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Molyneux's Dungeon Keeper comments reek of hypocrisy

When you don't have anything nice to say, maybe you just shouldn't say it--especially when your criticisms stink of hypocrisy. Over the weekend, Peter Molyneux snubbed Electronic Arts' mobile reboot of his classic Dungeon Keeper franchise, calling it "ridiculous." By all accounts, the new Dungeon Keeper app is a soulless, free-to-play husk of the original, riddled with stifling demands on your time that can only be circumvented by money. But hey… you know what that sounds like? Godus, the most recent work from Molyneux's studio 22Cans, which burned players as much as EA's Dungeon Keeper ever did. In other words: You better chiggidy-check yourself before you wriggidy-wreck yourself, Molyneux.

If you didn't pitch in for the Godus Kickstarter or pay $20 / £15 for the Early Access version on Steam, you probably aren't aware of the resentful uproar coming from the majority of Godus' monetary backers. They seem to have collectively bought into a promising idea: an expansive god game that recalls the genre's 1989 roots, in the vein of Molyneux's own Populous series. The Godus Kickstarter page asserts that the game will be "powerful, unique and rather wonderful."

But from the sounds of it, those who've put the alpha and beta builds of Godus through the ringer experienced something restrictive, underhanded, and rather miserable. Both Godus and Dungeon Keeper seem to infuriate gamers for the same reason: They ensnare fans of hardcore PC gaming properties, then pull the rug out from under them with a casual-friendly, watered-down presentation. The original Dungeon Keeper and Populous were deep, imaginative simulations that let you manage supernatural elements. EA's Dungeon Keeper and Godus seem engineered to keep you mindlessly clicking, forcing you to wait a good long while between landmark gameplay moments.

The Steam user reviews for Godus paint quite the sordid picture, with nine vehement condemnations for every half-hearted recommendation. "Godus does more to perpetuate the empty addicting feeling you get with other social games then add any real depth," says one reviewer. "Want to feel like a god? Look elsewhere. This game is about digging up [resource] cards in the dirt," says another. The most damning appraisal comes from user bytestream's 1,500-word manifesto on why the game is a rip-off, stating how Godus' "lack of interaction between you and your followers makes the game feel soulless," while multiplayer battles are "incredibly boring and not tactical at all; they are more about who clicks faster." Said post has a 92% approval rating from over 2,000 users. Clearly, Godus has thus far failed to deliver something that supporters can be remotely happy with.

But the Godus community's biggest grievance is the unnerving sense that microtransactions could be added at any time. In fact, they already were: an early build included a Gem Store, where real money could purchase in-game Gems that speed up build times and resource gathering. The result was, as bytestream put it, an "incredible shitstorm" that prompted 22Cans to quickly abolish the Gem Store and Molyneux to reaffirm that "There is no shop."

And yet, Molyneux has no problem slamming EA's treatment of Dungeon Keeper. "I felt myself turning 'round saying, 'What? This is ridiculous. I just want to make a dungeon,'" said Molyneux. "I don't want to schedule it on my alarm clock for six days to come back for a block to be chipped… I don't think [EA] got it quite right, the balance between keeping it familiar to the fans that were out there but fresh enough and understandable enough for this much bigger mobile audience."

But judging from the complaints made against his own product, Molyneux also has to face the ire of disappointed gamers--old-school fans of properties like Dungeon Keeper or Populous, furious to see these beloved franchises converted into repetitive grinds. Both games try to parlay niche PC gaming experiences into mobile app success, which seems doomed to leave both casual and hardcore players confused and dissatisfied.

I have nothing against Molyneux as a person, and I'm totally neutral to the beloved franchises he's worked on. But when developers openly express their double standards, it's dismaying. Even if you also think the new Dungeon Keeper is a travesty, don't applaud Molyneux for sticking it to the EA man. This is the guy who offered a piece of £50,000 DLC for his mobile app Curiosity, and openly wept about making overambitious promises. To hear Molyneux criticize restrictive game design that he employs in his own games just makes him sound two-faced. And nobody likes an untrustworthy developer.

14 comments

  • usmovers_02 - February 11, 2014 9 p.m.

