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Explore the forgotten history and deepest, darkest secrets of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks.
Explore the forgotten history and deepest, darkest secrets of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks.
198 backers pledged $2,531 to help bring this project to life.

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$2,531

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Download Demo from Itch.io

 

 

 

Inspired by real events, locations, and stories, The Lost Cave of the Ozarks is a concise, atmospheric 2D platformer brimming with exploration, puzzle-solving, and intense action sequences.

The Lost Cave of the Ozarks is lovingly crafted with hand-painted visuals, a contemplative narrative, and a dynamic soundtrack that evolves as you progress.

  • Unique puzzle-solving platforming rife with exploration, sparks of action, and several hidden secrets to discover
  • Play as characters from the present day and the 1880s to experience the ambiguously grim history of the Lost Cave
  • Story-rich narrative weaves together three mysterious characters’ stories – each with an unreliable point-of-view – that not only takes you on a journey to the past and present, but all over the world!
  • Multiple story endings
  • Hand-painted, stylized visuals with diverse settings and characters
  • Fantastic, emotional, and dynamic soundtrack sets the mood and fluidly transforms along with the player’s progress
  • Minimalistic U.I. that shifts focus to the environment in order to convey information to the audience

OVERVIEW

The narrative interweaves three individual stories -- a young boy who gets lost in the 1880s, a dangerous escaped outlaw of the same time period, and a peculiar modern day tour guide -- with each having one very large aspect of their tale in common: The Lost Cave of the Ozarks.

As The Boy who fatefully tumbles into a sinkhole during the 1880s, use your trusty lantern and vivid imagination to survive the dangers that dwell deep in the heart of the Lost Cave.  But beware – not only does the cave become more and more treacherous as you explore its depths, but The Boy’s prolonged isolation serves as a catalyst to his overactive imagination, causing reality and fantasy to become indiscernible.

To make matters worse, it turns out The Boy might not be the only person astray in the bowels of the Ozark wilderness.  What starts off as a few discarded notes and trace evidence of another person, The Boy quickly discovers deadly threats throughout the cave system and becomes the target of a desperate outlaw who vows to kill anyone who locates his whereabouts.

Little is known about the escaped outlaw, other than a local legend that describes his murderous ways and ruthless manner that found him at odds with both sides of the law.

In the present day, join the mysterious tour guide as he safely escorts you through the same modern day cave system, recalling each room's treacherous tale over several centuries -- with varying degrees of accuracy -- and attempting to shed light on the truth behind The Lost Cave of the Ozark's enigmatic history.

The concise nature of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks is specifically designed to provide players with a deep, rich story and a challenging experience that will leave a lasting impression.  While a typical playthrough will take approximately 2 hours to complete, hidden collectibles, multiple endings, and several secret story segments will provide additional hours of exploration and challenge.

Although the majority of the game is confined to the damp darkness of the cave, the power of imagination will take you to ornate cathedrals, lush forests, freezing mountain peaks, eerie tombs, pirate-infested waters of the high seas, and more!

 

 

The Boy

The majority of gameplay is centered around The Boy and his struggle as he attempts to survive his encounter with the cave.  

 As The Boy, negotiate each room one-by-one in an effort to find extrication from the malicious Lost Cave.  Deep, meditative, and methodical exploration and environmental puzzle-solving is punctuated by heart-pounding action that is carefully designed to challenge your ingenuity and platforming skills.

 

As The Boy progresses, his perception becomes more and more obscured by his manifesting imagination, which serves as both an essential ally and a formidable foe.  As The Boy's story plays out, it is difficult to discern the real dangers from the imaginary ones -- and both are equally deadly.

The Boy's lantern not only serves as his light source and a powerful tool or weapon, but it is also the primary visual cue to his vitality.  Rather than clutter the screen with distracting health and stamina bars, the brightness of the lantern's flame is an indication of The Boy's well-being.  While performing strenuous tasks, such as sprinting or climbing, or taking damage from an enemy, the flame will gradually fade.  If it gets too dim, The Boy's speed and strength will be drastically reduced for a short time until he is able to recover.  If he receives enough enemy damage to extinguish the flame, however, The Boy will lose consciousness and have to restart from the last checkpoint.

