Molyneux On Religion, Godus’ “Crazy” Single-Player

By Nathan Grayson on September 7th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Peter Molyneux is up to his old tricks again, for better or worse. He’s gone gaga for Godus, and he wants the world to hear all about it. And who knows? Maybe this time – finally, after years of squandering his legendary status on unfulfilled promises and mediocre games – he’s onto something. Godus certainly sounds fascinating, with Molyneux describing it as a massively polytheistic EVE-Online-inspired social experiment that seems destined for player-driven chaos. But there are still far too many question marks, with the Curiosity-born god of gods and an offline single-player story being the biggest. So I took my promise-weary, cynical heart to Molyneux, and here’s how he replied.

RPS: So how does religion work in multiplayer? You say it’s really different, but can you explain it at all?

I want to create a story that is has emotional elements to it, like Fable. How do you do that in a god game?

Molyneux: The only thing I’ve said about clans is that to challenge Bryan, the god of gods, you have to form a religion. That religion is like a clan. You are forming a collection of people in the Godus world, and if your religion does well – and I haven’t defined what “well” means – then your religion can challenge Bryan.

That is very interesting, because you have to send one person from your clan to challenge Bryan. You all know that he has to leave your clan if he wins. You all know. He’s going to be the new god of gods. How he interacts with you after you’ve worked so hard to put him on that pedestal is going to be interesting. But there’s some very interesting stuff. For me, I think a lot of the time clans don’t do enough. I should feel a benefit from being in a clan. It should be more than just chatting. It should be about tangible benefits from being in a clan.

RPS: During your PAX panel you mentioned that god of gods’ cut of Godus’ profits would be “significant”. Can you give an actual percentage?

Molyneux: It’s probably best if I don’t give an exact percentage, but it’s got to be financially worthwhile, because it’s got to be something that you aspire to do. The first game that I did, I think I got less than five percent royalties from it. I’m not saying he has five percent royalties. But it’s more than a percent. We can vary it as we see fit. But it’s not capped at all. Even though there was a debate about how it should be capped.

There’s one thing that I didn’t say during my keynote which is really significant, and that is that we’re releasing the Steam Early Access version on Friday the 13th of September. At the end of October, we release the iPad version, and two weeks later we release the Android version. That means it’s not just going to be PC and Mac. He gets all that money from all those versions. I don’t know how many it’s going to sell. It’s 19 bucks. 19 bucks, if it sells 100,000, it’s a nice amount of money. If it sells a lot more, who knows?

RPS: You’ve been emphasizing the multiplayer aspect of Godus. Is there still going to be a single-player campaign?

Molyneux: Yes. There’s a single-player story. Again, this is something I haven’t really talked about, because it’s not something that’s really going to be… We’re not going too far down the storyline in the beta or the Friday the 13th build. But it’s a completely different story to any story that you’ve played in a game. It’s tempting to make a story about Zeus on Mount Olympus, but that doesn’t… It doesn’t really add to the game. I think this story is very… It’s going to be interesting. It’s a bit crazy. It’s a crazy story.

RPS: How so?

Molyneux: Because it’s an emotional story. I want to create a story that is has emotional elements to it, like in Fable. How do you do that in a god game?

RPS: You add a dog.

Molyneux: How do you have a dog?

RPS: You play as a dog who’s also God.

Molyneux: [laughs] There is a cat in the story. But I’m not going to give you any more clues than that. It’s very crazy, the story. To give you an example, we consulted with this one scriptwriter who worked on this famous soap opera in the United Kingdom called Coronation Street, which has been running for 40 years. Even me, at my most optimistic… I was worried that it might not work.

There were quite a few things that I didn’t cover. One of the most charming things – I think the most charming thing in the game is the most silly, stupid thing. One of the cards you can win [and acquire abilities from] is you. So if you play in a multiplayer game against me and you win card 16, it’s actually me. In your world, there will be a little character, and it will have my name at the top of the character, Peter Molyneux.

That character is fully attached to my social feed, so all my tweets will come up at that name. What it actually means, stupidly, is that you can’t help [but deal with some fallout]. I’m sure someone is going to use the finger of Godus to squish me. But I’ve got my wife and my son in the game. My wife tweets and it comes up in the world. She’s on a mountaintop in my world. I just love her. She’s got this lovely garden. She goes out and farms. It’s just charming. It’s a stupid feature. It’s just a piece of text.

But you end up, bizarrely – and this is what this demo didn’t get across – you end up caring for your little people, because they love you so much. You just feel good. They’re your friends. They’re in this little village together and they’ve all got their social feeds coming up.

RPS: So that’s going to be completely offline?

