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Creating Goncharov

by Albie profile


Web Site

(based on 3 ratings)
1 review

About the Story

Creating Goncharov is a surreal game where you play as a filmmaker creating a pitch for a Goncharov (1973) remake with the help of Al, an indecisive peer.

Everyone knows Goncharov. Martin Scorsese's 1973 film is a cult classic, a true masterpiece of cinema. To celebrate its upcoming 50th anniversary, you, an office drone working at a major media corporation, have to create a pitch for a 2023 remake. It's an amazing opportunity that could launch your career. There's just one problem.

You haven't seen Goncharov.

Unable to turn down your corporate overlords, you and an indecisive colleague throw together a story based solely on information you can quickly find or invent.

How will you reimagine the greatest mafia movie ever made and what will you do to turn your ideas into reality?

CW: UNREALITY and some brief descriptions of smoking, violence, and death

This game was created for the Goncharov Game Jam. The music featured is "Main Theme from Goncharov", used with permission from the composer Alix (@caramiaadio). The original Goncharov poster created by @beelzeebub.

Explanation: Goncharov is a fake movie which became a popular topic on Tumblr in mid November of 2022.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: December 9, 2022
Current Version: 1.0.0
License: Freeware
Development System: Twine
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
IFID: Unknown
TUID: ptvtcchbwwq8uiwi


Entrant - Goncharov Game Jam


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Number of Reviews: 1
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Don't wait for the opportunity. Create it., December 21, 2022
by Kinetic Mouse Car
Related reviews: Twine

This is another submission in the Goncharov Game Jam. For quick context, Goncharov is a nonexistent mafia themed film by Martin Scorsese that started from a meme and has transformed into its own unique following. After all, there’s a game jam about it!

In Creating Goncharov, you have been given an unexpected but exciting task from your boss who explains that a group of investors want to make a 2023 remake of the film. Your assignment is to create a pitch for these investors. Oh, and you only have a few hours.

Fun fact: The game’s cover art is a section from the “official” movie poster made by an artist after the meme took off. If you didn’t know any better, one would glance at it and then look for a place to watch the film, it is so convincing.

Before you get a chance to celebrate, your boss throws a curveball about the assignment. The big catch is that you must work with Al, an ambiguous sort-of maybe slacker co-worker whom you barely know. A blandish mystery. You have mixed feelings about this, but it is up to you to decide on your attitude towards these terms. This is done by the tone (friendly, polite, not-so-nice) you use in your emails to Al.

Now, in this scenario Goncharov is an existing film. There is some ambiguity about its existence. It fits in the category of films that everyone thinks they know about but have not personally seen it. As the player, you can read between the lines as the PC strives to create a remake worthy of the “real” film itself. When it comes to brainstorming, the twist is that neither the PC nor Al have seen the film. They never fully admit that, of course. Or at least, not initially.

You will fail. That is not a spoiler. Failure is a mandatory fact of the gameplay. When you submit your pitch, the project is and will be canceled. But that is not the end of the game. Far, far from it. Creating Goncharov is larger than it seems. You can call it quits and end right there, or you can be stubborn and say, “no, we’re going to create this. I won’t take no for an answer.” Al is on your side and is willing to take the gamble with you. See, he’s not so bad after all!

This is not a time travel game (I think. 99.8% certain, at least). But there are some temporal shenanigans at work: The main gameplay mechanic is that it resets on a loop. After a failure, you can make plans with Al to remaking the pitch. The game then “restarts” from the beginning. Much of this is familiar. You show up to work at the same time, read the same email from your boss that explains the pitch as if it never happened (did it?), experience the same surprise about the pitch, and meet up with Al. However, changes are present.

If you could create your pitch again, would you? Not necessarily starting from scratch, but starting over.

Two notable changes occur for each loop. One is that your environment evolves. This is part is relatively minor but still noteworthy. (Spoiler - click to show) First time around, your office is a boring cubicle. After that, the game allows you to customize it. Each loop reshapes the office setting, giving it a dynamic dimension. Plus, any specifications you made for the PC’s character qualities also remain the same. The second notable change takes center stage and is where the temporal shenanigans come into play. While the protagonist is always surprised about receiving the assignment, their (and Al’s) memory about the film expands.

