Tobold's Blog
Sunday, August 10, 2014
How not to be a god

The so-called core gamers on the internet have always been a notoriously whiny bunch of entitlement kids. But their latest complaint surprised even me. They whine that the PC game Godus, which is a pay-to-own game with no item store, looks remotely like a Free2Play game if you hold your head at an angle and squint.

In Godus you play a god whose main power is terraforming. The world consists of layers, and you push and pull those layers around to create flat surfaces for your followers to build houses on. The followers then create "belief", and that belief allows you to do more terraforming and to perform some other miracles. And, horror of horrors, the game actually expects you to WAIT for followers to build houses and create belief. Belief creation is neither immediate, nor do you have unlimited amounts of belief. There is obviously an evil, money-grabbing Free2Play strategy at work here! Even if the game isn't free, nor has any way to spend money. If you have to wait for anything in a game to happen, that game is obviously a Farmville clone!

What the whiners don't realize is that if you HAD unlimited belief, there would be no game. Any god game is always a game of resource management. Playing a god that would be actually omnipotent with not limits would be extremely boring, you'd just push on the button that is labeled "YOU WIN!".

Lots of games have real-time waiting elements in them. In World of Warcraft you need to wait for raid lockouts, or for your vegetables on your farm to grow. These waiting elements are a core gameplay element for all casual games, whether they are on Facebook or on a mobile platform. If a game would require uninterrupted multi-hour blocks of concentrated gaming, it obviously wouldn't be casual. And it would be pretty much unplayable on a tablet or smart phone. That Godus has these elements is because it is also a mobile game, not because the iOS/Android version is Free2Play. If you object to the Free2Play version, you can always pay $19.99 on Steam for the PC version which, as I said, has no additional monetization at all (and even makes jokes about that fact).

That sounds like the game "Populous" which I played roughly 20 years ago on an old Amiga 2000. Ah, the good old times.
It *is* Populous. Or rather it is the new game of the guy who made Populous.
Waiting elements are more than game interrupters. It actually adds competitive element: everyone has 24 hours a day, so you have to spend your daily resources better than the competitor.

The "hardcore" prefers to just brute force everything by no-life farming. He can be half as good as you and still have more by playing more than 2x more. EVERY real life game (chess, football, golf) has limited time or limited rounds, you can't just score goals into the empty gate at 2AM.
A lot of people seem to be mad, though, because the iOS version has been released and the PC version they kickstarted is still languishing in alpha.

Pretty sure there's not much trust there either. People are expecting that at best they'll get the mechanics of a PtW shoehorned into a single purchase game.

Good FtP games with in-app purchases ARE possible - I know of some. But it seems to take a rare sort of developer to avoid the toxic gameplay models that seem to earn the most money in these games.
the iOS version has been released and the PC version they kickstarted is still languishing in alpha

Which is not at all true. First of all the PC version is in beta. And second it is functionally identical or better than the iOS version.
For every game, and probably for every feature or design element, there is a group of people on the internet who are outraged by it.
"And second [the PC version] is functionally identical or better than the iOS version."

In other words it's exactly the sort of game they didn't want, not even a FtP-PtW but a port of one.
In other words it's exactly the sort of game they didn't want, not even a FtP-PtW but a port of one.

Nonsense. If the game has no microtransactions nor monetization, how can it be Free2Play - Pay2Win? And the PC game came first, so if anything the mobile users got a port of a PC game with Free2Play slapped on.
Somebody warn these people before they accidentally fund something like a SimCity knock-off.
The PC version isn't done, so it didn't come first. It's what they collected the money for, though.

Gerry's line of thought does beg the question of whether or not "PC's" will remain the predominate "playground space" of core gamers, especially considering the rise of handheld device gaming. In my gaming circles, and totally anecdotal I might add, but I just dont see people who game on handheld devices spending time on forums or blogs like PC gamers do.
The PC version isn't done, so it didn't come first.

How do you define "done"? I am pretty certain that the mobile version of Godus isn't "done" either, there will be updates. I bought the PC version during the last Christmas Steam sale, so a *playable* PC version was available at least half a year before a playable mobile version.

Just because the PC version says "beta 2.1" and the mobile version doesn't say beta doesn't mean that there is any actual difference. On the PC everything is beta forever.
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