Firstus GODUS Videous Footageus

By Craig Pearson on December 6th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

It doesn't look like this. Yet.
I love the development ‘show’ that’s accompanying the GODUS Kickstarter, because it shows the small team caught up in the decision making progress of Peter Molyneux OBE. The most recent diary has an amazing moment: the first time the game is shown running! It should be accompanied by balloons, streamers, Ode to Joy, and a visit from the Queen, but it’s instead turned into a game development jam session. And we all know jam rather can be rather sticky.

Peter, GODUS bless him, prods away at developer Gary Leach, asking for fine-grain control over streams in the world. Is there anything more Molyneux than that? Maybe the streams are the world’s tears? Anyway, Gary explains the difficulties behind it, but Peter has that look in his eye. He can already envision the thin rivulets of water trickling over his world. And what’s a developer to do? It is agreed upon: it will be a feature. There’s a beautiful moment where Molyneux’s aware of what he’s just done, and asks: “Is that a promise? Is that a ‘Peter Molyneux’ promise?”

Gary’s response: “That’s a cast iron guarantee promise.”

Ouch. I’d link to the specific moment, but every tutorial on that looks like some of the code from the Matrix, and the one I followed just left a blank space. Instead you’ll have to do it manually. It starts 2m37s in, and not a second after! Now go!

So, that’s GODUS. It has the blocky, simple charm of the concept art at least, and you’re now guaran-damn-teed to be able to cut streams from lakes and watch as a lake drains. Probably.

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69 Comments »

  1. Didden says:

    Seems like a great team and atmosphere there.

    • Baines says:

      Molyneux is happy.

      The employees… Maybe it is just me, but I got the feeling that the employees were promising features and dates because Molyneux asked, and they felt they had to go with what the boss said. While inwardly cringing that what Molyneux wanted might not coincide with their own reality.

      Take river sculpting. Molyneux wanted something like From Dust. Shape the land with your regular land shaping tools, and you can make a river because water will follow physics and the land shape. The programmer, however, seemed to approach the idea as a special case. Molyneux wanted the natural expected behavior to result from your actions, while the programmer was talking about adding a river sculpt mode. The programmer sounded like his idea was more like building a road in SimCity. (The programmer was also probably looking for an infinite feed, or at least long term feed, river. That’s easier for players to manage. Molyneux, on the other hand, wanted a lake fed from a source itself, but one that could run dry if the water ran out faster than it entered.)

      Or the earthquake guy’s Thursday promise. The guy looked like he didn’t want to commit to a day, but also like he didn’t want to disagree with Molyneux’s “Thursday”, even if he wasn’t sure.

      • MrThingy says:

        Totally agreed!

        There’s something decidedly unpleasant and generally ‘passive aggressive’ about the dialog in this video. :\

        • micro_explosion says:

          It’s called being a Project Manager. Individuals would take a month to do a 2 day task if they weren’t pushed, if it can’t be done by then they should say why it’ll take longer.

          I was more concerned that Peter looked like he was about to start rubbing their thighs.

          • Simes says:

            Generally speaking, most people will deliver a month of work in about a month. The kind of project manager who promises a month of work in two days and then demands that his team work themselves to death in order to deliver it is sadly all too common.

          • Baines says:

            That was my point, though. Not the thigh rubbing, but that the employees looked like they were going along with Molyneux instead of saying “It might take until Friday” or “The game isn’t really set to handle that kind of stuff”.

          • iyamwyyb says:

            Exquisite pearl green crystal necklace! I can give my wife! So beautiful! http://192.la/bVB

      • zooz says:

        Quite simple, Unity simply isn’t the best engine when it comes to making things flexible.

        So, as soon as you step away from more traditional approaches, things can get nasty.

    • Text_Fish says:

      Look at those shoes strewn across the floor! These guys are FUN! They won’t be quite as fun when they’re rushing a fellow employee to A&E after tripping over the shoe, stumbling all the way across the shot, landing awkwardly in that office chair and wheeling out of the nearest window.

      Now to watch the video to see if that actually happens.

