What’s Missing From Godus?
Jack here from 22cans!
Sometimes we look back on earlier builds of GODUS and it blows our mind when we stop to consider how far the game has progressed. Sometimes this can be to do with the mechanics, other times it can be with aesthetics or the game’s performance.
It’s been a fascinating experience seeing how the community has been able to adapt and respond to our iterative design approach. Previously, this has always been a process that has occurred behind closed doors. It’s terrifying putting it out there for people to see because the nature of something such as Early Access is a relatively new concept to the industry, with the danger being that some people will play GODUS and panic that the current state of the game is what it will always be!
The most magical vibe has been flowing throughout the 22cans studio the past few weeks at just how dramatically things have progressed. The team has been putting everything they have into this game and it’s really starting to show. Whenever we attempt to take screenshots or record videos of the game, we have to re-author them by the time we go to release because the game has been changing so fast and so they never represent the most recent version of our work.
We can’t wait to show you the results once it’s all come together. For now, though, I thought it would be fun to look at the below screenshot from an older version of GODUS and to question what’s actually missing from it…
There aren’t many trees in this landscape. I love trees! And when I start to feel like a part of my land is missing trees, I plant some more. Sadly, after some time I forget which trees I planted and which trees were already there! It seems slightly odd that after all the effort I made to customise my landscape that I am somehow unable to admire my handiwork because I don’t know what was my work and what was already in the world. I think I would feel a lot more satisfied with my customisation if I could clearly tell apart where I had left my mark on the world.
I love the art direction of the GODUS world. Whenever I think of it, I picture the green plateaus. For me that is the image that defines the world. I also love how vast the world is. I feel like my little people are engulfed in a huge landscape that would takes them an age to venture through. However, with this feeling of an expansive land I would expect to see gradual changes in the world. I think about my experiences moving through other virtual worlds – such as in Shadow of the Colossus or Red Dead Redemption – where I would head north and start to see snow laying on the ground and suddenly I’d feel like I really was in a different part of that world. Wouldn’t it be great if I had the same strong feeling of exploring far and wide when looking around my Homeworld?
Speaking of the visual beauty of GODUS, it is certainly pretty. I genuinely find it to be a joy to the eyes to scroll around and play in this world. Having thought about it a bit harder lately, we’ve already dreamed up a few ways to improve on it. For instance, I feel that the small shadows that are currently present do help to give the world definition, but still aren’t truly believable. Proper shadows would be a much nicer solution, adding emphasis to the world in a way that’s both consistent and visually striking. We’ve also been thinking about the sea a bit more. Water gives a lot of wonderful motion to the world and I want to take more advantage of that. I think having lovely looking streams and waterfalls to play around with would really help make my Homeworld come alive.
As you grow your civilisation, you are almost certainly going to have a lot of abodes on your hands. I want this both to feel fun and also for your world to grow in beauty as your population becomes denser. However, in the past this hasn’t proved to be as beautiful looking as it could be. The problem we’ve had in GODUS is that your abodes haven’t felt like they were related to each other. Currently, they all feel isolated and with only certain kinds of abode designs, the repetition of assets can be quite noticeable. Not only this, but previously worlds have ended up as flat seas of houses.
The first iteration of this solution was a very primitive. We saw this as a great opportunity to introduce farming. We used fields to break up the sea of abodes. The fields were built by abodes nearby a settlement statue. Problematically, this has required players to destroy their abodes to make space for them. This is something that we’re looking forward to having solved in our forthcoming update for GODUS.
The second iteration was based around the idea of wanting to allow the player to customise their settlements. We added the ability to sculpt your own roads (very primitively), we added a barrier to make abodes in the settlement feel more inclusive, plus we enabled the player to assign their followers to be breeders, workers, or buffers. We also changed the requirements for building fields and abodes. Unfortunately, these proved to be very unintuitive mechanics that didn’t offer a great experience despite their complexity. So, we realised we needed to go back to the drawing board. Nevertheless, these mistakes have proved beneficial in the long run thanks to our iterative approach to game design. Whilst some mistakes may now seem fairly foreseeable in hindsight, they have led to some very innovative ideas that you’ll get to play with in our forthcoming update.
We recently discussed how we would solve these problems moving forwards. Once you progress through the ages, it is important that there is a noticeable difference between the abodes of the last era and those in the next. This also ties into our new vision for revamping Settlements. These are areas that our art team have been thinking hard about as they continue to iterate on the game’s artwork.
Lastly, I’d say that I don’t get the feeling of living companions in that first screenshot. I see a few of my little people around, but I wish there was more for them to see and do. Their journey through the world seems to greet them with the promise of new environments, but I wonder if there could be more discoveries for them? It would be great for them to have unexpected encounters with things that are more alive than the shrines and mountains that we’ve all become used to.
So these are just a few of the things that spring to mind when I look at that first image. Yet there’s still so much more to come! Keep an eye out for more details very soon.