    Wasn't this supposed to be his swan song? If so it looks like that's gonna fail. EA owns the license to Populous. Why not just make Populous 4? Fans have been asking for it for years. Sure there isn't a very large market for that type of RTS but it's gotta be larger than the market for Godus. What RTS has done entire 3D planets with terrain deformation since The Beginning? None I'm aware of. It's such a shame. Populous: The Beginning and Fable 1 are 2 of my favorite games of all time.
  • FoxdenRacing - February 19, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    IIRC, 'Swan Song' is your final act, because swans of legend only make noise when they're about to die. If it's as bad as the furor is making out to be...I'd call it quite apt.
  • LordZarlon - February 11, 2014 5:55 p.m.

    Uh, Lucas, you guys constantly criticize forum posters for judging a game before it's done and now you're doing the same to Molyneux. His game isn't done. Alpha is not close to done, beta is. If you created an iconic PC game, and didn't like the direction that another company was going in making a new one, then you have the right to criticize it. People act like the Fable games were crap and they really weren't. He's created many classics and maybe a few average games. He has the cache' to criticize EA in my book!
  • Jacko415 - February 10, 2014 11:32 p.m.

    After reading this... something i thought would never happen, occurred... I am now glad that Black and White 3 isn't being made. WTF Molyneux...?
  • Shigeruken - February 10, 2014 11:02 p.m.

    Fable 1 with the Lost Chapters was a near perfect game. It's still one of the best RPG games available. Everything Molyneux has been involved in since then has been borderline garbage, I have no respect for his opinions or criticisms.
  • GOD - February 10, 2014 9:46 p.m.

    Nah man. You see he's like, using hypocrisy and his own game as a commentary of the whole industry to raise awareness of this stuff. /sarcasm
  • thabani33 - February 10, 2014 9:06 p.m.

    "...Godus seem engineered to keep you mindlessly clicking" Well what can you expect from an old man who made a game about clicking a cube. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, Molyneux should just retire, period.
  • bnadna - February 10, 2014 7:45 p.m.

    When does Godus actually come out? When will we see a review from you guys at GamesRadar?
  • beardybot - February 11, 2014 6:37 a.m.

    It's been stuck at 41% progress since I bought it last year. I enjoyed it at first, with the expectation that it would soon expand to provide all sorts of godliness. It expands, yes, but that expansion just leads to more clicking on trees, rocks, land, chests and houses. After 8 hours I realised I was sold a lie. This is FarmVille (or WorldVille) marketed and presented sublimely to an unsuspecting enthusiast audience. I'm not going to badmouth Molyneux, but if this is supposed to rescue the god game then the genre really is dead.
  • BladedFalcon - February 10, 2014 6:38 p.m.

    ...This is Molyneux we're talking about here, what exactly did you expect, Lucas? :P 'Sides, for all his hypocrisy, which IS there and in spades, it doesn't make his comments invalid at all, all the shit I've heard about Dungeon keeper is straight up appalling, not just for it's shameless use of mircotransactions, but it's conniving rating system, making it a hassle to give the game less than a 5 star rating, thus making a lot of people give 5 stars when it doesn't deserve it in a very dishonest way. Again, I'm not at all defending Molyneux's behavior here, but I do find it a tad concerning that you chose to make an article to decry the words of a known liar (As in, same news, old news) even though his game in question hasn't even come out properly yet. And yet you or anyone in GR thought on make an article decrying how truly awful and a troubling sign of the state of the mobile game industry Dungeon keeper is... Way to keep your priorities straight man...
  • EAC73 - February 10, 2014 6:07 p.m.

    "You better chiggidy-check yourself before you wriggidy-wreck yourself, Molyneux.", thanks for the laugh there Lucas.
  • shawksta - February 10, 2014 6:01 p.m.

    Molyneux is a mix bag "THIS IS HOW WE WANT YOU TO PLAY THIS GAME" "LAST GAME WAS CRAP BUT I ASSURE YOU THIS GAME WILL BE BETTER"
  • SirManguydude - February 11, 2014 2:27 a.m.

    If the man wants to keep saying his last game was crap, let him. He will build a new one, with new ideas.
  • shawksta - February 11, 2014 8:56 a.m.

    Thats not really the issue. Fable in general was an amazing RPG, we get the focus is on choices but they keep degrading each game's RPG element for the sake of choices, Fable 3 especially.

Showing 1-14 of 14 comments

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