Too Human: Curiosity Winner’s GODUS Prize Temporary

By Nathan Grayson on May 28th, 2013 at 9:30 pm.

Peter Molyneux’s Curiosity is officially, incontrovertibly over. A young man by the name of Bryan Henderson from Edinburgh, Scotland cracked the not-quite-infinite cuboid egg, and out oozed godhood. Well, OK, virtual godhood in 22Cans’ upcoming GODUS – which has drawn some rather, er, mixed reactions from mere mortals. I got in touch with Peter Molyneux to talk about that, potential dishonesty, how Henderson’s “god of gods” role will function, and why a mobile contest decided a crucial feature for a PC game, and he revealed a particularly interesting nugget: godhood and all it entails (including a cut of GODUS’ eventual earnings) has an expiration date. After that, the throne will be up for grabs, but you’ll need a lot more than luck and tap-cracked fingertips to claim it.

“The interesting thing is that what Bryan has won is a grace period where he can be god of gods for a certain amount of time,” Molyneux told RPS. “We’re talking about that period of time [right now]. It won’t be less than a few months. It might not be more than a year. And then we’ll unveil the ability to usurp the god of gods and replace him with someone else. That someone else will then take on all of Bryan’s powers.”

Suddenly, Curiosity’s crunchy, divinity-filled center seems a bit less, er, life-changing, right? Somewhat surprisingly, Molyneux doesn’t think so.

“It didn’t seem right to me that Bryan would be god of gods for all time,” he explained. “It seems right to me that he has a period of time to be god of gods, and that can’t just be a few days. It needs to be substantial. And in that time, many things could happen. And of course, the amount of physical money he gets depends on how successful the game is. So he’ll probably be god of gods for an amount of time approaching a year. That’ll be a year from release, by the way. It needs to be enough time to make it meaningful for him in every sense of the word.”

He added, however, that the amount of time could be significantly greater or less. It all depends on Kickstarter backers’ impressions of GODUS throughout alpha and beta testing, which will kick off very soon.

“I want to gauge people’s reactions – not just to the center of Curiosity, but also to gauge the reaction to GODUS. Because maybe later today but certainly tomorrow, we’re releasing the PC alpha of GODUS to Kickstarter backers, and it didn’t seem like that sort of decision should be made without some sort of feedback from the people who will actually be playing GODUS.”

He further noted that “god of gods” powers will function both through an in-game dashboard (probably active once per week) and direct communications between the reigning god of gods and the god of god of gods, 22Cans. Ultimately though, Molyneux and co plan to draw the line at heavenly edicts with hellishly game-breaking consequences.

“What they aren’t going to be is carte blanche uncontrolled, unrefined decisions that would throw the balance of the game out entirely. Bryan can absolutely request something to happen, and we’ll make our best effort to do it. But he can’t decide everybody in Canada will explode or anything like that. There are limits to his power.”

Check back soon for the full interview, in which Molyneux and I discuss whether this was the plan for Curiosity from the start, what would’ve happened if GODUS’ Kickstarter failed, what happened to the promised PC version of Curiosity, how much of an effect newly announced mobile publisher DeNA will have on the game, free-to-play/business models, and whether or not 22Cans’ much-ballyhooed 22 experiments will continue once GODUS releases. 

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122 Comments »

  1. MultiVaC says:

    So less “life-changing” and more like “year-changing”, then.

  2. gwathdring says:

    The potency of your social experiment drops somewhat when you decide to edit the power of the God of Gods by not allowing the individual to, using the Dev’s example, wipe out all of Canada’s player base.

  3. alpha0924 says:

    I can just imagine Molyneux exasperatedly telling Bryan, “No, Bryan. You can’t explode everybody in Canada. How many times are you going to ask?”

  4. engion3 says:

    I bet tapping blocks in Curiosity will be more fun than the game Godus.

  5. Deadly Habit says:

    So the prize of a mobile game is to become a surrogate God character with limited powers in a PC game for a short period of time?
    Wow it’s nothing! So innovative!

  6. Brun says:

    Is anyone actually surprised by this? I thought “overhype and underdeliver” has been SOP for Molyneux since Fable.

  7. Iskariot says:

    Molyneux, molyneux, molyneux….. lately everything connected with this name is like a bad, nagging itch and never interesting. It is always a lot of hyped insubstantial blahblah. A waste of time.

    • frightlever says:

      I usually defend the guy because he’s just over-excitable but this is total bullshit. It’s like nobody pulls him on his crazy ideas before he announces then but eventually a lot of foot-shuffling and mumbling when he enters rooms makes him realise he’s made a huge mistake.

