New Character | Musgrove & Sand Mountain | Screenshots | 4 Days Left!
Hey everyone! We're coming up on the end, and it's looking like if we do manage to reach our goal, it's going to be down to the wire. This might be the last big update of the campaign, and I hope that you think it's an interesting one! We have a new character that we'd like to formally introduce you to (we've alluded to him before), some history about Musgrove and the area that it is based upon, and some new screenshots to share with you.
Noah is an engineer working for NASA at their field center located an hour out of Musgrove. He was born in Musgrove to a poor family, growing up in a prejudice-steeped time in the area's history. Upon completing high school, he went to college out-of-state, assuming that he would never go back to Alabama. When we was offered a fairly prestigious position with NASA, however, he ended up moving back, a relative stone's throw away from his hometown.
In the weeks prior to the events of To Azimuth, he struck up a friendship with Eli Windham, with whom he had attended high school. Susannah and Nate believe that he may have some insight into Eli's disappearance, drawing him into the search for the missing Windham sibling.
In To Azimuth, Musgrove is a small town in Northeast Alabama, nestled in the Southern tip of the Appalachian mountains. It is based on a real place, one that I have a lot of personal connections to, called Sand Mountain. The majority of my extended family lives within a 30-mile radius in Northern Alabama (a few outliers congregated in Atlanta), with the group on my Mother's side living on Sand Mountain.
I spent most of my Summers in Alabama, up in the humid mountains. It's an area that's in my blood, but also one that I haven't seen in years. The region has a very strong history of awful racism and prejudice, a history that still bleeds up from the dirt. It's always difficult to parse the wonderful memories I have of the place with the things that I've heard people say, with the things that happened but were not spoken of.
I haven't visited the area in the last five years for many reasons, that terrible history prominent among them. Also contributing to that decision is that I'm openly queer, and whenever I have been back, it's like slipping back into an old skin, or an old costume. I'm fearful when I'm there. I don't know if I should still feel that way. Maybe things have changed since I've been back. At the same time, I know places like that are hesitant to change.
Time seems to slow down in those mountains.
I've drawn from those memories, from that history, and from my own anxieties, to sculpt Musgrove and its inhabitants. That said, I'm not interested in drawing any of the folks I write in broad strokes – people are multifaceted, flawed, and usually, in the end, have some modicum of goodness to them. Inexcusably awful in some respects, but a person with no redeeming qualities is, in my opinion, uninteresting to watch, let alone interact with in a virtual space.
Sand Mountain's history is important for To Azimuth beyond just being the inspiration for the backdrop. Its history also played a part in the inspiration for the game's alien abduction storyline. Back in the early 1990's (over a decade after the events of To Azimuth, but I set the game in the era I did for a myriad of reasons), there were reports of strange cattle mutilations on Sand Mountain. I won't get into the specifics of what that entails, but for anyone interested, you can check out this “article,” apparently preserved from the early days of the internet. For anyone who didn't spend an inordinate amount of their childhood reading about UFO and extraterrestrial theories and accounts, cattle mutilation is often attributed to the work of aliens. Reports of cattle mutilation often coincide with UFO spottings and reports of abduction.
About five years ago, there were new reports of the same kind of cattle mutilations on Sand Mountain. Whether it was the work of copycats, or maybe even the same people from nearly twenty years prior, or maybe even the work of bona fide extraterrestrials (if you want to believe, I suppose), the fact remains that these strange events are unexplained and provide some material ripe for speculation. Vaguely put, To Azimuth might just speculate.
NASA has quite a history with the region, as well. The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama has been instrumental to the United States' space exploration and research endeavors since the 1960's. Huntsville is located a short drive from Sand Mountain, and its analogue in To Azimuth plays an important role in the narrative.
We have a couple of new screenshots this weekend, both from the area featured in the gameplay video that we posted yesterday.
Four days left now! We've sent out as many e-mails as we could possibly manage to people that we think would be interested in To Azimuth, and we're trying our damndest to spread awareness of the campaign on Twitter. As always, any help from our backers or anyone interested in To Azimuth is incredibly appreciated. All of you have proven to be amazing; we couldn't have asked for a better group of supporters.
Expect one or two smaller updates leading into the final days/hours of the Kickstarter. There's still time to hope! We can still make it!