A multiplayer survival game of parenting and civilization building. Get born to another player as your mother. Live an entire life in one hour. Have babies of your own in the form of other players. Leave a legacy for the next generation as you help to rebuild civilization from scratch.
Recent Reviews:
Mostly Positive (110) - 71% of the 110 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
All Reviews:
Very Positive (734) - 80% of the 734 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date:
Nov 8, 2018

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Recent updates View all (17)

February 10

Weekly Update #48

Client Lag Fix:

What made this bug so hard to find and fix was the fact that it affected so few people, relatively speaking. However, for the affected people, it affected them all the time, and pretty much ruined the game for them.

The symptom: in busy areas, apparent network lag would grow and grow, resulting in up to twenty seconds of delay between trying to do something (like pick a berry) and have the action resolve (like have the berry in your hand). On its face, this sounds like classic network lag. The first thought is that the server isn't keeping up with demand. However, other people playing in the same area were not experiencing lag. In fact, the affected player would often ask about lag, in-game, and be told by others that there was no lag for them. Also, if the server was being bogged down, the lag would be experienced everywhere in the game world, not just in busy areas, because all areas are processed in the same loop.

Maybe they were in a remote part of the real world. Maybe they were on spotty WiFi. The problem would often clear itself up instantly if they walked out of the busy areas. And certainly, the server is sending them fewer messages out there, because it filters the messages based on what is relevant to your location. In a busy city, you need to receive a lot of information, because so many people are walking around. In the wilderness, there's much less change happening. So this symptom was generally consistent with network lag.

A while back, I built a /PING and /FPS command into the game, so that people could run tests if they were experiencing lag. Sure enough, during these lag situations, ping times would balloon. Normal ping times in the US are below 100ms, and not more than 400ms anywhere in the world. But during lag, the ping would grow to five, ten, or even twenty seconds. That's really bad, and probably transcends any normal network lag.

And for these people, things have only gotten worse when we moved everyone to bigserver2. Big cities are much more common, so many of the affected people were experiencing unplayable lag almost every life. Of course, for everyone else---those who never experienced lag---bigserver2 was great.

But finally, almost miraculously, I experienced this issue myself for the first time this week. A unicorn! I was playing in a busy city, on my slow dev laptop with a weak GPU, and sure enough lag. Bad lag. Really bad lag. My in-game ping time grew to more than 14 seconds. The game was totally unplayable.

During this time, I also noticed that my FPS dropped from around 60 down to 40 or so. Frame rate and network lag aren't necessarily related, but my lag was very hard to reproduce---it would come and go seemingly at random, even in the big city, depending on where I walked---and it seemed to be correlated with this drop in FPS.

I set up a chaotic Eve-only city on bigserver2 on Friday to conduct a real stress test. 120 players all spawning in the same spot (0,0) is no joke, and I could very consistently trigger lag on my slow dev laptop.

I also found that my gaming rig would not see lag in the same area, but it is running at a solid 85 FPS (odd, I know, but it's a CRT). So, same network, different CPU and GPU, higher FPS, no lag. So yeah, with proper hardware, the client can easily handle 120 players all in the same area. It was chaos, but buttery smooth chaos.

Someone pointed out that outside-game-pings (using the command line) aren't necessarily slow during an in-game lag, and I was able to confirm this. Someone else suggested that I sniff the raw network packets and figure out exactly how quickly the server was responding to my PING with a PONG---just to rule out server-side lag. Sure enough, while my client took 14 seconds to register the PONG, the PONG arrived on the network within the normal 70 ms, even on the slow dev laptop. There was some kind of networking issue inside the client.

I spent quite a bit of time testing my underlying networking code and looking for reasons that network messages might get backed up, but found no issue in isolated network tests. I also considered some kind of kernel networking issue (my laptop is running Linux, while my gaming rig tests were on Windows7). No dice.

Meanwhile, someone else had been able to pinpoint the exact problem in the client, and they posted their fix in an old, lingering Github issue. Finally, someone drew my attention to this fix, which was rather hidden on the Github side.

