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THE AIM OF THIS GAME IS TO PAINT AN ADJACENT PERSPECTIVE OF CONTEMPORARY CLASS INEQUALITY.
The player controls Luther, an artist living comfortably, only worrying about his he will paint next. After a sudden earthquake, the plumbing underneath his house falls apart, resulting in a hole revealing the subterranean world of The Under. Through the hole in his basement drain, he meets Huxley, an intelligent, wide-eyed, scavenger armadillo.Though he has no concept of human language, he can hear quite well. It's up to Luther to guide him out of The Under and into The Over. To illustrate the difference between the two characters, Huxley was designed to be an animal covered in protective scales and Luther was designed as a muscular white guy, without need for protection.
MY HOPE with this game is to present it in a way that frames both realities in an emotionally-faithful way. Though each side has extremely different obstacles (deadly monsters underneath and nosy neighbors on the surface), the terrain is arranged strikingly similarly, and the two of them can perform almost identically. In a way, the two are parallel.
Yet, the world Huxley lives in is dangerous and barren, while Luther lives in luxury. This is set up in a way to instigate a conversation about opportunity and what that means when paired with similar ideas like privilege and bigotry.
AS A SUB-SURFACE DWELLER, Huxley needs to be sturdy. Luckily, armadillos are literally covered in armor. His natural defense is especially useful when traveling through less-study areas of the underground-- underneath ceilings of heavy stalactites. Huxley's possessions include five things: his boots, his light-up necklace, his rope, his jumpsuit, and his coat. Coincidentally, he found all of them in the same place nearby some spooky fossils. They're a little beat up, but they work well to help him traverse tunnels, to keep him warm, and to keep him safe from the sight of the Mantle's many terrifying creatures.
LIKE THE REST OF HIS ATTIRE, Huxley's necklace comes from the remains of a long-dead miner, killed through mysterious circumstances. Up until recently, his final resting place had remained undisturbed. Now, Huxley wears the forgotten man's clothing, out of necessity (and because it's shiny). The necklace-- the minor's old hat-- os the most valuable of Huxley's possessions, most useful in dark caves filled with acid and often blind underground monsters. Somehow, the light never goes out, despite constant use by certain dangerously curious armadillos and an already fragile state.
WHILE EVERYONE ELSE IN TOWN IS PERFECTLY CONTENT WITH THEIR LIVES IN PERFECT, SAFE, GUARDED NEIGHBORHOODS, Luther is desperate for something more fulfilling He's taken to art, and for years, he's been creating piece after piece, looking for a meaningful message. Was this all there was? Sure it's a happy living, but is it a happy existence? What experiences is he missing out on by spending his time in leisure and comfort? It's his opposition to complacency in The Over that gives him the opportunity to help those beneath him- sometimes those who are literally, beneath him, like Huxley.
WITH THE ORM, I was very heavily inspired by real-life olms. They’re small carnivorous amphibians who spend most of their time in the water. For the Orm, I really liked the concept of a snake-like creature that could traverse through the Earth like their aquatic counterparts. But by moving from the water to the soil, their prey becomes much larger, thus their bodies must adapt to the new environment: a bigger mouth, lots of sharp teeth to break up earth, sharp claws to dig and crawl, and extremely acidic, moist skin to burn through harder parts of the Earth, like rock. Orms are pack creatures, so they’ve grown eyes on their backs to observe potential threats to the rest of the herd.
THE CLAN OF ORM WALKERS are individuals who’ve come into contact with the acid left behind by Orms’ skin, non-directly. After some time in the ground, the acid stops eating away at the Earth, and is left as a conduit for infectious genetic material. Direct contact with Orms’ skin may also result in infection, if the individual does not succumb to the intense burns. The infected tend to stick together.
OMOL IS ESSENTIALLY A GIANT STAR-NOSED MOLE. Like their larger counterparts, they eat a lot of insects. Unlike their smaller counterparts, they eat just about anything they can get their claws on: they’re omnivores, and chronically hungry. As they are constantly digging and being attacked by swarms of Skimmers, Omols use up a lot of energy, and are therefore always on the hunt for something to eat. This results in a gigantic, terrifying gluttonous terror at the top of the food chain.Their claws-- each about as tall as a person-- are optimal tools for burrowing and great at catching prey.
MUCH LESS COMMON THAN THE ORDINARY OMOL, Golden Omols are twice as big and regularly consume even their own brethren. Due to their immense energy use, they seek out prey on the surface from time to time.
ORMS' ONLY TRUE PREDATOR IS THE SKIMMER-- an acid-resistant parasite, that feeds on blood. Its long proboscis can penetrate deep into the bloodstream of its prey, sucking in and storing the food in its abdominal sack, where it can be transferred to its many eggs as nutrition.The skimmer’s sharp fingers allow it to secure itself to the skin of its prey, even during the act of burrowing new tunnels.
THE POLYBUGS' MASSIVE SET OF ARMOR IS A DIRECT EVOLUTIONARY RESPONSE TO ITS FORMER PREDATORS, LIKE THE ORM. Though they are still preyed upon, their sharp quills somewhat offset its mortality rate. Being approached guarantees pain, and being eaten insures substantial internal damage to its pursuer. They prey primarily on smaller bugs, but have been known to eat larger creatures when starved.
FROO is a man of many talents, the biggest being his uncanny ability to support his eccentric tastes with an ordinary job at the local convenience store. Though, the store itself is a little over-the-top. The man cares very little about taste, as is evident by his choice in footwear, but this does not in any way deter his fellow neighbors from visiting his store and chatting away with him for several hours. It’s truly a mystery how he makes so much money. One thing’s true though, he loves his flowery dress shirts.
JARED IS KIND OF A MEANIE. He’s the president of the home-owners’ association, and as a result he’s got a lot of opinions for how Luther should improve his property. Others in the neighborhood like him, but he and Luther never hit it off. Despite that, Jared always makes a point to greet everyone on the block daily, Luther included. His fancy high-tech watch will not let him forget.
ONE OF THE FIRST 3D MODELS I EVER MADE. Luther is kind of an eccentric person, so his house needed to reflect that, without being too far a departure from the architecture in the rest of his community. He’s built some expansions onto the base model, for better or for worse. He thinks they look great, but his neighbors in the Home Owners’ Association may think otherwise. Let’s hope it’s up to code?
LUTHER'S BASEMENT FUNCTIONS AS HIS OWN LITTLE ART STUDIO, complete with plenty of supplies, books, and even a power-washer and hose for screen printing. It's also stocked full of canvases, reams of paper, poster tubes, a printer, and rulers. The stairs lead to the ground floor of Luther’s house, coming out behind the shed. They’re pretty steep, so be careful!
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