UFO Conspiracies: Why Aren’t You Backing To Azimuth?

Where are you, funding?

I had thought To Azimuth would hit its Kickstarter goal quickly. It’s a slick-looking adventure game where some of the puzzling is optional, with a plot about two siblings running into UFO conspiracies as they search for their brother in ’70s Alabama. It was only looking for $20,000 yet here we are, three weeks later, with only six days left on the campaign and over $14,000 still to raise. I would very much like to play this game so hi hello why not have a look and see what you make of it?

As I said, To Azimuth is about two siblings, Susannah and Nate, searching for their brother Eli, a Vietnam veteran who’d struggled with readjusting to normal life then vanished. Their investigations go into government conspiracies and whispers of UFOs, which sounds great. Susannah and Nate are both playable in separate stories which go in the same direction but not the same way; you can import decisions from one character’s save to affect the other’s story too. While it is an adventure game, it won’t be necessary to solve every puzzle or find every clue; some simply round out the story. That sounds great too. It all sounds great. So why is To Azimuth struggling?

I know folks are a bit burnt out on Kickstarter – this is the first game I’ve backed in a long time – but I’m surprised it’s being overlooked. Quiet, moody adventure games aren’t the most popular thing around, but they’re not asking for a load of money. This is exactly the sort of small game I’d expect to still find Kickstarter success as folks tire of huge fancy games with grand dreams. And developers [bracket]games may not have a big hit to their name, but I really quite enjoyed the tale of family and responsibility in their last game, Three Fourths Home. Perhaps not enough people have seen it, so hey, here’s this post.

Bracket had hoped to have a new gameplay trailer by now, but technical difficulties are getting in the way. So here, their latest Kickstarter update is full of animated gifs showing things like a smooth split-screen view to investigate objects and the incredibly cool way environments morph and shift as you move around.

Here’s the Kickstarter again, and here’s the announcement trailer again:

41 Comments

  1. frightlever says:

    So, is this an official exhortation to back it? With the consequent grumbling a year from now if anything goes wrong?

    Bold.

    • montorsi says:

      People will grumble over anything. It’s your decision.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Folks make their own decisions. People grumble every day about games I post, even free games; I’m used to it. I just want to draw more attention to this because I think it’s not getting much, and I think that folks might like it.

      • frightlever says:

        Clearly you don’t understand the respect in which your opinion is held and the gravitas you bring to a project like this.

        With great power comes great responsibility.

        • SalaciousJames says:

          Seems pretty clear that you know how to make decisions for yourself, so what are you complaining about?

      • qrter says:

        That is certainly true, people are responsible for their own choices, but when you post an article like this, you no longer are just speaking for yourself, you’re speaking for Rock, Paper, Shotgun as a site.

        I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if I were running a site like RPS, I’d be very careful about endorsing specific Kickstarter projects.

        There’s a subtle but real difference between showing your enthusiasm for a game that happens to be on Kickstarter, and directly urging people to spend their money on it.

        • Timbrelaine says:

          I don’t see anything in the article urging people to spend money on the game, though I did sortof get that impression from the title.
          But I think favorable media coverage for some of these small, promising underdogs is a net good; Kentucky Route Zero scraped past its modest goal thanks partly to favorable coverage from sites like RPS.

        • B.rake says:

          I’ve never gotten the impression that RPS is Borg. Is this the dark undersecret of their editorial policy? Are we all being gently inculcated into the hive mind? OMG ARE WE BECOME BORG? WE AM BORG? I ARE BORG?! I AM BORG.

        • tumbleworld says:

          Not just tosh, but toxic tosh.

          People with a whole heap more influence than Alice — or, indeed, RPS — endorse things all the damn time. Entire industries are founded on it. Often, those endorsements prove misplaced. The world, so far, has not ended.

          If you’re so weak-minded that an article on a blog will compel you to splurge money that your welfare hinges on into a Kickstarter instead, then I have a very charming Nigerian Prince who I urgently need to introduce you to.

      • Borodin says:

        I think I agree that this is a little suspect. It is likely to be more influential even than a positive review, and there is no doubt that your post will have a sizeable influence on the Kickstarter.

        Just be sure not to sleep with either of the [bracket]games guys!

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          Perhaps you meant that in jest, but it’s not funny. Please give a little more thought to your words and respect to the people you are addressing.

  2. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    This has one big problem:

    Looks too much like Kentucky Route Zero.

    Now it can be an altogether different game, but I’m just not convinced the promotional material does enough to distinguish itself. At least to distinguish itself in a way that makes me excited about it – adding UFOs to the mix does nothing for me.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      I was thinking the same thing. The industry is plagued with copycats.

      • Geebs says:

        KR0 was just ripping off Another World’s style anyway.

        You kids. Lawn. Off.

    • HiFiHair says:

      I’d argue it’s a significant strength.

      • Timbrelaine says:

        Same. Flat, untextured polygons are both much easier for a small team to produce and polish, and way more attractive than yesteryear’s muddy reality-miming rubbish. And KRZ could use more imitators; I haven’t played many games that get as much mileage out of their art.

    • Beefsurgeon says:

      This was my first thought when I saw the screenshot in this article, but imho the video has a different feel from KRZ.

