How 22Cans' Curiosity helped shape Godus

Peter Molyneux's studio 22Cans released Curiosity: What's Inside The Cube as an experiment to gather information that could be used in the development of its upcoming god game for touch devices, Godus.

Speaking to Polygon, Molyneux said the reason the studio made Curiosity was so it could understand how consumers use touch devices like the iPad and smartphones, when they use these devices and what they use them for. Part of the rationale was to look at people's "play profile" and allow the ways people interact with the devices to dictate the kind of games the studio makes.

"It turns out that some people interact with the device as a way to relax — it's a way to calm themselves, and you see it from the profile of the way they play," Molyneux said. "They'll play first thing in the morning while they're having a cup of coffee, they'll play last thing at night to wind down and relax, and that led me to believe that a lot of console gaming is about adrenaline — it's all about a more dramatic way to pump up our adrenaline — whereas tablet devices are more about relaxation and taking the time and fitting it around your life.

"So what we've done is put a lot more gameplay in the Homeworld because we know that people will be playing this in a relaxing way."

"It's easy for me to guess that people like relaxation, but was there a way I could measure it? So what we did was some very simple analytics [with Curiosity]."

According to Molyneux, 22Cans measured how often and how quickly people tapped the screen versus the time of day they tapped in their local timezone. The studio found that certain people would go on Curiosity to tap as many cubes as possible during the tiny slices of free time they had during the day, such as in between meetings and lunch breaks, while another group of people who played in the morning and at night for relaxation purposes approached the game thoughtfully and tapped at individual blocks slowly.

"That inspired us to have confidence in our core gameplay mechanic in Godus," he said.

In Godus, players have a hub called Homeworld where they can push and pull at the land to change its form, and it is in this Homeworld that they build their civilization. Initially, the core part of the game was something connected to the Homeworld — battles. The idea was that most players would spend time in battles, fighting the enemy AI or other players, and the Homeworld would serve as a kind of lobby that they would only visit for resources. Molyneux said that as a result of Curiosity, the studio learned that most people who interact with touch devices are not looking for adrenaline-pumping, confronting experiences, so this led to the team drawing some of the gameplay focus back to the Homeworld.

Molyneux gave us an example of winning a ginger-haired person.

Players will still be able to take part in a variety of battles ranging from one versus one to clan versus clan to any other number of players versus the same number of players. These battles will offer opportunities for players to increase the size of their clans and bring home rewards that can change the way their society evolves (Molyneux gave us an example of winning a ginger-haired person, which can then lead to ginger-haired children and diversity within the clan). However, these battles will no longer be the sole focus of the game.

"Before Curiosity, we thought that a lot of your time would be spent in battle ... then afterwards, we realized that people were really enjoying simple, relaxing gameplay. So what we've done is put a lot more gameplay in the Homeworld because we know that people will be playing this in a relaxing way, and it was only through the tests of Curiosity that we learned this."

Godus is currently in development for Windows PC, Max, iOS, Android and Linux. The game was successfully Kickstarted in December 2012. It was recently announced that the player who arrived at the core of Curiosity will take on the role of God in Godus.

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