One Chance, 1470 Words

By Alec Meer on December 13th, 2010 at 5:22 pm.

One Chance was one of those marvellously unexpected indie games which burst out of nowhere and immediately had half the internet talking. By talking, I mean “crying and/or arguing”. It split the vote neatly between those who admired it for being built first and foremost around emotional clout and those who loathed it for being based first and foremost around emotional clout. For my money it was a bold, clever and above all gutwrenchingly maudlin experiment in storytelling and choice-making. Oh-so-final choices in fact, with the game sternly disallowing you from replaying – no matter how terrible the consequences. (Like wiping out humanity. Whoops).

But what of its creator’s choices? Does he stand by that controversial restriction, how does he feel about the reaction to the game, and what happens now he’s had a gentle nibble on zeitgeist’s earlobe? AwkwardSilenceGames’ Dean Moynihan responds to the response below.

RPS: So, what’s the story behind One Chance? Was it about making something for an audience or more about exploring some dark creative urge to kill off humankind?

Dean Moynihan: I wasn’t concerned with an audience when I first started the game. Up until about a week ago, my only real audience was my house mates. I mean, They’re cool and all, but I guess I had to dream a little bigger. I essentially listen to much Bon Iver and Brand new. This leads to most of my creative outbursts to be a little dark and depressing. I’ve got videos, photography, animations and games all over the internet that are all fairly bleak, and since I was making this game for completely self indulgent reasons, it was a pretty natural theme to go with.

The idea for the game’s story stems from the first time I played Babies Dream of Dead Worlds by Gregory Weir. It’s about a race of squid-like looking dudes dealing with the end of their world, and while it’s completely impossible to identify with any of the characters or situations, the story and the way it was told really inspired me.

RPS: Can you give a little insight on how you came to the no replays decision? Was that the intention all along?

Dean Moynihan: The no replay feature was absolutely, completely, definitely intended from the get-go. It was the first concept written down when I was creating the game. After a brief stint of research into the concept, and after playing games like “You Only Live Once” and Jesse Venbrux’s “Execution”, I found the concept of actually being forced to deal with my actions and think about what I could have done instead of quick-loading, was quite refreshing.

To me, choices within games often feel a little arbitrary. The fact that players can go back and undo that choice on a whim takes away from making the choice in the first place. I’ve become used to thinking “Right, I’ll take up G-man’s offer now. But when I reload my save, I won’t”. Which isn’t really making a choice at all. It just depends which ending I want to see first. Obviously, for some games this isn’t the case; exploring the choices and consequences is half the fun. But they’re not real consequences, are they?

RPS: How have people reacted to that? Do they seem to get the resonance of it, or does the desire to want to ‘win’ the game seem to be the more powerful urge?

Dean Moynihan: The reactions vary from both extremes. I’ve gotten messages from people saying how it’s one of the most emotionally engaging games they’ve ever played and it’s literally brought them to tears, all because of the “no going back” concept. While at the same time I’ve had messages from people who have apparently experienced a nam-style flashback and want my head mounted in their front room. The more common negative reviews are mostly talking about how ‘wrong’ is it to have a game with more than one ending, unable to be played more than once. The word ‘pretentious’ and ‘artsy’ is used a lot too. A lot of reviews make it unclear whether they want a replay button because they genuinely want to help the in-game world, or whether they are just too stubborn to have been ‘beaten’ by the game.

It’s having a very Marmite effect on people, which is the reason the game has received so much attention. But most people seem to get it. It is in the title after all.

RPS: Have you got a sense of what the more common trends are, in terms of the choices players are making? And are they what you expected?

Dean Moynihan: People seem to be getting the worse endings more than the “good” ending. Whether that’s because people are going nuts because that’s what they’d do if they were given these choices in real life, or whether they’re not taking the “one shot” concept seriously, I don’t know. But I definitely get a lot of messages asking how to replay the game because they’ve let their whole family die. That’s also pretty much what I expected. I mean, given six days left on Earth, who wants to go to work everyday?

RPS: There’s a distressing subset of gamers who tend to accuse an interactive title that eschews game convention in favour of artistic experimentation of being “pretentious”, and unfortunately One Chance didn’t avoid that. Where do you stand on that? Are you happy to call this a game, and for it to be posted alongside stuff about shooting zombies and punching orks?

Dean Moynihan: People like to throw the ‘P’ word around increasingly more willy-nilly. It seems anything with slightly depressing content or anything vaguely experimental is at some point going to be accused of it simply because it isn’t completely generic. This is even more apparent in gaming. An example would be Playdead’s Limbo. From before it was even released it was branded as pretentious just for existing the way it did, despite being smart platformer with little-to-no story. Like Mario. The great thing about anything creative is that people can read into things and take deeper meaning from them. But apparently now that is the new definition of pretentiousness.

Maybe I’m biased, but I don’t think of One Chance as pretentious. Sure it’s a little melodramatic, and sure it’s depressing, but it isn’t trying to impose it’s self as some self-righteous, life lesson-giving, holier than thou commentary on life. It’s a game about the end of the world. What’s more mainstream than that?

The truth is that without the ‘no replays’ idea the game wouldn’t have even gotten half the attention it’s got. But ironically, to make it appeal to more people and by adding a replay button, it wouldn’t have done as well. I didn’t predict that either. I’ve been accused of using the permanency idea as a way of just scoring attention, but I firmly stand by the choices I made from a creative point of view. Despite how many death threats I get.

RPS: Every Day The Same Dream‘s been mentioned in reference to One Chance quite a bit – was it an inspiration?

Dean Moynihan: It was definitely the biggest inspiration I used. Suspiciously so. I mean, I certainly didn’t set out thinking: “Right, I like that game. I’ll take it”. It just stuck with me. There’s a line between paying homage, or being inspired by and while I tried to sneakily tip toe across it, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest for being called a rip off. That being said, the games are completely different. Not only in look or in tone, but at the core. ‘Every Day…’ is about the monotony of life and work, while ‘Once Chance’ is about a bearded doctor trying to save his family. I guess the morning routine of people going to work is just a good way to identify with people.

RPS: What next, basically? What are your longer-term plans for game making?

Dean Moynihan: What’s next will no doubt be a neurotic mess of underwhelming nonsense. Lets just say there’s actually a lot of pressure on me for my next game. I’ve gone from having a very relaxed, prone to procrastination work ethic to an intense, angry, perfectionist one. The biggest problem I’m having is actually doing all this alone, not because of a big work load, but I’m basically crap at everything. I can’t draw, make music or animate well at all. So for that reason I’ve practically recruited my house mates.

While there are no long term plans for Awkward Silence, I do at least intend on trying to deliver something that will make people think for 10 minutes a day. Or ideally, argue.

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156 Comments »

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  1. fuggles says:

    Damn game still won’t load on my end, so I don’t even get one chance.

    • dethtoll says:

      Do you use a hefty HOSTS file? I’ve found that disabling that momentarily will get the game going.

  2. gulag says:

    Loved it, still love it, will never play it again. I got to ‘my’ ending because of my choices. I don’t need to know what could have happened.

    I suspect we’ll see more on this one before the month is out. *winknudge

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I don’t get what the fuss is all about. The thing is a list of commands, executed by your CPU. Of course you can re-play it. The idea that you couldn’t is about as dumb as DRM. And that is saying something.

      But why would you want to? After all, that would ruin the whole point. Enough said.

