Pocket Gamer has released an interview with British industry veteran and 22Cans founder Peter Molyneux, asking him about Godus, the reception it has gotten, its ‘free to play’ model, and what’s happened to Curiosity winner Bryan Henderson.
Within the interview, when asked about the negative reaction to the game within the comments of the Kickstarter, Mr. Molyneux said, “People will not pay for games on mobile,” and later on also states that releasing a paid app would only get a tenth of the consumers and would be “like releasing a YouTube video that you have to pay for.”
The role of Bryan Henderson, the game’s ‘God of Gods,’ is also discussed, stating that he’ll be the tie-breaker for votes on “commandments” – an example of which is if women within the game should stay at home and look after the family. As previously mentioned, Bryan will also get a share of the profits of the game whilst he acts as God of Gods, and other players will be able to overthrow him and become the new God of Gods.
Godus is available on the App Store now. The full interview, which also features news on a new addition to the PC version, the difference between the free-to-play models of Godus and the new Dungeon Keeper and why he has called the game “invest-to-play” in the past, can be found here.
After messing around with giant cubes and social experiments, the famously eccentric game designer Peter Molyneux returns to the God game genre with Godus. This spiritual successor to Molyneux’s earlier game, Populous, is currently in beta on PC and has just soft launched on the New Zealand App Store. We let absolute power corrupt us absolutely in this edition of It Came From Canada!
Witness and shape the beginning of human history in Godus. As a benevolent deity, players will guide their followers from a single hut on a beach at the dawn of time up until around the Roman Empire, although the game could certainly continue from there. The main way to achieve this is by molding the Earth and allowing the population to expand. It’s almost sad mowing down thick forests to let humanity proliferate like a virus, but such is life. There don’t seem to be any threats to the tiny citizens, like predators or natural disasters, so players can just focus on reproduction. As the population grows, the player’s godly power increases – granting them new skills like the ability to shift oceans or terraform more parts of the single, continuous map.
The game unsurprisingly has numerous subsystems as well. More intense god powers, including burning bushes or controlling followers directly through “leashing,” draw from the belief of worshippers. Players naturally gain belief as their small world grows, but it can be purchased using the game’s real-money gem system as well. Players can also purchase sticker packs to activate the special cards they receive with each level up. These cards bestow various bonuses like faster building speeds or the ability to start settlements on different terrain. Fortunately, stickers appear naturally in the world too.
As more of the cold, unconquered North gives way to the player’s bright civilization, players will encounter ships and beacons allowing them to interact with other players online. In fact, the grand prize for finishing 22Can’s previous game Curiosity was becoming the God of Gods in Godus, along with a share of the profits. However, in many ways the game works best as an isolated experience, an entire little world unto itself.
That shoebox diorama quality is accentuated by the game’s almost paper cut-out art style. The solid colors and obvious layers of the landscape may not be realistic, but they’re charming. The same goes for the cute sound effects like the mysterious voices on the wind and the happy little tunes villagers whistle while they work. The distinct layers also make it easier for players to meticulously sculpt the land as they see fit. They can even make terraced steps out of the Earth for followers to climb to higher places, when their spotty path finding works that is. However, it is still a little too easy for fatter fingers to make unintended changes, which is especially annoying when those accidental changes waste precious belief.
Still, Godus successfully captures both the tedium and the power trip of what being an all-knowing, all-powerful force must feel like. Players can get their hands on a world of their own when the game fully launches.
It’s not exactly a secret that Peter Molyneux/22cans deity simulator, Godus is coming to iOS. However, we were able to learn about a few more specifics here at GDC.
Godus was really designed with mobile in mind from the beginning, and it shows when watching the game in motion. “My passion has been to reinvent a genre of games I stumbled upon back in the early 90s called Populous,” said Peter Molyneux, “I wanted to reinvent the genre around this beautiful, wonderful, incredible device. What you’ve got here is a god game reinvented for this touch device, and reinvented for the audience.”
What’s more, the game will feature a sort of continuous form of multiplayer – kind of like an MMO. When you play, you’re playing with however many other players/gods are on at that moment (possibly into the tens of millions), all at the same time. And all of their lands are connected as a part of one extremely large and continuous world filled with other islands and other gods.
This even carries over into the game’s cross-platform functionality as changes made to your land on the iPad, iPhone, or PC will display in real time on any of the other platforms. “You’re connected to thousands, even millions, of people,” explained Molyneux, “We tried this out on this crazy app called Curiosity, and we connected together hundreds of thousands of people who simultaneously touched on the cube. Well now we’re connecting millions of people together. We did a cube, and now we’re doing this vast planet.”