JRuldolf, we all owe you one!

Turns out that this problem has been with us since an update back in October, before the Steam release, when message frames were added. A frame groups messages together that occur during the same server processing step, forcing the client to wait to react to any of these messages until all the messages in the frame arrive. This prevents, for example, a message about a map change from being processed before the matching player update is received (if a player dumps a bowl of water into a bucket, the bucket on the map changes, and so does the bowl in their hand, and there are two separate messages, but they only make sense if they occur client-side at the same time).

This frame system was great, and fixed a heap of potential inconsistencies in client behavior.

However, there was also a bug in the way that frames were processed. Each client step (each rendering frame), the client would read the next message and check if it was an end-of-frame message. If not, it would put the message in the holding queue and go on to the next rendering step.

You can see how this can cause trouble when message frames contain more and more messages (which they do in busy areas): a frame with five messages takes at least five client frames to fully receive, even if all five messages have arrived, because we only check one message per frame. Once the 6th message is checked, the end of frame message, we call the frame ready, and process all five messages together.

What we need to do, instead, is loop as long as any messages are available, checking for the end-of-frame message, but if it's not there, continuing on to the next message, until no more received messages are available. Thus, we process all received messages every client frame, regardless of how long the message frame is. This even allows us to process multiple server message frames on a single client rendering frame, if several server frames are waiting client-side.

If we don't do this, during times with high message rates and large, multi-message frames, we can see how a message backlog would build up. Assuming, of course, that more than 60 messages were arriving per second.

And if the FPS drops on top of that, you can see how it would get even worse, because we are running even fewer processing steps per second. So players with weaker GPUs were pretty much experiencing the perfect storm in busy areas. Lots more messages, and a slower client-side rendering loop that was effectively only processing one message per rendering frame.

The fix was literally two lines, putting a loop in there where it should be.

And suddenly, the client could handle the very busiest areas with absolutely no network lag. Even if I artificially reduced the frame rate to 5 FPS, the game was completely playable in busy areas (yes, it was choppy, but each action was executed instantly, with no lag). Before the fix, such a low frame rate would spell disaster in a busy area.

Now, how did such a devastating yet simple bug go unnoticed for so long? Well, as long as the frame rate is high enough, and the incoming message rate is low enough, it generally doesn't matter. We're processing at least one message every frame, and 60 messages a second is a lot, so we usually keep up, even if we don't process all available messages as soon as we have them. I didn't write the code this way on purpose---the original code, before message frames were added, intentionally processed all available messages every rendering frame. But the implementation of message frames quietly subverted this intention.

The move to bigserver2 made this very rare bug less rare, because the cities got bigger, and the message rate higher, causing slightly more people to experience the issue. Including, finally and thankfully, me.

Bug fixes take a long time, but they are worth it. More bug fixes next week. The plan is to get clothing and heating working in a more sensible way.
7 comments Read more

February 1

Weekly Update #47

The Miracle of Flight:

The early days of flight were fraught with uncertainty and peril. Instruments? Who needs instruments? We're talking VFR, folks. Pick a direction, and hope you can find a safe spot to land.

My father is a pilot of small planes. When I was growing up, he used to take me to the Wadsworth Municipal Airport on Saturdays to pal around with his pilot buddies at their hangars. Sometimes we'd take short trips, just for fun, to some other municipal airport nearby. The diner at Carrol County Airport served great pies. But forget about the pies---I got to fly! As a little kid, he'd stick me in the copilot seat and let me take the yoke from time to time.

There were a number of pilot sayings from that era that stuck with me. My father had a few of these on placards in his hangar.

"There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots."

"The air, like the sea, is very unforgiving of an error."

And one of the nearby airports had "Steve's Weather Rock," a 20-pound hunk of granite on a chain, hanging outside of its administration building, with a sign that read:

"If it's wet, it's raining."
"If it's white, it's snowing."
"If it's swinging, it's windy."
"If it's hanging straight out, it's too windy to fly."

