Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why We Can't Have Nice Things (And Why We Can)

I've defended Peter Molyneux on the premise that his failures are usually more interesting than other people's successes. And this is true, up to a point.

Then we have Godus.

The Kickstarter for Godus raised £526,563 (that converts to roughly $832,000). That's quite a bit of money, isn't it?

This is not $800,000+ given to an amateur. Molyneux (according to Moby Games) has 19 game design credits and 11 production credits, dating all the way back to 1989. He's been making games for over a quarter of a century.

Here's what the Kickstarter backers of Godus have received: a big, steaming pile.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun dove into the depths yesterday and emerged with this: Oh Godus, What The Hell’s Going On? Here are a few excerpts:
...the team currently working on the game have recently acknowledged that they, “simply can’t see us delivering all the features promised on the kickstarter page.

So what is the state of the development? It sounds as if the developers themselves do not quite know. Designer Konrad Naszynski has recently been added to the team and is being impressively frank about his experiences on the Godus message boards. As well as stating that he doesn’t believe the Kickstarter promises are achievable, he added, “a lot of the multiplayer stuff is looking seriously shaky right now especially the persistent stuff like hubworld.” And more recently he has posted to explain how “frustrated” he is with the speed at which he’s able to bring change. 

The very short version of the current situation is that the mobile version of Godus is stuffed with ass-gouging microtransactions and represents most of what everyone hates about F2P games. That was the version that was actually released as "complete", I guess.

The PC version is an utter mess and is still being sold as an Early Access game for $19.99.

Molyneux, at one point, blamed Kickstarter:
There’s this overwhelming urge to over-promise because it’s such a harsh rule: if you’re one penny short of your target then you don’t get it. And of course in this instance, the behaviour is incredibly destructive, which is ‘Christ, we’ve only got 10 days to go and we’ve got to make £100,000, for fuck’s sake, lets just say anything’. So I’m not sure I would do that again.

Stupefying. Again, this is someone who has been making games for 25 years.

In response, 22cans made this stunningly inept video in response: 22cans Confirm Godus Team Shrinkage, Admit Mistakes. It's 17 minutes long, but I encourage you to watch this, just to watch human beings disintegrate before your very eyes. It is nothing short of pathetic.

Is this an indictment of Kickstarter as a fatally broken process? No.

Hell, no.

Sunless Sea. Kickstarter of £100,803 (about $150,000). A brilliant, fascinating game, with an incredible amount of world depth. If it's not the game of the year, it will be one of the nominees.

Darkest Dungeon. Kickstarter of $313,337. It just reached early access, and it kicks ass beyond my wildest dreams. It's a spectacular game, even in its ongoing-development state.

Sunless Sea and Darkest Dungeons might not exist without Kickstarter, and they are excellent examples of how wonderfully Kickstarter has created opportunities for games that might not otherwise exist.

So there is no question that this is not a failure of Kickstarter. This is 100% a failure of Peter Molyneux.

Peter, grow the f--- up, would you? Stop acting like a bored ten-year-old who never finishes his homework.

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