The following blog-style updates will narrate the daily going-ons of the development team, they are written by Sam.
THE RUN UP TO CHRISTMAS
This is the last update for 2013 and what a year this has been. It’s common to make up an end-of-year list and I’m no different. This time last year we were moving into the final hours of our Kickstarter campaign and my stress levels were finally able to return to normal; both backers and pledges were still coming in thick and fast. We posted an open invitation to everyone in the neighborhood and beyond to come down to the studio for a small celebration (which we ended up broadcasting live for the world to see [link skip to 11 minutes 30 seconds]). In January we came back to the studio and each got given our own obsessions to focus on and after the prototype we built the development of GODUS started in earnest. Then only a mere five months later we released our first Alpha to our Alpha backers and the feedback we received from that was invaluable. While our Alpha was around 200MB to download, the Beta which we announced at PAX and launched on 13th September came in at 650MB. That’s a mere nine months after development started in earnest! While there is still a lot of work left to do (Followers, Living World, Connected Worlds, God Powers, the list goes on and on) we’re pretty happy with how it’s gone and despite popular belief, your feedback does get taken into account by all of our designers. No doubt 2014 will be just as crazy and exciting, with new updates to GODUS for PC and Mac, a mobile and tablet version that will be going into Beta and of course the LINUX version at some stage. And don’t forget Bryan once the ‘Connected Worlds’ become active.
The team has been working on and finishing their latest sprint this week, which focusses on polishing existing features and of course expanding on the Follower behaviour, the new timeline and Leash. Earlier this month, we all took the afternoon off and met up at Peter’s place, where he had cooked us a truly lovely Christmas lunch. I have to also admit that some of us enjoyed a little tipple before we made our way there, but it just made everyone very jovial. Gary, Russell, Paul, Peter, Tim, Jemma and Peter (there’s two of them!) were the cooks for the morning but unfortunately not one of them had realized that a turkey needs quite a bit of time in the oven and so lunch was delayed by a tiny two hours. They should have had a spreadsheet with it all planned out on there, nevertheless the turkey that was served was absolutely delicious and very moist. Something had gone wrong with Peter’s (in)famous bread-sauce though as it resembled more of a gooey slop-mix and so wasn’t served. Brussels sprouts, carrots, red cabbage, perfectly roasted potatoes and of course gravy plus cranberry sauce (without strawberries) were put on the table. This time last year more than half of the people at the table were there enjoying a Christmas lunch together and it was absolutely amazing to do it again and with a few new faces too!
The team are still working tirelessly on the game (Sprint 5 finishes today) but yesterday when the power went out for a brief two and a half hours everyone remained (in a dark office) waiting for everything to be sorted out. Card games came out, candles came out and overall the mood was quite jovial. Then when the power came up everyone stormed back to their desks to continue coding, making art assets and generally doing what a developer does best.
Now, I was keen to continue this update talking about the new Follower system and the animations that go with it, unfortunately Dimitri (code) and Tim (animation) have both started their end of year break so that’s a no-go. However, one new piece of information I’ve learned is that the Leash which was shown in video update #35 actually replaces the Totem! Let me go into a little more detail about it;
While the Leash serves the same purpose as the Totem it does behave in a very different way. Firstly, you hold the left mouse button and then drag it it onto a Follower or Abode which will activate the Follower Leash. If you continuously drag it then you will draw a path which will fade off shortly behind the drag point. Upon releasing the Leash at any point, all affected Followers will immediately travel to that destination where they will look for something to do, similar to how the Totem worked. The line disappears once the mouse button has been released. Now if the Leash is released on an activity such as a building plot or farm field, then that activity will glow or show to indicate an objective. Otherwise the end destination of the line will glow as a small circle. Followers who are traveling to a destination while under the spell of a Leash will have a unique glow effect so they can be easily distinguished from other Followers. Clicking on one of them will make them snap out of the Leash mode and they shall look for a job applicable to them before going back to their previous behaviour. Shaking the mouse pointer will deactivate the Leash completely which is very akin to how it worked in Black&White and just feels great.
Holding on an Abode (felt tent etc...) as it’s Leashed will display the occupancy slot in that specific abode, combine that with Follower types and behaviour I spoke about in a previous update and you can to see that Builders, Farmers, Miners, Traders and Breeders for example all will react differently to possible scenarios that this offers. If you then throw in the items of the world such as trees, rocks or belief bubbles and combine it with the Leash behaviour and Follower behaviour you can see how much gameplay this offers all of a sudden...