  8. Bostec says:

    It all sounds like a big load of old crock, Gods of gods, what is that bollocks. You think the winner will have that much responsibility after tapping away at cubes? Still, its Molyneux right? He would want to know that at least one person is playing his ‘games’.

  9. merc-ai says:

    Assuming later gods will also receive part income from GODUS sales, and assuming it has a longer-going financial life (such as F2P on mobiles or whatever they are planning), this is a very interesting experiment in the making.

    Of course, majority of gamers won’t even think about it as it is always more cool to bash Peter and his crazy ideas (as most comments above indicate).

    • Vorphalack says:

      I think you have ”cool” and ”sensible” confused again.

    • Mr. Mister says:

      THings might get crazier when future godfather aspirants build up supporters with the aid of the future Goodhood Tribute: we’ll officially have aggressive religions and holy wars.

  10. Jimbo says:

    I think it was both a great prize for Curiosity (at least as it was initially presented) and a horribly irresponsible thing to do with a Kickstarter funded project. People funded in good faith and it isn’t reasonable to expect them to accept some random kid having any significant control over it.

    It’s lame that they’re having to talk the Curiosity prize down already, but it’s probably the right thing to do.

  11. Koozer says:

    I hope Bryan tries to be as awkward and demanding as humanely (godly?) possible.

  12. stampy says:

    All I can think about is the scene in A Christmas Story where he decodes the secret message… “Drink your Godus? Godus?! A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!”

  13. Acorino says:

    More than I expected, which was nothing.

  14. Skabooga says:

    Better than kings . . . gods. Of gods.

  15. jalf says:

    I don’t really see why everyone is so cynical about it.

    It’s a fun and cool idea. Life-changing? Perhaps not, but the man has always overpromised. At least what he’s delivering sounds like a fun experience for the guy. And it’s a cool idea which hasn’t been done before, as far as I know.

    So the prize of a mobile game is to become a surrogate God character with limited powers in a PC game for a short period of time?
    Wow it’s nothing! So innovative!

    Well, er… not really.

    The winner gets royalties from the the game for that period of time, and the “God” thing is effectively being able to influence *other people’s* games.

    I mean, yes, I get that it’s oh so cool to be cynical (or at least, it were when we were 13), and yes, there is no doubt that it won’t be like *actual* godhood, and sure, the Curiosity thing was deeply and fundamentally silly and whoever paid to participate might need their head examined.

    But none of that changes that this is a hell of a lot cooler prize than what I’d expected. Sharing in the income on their game isn’t insignificant, and the “god of gods” thing sounds like a fun idea, if nothing else. It’s going to be interesting to see how it pans out, and for Bryan Henderson from Edinburgh, Scotland, I can’t imagine that it won’t be fun to be part of that experiment, regardless of how well it ends up working.

    Really, you guys. I know PC gamers are supposed to be a grumpy bunch, but can we still pretend to smile just a little bit, every once in a while?

    • derbefrier says:

      NEVAR! WE MUST HATE EVERYTHING THATS FUN! Hey we got a reputation to protect :P

    • caff says:

      At first, I thought “wow, the poor guy probably thought he’d won a million quid, and all he got was this lousy T-shirt”.

      But I agree, why be cynical about it? He will experience what it’s like to work with the games industry, and will enjoy a modicum of fame and will have tons of stories to tell his friends and family. He will experience something which goes beyond the “get your face in the game” competitions that have gone before. I think it sounds fun and amazing.

      But yes, Peter Molyneux does go on a bit doesn’t he?

    • iucounu says:

      Yes, but literally the only thing we were told about the prize was that it’d be ‘life-changing’. This seems to fall quite a long way short of that. It’s all very well to say “Molyneux always over-promises” but then, again, that promise was the only thing being sold here*. There wasn’t an actual game, just a lottery ticket you had to continually tap on lest it expire.

      Remember those puzzle books we had in the 80s where you could solve some kind of primitive ARG and dig up a gold statuette or something? At least there you had some idea what you were after. It’s an interesting idea to completely abstract that and make it purely about curiosity, but not, all told. terribly interesting in execution.

      I’m not saying tar and feather the guy, but still…

      *OK, it was free, but with IAP.

      • Nogo says:

        Free income for being a GM would would change my life right now.