    • Quasar says:

      I actually force myself to play Mass Effect in the same way. I’m not allowed to go back and re-do a section for any reason other than because it was fun. This means I have to live with my mistakes, but it also means that my victories are much sweeter. I kept my entire team alive at the end of ME2, not through trial and error, but because I knew the team well enough to make the right choices.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      Good to see I’m not the only one Quasar. I hate all the quick loading you’re tempted to do in games where you’re decisions may have consequences.
      I’m about half way through ME2 at the moment, I’ve played ME2(and most other Bioware games) that way. Also I only play though games like that only once. Partly out of lack of time/other games on the list, partly because I think playing the game only once and sticking with the consequences adds a bit more clout to my experience with the game. The choices I make in said games are perminent and make the game closer to reality and in role playing terms add to my imersion.
      Although I’m usually a sucker for these type of games(what some might call arty or pretentious, I really liked Every Day the Same Dream), this one didn’t seem to have the same effect on me as it has on others. I went to work every day to try and save the world out of some sense of duty because I had a hand in possibly destroying it. I cured the virus but my family and most others seemed to die. Didn’t really have much of an impact to tell the truth.

    • ix says:

      As to why would you want to, I went home to party the first day by mistake (didn’t mean to click where I clicked). That kind of annoyed me. On the other hand, life is like that. Sometimes you just fuck up and it’s nobody’s fault really and you have to live with the consequences (humanity dying, oh well).

  3. Urthman says:

    I tried repeatedly to play this but could never get it to load in Firefox.

    • Wulf says:

      Their adverts are really screwy and prone to failure. Try installing AdBlock Plus temporarily, see what that does for you. Entertainingly, I can get it to load in Fx 4 with ABP every time, but only in Chrome about 25% of the time (with no addons installed there).

    • Urthman says:

      I’m hurt that you assumed I wouldn’t be using Adblock. I guess I need to talk smarter.

      But yeah, I tried turning off AdBlock and couldn’t get it to run either way.

    • phree_radical says:

      Regarding adblock, Urthman, I look at it this way: If people continue using adblock, web advertising loses its value, until eventually we will have to pay for things ourselves…

    • Vinraith says:

      @phree

      I’d be completely sympathetic to that position if advertisements on respectable websites (like this one) hadn’t repeatedly tried to install malware on my system.

  4. skinlo says:

    I fell into a 3rd camp, one who quite enjoyed the game, and realised the refresh button is F5, but couldn’t be bothered as it was quite boring.

  5. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    I cheated and cleared the flash cache. I’m a breadth-first gamer and can’t help it. The variations are neat, but upon getting stuck like a pig for staying home with my family I couldn’t bring myself to try yet again.

    I think most of the flak he is getting come from people’s cognitive dissonance over the “one chance” concept. Most people think that “having one chance” is always a chance to succeed totally. Yet in this case it was just the opportunity to choose the path to the endings (of which I guess none qualify as “win-state”). On day 6, people thought they had fucked up, yet the real fuck up had already happened on day -1 and we could only choose how to deal with the consequences. Hence dissonance from not being provided an adequate happy ending (which we as consumers are entitled to, obviously).

    And thanks for calling out the pretentious-labeling-craze for the stupidity it is. Good interview all around, yupyup!

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      The most unsettling thing about this game is that my browser still remembers after I close it and open it again. How do I purge my flash cache and never ever ever let it build up any memory ever again? For the record I’m on Firefox with No Script and I don’t accept cookies except for permitted sites and my entire history is wiped when the session ends.

      Also I kind of agree with Cale in that, to build up empathy and emotion you need characters to have meaning and to care about them. When it’s just a man I’m controlling (and a taciturn one at that) it seems kinda easy to say “And why should I give a shit?” During my first attempt at the game I tried to throw myself and child off a building. Wasn’t allowed. We died together in a park.

    • Fwiffo says:

      While there IS a lot of crap out there that merits the label ‘pretentious’, very few games and in particular this one, don’t.

      The sad fact is that ‘gamers’ like to consider themselves free-thinking and open minded, the reality is we all prescribe to tropes and expectations like other artforms and lash out when we aren’t fufilled. ‘Beating’ a game is one of the most obvious ones there is.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      RE: clearing flash, go here: Website Storage Settings panel
      (make sure flash executes the embedded object on the top of the page)
      there you can delete single websites or purge the whole cache.

    • Langman says:

      I agree, I wouldn’t say it was pretentious – it was just a bad game.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      Why do you think that it was a bad game?

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      Stahlwerk, thank you sir. Now why on earth isn’t that settings menu somewhere on my damn computer? Redneck style fist shakin’ directed squarely at Adobe.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sinomatic says:

      I think Ccleaner did the job for me (since it also wiped out my VVVVVV save games and it took me a while to work out why)

    • Archonsod says:

      “Why do you think that it was a bad game?”

      The entire thing could be basically boiled down to a simple question “Do you want to go to work today? y/n”, thus avoiding much tedious holding down of the right arrow key.

      In fact I’d argue it’s not really a game. A game implies user interactivity. In this case, you could recreate the entire thing by asking that one question and then playing a relevant cutscene. I’ve seen DVD menu’s with more interactivity (if only because they offer slightly more choices).

      It failed as anything else for me because quite frankly it requires more than calling a collection of pixels “wife” or “daughter” to create some kind of emotional attachment.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      IIRC every day besides the first and second branched at least twice, the first having one branch (work/party) and the second none (you have to go to the roof).

    • Tei says:

      The best way to deal with that cache in a destroyer way, is to create a task that run wen the computer restart, that deltree the directory of the cache. That way you can have the cake, and eat it.

    • Zapatapon says:

      For all of those who are understanbly annoyed at the lack of control over the Flash cache and are using Firefox, I humbly suggest to take a look at the BetterPrivacy add-on . It gives a fine-grained control over flash cookies (e.g. delete by default when Firefox closes, unless explicitly protected).

      I daresay it’s awesome .

  6. CaLe says:

    I stand by my original assessment. People look way too deeply into silly mundane things when there’s just no need for it. Who cares what decisions people made, all it did was change the arrangement of some pixels on a monitor.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      Also, the music might change, depending on your choices. But of course, choice is merely the manifestation of the “free” will, which – regrettably – is only an illusion.

    • Premium User Badge

      P7uen says:

      And all having a baby does is change the arrangement of some molecules on Earth.

      What a stupid argument.

    • Brendan Caldwell says:

      I shall never play games again. You have cured me of the desire for art.

    • deejayem says:

      Wot’s Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba?

      Who cares if Romeo poisons himself? It’s only acting.

    • deejayem says:

      Oops – sorry for the Shakespeare spoiler!

    • Lilliput King says:

      fuck sake deejayem

    • Gassalasca says:

      @deejayem – Best RPS comment this week.
      Wot’s Hecuba to him… :still chuckling:

    • Duck says:

      P7uen, are you really comparing a stupid flash game to birth? I shouldn’t have to wax lyrical about how important birth is. Your comment has to be one of the stupidest comments I’ve seen in a long, long time.

    • TheBlobThing says:

      Wow Duck, sarcasm just went completely over your head, huh?

    • Thants says:

      “…all it did was change the arrangement of some pixels on a monitor.”

      Congratulations, you’ve just dismissed all artistic expression.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      I honestly can’t work out who’s trolling who now =D

  7. strange headache says:

    I really like how this simple game caught me more than many other multi-million big-budget mega-titles. The concept of this game deserves to be explored a little bit more, maybe in a bigger game?

    The feeling of impending doom reminded me of ancient Greek tragedy where you simply knew, that there was no escape from your destiny and that the hero was destined to fail no matter what. You KNEW that this whole thing would not end well, no matter what you did. But still, I felt bad for neglecting my family during these last five days, desperately trying to correct the wrongs I’ve done with the clock ticking endlessly in the background.

    Alas, an erroneous hit on my space button destined me to the most miserable ending ever, one that I did not intend. But it’s okay, I hold no grudge against the game, because I knew that all other possible endings would have been as gruesome as mine.

