Peter Molyneux's Godus Is Having Serious Problems

Peter Molyneux's Godus Is Having Serious Problems

Legendary game designer Peter Molyneux, creator of the god game genre, has a history of over-promising and under-delivering. So when he took his latest game, Godus, to Kickstarter, people were a little wary. Turns out, they were right to feel that way.

After a £526,563 Kickstarter that conjured up divine dreams of a Molyneux return to form and more than a year in Early Access, Godus isn't exactly taking shape. Rock Paper Shotgun recently called attention to the issue, noting that promised additions like a Linux version and an art book are nowhere to be found, and hyped-to-the-heavens features like ambitious multiplayer -- with a "god of gods" originally decided by previous Molyneux letdown, Curiosity -- were haphazardly added and then removed.

Things only grow more worrisome from there. As of now the game's development team has downsized, with key members like producer Jemma Harris departing while others have moved onto a newer Molyneux project, The Trial. In an interview with GameSpot, Molyneux claimed his studio, 22Cans, is currently searching for new people to fill those rather large sandals, but what happens beyond that remains to be seen.

However, rumblings from sources that spoke with GameSpot paint a different picture, one of a dispirited production running low on resources and, perhaps more importantly, morale. It's tough not to nibble into that side of the story -- if not chomp it hook, line, and sinker -- when people like current core designer Konrad Naszynski go on record saying these sorts of things:

"To be brutally candid and realistic I simply can't see us delivering all the features promised on the kickstarter page, a lot of the multiplayer stuff is looking seriously shaky right now especially the persistent stuff like hubworld."

"Godus is rather confused right now, it plays like an ongoing persistent game without real end point and yet it's divided up into discrete levels. This is one of the big decisions we will need to make in the next couple of weeks. And again realistically I'm having to ask myself, 'how can we turn what Godus is right now into a good complete experience' rather than 'how can we deliver on the kickstarter pitch goals?' We are in the process of re-evaluating the 'big picture' direction of and end goal of Godus. It's not an easy or straightforward task, but I will let you know when I can."

To address concerns raised by the community over long-missing features, directionless development, and statements like the one from Naszynski, Molyneux and co put out this video:

In it, Naszynski reiterates the ways he feels Godus is falling apart while Molyneux remains believably though haggardly optimistic. The contrast is kinda striking, honestly. The key thing here, though, is that Molyneux confesses that Godus isn't where it should be, its team and funds have been reduced, and that a mountain of mistakes have been made along the way to this point. He confesses prior ignorance to Kickstarter and Early Access, admitting that he did things "badly and incorrectly." He notes the game's PC version should have been his team's first goal -- not the apparently more lucrative mobile version -- and then drops a bombshell:

"I take the point that some of the pledges should have been met, and that we should have taken the time to work on them."

Which is an absurd statement to make, given that all of the pledges should have been met -- or at least prioritised as things of utmost importance -- seeing as that's the entire point of Kickstarter.

Peter Molyneux's Godus Is Having Serious Problems

When it comes to concerns about specific long-overdue features and rewards, Molyneux largely skirts the issue in the video. Speaking with GameSpot, however, he addressed a couple of them. On multiplayer, he said:

"The problem with the multiplayer is, when you develop features you need to also make sure they are multiplayer-compatible. The next step for us is adding combat, after that is the time we should look at multiplayer again."

The Linux version, however, may never materialise:

"I'm not worried about [pledge rewards like the art book eventually being finished]. I do worry about the Linux version pledge, because we do need the middleware that we use [Marmalade] to update to support Linux, which it currently does not."

Molyneux's timeframe for all of this, taking the currently reduced team and resource issues into account? "Months and months and months."

So that leaves Godus in an awkward spot at best, a dismal one at worst. I'm planning to chat with Molyneux soon, but in the meantime, if you're a Godus player or dev team member who wishes to speak about the situation on the record or anonymously, feel free to get in touch.


Comments

    Playing the Android version right now. Seems very bare bones, but mild fun. One good thing I can say is that it runs really smoothly.

      What are you playing on? since the Update I can't get past the loading screen on my Note 2. I'm enjoying the game thus far for its art style alone.

        Playing on a Note 3. Havent relaly experienced any problems yet

    I don't know why Molyneux is so highly regarded, I don't think I've ever enjoyed one of his games.

      Really? Going over the games he's been a part of I find a number of titles I loved:

      Populous (1989) (designer/programmer)
      Powermonger (1990) (designer/programmer)
      Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods (1991) (designer/programmer)
      Syndicate (1993) (producer)
      Theme Park (1994) (project leader/lead programmer)
      Black & White (2001) (concept/Lead designer/programmer)
      Fable (2004) (designer)
      Fable: The Lost Chapters (2005) (designer)
      Black & White 2 (2005) (lead designer)
      Black & White 2: Battle of the Gods (2006) (lead designer)
      Fable II (2008) (lead designer)
      Fable III (2010) (lead designer)
      Fable: The Journey (2012)

      Reckon that the last few years he might've lost his edge a bit though

        Not the last few years, the last decade imo. He has great scope, but very poor execution.