      Remember kids, having fun might be fun — but proper hazard identification and risk assessment can be fun too. Fun.

  2. gibb3h says:

    Don’t think they have a hope in hell of making the target to be honest, which is a shame, even if he is often prone to hyperbole, it’s nice to have Peter being a part of the industry

    • Hoaxfish says:

      He’s still a better man than whoever keeps greenlighting all those brown&bloom shooters.

      • rockidr4 says:

        I agree. He’s at least trying to put something inventive out there. The trouble is when he says this is the most inventive thing ever, and it works perfectly, and then it’s not quite and it doesn’t quite. Again though, still far better than COD 4 MW 3′s “This is the most inventive thing ever, and it works perfectly” when it’s not at all, and I don’t care whether or not it works perfectly because I’ve already played esentially that exact game.

        • ShootyFace says:

          I find it both sort of charming and borderline strange at just how enthusiastic he can be about his games. I absolutely love everything he did, up to and including the first Fable, but I am one of those gamers who is indeed wary of anything he says about his games anymore. I hope Godus finds it’s funding, in whatever form, but I’m not holding my breath that it’s going to be half as amazing as he seems to believe it will be. Prove me wrong, Peter, I’d be ecstatic.

  3. Bhazor says:

    Oh, so thats how Molyneux happens.

    • Lev Astov says:

      Yeah, I often wondered how he happens. I was never very enthusiastic about his stuff, due to his tendency to over-hype.

      It all makes sense now, though. Seeing him dance around the office gushing to all of his developers, I can’t help but feel for the guy. I certainly hope they pull this off.

    • Yglorba says:

      I was going to say. It was exactly like I thought it’d be, but it was still a bit painful to watch him sitting there describing new ideas with this child-like wonder to a developer who seems uncomfortably aware of the limitations of reality and the problems with adding (and promising) new features like that so carelessly.

      I think watching this gave me an understanding of why Molyneux made so many good games early on and had more trouble recently — it’s not really a matter of who he was working with; I think the problem is that modern games require more and more development time (due to advances in graphics, music, etc), which means that his seat-of-his-pants dreaming is less and less effective. When you’re making Populous, you can easily add a new feature on a whim, because the game itself is relatively small and simple; you can’t do that with a game the size of Black and White or Fable without hurting the entire process.

      • mr.black says:

        Yeah, just like that water example – water either flows, or it doesn’t. You can’t have just a tiny nice little stream meandering from a higher lake downwards. The lake is (at this stage of hardware capabilities) an extremely finite resource, so your stream can last for just some few minutes. Either that, or unrealistic hand-crafted contextual water phisics, like in Skyrim’s perpetuum flows..

      • fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

        I utterly agree with you. I think in the auteur role he’s lost track of the practicalities. I still love him, but there seems to be a whole George Lucas thing going on. He needs someone to say ‘no’.

    • zaphod42 says:

      Jesus, its like he’s never even heard the idea of feature creep.

      Molyneux strikes me as exactly what would happen if some random forum poster with an idea for a game actually got to lead a team. He seems to have no concept of how complicated certain features will be or the implications of implementing them, especially after the fact.

      What kills me is he’s making all these videos with his little team making up all this BS and making his programmers work 24/7 to make up for his own shitty planning, and now he’s tweeting about it like he’s proud, Molyneux could very well end up having a disastrous effect on the entire game industry. These are NOT good practices. These are not things to be proud of as a developer, he should feel shame if anything. But by presenting this as acceptable, from a known name in the industry, it lowers the chances of all artists and developers being treated fairly in the future. Here comes more crunch time! Agh, we were just starting to get past that!

  4. Terragot says:

    “I love that feeling of power” – Evidently, Molyneux.

    • Flukie says:

      Ha the way he said that was rather strange

      • Hoaxfish says:

        That moment where the guy is trying to explain why water won’t be “natural” on blocky terrain, offering a solution, only to be shot down by Molyneux’s “I don’t like that”… bit awkward.

        Probably best not to mention Hydrophobia either, given its reception.

