Project Godus is the first and perhaps only full game from Peter Molyneux’s studio 22 Cans. The veteran developer has explained to VG247 how an abundance of strict publisher control helped him consider Kickstarter instead, and why putting the beta into investor’s hands will help Godus become a better game.
As part of a full VG247 interview, we asked Molyneux to reflect on his Eurogamer Expo developer session earlier this year – in which he confessed he felt he has never made a ‘great’ game. He said he felt he had made enough ‘good’ games, but never a ‘great’ one.
We asked Molyneux if Project Godus is the ‘great’ game he’s been searching for and why, to which he replied, “I’ve said these ridiculous things in the press about, ‘This is the greatest role-playing game ever’, and, ‘This is going to be the greatest this or that’.
“That has always been honestly in my heart what I’ve tried to do, and I’ve got my list of excuses I could give you, and you’d probably say, ‘Oh that’s fair enough’, but ultimately what is the secret to making a great game?
“Certainly the best games that I feel I’ve played are the ones I’ve played the most, and that is the trick. It’s a trick I’m going to use with Kickstarter, because if you look at the pledges on Kickstarter, we start on a really low tier with beta access.
“That’s because what I want is to play Godus with hundreds and hundreds of people, over and over again until we get it right. Because it’s not just the old days where you can go in your ivory tower, lock yourself away and hope that you get games right, nor is it a publicity stunt which a lot of betas are, or a way of drumming up press interest.”
We then asked Molyneux if this is the reason for his move to the Kickstarter crowd-funding model, and he replied, “This is the real power of Kickstarter: how do you find the best beta testers who care most about the game? It’s obvious, they’re the ones who have actually put money down and said, ‘Look, I care about this game and I want to see it come about.'”
“If we can use those people, and we can refine the game with them, tweak it with them, and do something that people like Notch did so unbelievably well… it’s exactly what publishers never do.
“If I ever said to a publisher – as I have in the past – ‘We should release an early version of this and see what people think’, they’d say, ‘No, no, no, you’ve got to have shock and awe, you have to keep your features secret, we can’t talk about it. You demo it and only show a little sliver of it’.
“Fuck all that. Let’s just work as hard as we possibly can to make great features as early as we possibly can, work hard on a prototype that we can start showing off very soon. Let’s just refine it, play it, and play it. You know, with the original Populous Glen and I played for hundreds and hundreds of hours, and it wasn’t a genius of design, but we just loved playing the game.
“If we can do that, then maybe what I said at Eurogamer Expo is the secret? Maybe it isn’t to pretend that I know everything, that me as a designer doesn’t have every feature mapped out in my head. I can start that off, but maybe through that beta test program we can refine it, tweak it, balance it and get it so it really sings.
“That is one of the beauties about what Kickstarter is doing – it’s not the only reason we’re doing it – but it’s certainly one of the bigger reasons.”
Godus is Molyneux’s re-imagining of his first game Populous. It’s heading to iOS, Android and PC via Kickstarter. Are you interested in the concept? Let us know below.