Upsilon Circuit’s creators lived in a tree fort to help save money

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PAX East is almost here, and from what I’ve seen, there’s going to be more interesting and exciting games at the show than ever before. A lot of these games are exciting because they are fun to play. Upsilon Circuit can’t get by that easy, as by design, most people on the planet will never get to play it. Even worse, those who do play it will not likely be able to play for long.

It’s a free-to-play game with “true permadeath,” meaning that once you die in-game, you’ll never be able to play again. The penalties for failure are more severe than in just about any other game ever made. If you play football once and lose, you aren’t banned from football forever. The fact that Upsilon Circuit has higher stakes than one of the most dangerous sports in the world definitely says something.

I don’t blame you if you don’t think it sounds like this game will make a lot of money. It defies almost every convention of modern game design, to the point where Upsilon Circuit co-creator Calvin Goble isn’t even sure it’s a “game” any more. That’s not stopping him and his partner Alix Stolzer from being excited about sharing it with the world though.

In fact, these two were so in love with game development that Alix quit her job making chocolate a few years back and moved with Calvin to the wilds of Vermont, where as these pictures and video show, they lived in a “tree fort” for about two years. Despite looking pretty worried about it, they got by on a few solar panels, a wood stove, and a roof made out of plastic for all that time. After getting over the initial fear of death and all that, it was apparently a lot of fun for them to live in a tree. It was there that they developed a lot of their biggest hit to date, Legend of Dungeon.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of how these two are going about life, videogame design, and just about everything else in a way that defies expectation. It stands to reason that the same team who risked it all by living in a treehouse for over a year would take a chance on creating a free-to-play game where death is truly the end, and one of the only things for sale to consumers are in-game “troll” attacks that allow bystanders to try to ruin the lives of those who are playing.

If you’re at PAX East this weekend, be sure to stop by and chat with Alix and Calvin. They’ll be showing off a special VR-enabled version of Legend of Dungeon there alongside Upsilon Circuit. Thanks again to Calvin and Alix for being on the show, and make sure to tune in this Sunday at 4pm when we welcome David Fox, creator of Zak McKracken and contributing writer to Thimbleweed Park to the program.


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Author
Jonathan Holmes
Destructoid Contributor - Jonathan Holmes has been a media star since the Road Rules days, and spends his time covering oddities and indies for Destructoid, with over a decade of industry experience "Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Just like in a Gameboy game... a nice tight little world... and all its inhabitants... made out of little building blocks... Why can't these little pixels be the building blocks for love..? For loss... for understanding"- James Kochalka, Reinventing Everything part 1 "I wonder if James Kolchalka has played Mother 3 yet?" Jonathan Holmes