Molyneux: Who dares to say their game is always online these days? I’m sure that if I said that on stage today, this red dot would appear on my forehead and I’d be sniped to death. So just like in Curiosity, you didn’t have to be online all the time to play Curiosity. You don’t have to be online all the time to play Godus. I don’t think that’s a feature that you will care about, playing in the offline mode. Because all these social feeds go out the window. You don’t see the other gods on this planet. We can only buffer so many of the changes in your world before we need to upload it to the server. Otherwise you’re going to be out of sync with the game. But we still allow you to play offline.

RPS: Do you have to check in after a certain amount of time?

Molyneux: No. It’s just like Curiosity. We will save as much as we can about your world, and if you go online, you’ll be able to automatically update. If you played Curiosity, you could be tapping, and you wouldn’t even notice you were in airplane mode. That’s some of the technology we had to get right.

RPS: That’s also another big concern. What if you are right next to somebody, and then they just stop playing? Maybe you never even meet, you just see them, and then you realize they stopped building you. You just have this dead town next to you.

Molyneux: That leaves un-cared-for and unloved people, isn’t it? These little people, they’re not going to just die. They’re not going to sit there and wait. They’re going to be patient, just like we are. We’re patient with God. But we need his love sometimes. They’ll wait for a certain amount of time, but eventually they’ll consider themselves unruled by a god, and they’ll leave and go somewhere else.

RPS: Can you just absorb them into your fold?

Molyneux: It’s the little people’s choice, the followers’ choice, whose religion they’re going to be a part of that’s close to them. I’ll be honest with you. There was a game that I played which solved an awful lot of these problems. It was a game called Tribal Wars. Tribal Wars, you founded these villages and they were all connected. I played Tribal Wars a hell of a lot. And it was exactly that thing. If a place was unplayed for a considerable amount of time, it could be consumed by the neighboring populations.

[PR motions that we're out of time, pulls a lever to open up a trapdoor beneath my seat]

RPS: Thank you for your tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime.

You can read part one of the interview here.

__________________

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66 Comments »

  1. stringerdell says:

    Molyneux hasn’t done anything good since black and white. It baffles me that people still believe his wacky promises

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      He’s still a visionary innovator. Just look at how many games have dogs now!

      • salena012 says:

        my co-worker’s mother makes $67/hr on the laptop. She has been out of a job for five months but last month her paycheck was $15348 just working on the laptop for a few hours. description>>>>>>>>>>http://goo.gl/G40gh3

    • AbigailBuccaneer says:

      The irony of telling Peter Molyneux to put a dog in a god game is almost too charming.

    • The Laughing Owl says:

      A cynical comment on an article about Peter Molyneux? I guess I didn’t see that coming. Oh, wait.

    • Tuco says:

      Black & White itself wasn’t that good in the first place.
      Well, you can like it, but it was mechanically inferior to all the god/management games he produced in Bullfrog.

      • scatterlogical says:

        Well there’s not much to be said for a game where the pinnacle moment was watching an overstuffed AI experiment gone wrong eat it’s own shit.

        • sinister agent says:

          Nah, the pinnacle was the creature fights. They were utterly brutal.

          Also the funniest thing the creature did wasn’t eating its own shit; it was when it “lost” an item it was carrying, which just vanished into the ether. It could happen to rocks, that beachball, a villager… yep, your creature just permanently misplaced a human being. Oops.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Don’t forget the starting levels where it’s taken away from you. “Our game’s defining feature is over there. No, you may not have it.”

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Yes: let’s not give the industry veteran, one of the very few who survived the 90s and 00s, and is still willing to try to fucking innovate instead of, for example, turn one of the most popular casual tower defense games ever into a F2P cover based shooter because of marketing trends.

      I don’t even care about the quality of Pete’s games anymore. The fact that he’s still out there trying his best helps keep me from murdering game publishing executives. Godus is already better than this year’s Call of Duty because this year’s CoD is indistinguishable from last year’s CoD. And now this year’s PvZ is indistinguishable from CoD. But Peter is out there and that’s why EA’s execs remain unmurdered for the time being.

      • Rikard Peterson says:

        I don’t condone the killing bit, but… well said.

        • dE says:

          The killing part is really really weird.
          On the topic of Peter Molyneux: Chances are I won’t be buying one of his games anytime soon. Everytime I hear him talk, I instantly dismiss it as fluff, but feel envy for the almost childlike enthusiasm he still feels for games.
          When I look at games, can no longer NOT take them apart. Oh let me guess if I jump here this will happen. Yep, it happened. As a teenager, I could talk hours about games and would love every nerdy minute of it. I still remember the moment a friend and me found the secret armor in Breath of Fire. I think I was jumping in excitement for days. Peter Molyneux still seems to have that energy. Hence, envy is what I feel.

