Peter Molyneux's Godus is one of gaming's more famous hot messes. Most of the promised features haven't been implemented, development priority appears to have shifted from PC to mobile platforms, the winner of the "life-changing" prize in Curiosity—godhood in Godus—has been left out in the cold, and topping it all off, then-newish Lead Designer Konrad Naszynski admitted that the studio probably won't be able to deliver on everything it promised in the very successful 2013 Kickstarter.
We haven't heard much from Godus or developer 22 Cans since then, as Molyneux swore off talking to the press in February and has, rather surprisingly, kept his word. But Eurogamer today posted an in-depth interview with the studio's new CEO, Simon Phillips, who took the job shortly after Molyneux's vow to clam up. In it, he's surprisingly frank about the depth of the studio's troubles, and how it all came out.
The core problem, he said, was Molyneux, specifically that he was out of his element trying to run a business. "All that stuff you've done wrong is quite easy stuff to fix and should have been done, and yes, you fucked up and should have done all this stuff, but we can sort that out," Phillips told him. "You need to get back into designing games. Don't try and do everything. Don't try and glue it all back together because it's just going to crumble down. You need to make games. That's what you enjoy. I quite like business. I'll do the business."
Offering a cut of Godus' profits to Bryan Henderson, the winner of Curiosity, was a "genius concept," Phillips said, but it never got past that point. "Peter's already out here somewhere thinking about this and thinking about this, and no-one was doing this stuff in the middle," he continued. "It's really basic stuff, but there was no-one in the studio to do that. It's a highly design-led studio that didn't have the structure it needed to deal with this kind of stuff."
22 Cans still intends to finish and release Godus, but Phillips acknowledged that there's no time frame for implementing any of the missing features, like combat and multiplayer, saying it could be "years of development" before any of it is in. He's been in contact with Henderson, but that situation is complicated by the fact that the God of Gods feature upon which his prize is based doesn't actually exist.
"There's nothing to calculate [the prize] on. You can't say, let's put a pound a day away for Bryan, or ten pounds. There's no financial concept of what this God of Gods thing is, and that's what we need to sort out," he said. "That's not to say there isn't an idea of what maybe it should be. But I categorically don't want to just buy Bryan off. I don't want to go, we're really sorry, here you go, and we really mean it. No actually, let's try do the right thing. It's so difficult to try and convey I just want to do the right thing."
Talk is cheap, but this kind of blunt (and slightly vulgar) admission of bungling is unusual, and it gives me hope that the accompanying commitment to setting things right is sincere. The full interview goes much further into what Phillips has planned for the future of 22 Cans, and by extension for Molyneux, and it's really quite good. Give it a read at Eurogamer.