    Dear Spam-filter,
    STOP EATING MY COMMENTS EVERY TIME I TRY TO CORRECT THEM!

    • blue says:

      I didn’t like one chance because of how unrealistic it is. It’s stupid that you have to drive all the way home, and all the way to work, EVERY DAY.

      Day 2 really annoyed me, because I did indeed clear my cache, and discovered that you can’t go to work at all, you are forced to watch that guy die, then go stand behind the president.

      If it were me in that situation, I would stay in the lab, day and night, and even bring my family along with me.

      On a side note, I saved the world my first try at the game. And it’s BS that your wife dies no matter which option you choose, the reason behind her suicide is completely random on the “save the world” playthrough.

      And if that spoiled the game for anyone, I’m sure you have all played it by now.

      Also, I know this was a small dev project, and I liked the game, and I probably shouldn’t have replayed it. But that’s just what I would have done if I was really in that situation.

  8. Metalfish says:

    I had trouble engaging with the world ending premise since it was so damn unlikely and basically a rip of the “I am Legend” script backstory. Having the knowledge of biochemistry and drug design to know what is described is impossible is, of course my problem, but the story being very similar to a big recent release is a writing problem.

    Oh and the walking speed -that was tedious. Otherwise a fun little thought-provoker.

    • lurk says:

      Yes, this is the problem with it – it was charming and engaging, but also really, really stupid.

    • cjlr says:

      I felt the same way, but you know, in that case what you get out of it is what you let yourself get out of it.

      I read some interesting commentary on that old short story, The Cold Equations. And one man’s offer was – hang on, I’ll dig out the anthology:
      “What aggravates me about the “The Cold Equations” is that the blasted plot makes no sense. The powerful impact of the story is based entirely on a premise which I find completely implausible. … Jim [Baen]’s point was that, in the end, it just doesn’t matter if the plot of the “The Cold Equations” won’t bear up to close scrutiny.
      Does. Not. Matter.
      I’ve now read the story many times, and the illogic of the plot always drives me nuts. Still, every time, that ending grabs me by the throat.”
      That’d be Eric Flint on commentary.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Pretty much all apocalyptic stories take heavy influence from I Am Legend since the book was released. Or are you talking about the recent film? EDIT- oops reread your post and it’s pretty obvious that you were talking about the recent film.

      My problem with that was, the book is about Vampires, which is fine, that means we know this is a fantasy world. But the film turned it into some kind of sci fi, which as you say makes it too hard to believe and then irritates you for the entire film. 28 Days Later did a similar thing more successfully because they didn’t try to explain the infection at all. So we couldn’t poke holes in it.

    • Urthman says:

      I don’t know. If you want to do the Cold Equations-type plot where the protagonist has to make a tough choice, you’ve got to be even more careful than usual that there isn’t some alternative the reader/viewer can see. If the reader can see a way out, it’s no longer a tragedy, it’s a story about the protagonist being an idiot.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      Oh c’mon, knowing fine well that what is described is impossible hardly makes a bit of entertainment less enjoyable does it? All it illicited on me were quick thoughts along the lines of “curing cancer, eh? Someone has been reading too many tabloid newspapers” then I accepted the premise (as silly as it was) and moved on.

  9. Stephen Roberts says:

    I’ve realised that this idea is like a choose your own adventure book where the book combusts as you turn the pages. I don’t see any people buying a book actively knowing that they will never be able to read eighty percent of it. Unless they enjoy throwing money in a big ol’ hole in the ground.

    I realise that it’s free so my book metaphor isn’t perfect.

    • FhnuZoag says:

      Sure, if you want to use the book metaphor. But there’s other analogies – I do pen and pen RPGs, and I don’t expect to ever repeat any of the campaigns I’ve played.

      Does this change how I would play in them? Doubtlessly. Is this a perfectly valid and interesting restriction to apply? IMHO, it’s obviously so.

    • Archonsod says:

      In pretty much any game you can always opt never to reload and you get the same thing (and no, anyone complaining that because you can you have to really ought to grow a backbone and some willpower). This isn’t adding a mechanic so much as removing choice. In fact I remember someone did a run through of FarCry 2 entirely based on the concept of never reloading if something went wrong.

      I never reload just to see what would happen or to get the “right” choice anyway, so it makes little difference to how I’d play the game. But then as far as I see it if you’re going to do that then you’re pretty much rendering the entire point of making those decisions irrelevant in the first place, but some people like to do that.

      In fact I wonder if Stahlworks post down there might be picking up on something. I’ve been gaming since the early eighties and long before the idea of saving during a game was technically possible, having to start all over again once the lives ran out being a feature of every game. So I probably take a completely different approach to saving and reloading than someone who’s formative years occurred when you could save in games. Which also explains why I tend to complain about losing 4 hours worth of gaming because I didn’t save lol.

      Although yeah, I’m not going to pay money for a game I can only play the once. (Or rather I’m not going to pay for a game I deliberately only get to play once, I have of course paid money for games I only played once before uninstalling them, but didn’t necessarily know that was going to happen at the time) so I can see where that’s coming from.

    • Ateius says:

      The key difference is that when playing a PnP game your options are essentially limitless. Anything you can dream up and have the resources to undertake, you can attempt.

      In a choose-your-own-adventure book, and this game, and any computer game, your options are necessarily limited. The game and the book are created in advance, and cannot react on the fly to unexpected choices.

      There’s not much point to going back and re-doing a choice you made in a PnP game because the game unfolds organically. It’s your story, continuously being written by your actions. In a pre-made game with limited options, it’s not your story – it’s the designer’s. Re-doing your choices (by, for example, playing it again) allows you to explore the alternate storylines, decisions, and consequences that were written in.

      I find it interesting that Moynihan touches on this aspect of gaming in the second question of the interview, but when asked about how people reacted to the no-replays option, seemed to consider only that people wanting a replay were either genuinely emotionally invested and needed to save the world, or refused to accept they had been “beaten” by a game.

      Perhaps some of them just want to go back and see what happens if they choose to skip work.

  10. Brumisator says:

    It’s funny how I never realised you couldn’t replay it until I read about that feature on RPS.
    I have 3 browsers installed, so I could easily cheat around it, but don’t feel the urge to.

    • Anonononomous says:

      Flash cookies work across browsers, so you couldn’t, actually.*

      At least, not simply by virtue of having 3 browsers.

  11. Bill says:

    This game only had one chance…

    to not suck.

    *puts on sunglasses*

    YEEEEEAAAAAH

    • Bill says:

      urgh, I put my sunglasses on too late. I’ll never be a famous actor.

  12. Dervish says:

    I can’t believe you guys are inflating this dude’s ego with not one but two front page articles offering nothing but praise. Not even a HINT of criticism about what he could have done better. Inexcusable.

    • Dervish says:

      And yes, there are some very obvious (and serious) flaws in this game that even an amateur could fix if he sat down and seriously thought about the situations he’s presenting. So that’s to stave off anyone that thinks it would be petty nitpicking.

    • Alec Meer says:

      gameosity: 8 oranges out of grapefruit
      longerliness: squirrel out of three squirrels
      soundability: nine trombones out of welsh male voice choir: MUST TRY HARDER.

      It’s the RPS way!

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I second that it’s a very bad game. Imagine it without the “you can’t replay it (unless you delete the Flash data on your hard disk)”. What would be left would be a sorry attempt at some basic minimalistic try to make something game-like. That one rule is the only thing keeping it from being that.
      The idea is OK. But it’s just really not remotely enough.

