This week has been pretty hectic for Godus developer 22 Cans, the studio founded by veteran developer Peter Molyneux. First, a candid report revealed that the team behind the Populous-style title admitted that it would be unlikely for them to fulfil some of the things promised in the game’s Kickstarter campaign, second Eurogamer revisited the chap who won the role of “God” by tapping a few bricks on Curiosity, and how 22 Cans had pretty much stopped all communication, and finally, the hero of the day Devolver Digital, stepping in to fulfil the promises 22 Cans failed to meet.
So let’s begin the story which started a little earlier this week. In a report made by Rock, Paper, Shotgun, they revealed that in a series of messages on the Godus messageboard, designer Konrad Naszynski, revealed that it was unlikely the team will meet some of the things promised in the Kickstarter campaign which successfully hit and exceeded the campaign target of £450,000 back in 2012.
“You all want to know what this game is actually supposed to be, well so [do] I,” he said. “To be brutally candid and realistic I simply can’t see us delivering all the features promised on the Kickstarter page, a lot of the multiplayer stuff is looking seriously shaky right now especially the persistent stuff like hubworld.
“Things are just moving slowly. A lot slower than I’d like to be honest, it’s somewhat frustrating. From the minute I played the alpha I could see the direction Godus was heading in and I didn’t like it.”
Naszynski worked at 22Cans unpaid for a brief while before being taken on fully. Since then however all he’s been working on is wrestling with the game’s Asian mobile publishing plans, and dealing with such high-staff turnover.
“As this was happening the decision makers in 22cans took notice and got involved,” he continued. “For a while it was looking pretty grim, there was a lot of pressure to just focus on maximising revenue from mobile. Peter got involved and things started to turn around again.
“We compiled a long broad list of things we can do to the game (both mobile focused and PC focused) with items made up from a combination of community feedback, Kickstarter obligations, publisher requests and my own ideas. We then had to score them based on difficulty of task, resources required and cost against returns.
“Quite frankly it’s been exhausting, but I’m starting to feel cautiously optimistic. If I had it my way I wouldn’t bother with mobile, not worry about cost and just work on improving the pc experience, but that’s never going to happen. Make no mistake though, I can’t ignore mobile. It’s the main source of revenue for the project and without it Godus is finished, simple as.”
So with the future of Godus and 22Cans looking fairly shaky, the spotlight was set firmly on the company and its failed promises, one of which was the story of a then-18-year-old Scot Bryan Henderson a chap who tapped on a handful of cubes on his mobile device while playing 22Cans’ debut title, Curiosity. From there a message popped up letting him know he had won the game, and his reward: To be the god of gods in 22Cans next title, Godus.
There’s just one issue. With Godus’ origins changing from day to day and with a clear focus on getting the mobile title as lucrative as possible, poor Bryan Henderson has been left by the wayside feeling pretty peeved that the promises he was made weren’t met.
Eurogamer caught up with Bryan to see what the deal was and it seems with things changing all of the time over at 22Cans, he’s been all but forgotten with what started with weekly contact with the studio filtering down to nothing. Bryan Henderson had been forgotten.
In the interview, Bryan talks about winning, and the trip to 22Cans studio that followed thereafter, it seemed though he was the focus of the day, the studio couldn’t really care less about their all powerful, all ruling god. Soon after the meet with Molyneux and the team, Bryan Henderson returned home, which is where it all went downhill.
“I would have to email them first,” he said to Eurogamer. “After a month or two of winning, I would email them every month, purely because I expected more communication from them, but it wasn’t happening.
“I would ask, so, what’s happening? When am I going to find out more stuff? What’s going to happen, specifically? They were taking their time to answer. They would say, we need to do this first and tell you afterwards.
“Since I won and a year after, I would email them as a ritual thing, every month, just to get some kind of update. Eventually I was like, they’re not being professional at all. Communication is non-existent, so I’m not even going to try any more.”
It seems Bryan Henderson’s inclusion in the game was to begin once the team had completed and implemented the “Hubworld,” the multiplayer portion of the game where gods play as other gods. In the early Alpha of the game, there was an example of this multiplayer mode where two “gods” take each other on by gathering resources, building a civilisation, and eventually taking-down the other player by way of population and acquisition. Since then however, the game has taken a different turn.
“After six months to a year, they should be more professional,” Byran said. “It’s not even about being professional. They’re not even interested in their own project. What the f***’s that about?
“So I was like f*** it, I’m not going to try if you’re not going to try. You’re the one who’s supposed to be professional. I’m just this kid who won this thing. And you’re this game company. You’re supposed to do everything and be the professional one out of me and you. It was a shoddy operation in terms of communication. I was like, fair enough. I suppose I’ll speak to you when you speak to me.”
Thankfully, someone has arrived to save the day.. Not 22Cans, but another publisher: Devolver Digital, the publisher behind games such as Shadow Warrior, Broforce, and Hatoful Boyfriend. You see, Bryan will be a god after all, as the following video reveals:
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ag_93F3_9E” width=”500″]
“We had been keeping up with the story for a while and [Eurogamer] Wes’s story was certainly part of it,” Devolver’s Nigel Lowrie explained to Eurogamer. “We just kept seeing stuff on social media and it made us feel worse and worse for Bryan so we reached out to him in Twitter and talked about the idea that we had with Roll7. It call came together in a few hours.”
Not a Hero is an upcoming game by OlliOlli studio Roll7, which is essentially a god-game but with a twist. And in that game, Bryan will fulfil his role as god, even though he won’t actually have any influence over the game as promised by 22Cans.
“The world of Not A Hero is a godless place, that much is certain, but the next best thing is BunnyLord – an anthropomorphic rabbit from the future running for mayor,” Lowrie said to Polygon. “Roll7 is going to put Bryan in the sort of employees lounge where BunnyLord stashes his heroes / henchmen as an NPC. It’s not exactly becoming a god but it’s the best we could do.”
In reponse to this, Bryan said “well this is pretty cool. I’m up for this”.
Will 22Cans ever live up to their promises? Probably not, with all that’s happened this week, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to come back from all of the negative press. We’re pleased Byran managed to live out his promise, but whether he’ll become the god of gods is yet to be seen.