      • aepervius says:

        There are real innovator out there. From all the bluster , and the fanboy coming to its protection, the real innovation was and is still indy, and the few other vetera making great game. Peter’s reputation is way overrated.

        • MasterDex says:

          I don’t usually make comments of this type but after reading you saying that Peter Molyneux’s rep is overrated, the only logical conclusion I can come to for you to be able to make that statement is that you are younger than me and thus don’t remember Bullfrog.

          • Yglorba says:

            Bullfrog consisted of many people, though. I think it’s reasonable to conclude at this point that Molyneux was not the entire magic that made it happen.

            (My suspicion is that he was good with ideas, but that Bullfrog’s real magic was that they were a team that all understood each other well and could make them happen. The fact is that people with good ideas are not that rare; what’s rare is a team that can put them into practice on time and under budget.)

          • MasterDex says:

            Oh, don’t get me wrong, Bullfrog was more than just Peter but the man did come up with Populous and Dungeon Keeper. Even if he wasn’t the only one that made those games a reality, you’ve got to give the man credit where credit is due.

            And even forgetting about Bullfrog, I don’t think Molyneux could be accused of being overrated, at least for the last 10 or 15 years. Over-excited maybe. Over-cooked perhaps. But certainly not overrated.

  2. dagudman says:

    The idea is amazing, the problem is the execution of said idea.

  3. Deathmaster says:

    No tears? Unsuccessful interview.

  4. Henson says:

    RPS: You play as a dog who’s also God.

    Uh-oh. I’m now on the watch in this game for Mrs. Elenor Whitmore and her god, Spot.

    • King_Rocket says:

      “You know, six months from now, we’re still gonna be laughing at this one.”

      • ConnieCarson03 says:

        I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do…

        W­W­W.C­N­N­1­3.ℂ­O­M

  5. Sheng-ji says:

    I really don’t want to see tweets from randoms pop up in game. To me that’s not social interaction, it’s being bombarded with crap that disassociates you from the game (Maybe it’s supposed to distract).

  6. Shadowcat says:

    Surely the right approach after all these years is to ignore his game until it’s finished, and then review it. Because you’re just taking the bait, time after time after time; always expecting things to be different, but for no good reason. If you were actually promise-weary and cynical you’d stop doing that. If the game turns out to be good, talk about it then.

  7. FunkyLlama says:

    Why do you even bother interviewing this man? Surely you’re not so naive as to think his words actually mean anything… right?

  8. Freud says:

    My mental firewall has been set to block Molyneux for years.

  9. Horg says:

    ”we consulted with this one scriptwriter who worked on this famous soap opera in the United Kingdom called Coronation Street…..”

    Sometimes I think you WANT to fail!

    • dagudman says:

      I bet he doesn’t even know what Coronation Street is, he just heard that it’s been going for 40 years and of course that means that it has amazing writing. He might as well have gotten someone from a reality TV show, It would make no difference.

      • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

        There’s no way in the world he doesn’t know what Coronation Street is. The only way you wouldn’t if you live in Britain is if you reside under a boulder.

        I’ve no idea why you’d toot about having a Corrie writer on board though, it’s not exactly a show I’d associate with quality output.

  10. PopeRatzo says:

    “…and if your religion does well – and I haven’t defined what “well” means…

    Molyneux is so full of shit.

    • Big Murray says:

      Every game designer is full of shit. Molyneux just doesn’t pretend he’s figured it all out for PR purposes.

      Instead of berating him for being “full of shit”, we should appreciate somebody in the games industry actually being honest.

      • AlmostPalpable says:

        Being vague and skirting around things while trying to make everything you say sound dramatic and significant is not being honest. Listening to PM or reading what he writes is like reading a post on /r/trees written by someone who has just discovered cannabis and thinks they’ve suddenly got everything figured out, EVERYTHING. I bet PM finishes every sentence he writes in emails and PMs (ha, PMs) with ;)

        Dude. There’s this thing. It’s like, totally clever and geniusal. I’ll tell you about it later… if you’re ready for it. ;) – Peter Molyneux.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Molyneaux has been accused of a lot of things. Honesty was never one of them.

    • Lemming says:

      From a design perspective, that made perfect sense to me.

  11. terry says:

    I…well….he’s lost it, hasn’t he?

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      I’m reassured by the amount of times he says his game is crazy. Perhaps the healing process can begin now that he’s realizing his insanity?

  12. strangeloup says:

    I think we’ve finally reached the Molynarity where the man himself and @petermolydeux have become indistinguishable from one another.

  13. Bull0 says:

    if your religion does well – and I haven’t defined what “well” means

    It’s almost like it’s all bullshit

  14. Dariune says:

    It’s very hard to have an opinion on this because what has been said so far has mostly been fluff.