  3. twaitsfan says:

    If it’s inspiration not imitation, it’s fine by me. All the better.

    “Good artists copy, great artists steal”

    • Turkey says:

      Yeah, and the context seems completely different. I think it’s pretty cool that you can use the same sterile art style to convey isolation and dread as opposed to KRZ’s more wistful loneliness.

      • cqdemal says:

        Agreed. Not sure why using the same art style is a negative. The mood and tone here isn’t even remotely similar. Backed!

    • Moraven says:

      “We take/copy what is fun and established, use our own special sauce, and make it x10 better” -Blizzard

      Nothing wrong with copying. But I could see art style getting i the way.

  4. Premium User Badge

    SputnikSweetheart says:

    I backed this when I first saw it. I really like the visual style, more games should take cues from KRZ, plus the low-res look clearly suits a game made by a small team. I just hope it still gets made in some form if they don’t make their target.

  5. sabby says:

    the abrasive white text on black screen fading in/out, the low poly style, the stylistic lighting cues. It’s a huge KRZ copy alright.

    Voice acting could ruin it, but if they tone down the style plagiarism it could be one to watch.

  6. MadMinstrel says:

    Why? Obviously I’m not backing it because it’s not a proper sequel to Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth.

  7. Myros says:

    Begging for failing kickstarters? I used to love reading RPS.

  8. Bugamn says:

    I usually don’t back adventure kickstarters because I find those depend too much on implementation and too little is presented at the start. Other kind of games depend more on the mechanics and I can have a batter idea if I will enjoy the game or not from the initial presentation.

  9. Hex says:

    Mostly not backing it because it doesn’t look like something I’d ever want to subject myself to.

    I don’t know how much “Kickstarter fatigue” is a thing, as opposed to people simply becoming more responsible about identifying which projects they back are more/less likely to succeed, and sticking with those.

    There have been so many projects with unsatisfactory results, buyer’s remorse has hit probably just about everyone who has backed more than one or two projects.

    For me, now, a Kickstarter has to hit that sweet spot of “concept I’ve desperately wanted to see, and have reason to believe will never be made, otherwise” and “reason to believe the team behind this project will be able to pull it off, and pull it off well.”

    This? Eh. I guess I have reason to believe it would never be made, otherwise, but I’m okay with that. Hipsters and bad voice acting both. I understand why a part of the RPS crowd will be drawn to it, but…to each their own, I guess.

  10. Urthman says:

    I love the idea of more games doing something in the style of Kentucky Route Zero, but that particular screenshot at the top and the TO AZIMUTH logo in front of the video are just gonna make people glance at it and think, “Oh, I guess the next episode of KR0 is out. I got that in a bundle. I need to get around to playing it sometime.”

    You can use KR0’s art style, but if you’re also gonna set your game in similar environments, you gotta do something to make it stand out as being it’s own thing.

    Maybe link instead to the prototype video, which at least shows a nifty sort of pop-up-book style for dealing with the fourth wall when you have a 3D environment but a fixed camera perspective from the side like a movie camera rather than movable or angled down isometrically.

    or maybe just add this gif up at the top:

    link to s3.amazonaws.com

  11. Pantalaimon says:

    I don’t suffer from Kickstarter fatigue, but linear adventure game fatigue, yeah. These days it takes a lot for a game going that route to interest me. The games are usually quite plodding. There are just so many more interesting things you can do with procedural content generation, within the adventure game genre, and still tell stories within whatever framework you come up with.

    • plugmonkey says:

      Same here. I have a massive backlog of the things and I obviously don’t play them as much as I thought I did when I bought them all.

  12. MadTinkerer says:

    Same reason as usual. My monthly Kickstarting Budget is spent and I am not yet wealthy enough to back everything I want to. You can blame Thimbleweed Park this time.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Sinomatic says:

    Because the kickstarter is happening immediately before Xmas. Bad timing.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    You convinced me, Alice! Backed!

  15. B.rake says:

    Hear hear! Love the uncanny and slow-boil style. Good art is more than the sum of its influences, and Kentucky Route Zero hardly invented low-poly strangeness (also think the voice acting is good, but overused in the trailer). Totally get the Kickstarter and Adventure fatigue, though the degree of risk aversion many people express feels antithetical to one of the best reasons for Kickstarter- supporting new/upcoming creators’ projects with low-ish funding requirements (also a bit frustrating when throwback/revival/veteran projects often receive surplus). Personally found this project pretty compelling when I first heard of it and was happy to throw some ducats their way, in spite of not having any of my 6 or so backed projects yet come to fruition. Hopefully it gets made whatever the outcome.

  16. Alex says:

    Kentucky Route Zero is one of my favorite games so I was obviously drawn to this when I first heard of it. Never got around to pulling out my wallet though so I’m glad you’ve reminded me Alice! I’ve now backed.

  17. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    I backed it the first time it was mentioned here. I’ll be very sad if the KS fails.
    People, have the same tastes as me!

  18. Messofanego says:

    I backed it cause of those KR0 vibes but either media outlets are not picking up on it because the developer hasn’t contacted them or they’re just not into Kickstarter pitches anymore. There’s not much else I can do, already made a NeoGAF thread for it and tweeted about it.