Over the past week there has been a media uproar following the announcement that Peter Molyneux’s 22Cans will be working on a new project before their old KickStarter funded game Godus is polished. Many websites decided to weigh in on the internet outrage. Kotaku released the article “Why Peter Molyneux’s Godus is such a disaster”, Eurogamer did an interview with winner of Molyneux’s Curiosity mobile game and supposed “God of God’s” Brian Henderson, and Ars Technica used Molyneux as an example of everything that is wrong with KickStarter. TechRaptor was not exempt in its disappointment at Molyneux’s work on the project so far, but he is not the first to be late with his Kickstarter promises and he will surely not be the last. While it is unfortunate that Godus is so far incomplete and will probably take a further 9 months to get there, the coverage that Molyneux has received since his announcement that the team on Godus will be cut back is rather telling of the industry at the moment.
The most controversial of which is obviously his interview with Rock,Paper,Shotgun. Any interview that starts with the question “Are you a pathological liar?”, boasts about this attempt to stigmatize mental illness, and then goes on to lie and vilify its subject for over an hour is not something I frankly want to see in any industry I call home. RPS repeatedly claimed that Godus was more than 3 years late, twice the actual time limit, and showed a complete lack of industry knowledge when they claimed that Minecraft never made any promises to its alpha backers. (Spoiler: it did and it broke some.)
Let’s get to the bare bones of the subject. The 35-year industry veteran, and Populous and Fable developer, has made plenty of mistakes throughout the development of Godus. He completely underestimated the time limit it would take to build, and the price that going over this short time limit would cost. He ended up selling out to a publisher and ignoring the guy to who he promised he “would change his life,” and yet the simple fact remains that no-one wants to see Godus finished more than Molyneux and his team.
As for Brian Henderson, the boy who won the chance to be Godus’ God of God’s a few years back, we might just want to leave the poor boy alone. When Eurogamer by its own acknowledgment forced Brian to come a long way into town by bus for a burger and the gossip on Molyneux, but instead find out he’s rather chilled out, you don’t need to try and up our emotional stakes by comparing him to Scotland tennis legend Andy Murray. You should be better than that. If you respect Brian at all take him at his word and not be more concerned about him getting his 1% of the revenue than he is himself.
“ I don’t doubt it’s going to happen. It must happen because of all of these big reveals and promises.” If 22Cans stops production: “Whatever. I’d feel bad for them. I wouldn’t be bothered if I’m missing out on something. Really, I wouldn’t.“
When Wired’s Game Life Podcast tries to whip it’s listeners into a frenzy with mad claims that Molyneux should pay Henderson $800,000 of his own money to “buy him out” that’s really not doing anything to help the guy who still has faith.
In this writer’s humble opinion a late game is ALWAYS better than a incomplete game. Say what you like about Double Fine, but Broken Age Act 1 is half of a really incredible and beautiful game, and I have every faith that the second Act will produce the complete experience Shafer promised his KickStarter backers all those years ago (a full 9 months before Godus was successfully backed). And yet when Grim Fandango Remastered’s Vita port bugged out so hard I had to restart TWICE, you can bet I wished they’d spent a few more years on development.
What Molyneux has done is bad and he certainly needed to be called out on it. But stringing him up in the media for clicks, or telling people that they should not believe in people like Molyneux who “eat their own shit for dinner” is not doing the backers of Godus justice when the head of development is too snowed under with complaints and depression to work. When newspapers like The Guardian report on Molyneux’s misgivings while giving him a fair shake, it’s depressing that his own gaming media cannot be sympathetic enough to do the same.
For more information, the early access of Godus can be found on Steam.
What do you think of the Molyneux affair? Was he given a fair shake by the gaming press?