Posted in Gaming

The Sad, Sad Story of Godus

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I know there’s been enough sad stories going around, but this is one that I’ve been sitting on for a while, watching from the sidelines. It’s just  now finally blowing up in the face of those who should take responsibility for their mess, and I feel that the community’s ire is quite justified. The game I’m talking about is Godus, slated to be the “reinvention” of the god game genre, built on the name of the legendary Peter Molyneux.

This game was originally a Kickstarter project that was funded over 2 years ago and raised £526,563 total. It promised a lot of lofty, but very cool ideas including:

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I was not one of the backers for this project, so I’m not writing this out of anger. In fact, while I own the game (haven’t played it yet), I spent about $1 of my own money to purchase it – I got it on a mega sale at GMG, where I had some credit built up.

I first saw Godus a few years back when it went on Steam sale. I was drawn to the title because I really liked the art style, and I enjoy god games. Then, I found out who was developing it, and my mind jumped back to hours of enjoying Populous on the SNES, and all the time I tried to put into Black & White.

I spent some time nosing around the Steam page, I saw quite a few negative reviews for it. So, I prodded deeper into the forums on Steam, and got to the heart of the community discontent.

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Sculpting in Godus looks very pretty! But if you don’t have the god power to do it, what’s the point?

Apparently, Godus development started out on the right track. There was some battle, signs of the promised multiplayer, and it was shaping up to be some sort of early access god game for the PC. Then, suddenly, in the middle of developing the PC version, someone on the team got the idea that the game needed to become some kind of mobile game hybrid.

This included real-life timers that allowed you to only play the game so much in one sitting, the click-click-click-click Farmville syndrome to earn your god power back, sticker collections that you had to find to unlock new abilities, and shoehorning the beginning of an in-game Gem store… It was the Gem store that really blew up in their face, if I remember correctly, and the team quickly back-pedaled to remove it from the PC version.

By then, however, it was apparent that Godus mobile was becoming first and foremost. There was no sign of the promised hub world for multiplayer. The world that was touted to be as large as Jupiter in Peter’s interview was no where to be seen. The team tried to redesign the resource gathering system over and over in attempt to please the PC players… but the heart of it didn’t budge from that click-fest, wait-fest that you’d expect from a tablet game and not from something on the PC.

And in all this time, backers on Kickstarter haven’t seen a whiff of the rewards they were promised, not to mention a game that matched what was described as the project’s forefront. And the poor guy who won the Curiosity Cube contest, to become the God of Gods in Godus, has been left in limbo for over two years now. Really. Read that article. It’s something else.

Instead, they released the free mobile versions of Godus, which Peter has said in his newest semi-apology video is making the team a whole lot of money through micro transactions. This money should be going towards improving the now-mobile port PC version of Godus into a real PC game, right? Nope. Back in December, Peter admitted that he was shifting the team away from working on the incomplete Godus game for a new venture, called The Trail. Oh man… did the Godus forums on Steam blow up then.

That’s not the only thing to blow up. Do a Google search for Godus in the news and you’ll see that the media has finally picked up this story and is making it well known what kind of bait and switch has been played out here. I also saw Peter Molyneux trending on Twitter yesterday… and not in a good way.

They tried to apologize, but really, I think it’s making things worse.

So why am I writing this article? Because I’ve watched the evolution of this drama for quite a while, and I’m really sad to see how far Godus has fallen. I think there  are were plenty of passionate and good folks working on this game’s development, and I don’t envy the newly appointed designer, Konrad Naszynski, who is trying to see the original vision through.

Where will this end up? Who knows. But the gaming community is not going to let Peter get away unscathed, it seems. For that, I say, “Good on you!”

Update: This was written before THAT follow up interview at Paper, Rock, Shotgun. After reading that, some of my opinions of Peter have changed. I still don’t agree with what’s happening with the handling of Godus. But at this point, I’m not even sure if the poor guy knows what he’s communicating to the press half the time. I feel a bit sorry for him. 😦