      I mean hey, I walk up the roof, and lose a whole day because it just triggers the next day?? That means it’s not really my ending. Since it wasn’t my decision. I would have walked down again, and started working. I would not even go home, but call my family to come to me with everything they have, including air beds. The choices you can make are simply those of a dumb man. And that sucks.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      @BAReFOOt, at first I thought that not being able to “choose to work” on the second day was weird, too, but then I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be able to work productively if a coworker had just offed himself in front of me and the president just called for a press conference. Agency in life only goes so far.

    • strange headache says:

      Can’t we all just get over ourselves and have fun on this website again? The comment section in the past few months reads like the rumblings of old men whose cats took a dump in their cornflakes.

    • cjlr says:

      Electronic old men, no less. Within six months! Old men are the future.

    • DrGonzo says:

      One man makes a game alone. It has problems so it is AWFUL! WHY DIDN’T HE FIX ALL THE PROBLEMS!? WHY ISN’T EVERYTHING PERFECT!? WHY CAN’T WE JUST APPRECIATE CREATIVITY AND A GOOD IDEA FOR ALL IT’S FLAWS?

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      On a similar note, Dervish, what did Dean Moynihan do to you, your loved ones AND your cat to earn as much contempt from you?

      Guy made a game, with an interesting mechanic, a profound premise, nice atmosphere and good graphics (for not being a graphical artist).
      He posts it to newgrounds. Maybe even sends a mail to RPS. They play it, they like the interesting mechanic, the premise and the atmosphere, they post about it. A shitload of people read RPS, so half the internet plays this game.
      One of the two parties proposes an interview. They do it, they post it here.

      Where was there ever a need to “tell him where he did badly”?

    • Nogo says:

      Could one of you please expand on what this game could do better? I’m genuinely interested.

      I understand your criticism barefoot, but you’re basically demanding this game to be something it physically cannot be, as an obviously talented programmer you should know this.

      Also, the worst criticism a piece of creative work can receive is a complete lack of desire to criticize it at all. The simple fact that you desperately yearned for a more intelligent, rote-like solution belies your emotional connection to the created world which validates its value. Just because you think you’re smarter than the choices given doesn’t make it a “bad game.” Frankly that just makes you the pretentious one.

    • Dervish says:

      You’re right guys. Let’s make this kid feel like some genius auteur when he couldn’t even be bothered to proofread his in-game text.

      Or, you know, you could give a proportional amount of praise for the premise and attempt, emphasize that you need to work harder if you want to add greater depth to your choices, and point out why some of the decisions in the game are unrealistic dichotomies that feel like a coin toss to the player.

    • Urael says:

      Oh quit whining, Dervish. No-one’s interested. If you can do better, please do so for the enjoyment of all. Otherwise, go have a cup of tea, listen to some music and come back when you’re in a better mood.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I offer him six praises for the premise.

      EDIT: Seriously, what the fuck. You can’t invite someone to an interview then tell them all the things they should have improved on. Who the hell do you think you are?

    • Dervish says:

      Devastating counterarguments from the peanut gallery, here. I look forward to everyone complaining about the shallow choices in the next Bioshock game, throwing their hands up in the air and wondering why gamers are so willing to settle for mediocrity.

    • Sargon says:

      For my part, I felt like the primary weakness was that the entire effect hinged on the player’s agency – the whole “one chance” idea revolves around making the player choose a course and live with the consequences. However, there was relatively little sense of agency; there were few real choices to make, and the one it seems like a lot of people *wanted* to make, what would have felt like the legitimately responsible thing to do (live in the office, push yourself to the breaking point with stimulants, try to *save the world* dammit) wasn’t even available. It felt like the game mechanics and the setting had given up before the player had, which provokes the same sort of feeling of being cheated that can happen with, say, a railroading GM in a tabletop game. The combination of feeling cheated of autonomy and simultaneously held to account can provoke some real bitterness.

      Oddly, I think that the game is emotionally powerful can *add* to that bitterness – there’s a bit of “I’m being upset by this, but this *wasn’t* my choice, and this *isn’t* my fault!” style resentment.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      @ Dervish

      I really do hope you’ve at least emailed the lad the constructive criticism that you’re alluding to and berating everyone else for not offering, becuase we certainly aren’t seeing any of it here.

    • Dervish says:

      There are plenty of good points already made in the comments, such as in Sargon’s post just above me. But I was berating RPS–you know, the influential site whose criticism I hold to a higher standard.

    • Wilson says:

      @Dervish – I’m not sure criticism would really have added anything to the original article or to the interview. As you’ve said, there’s criticism in the comments, and the game was originally linked to as an interesting experience, not as a masterpiece of gameplay. From the moment you saw the graphics on the original post, surely you had some idea what to expect (e.g. a decent chance that it was an ‘art’ game rather than a purely entertaining game). The guy himself says he’s pretty poor at everything in the interview, and a lot of the problems with the game are fairly clear to the point where it wouldn’t really benefit anyone much to point them all out.

      The game wasn’t perfectly made, but it’s the experience it tries to put across which is the interesting part (whether it fails or succeeds) and it’s that intended experience which RPS have chosen to focus on, mostly ignoring the actual gameplay details because they aren’t very interesting. It would have been nice to hear whether the maker was happy with the controls and mechanisms of the game (I would guess not), but I don’t think it’s an unforgivable omission.

    • Muzman says:

      If Bioshock’s choices actually meant something to how the game progressed, I probably would have had more respect for it.

    • Stephen says:

      @BAReFOOt

      That sounds like one of these “if we take away the guns all you’re left with is some boring walking around corridors” reviews. Yes, most games are rubbish as long as you take away the central gameplay mechanic before you talk about them.

      The point of the game is that you only get one chance to play it. That is the central game mechanic.

    • Dozer says:

      Alec: How do you rate this game for system requirements and excitement?

    • MikoSquiz says:

      No, it’s not. It’s the gimmick. That’s not the same thing as a game mechanic.

  13. Pathos says:

    You know, its time to take the words ‘arty’ and ‘pretentious’ back.

    On a technical level, pretentious/pretence just means a pre- tense, a tension before the fact, something prepared or anticipated. Which need not describe all games, but is a recognizable element of much of what is discussed.

    On the level of causal use, when a game is described as ‘arty’ or ‘pretentious’, my interest antennae go ‘ding’, because it might be as affecting and memorable as One Chance, or Small Worlds, or The Cemetery, or Norrland, or any of the dozens of other little experimental wonders that PC gaming produces.

    I can’t remember the last man shoot which… well, to honest, I don’t seem to remember most of the manshoots any more. There is a mainstream, and if emotional, experimental and exciting games are to be identified outside it, arty and pretentious will do as far as names go.

    Bring on the arty pretentious games! They rock!

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah, it often seems to just mean the game is trying to be more than ‘just a game’, as in trying to move the medium forward. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Even if it’s not very good at least it’s trying.

    • Iucounu says:

      Pretentious doesn’t mean ‘prepared or anticipated’. It means ‘pretending to be grander / cleverer / more artistically worthy than it really is.’ Hyacinth Bucket is socially pretentious – wanting everyone to pronounce her name ‘Bouquet’. Dan Brown’s novels are intellectually pretentious – for example, the one which is ostensibly full of facts about hard crypto, but which hinges entirely on a really stupid anagram. Also, 99% of people using the word ‘quantum’ on the internet.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      “Also, 99% of people using the word ‘quantum’ on the internet.”

      Poor innocent Bond fans, lumped in unfairly with the pretentious ones. Who will offer them solace?

    • Archonsod says:

      I dunno, I think the 1% just about covers all the modern James Bond fans :P

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      I liked both daniel craig bond movies. Watch them back to back, if you have the time.