    But the focus on Online play concerns me. The complete lack of a game there also makes it look a bit crap. This will likely change when we hear more about it but so far it looks like “Move shit, build shit, collect cards, talk to people” which really sounds a bit sans atmosphere.

    I think if I were a backer I would consider asking for my money back based on the fact that this is totally not what was touted.

    Having said all that I really do hope this is good. If only because I feel sorry for Peter.

  15. S Jay says:

    “But it’s a completely different story to any story that you’ve played in a game.”

    Yeah, right.

  16. Viroso says:

    Was this a Molydeux interview? At some points there, really Molydeux.

  17. LintMan says:

    We can only buffer so many of the changes in your world before we need to upload it to the server. Otherwise you’re going to be out of sync with the game. But we still allow you to play offline.

    So, basically Godus has no true single player mode: you’re still tied into the multiplayer world? What happens when the “buffer” gets full? Does the game stop and tell you it needs to go back online?

  18. Skabooga says:

    Let me just say that I like Peter Molyneux and enjoy reading his words. Granted, I only ever played like 3 hours of Black & White and nothing else from him, but I admire his honest exuberance even if his reach continually exceeds his grasp. He is a bit like the tragic heroes from the Greek plays of yore.

    All this enmity towards Molyneux feels like so much killing of mockingbirds.

  19. edwardoka says:

    You know my defining memory of Molyneux? Not Dungeon Keeper or Populous or Magic Carpet or in Black and White the giant creatures that you could train or the villagers shouting “WE NEED FOOD!” or the way the game occasionally said your name instead of “Death”?

    It was those sailor bastards and their sailor bastard song.

  20. AmirBan says:

    at least Godus looks better than most games this or maybe next year.
    i like Molyneux, and i know he’s not on his good will these past years, but imagine the industry without man like him, without man trying to be him, yes my friends this industry will be all CoD/BF or more mindless linear shooters

    • jrodman says:

      Looks as in graphics? I surely find the art style and presentation we see here attractive.

      Looks as in sounds like it will be fun to play? I certainly get the impression of a lot of unwanted multiplayer junk, and a poorly considered mishmash of poor mechanics that were done better in populous.

      I also think it’s a mistake to put him on a pedestal as a singular force for creativity in games. There were a LOT of creative games coming out in the 8 (spectrum, c64) and 16bit (atari st, amiga) era because the field was relatively new, and because the economics were fairly unconstrained. Molyneux wasn’t that much a standout in the games of the the time, although he did have a way of combining the simulationist and the whimsical that was compelling.

      Currently on digital download there are a significant number of successful creative game makers, forging their own paths and creating new works and new styles. They lack the ability completely bamboozle an interviewer though, and the history.

      • AmirBan says:

        by looks i meant play nicly after watching 50min gameplay. i don’t care about multiplayer i play alone offline without multiplayer features. rest of your opinion means shit blah blah to me

        • jrodman says:

          That shows an impressive level of self-absorption that you believe that comments in threads are written for your benefit alone. But at least you had nothing to add and were rude to boot!

          • AmirBan says:

            “self-absorption”
            fuck off, you comment for humanity ? lol
            i liked it and piss-off

          • jrodman says:

            Well at least your rudeness is consistent!

    • Bull0 says:

      That comment’s sort of a huge insult to all the actual innovators in the industry

  21. PhilLThomson says:

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    ——>>>> http://www.Rush60.com

  22. Sardaukar says:

    It’s hard for me to dislike Molyneux. In spite of everything, he did a better job of making me feel like a monster than any other game, even more than that time in Perfect Dark when the disarmed enemy I was aiming at began to plead for his life. It was in Black & White 1, when I learned you could sacrifice living things for mana.

    It started innocently with trees of all things, I think I had accidentally dropped one on the worship altar while planting trees in the area, and suddenly it was gone and I had more power. And then one day playing, I can’t even remember if it was an accident, I dropped a worshiper and received a lot more power. This in itself wasn’t really anything to induce feeling wrong. A while passed during which I kept to a generally neutral status and only sacrificed people when I was in dire need of mana.

    But I got into a rough spot and needed a lot of power, and so seniority became a rarity in my villages. I began to notice a trend, then; The older the person I sacrificed, the less power they produced. So I dropped the youngest worshiper present, and then a child from the creche. That child produced a lot more power than I expected, I think it was enough by itself to cast a fireball or something. I reasoned that losing one child less often was better than a regular loss of older villagers. The situation didn’t improve, though, and I found myself resorting to more directly effective means of winning belief- fireballs- and more rain cast to get the most out of my farmland. I began to assign more breeders. I began to actively examine the creche for the youngest offerings. I cast more and I consumed more and my hand blackened and tower sharpened and then my people began to die without cause. Villagers died more and more at or before age 40.

    My world fell apart pursuing power and I was powerless to save it.

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