It’s also been confirmed that Godus will be free to download for iOS, but no specifics have been given on its approach to monetization. The plan is to encourage players to want to spend money, but not force or require them to. “I love free to download. I never want to go back to having to pay money before having an idea if I’ll like something,” stated Molyneux. “What we have to do is get people to want to spend money, rather than need to spend money,” he continued, “I’m inspired by the way that the supermarket, especially American supermarkets, tempt you to spend money. We call it ‘Invest-to-Play’.” Personally I’m rather curious to see how all of this will work in practice.
Godus will be soft-launching in select territories (New Zealand, The Philippines, Sweden, Ireland, and Denmark) within the next few weeks.
Fortunately, amongst all this, Jack has found the time to answer a few of our questions when it comes to all things to do with Curiosity and just how he feels about its progression.
“At first we were going to just allow players to tap the smaller 60 billion cubelets that make up the cube one by one. This was to see if the power of curiosity alone was enough motivation for people to carry on tapping with no other benefits,” he explained. “Surprisingly, this worked and it’s great seeing tons of tweets flying through of people hooked on this…we could have left it as pure as this but we felt that there was more that we could do with the cube.”
Jack explained that the inclusion of features such as the potential for combos via rewarding players with more coins, the longer they chip away for has added to the appeal: “…some people out there have been going crazy about getting the highest chain in the world: currently the highest chain is up in the millions! ”
As he points out, “…there is an urge in some people to tidy up all the left-over cubelets that are scattered around where people have come and gone, and so for those OCD-type players (there’s a few of those on the team) we give coin bonuses for clearing the screen of cubelets.” With such bonuses, it enables players to buy small upgrades thus feeling “powerful”, while aiding them in their quest to “get to the center faster”.
Along the way, Jack reckons that Curiosity can be considered as art. Echoing many of our thoughts here, “…I think it’s a pretty ancient perspective to have if you feel that Video Games cannot be art.”
“There [are] many wonderful things about Curiosity, the fact that people from all over the world can join together in working towards one goal…Each layer contains some mysterious image and it’s really fascinating to see the world unwrapping it like a present before it is revealed in all its inspiring beauty…it’s fascinating how each image or colour changes how players interpret the whole experience with some tweets saying one layer feels cold and and another motivating, and even thinking the audio has changed when it hasn’t.”
“I love that people have chiseled some phenomenal art into the cube that have surpassed my expectations and that literal art is being digested by people through their phones across the planet and then being shared across social networking sites and blogs. People have chipped marriage proposals into it as well as obituaries.” As Jack describes it, “…the cube itself is a giant canvas that the entire world can share with no censorship or moderation.”
Such feelings are what Jack hopes to be the main benefits for players. “I hope that people feel like they have been a part of something regardless of whether they have made that final tap…especially since it won’t be able to be revisited by anyone else after this experience is over.”
Having said that, he does suggest that it’s not entirely for the sake of it: “…there is something that people tapping on the cube are doing, and are already involved in that they are unaware of. I can’t say what that is yet, but in the future…that tapping will have counted for something.”
Given that Curiosity is just part of the 22 experiments planned by the team, we asked Jack just what the eventual end goal will be, “The final game we make is something that Peter has been thinking about for 20 years. He considers it the defining game of his career and we are all very excited about creating that experience for the world. The dream is that this final game will be something that 100 million people will play everyday.”
Jack’s willing to acknowledge, however, that this is a “huge ambition”. As he points out, Curiosity managed over 600,000 players in the space of 4 days but that’s still a way off such a lofty number. “…by creating these experiments and analysing the tons of data that we get from them we are finding out exactly how we are going to construct a game that can change the world.”
A game that can change the world? Suddenly, huge ambition sounds like an understatement. It’ll be fascinating to see what 22Cans come up with next, and after GODUS.
If you’re interested in contributing to GODUS’s development, check out the Kickstarter page.
The meaning of life is something that we’ve all pondered at some point. For some of us, it’s our religious faith that gives us purpose to our lives, for others, it’s simply making the best of things and being happy. Ultimately though, it’s different for every individual, and some of us can confidently say they have no idea what the meaning is. Somewhat unusually, there’s a ‘game’ that conveys that intrigue quite admirably, whether you think it’s a load of nonsense or not. That game? Curiosity, the first title to come out of Peter Molyneux’s latest studio, 22Cans.
Curiosity is a ‘game’ about tapping at a giant cube. Clear a layer of squares and another layer emerges, and so forth. It’s been said that only two people in the world know exactly what is in the center of that giant cube: Peter Molyneux and the developer who implemented it. Whatever it is, Molyneux believes it is life changing for that person. Over two weeks in, the secret still hasn’t been discovered but popularity doesn’t seem to have let off in any way.