        • Supahewok says:

          Yeah, I was logging in just to say that free money is always life changing in my book. Find an extra $10 on the floor? Lunch! And I think the fellow’s gonna get a little more than $10. Let me pull up my calculator here…

          Assuming the game is $20 (I realize that that’s probably low and the price will be in pounds anyway but shush) (and having remembered that it’s also a mobile release I now have to wonder if that’s a little high) and he gets 1% of each game sold, (and I just pulled that out of my ass, I have no idea how much royalties are and how big a slice he’s getting, but I’m guessing small), and that the game sells 1000 copies, that is… $200. 10,000 copies is $2000. 100,000 copies is $20,000. (100,000 copies is the upper range of what I think it’ll sell if it gets positive reviews) In my opinion, $2000-$20,000 is indeed life changing. Just think of how many lunches you could buy!

  16. strangeloup says:

    BEHOLD THE MIGHTY LORD

    GOD OF GODS

    COWER IN AWE BEFORE….

    BRYAN

  17. jonfitt says:

    Seems about right to me. Did everyone somehow think Molyneux somehow had the inside track on some cosmic gift?

    Well let’s line up here and share your brilliant ideas:
    What did you think a small video game developer could have offered as a better prize?

    • BooleanBob says:

      A shoe horn? I got one of those things a couple of years ago and it changed my life. I am not even slightly joking about this.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I love my shoe horn, its a small red one from Schu, I’ve had it for 5 years, longer than my longest romantic relationship and it only cost me 50p. I can’t even remember how I used to take off my shoes without it.

        The most important thing about my shoe horn is that it promises only to remove my shoes, and delivers on this task more than adequately. I mean imagine if something or someone made promises that they didn’t deliver on all the time. They would look like a bit of a dick.

    • S Jay says:

      Molyneux suicide letter and a live stream video of him hanging himself.

      • S Jay says:

        Maybe you could only stop his death if you didn’t read the whole suicide note and closed the window – reaaaaal curiosity.

    • S Jay says:

      lead game designer in Molyneux next fever dream?

    • S Jay says:

      All of Molyneux assets

    • S Jay says:

      Trapping Molyneux in a cube and only let him out if he would tap the same amount of taps as everyone did to open the cube.

    • KevinLew says:

      I can name a bunch of things that he could have gotten.

      I’d say that the best thing for Bryan would have been a one year paid internship at 22 Cans where he could learn more about real game development. Bryan is really young and this would have been a real “life changing experience”, especially if Peter Molyneux would be his mentor.

      If Bryan had a real creative side, then I’d try to incorporate some of his good ideas into the game. Imagine if some of your writing, art, or music was in the game and you got credit for it. I’d think that would be a really proud moment for anybody.

      Right now, the idea that he’s a “god of gods” (but not really) sounds like one of those gimmick promotions. He doesn’t really have the power to affect things on a game-wide scale as all of his ideas have to be approved by the company staff anyway. It’s like saying, “You have the freedom to do whatever you want, as long as those things are pre-approved by management.”

      • Mr. Mister says:

        The prize had to be something that would be suitable to almost anyone who happened to win. A ga developer internship is a quite niche thing.

        • Supahewok says:

          Yeah. I mean, what if the winner was a 12 year old kid? What if it was my grandma? Gotta have a prize fit for everybody if you invite everybody to your contest. I know Grandma would have loved that extra cash, but bless her, I don’t think she would ever understand how to play Godus.

          • KevinLew says:

            Somebody asked what would have been a better prize than what was offered and I gave an answer. My answer is definitely a better prize than what he got now. Had the person been 12 years old or a grandmother–as if anybody in those age groups would have been the target audience of Curiosity, or they would have played it for any length of time–then I would have provided a different answer.

            It’s not hard to come up with prizes that would have matched the expectations of a particular target audience. I could just as easily have turned your words around and said, “What if the winner of Curiosity didn’t even like RTS games? Isn’t that possible when Curiosity had nothing to do with Godus or RTS games? So his or her prize would be roped to a game that they hated?”

    • LionsPhil says:

      Molyneux’ hand in marriage.

      You will learn to love him in time. You will have all eternity together to do so, inside the cube.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      “Did everyone somehow think Molyneux somehow had the inside track on some cosmic gift?”

      Peter Molyneux obviously did.

    • realitysconcierge says:

      Granted this isn’t realistic, but I really wanted something along the lines of the movie premise of jumper. Bryan would get some sort of super power and have to be on the run from some secret organization. Fantastic.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I would like a banjo. End of.