        • MrLebanon says:

          those moments when your boss asks the near impossible of you…. and posts in youtube

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          What Molyneux asks for is odd in all manner of ways, but that’s not surprising considering the role he’s given himself in the project; it’s his job to think about the high level stuff, after all.

          However, the way he brushed off the concerns of the technical expert was definitely a bit weird.

          Thinking about it, if you have a lake fed by a glacier, and you cut out a chunk of the ground that’s holding the lake in, it will drain out everyfuckingwhere down to the lowest level you excavated, and then stop flowing entirely.

          Seems to me he wants the ability to make a tiny little sluice which feeds a stream he’s dug out, or maybe conjure a spring from the ground. But instead he’s framed it as wanting the ability to do a certain thing and have the water respond logically, only in order to enable his story you’d need the water to behave in a totally illogical or arbitrary way.

          I’m sympathetic, since I tend to make the same sorts of unfounded jumps myself when thinking about projects. It’s a hard habit to break.

          • Baines says:

            When it comes to the river, I think Molyneux hasn’t considered the impact of scale. What he wants makes sense. It just isn’t that practical for the scale of the game.

            You can have a real lake feeding a river. It can be fed by a glacier, even. But it will also be fed by rain, and maybe other sources as well. And the river, width and depth-wise, will be small compared to the lake. And height differences across the land probably won’t be that major, so you’ll have a slow feed, not a rush. But when you put that lake and river in GODUS, you end up with a river that is relatively large versus its source, you probably get faster moving water in general, you don’t get an ample input to the lake to sustain that river, etc.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            Yeah that’s a really good point. And I meant to but failed to make the point before that it’s not really fair for us to criticize him for not thinking all of this through in the spur of the moment. It’s natural enough to be like “whoa this thing would be cool I want that!” Then later you analyze it and figure out what works about it and what doesn’t.

            Though part of that is listening to your team members who have the concrete experience to see the pitfalls early…

  5. The First Door says:

    The whole streams thing sounds very like From Dust, which is rather a good thing. To be honest I spent most of my time with that game just watching the rivers creating deltas and new land before changing their course.

    • S Jay says:

      I believe Maia had this feature in their tech demo?

      • The First Door says:

        Perhaps, I didn’t see whether it had erosion and/or deposition though, which was the most fascinating thing about From Dust for me.

      • Salt says:

        Maia’s fluid simulation at least on the “dungeon” level will have similar problems that Gary is trying to explain to Mr Molyneux in that video. The nature of Maia’s world is that it’s cut out of the rock in regular cubes, just like Godus’ world is a series of discreet landscape layers rather than a continuous smooth landscape. Because of this, it wouldn’t really be possible to have a true water simulation that also mimics real life water.
        You can think of it in Minecraft too. Even if you mod the water to be finite and realistic, if you plop a load of water at the top of a hill it will not flow down it like a real stream. Simply because it’s flowing over a series of cubes rather than down a smooth hill.
        In Godus’ case, the water will do all kinds of odd pooling on the flat sections of landscape. Which would be technically accurate, but only if your landscape really was a series of steps. I suspect they will end up going with a variation on Gary’s suggestion in the video of letting the player edit where the stream flows. Rather than a “real” fluid simulation, there can be a process that is roughly based on fluid flow which marks out where a river/stream should flow. From then on the water will always flow down that path in a much simplified simulation. If the surrounding landscape is changed, the flow path will be calculated again.

        From Dust on the other hand is a neat collection of heightmaps that allow for the expression of a continuously sloped landscape, and allow for the small scale erosion and deposition that create such wonderful water dynamics in the game. The main downside of From Dust’s representation is that it can’t handle caves or overhangs.

        (Guess who’s spent several months working on fluid simulation in a sandbox environment.)

        E: To be clear, I’m not saying Maia’s fluid simulation is wrong, just that it couldn’t really generate something like a realistic looking stream. Simply because the dungeon keeper style world is limited to the player placing or removing blocks of terrain, and real streams do not flow in block shapes.

        • The First Door says:

          You’ve captured exactly what I was thinking, to be honest. From Dust the water looked amazingly natural and lovely (if sped up massively) and I can’t see how water on that type of stylised landscape will look right or nice!