    • Dozer says:

      Watch back-to-back with the third Bond film, which is online here:

  14. Crane says:

    I just found the whole thing too constrained for my choices to feel meaningful.

    When my wife died, I wanted to go to bed, not look in the bath, but I wasn’t allowed.
    When I went in to work one day, the lab was locked. I wanted to work, but I wasn’t allowed.
    When my daughter clung to me one morning, I wanted to take her into the bathroom, drop her by her mother to cry, and get on with finding a cure. But I wasn’t allowed.

    I felt far too railroaded to find the experience meaningful.

    • Nogo says:

      “I felt far too railroaded to find the experience meaningful.”

      This is a perfect description of my typical Mon-Fri.

  15. Hodag says:

    I have a really depressing job, in which I get to see death, starvation, and pain on a daily basis. Why willingly ask for more sadness?

    Games/Music/Books/Art may be created from that sort of well of emotion, but why does anyone willingly go out and say “I want to feel horrible today!”? I have never understood the desire to bring oneself emotionally down. It seems far more sensible to bring oneself up.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      Nobody says “I want to feel horrible today!” (okay, no one except teenagers and the decadent polloi of Molvanîa). “Depressing” art can be used by those feeling down to help initiate catharsis. There’s someone out there who “gets” that feeling and look what beauty she/he could turn it into.

  16. Matzerath says:

    I thought games like this and You Only Live Once were just amusingly subversive ways to show how difficult it is to clear your flash cache.

  17. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    Hey all, please partake in a small poll:

    “I was born…
    a) before 1985
    b) after 1985

    “I could relate to the game’s premise of the world ending…
    a) quite some
    b) not so much

    • jackbnimble says:

      Excellent, excellent point.

      Something to consider indeed.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      I don’t know if I’m onto something there, but I remember living in a world with real world nuclear doomsday scenarios, that could become bitter reality on the push of a button. And of course that was totally out of control of yourself, your family, or even most of the other grown up people.
      There must be some lasting effect of that cold war mindset, maybe it manifests itself in how we empathize with stories like these. For me, there wasn’t much need for more dialogue to flesh out the characters, it’s absence even told you much of what you needed to know about them, especially the wife and (ever more silent) kid… “what use are words now?”

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      Born well before 1985, and I remember the following:

      – overhearing conversations between my parents and relatives about what they’d do if Nuclear War struck

      – being taught in school about the effects of a nuclear bomb going off in London, and how it would affect us in Surrey

      – seeing Protect and Survive leaflets in the library

      – watching Threads

      – everyone at school the following day being very quiet, because we’d all stayed up to watch Threads

      I recall thinking to myself that my parent’s generation got the moon landing and the 60’s, and we got nukes, Thatcher and the Miner’s Strike. It all seemed rather unfair, but then I had a 48k Spectrum I guess, so it wasn’t all bad.

      To this day I still, at times of stress, have nightmares about nuclear war.

    • Vinraith says:

      a) and a)

      I do wonder if you’re on to something. If you are, to be honest, it scares the hell out of me. The generation that can’t imagine what it’s like to fear the end of the world is the generation most likely to bring it about.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      A and B, though I grant that in 1985 I was 2, and as such not especially enmeshed into the zeitgeist

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      I was born in 1987 and this game worked for me. That said, I watched threads four years ago, immediately afterwards I sat in a dark room chain smoking and drinking heavily staring blankly at the wall. What really shat me up, more than anything else, is that I live in Sheffield. So the line “Broomhill is now a Class A casualty zone, with 100% fatalities” meant rather a lot, as I live in Broomhill!

      Incredible film, harrowing. When I qualify as an English teacher I’m going to make every class watch it, if I can get away with it.

    • Vinraith says:

      I’m getting the impression that Threads is the UK equivalent of The Day After?

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      @Vinraith: yep, though Threads was actually even more bleak than The Day After, if you can believe that. You can watch the whole movie on Google Video here.

    • Hodag says:

      A and B.

      I don’t empathize with this game at all.

    • Frakka says:

      A and A

      Although I was only 4 in 1985

  18. Lucas says:

    This isn’t a game. I “played” the first day, and then I quit. So I win.

  19. Jake says:

    I really liked the idea, but personally it didn’t work for me. Some spoilers here if that still matters:

    I thought the concept – that your choices were irrevocable and had repercussions was great, but I think it was too limiting and those limitations caused me to just be frustrated by it. I know it’s not meant to be played to win, but I felt that I was forced into bad choices sometimes, and my main problem with it was that I just question the ethics of someone who can doom the human race then take a few days off. So I felt frustrated that I couldn’t work harder to correct my mistake, especially when it becomes apparent that there is a cure you just only discover it on the last day and most of the planet is already dead. So if I had worked nights the human race would still be alive? What an irresponsible arsehole.

    But the game should be applauded I think, and a version with more choices and freedom would make me happier, though I am glad that most people seem to like it anyway.

  20. bowl of snakes says:

    Y’know, to me it’s as cool to check out these interviews from the short one-man games as it is from a more professional designer-producer guys, so thanks for this. The negativity toward an 8 minute free flash game is kind of weird though, I mean, You Have To Burn The Rope was saddled with poor platforming controls, hah, but that…wasn’t the point….right?

  21. Daave says:

    I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the feeling that I’d failed even though the consequences of your actions aren’t laid out. But claiming I didn’t like it validates it in a way. I suppose it doesn’t matter if this kind of game is liked or not because that’s not the point, which is a shame as I do feel deceived by it and disappointed that I didn’t save my daughter.

  22. bakaohki says:

    After “everyday the same day” I found it way too boring, shallow, unrewarding and not really thought provoking at all – but ssing the comments around, probably it’s just me.

  23. noobnob says:

    It was emotionally charged, but the game really got me when it ended and told me “nope, you can’t replay it, you’re now stuck with this ending”. It pissed me off, because the expectations I had after playing a bazillion games were that I’d be able to replay it. There are workarounds, but still, that limitation feels too artificial for a game that doesn’t have a broad number of meaningful choices.

    You know, this doesn’t matter much in a free flash game, but imagine this kind of mechanic on a plot-heavy, commercial triple-A game. That would be disastrous.

    • Iucounu says:

      You’re supposed to be pissed off, aren’t you? The effect the game is intended to have is to make you feel frustrated, sad, impotent? That’s the entire point of the non-replayability and the limited choices. Saying ‘there are workarounds’ is a bit like the time they rewrote King Lear to have a happy ending.

      Would you kindly also note that a commercial triple-A game that using a very similar mechanic (at least from an artistic standpoint) is Bioshock…

  24. Ben says:

    On the last story my comment was 4 pages in so I only felt motivated to snark, as it seemed like the only thing I had to add to the conversation that hadn’t been said before. Having read whinging in today comments, I just wanted to put forward something.

    First, I myself enjoyed the game. Thanks guy!

    Second, there are a lot of people who are evidently upset. People are complaining that the author didn’t model every single possibility or that there were unforeseen consequences for their actions or a bunch of other crap.

    I think a large potion of these people need to learn that games (and art) can invoke feelings other than positive ones, and that invoking negative emotions is not necessarily a negative quality. It takes art; it takes craft and it takes luck . A synopsis of the game’s events would not have the same emotional weight as a playthrough. It would lack the craft. Downer movies can be appreciated (Schindler’s List, Hotel Rwanda, Children of Men), but I feel that gamers as an audience suck at appreciating downbeat content. I’m not saying that depressing content necessarily begets quality. I’m sure there are depressing games out there that also suck, but unfortunate ends do not dictate poor quality means. It’s atypical for a game to disallow replay, but doing so does not negate it’s existence as a game. As a freebie, there’s no theft. Your disappointment at your individual experience does not negate the inherent worth of the game. The volume of commentary generated by the game counters attempts at deflation, simply because of the depth and breadth of reactions. People are saying more and different things than if this was just Sydney Shark again.

