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Creating Goncharov

by Albie profile


Web Site

(based on 5 ratings)
2 reviews

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


Entrant - Goncharov Game Jam


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5 of 5 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A deep dive into Goncharov lore., June 26, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: goncharov

Following the Goncharov (1973) meme storm taking over Tumblr during November 2022, Creating Goncharov takes an alternative reality approach where this fake movie existed - though, you do not remember ever seeing it. Set to create a pitch for a remake, the game takes a deep dive into the lore and the many theories regarding this shitpost. More than that, Creating Goncharov is about finding passion in your work and creating relationships.

[Spoiling the story below]

(Spoiler - click to show)At the beginning, all is dull and irritating. The path to your place of work is slippery from the snow, your desk is in a cubicle nowhere close to natural light, and you expect today to be as boring as every other day you've had so far. 'Tis the life of an office drone. Except...

...you find an interesting proposition from your boss in your inbox - one you cannot refuse* - you are tasked to create a pitch for a remake of Goncharov and 1973 totally real and acclaimed movie, coined as the 'best mafia movie ever created'. Which is great, since you've been trying to get that kind of opportunity. But... you cannot for the life of you remember ever watching that movie.
* hahaha like in mafia movies

You are also forced to work with Al*, a co-worker you look down on - even though they are your superior - because you don't believe they deserve their job. Through exchanges with Al, it is not really clear whether they have seen that movie either, or whether they are competent at all (would they take your idea as pass it as theirs?). Still, they have readied some bare bone documentation to help you start.
*the author self-insert - do they believe the criticism/jabs they wrote about Al B? I hope not...

There is little time and not much to go on, but you still push through and ready a pitch for your boss by the meeting time. And...

...you fail. But, this was expected, considering your lack of knowledge about the original piece and of concrete information about the plot, themes, or scenes even. As if, you were meant to fail... who gives a remake of a well-loved movie to a newbie...

At this point, you can end... or, if you believe in this remake and your ideas, push through and proclaim you will make the movie by yourself if that's what it requires!

This is where strange things start to happen...

You go to work the next day, and things feel more... vibrant? The air is not as stale, the office is brighter, you even notice other people during your commute. More than that... your computer boots to the same day as before, showing the same unread email as when the game first started.

In some weird Grounghog Day scenario, you are given a second chance at putting your pitch together, retaining (partly) not only your previous found knowledge about the movie but also the (now-edited) documents Al had sent you the day/loop before. Speaking of Al, they are in this loop more forth coming with their view on the project, their knowledge of the movie, and their friendliness toward you.

While the first loop focused on the general overview, discussing the themes, or (re-)naming the characters, this loop gets into the nit and gritty of the plot. You and Al spend hours ironing out some details about the sequence of events and highlighting potential strong points. There is a lot there you can edit, and show off your creative liberties (with cycle links).

But again, this is not enough to sway the investors. You have not gone deep enough. You're still missing something important: you have not pitched the scenes!

And this is where the final loop comes in.

Yet again, the descriptions about your environment changes once more, and you notice how beautiful it is. It is also then that you notice the building's receptionist (and even remember her name and exchange some words!). The people in your mail box also change from jokey puns to actual names - they are not just nameless cogs but actual full human beings.

The exchanges between Al and you are also more developed and much more friendly. You even seem more passionate about the project than you ever were before! Even as you wait for your boss's email at the end of the day, you have the option to do something outside of work, even grow your relationship with Al.

Obviously, this time around, the pitch is a success (on my run at least, it is possible to fail a third time apparently). The movie is made, and wins tons of awards, setting you for a fulfilling career path.

With over 50 thousand words, the game covers most if not all of the "lore" created during this meme craze. In the many edits you can make, it manages to essentially give an overview of what had been discussed on Tumblr about this fake movie*. Depending on your choices, you may see quite a lot of change in variation down the line (inserting 'Marting Scorceses' as your name for example).
*with the plot document in the second loop especially, it felt a bit like those Archive documents the community created to keep track of all the lore.

The attention to details is both a major part of the gameplay, enabling you to "win" the game, and of the prose, through the subtle change in the environment/your behaviour outside of work. This is also a major point of the "movie", as recurrent details embodying time, religion, and change, were put in the forefront of the Goncharov discourse.

The change in tone in the interactions between Al and the player throughout the game feel believable, as you become acquainted with them and find a shared passion in the "movie". The exchanges of emails in the third loop is particularly lovely, and the scenes with them while waiting for that final email is quite sweet. Albie has a great command of their writing style in that area.

There were a few icks that made me tick a bit:
~ While the inclusion of a Martin Scorcese timeline (if you enter your name as MS) garners some fun responses and variation, it felt a bit out of place when other characters behave in the same way they would if the player has chosen any other name. It was funny that Mr. Scorcese failed the pitch, but the joke becomes a bit stale past the first loop.
[In the same vein, no one questioned me when I chose the same name as existing characters/employees]
~ Some formatting of the text made it sometimes hard to follow along. The fake shared GoogleDoc you edit in the second loop reloads multiple times but doesn't indicate clearly where you last left off (maybe a small translucent horizontal bar?). The email exchanges between Al B and the MC in the third loop could have distinguished better the bits between a description of a scene/dialogues and the emailers just discussing it (indentation, italics, change of font...). I didn't particularly liked the browser errors (a screen popup would have been a bit nicer and easier to close) or the lack of contrast when a popup was on screen (a slightly shaded overlay would have helped separate the elements).
~ The lack of discussion of the day restarting felt a bit like a missed opportunity. It might not have needed much, just the player getting a bit of anxiety or questioning their sanity from reliving the same day. Even if it can be brushed off because the player can have a do-over on their pitch, the fact that the player doesn't even flinch at the emails they receive is strange*. It could be interesting to have the player fail forever and only manage to break the loop if they give up on 'creating Goncharov (2023)' or it turns out their "win" was just a dream...
*there is just the words "Déjà vu" at the end of the second loop...
~ With the edits of the second loop being so extensive (building on the smaller edits of the first one), the gameplay of the final loop felt lacking. You essentially read through threads of emails between yourself and Al, discussing the scenes, but you have no choice in how they are described (they do have some variation depending on previous edits). I think it would have been nice (maybe for a future update?) if Al or the MC disagreed on some points (e.g: plot points contradict each other) and the MC had to make some choices. There is a bit of an unbalance in player input in the current version.
~ While time is of the essence, having to scramble to create a pitch in a few hours, the game doesn't "punish" you for taking all the time in the world (e.g. discussing every scene, even though Al presses you to wrap up).

Considering this game was made in less than 3 weeks (during finals!), includes this complexity in story, the high word count, a custom UI, and interactive elements further than simple choice lists, Creating Goncharov is very impressive. It is clear the author has put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this project.

From essentially using every fan theory out there about the fake-movie, to creating full scenes based on fan-edit posts on Tumblr, using the motifs (the clock, the apple, etc...) reblogged by hundreds of users, or including music created for the meme, Ablie has done their research and dove deep into the lore of the meme. They seemed to have spared no (effort) expense in creating... Creating Goncharov.


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Recommended Lists

Creating Goncharov appears in the following Recommended Lists:

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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....

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