Art Update and Setting Background

Hi everyone, and welcome to the first real devlog for The Lost Cave of the Ozarks. For this first entry, I would like to talk a little about my inspiration and reason for setting the game in the relatively unknown Ozark Mountains (for the most part).

First, though, I just wanted to let you know that most of the work this past week has been in updating and polishing some of the art assets. I’ve decided to put some more emphasis on the fantastical or important assets by painting on some rim light to give them a little more ba-zing.

Anyways, here’s a little about the setting:

I grew up in northeast Oklahoma, near the Tallgrass Prairie, actually (the largest preserved prairie in the world). Although I love the area, history, and culture here, I have always been captivated by the wonder of terrain that actually has… not flat grasslands. My mother’s side of the family is from Arkansas, so I spent a good deal of my childhood invading The Natural State. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the unique Ozark Mountains (located in northern Arkansas, southern Missouri, and a little tiny bit in northeast Oklahoma) had made a special impression on me. I, along with my brothers and several cousins, would frequently go hiking, fishing, swimming, and exploring my grandparents’ and great uncle’s several dozen acres of land. Although Oklahoman’s are no southerners (don’t get “redneck” confused with “hillbilly”), I felt like an “honorary” one when I spent my summers walking barefoot up-and-down Uncle Don’s creek looking for critters (as they call them).

Also, growing up in Northeastern Oklahoma, I had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on who you ask) of being a mere 3 hour drive from one of the happiest, strangest, smile-inducing, cringiest places on Earth. I’m talking about the one and only Branson, Missouri.

Branson, for those poor unfortunate souls who’ve never heard, is dropped right dab in the middle of the Ozarks and is like a southern/family-friendly/old-people-infested alternative to Las Vegas. The main “strip” is jam packed with live stage shows, gift shops, amusement rides, and slow (albeit courteous) drivers as far as the eye can see. Being within “weekend trip” distance from my hometown, Branson was a fairly cheap family vacation every year or so. I loved Branson as a child for its amazement, hated it as a teenager because of its copious corniness, and now as an adult, I love it again for both of those reasons.

For me, however, the real star of the show in Branson is Silver Dollar City — one of the most CRIMINALLY UNDERRATED amusement parks in the U.S. Silver Dollar City really plays up the “old mine town” atmosphere, and transports you to the 1800s (without having to worry about dying from an infected wound), complete with real blacksmiths, wood carvers, glass blowers, leather workers, and shops.

But even if you really can’t get into the old-timey coat of paint in SDC, you really should check it out for the thrill rides. Over the past 5 years or so, they have added new sections of the park and three of the best roller coasters in the nation.

My favorite attraction of Silver Dollar City, however, is Marvel Cave. Yes, SDC has an actual cavern tucked away underground, in which you can take a beautiful, hour-long guided tour. I’ve probably taken the tour more times than I can count on my fingers. The cave is chock-full of fantastic formations, waterfalls, narrow paths, and a rich history. Hmm… sounds like a certain game I’m working on…

As you can probably see, I wanted to make a game that takes place in the Ozark Mountains because it holds a special place in my heart. Sure, they don’t quite hold he same majesty of the Rocky Mountains (another BEAUTIFUL part of this continent), but they have a certain magical aura that I’ve never found anywhere else. Anytime I find myself driving in a winding, hilly back road, it always kicks me right in the nostalgia and takes me back to my childhood and The Ozarks. And I want to share it with everyone.

Next time…

I think I’ll talk a little about what inspired the game’s theme and features — having three separate narratives that interweave but are each told through an “unreliable narrator” (there’s a good literary term for you to look up), and more.

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