We took the time to check in with a few different people to see just what all the fuss is about and attempt to gauge just what’s keeping people tapping away at those layers.
One of the most positive opinions stemmed from indie game, Hug Marine’s, CY Reid: “As a game concept, I love it – one of the reasons people enjoy games like that is because clicking or tapping repeatedly is so compulsive. There’s a mindlessness to it that allows you to simply switch off parts of your brain and relax. Combine that with a massively multiplayer capability and you’ve got yourself a communal experience with everyone working towards an achievable goal. It’s great.”
Like any conscientious developer, however, his concerns are on how it’s being handled: “my concern is that they didn’t anticipate this level of popularity, and they’re struggling to keep the game experience smooth enough to justify the appeal of the concept. Asking for donations doesn’t help, either.”
Regular Twitter followers of Molyneux’s account will note that there have been frequent mentions of long shifts, including 36 hour long coding marathons to keep things working steadily.
Spilt Milk Studios’s Andrew Smith is similarly intrigued, despite technical problems: “Curiosity is so aptly named I’m not sure that even Mr Molyneux himself was aware of how appropriate it was going to be. Some people are still probably curious about what you do in the game due to the server issues they experienced, but unfortunate technical problems aside I think it’s made everyone who’s played it at least question something about the nature of games and interactivity – just what is it that makes people play. Does it always have to be high scores and headshots? It’s been fascinating to watch so far, and I’m eager to see how the experiment ends.”
Pondering if it was just me that was more than a little underwhelmed by the concept, I’ll admit to feeling relieved when Joystiq’s UK editor, Sinan Kubba, echoed my opinion on the app: “I played it on the day it came out, found it a very interesting concept but not so interesting to play…There are many, many more fun ways to grind…I don’t really mind a grind, but there has to be something to it. This is just tapping cubes. It’s not slaying orcs, or driving laps. Just. Cubes.”
Perhaps, ultimately though, it doesn’t really matter what those within the industry think of it. The layers are slowly coming down and the popularity seems to be ever flourishing. A cursory glance at Twitter demonstrates that ably with tweets such as “EVERYONE GET THIS APP OMG. #Curiosity addicttteedddd!!! And its mad creepy but i wanna know the prizeeeeee” and “got my whole family playing #curiosity, that game is too addictive”, amongst many other positive and ‘curiously’ addicted people’s opinions.
As one person explained to me, “Wife just said she loves it when she’s working on clearing an area and it syncs and it all disappears…knowing somebody else is in the world is right where she is on the massive cube”.
Maybe that’s all we need? That sense that we’re all working together to discover something new and exciting. A concept that’s helped us find out a lot more about our world and our universe, all wrapped up in one simple yet oddly beguiling app. Placing our mark on the world is, after all, consistently important to many of us and this app gives us the means to do it with minimal effort.
If you want to give Curiosity a try for yourself, it’s entirely free to get involved with. Here’s a rather cool, unofficial visualization of how things have progressed so far.
Over the weekend, details have emerged regarding Peter Molyneux and 22 Can’s first iOS game: Curiosity.
Peter Molyneux is a name that will be very familiar to many PC and console gamers. Known for his outlandish and over-enthusiastic statements, pre-release, he’s been responsible for some of the best games out there from the Populous series to Theme Park and Theme Hospital. He’s also been behind the Fable series of games, one of my personal favorites, but also a series that has been overpromised frequently.
Having left Microsoft and Lionhead Studios in March to begin work at new company 22 Cans, Molyneux has just announced details regarding Curiosity.
The title is set for release on August 22 and will focus on players hacking away at a giant cube, made out of 60 million different shapes. It’s all in aid of finding out exactly what’s underneath all those cubes. Initially, only the player who hits that final blow will find out what’s inside, hence the name: Curiosity.
It’s best thought of as a social media experiment with 22 Cans studying how this news will spread.
It gets stranger, still, with the prospect of in-app purchases funding everything. A Q&A Session at Indie conference, Rezzed, has reported that players will have to buy a limited number of chisels that will improve their tapping strength. While most of these chisels will be inexpensive, a diamond chisel will also be available, priced at an eye-watering $50,000.
It’s frankly pretty bizarre stuff. Will it work? Only time will tell, but we’ll be sure to keep up to date on developments as Curiosity could prove to be a fascinating experiment.
Do let us know how you feel about the in-app purchases involved. Would you ever consider spending so much on this kind of app?