Full Vitality
Full Vitality

 

Low Vitality
Low Vitality

Additionally, if The Boy leaves no stone unturned, he will find helpful clues left behind by a mysterious stranger.  If all the clues are discovered, there may yet be a glimmer of hope for escape.

Libedon, the Tour Guide

After completing a room as The Boy, players will return to the same segment in the present day -- this time as Libedon, the peculiar tour guide of The Lost Cave.

As he delves into the modernized, now tourist-friendly caverns, Libedon is able to dictate the facts and rich history of each specific room.  With an extreme obsession of the cave's history, as well as remarkable storytelling finesse to fill in the missing pieces, the odd tour guide captivates his audience while making sure they get their money's worth.

Libedon's greater stories are narrated and presented alongside fantastically illustrated pieces of original art.

As an Ozark native, Libedon contains a breadth of knowledge akin to a human encyclopedia for the cave, enabling him to not only describe the stories and legends of the 1800s, but even the rumors and myths of Native Americans, Spanish Conquistadors, and more!

Additionally, if he investigates thoroughly enough, he may even discover new tales and evidence of the cave's history and The Boy's story!

Informed by The Boy's embellishing imagination and Libedon's speculative collection of stories, in addition to the outlaw's own biased one-sided account, it is up to you to sift through the fiction to discover the truth.  

Through the lens of multiple unreliable narrators, can you discover the true history of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks?

The many people and places you visit in The Lost Cave of the Ozarks are all brought to life with highly stylized 2D hand-painted art.  Additionally, I am taking advantage of many other effects and techniques, such as blend layers, multiple parallax layers, particles, and more to really make the visuals pop.

Visually inspired by beautiful hand-painted games such as Rayman Legends and Ori and the Blind Forest, I have gone to great lengths to ensure The Lost Cave will be easy on the eyes.

The cinematic musical score for The Lost Cave of the Ozarks is not only instrumental (pardon the pun) for setting the tone (and that one), but it is also a very important part of feedback for the player.

As you progress through a level, the music naturally progresses as well, creating a more immersive experience for players.  Additionally, the music will often signal when you are on the right track through a particular challenge!

Below are some sample tracks from The Lost Cave of the Ozarks.  To fully experience the dynamic musical progression, however, I recommend giving them a listen for yourself with the Pre-Alpha Demo that is linked at the top of this campaign.

 

 

 

 

My name is Adam Miller, and I am the one-man dev team behind The Lost Cave of the Ozarks.

While my background in the video game industry is art focused, I have maintained many creative passions and hobbies throughout my lifetime.  I have a degree in English, I've been a musician for the majority of my life, and I have studied several martial arts for many years.

Additionally, I have been loving video games since getting my shiny new NES in the 80s, and I am continually learning and developing new skills.

More importantly, I have a wonderful wife and a 1 1/2 year old daughter, with another on the way! (Hi girls)

Twitter: @RubberGardener

Other works/portfolio: https://www.artstation.com/rubbergardener

Your Name In The Credits

For just $1, you can get your name in the credits of the game.  Just $1 to be immortalized and have your name etched in history?  That's a no-brainer!

Get A Copy Of The Game

You will get your very own, super low-priced, copy of the game for PC, Mac, or Linux.

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack isn't just mindless elevator music.  Each track is being meticulously written to embody the tone and atmosphere of the level at hand.  From the melancholy piano of Boy's Theme, to the upbeat hill music of the logging camp and the orchestral climactic boss fights, I am making sure the music is as beautiful as the visuals.

Beta Tester

As a Beta Tester, you will get early access to the entirety of the game before it is released.  Play the game in its early in-progress phase and help me figure out what works and what doesn't.  As a thank you for your help, you'll also get your name in the credits as a Beta Tester!

