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GODUS is a delightful reinvention of the god game from 22cans and Peter Molyneux, who created the genre. Mac, PC, Mobile iOS & Android
GODUS is a delightful reinvention of the god game from 22cans and Peter Molyneux, who created the genre. Mac, PC, Mobile iOS & Android
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17,184 backers pledged £526,563 to help bring this project to life.

Godus (Video) Update 35

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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...

Dimitri resting after compiling his build.
Dimitri resting after compiling his build.

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.

One of the earlier Follower systems
One of the earlier Follower systems

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.

Followers through the Eras concept
Followers through the Eras concept

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)

Comments

    1. Creator Benit0 on January 21, 2014

      Hello 22cans !
      it's been a month since last update now, would you do one anytime soon ? Even blog style like this one would be good, we're kind of desperate for news here... cheers and happy new year again.

    2. Creator Christian on December 18, 2013

      Before I forget, this came yesterday:

      "We will be supporting LINUX with GODUS, in fact quite a few of our key programmers are fully dedicated daily users of the operating system so no doubt they take it serious. However, the nature of development means that having to support a Beta for LINUX would require a lot of work and this isn't something we are currently able to dedicate to it. So for that reason the decision was made to delay the LINUX version of GODUS until next year when we're much closer to the final version of it. I hope this makes sense."

      I had also asked about Wine support but I guess that's even less of a priority because there'll be a Linux version.

    3. Creator Yourtime on December 16, 2013

      I am sorry that i sounded like you did too less work! also in the forum,

      I like the progess of the follower, but it reminds me also to empire earth lol

    4. Creator Harry Torque on December 15, 2013

      Great update, and you are taking the game to (further) in the direction me and many others have been asking for! Can't wait for the next update.

      I wouldn't worry too much about perfect polish: it's early release and beta, so people will excuse the lack of polish - forum whiners notwithstanding :P

    5. Creator Dan Murphy on December 14, 2013

      I've not been particularly vocal on this project. I played it once or twice when it first went to BETA and found the cards to be boring and the villagers confusing.

      Im glad that you guys are dealing with these! Please take your time to get it done right and make the game all the more fun for it!

    6. Creator Russell on December 14, 2013

      Things often take a lot longer than first expected in game development, yes?

    7. Creator Shawn Jones on December 14, 2013

      Thank you for this update post! Really looking forward to the new system.

    8. Creator Rullakebab99 on December 14, 2013

      I'm glad you devs aren't rushing Godus out. Having played the alpha and beta, it's obvious that the game needs tons of work in order to reach its potential. Godus is becoming something truly wonderful, i feel. I just hope you won't run out of funds before it's done!

    9. Creator Christian on December 14, 2013

      @Silvester de la Rie

      What I'd really like is a proactive move on their part that they haven't forgotten us. But oh well, I wrote to them anyway. I'll share the answer here.

    10. Creator Sean Houlihane on December 14, 2013

      I guess the one positive thing here is that there is still a team (of at least one) still working to deliver what was promised. We seem to have got to this point by a very round-about route and it seems to me that the beta was released purely as a mechanism to conform with the 'Estimated Delivery' listed on the right of this page. Now I see everyone gets beta access - that would be a software engineer's joke - Beta is the quality level that we sell the product to our testing team, M$ have been doinng it for decades.
      I would take issue with the claim about popularity on Steam early access. Product with most numerous bad reviews, maybe. Dimitri has a massive task to turn this round - I hope he's got a good team with him.

    11. Creator Christian on December 14, 2013

      @Stephen

      There isn't really much to add. Brilliant post!

    12. Creator Chris Hallett on December 14, 2013

      Dimitri seems to be under alot of pressure. Hope he gets a Christmas break :(

    13. Creator Jedra7609 [Angry Imp Games] on December 13, 2013

      Thanks for the update - part of the joy of Kickstarting this watching the weekly videos and seeing some of the thought processes and discussions between Peter and Jack. I know you're all really busy, but it would be great if we could get more regular video updates. For me it is a window into a world I left.

      I for one find the videos fascinating even though I worked in corporate IT for sixteen years, It seems that producing a game is pretty much the same as producing a large corporate system. There are times of joy, periods if introspection, times where you look up and weeks seem to have gone by, times where tempers are thin, times where you can't remember if you went home the previous day, and times when everyone is just so bloody tired and just fed up with it and times when you have that wicked day where loads of things just click together, When I watch your videos I miss the comradery that forms during a long term project. I can see you're working hard and I wish you all the very best and also a very Merry Christmas.

    14. Creator Rob Hamilton on December 13, 2013

      @Stephen, spot on.

    15. Creator amigacooke on December 13, 2013

      Well I'm just pleased to hear something, so we know that the team haven't fled the country with a suitcase packed with money.

    16. Creator Mark O'Toole on December 13, 2013

      Sounds like the right move, but one small issue....none of those followers have a suit tie/business wear motif for a present day era! C'mon, guys!

    17. Creator René M Jensen on December 13, 2013

      Well this definitely intrigues me, because it sounds like the game is actually gonna get some depth. I hope something like Settlers crossed with Black & White..