No doubt we will be sharing much more detail about the Leash (and more) in January 2014, for now all of us developers are returning to our families (abroad and in the UK) to spend some quality time together and look back at the year gone by where we’ve laughed, cried but most importantly were able to release GODUS on Steam Early Access and receive so much great feedback to work with in 2014 that GODUS is going to be the game of the year, next year, I believe!
We released GODUS on 13th September 2013 after organizing a successful Kickstarter campaign in December 2012. The following blog-style updates will narrate the daily going-ons of the development team, they are written by Sam.
DARKNESS FALLS - 12th December
At this time of year, the sun sets at four in the afternoon in the South-East of England. There’s a certain dreariness about the entire situation when it gets dark this early but what makes up for that is working on one of the most popular games on Steam Early Access. These updates are written for you, our community of players and fans.
On Monday when the sun had already set and I could feel a slight tremble set in from the excessive amounts of coffee drank that day, Peter and I sat down in one of our cozy yet spacious meeting rooms. The topic of discussion were updates, or rather the lack thereof. Our last video update #34 was from 25th October and we’d gone pretty ‘dark’ since. The team have been sending in short updates about their work on Twitter (GODUS Dev Says) but not everyone sees those all of the time so it wasn’t a viable solution to our communication with you. It’s not that we don’t want to release an update but it’s just so damn hard. So hard to make all these systems that the programmers have build, work together. Peter agrees that we need to post more updates to our players that aren’t necessarily him standing on a soap box...not only do those take quite a bit of time for Jack, Peter’s focus is mostly on doing what a designer his calibre does best; designing. There’s also only so much you can cramp into a short video. We’ll continue to do them but to a lesser extend. So what we agreed is that I’m going to keep my finger on the pulse in terms of what’s going on and post my impressions, the latest gossip and drama right here (hopefully with images). Heck, we might even get guest developers blogging too!
Peter and Jack spoke in the last video update about how they want to completely revamp the timeline and Follower behaviour. The latter is especially significant seeing how it’s what makes the idea of a living, breathing world a reality. It’s pretty sad right now when you build a beautiful land in GODUS, allow for some wicked city- planning, and then none of your Followers do anything with it. There has been so much talk on the forums about what Followers could do and obviously the team has always been planning to expand this part of the game. That’s where Dimitri comes in. He’s a part Greek who codes like there’s no tomorrow. He’s also renowned for being a complete menace! Even though he’s our resident HR representative, when it comes to Health&Safety it’s a completely different matter. Let’s just say he’s quite liberal if it comes to that but I wouldn’t be fair if I also didn’t mention he’s a highly focussed programmer. According to Gary, our Lead Programmer, Dimitri owns this problem completely and couples it with his open mind that’s required to ask questions and utilize other people’s experience. These two elements are essential when tackling the big problems in game development. He also mentioned some expletives which aren’t really fit to be repeated so I’ve omitted those...
However, as Gary puts it, simulation software is inherently complex and GODUS is no exception. Getting the behaviour to feel real but be controllable and not too expensive (in terms of memory) is an enormous task, with many situations where these conflicting goals collide in often bewildering ways but if anyone is up to the task it’s Dimitri. Luckily for us he’s up for taking on crazy complex code.
Doing this is not for the faint hearted, after one of the most intensive and far reaching coding tasks of the entire project, shortly after video update #34 was shot and released, Dimitri checked in a container full worth of code, which completely revamps and reinvents the simulation of all living things in GODUS.
It was so exciting, everyone gathered around Dimitri’s desk, anticipating how this new world would look and feel alive. He compiled the game, booted it up, we all watched as the first two Followers were born. They raised their heads, looked around, and then promptly fell flat on their faces and died. It turned out that the balance variables that drive the world were not balanced with this new system. Now that Dimitri’s system is in we started to realise its full potential and the guys have been working on that non-stop. The designers have now a world that is full of Followers that react to situations around them, and that have basic wants and needs (or at least in the code). This AI is akin to the AI that drove the creature in a game called Black&White (personal favourite of mine) but instead of working on one character it works on thousands. The knock-on effect of such a powerful system is huge. Tim our animator is working hard to make the animations show off such complex behaviour, Russell needs to go back and re-author all follower SFX, Code wise there’s a lot of systems that plug into this system, and test... well, just how do you test such a diverse world? The reason why we haven't released GODUS since V1.3.1 is simply that the new system is so far reaching that it affects every aspect of the game and the guys need more time to get it ready. There’s also been a tidal wave of feedback that we’re looking into as well as analyzing game analytics.
We thought we’d get V1.4 out with the new Followers and Timeline but it wasn’t meant to be. Like I said, it’s pretty hard getting all these systems to work together and there’s no point releasing a version we know is going to cause more hardship than pleasure. The forums would be fuming! So it’s heads down for the team, to get it to a state where Peter, Jack and Jamie can start playing again.