    • Phendron says:

      #whatwouldyouhavemolydeux

  18. Anthile says:

    What did people here expect to be in the box, the ark of the covenant?
    This seems like a sensible decision to me. Who knows what’s going to happen in that year, maybe he gets bored or gets busy with real life stuff.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      The words “sensible” and “people” rarely ever go together. When those people are gamers, “sensible” should never be applied. Ever.

      There is so much butt-hurt going on in the comments on this article that you’d think Molyneux was a serial rapist, holocaust denier, or something of the like.

      Then again, this is the same rash of dimwitted man-children that decided EA was a worse company than Bank of America and Wal-Mart.

      • Grygus says:

        To be completely fair, it depends on your definition of “worst company.” Within their realm, perhaps EA is worse than either of them. Yes, obviously, the very nature of a video game company means that they can’t possibly impact the world, positively or negatively, as much as Wal-Mart. But if you’re using a scale of horribleness within the influence they do have, I don’t know that it is so cut-and-dried.

        Your position means that no matter what they do, EA could never be in consideration. That doesn’t seem fair, because now it’s just “worst company out of this subset.”

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Oh, sure they could. But it’s not a competition among their peers in the gaming industry. It is, plainly, “worst company in America.” That cuts things down quite a bit. If we were just talking “worst company” then it would be hard to beat England’s HSBS who admitted that they knowingly and willingly skirted finance disclosure laws to laundered over $60 trillion for drug cartels and al Qaeda.

          The point is scale. Sure, EA is a pretty crappy company. Worse than Wal-Mart, though? Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how shady and horrible of a company Wal-Mart is? This is like saying David Cameron is worse than Mussolini. Sure, Cameron’s a prick, but to say he is worse than the infamous Italian fascist is a bit reaching.

  19. DrScuttles says:

    The whole situation leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. But then I maybe shouldn’t lick the gravel outside my house. And meanwhile Peter Molyneux’s smug, bullshit-spewing face grins behind me.
    Granted, my opinion on the whole Curiosity / Kickstarter thing depends on what Nathan uncovers in his journalistic digging into Molyneux’s strange brainpan.

  20. drvoke says:

    Peter Molyneux, Willy Wonka you ain’t.

  21. S Jay says:

    Suddenly I felt pretty sure nothing of this will happen and it will all crash and burn in a pile of Molyneuxery.

  22. MOKKA says:

    I somehow have the feeling Peter Molyneux had no idea what was in the cube until half an hour before Curiosity was done. At least that’s what I’m getting from this whole story.

    I still like the sound of the idea of players competing to get more actual power over a game, but let’s wait and see how it actually turns out.

  23. ghoststalker194 says:

    I still sorta like it. :P I’d love to give ingame godhood a try.

    • The Random One says:

      I know, right? I’d make myself like Xom, the god of randomness of Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup. YOUR REALMS ARE BORING, MORTAL, SO I FLOODED THEM. THEY ARE NOW BORING AND WET. WHATEVER CATCH YOU LATER.

  24. Siimon says:

    Can someone clue me in on what this is all about, what contest? What whatnow?

  25. buzzmong says:

    I just love the fact it went to somebody called Bryan. It could have only been better if it had actually been Brian.

    Or Jeff.

    Jeff is a good name for a god(us).

  26. Eddy9000 says:

    I feel sorry for people who kickstarted ‘curiosity’ and used their money to buy F2P block-destroying tools, they were essentially used by a developer to fund an advert for his new game. That must really feel pretty disheartening.
    In many ways I like to think of ‘Curiosity’ as a kind of interactive art piece about Peter Molyneux, a game about building hype, promising innovation, sucking people in and then delivering very little; in fact I think it works better as this than as a game.

    • TaylanK says:

      Have to agree. Molyneux used to be this tragic figure whose genius was constantly sabotaged by corporate realities, or at least that’s what I thought was responsible for the under-delivery over the years.

      But this… this is all him. And now I wonder: perhaps it was all him all along.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      I mean he’s done it right from the start, I remember the way he used to talk about ‘Populous’ which was essentially a land flattening simulation. Black and White which was just an awful mess of half ideas, and then Fable taking bullshittery to the next level, he couldn’t even deliver on the idea that people in the villages would start getting the same hairstyle as you as your fame grew let alone all the other dynamics he promised which might have elevated it above a middle of the road 3rd person hack n’ slasher.

      The winner video was perfect: tap away the layers of Peter and at his core is the man himself making more empty promises, repeating pointlessly to infinity like a person caught between two mirrors.

      • Nogo says:

        Ya know, the idea behind Fable was that Molyneux would talk openly about the entire development of the game, hence it being presented to the world with only its working title (Project Ego). Maybe he screwed up by not making it clear that content would be drastically cut (like any game ever), but the backlash he got ensures game development will forever be shrouded in PR speak.