        • medwards says:

          Could you not interpolate across various blocks to approximate the slope and then decrease the fluids tendency to spread (except to gravity)?

          Damn that sounds tougher now that I spell it out, but it still feels like it would be ‘close enough’(TM)

          • Salt says:

            Interpolation between the landscape “layers” would be a good start, but you’re going to have interesting problems with how to then represent the water so that it looks nice.

            In the concept art the water is mostly all on on a single level (the meandering river looks lovely), or dropping down several levels at once as a waterfall. The problems happen when you’re between those two extremes.

            Something like a river object, that follows contours in the land but is not subject to true fluid simulation seems the best solution. Display it as cutting very slightly into the land. It’ll never be the completely dynamic flows of From Dust, but at least it’ll not be a mess of simulated water particles drifting over plateaus in the landscape.

    • Untruth says:

      It still sounds like he hasn’t heard of From Dust. It’s like watching someone slowly, graciously, carefully, meticulously reinvent the wheel, one gentle voice at a time.

    • cai says:

      That’s what I was thinking. Has he made any mention of From Dust so far? It seems like what it did with landscape sculpting and liquid flow was exactly what he’s after.

      With From Dust I felt I was constantly at the mercy of greater forces, so perhaps not exactly the feeling he’s going for, but to make out his team is pioneering this stuff is a little unfair.

      • Salt says:

        From Dust is mentioned briefly in this video:

        I continue to have bad feelings about his desire to have dynamic fluids and the incompatibility of that with the landscape tech. Makes me feel like they’ve chosen that representation of the landscape primarily for how it looks without taking into account the impact on game mechanics.

  6. Docslapper says:

    Not watching… I’ve been hurt too much by the nasty man in the past to believe a word he says. When he puts shiny new game up for sale I will therefore be able to judge it on its merits and not cry bitter, rancid tears of disappointment that it doesn’t come anywhere close to what he promised me.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      He could release a shit game from now until the end of eternity and he would still be one of the greatest game designers to ever live.

      I expect these types of responses from the Kotaku members . . .

      • Dark Nexus says:

        Ooooh, burn. You certainly showed the OP that his opinion was invalid and stupid based on you putting a higher priority on nostalgia instead of recent track records than he does!

      • Docslapper says:

        Dungeon Keeper 3. It had a trailer at the end of DK2 and everything… *cries*

        And I’m not saying he’s a shit game designer. He’s an awesome game designer, just probably not the world’s greatest project manager, and utterly shite at managing customer expectations. I’d love to see one of his games actually be what he said it would be.

        Hence not watching the video. I want to enjoy a Molyneux game without the man ruining it for me by telling me what it should have been but isn’t.

  7. Lobotomist says:

    Nice team. Must be great having Peter as a boss.

    Hope they meet the goals…

  8. Pemptus says:

    Oh look, it’s Peter Molyneux talking a lot. THAT ALWAYS ENDED WELL DIDN’T IT GUYZ?

    Still, if he focuses on making a good game this time, instead of trying to make us care for a bloody dog companion or something… who knows.

  9. cheborra says:

    Was that Silent Bob in 7:00 ??

  10. zachforrest says:

    ahh I wish Peter was my manager. He gently cajoles you into doing his bidding.

    It was slightly reminiscent of the behind-the-scenes Star Wars footage of an increasingly insane Lucas blathering on about the Suns of Tatooine while the bewildered crew awkwardly shuffle their feet.

    That said, I really rather hope they get their goal. It seems like a really positive culture at the company, and surely that begets good games?

  11. Lev Astov says:

    I love the tags on this story.

  12. HothMonster says:

    Its just &start=(time in seconds) if you use the old code and #t=(time in seconds) with the new code.

    If you use the old code put it right after the language. If you use the new code add it to the end of the link inside the quotes.

    iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/IHSsgRjusao#t=157″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe

    • Baines says:

      And if you can’t remember it, you can (from the YouTube page itself) click on Share, and then Options, and finally checkbox the “Start At” option.