    • Archonsod says:

      The playthrough has no emotional weight. Unless you’re willing to emotionally invest yourself anyway, there’s certainly little in the game to encourage you to do so.

    • Peter says:

      Not upset, I was bored and underwhelmed. On the other hand, I think the reaction is fascinating, so there’s that.

  25. Scott says:

    Is anyone else getting tired of women being used as emotional shorthand in these games?

    As smart as we say they are, many of them (including this one) deprive women of any sort of agency or action. Your wife kills herself because you don’t spend a night with her. Your wife is murdered because you do spend a night with her. As artistic as this game is, it’s following the normal mainstream video game problem of making a woman’s entire existence based on a man’s actions.

    It’s a cheat used to draw emotions from the player. Work on a cure, she kills herself. (“I wasted my time! NO!”) You spend time with her, she gets murdered. (“I was being selfish! Why didn’t I think of the bigger picture?!”) Both have nothing to do with the wife or feeling bad for a mother who fell into depression and regret – they’re both centered around the man feeling bad for not being a better man.

  26. Pijama says:

    I *REALLY* dug the whole “you got ONE CHANCE, MOTHERFUCKER” approach. Pretty novel!

    However, two things:

    1 – One reason that people get smashing such games is due to the fact that bleakness isn’t the preferred flavour of digital escapism by a wee mighty margin. Depending on your daily grind, it might be just enough to kill a day and cause a tad too much of angst. My stomach, after playing it, feels like it has a goddamned block of concrete inside.

    2 – It *is* pretentious. But not in the sense that is being thrown around so lightly, but rather, that is fully charged of no compromises and no apologies. Thing is, shit pretty much sucks for the sake of it’s own unwritten manifesto.

    Or to, make it simpler, you don’t tamper with the medium (your flash memory cache) in order to make your statement. To make an allegory here, it would be like a painter messing with your mind before allowing to see his or her work. It doesn’t allow the viewer to appreciate it as freely as proper, and instead, limits it. It might be argued that the point of it is exactly that, though.

  27. Igor Hardy says:

    Hmm… I don’t think One Chance was pretentious in any way, but saying that it “eschews game convention in favour of artistic experimentation” just might be.

    • Iucounu says:

      How so?

    • Igor Hardy says:

      Because it suggests the game’s author sacrifices something, chooses a more difficult way of doing things, to achieve artistic greatness. Such over-the-top description makes One Chance and its author seem pretentious, which I don’t think is actually the case.

    • Iucounu says:

      Not seeing that. The game does consciously eschew at least one gaming convention (that you are supposed to be able to replay them); and that’s experimental in this particular art form. Claims of ‘artistic greatness’ and ‘sacrifice’ are, I think, things you’re projecting into it.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      If that’s true, then pretty much every single game eschews some gaming convention and can be deemed as artistic experimentation. In other words, those terms are almost meaningless and you could just as well pat somebody one back instead of using them.

    • Iucounu says:

      You’ve got a weird idea that saying something ‘eschews gaming convention in favour of artistic experimentation’ is some sort of pat on the back instead of a statement of fact: this is much more an experimental art piece than it is a conventional game. Isn’t that just a simple description? You’re reading loads of value judgements into it.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      Yes, the way I understand it, “eschews gaming convention in favour of artistic experimentation” attaches a lot of positive value to the thing it describes (the result of real experimentation is at the very least worth trying out). It also interprets the intentions and actions of the author.

  28. Bioptic says:

    First off, just want to clarify my stance: this is a free flash game, it obviously has *some* artistic merit from the sheer amount of debate it’s provoked, and I suspect much of the debate is in reaction to others’ comments as much as anything the game itself attempted to bring across.

    That said, I think it fails in its aims in 2 important ways:

    1) Yes, the player gets a chance to tell ‘their story’, and only gets one attempt at this. But it’s not real life, it’s a flash game, and you don’t approach it as such – games with multiple paths actually teach you to take the least desirable paths *first* (the ‘bad ends’). Whilst the game as it stands has a giggle at the player with the double-meaning ‘One Chance’ tagline and a nice twist ending, by not informing the player of the rules of the scenario (“you’ll only get one go at this, make the most honest decisions you can”) it sacrifices the meaning of any choices you make within that scenario for novelty and cheap impact.

    2) The player is removed from their own agency by how arbitrary the “decide what you want to do today” mechanics are implemented. Since there’s no tutorial or instructions, there’s no way of even knowing that one of your interactions might end the day, where another may not. On a given day, you can go into your lab, or up to the roof. On the roof, you have a few lines of dialogue…and then the day ends. And you’ve unintentionally sabotaged your own plan to work every day. In fact, the first time I played it, I acidentally hit Space to ‘talk’ to one of my co-workers…and found myself in a bar, for no reason at all. That certainly wasn’t ‘my story’.

    • Strykary says:

      I agree. As I played through the game I was uncertain as to how much of the environment I could effect. What choices do I have? Go into daughter’s room, nothing. Bathroom, nothing. Go outside, get the paper, what’s this? I’m stuck outside? It left me confused not only at the game itself, but at the praise surrounding it. The novelty left me due to the sheer banality of the choices given.

    • Wilson says:

      @Bioptic – I think those are both good points. A lot depends on how you approach the game. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny very well (and that isn’t a serious failing to my mind, it is a free flash game after all). If you play it, don’t think about it too much, and play it ‘seriously’ the first time, then I think it can be very effective. I certainly found it moving.

      There are many ways it can be spoilt however. If you don’t buy the story and can’t stop thinking about how it all doesn’t make sense, that’ll obviously ruin it. If you start thinking about it as a game, that ruins it too because it isn’t good as a game. The controls are average, there’s a lot of walking around, not much interaction and it isn’t a fun experience.

      You have to take it at face value, not think too deeply about it and accept the simplified world of the game, where you can’t work for a day because the lab is locked for some reason and you have no ability to ask someone for the key. To make a game like this that would consistently provide a moving experience to most people that play it would need a lot of polish and some clever mechanics I expect, but this does pretty well considering what it is.

    • TenjouUtena says:

      Very very very this.

      I took most of the ‘bad’ routes in the game. I was mashing buttons trying to figure out what the ‘do stuff’ button was, and I accidentally went to a party. After that point, there was practically nothing I could do. I didn’t have one chance, I had zero.

      (The above holds if accounts of things from other people are correct. The game never really gripped me enough to try and play it again.)

      I was severely disappointed with the lack of interactivity. I couldn’t talk to my daughter much, I couldn’t talk to my wife . In fact, I’m fairly certain there’s more possible interaction with the woman whom you sleep with in your car than there is with your wife. The game didn’t feel alive to me. I think part of this is my instance in playing games without the sound on, but still.

      All in all, I think this would have worked much better as a full fledged point and click adventure.

    • Strykary says:

      @Wilson – That’s my problem, I can’t take a game at face value if it lacks any semblance of depth. Since One Chance has the depth of a wading pool I just cannot fathom taking it seriously at all. The whole experience, if you could call it that, felt confined and limited. A going through the motions to get to the end sort of experience.

  29. Wii and the Kid says:

    At the end of the day, its a great concept. i’d like to see it made into a much longer game with more pathways to take.

    wiiandthekid.com

  30. Neabies says:

    Slow news day, huh?

    • Wilson says:

      Somehow I don’t think RPS did this interview because they didn’t have anything else to put up today. Just because you don’t find this interesting doesn’t mean nobody else does either.