        Personally, I’d rather hear the wacky ideas that make people like Molyneux churn over disappointment that the moon isn’t in my pocket.

        • Grogmonkey says:

          Unless he’s doing it on purpose knowing full well that ‘big dreams undelivered’ are forgiven, but still generate all of the publicity and sales of actually delivering.

          At which point why even try to deliver any more? Much better to talk your way into success than actually have to do it.

    • Lanfranc says:

      It was perfectly possible to play Curiosity and get at least some of the tools without spending a single penny.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Nobody kickstarted Curiosity, stop spreading false information.

      The only Kickstarter 22 cans did was for GODUS.

      And people have been known to pay to click cows. The experience of tapping on a cube and seeing what other people were doing was way more interesting than that and was appreciated by many… the prize at the center was just an extra motivation, kind of a collective Steam achievement.

  27. drinniol says:

    Peter will never be able to release a game that will please all the cynical bastards out there. There has not been one game ever that I can think of that has lived up to hype. Poor old Peter just gives it a human face and he gets hated on.

    • Lanfranc says:

      I’ll take Peter Molyneux’s admittedly-overhyped-but-at-least-usually-original ideas any day over the “let’s keep releasing CoD iterations until the heat-death of the universe” mentality that seems to characterise so much of the rest of the games industry.

      Plus, I did find Curiosity oddly entertaining, for what it was.

    • ts061282 says:

      …and the answer is to simple: don’t let Peter talk. Put a sock in him. His games before talking about games were gold.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Heh. Now, of course, I don’t mind Molyneux developing games. But he’s really asked for a lot of the criticism he’s gotten. Especially with curiosity, IMHO. A cow-clicker, promising amazing things and delivering.. a sort of mod powers in their next game? How convenient. No, I think he should be criticised for this.

      Let his games/experiments be criticised for what they are and what they were promised to be. It’s only fair.

  28. Supahewok says:

    Really sad about the vitriol flying at poor Peter here. Yes, he’s promised the moon and the stars in the past, but ended up delivering some mud with a rock and glitter. He made you lose what, possibly $100 before you wised up and waited before playing his games? Along with a little disappointment? Meanwhile, there are (some, maybe even only a few) devs who treat women like crap and CEO’s that take the soul out of games? I mean, come on guys. Some perspective here. He’s a human being, and from what I know, a rather decent one outside of his tendency to spiel out his soul to a camera. Please don’t treat him like he skewered your dog and ate it at your table while waving a swastika around.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I don’t understand how you can point the finger at the people criticising Curiosity/Molyneux for not knowing better. ‘Knowing better’ is irrelevant when one considers the very fact that, well, Curiosity is what it is. Oh, sure, you can caveat emptor all you want, but that seems a little too easy on Molyneux for my tastes. He came up with it, marketed it in the way he did and concluded it in the way he did. He (and his team)’s responsible for it so he should therefore be accountable for the resulting product.

  29. Nogo says:

    PR person is overly vague and tells us nothing: what is this crap?

    Molyneux gets excited and tells us too much: what is this crap?

    What makes you people happy, honestly?

  30. DickSocrates says:

    Can we just admit once and for all that Molyneux is a confidence trickster?

  31. cpt_freakout says:

    “Life-changing” was too vague a term to use… it promises so much or so little depending on whoever’s listening. Still, as long as Bryan is happy with this, who cares? It’s a pretty cool idea, and it certainly sounds like fun. Besides, we don’t know the extent of the dog of god’s limitations, so while he can’t make Canada explode he might be able to FLOOD IT WITH TERRIBLE NETHERBEASTS FROM THE DEEP.

  32. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I never had much faith in the idea of curiosity. It very much seems exemplary of marketing ploys. Like in a grindy MMO, a lot of repetitive action was required and the end result is disappointing (or at least not worth so much effort).

    More than anything else Molyneux seems like some kind of manipulative marketing guru. Inspiration? Bollocks. It’s not pies in the sky, it’s turds disguised as pies.

  33. tomeoftom says:

    I’m a bit disappointed RPS pay any attention to this attention-hungry idiot liar. This is time and attention that could be paid to designers who are actually capable.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      With this game he actually announced something, executed it and delivered a prize at the end. I don’t see any lie, only subjective opinions of people biased by their Molyneux-hate.

  34. Fozzie_bear says:

    Brian! is that you?

  35. rawrty says:

    Classic Bryan

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