For every loop, Al shares a document with an outline of information about the film. This document breaks the remake down into categories. In the first iteration it only includes PLOT and CAST, but more categories are added for each restart loop.



Among these questions of “let’s see, how did that go again?” we realize that this remake means taking some creative license. Each expansion allows you to edit more of the remake’s components and is meant to increase your chances that inventors will buy the pitch. My only complaint was how the (Spoiler - click to show) THEMES category on the second loop does not allow you to make the same types of edits as the other categories. Fortunately, there is plenty of editable content elsewhere to make up for it.

The player themselves really starts to feel like they are creating a pitch as they edit the remake’s narrative line by line. In doing so, they get acquainted with some of the main characters and plot elements found in Goncharov as it exists today. Yes, this real-life nonexistent film has an established plot. But in this game, how far you remake that plot is your choice.

There is a strong sense of cubicle burnout where the protagonist is bored of the same floor, walls, and ceiling in the cubicle maze that makes up most of the workday. They are happy to have the job but feel stifled. That's what makes the assignment so intriguing. Consider the meaning of, “You reach the end of the day. You log off.” Does it mark the end of a boring workday or an energizing one?

You sit down at your desk with a heavy sigh, surveying your bare surroundings with a gaze that's 10% disappointment and 90% ambivalence.

It's time to begin your day. You turn on the computer.

There is an appeal of doing something that makes you genuinely eager to show up for work and spending your time on something that sustains you. An unrealistic appeal, though not an impossible one either. This is not just a game about a film. It is partly a story about someone who, whether they actively realize it or not, is seeking an escape from daily work drudgery, but with something more than a mere distraction. The protagonist undergoes a major transformation from (Spoiler - click to show) cubicle worker to a producer of an award-winning film. In real life this would have considerable obstacles, but Creating Goncharov entertains that “what if?” fantasy and makes it real in the game.

Al. What’s he hiding? Nothing, actually. I was unsure if there was going to be some big secret about Al. Something about the writing and the protagonist’s attitude gives a sense that there is more to this NPC (not that there is any practical reason to think so). What I can tell you is that completing the project and forging a friendly, professional relationship with Al is really rewarding. I was not expecting to find a heartwarming outcome when I sat down to play this, but that is exactly what I found.

Also: I made an awkward mistake when I first saw this game's description: "Creating Goncharov is a surreal game where you play as a filmmaker creating a pitch for a Goncharov (1973) remake with the help of Al, an indecisive peer."

I thought "with the help of Al" was AI, as in artificial intelligence. Your peer is an AI? Cool! Not quite. There is a slight difference between a lower-case “l” and an uppercase “I”, but sometimes your (my) eyes overlook things while reading quickly. Details are important. So no, no AIs. Just your co-worker Al …right?

If you do want to play a Goncharov-themed game with an AI, play GONCHAROV 2073.

This game makes use of fun but basic Twine visual elements. Colours, fonts, boxes, and borders create an artsy and fun theme. Its general appearance is white text against a black screen but gets creative for emails. In these cases, text is shown in a black box set against a dark teal background. Borders are white with an extra orange border on the sides and bottom that add a pop of colour. Additional embellishments can be found throughout.

For some reason, you can change the visual style of the entire game in the settings section. There are two options: GONCHAROV and GOMORRAH, the former being the default as I discussed here. Feel free to check out both. I guess it's nice that the author gives us options (I love little gimmicks like this).

Final thoughts
Creating Goncharov is a strong entry in the Goncharov Game Jam and a quality game in general because of its well-roundedness in story, concept, and interactivity. It also perfectly captures the idea of a film being the product of collective imagination combined with a simple eagerness to contribute. I see this on the internet about the meme, and I see it perfectly in this game. If anyone out there is chomping at the bit for Goncharov to be made real, playing Creating Goncharov is the closest you will get (so far).

It is possible to (Spoiler - click to show) play as Martin Scorsese. I highly, highly, highly encourage you to try this AFTER you play this through on your own. Then try exploiting loopholes.

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The following polls include votes for Creating Goncharov:

Outstanding Underappreciated Game of 2022 - Player's Choice by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2022 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the most underappreciated game of 2022. Voting is open to all IFDB members....

This is version 3 of this page, edited by albie on 15 December 2022 at 6:11pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item