    • noobnob says:

      I am pretty sure the interview was justified by both:

      – the 400-comments long thread in the previous article highlighting the game;
      -Alec’s own interest in the game.

      Slow news days on RPS are the best, eh.

  31. Flatfingers says:

    I wonder if a lot of the negative reaction (including my own) is because “One Chance, the Flash code” isn’t really a game, despite its creator calling it a game, but that the rules controlling “One Chance, the experience” are a game that the creator is playing with us.

    One Chance the code isn’t a game as most people normally interpret that word. It has the exterior trappings of a game, but as has been pointed out repeatedly, a choice you can’t recognize is functionally equivalent to no choice at all. When I’m done with my one pass through it, its form is set as though it was a book or a movie. Without any opportunity to make a series of choices in which the consequences of earlier choices give me information I can use to improve later choices, it’s not a game.

    On the other hand, defining One Choice as a game, and thus implying that we are able to trust that we will have a series of progressively more challenging choices, while at the same time taking away that capability and even mocking our expectation of it (i.e., “no, you bastards, I will never add a replay feature”), seems to me to move the “game” part of One Choice out of the code and into the real world. In fact, this interview confirms that this was the creator’s direct intention — to generate a particular feeling in the would-be “player” by setting expectations and then messing with them.

    At that point, we no longer have a computer game, and debates about its form or content (8-bit graphics, end-of-world story, keypad controls, etc.) are irrelevant. The real question is in the real world of real people who got manipulated into interacting with something that purported to be but wasn’t really a game: was that fun for you in any way?

    For me, it wasn’t. I despise feeling manipulated, and that’s this felt like to me — a fairly childish “ha ha, you lose, how does that make you feel?” situation.

    Others obviously can disagree, and can assert that they didn’t feel manipulated at all. That’s fine… but I wonder how many people who also see beyond “One Choice the Flash code” to a “One Choice the Real-World Experience” also feel cheated.

  32. dogsolitude_uk says:

    Pretentious? Il?

    Strewth, until you’ve been to a Peter Greenaway video night with a bunch of Goths and Film Studies students you don’t know the meaning of the word.

    Try as I might, I cannot see that little Flash game as pretentious. Maybe I’m just as pretentious as the game, and so it looks normal to me or something, but it just struck me as a nice enough game-equivalent-of-a-short-story.

    So you’re only allowed to play it once? So what? Not as if I paid a tenner for it or anything, though I’m worried it might give Ubisoft ideas for their next DRM system.

  33. RyePunk says:

    Brilliant game. I loved that I actually got to get rid of everybody on the planet. Perfect world.

  34. poop says:

    I cant help but think that so many players fucked up because the game likes to skip an entire day when things like the dude committing suicide or the player pressing space at the wrong time happen

  35. Ergates says:

    One thing that confuses me:
    The author laments that the choises available in most games aren’t really meaningful choices. Yet he’s created a game where the choices you make have absolutely no real impact on the eventual outcome – they are, effectively, utterly meaningless. There are 2 possible endings
    1) Everyone in the world dies.
    2) Everyone in the world dies apart from you. Which isn’t really any better than option 1. (arguably worse)

    It’s called “One Chance” and states “You have one chance to save the world”, except you don’t. No matter what you do everyone [else] dies. It should be called “Zero choices”

    • Neabies says:

      I disagree.

      Igorning your wife whos clearly depressed (stays in bed, stops talking) will make her commit suicide. Cheat on her and she’ll leave you. Going to work every day instead of slacking off results in a cure.

      Theres a couple of random ones in there, sure. But I think there’s more choices that effect the story than don’t.

    • Ergates says:

      Yes, but those are only change things in a superficial and short term manner.

      Ignore your wife: She dies.
      Don’t ignore your wife: she dies
      Cheat on your wife: she leaves you, then dies.
      By the end of the story, no matter what you do, she’s dead.

      If you go to work every day, you can create a cure – but it’s too late for everyone/thing else than you. Which means you really aren’t going to live much longer yourself.

      Essentially, the game gives you a choice of a number of routes to reach exactly the same destination.

  36. Zoolooman says:

    I was initially delighted by the concept, but after playing it, I felt like the whole game was undercut by an authorial trick. When I began, I didn’t know if the first line was a statement of fact or a statement of possibility. Is the end of the world inevitable, I thought? If it is, I know how I’ll spend my time.

    Then I read over the author’s description.

    “You only have ONE CHANCE to save the world. One. uno. 1.”

    Ah, the word of God spoke to me!

    Like a good gamer, I assumed that meant I was playing a game with the possibility of success. I could save the world, right? I revised my initial reaction and took an entirely different approach to the situation. I approached it as a game with choices that could lead to a successful outcome, instead of an exploration of my personal reaction to the end of the world.

    So I made my choices out of the very limited set, and I chose the only ones which could conceivably save the world. Of course, I couldn’t save the world. The game doesn’t allow it. I shrugged, closed the browser, and came back here.

    My gamer’s approach prevented the story from having a serious impact on me. I was looking through the game itself for a promised solution, instead of weighing whether or not the solution was even possible and judging how I would spend my days.

    I wonder. If the author had more carefully designed the initial situation, I might’ve approached it as a human being rather than someone playing a game.

  37. deal with it says:

    boring 8 bit hipster garbage. truth hurts.

  38. ViewtifulJeff says:

    My problem isn’t whether or not the game was “pretentious”, or even the pointless “one playthrough” gimmick (sorry dude, it’s the computer age, y’can’t stop people from gaming the system). What bugs me is that this game is supposed to be about “choices and how you deal with them” and have all this emotional depth, but the characters are all one-line wonders who it’s impossible to feel anything for, and you’re constantly railroaded along by the game, having only the barest sense of control. There’s about as much depth as a puddle, and the range of choices doesn’t even reach arms length. It’s pathetic in every sense of the word. I really cannot fathom the “one playthrough” gimmick really changing those two huge problems that much for people.

    Also, if you didn’t choose to go to work to every day you could…well…what the hell did you think was gonna happen. I guess if you were that stupid and couldn’t figure out how to clear your cache, I could see you getting mad because the game “beat” you. What annoyed me was that I got that ending first and it was apparently the “good” ending. I seriously thought it was supposed to be the 2nd prize bittersweet “almost there but you messed up” ending and I had missed something on day 2.

    • JellyfishGreen says:

      Yep. Not game. Story.
      Games imply a win state somewhere. This was just an interactive story.
      I’d only want to replay so I could see all the pages in the story. I was terrible with Choose Your Own Adventure books too, I’d be reading several branches at once or sometimes pages at random. If it was worth the trouble to write, it was worth my trouble to read, I figured.

  39. frozenbyte says:

    I don’t have anything against games that try to be more than just another generic action shooter, but this one just didn’t manage to affect me emotionally, which I guess was it’s purpose. And I still don’t understand why why RPS is giving it so much attention.

    • Muzman says:

      It’s two whole entries in the blog dude. Two
      The Path has more.

  40. DK says:

    If you liked One Chance (or couldn’t because the premise is so incredibly bad) just play All Things Devours – you’ll have a story that makes sense, some social commentary and you’ll learn to think in one more dimension. A much better game and a much better time to have.

  41. Crane says:

    Reading these comments, I get the feeling that some people are arguing at… not quite cross purposes, but close.

    My frustration, and that of many others (from what I’m understanding of some comments), was that I felt impotent and powerless, not because my choices failed to produce the desired outcome, but that I felt impotent and powerless because I wasn’t allowed to make the choices I wished.

    I was left with the impression, “The designer believes that sometimes life is hopeless, so he’s carefully contrived a situation in which that is the case, and ensured you cannot act in any way outside of a narrow set of scenarios that will lead to failure.”