          The last decade sounds about right. Fable was the last pretty good game that he's made. B&W2 was a bit mediocre.

            He still over promised on fable and under-delivered. Yeah it was a cracking game by all accounts, and yet people who had followed the development closely were asking where everything else that was promised was! Ahh well. Live and learn I guess.

              You're absolutely right. Could have been an amazing game if he delivered everything, instead I'll just give him a "pretty good".

        Yeah... You can stop at Theme Park. Everything post Bullfrog is rubbish. Dude is like Schafer... Caught up in his own hubris and BS legend. I remember playing Fable 1 and what was promised.... I also remember walking away feeling like it was some cheesy zelda feeling empty rpg. Black and White also promised all these amazing features, but that fell flat as well. He's pretty much the M.Night Shyamalan of the video games world... His games just get crappier and crappier.

        Last edited 11/02/15 11:19 am

        This is where things started falling apart, Black & White was the beginning, hyped allot, ended up not having the features it was meant to. It was a slippery slope.

        Black & White (2001) (concept/Lead designer/programmer)
        Fable (2004) (designer)
        Fable: The Lost Chapters (2005) (designer)
        Black & White 2 (2005) (lead designer)
        Black & White 2: Battle of the Gods (2006) (lead designer)
        Fable II (2008) (lead designer)
        Fable III (2010) (lead designer)
        Fable: The Journey (2012)

        As everyone points out below, this guy overhypes and way under delievers; hell the article links to how he does this (esp. talking about games Fable onwards).
        And hes been making games for how long now? How is it there is always excuses and things he didnt see coming...

        Last edited 11/02/15 12:50 pm

    So they had promised a Linux version but picked a middleware package that doesnt support Linux... yep thats Molyneux right there.

    Very glad I steered away from yet another Molyneaucalypse. He needs to go through some serious project management workshops -_-

    Which is an absurd statement to make, given that all of the pledges should have been met — or at least prioritised as things of utmost importance — seeing as that’s the entire point of Kickstarter.This misconception by the author is why there's always a lot of turmoil surrounding Kickstarter projects that don't make it. The entire point of Kickstarter is not to meet pledges, but to gain funding to complete a project that you otherwise would not have been able to complete. Pledge rewards are supposed to be used as an extra incentive for people and a way to thank them for their help but have unfortunately become the sole focus of a Kickstarter project and why a lot of projects trap themselves in Backer Reward Hell.

      The entire point of Kickstarter is not to meet pledges, but to gain funding to complete a project that you otherwise would not have been able to complete

      Not true. The entire point of kickstarter is to provide what the backers pledged. Developers asking money from buyer in advance to develop their game and in return, backers get what they paid for.

      Kickstarter is not a donation site, backers are literally buying the game in advance so that developers do not have to use their own money to work the project and close down because the sales could not cover their development cost.

      You are telling me, if I pledged $20 for the complete game on release, the developer do not need meet my pledges and just go off with the money?

        It's a little more complex than the developer doing what they want with the money, but backer rewards aren't a compulsory thing for a project either. Kickstarter isn't Etsy where you pay money and get a thing in return, it's giving that guy on the street $5 so he can buy a burger.

        Now, if he were to promise to pay you back, or agree to give you the chips then that's an entirely different matter. Kickstarter at its core is donating money to a project without any expectation of return other than a sense of involvement and seeing the project completed. However, if a backer reward is promised, the creator is now obligated to do their best to fulfill that reward and if they can't, provide a very good reason why along with a refund if possible.

        Unfortunately, over time, people realised that if you promise the game itself as a reward, potential backers will be more likely to pledge money and thus people started assuming that backing a project is akin to buying something. So in summary, you are right that if the game is offered as a backer reward it must be fulfilled, however, Kickstarter's primary purpose is to allow creators the chance to get the funding they need to complete a project.

        You are not buying anything. You are putting your money down to fund whatever it is. The reward is simply an incentive to further the main point.

    Frankly, the first quote is one of the most reasonable things I've read in gaming press.

    And you only need to PLAY the game to see for yourself just how damn right he is. Just from reading the headling, "Godus is having serious problems," my first instinct was to comment, without even reading, "What, like multiple personality disorder?"
    'Confused' is generous.

    It's not BAD. There's some absurdly, nonsensically compelling elements there. It's so close to being 'the next Populous'. The persistent world, the faux-multiplayer storyline... they're not BAD. But between the restrictions, the pacing roadblocks, the glitches, the control frustrations, the opacity of the play structure, it's still got a fair way to go before being a release to be proud of, and it's been that way for a really long time.

    I don't know what people imagined when they had those kickstarter goals in a row, but I'm skeptical that all those bullet-points are still needed.

    I reckon they should make the best game they can, and if that means scrapping kickstarter-promised features, so be it.
    Give backers refunds in exchange for revoking their access. If they want to play the new version that doesn't hit all the bullet points, they can buy it as-is, instead of holding them to promises that can't or shouldn't be met.

    Learn a lesson about what Kickstarter is and isn't. It is NOT a preorder service.

    Hopefully they can bring this on track - despite what you think of Pete, at least he's passionate (good and bad). It seems like another genre that's hard to make - not sure why.

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