Keep that in mind as you take to the sky.
11 comments Read more


“This game broke my heart and restored my faith in humanity.”
Vice Motherboard

“The stories you create are intimate, complex and multidimensional... a moving microcosm of the human condition.”

About This Game

A multiplayer survival game of parenting and civilization building. Get born to another player as your mother. Live an entire life in one hour. Have babies of your own in the form of other players. Leave a legacy for the next generation as you help to rebuild civilization from scratch.

Hey folks, I'm Jason Rohrer, and I've been working on One Hour One Life for more than three years. I've been doing everything myself---I drew all the graphics on paper with pens and markers, I coded the entire engine from scratch, I composed and performed all of the music, and I even made all of the sound effects. It's a very personal game, and it's really unlike anything else that's out there. It's also a huge game---over 1300 fully interactive, craftable objects already. And it's only getting bigger, with weekly updates adding new things all the time. The game was initially released on my own website in February of 2018, and over the intervening months, I released 29 updates off-Steam. I've promised to keep releasing weekly update for at least the next two years, with the end goal of making the largest, most comprehensive crafting game in history.

Okay, so what about the game itself?

First of all, you only live for an hour, where each minute marks a passing year. You join the game server as a newborn baby, and some other randomly-chosen player is your mother. You depend on her for your survival. And why will she be willing to waste her valuable time and resources to keep you alive? Because she's going to die in an hour just like everyone else, and if she wants what she accomplishes in her lifetime to have any meaning, then the next generation (aka, you) is her only hope. And if you survive into adulthood, you may get the chance to have babies of your own---other players, just joining the server---and those babies will be the next generation that gives meaning to your own life accomplishments.

Across this ever-growing family tree of generations, players are collectively conducting an enormous project: they are rebuilding civilization from scratch. The online game world starts out as a near-infinite expanse of wilderness (four billion meters wide from east to west, and four billion meters wide from north to south, with a total surface area of over 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 square meters, or 36,000 times bigger than Earth). The very first player to join the server is Eve, and she starts out in the wilderness as the root of the family tree. Eve and her immediate offspring lay the foundation for the future civilization, perhaps making a few primitive tools, cooking basic foods, and starting a small farm as they scrape out a meager existence before dying. Future generations will build on this primitive foundation, eventually mastering more and more advanced technology, including domesticated animals, metal working, permanent buildings, and transportation networks.

But as real-life history has shown, civilization is fragile. A generation that is born into the lap of luxury---on the backs of their ancestors' hard-won accomplishments---can just as easily squander their inheritance as build upon it. Key resources run out over time, so careful management, planning, and organization are necessary to prevent an inevitable collapse. Thus, the game graduates from the individual challenge of primitive survival in the early stages to a group organizational and leadership challenge in the later stages. How do rules and procedures for group survival propagate across multiple generations? What did our great grandparents have in mind for this village?

The main mode in the game involves being born as a helpless baby to another player as your mother, but you can also play with your friends as twins, triplets, or quadruplets. One baby is hard enough to take care of---any mother that can successfully take care of quadruplets deserves the eternal gratitude of you and your friends.

All of this is happening on my own centrally-managed, persistent servers, and your purchase includes a lifetime account on these official servers. After you buy the game, you can instantly connect to this world with no configuration or server set-up. It all just works. You also get access to the full source code, including the server code. Technically-minded folks can run their own private servers, or even use the powerful content editor to make their own mods.

I hope you'll join us as this sprawling civilization-building experiment continues to unfold. Many thousands of players have already collectively lived over 400,000 hours in this endlessly-changing world so far. Before the Steam release, the average playtime for each player was 17 hours, with dozens of players logging over 500 hours each, and 94% positive off-Steam player reviews. This is a deep and rich game already, and there are still hundreds of content updates to come.

No two lives are ever the same, and a new story always awaits on the other side of the [GET REBORN] button.

Jason Rohrer
October 2018
Davis, California

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP or newer
    • Processor: 1.7+ GHz or better
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce G210M or better; 256 MB or higher
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 250 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Any

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