Molyneux on Godus: "I made some horrendous mistakes"

Blames inexperience with Kickstarter, mobile and Steam Early Access

Outspoken developer Peter Molyneux has chosen to answer the concerns of Kickstarter backers directly in a new video, where he accepts the blame for some of the issues the game has faced and points to a lack of experience as to one of the reasons behind it.

"Firstly I don't think the community can ever be at blame," he said, responding to a comment from a vexed Godus fan.

"I'd never done a Kickstarter campaign before, I had never released on Steam Early Access before, I'd never done a mobile game before"

"I think we need to appreciate all the range of comments from the positive to the negative. I do however take blame and put blame on my shoulders. I think - and hindsight is always a perfect way of looking at life - you can look back in the past and think why did I do this? But there is a catalogue of things that I did badly and incorrectly because I'd never done a Kickstarter campaign before, I had never released on Steam Early Access before, I'd never done a mobile game before and all of these things... I made some horrendous mistakes."

He said the company was paying for those mistakes in the amount of time it was taking to turn the game into what it was intended to be.

"This team here relies on me for direction and when I give them direction and it's a mistake - like for example we should have taken the PC version much further on before doing the mobile version."

Molyneux recently announced he was working on a new game, The Trail, but refused to talk about it in the video on the basis that that was one of the mistakes he's made in the past. He asked backers to "please continue to be harsh" and gave out his personal email in order for gamers to send him their frustrations directly.

The full 22cans video can be seen below, in which Molyneux is joined by designer Konrad Naszynski.

Godus was successfully funded in December 2012, raising £526,563 from 17,184 backers. It was released on Steam Early Access in September 2013.

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Latest comments (16)

Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 6 years ago
Why am I a moth to a flame with this guy?

It is not due to inexperience with anything, it is due to selling people an idea and not delivering on it.

In fact, here's how you do it.

Here's the idea of the Molyneux curse - Dream big, produce little.

I just feel sorry for the people that work for and with him
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 6 years ago
I'd never done a mobile game before
Curiosity What's Inside the Cube? (2012)
Platform(s) iOS, Android
Or does Curiosity not count as a mobile game? Maybe he means something else?

It's baffling how a statement like that (related to Godus) can just be accepted, without any examination, given the situation.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 11th February 2015 7:13am

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development6 years ago
It's not being examined because most people have stopped listening or caring.

Populous still ranks as my all time favourite game, so the person chiefly behind it gets a lot of rope from me. But it stretched taught a long time ago.
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Show all comments (16)
Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship6 years ago
I don't think the issue so much that he 'dreamed big, produced little'. Godus is, as free-to-play mobile titles go, not a bad game. It seems to be making some money, so it's finding an audience.

But it's entirely the wrong game for the PC audience that backed the game originally. That audience wanted next-gen Populous. What they got was a serviceable, mobile-skewed, free-to-play god-lite sim. It's entirely about audience expectations. 22cans took funding from a very specific audience, an audience that was nostalgic about Peter's earlier titles, and used that to enter a different market. This is why the level of vitriol is so high.

I doubt this was an intentional bait-and-switch. I suspect 22cans, propelled by PM's ambition and enthusiasm, naively believed that they could square the circle and keep both audiences happy with the same design.

I also don't think it's fixable without literally rebuilding Godus PC from the ground up. The core design is just inappropriate, for the PC audience, at its foundation.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick McCrea on 11th February 2015 10:26am

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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 6 years ago
So his mistake was .... hubris? And has been for quite a long time from all accounts.
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios6 years ago
Remember this from March last year?
Why Godus is probably 22Cans' last game
"We're going to be centralizing all of our creativity on one entity, and that entity is Godus."
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Tim Spencer Level Director, TT Games6 years ago
Just to add more fuel to the fire...