Art Book

As an artist, I love making art.  As an artist making a game with a heavy emphasis on art, I am making a LOT of art.  The Art Book reward includes a .PDF file of many various art assets I am creating for this game including scribbles, concept art, in-game art assets, illustrations, and more!  Feast your eyes on the heart and soul of the game and get a behind-the-scenes peek at how it was made!

Short Story

For those who enjoy a nice, concise story, I am also adapting the core story of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks into a short story.  While the game's narrative will encompass the broad story at hand, the written story will give you a deeper look at the individual stories of The Boy, the outlaw, and the tour guide.

Get In The Game

There is a graveyard in the game that serves the final resting place for the residents of the logging town, Dryso, where The Boy is from.  You can get your name and a quote on your very own plot for the world to see! (All submitted names and quotes are subject to approval, so keep it PG-ish)

Two Signed Posters

As a huge thank you for backing my game, I will send you two SIGNED 11 x 17" physical posters (one being a Kickstarter exclusive) for The Lost Cave of the Ozarks.

The inspiration for The Lost Cave of the Ozarks came to me around five years ago.  As I was enjoying a fascinating tour of a real cave in the Ozark Mountains, I was enthralled with the many stories and deep history recited by the tour guide that was contained in each room.

About half-way through the tour, however, my mind began to wander, as it often does.  I began to wonder how likely these stories actually are.  

Was this underground waterfall really thought to have been the Fountain of Youth by Spanish Conquistadors?

Did an Osage Tribe hunting party really discover this cave by falling into the sinkhole while fighting a bear?

Did a young boy in the 1800s really get lost for three days before being found, asleep, on the beautiful formation at the end of the tour?

And even more -- What if the boy really was found here, but the story's ending was actually much more tragic than the family-friendly nature of the tour would allow?

Ever since that tour, I have been obsessed with the idea of stories:  Humanity's love of stories.  How stories constantly evolve over time -- even if the story is only a few minutes old, let alone several millennia.  Sometimes we exaggerate stories to make them more interesting or less embarrassing.  Sometimes we don't even just change a story with our imagination, but in fact our actual recollection of a story has supplemented a detail here or suppressed one there.  We can never know the truth of some stories.  And every single time a story is told -- no matter what -- there is always some degree of bias by the storyteller.

On that same note, as a literary nerd, I also love stories that are told by an unreliable narrator: someone who's credibility is compromised.

It was with these ingredients of storytelling that I came up with the narrative theme for The Lost Cave of the Ozarks.  I wanted to convey a story which would be best conveyed through the medium of videogames' amalgamation of player input and engagement, music, narrative, and visuals, that would be told by three differently compromised narrators, leaving the truth to be sorted out by the audience.

Storytelling wasn't the only theme that cave tour inspired.  I was also enraptured by the pure imagination that went into the tour.  While rock formations, as magnificent as they are, may just be a random arrangement of sediment to some people, they are majestic manifestations of imagination to others.

Each room and major formation of the cave was named and themed by the power of imagination.

See how the ceiling looks like a footprint? This is the Shoe Room.

See how porous the rock is in this room? The Cloud Room.

See that low-hanging rock in our path? That's "Tall Man's Headache."

I imagine that to most people, these are silly names based on vague resemblances to human experience.  But to others, they turn an ordinary experience into an extraordinary one.  Not only that, but I bet there are some great stories behind some of those names!  That formation is called "Blondie's Throne" huh?  The story behind that name is just begging to be told!

I believe imagination is one of our most valuable tools.  It brings us together, it entertains us, and it even drives us to achieving a better reality -- just ask any scientist at NASA how big of a role Star Wars or Star Trek played in their career path.

What better way to translate imagination from the screen to the players than through a young child?  And while children have the strongest sense of their imagination, I believe it is important for everyone to maintain a healthy imagination throughout their lives.

I am the sole developer behind The Lost Cave of the Ozarks, so I am responsible for all the design, programming, art, animation, writing, music, sound FX, etc. with no aspects being contracted out to specialists.