    • TinKelp says:

      I think I’m missing something because right-clicking the video and choosing the “Copy video URL at current time” option seems to be the easiest method.

      • HothMonster says:

        For a link your method or the one above you are super easy. The embed code is a little different and doesn’t offer a start at checkbox and embed at current time is not a right click option. You just have to add the parameter to the code they give you as far as I understand.

  13. Merlkir says:

    This makes me physically sick. I can only hope it fails spectacularly and buries Molyneaux forever.

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  15. povu says:

    Nothing says professional like showing gameplay on a camera aimed at a laptop.

  16. The Magic says:

    This could be a fun game, and I will always hope for more from dreamers. I would rather have a broken dream over a fixed grey reality.

  17. Tom Walker says:

    How can he be so amazed by that stuff? Really, a battle containing a few hundred not especially detailed characters? No, nothing like that has never happened before, Pete. You just invented that, right there. Congratulations. Now go away.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I’d be much more interested if he’d talk about things like, say, how we’re going to control all those little guys or what our god powers will be. I am actually interested in your ideas, Molyneux, but you need to put them in words if I’m to know what they are.

      I do wish the guy nothing but good luck, but oh boy he isn’t doing anything to fill me with confidence just now.

  18. zaphod42 says:

    Don’t believe his lies.

    As a game developer, this was extremely painful to watch. Those poor guys working for him :/ You can tell that one developer was VERY uncomfortable talking about implementing a new feature so candidly on camera. He wanted to pull Molyneux aside and say “do you realize how complicated these things are that you’re describing? You haven’t thought through how they’ll all work exactly” but its Molyneux, and he’s on camera, so he had to promise “sure” and then kinda stumble about the difficulties and uncertainties involved.

    Molyneux seems like a naive child. “I want this! I want this!” He’s not even sure what he actually wants, he keeps changing his mind.

    Now we see how Fable 1 happened, how Black & White happened.

    Molyneux’s doesn’t make games, he makes HYPE. Then he tries to make a team live up to his hype, and that’s impossible (especially without strong direction).

    • Baines says:

      Molyneux knows what he wants. The problem is that what he wants isn’t the game that the rest of the employees are making.

      He wants a large scale From Dust, with full environmental effects interacting and behaving the way people would expect, and with a lot of little people living and acting in that world. You can do fine manipulation as well as gross manipulation, all working through the same system.

      The game 22 Cans is making looks to be more an upgraded Populous. You’ve got environmental god powers, and those powers do specific things, and does those things at a large scale. You’ve got a world made to a particular art style, one where you only have limited detail.

      Molyneux probably envisions being able to use a tornado to clear an area, or starting a fire as a fast way to clear brush, in addition to their basic destructive features. The employees see them as a way to wreck buildings, kill meeples, and trash forests.

      And thus GODUS in the long run (assuming it gets made) will be another case of Molyneux promising one thing, but delivering a more scaled back other thing.

    • olemars says:

      Sounds like a typical manager to me.

  19. edwardoka says:

    “Look at that! Look at that! How could you not be excited by that!?” The poor guy at 10:51 doesn’t look that excited!

  20. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    Why is the video in fish-vision?

  21. Arglebargle says:

    Dang, Molyneux’s an airhead. Hell, I’d rather have Richard Garriott producing.

    He sure looks like he needs to stick to being an ‘idea man’, and leave actual producer stuff to people who have some clues.

  22. neolith says:

    “Because of this, it wouldn’t really be possible to have a true water simulation that also mimics real life water.”

    There’s an easy fix/workaround to that problem: Have the engine take the midpoint of every cube’s top plane and render a new grid from them as the basis for shaping the liquid’s flow. That way you get properly angled sides on a mountain etc. It’s not perfect but it’s close enough.

    edit: Stupid me – this should’ve been a reply…

  23. cluster says:

    People working there seems to do a great job, but the way Molyneux behave makes me think of those CEO with “Visions of grandeur” preventing their team to do their job properly. Not everything felt like “positive pressure” to me in this video.

  24. dfuse says:

    Those offices look even more boring than the bank I work at!

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