There are loads of new Follower types and how they look in the works, and our art director Paul with the help of Sara have been drawing concepts for Followers throughout the different eras. I’ll save those and their animations, 3D models etc...for a separate blog entry but will leave you with this nice teaser image for now.
I’ll be back with more updates on the development of GODUS and hopefully some more gossip on the team too, so stay tuned. If you want to learn more about the Followers and their simulation then read the following Q&A or video update #35 with Peter and Jack;
Sam: Dimitri, what are you coding and why?
Dimitri: I am implementing a brand new system which drives, animates, networks and persists followers. The followers have gone through many iterations and the existing system has been refactored many times to work with these iterations. However, the point came where it was not able to give us the functionality and robustness we were after. Knowing now how the followers will interact with and react to the world we took the decision to design and create a new system which is dedicated to supporting this behavior.
Q: Why is the Follower simulation such an amazing system?
A: The new system is attractive for several reasons, followers will feel more real, they will react to anything that happens around them, and how they react will depend on several factors like their ethnicity and more importantly how much stamina they have left. The other key advantage of this new system is that it is completely data driven. This gives the designers and animators the speed and flexibility they require when balancing and testing new game features. The new system also concentrates on performance, and the ability to have many more people simulated in the world.
Q: Can you tell me some of the behaviours players can expect from this new system they didn't already see in previous iterations?
A: Followers can gain jobs and during their jobs they may become tired and decide to go home to rest. Once rested they will return to their job and carry on working. Depending on a Followers fear level they may choose to run over and help put out a fire, however, they may just not have the energy to tackle the fire in which case you will see them run away to safety.
Q: How do you approach coding something like this?
A: Getting a full understanding of exactly what the designers where looking for in the system was the most important step. After this I was able to spec it out and identify any core issues. Once this was done and corrected I was able to build the basic framework and test it, and from there I took each portion of the system and implemented it.
Q: When and where do you code best?
A: Afternoon/evening time, either at home where its quiet or using music to drown out the loud voices around me.
Q: Is there anything else you can say about coding the Followers behaviour?
A: Its a rather large system and it cobwebs out to just about every other system and so there are always new problems to face, but it is very exciting, especially when the followers transform into fully animated characters (for a few weeks the team will have to put up with followers that are rendered as a dot, an arrow and text describing the action they are doing)
It's been an extraordinary month! We've launched GODUS on Steam Early Access and since then we've released five updates (1.2.1 which saw bug fixes, 1.3 which was a content update and the remaining 1.3.1 updates have been more bug fixes). We've been diligent in working through your feedback.
Our forum moderators and administrators summarise the feedback from the 22cans and Steam forums. Our harpies send in analytics about how you play the game, when you play and how long for. Our support agents have been reading pretty much all emails (we still have a small backlog of about 250 emails to go through) and of course we've been reading your feature suggestions, ideas and feedback on this page. Oh and we've been watching more Lets Play videos too. . . it's only with all of this feedback taken into account that we add new features, change existing features and also fix bugs and crashes you've been so diligent in reporting to us.
The last couple of days we've been trying to do regular updates on Twitter in a series we're calling GODUS DEV SAYS, they're only small snippets of information but they do give you an insight into the daily routine of developing games. You can find them on Twitter.
Jack and Peter are back with a video; Feedback on Feedback (keep in mind these are now also being seen by Steam Early Access people, hence why he does a little intro).
Enjoy and have a great weekend!
And with that...GODUS V1.3 is now available on Steam, just load up your Steam client and it should automatically download the latest version. You can find GODUS on Steam Early Access, obviously.
1.3 New and Improved Features
- Flow completed recrafted, much less meaningless clicking
- Enter the Bronze Age and era of agriculture.
- 12 New Bronze age advances including Farming, Politics and Cartography.
- 8 New Resource cards to collect
- 8 New God Cards to collect
- New unlocks to increase your Area of Influence, speed up followers and cheaper settlements
- Unlock a new Farmer Follower and grow your civilisation through agriculture
- Farmers will grow crops outside of settlements for the population
- Crops are gathered to feed your population and advance your civilisation
- Choose the most fertile and efficient land for your crops
- Dynamic weather system where lightning storms will bombard your Homeworld, damaging Abodes not in a settlement
- Sprogging centralised within settlements rather than on individual Abodes
- Sprogging from Abodes only available when the Followers have a job
- Abodes inside a settlement now have second stories allowing much greater capacity and Belief.