While this is extremely beneficial for keeping development costs low, it is time consuming.  Not only does this draw out the development cycle of the game, but it also interferes with my ability to work as a freelance artist.  In addition to needing to keep food on the table, there are also several unavoidable costs for game development, including tool and market license fees and subscriptions (game engine, digital painting software, animation software, backup cloud storage fees, Steam marketplace fees, etc.)

This is also why my funding goal is as low as it is.  Rather than needing an exuberant amount of cash to pay other people for their work, I just need a little so I can focus on the game for a short, intense period without worrying about taking on other projects for a bit.  Should this crowdfunding campaign raise more money than the initial goal, that money will all go toward the development of the game.

While I would still have the ability to complete The Lost Cave of the Ozarks, proper funding will ensure I am able to focus on the game's development, which will lead to a much better product that you will be able to play much sooner.

 

Risks and challenges

While I have managed to mitigate most risks for this project, all projects have some type of risks.

The larger risks, such as catastrophic equipment failure, is very unlikely. However, just in case of such an event, I have a separate hard drive and two cloud storage backups for all my files.

Although I have worked with several indie teams on past projects, this is my first solo venture in developing and publishing a publicly marketable game. As such, there are some possible unforeseen hurdles in my development path. However, I have the confidence to be able to solve the problems and the resources to seek assistance if necessary.

I have also completed most of the groundwork for the game, such as the complex programming, animations, design, writing, etc., which means I do not expect this project to take much longer to complete (assuming I am able to raise the funds to focus on it). It is mostly a matter of building the remaining parts of the game that have already been planned, designed, and largely programmed.

As for rewards, a large majority of them are digitally distributed and therefore extremely unlikely to have issues with manufacturing or shipping.

Additionally, I am very familiar with the crowdfunding process. I have previously completed another small successful Kickstarter campaign for a comic book. I have also personally backed approximately 130 other Kickstarter projects, which has provided me with great insight into the do's and don'ts of the process.

I really believe The Lost Cave of the Ozarks is a special project, and I look forward to continuing its development and releasing it for you all to experience.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

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    Get your digital copy of the game for just $5!(PC, Mac, or Linux)

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    The Game + Soundtrack

    Not only do you get the game, but you also get the soundtrack!

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    Beta Tester

    You get all the above, in addition to early access to the Beta version of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks.

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    Digital Art Lover

    You will receive a PDF copy of the art book for The Lost Cave of the Ozarks -- including various art assets, concept art, and illustrations! AND you will be getting a PDF copy of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks short story.

    Includes:
    • Name in Credits
    • Digital Copy of The Game
    • Digital Copy of the Soundtrack
    • Beta Access (special mention in credits as a tester)
    • Digital PDF Copy of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks Art Book
    • Digital Copy of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks Short Story
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    Get in the Game! (Kinda...)

    Get a piece of prime real estate in the game! Your name and a personal quote (subject to approval) will be prominently featured on a headstone in the cemetery area of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks for everyone to see!

    Includes:
    • Name in Credits
    • Digital Copy of The Game
    • Digital Copy of the Soundtrack
    • Beta Access (special mention in credits as a tester)
    • Digital PDF Copy of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks Art Book
    • Digital Copy of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks Short Story
    • Name & Quote on a Headstone in the Game
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    Physical Art Lover

    Not only will you also receive TWO 11x17" The Lost Cave of the Ozarks art prints, but they will also be personally signed and numbered by the artist (and developer) -- ME!

    Includes:
    • Name in Credits
    • Digital Copy of The Game
    • Digital Copy of the Soundtrack
    • Beta Access (special mention in credits as a tester)
    • Name & Quote on a Headstone in the Game
    • Digital PDF Copy of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks Art Book
    • Digital Copy of The Lost Cave of the Ozarks Short Story
    • Two SIGNED Posters!
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Funding period

- (34 days)