      That instead of destroying the world and mindlessly clicking things, you help your followers, by improving the world, and help them with their jobs, task and needs.

    18. Creator Albert Soler on December 13, 2013

      I enjoyed this project update though it seemed quite short considering the intervening period. I hope we won't have to wait too long before the next one. Perhaps Peter & Jack can alternate between different game development disciplines as they've done in the past. Doing this feels very inclusive, to the point where for a brief moment I almost feel like part of the team.

      I love the concept art for the follower era progression and while the AI work with respect to the follower behaviour is interesting I'm left wondering about bigger questions, how the main game-play mechanics are developing?

      It seems to me that the team must have gone through a period of introspection following the somewhat critical feedback Godus received. I don't imagine it's easy to discuss how that has been received, nevertheless from a professional perspective it would be interesting to learn whether it's caused the team to refocus on certain aspects of the game's design to introduce more variety to the gameplay.

      'Leashing' seems like it could be used to introduce another dimension to the gameplay mechanics beyond simply directing followers to work on different plots so I'm interested to learn more. Are there any other environmental dangers planned besides wolves? How is the narrative element coming along, through what means will it be delivered? Any of these subjects would make for an interesting discussion in a subsequent update.

    19. Creator Silvester de la Rie on December 13, 2013

      @Christian If you really want to know, you could try ask it directly;
      https://22cans.zendesk.com/anonymous_requests/new

      Though I think it'll be a while before they move to Linux.

    20. Creator Florian B. on December 13, 2013

      Sounds beautiful!
      But please if you are changing that much, let our followers collect their own resources, there's no need for stone, oak, whatever cards, when our world is already filled with those, all they have to do is get these things.
      Keep the card system, but make these cards to be useful abilities, not resources.
      Maybe tie it to events that happen if a card is found, for example:
      The discovery of fire is accompanied by a storm which sets a nearby tree on fire. And with the ability to cook meat our followers are able to do this and that (better) or sustain a larger population.

    21. Creator Stephen on December 13, 2013

      Are 22Cans actively trolling the backers now?

      Seriously... all that text to tell us that one developer is working really hard (and he's your HR department because the follower AI isn't taxing enough for him?) and you've just realised you need to give us updates that aren't just Peter preaching the word of Godus?

      Here.. why don't you try this instead:

      Hello Backers.

      Firstly I'd like to apologise for the really poor communication. We are exceptionally grateful for your support during the kickstarter campaign and for your feedback during the alpha but we've really failed at expressing that and keeping you up to date with what's going on.

      One of the main pieces of feedback from the last release (1.3.1) was that the followers and their AI was a large weak point and it's something we are addressing in the 1.4 update. Unfortunately we've had to rebuild the follower AI from the ground up and since it's such a fundamental part of Godus it is taking a lot longer than we had anticipated. I really must take some time to thank our developer Dimitri who has been working incredibly hard. Obviously the whole team has been hard at work in getting 1.4 into a fit state to share with you, but it's Dimitri who has really taken ownership of the difficult and fundamental AI issues, so.. Thank you Dimitri.

      With the large amount of work involved and our focus on making the game 'right' we have allowed ourselves to get out of touch with the backers, which is wrong. Going forward we will be making more regular updates. The video updates from Peter and Jack will resume, but they will be less frequent, instead we will be posting more regular updates to the forums and through Kickstarter.

      Thank you for your patience.

      22 Cans.

      Oh and a few choice quotes:

      "We released GODUS on 13th September 2013"

      erm.. no.. you didn't... you allowed early access to it in it's pre-release state. And then you put it on sale which really annoyed some backers who felt cheated by this (not me, but you can see the reactions on the forum)

      "there’s no point releasing a version we know is going to cause more hardship than pleasure. The forums would be fuming..."

      well no, because the forums have fallen into a coma. Who knows, maybe the fury filled adrenalin of a few bugs might have been enough to wake them up?

    22. Creator Christian on December 13, 2013

      @Silvester de la Rie
      OK, thanks for the heads up! Also, damn them! ;)

    23. Creator Alex on December 13, 2013

      11pm on a Friday? That's a pretty bad reaction to the SRP traffic. ;)

    24. Creator Silvester de la Rie on December 13, 2013

      @Christian Sadly, not yet.

    25. Creator J.R. Raith on December 13, 2013

      Woah, sounds like a lot of work is going on! Thanks for sharing. I really look forward to seeing the new Follower system in action.

      I also LOVE the look of the followers through the Eras! Having shifts in their clothing like that will be a nice touch to help the passing of time.

      Really looking forward to what comes next from Godus. Hopefully it'll be a bit less "clicky". :)

    26. Creator Christian on December 13, 2013

      Before watching this and getting disappointed again, any news on the Linux version or making the Windows version work in Wine?

    27. Creator Sleet on December 13, 2013

      Thanks for the update, guys! It's always nice to see behind the scenes.

    28. Creator Yourtime on December 13, 2013

      Hey! Thanks for the update again, finally :D

      "Q: Why is the Follower simulation such an amazing system? " really? that sounds like a publisher question, dont start that route again -_-"