alternately, the link where you originally downloaded ULTRAWORLD now points to an updated version of the full game.

And as always, for anyone buying from this moment forward this is all integrated into the game now, no extra work required.

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FIRST PATCH

Patch 1, Sept 12th – First off, anyone buying ULTRAWORLD from today forward, these fixes have already been implemented in the official download; no extra work required.

For my early adopters/supporters:  I finally figured out what was causing the unexpected slowdown, and it’s totally my fault 🙁  I made the classic mistake of changing some materials at the last possible second; ones that the engine had trouble reading to the point that it was eating up all resources.  ANYHOW, to fix it, simply go to your ULTRAWORLD installation, click GameSDK ->materials.  From there, delete the “decals” folder, (back it up if you want, but really, it needs to go).  You should notice significantly better framerate.  A side result of this is you may occasionally see a red “replace me” box on a wall somewhere; the engine is trying to place a procedural blood splatter, but that’s the files we’re nuking.

AND ALSO: I fixed some scripting bugs that could potentially block players from completing the side-quest, which is half of the story 🙂  I’ve made a zip of the required files, ultraworld_patch1.  Place this zip in the main ULTRAWORLD directory, then right click and choose “Extract Here.”  It’ll ask you if it’s okay to overwrite a few files: say yes to all.  The downside to this is that your save files will not have the fixes applied to them; you can still load those saves, but you may run into the blocking error.  I know it sucks to restart, but there was no other way.

Zip download:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/18k1v5fedqfqpld/ultraworld_patch1.zip?dl=0

All of this information has also been added to the help page:  http://visit-ultraworld.com/help/

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ULTRAWORLD IN THE NEWS

Here’s what’s been going on with ULTRAWORLD this past week:

1 – The game is up on Steam Greenlight.  If you think it looks cool, go give it a yes!  http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=309754491

2 – A couple of ULTRAWORLD write-ups have started to surface.  The first two are light on spoilers, the third is heavy on them, (you’ve been warned):

http://indiegames.com/2014/09/ultraworld.html

http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/09/09/ultraworld-is-a-surreal-and-beautiful-first-person-exploration-adventure/

http://killscreendaily.com/articles/ultraworld/

More as there’s more!

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