    It didn’t help that it felt very much like there was a heavy emotional anvil hanging over my head with a sign on it saying “You are going to die. Aren’t you going to regret not spending more time with your family?”

    The whole thing felt far too overt – I didn’t feel like I was being forced to think about the consequences of my choices, I felt like I was having my head held close to a page with the designers views written on it while he screamed in my ear.

  42. Neut says:

    Interesting idea, but the game didn’t work for me for several reasons (also *SPOILERS AND SUCH*):

    1. The initial premise was too ridiculous for me to suspend my disbelief. As Metalfish said the whole idea of how the end of the world is coming about just doesn’t feel plausible enough for me to relate to anything going on in the story. Like others have said it might’ve worked better if the game just alluded to something, but not state it so specifically for people to pick holes in it. Anyway because of this initial impression, it was harder for me to take the rest of the game seriously, and when the game requires heavy emotional investment from the player, that’s not so good.

    2. Following on from 1 souring my experience, it felt like the rest of the game was using unsubtle clichés to shock the player into an emotional reaction – The end of the world, suicidal co workers, I suppose my wife’s gone and killed herself, you have a kid and SHE IS GOING TO DIE.

    3. This is the main thing I noticed about the game – The premise/plot/story, the gameplay, and the gimmick, were 3 unrelated entities. Thus the game simply wasn’t as good as a (emotional & pretentiouslol) work of art when compared to Passage, Braid, or even EDSD (and no I will not consider the work on its own RAAR!). What I mean is you’ve got the premise – its coming up to the end of the world and you’ve gotta make some choices about what to do in the time you have left, you’ve got your gameplay – walking left and right and pressing a button to select what you wanna do (ie make a choice), and you’ve got your gimmick – you can only do all that once, but none of them relate to each other.

    There’s very little in how the gameplay works that reflects the idea of making choices with your limited time, there’s no reason why you’ve to move from left to right on the screen and press space at certain points to do things. The gameplay could just as well have been a dialogue tree with scene setting background images and flavour texts. The gameplay and premise/plot doesn’t really do anything to link with the gimmick (other than the vague “You have only one chance” statement), to such an extent that many players were surprised you couldn’t go back and play it again. In EDSD the tedium of moving left to right, pressing a button to do things over and over again ties into the idea of repetitive daily grinds and such (uh, as far as I could tell). In Passage, everything in how the game works reflects the idea or premise or message of the game, from the whole starting on the left side of the screen, slowly shifting towards the right to represent time passing, being young with all your hopes and all that good jazz ahead of you to being old with all your memories behind you, obstacles in the game representing obstacles in life, a score counter that’s ultimately meaningless as you die anyway etc etc. In Braid the whole time manipulation gimmick ties to the story of the game about learning from mistakes, thinking about other possibilities, regret, a nuke or something, all the entire gameplay is constructed around the gimmick. Basically You Only Have One Chance just didn’t feel like a coherent whole and was not as elegant as other art games. That’s not much of a criticism of course as all those other art games are absolutely brilliant, so being “not as good as them” is still pretty damn good.

    tl;dr Bad first impression leaves me picking at faults for the rest of the game, game not as coherent as it could have been

    • Neut says:

      Fuck I could’ve cut away the first paragraph of point 3 instead of just repeating myself. “What I mean by they were unrelated was that they weren’t related to each other”. Fail

  43. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    I liked it. I played through it once, and was pretty happy with my ending, even though I didn’t “win”. It felt right.

    My desire to play it again was not from wanting to win, though – but rather from curiosity. I wanted to see what happened if I made other choices.

  44. unimural says:

    There are some minor spoilers in this one as well if that is of any interest to you.
    POSSIBLE SPOILERS

    I must be really effed up, since, for the most part, I thought the game was fairly understated in its’ expression of the drama. Certainly the themes were overblown, but, partially, because the main character lacks all expression except what you pour into him yourself, all the deaths and the dramatic events felt appropriately numb. For me, that worked fairly well.

    In a way, I do not really understand the dissatisfaction a lot of people apparently feel towards the game (or whatever you want to call it). Least of all do I understand the feeling that the predetermined outcomes somehow make the choices meaningless. How does that differ from most games? I’d really appreciate if someone feeling like this would try and expand their view? Is it the lack of proper win-state? Or the slightly misleading ‘You have one chance’ creating an expectation of a more traditional, winnable game?

    I guess, for me, it was never about me making choices, but rather me directing a story of this bearded dude. And as such, it was a nice little game well worth the ten minutes. And an hour reading the comments:-)

    For my playthrough, I didn’t understand the ‘one chance’ as a literal explanation “you get to play only once’. So, each day I scouted my options, just to see what I could do, but I had, pretty much from the ‘In six days’ bit decided to try work for however slim a chance. Possibly because I’d like to think I’d do that in reality. Only when, on the 6th day the game told me I had used my chance did I stop to think about it, really. But I thought, since I had already done the work all days, I might just as well do the all work no play -run this time, and try out different things the next time. Only afterwards I realized, the chance meant I had only one playthrough, and this was it.

    And given that in my playthrough, quite obviously, all life on Earth was not destroyed, I felt content enough.

  45. GHudston says:

    I thought it was fantastic and I loved the decisions I was forced to make and ending that I got. The only thing that irked me about it was that the “walk right, get in car, drive right, go to work, repeat” gameplay was identical to another game that was posted here recently, even down to the handy “suicide roof” that all office buildings seem to have for just such an occasion.

    I think that this game did a lot more with the concept though, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing, just that my experience was coloured by a feeling of “I’ve played this before…”

  46. undead dolphin hacker says:

    Once Chance is a pretentious piece of shit.

    Every Day the Same Dream did it better, and did it without having to resort to frankly laughable emotional pullstrings.

    That RPS bust a nut over this is another wonderful indicator of how far the quality of this site has fallen.

  47. ed says:

    Pretentiousness, in the context it’s bandied about so much nowadays, essentially means portraying oneself as better or more important than one really is, right? So to claim that someone is pretentious you have to judge their worth as well as their intent.. To judge at all you have to believe your position to be ‘truth’. You have to believe in the validity and importance of your judgements enough to warrant accusing someone of merely pretending to be any good.

    Considering that the accuser’s opinion is no less subjective and no more valuable than anyone else’s (including the artist’s), and that nobody can ever truly know an artist’s intent but the artist him or herself, calling someone pretentious is sounding pretty damn close to the definition of pretentiousness to me. You’re basically saying “my opinion about this artist’s work is more correct than the artist’s own opinion”. Eck.

    I also find terms like ‘overrated’ and ‘underrated’ a bit cringe-worthy as they are based on similar arrogance (“my opinion of this work is more correct than the collective opinions of everyone who has ever passed opinion on it”).

    Oh… I quite liked the game.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      Pretentiousness, in the context it’s bandied about so much nowadays, essentially means portraying oneself as better or more important than one really is, right?

      Almost, but not exactly. Pretentiousness has nothing to do with the actual worth of a work, but merely concerns obnoxious claims of its worth and superiority. So, for example, if George Orwell or any other great writer started one of his classic books with a message to the reader like: “This is work of true art and deserves to become and instant classic. No book published in last 5 years comes even close to its depth and intelligence. I hope, Dear Reader, you are at least bright enough to appreciate it” then the author would come off as pretentious, regardless of his talents and the value of the reminder of his book.

      If you believe in your work’s value, it’s all great, but don’t trumpet “It’s a masterpiece and work of genius” all over it. Especially if you’re serious.

      I don’t think One Chance is pretentious at all, and from the interview its creator doesn’t seem to be either.

  48. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    Hello.

    I didn’t play this game until now!

    Just wanted you to know.