One Year Later, Those Two Perma-Permadeath Games Aren't Doing So Great

Last year, I covered two different games with an awesome (and also terrifying) central conceit: if you die, you can never play again. Upsilon Circuit and One Life both touted forms of perma-permadeath. People loved the idea. My two posts were viewed nearly 1.5 million times. Unfortunately, those games have hit some nasty bumps on the road to completion.

It's been relatively quiet on the perma-permadeath front for the last year, and not because everybody died. The small team behind Upsilon Circuit, at least, tried to make waves with an Indiegogo crowdfunding drive earlier this year, but it didn't pan out.

"We ended up cancelling the Indiegogo campaign a few weeks into it, which feels very wishy-washy to us, but after thinking about it for a long time it was the right decision for us as people, and hopefully the game as well!" Robot Loves Kitty's Alix Stolzer explained to me in an email.

"In the end we decided that we really didn't want to charge people to get access to what would be a free game."

They have since switched to a Patreon, which is currently pulling in $US245 ($323) a month.

When it was announced, Upsilon Circuit's ambition was undeniable. The game was billed as a mash-up of multiplayer fantasy RPGs, game shows, and Twitch Plays Pokemon. Two teams of players would compete while doing fantasy RPG stuff (dungeon diving, fighting monsters, avoiding traps) while a live audience earned experience points to level up contestants' skill trees.

"Simply put, the Audience is part dungeon master, part strategist, and part judge & jury," said Robot Loves Kitty at the time.

And of course, the looming specter of perma-permadeath would be hanging over contestants' heads. If they died, that would be it. They'd be dead in real life. You know, to the game.

That's a lot for a small team to pack into a single game. Robot Loves Kitty recognise that, and now they have decided to revamp it.

"We hit a sudden shifting point as well, where we saw that the scope of the game had gotten a bit out of hand, and our team was too big to keep going without getting a big investor in, which isn't something we currently want," said Stolzer.

"Calvin and I are in the process of moving to a place that is much cheaper (not quite our treehouse in the woods level though) and making a few smaller games while we revise Upsilon Circuit into a game that we can actually finish."

So Upsilon Circuit isn't on the backburner, but it's undergoing serious renovations. Perma-permadeath, however, will still be part of the package. "Upsilon Circuit will likely change a good deal, but the core concepts like perma-perma death will definitely be there," said Stolzer. "We love the concepts in UC, and it's never really been about money, so we are still definitely planning on finishing it even if it takes a while."

As for One Life, a survival shooter where your Steam account would be locked out of the game after one death, things are looking grimmer. The developers haven't updated the game's Steam, Facebook or Twitter accounts since it got greenlit for Steam almost one year ago, on October 30, 2015. This despite fans asking what's going on for months.

Over the past three days, I've attempted to reach out to One Life's developers multiple times. They have yet to respond. Last year during the game's Greenlight campaign, they were extremely quick to answer my questions, so they're either super heads-down in development, or something's up.

Here's hoping both games eventually see the light of day. Game development is unpredictable, though. Someone might tell you they have figured out how to put lightning in a bottle, but it's quite something else to actually do it.


    I kind of feel like this is one of those ideas that sounds awesome, but I wouldn't pay more than an nominal amount for. My average time to death in MP games is like 20 seconds - I'm not going to pay for that.

    Even if they did get those games off the ground... it would be a constant nightmare of customer management. If every death is so important... then every death will be ticketed with complaints of bugs and cheaters or it just being unfair I want to play again...

    Just look at ironman challenges in World of Warcraft (level as high as you can without dying) and how many of them ended in bugs or unfair deaths

    Now someone check on DayZ.

    Hahahahahah oh god I'm sad now.

    Sounds interesting. Although by the sound of it, it doesn't seem to be financially sustainable. They have probably just come up with the idea without considering if this is commercially viable.

      It's not quite the same, but they might have more luck selling continues/new lives as in-app purchases, similar to old arcade games.

    Still think it's a horrible idea.

    The game would have to be incredibly well crafted and well balanced to ensure people can jump in and learn how to play and grasp the mechanics without a serious risk of death. The pace of the game would then need to be tweaked perfectly to ensure the right difficulty. Too easy and no-one ever dies, too hard and everyone dies in 10 minutes.

    You want people to be able to play the game as long as they like whilst still feeling like any mis-step will lead them into that looming permadeath. That is incredibly hard to execute in practice.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now