It's not without irony that just the other week he was warning Microsoft about making promises they can't keep.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tim Spencer on 11th February 2015 4:20pm

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Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe6 years ago
Re: Godus. Imho just very poor, text-book project management issues, no contingency plans etc.
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Benn Achilleas CEO and Founder, Playabl6 years ago
Interesting article link Tim, thanks for sharing. I think the word "unprofessional" is underused across this entire Godus project and Peter's behaviour.
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James Berg Games User Researcher 6 years ago
PM dreamed big, delivered below expectations - is there anyone on this site that's surprised by this in the slightest? PM helmed some brilliant, revolutionary games, and nobody can take that away from him, but we also shouldn't ignore more recent history when considering future projects.
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Petter Solberg Freelance Writer & Artist, 6 years ago
As much as I admire honesty, I think it's not so much Molyneux' willingness to 'admit mistakes' but the way he does it that are pissing people off. Firstly, a game is a team effort, not a one man show, and it bothers me how his apologetic sentiments keep overshadowing the team's hard work. Even gamers who don't play these games now got the impression that these titles are all failures more than anything else. That being said, I'm all for experimenting and trying and failing and then being honest about what you've learned. I think many of his points are valid, but could have been communicated in a more thoughtful manner.

Also, I would have loved for Godus to be a beautiful, failed experiment. The problem is, Godus feels pretty conventional to me. The only new thing is really how some of these rather old gameplay elements come together, and what it does with the touchscreen imput and the cross platform experience. I loved Black & White for a lot of reasons, one of them being how it really felt like a proper 'try and fail' sandbox experience more than just a game (I loved how the Creature in BW1 could just run off and do it's own thing, like watching the sunset, which was unscripted and had no effect on the gameplay). Godus, to me, is too much of a conventional game for its own good.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Petter Solberg on 11th February 2015 6:03pm

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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 6 years ago
Ah my bad, I meant to compare Molyneux to a used cars salesman or a dodgy builder that preys on the elderly. I completely forgot that kickstarter allows the pitcher to set goals for their game, goals that originally people did want and still didn't get.

Sure people wanted next gen Populous but that's where PM preyed upon those dreams and sold them, after all he is the king of overpromising.

Heh just imagaine if he was in charge of the $110 million star citizen, pretty sure you wouldn't be saying that they wanted a next gen wing commander.

My point is, you shouldn't defend his practices, it's what is wrong with the industry and low and behold. He overpromised on Fable 1, 2 AND still not learnt from his mistakes, then again neither have his blind followers

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Jordan on 11th February 2015 9:31pm

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Matthew Hill Head of Recruitment, Specialmove6 years ago
Perhaps the one "positive" is that people will realize that there is no place to hide with crowd funded stuff. You are more accountable than ever before - a large, vocal audience have invested in you financially (and usually emotionally). They need to be treated with respect

If you are looking to crowdfund a project then a lot of pain could be avoided by bearing in mind the following...

1. Don't promise what you can't deliver
2. Don't ignore your community - especially a high profile community member
3. If you can't deliver or are going to deliver late be open about it
4. Mistakes happen - Apologize at the earliest opportunity
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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 6 years ago
Pretty much spot on Matthew.

A community can be very forgiving, tolerant and above all, loyal if treated right. The industry needs to get out of the habit of searching for "short term profit" and aim for "long term gain", especially those that are venturing into F2P and/or "Games as a service".

It doesn't mean that the guys that pay (or pay more) should be automatically wined and dined upon, it doesn't automatically mean they are right but it does mean they have the right to be heard and responded to. The idea of "The customer is always right" needs to be abolished from existence and replaced with "The customer has the right to be heard and receive service"
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Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe6 years ago
Any recent project management or requirements engineering course would teach you that the "The customer is always right" is actually no longer thought to be the universal truth - these days what we say is the "The customer may not always be right, but always has a point"
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This is the latest video where I see PM looking very vulnerable, at least no tears this time.

I have seen over the years of knowing the man a swing from excitement and ambition in the 90's to a arrogance in the Naughties to a superiority complex - and now to a wounded persona!

I hope that he is being helped by those that respect him - as he has been allowed to perceive that having money from past 'team' releases meant that he was special, and now the reality of how much vitriol is being directed at the latest in a numerous list of "miss calculations" and "overly inflated claims" - he may do something stupid. - this is now the second time I have voiced this - is it not time that we stop using PM for soundbites here and look towards new visionaries to comment on developments - ones that do not have the same legacy of shame?
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