- Multiplayer balanced so that enemy followers will not fight each other as you plan dominance
- New scrapbook hints
- Felt tents no longer produce Belief and instead house more Followers and have faster Follower generation Faster info bubbles
- New God Power icons
- Followers share their thoughts and needs via Prayers
- Beam added to Shrines within Area of Influence
- All battle maps quicker to fight
- Totem rebalanced to reduce number of Followers
- Finger of God is now more effective
- Townlife is now more meaningful
- New gem seams added to Homeworld
- Rebalanced trees and rocks
1.3 Bug Fixes
- Various crash fixes including crashes on startup for both Mac and Windows
- Fixes for crashes related to Settlements
- Beautified land will remain beautified after exiting the game
- Previously used Resource Cards given back for removed Advance Cards
- Followers will no longer walk slowly on land that was previous blighted
- Temple of Fertility statue is now actually on the temple
- Settlements will always generate Belief
- Settlement roads will re-draw after Abodes are moved
- Followers on fire will die even when on Beautified land or in a Settlement
- New opening flyover
- Shrines are now more distinctive
- Belief gain modified to be slower when game is shut down
- God Power icons crisper
- Villagers will recover correctly after being in water then rescued
- Crash when attacking a Castle in Story Battle fixed
- “FULL” from Abode info no longer getting stuck on screen
- Belief musical chain “fail” will not play after collecting only one Belief bubble
- Collecting Belief from a Settlement will continue the musical chain Bach’s First Prelude now plays in full
- Shrubs on Statue of Settlement shadow fixed
- Statue of Settlement no longer floating
- Statue of Settlement destruction crash fixed
- Statue of Settlement door is blue in Homeworld
- Statue of Settlement flag will be striped with sprogging is available
- Fix for odd behaviour of Followers from Settlement sprogging
- Mining is now more significant to Followers
- Z-fighting on Settlement base fixed
- Flag SFX will play on Settlement
- Failsafe against Armageddon being usable in Homeworld
- Shrines will continue to build after exiting the game
- Totem number will not remain on screen when Totem is deactivated
- Card descriptions on Felt Tents and Permanent Abodes changed to reflect new functionality
- Fixed lighting on Abodes and fences
- Fixed Followers getting stuck at Totem
- Belief and Follower info dialogue removed on Abodes in a Settlement
- SFX volume cannot be set to NULL
- Sometimes the Mac version will hardlock after 30 minutes of inactivity
- Shrine cards look duplicated
- Land expansion shrine has no scaffolding
- Difficult to see if Farms are selected to be moved with Town Planning Lens flare from beams remains on
- Shrines Special Followers will sometimes play female Follower sprog sound FX
- Named Followers are randomly assigned a gender
- Some VFX are not affected by nighttime
- GODUS icon is low resolution
- The final paragraph in the scrapbook does not fade in
- Cannot quit game when cards are on-screen
- Wheat is static in the wind
- Roads to farms do not always appear
- Statue of Speed FX can appear overblown
- Sometimes there is an audio bug when returning to Homeworld mid-Multiplayer battle
- Info bubble for a Settlement will sometimes not appear if the info bubble is already open on another Settlement
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BACKER- You get access to our exclusive backer forums. You also get the heartfelt thanks from the team at 22cans.Estimated delivery:
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STUDENT - You'll receive a beta key to test GODUS with us and will also get access to our exclusive student forums where you'll get feedback on your game design and any career advice you might need. This is perfect for any students who are currently studying game design and/or development. Everyone will also get access to an online masterclass session and we will look at some of our tools together The university with the highest number of students who pledged will also receive a guest lecture by Peter. This tier is only for students and you'll need to confirm your university after our campaign is finished but it can also be used as an add-on for any other reward tier.Estimated delivery:
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FOLLOWER - You get one digital downloadable copy of GODUS plus access to our exclusive backer forums. You also get the heartfelt thanks from the team at 22cans.Estimated delivery:
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SUPPORTER - You get one digital downloadable copy of GODUS plus access to the GODUS beta version (playable but unfinished) and also round-the-clock access to the 22cans development webcam once project GODUS is in full production (may be mildly and ironically NSFW). Plus an in-game achievement – a trophy only Kickstarters will ever receive, streaming access to the Making of GODUS documentaries and video updates and also a PDF of the GODUS design document. Plus everything a BACKER gets.Estimated delivery:
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BELIEVER - You get one digital downloadable copy of GODUS plus access to the GODUS beta version (playable but unfinished) and also round-the-clock access to the 22cans development webcam once project GODUS is in full production (may be mildly and ironically NSFW). Plus an in-game achievement – a trophy only Kickstarters will ever receive, streaming access to the Making of GODUS documentaries and video updates and also a PDF of the GODUS design document. Plus everything a BACKER gets.Estimated delivery:
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BENEFACTOR - You get an additional digital downloadable copy of GODUS plus access to the GODUS beta version (playable but unfinished) and your name will appear on the '22cans website roll call of thanks', you will be granted your own in-game pet or familiar (a mystical animal who’s unique to you) in GODUS. Plus everything else a SUPPORTER gets and @22cans will follow you avidly on Twitter.Estimated delivery:
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PATRON - You get TWO digital downloadable copies of GODUS plus TWO access keys to the beta version (playable but unfinished) and your name will appear on the '22cans website roll call of thanks', you will be granted TWO of your own in-game pet or familiar (a mystical animal who’s unique to you) in GODUS. Plus everything else a SUPPORTER gets and @22cans will follow you avidly on Twitter. All tiers above PATRON will also receive this additional copy and beta key.Estimated delivery:
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ACOLYTE - You get all the previous rewards (BENEFACTOR, SUPPORTER and BACKER), plus a third digital copy of the game (this TIER makes a good HOLIDAY SEASON GODUS GIFT, see details on our page). Your name will also appear on a Curiosity layer for the duration of a layer, assuming the experiment hasn’t concluded.Estimated delivery:
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ASSOCIATE - You get one special digital edition of GODUS, which includes a personalised title screen for your copy of GODUS and a non-digital but exclusive 22cans GODUS teeshirt. It also comes with an exclusive Kickstarter level and you get an unlock code for an exclusive GODUS god power. Plus you get everything an ACOLYTE gets (your special edition replaces the other three normal editions from the previous rewards).Estimated delivery:Add £10 to ship outside the UK
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PARTNER - You get two special digital GODUS editions. Your followers in your Homeworld will carve a statue of your image. You also get access to GODUS Alpha where you can download and test the game with the 22cans team (not onsite). You also get an in-game credit – your name will appear for all to see. Finally, your teeshirt will be signed by anyone or everyone at 22cans, including Peter Molyneux.Estimated delivery:Add £10 to ship outside the UK
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VALKYRIE - You get the three special digital GODUS editions that a PARTNER gets, with an exclusive Godus Wishing Well, inspired by the Temple in Dungeon Keeper, for your Homeworld. Sacrificing the right items will gain you bonuses! Plus you also get a GODUS design/art book signed by anyone or everyone at 22cans. And you get everything else a PARTNER gets. (Please note that any tier above VALKYRIE will also get the Wishing Well).Estimated delivery:Add £10 to ship outside the UK
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ELEMENTAL - You get the three special digital GODUS editions that a PARTNER gets plus a GODUS design/art book signed by anyone or everyone at 22cans, including Peter Molyneux. You also get a visually stunning and beautifully-framed print of GODUS artwork. This classy limited edition is numbered. Plus you get everything else a PARTNER gets.Estimated delivery:Add £10 to ship outside the UK
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IMMORTAL - You get four special digital GODUS editions (includes those a PARTNER gets), plus an in-game character will be named to whatever you wish (within reason), it will display a unique personality and look which you create with the team’s help. This character will appear in every person's Homeworld. You also get a unique physical figurine of your character. Worldwide shipping is included! Plus you get everything a PARTNER gets.Estimated delivery:
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DEITY - You get a real, exclusive piece of hand engraved GODUS Titanium jewellery, hand made and beset with one sparkling real diamond. Diamonds are forever (this TIER makes a lovely HOLIDAY SEASON GODUS GIFT, see details on our page). Plus you can help design GODUS and can name an in-game power to anything you wish (subject to legal and moral restrictions, of course). Plus you get everything a PARTNER gets.Estimated delivery:
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IDOL - You get everything a DEITY gets, plus a monthly Skype design meeting with the team during the development of Godus, a 22cans design workshop in Guildford, England with Peter Molyneux, who will help craft your design ideas. You’ll also be treated to a lively design session over dinner at Peter Molyneux’s house. Accommodation and flights are not included.Estimated delivery:
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GOD OF GODS - You’ll receive a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit E3; The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June 2013. You’ve arrive there as the guest of honour of Peter Molyneux and the 22cans team. You’ll be given a coveted VIP pass and will, should you wish, agree to be interviewed with Peter for G4 TV. E3 is the world’s leading electronics show. Chances like this to attend as a VIP with developers of the calibre of 22cans are of course extremely rare. Flights and accommodation are included. Plus you also get everything a DEITY gets (excluding the jewellery).Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)